President Barack Obama finishes his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 28, 2014


January 29, 2014

State of the Union 2014: President Obama Calls for a Year of Action

President Barack Obama finishes his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 28, 2014

photo by Reuters/Larry Downing

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama spoke of America's progress in graduation rates, a rebounding housing market, growth in manufacturing jobs, producing more oil at home, and reducing deficits.

Obama called for “a year of action” to achieve his 2014 agenda — from helping people sign up for health insurance, to immigration reform, to completing the mission in Afghanistan. He urged cooperation between Democrats and Republicans to get things done and work on behalf of all citizens.

RAND is committed to raising the level of public policy debates and offering evidence-based, actionable solutions. Below is a selection of findings from RAND's work in areas the President discussed: meeting U.S. veterans' needs; the value of early childhood education; the obesity epidemic; energy security and resources; climate change; the Affordable Care Act; income inequality; immigration; security and privacy; international emergency assistance; negotiations with Iran and why new sanctions will not work; Afghanistan after the drawdown; the current terrorist threat; the U.S. role in Syria; and America's ongoing mission to support democracy throughout the world.

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    Military Caregivers Aid Injured Warriors, but Little Is Known About Their Needs

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    Spouses, family members, and others who provide informal care to U.S. military members after they return home from conflict often toil long hours with little support, putting them at risk for physical, emotional, and financial harm.

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    The RAND Toolkit for Improving Programs that Address Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury

    Jan 8, 2014

    The four-part RAND toolkit is designed to help those overseeing portfolios of multiple programs understand, evaluate, and improve program performance. This research brief describes the purpose of each part.

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    Post-9/11 GI Bill: A Good Investment in Our Veterans Can Be Better

    Nov 8, 2013

    To better tailor the benefits to the actual needs of veterans, it is important to determine how much the implementation has really improved, and if there are lessons that can be drawn to improve future initiatives. Of critical concern is whether veterans have the information they need to take the best advantage of their GI Bill benefits.

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    Give Poor Kids a Chance with Early Education

    Apr 9, 2013

    Federal and state initiatives to advance preschool program quality will further ensure that these investments in early learning programs will achieve their full promise and promote healthy child development — physically, socially, emotionally, and academically, writes Lynn Karoly.

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    Michelle Obama Shouldn't Be the Only One Fighting Obesity

    Jan 16, 2014

    To identify the policies that will make a big fat dent in obesity rates, we first need an accurate diagnosis: Americans are overweight and obese because they are inundated with too much food. The use of impulse marketing strategies has skyrocketed, with invitations to indulge at every turn.

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    An Energy-Independent United States

    Mar 20, 2013

    Energy expert Keith Crane discusses shifts in U.S. energy markets, their economic implications and effects on gasoline and electricity prices, and how these developments might affect climate change.

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    Transitioning to a Carbon Tax Credit

    Feb 20, 2013

    Instead of setting an arbitrary Production Tax Credit value for producers of renewable energy, we could provide a tax credit based on the social value of clean electricity generation, writes Constantine Samaras.

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    Removing Road Blocks to Climate Change Adaptation Planning

    Oct 3, 2013

    Despite increasing interest and investments in climate adaptation science, the implementation of adaptation plans through institutional policies or other actions designed to reduce health vulnerabilities has been slow. Institutionalized assumptions are an important roadblock.

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    Adapting to Climate Change on the Coast: Lessons from Louisiana for Federal Policy

    Jan 23, 2013

    In this January 2013 Congressional Briefing, Jordan Fischbach discusses how RAND helped Louisiana develop its 2012 Coastal Master Plan and key lessons that can make other communities more resilient in the face of natural disasters.

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    Evidence for Climate Change Is Overwhelming

    Mar 8, 2012

    In case after case, the theory that best fits the data is the one that also leads inexorably to the conclusion that human influence is one of the most important forces currently changing the climate, writes Robert J. Lempert.

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    Plans Allowing People to Keep Health Insurance Will Not Threaten New Insurance Marketplaces

    Jan 21, 2014

    Although three options put forward to help people keep their old health insurance plans all would cause some disruption of the risk pools that are important to the insurance exchanges, none of the changes would be severe enough to threaten their viability.

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    The RAND Health Reform Opinion Study

    Dec 16, 2013

    The RAND Health Reform Opinion Study tracks public opinion of the Affordable Care Act by surveying the same people over time. This allows us to observe true changes in public opinion, rather than changes based on who was surveyed randomly.

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    Covering Emergency Care for Young Adults: Is the ACA Doing Its Job?

    Jun 5, 2013

    The dependent coverage provision of the Affordable Care Act is working as intended, say Andrew Mulcahy and Katherine Harris. In 2011, it spared individuals and hospitals from $147 million in emergency room costs.

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    Can the Affordable Care Act Help Asthma Sufferers Breathe Easier?

    Nov 20, 2013

    ACA reforms can potentially address barriers that get in the way of individuals with asthma getting the care they need. At the population level, the law has the potential to improve outcomes and efficiency and equity of services for chronic conditions such as asthma for which cost-effective preventive treatments exist.

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    Border Security Is Key to Immigration Reform

    Jul 12, 2013

    Two important aspects of border security bear continued attention: strategy must be developed as one part of a holistic system of immigration management and any progress on improving this system is reliant on having concrete and sensible objectives and measures of success.

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    The Facts About the Metadata 'Menace'

    Jan 26, 2014

    Metadata from a phone call include information such as the direction (who called whom), length, date and time. The program does not record the location or the name associated with a call. No one is listening to the call and no content is recorded.

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    How Philippines Typhoon Aid Helps USA

    Nov 11, 2013

    In the wake of Haiyan there is no substitute for the capabilities of the U.S. military. At the level of national interest, however, does the case for tasking the U.S. military to international natural disasters hold up — particularly in a time when the Pentagon has seen its budget slashed?

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    Why New Sanctions on Iran Won't Work

    Jan 23, 2014

    Sanctions are not a button that can be pushed to strengthen the U.S. position automatically; they must be used in tandem with diplomacy, and a deeper understanding of Iranian, Chinese and Russian motivations.

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    Seth Jones and Keith Crane: Afghanistan After the Drawdown

    Nov 27, 2013

    The United States should maintain roughly 8,000–12,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014 to manage the complex political, security, and economic challenges that will accompany the reduction in forces, say Seth Jones and Keith Crane.

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    Afghanistan After the Drawdown

    Dec 4, 2013

    It is relatively easy to criticize what's going wrong in Afghanistan. It is much harder to propose a realistic way forward. Seth Jones and Keith Crane in a new report, “Afghanistan After the Drawdown,” suggest a calibrated political and military approach that protects U.S. interests at a realistic level of manpower and investment.

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    The Extremist Threat to the U.S. Homeland

    Jan 15, 2014

    U.S. policymakers should be concerned about the number, size, and activity of al Qa'ida and other Salafi-jihadist groups. Some of these groups pose a direct threat to the U.S. homeland, embassies, and citizens overseas, while others are currently targeting local regimes.

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    Whither al Qaeda: A 'Tri-alogue' with Brian Michael Jenkins, Seth Jones, and Andrew Liepman

    Dec 10, 2013

    Recent comments by key U.S. lawmakers have again raised the issue of where the United States is in its campaign against al Qaeda. This has left some to wonder if the terrorism threat is increasing and if Americans are not as safe as they were a year or two ago. Three senior RAND analysts offer their take.

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    Al Qaeda Is Down — Al Qaedism Isn't

    Jan 6, 2014

    The counterterror campaign is a marathon run against a slowly declining revolutionary idea, al Qaedism, which will take many more years to stamp out fully. The U.S. should not lose sight of the fact that while 12 years of counterterrorism efforts have helped keep it safe, many more years of vigilance lie ahead.

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    Should the United States End Assistance to Syria's Rebels?

    Dec 23, 2013

    The American investment in Syria thus far can be accurately described as timid and minimal. The United States can do more to assist the rebels without directly using American military power or sliding into a strategy of escalation.

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    Preserving Ukraine's European Choice

    Dec 24, 2013

    The United States and the EU have a strong stake in keeping open a European option for Ukraine. A reorientation of Ukrainian policy back toward Russia would shift the strategic balance in Europe and have a negative impact on the prospects for democratic change on Europe's eastern periphery.

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    The Nature and Potential of Community Citizen Science

    Jun 18, 2019

    Community citizen science offers unique opportunities to engage the public in science and to enhance civic life. It is used for activities like monitoring ecosystem health and enhancing disaster preparedness. But there are challenges to translating citizen science research into action.