MONEY First-Time Dad

The One Benefit All Millennials Should Consider Before Accepting a Job

Father and son sharing a meal.

Whether or not kids are on your radar right now, you'd be wise to understand any potential employer's family leave policy, says first-time dad Taylor Tepper.

Just a few weeks after our son was born, my wife was already dreading the prospect of returning to work.

A teacher, Mrs. Tepper received around two months of paid leave from her employer. Her original plan had been to extend that leave for another four weeks unpaid, then return to the classroom for the last couple of months of the school year. But that was before Luke came along.

When he arrived, she couldn’t bear leaving him so soon. Thankfully, her school allowed her to stay a home those extra few months and held her position for the following year. Mrs. Tepper could then nurture our son without fearing for her job.

Most families don’t have this choice.

When Mrs. Tepper accepted her position, neither she nor I considered how much time she would be given if she became pregnant. We weren’t planning on starting a family (best laid plans), and so were more concerned with wages. While we were fortunate to land in companies that support families—I happened to receive two weeks of paid paternity leave—we could have just as easily ended up working for ones that didn’t.

Just 12% of businesses offer paid maternity or paternity leave, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Another study found that the average maternity leave among U.S. companies that offer it is less than one month and pays the worker 31% of her original salary, as MONEY’s Kara Brandeisky recently noted. Comparatively, mothers in France are guaranteed 16 weeks of fully paid leave.

Millennials may not be overly concerned with President Obama’s recent announcement that he will extend six weeks of paid parental leave to federal workers, but they should be. Let me tell you why…

Why You Should Care

It’s understandable if those who graduated into the Great Recession with a ton of debt care more about salary than anything else, especially considering that this generation has generally been postponing bourgeois life events like marriage and procreation. But with the top end of Gen Y approaching 35 this year, more will likely start building families soon. And if you stay at your job a few years in this crucial span of settling-down time, who knows? You could be making babies.

Heck, some of them—ahem, Luke—arrive unexpectedly.

As Mrs. Tepper and I realized, the option of paid parental leave takes on a lot more importance when you are responsible for the care of an infant.

Without paid leave, you end up with two not-so-great options after giving birth. One: Squirrel up all your vacation time to use and then go back to work when your kid is a mere three or four weeks old. Or two: Add on unpaid time (most Americans, moms and dads alike, are guaranteed 12 weeks through the Family Medical Leave Act) and find other means (savings? credit cards? spouse’s income and living lean?) to replace the income lost that you need to pay the bills.

While taking unpaid time has some big financial implications for you, going back to work too soon has serious drawbacks too. “That initial time to bond with your child, you don’t get that back,” says St. Pete mayor Rick Kriseman, who recently expanded paid leave to city employees. Plus, he notes, “In those first few weeks, you are so sleep deprived. How do you function at work? Do your job normally? Give it your attention and not make mistakes? That’s asking a lot of new parents.”

Paid leave helps families avoid this kind of tough decision. It also has other benefits, illuminated here by the Center for American Progress. For instance, one study by two Cornell University professors demonstrates that paid maternity leave is an important factor in keeping women in the labor market “since it reduces the likelihood that women will quit their jobs in order to take time off from from work.”

Working parents also tend to be happier, more productive, and more loyal at companies that have paid leave policies. Also, paid leave is also associated with better health results for both mothers and newborns—reducing depressive symptoms in moms, increasing the odds that children are immunized, and making it more likely that moms are better able to breastfeed their child for an extended period of time.

What You Should Do

Figuring out a company’s leave policy isn’t always easy. Ask the hiring manager and you risk looking like you’re one foot out the door before you’re one foot in.

Lenny Sanicola, senior practice leader at HR association WorldatWork, says it’s not wrong to pose the question, “but wait until at least the second interview.”

Other options if you’re not comfortable with the straightforward route: Go to the careers section of the company’s website to see if its leave policy is detailed there, suggests Sara Sutton Fell, chief executive of FlexJobs. Check out the company’s review on sites like Glassdoor.com (but keep in mind that what people post there is not necessarily gospel). Better yet, try to find someone in your network on LinkedIn who already works at the company and can do some detective work for you.

As for what’s a generous leave policy, obviously the more paid time you can spend with your kid, the better. But the range varies.

“Because paid leave isn’t required by law in the U.S., any amount offered by an employer is generally a good thing because the bar is so low,” says Fell. “In general the most common range for paid maternity or paternity leave that I’ve heard is anywhere from one week to 16.” Sanicola says six to eight weeks is likely.

Google, the search behemoth with a market capitalization of $350 billion, offers expecting moms a European-like 22 weeks of paid leave; that’s pretty sweet.

Dads are lucky to get any paid time leave at all.

As much as Mrs. Tepper and I like our jobs, chances are we won’t be in them forever. And Luke likely won’t be an only child forever.

That means when it comes time to take on a new challenge, how our new bosses treat expecting and new parents will carry as much weight as the biweekly paycheck. While it might be hard for young childless professionals to appreciate that mindset, they’d be well advised to do so.

More From the First-Time Dad:

MONEY 529 plans

Why Obama Wants to Tax College Savings

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 20, 2015.
Mandel Ngan—Reuters

In this week's State of the Union address, the president proposed ending a popular tax break on 529 plans. Here's what's behind that pitch.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama promised to make college more affordable for low- and middle-income families. But one way he would pay for that would be to make college more expensive for millions of upper-income Americans.

The president proposed ending a key tax break on state 529 college savings plans. Today, the money you invest in a 529 plan isn’t deductible on your federal taxes (34 states and the District of Columbia give you a break on state taxes), but your savings grow tax-deferred, and you won’t owe any taxes on your earnings when you withdraw that money to pay for higher education expenses, including tuition, room and board, and books. Under Obama’s plan, those investment profits would be taxable, even if the money went toward college.

President Obama says he’d use the estimated $2 billion in additional tax revenues to raise the American Opportunity tax credit, which is a $2,500 write-off targeted at low- and middle-income families paying tuition bills. The administration points out that 529 plans disproportionately benefit higher-income households.

In essence, Obama is proposing making college more expensive for an estimated 2 million mostly upper-income families to ease the tuition burden for more than 8.5 million low- and middle-income families.

A Question of Fairness

This proposal—which is already facing Republican opposition in Congress—is based on concerns about the fairness of the 529 tax breaks that have been widely discussed among education-related think tanks and experts of all political leanings for years.

In all, federal taxpayers spend more on educational tax breaks than they do on popular financial aid programs such as Pell grants, noted a 2013 report by the Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery (RADD) Consortium for Higher Education Tax Reform. Not only are all the education tax breaks confusing and hard to collect, “students from families with the least financial need receive the most tax-based aid,” the report noted.

In theory, 529 plans aren’t just for the rich. Anybody can open one of these tax-protected colleges savings account for a child or for themselves. You can choose either a prepaid tuition plan, which lets you buy tuition credits ahead of time, or a college savings plan, which lets you set money aside for a future college student.

That tax break that the president wants to eliminate has been a key to 529 plans’ popularity. Since President George W. Bush signed the 529 tax exemption into law in 2001, families have opened nearly 12 million new 529 accounts and have socked away almost $250 billion for college.

And states have been marketing the savings programs. In 2012, the GAO found that 14 states offered matching grants to encourage low-income families to save. Some states even offered 529 brochures to new parents leaving the hospital.

Despite these efforts, very few low- or middle-income families have managed to save very much in 529s. In 2012, more than 97% of families had no special college savings account, according to a Government Accountability Office report. (The large number of accounts may be due to some families opening separate accounts for each child and parent.)

One reason for the low participation: Many still don’t know about 529s. Of parents who say they’re planning to send their kids to college, 49% don’t even know what a 529 plan is, Sallie Mae found in its annual “How America Pays For College” report.

Another factor: Low and middle-income families pay comparatively low taxes, so the tax break is not much of a lure to lock up money for one purpose. Families can take money out of 529s to spend on non-college expenses, but they’ll have to pay regular income taxes, plus an extra 10% penalty, on any earnings.

As a result, 529 investors tend to be wealthy. Families with 529s earned a median annual income of $142,400 and reported a median of $413,500 in financial assets, according to the GAO. About half of families with 529s (or similar Coverdell accounts) had an income above $150,000 in 2010.

And, in part because high earners typically owe higher taxes, the wealthy reaped large tax breaks from using 529s. In 2012, the GAO found that Americans who made less than $100,000 withdrew a median $7,491 from their 529s, saving just $561 on their taxes. But Americans who earned more than $150,000 withdrew a median $18,039, saving $3,132 in taxes.

In place of the tax break at withdrawal, Obama wants to expand the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which is currently phased out for families earning more than $180,000 a year.

The administration would like to expand the write-off to more students, such as those who attend college part-time. “It’s targeted in such a way that it will be most impactful to the students who need the assistance the most,” says Cecilia Muñoz, White House domestic policy director.

What Changes You’ll Really See

What does this all mean for you: Not much, at least for the near term.

If you’ve already got money in a 529, don’t worry. The president’s plan wouldn’t be retroactive. It would repeal the tax break on earnings only for future contributions.

And if you’re planning to start saving for college, there’s probably not much to worry about either. Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, have come out in opposition to the proposal. “You don’t produce a healthy economy and an educated workforce by raising taxes on college savings,” Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told the Wall Street Journal.

That means there probably won’t be extra money in the budget for much additional financial aid for low- and middle-income families. So you may as well start saving for tuition bills. Here’s how to find the best 529 plan for you.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the proportion of new tax revenues that would come from families earning above $250,000 if Obama’s proposal was enacted. The reference has been removed.

 

TIME White House

31.7 Million Tuned in to Obama’s State of the Union Address

Down from 33.3 million in 2014

The numbers are in, and it was another lackluster year in terms of live telecast viewership of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

Nielsen reports 31.7 million people tuned in to the various networks that hosted the annual telecast, down from 33.3 million in 2014.

The low viewership comes as no surprise, really. There’s been a steady decline in telecast viewership over the past several years, but the 2015 audience was the smallest audience that Obama has drawn since taking office in 2009. During his first address, about 52.4 million people tuned in.

Social media participation in the address, however, was high. Some 2.6 million tweets were sent out during the hour-long address, Nielsen noted, with 44,000 tweets being sent out after the now-infamous moment when the President noted he had no more campaigns to run.

TIME LGBT

Why It’s a Big Deal That Obama Said ‘Transgender’

It's all about legitimacy

Every word in every State of the Union speech is vetted. And President Barack Obama’s decision to say a certain word among the 6,718 he uttered on Tuesday is reverberating through the LGBT community. That’s because Obama just became the first President to say the word transgender during such a high-profile occasion. And most advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights are thrilled.

“The President’s acknowledgment helps shatter the cloak of invisibility that has plagued trans people and forced many to suffer in silence,” author and MSNBC host Janet Mock tells TIME. “By speaking our community’s name, the President pushes us all to recognize the existence and validity of trans people as Americans worthy of protection and our nation’s resources.”

“As a transgender man and an advocate for transgender people, it was thrilling to hear, for the first time in our nation’s history, the President of the United States acknowledge transgender people as an integral and valued part of our national community,” says Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

MORE One State of the Union, Two Barack Obamas

The issues of validity and legitimacy are huge ones for transgender people. Decades ago, doctors didn’t think their feelings about their gender identity were legitimate—that they were inclinations requiring correction. Today, the medical community has evolved, but many people still mistakenly assume transgender people are only really transgender if their bodies look a certain way.

Actress Laverne Cox talked about this issue during an interview with TIME for our cover story on trans issues: “We have to listen to people about who they are and not assume that there’s something wrong with trans people. Because we know who we are. And I think the biggest thing is folks want to believe that there’s something, that genitals and biology are destiny. … When you think about it, it’s kind of ridiculous. People need to be willing to let go of what they think they know about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman.”

MORE Barack Obama is ready to fight

Elizabeth Reis, a professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Oregon, says that for decades transgender people have had to deal with the perception that they’re deceiving people. “The people who say that they’re trans have always been undermined and thought of as not telling the truth, being intentionally deceitful of others,” she says. She calls it “the authenticity issue that trans people face, not being believed for who they say they are.”

To get medical treatment or to play on sports teams or to change the gender on their driver’s licenses, transgender people have long had to provide documents and testimony that they are who they say they are. In the past, they sometimes had to prove they intended to have or had undergone surgery. And today, there are people who don’t understand what it means to be transgender or don’t “believe in being transgender,” as the sibling of a transgender boy told TIME in 2014. Constantly proving one’s status is not something that many Americans are forced to do on a daily basis. To have Obama offer up recognition using the word that the community itself uses—rather than circling the issue with a some vague phrase like “regardless of how someone identifies”—is him implying that he does believe and doesn’t need any more proof.

Here is the full context of Obama’s comment:

As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims — the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.

The Transgender Law Center, the largest legal advocacy organization entirely dedicated to transgender issues, lauded his comment. “President Obama’s public recognition of transgender people in his State of the Union address was historic,” executive director Masen Davis said in a statement. “While it seems like a simple thing—saying the word ‘transgender’ in a speech—President Obama’s statement represents significant progress for transgender people and the movement towards equality for all.”

Davis spoke to TIME last year about his own experience coming out as a transgender man and how much times have changed since the ’90s. “When I first came out as transgender, we all just assumed that if you were transgender, you were going to lose your family, you were going to lose your friends, you were going to lose your job. You needed to be prepared to lose everything,” he said. “We’ve come so far, that it’s become easier for transgender people in certain areas of the country to be out and for them to feel like they can come out at work and they’re not going to lose their jobs. They can come out to their family and they might not be thrown out. That they can come out at school and still be treated well.”

Still, as Davis says, transgender people are still disadvantaged as a demographic. They are more likely to experience harassment because of their gender status, to lose their jobs and live in poverty. More than 40% of transgender people, according to one report, have attempted suicide. Leelah Alcorn is a recent, tragic example of how hard it is to be a young transgender person in America.

That’s why even on this historic occasion, some transgender advocates are not sated. “I’m glad that he mentions us but to be honest it’s not nearly enough,” says Greta Martela, who recently founded Trans Lifeline. “I can’t get excited about the President simply acknowledging our existence when we are facing this kind of crisis and discrimination.”

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, says that word was missing in “laundry lists” he reeled off during the State of the Union in previous years. Still, Keisling notes that even when Obama didn’t say the T-word or the B-word (his mention of bisexual Americans was also a first this year), he did push forward on LGBT-friendly policies. In 2014, he signed an executive order extending workplace protections to LGBT employees working for federal contractors. And his attorney general, Eric Holder, recently instructed the Department of Justice to argue that discrimination against transgender people qualifies as sex discrimination under Title VII.

“Of course, the advancement of those policies is so much more important than a mention in a speech,” Keisling says. “But make no mistake, the President of the United States condemning persecution against transgender people is pivotal … His mention of us makes us know that he meant us when he talked about Americans. When he spoke about children, he meant transgender children too.”

TIME State of the Union 2015

These Are the Funniest Memes From the State of the Union

Few were safe from becoming a joke on social media

While pundits and political operatives dissected President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, the quick-witted citizens of Twitter flourished in the abundance of meme-able moments Tuesday night.

Here are some of the highlights.

  • Biden’s Reaction

    Not sure if the Vice President knew he was making the face of a rapper’s hype-man as the President spoke.

  • Speaker Boehner is Not Impressed

    Like the Vice President’s, House Speaker John Boehner’s facial expressions are always an easy target for critique during the State of the Union

  • Secretary Moniz Gets Meme’d

    Neither Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz nor his amazing hair got enough air time during the State of the Union

  • First Lady Fashion

    First Lady Michelle Obama channelled the look of another “First Lady” last night, Alicia Florrick of CBS’s The Good Wife.

  • The President’s “Drops-Mic” Moment

    The moment that stole the show gets the Vine treatment, complete with dad-dancing

  • Rand Paul Joins In

    Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul joined in on the fun, using a Willy Wonka meme to question the President’s plan for free community college

  • The State of the Union Is…

    Though Obama said Tuesday the state of our union is “strong,” someone suggested a word that could better connect with the youth

  • The Suit Returns

    White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer did a little pre-speech trolling, suggesting the President would be wearing his infamous tan-suit during the evening’s address

  • Joni Ernst’s Shoes

    During the official Republican response, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst recalled covering her shoes with bread bags to protect them when she was growing up, which spawned arguably one of the funniest memes of the night

  • A Presidential Wink

    POTUS flashes a wink and a smile

    Read next: The State of the Union Brought Out the Troll in Everyone

    Listen to the most important stories of the day.

MONEY The Economy

The 2015 State of the Union Address In Under 2 Minutes

President Barack Obama highlighted the recovering economy as well as proposals for free community college, increasing trade with Cuba, and building more infrastructure.

TIME

Morning Must Reads: January 21

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

How 7 Ideas From the State of the Union Will Affect You

President Barack Obama threw out a lot of big ideas during his State of the Union address, but how will they affect you? Here’s a look at seven proposals and how they could affect your life

France to Hire 2,600 Officers to Monitor 3,000 Terror Suspects

France will hire 2,600 new counter-terrorism officers and spend $490 million in response to the Paris attacks, the prime minister announced Wednesday

Netflix Goes ‘Full HBO’ in 2015

Television and online video are colliding, and 2015 could be the year Netflix-original shows transform from a novelty to an expectation among subscribers

NBC to Stream Super Bowl Online

NBC announced on Tuesday that it will stream all Super Bowl content for free on Feb. 1, including pregame coverage, the game and the halftime show. The Seattle Seahawks go up against the New England Patriots in Glendale, Ariz., for football’s top prize

Palestinian Stabs Passengers on Bus in Israel

A Palestinian man stabbed nine people, wounding some of them seriously, on a bus in central Tel Aviv before he was chased down, shot and arrested, Israeli police said on Wednesday. The Islamist militant Hamas group praised the stabbing

Benedict Cumberbatch Inspires Clothing Line

L.A. fashion brand Poprageous, which specializes in pop-culture apparel, has launched a “Cumberbitch” collection ranging from crop tops to leggings. Prints of Cumberbatch’s face are tiled on the fabric ad infinitum, leaving the actor within close gaze of his ardent fans

France Issues First Charges Against 4 in Terrorist Attacks

Four men with ties to one of the gunmen responsible for three days of terror in the Paris region are the first to be charged in connection with the attacks that left 20 people dead. The attacks started with the Jan. 7 massacre at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo

Movie Ticket Prices Hit All-Time High

The average price in 2014 was $8.17, an all-time yearly high, but only a slight increase from the 2013 average of $8.13, the National Association of Theater Owners said on Tuesday. That figure has steadily increased since the mid-1990s, when tickets were around $4

A Bad Childhood Can Literally Age You, Study Says

You’ve heard of people who go through trauma and get old before their time? Well, it can be literally true. Childhood adversity and certain psychiatric conditions may cause individuals to experience accelerated aging, according to research published last week

5 More Disney Workers Get Measles

More employees at Disneyland California have been diagnosed with measles, bringing the total number of cases up to 53. All staff who have come into contact with newly infected workers have been asked to show vaccination records or be tested

Pope Francis and Manila’s Vanishing Street Kids

Was the Philippine capital really purged of unsightly urchins for Pope Francis’ visit last week? In a word, yes, although only a small fraction of this was anything new. According to activists, street kids are constantly being rounded up across this sprawling city of 12 million

Lil Wayne Just Dropped His New Mixtape

After much anticipation, Lil Wayne has just released his new mixtape Sorry 4 the Wait 2. The new project is a sequel to his 2011 Sorry 4 the Wait, and features artists 2 Chainz, Drake, Christina Milian, iLoveMakonnen, Nicki Minaj, Mack Maine and more

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TIME

How a High Schooler Made it to the State of the Union

On Tuesday night, Michelle Obama was joined by a handful of people to watch the President’s State of the Union address in person. From astronaut Scott Kelly to Alan Gross, the foreign aid worker who was recently released after five years of imprisonment in Cuba, each of the White House’s guests personifies a story the President would like to tell about America.

In 2014, Estiven Rodriguez was the author of one of those stories. Then a high-school senior from New York City, Rodriguez was recognized by Obama in the State of the Union address for arriving in United States, the son of a Dominican factory worker, unable to speak a word of English and going on to become a first-generation college student.

“Imagine not being able to speak up for yourself, communicate and truly make the right choices,” Rodriguez wrote in an essay that helped him earn a spot at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. “I was that middle-schooler who easily could have fallen into the wrong path.”

In the video above, TIME followed Rodriguez on his journey to the State of the Union.

TIME State of the Union 2015

One State of the Union, Two Barack Obamas

For his sixth State of the Union, Barack Obama sent two Presidents to stand before the nation and its Congress, both wearing the same powder-blue tie and speaking with the same familiar voice.

One was victorious, the other knee-deep in the fight. One declared the economy recovered, while the other described the ongoing suffering of America’s workers. One promised an end to politics and partisanship, the other aimed to lay the groundwork for the destruction of his Republican foes.

The night progressed less as a monologue than a tag team between the two faces of a term-limited President working to cement his legacy. It had been “a breakthrough year for the economy,” he said in one breath, just moments before describing the plight of a couple who could not go on vacations because of their student loans, and whose child care cost more than their mortgage. “The shadow of crisis has passed,” he said, before adding that it would “take time” to defeat the Islamic State in Syria and close vulnerabilities exploited by North Korean hackers.

The President’s bet was that both visions could exist at the same time, and that the American people, hungry for good news and happy with recent economic progress, would forgive the contradictions. Obama is not ready to give up on the vision he first presented to the country in 2004, as the fresh-faced state senator who believed not in a blue or red America, but a United States of America. “I still think the cynics are wrong,” he said. “I still believe that we are one people.”

MORE: How 7 ideas in the State of the Union would affect you

But at the same time, he could not deny the knife fighter he had become as the President of a nation where so many viewed his ideas with hostility. “Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns,” said the optimist Obama about the partisanship around him, while the partisan Obama laid out a policy agenda, including steep increases in taxes for the wealthy, new regulations and new government benefits for poor workers that Republicans had already vowed to block.

“I have no more campaigns to run,” said the optimist, while the partisan taunted applauding Republicans — “I know because I won both of them” — with a gloating grin. “A better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine,” the first continued, while the other declared that the “verdict is clear” on the past five years of partisan fights over the economy and that Democrats had been right.

A few hours before his split-screen identity took over the nation’s televisions, a senior administration official scoffed at the notion that the speech had been written to influence the next presidential election in 2016. “Why would he be focused on an election that he’s not in?” the official said.

MORE: The full text of the State of the Union

In fact, the President was focused not only on 2016, but also 2018, 2020 and many elections beyond. “It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next 15 years, and for decades to come,” he said. In politics, choose means vote. And Obama, like all politicians before him, wanted to keep winning.

Legacy matters because the White House knows a simple truth: last fall’s Republican sweep put an end to President Obama’s big-ticket domestic legislative agenda. His work, in other words, is all but done in Congress — no big tax reform, no entitlement fix or comprehensive immigration solution will come while he still has flying rights on Air Force One. What remains for the next two years is regulatory tinkering, budget fights, a long-shot chance of corporate-tax reform and high hopes for some new trade deals sure to upset his party’s base.

MORE: Obama made history by using this word during the State of the Union

But the State of the Union address, the most watched annual public-policy wish list in human history, has never been about new legislative proposals. It is about setting the terms of debate, and all the annual speeches to a joint session of Congress, Obama has only ever really had one thematic frame: the American middle class is struggling. I can help, if my political foes stop playing politics. So let’s do this, America.

The speeches have been good, as a rule, and Tuesday was no exception, but the words have still missed their mark as often as not, because the economic foundation they landed upon was in tatters. Now that it is firming up again, his luck might turn around. Though it is far from certain which Obama history will ultimately remember: The one calling the country to join hands, or the one telling voters to pick a side.

TIME state of the union

The State of the Union Brought Out the Troll in Everyone

Troll on, Twitter.

The State of the Union is becoming a huge night for social media. In 2014, 2.1 million tweets were sent out during the live telecast and in the hour before the 2015 address Twitter was already abuzz. And the trolls (and non-trolls masquerading as such) were out to play.

Check out some of the most trolly tweets of the night.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana takes a swipe at the President, but spoils it with a grammar mistake.

Former Congressman John Dingell shared his plans for his night away from the Capitol.

Rep. Steve King of Iowa took a dig at one of the First Lady’s guests

White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer brings back memories of Obama-suits-past. The Internet let out a collective shudder.

Sen. Rand Paul on Obama’s free community college proposal

 

 

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