In terms of college, as Inside Higher Ed put it “Thanks to leaks in the days leading up to it, there were virtually no surprises in President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night.”
One thing I noticed, however, was that in the section of the speech about student loans where Obama urged the Senate to pass the student loan reform bill, Obama also also said: “And, by the way, it’s time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costs, because they, too, have a responsibility to help solve this problem.”
“By the way” is an interesting rhetorical device. This means Obama believes he is talking about a serious issue, but he isn’t going to do anything about it. Don’t expect colleges to begin reigning in costs anytime soon.
The only other time the president used “by the way” in his speech was to reference another low-impact issue:
…It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care. And by the way, I want to acknowledge our first lady, Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make kids healthier.
Thank you, honey.