B’nai B’rith International is encouraged President Obama will focus on aging programs, energy independence, immigration reform and reducing gun violence in his second term. His renewed commitments to Israel’s security and to preventing Iran from attaining nuclear weapons are also positive.
We are pleased with the president’s spirited defense of both domestic discretionary spending and the jobs created by these programs. The president spoke of aging programs like Medicare, and we are open to hearing more about his plan. B’nai B’rith is particularly interested in hearing about savings in Medicare from lower prescription drug costs and from encouraging better health care. We remain concerned, however, that unreasonably or arbitrarily high savings targets could force ill-advised measures that weaken the nature of the program by undermining its universality or eroding benefits.
Energy independence received renewed attention from the president during his address. Our current dependence on foreign oil undermines our security, forcing the United States to rely on fossil fuels from countries whose interests are adverse to our own. B’nai B’rith supports the president’s call for investment in alternative energy programs.
B’nai B’rith has long been a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform and we are pleased the administration is making it a priority. Creating a path to citizenship for millions of the country’s undocumented immigrants is important for the well-being of the country.
We commend the president’s insistence that the United States will “do what is necessary” to prevent Iran from “getting nuclear weapons.” Iran, the world’s largest state-sponsor of terror, continues to pursue nuclear weapons, even as an international coalition has instituted tough sanctions.
B’nai B’rith is also encouraged the president outlined a firm commitment to Israel: “And we will stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace.”
We welcome the president’s commitment to reducing gun violence. The president said: “Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because they are tired of being outgunned.”
Last month, the B’nai B’rith International Executive Committee passed a formal resolution that called for a ban on assault weapons, as well as a limit on ammunition magazine capacity. B’nai B’rith pledges to work with all political parties, interest groups and coalitions to make sure meaningful bipartisan gun regulations become reality.
Of course the president’s annual address to Congress and the nation offers a framework for the president’s priorities. B’nai B’rith will review details as they emerge and work to ensure action on our key priorities.