What the President’s State of the Union Address Means for Goodwill® Advocates

The White House has referred to the theme of President Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) as “Opportunity for All.”  While watching, I was able to identify a number of opportunities for Goodwill® advocates to advance efforts that support the people we serve.

Depending on which news channel you follow and which papers you read, the media has variously noted that the president’s address showed he is unwilling to work with Congress; that he is eager to work with Congress;  that the members of Congress refuse to work with him; and that the members of Congress haven’t given up and want to work together.  The bottom line is that there is only so much the president can do with an executive order, and Congress still holds the purse strings.

Goodwill’s 2014 legislative agenda contains a number of priorities that align with proposals put forth by the administration and with a number of the bills that need to reauthorized by Congress including the Older Americans Act, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

The SOTU made reference to a number of the populations Goodwill serves including young adults, seniors, disabled veterans, immigrants, long-term unemployed and women.   Businesses, educational institutions and nonprofits have been called up on to work together, and Goodwill is a natural partner in these efforts.  We look forward to the continuing the work laid out at the College Opportunity Summit and supporting the efforts of Joining Forces alliance.  Goodwill will continue to work with coalition partners to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and we were pleased to hear it referenced in the SOTU in a bipartisan way.  Finally, as a leader in providing job-training and employment programs we look forward working with Vice President Biden as he leads reforms of America’s training programs.

In another recent speech, President Obama remarked, “This is the defining challenge of our time: making sure our economy works for every working American.”  During the SOTU, the president said, “Opportunity is who we are. And the defining project of our generation is to restore that promise.” Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA) also alluded to “opportunity” while delivering the GOP response noting, “The president talks a lot about income inequality. But the real gap we face today is one of opportunity inequality.”

Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum and whether you agree with the policies put forth, the opportunity is clear for Goodwill to work with all policymakers to eliminate barriers to opportunity and help people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work. We hope that you, as our advocates will take the opportunity to help us by lending your voice, sharing your stories and taking action when asked.