Ohio State College Republicans and College Democrats had mixed reactions to President Barack Obama’s proposed plans in his State of the Union address, but there was one thing they agreed on: free community college is an efficient way to fuel the economy.
Obama spoke about predominantly middle-class-focused plans during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, focusing on reform in areas like taxes, education and family leave.
The president proposed a $320 billion plan to raise the tax rate on couples making more than $500,000 from 23.8 percent to 28 percent. His plan also implements a higher tax rate on attaining financial inheritance, such as trust funds, and said he will also levy fees on top financial firms.
The money received from this new tax plan will go toward areas like tripling the tax credit for child care and providing new tax credit for two-income households.
Michael Lakomy, political director for OSU College Democrats and a second-year in accounting, said he thinks the new tax plan could propel the U.S. to greater success.
“If we continue to shift taxes to the poor, it will strangle the country,” Lakomy said. “I would much rather have the person buy one fewer yacht than one fewer meal for their family.”
Zach Pohl, chairman of OSU College Republicans and a fourth-year in logistics management, said the new tax plan executes redistribution of wealth, which he opposes.
“I’m against that in moral principle,” Pohl said. “The government should not be taking money from one place and putting it somewhere else.”
Obama also called for Congress to grant trade promotion authority for the president to negotiate free and fair trade from Europe to Asia, which he said would protect American workers.
The president also proposed a free two-year community college plan for both part-time and full-time students with a GPA of 2.5 or higher, provided that they graduate on time.
“To make sure folks keep earning higher wages down the road, we have to do more to help Americans upgrade their skills,” Obama said.
In addition to free tuition, Obama said Vice President Joe Biden is working to connect community colleges to local employers in order to train students for high-paying jobs in fields such as coding, robotics and nursing.
As a full-time college student working year-round, Lakomy said he is excited that policies are being proposed to address the issue of student debt.
“How the president presents what we know we can pay for, what we know Republicans can get behind because we did it in Tennessee, and one that will dramatically improve the lives of not just college students, but the rest of the nation as well, I think is a really cool idea,” Lakomy said.
In April, Republican-led Tennessee initiated a free two-year community college plan for all state residents to begin in fall 2015.
OSU Undergraduate Student Government President Celia Wright, a fourth-year in public health, said she liked Obama’s free community college plan.
She added that USG has been partnering with OSU organizations such as Students for Education Reform to push for easier access to all levels of education, as well as high school curriculum reform.
Pohl said he approved of the free community college plan under the condition that it fund only STEM students.
“This is a government program with a purpose to get more skilled workers into skilled jobs,” Pohl said.
Obama ended his speech by looking forward on a note of unity.
“I want (future generations) to grow up in a country that shows the world what we still know to be true: that we are still more than a collection of red states and blue states; that we are the United States of America,” he said.
“A brighter future is ours to write. Let’s begin this new chapter — together — and let’s start the work right now.”