Strum: The important points from the SOTU speech

The president’s speech should not be overlooked by college-aged voters.

Lora Strum

Lora StrumThe State of the Union Address – Obama’s last chance to consult America while America consults Buzzfeed to see which Joe Biden meme is trending after the event. While this year’s Biden-Looks-Like-the Batman-Joker is hilarious, college-aged voters need to pay close attention to a few critical quotes from the SOTU.

“Kids, call your mom”

I couldn’t agree more with Obama on this. Everyone who hasn’t already should call home to see if the Affordable Care Act is right for them. The 2010 ACA mandate decreed that students can remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. The new ACA offers two additional options. Employed students who make $10,000-46,000 are eligible for tax deductions that reduce premiums when buying government insurance.

Students who make less than $10,000 can buy “catastrophic” insurance that provides coverage, but requires students to pay up to thousands of dollars for most healthcare procedures. Women, luckily, receive extensive coverage of gynecological and family-planning services.

Those looking to keep it to Main Campus can choose a plan offered through Temple with monthly premiums from $235-400. These plans offer a $15-50 copay, depending on which deductible is selected. The deductible, however, does not apply to gynecology visits and only 50 percent to doctor’s visits.

Calling your mom is free – hopefully, so is staying on her plan. If you can, save worrying about health insurance when you get a serious job and first hear the word “benefits.”

“Give America a raise.”

Better yet—give America a wage. Obama’s trying to help us out by raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. This $2.85 increase, for you econ majors, will increase on the margin – but is not guaranteed. Obama is still working with Congress to pass the Fair Minimum Wage act.

So maybe that extra $2.85 will show up in our paychecks, but it won’t affect work-study students, who earn the amount in their aid award regardless of what increments it is paid out in. Not all students are thrilled about the possible implications of all this.

“By raising the minimum wage, companies will want to hire less employees,” junior economics major Dayna Jodzio said.

Don’t forget, if minimum wage increases, so will the costs of everyday purchases. It’s just how the economy works –  bigger paychecks may cause latte prices to rise marginally as well.

“Taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet….”

Obama’s climate change plan includes shuttering coal plants and increasing the use of clean energy. He’s gained support for solar panel installations in major businesses and public attractions, eagerly citing the increase in jobs and the reduction of our carbon footprint.

He has not, however, devised a plan to decrease emission from cars.

Temple itself may be more environmentally savvy than the country as a whole. The Certificate in Sustainability educates students on the benefits of prioritizing the environment. All Temple buildings recycle, while Johnson and Hardwick cafeteria and the Student Center food court both compost food waste. Farmers’ markets and university-sponsored gardens also help students engage in the slow food movement to develop a better relationship with the environment.

Like Temple College Democrats president and senior political science major Jessica Cooper said, “Fossil fuels are not going to last forever. By encouraging green energies, the president is investing in our future. Our generation, and our children, are going to have to deal with the stark realities of climate change.”

As Temple students, we should be proud of the efforts the university has taken to be green, but in order to keep it that way, we all have to pitch in.

“We’re offering millions the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to  10 percent of their income, and I want to work with Congress to see how we can help even more Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt.”

Obama and secondary education – the two do not share any symbiosis, but are strangers who keep meeting at the right times. Obama has just grazed the issue that’s hitting his largest voter demographic the hardest: student debt. While we applaud him for promoting education so our little sister can learn her letters, we’re still struggling to afford the place where they teach us to turn those letters into a résumé and get a job.

Senate Democrats discussed restoration of student bankruptcy forgiveness and raising federal loan limits, but these talking points expired. The only expected change is the new loan repayment plan that requires students to give just 10 percent of their income in loans. Regardless of political affiliation, students can all agree we need some help.

“There is always more we can do to help students and I am sure President Obama understands that, but this is a great first step of hopefully many more to come,” Cooper said.

Temple offers another solution with the “Fly in 4” plan: $4,000 grants to students who promise to graduate in four years. Maybe President Obama and President Theobald should do lunch.

Lora Strum can be reached at 

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