President Obama got about one and a half hours to speak during his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, but there are a few specifics he left out in his grandiose vision of the nation. We've taken the liberty of filling in the gaps.
1. THE AMERICAN DREAM
Obama: "What I believe unites the people of this nation, regardless of race or region or party, young or old, rich or poor, is the simple, profound belief in opportunity for all – the notion that if you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead."
What He Didn't Say: For most Americans, that belief is dying. About 64 percent of Americans said the growing gap between the rich and poor is killing the American Dream, according to a December Bloomberg News poll. And while the belief that you can get ahead may unite Americans, the ability to do that depends heavily on where they live. A child born in the south or rust belt has a much smaller chance of moving up the income ladder than people in many other areas of the country, according to a recent study from economists at Harvard and the University of California-Berkeley.
2. MIDDLE-CLASS DETERIORATION
Obama: "Over more than three decades, even before the Great Recession hit, massive shifts in technology and global competition had eliminated a lot of good, middle-class jobs."
What He Didn't Say: It’s true that technological innovations are responsible for some of the erosion in middle-class jobs over past few decades, but there are other factors at play as well. For example, the decline in unionization correlates strongly with the drop in the middle class. And some argue that the drop in the real value of the minimum wage caused means that many jobs that used to provide a middle-class lifestyle no longer do. A minimum wage income could keep a family of two above the poverty rate in the 1960s, but that’s no longer the case:
3. FULL-TIME POVERTY
Obama: "Americans understand that some people will earn more than others, and we don’t resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success. But Americans overwhelmingly agree that no one who works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty."
What He Didn't Say: As of February of last year, there were about 8.9 million Americans doing just that.
4. WOMEN IN THE WORKFORCE
Obama: "Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work."
What He Didn't Say: They're also much less likely to become corporate leaders. Still today, women make up just 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. And in Obama's cabinet, the ratio of men to women is the same as it was twenty years ago.
5. THE MINIMUM WAGE
Obama: "Today, the federal minimum wage is worth about twenty percent less than it was when Ronald Reagan first stood here. Tom Harkin and George Miller have a bill to fix that by lifting the minimum wage to $10.10."
What He Didn't Say: Still, even a $10.10 minimum wage may not be enough for most workers to live on. It takes a wage of $10.20 per hour to afford basic needs in America’s cheapest county, according to an analysis from Wider Opportunities for Women. In addition a $10.10 minimum wage is about $8 dollars less than what the minimum wage would be if it kept up with productivity: