President lays out lofty goals during State of the Union speech

Will use ‘pen and phone’ in attempt to bypass Congress

Merdies Hayes | 1/30/2014, midnight
President Barack Obama delivers the 2014 State of the Union Tuesday, January 28, 2014.

“Those McDonald’s workers are federal workers, yet have to work at poverty wages,” Shelton continued. “Now some Republicans on Capitol Hill will say ‘the sky is falling’ if you increase it to $10.10, but that is not true. An increase in wages goes a along way in lifting people up. It’s a moral disgrace for people to work at the poverty line,” he said.

Obama said a job training bill could direct more funding to junior colleges and vocational schools to prepare persons—especially young adults—for the jobs of tomorrow. The President referred to a woman entrepreneur who had all the skills and equipment necessary to launch a more successful enterprise, but didn’t have the workers. She inquired at a local junior college about possible employees and found there were plenty of viable candidates; through these measures, she now has 700 employees.

“This idea of expanding job training programs is tied to fitting a pipeline for jobs,” Shelton explained.

“This is done through vision, training and tailoring the right person for the job. Our junior colleges can provide a healthy workforce for the jobs of tomorrow through such a program. It’s up to Congress to show more faith in our education system to produce needed workers and all of this, certainly, gets more people back to work.”

Citing the crumbling roads, bridges, harbors, airports, and water and electrical lines in need of repair, Obama pushed again for more government support to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.

“I will act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects, so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible.”

Also, early childhood education could get a big boost, provided that the White House and Congress can agree. Immigration reform, in some ways, is tied into this measure because the children of illegal immigrants could benefit greatly via increased funding to the 50-year-old Head Start Program.

“All experts in education say kids need an early start,” Shelton said. “We need more funding to early childhood education. These are American children—born in this land—and they should not be punished because their parents immigrated here but are not of legal status. Early childhood education today begins before the kid starts school; some xenophobes will attack these kids because of immigrant-bashing, but we must have the best workforce for the future, and it starts early. Again, we congratulate the President for taking these bold steps to bring more people into the American family.”

Obama took to the road Wednesday to press for his economic agenda, stopping first at a Costco in Lanham, Md.

“To every governor, mayor, state legislator out there, if you want to take the initiative to raise your minimum wage laws to help more hard-working Americans make ends meet, then I’m going to be right there on your side,” he said.