Okay sure, the President’s State of the Union is an address to all Americans but from the press leading up to it, he’ll discuss a few hot issues pertinent to women.

1.     Free Community College

The White House has already announced the President’s plan to provide free community college tuition for two years to “responsible students.” As nice as that sounds for teenagers who might struggle to pay for college, it’s estimated the plan will cost $34.2 billion annually with the federal government covering $25.6 billion of that. As a working mom, I want my children to experience the joy of learning at the collegiate level–and I want them to graduate with as little financial burden to both of us as possible. But this plan only seems “free;” it will cost taxpayers and some are even calling it a “federal handout to the community college system.” You can read more about this issue here.

2.     Paid Parental Leave.

The President will no doubt mention his intention to sign a Presidential memorandum granting four to six weeks of paid parental leave to federal employees. Maternity and paternity leave are important issues. But the government doesn’t need to pad an already hefty package of federal employee benefits. It should instead consider policies that will make it easier for  private companies to work with their employees to negotiate suitable maternity–and paternity–leave packages.

3.     Proposal To Increase Taxes

In his address the President will ask for $320 billion in tax increases over 10 years. The plan calls for an “increase in the capital gains and dividends rate on couples making more than $500,000 per year to 28 percent.” He will claim that this aids middle-class Americans because he’ll offer a credit for families where both spouses work and will expand the child care tax credit to up to $3,000 per child under age 5. I’m no economist but it sounds like he wants to tax hard-working families more than give us some money back through specific avenues like the child care tax credit. Why not just keep taxes lower–or even decrease them further?

4.     Government Loans for Less on Housing

The President has indicated that he planned to reduce  fees on government-backed loans—something he’ll most likely bring it up during the address too. Democrats suggest the plan would benefit low and middle-income homeowners, saving them a few Benjamins a year. Republicans say it works against the bigger picture: Removing the government from the real estate business entirely.  After all, we’ve seen what happens when the government tries to make easy-money available for loans, the housing bubble and collapse.  We don’t want a repeat of that sad saga. More single women buy homes than single men, so this is definitely an issue to watch.

5.  Joni Ernst’s Response

It’s customary for the party opposite the President’s to give a rebuttal to the State of the Union. This year, the Republican Party chose Iowa freshman Senator Ernst to give her party’s take on the President’s ideas. Ernst is an inspirational political voice: She’ll be the first freshman in the Senate to offer her party’s rebuttal and “she was also the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress and the first female combat veteran to serve in the Senate.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. Ernst “is a mother, a soldier and an independent leader who serves in Washington because Americans voted for change in the last election.”

Let’s listen to what she says and hope she provides an inspirational vision of truly independent women.