President Obama this month gave the best State of the Union address of his presidency but it was largely written in disappearing ink. Like the vast majority of presidential speeches, little of it lingers.
But one proposal in the speech could prove historic. While Obama’s $60 billion plan for two free years of community college is dead-on-arrival in the Republican Congress, it is very much alive in American politics, where progressives now have an aspirational, easy-to-understand issue to rally around. When it’s finally signed into law by President Hillary Clinton or another Democrat in the White House, we’ll look back on the idea as Barack Obama’s GI Bill, a powerful engine for restoring the American middle class.
“Free” is always a crowd-pleaser and the idea is already wildly popular. In Tennessee, an astonishing 90 percent of high school seniors are enrolling in the state version, designed under a Republican governor and now promoted as a prototype by a Democratic president. After Obama first unveiled his plan while aboard Air Force One on January 8, the video broke the record for most downloads from his website. Not bad, considering that the White House has released more than 2,000 such videos—including cute ones of the president’s dog.