President Obama jumped right into a Minnesota reference minutes into his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, citing the story of St. Anthony woman Rebekah Erler.
"America, Rebekah and Ben's story is our story. They represent the millions who have worked hard -- sacrificed, and retooled," he said.
Erler was featured in Obama's speech at the Lake Harriet Bandshell last June -- through it all, he kept referring to his middle-class muse whose letter brought him to Minnesota on the first stop of his "Day in the Life" tour, and Erler was in attendance on Tuesday.
The two met over lunch at Matt's Bar in south Minneapolis where they each had a Jucy Lucy while discussing the struggles her family faced after her husband's construction business folded.
"Ten years ago, Rebekah and Ben Erler were newlyweds. She worked as a waitress, he worked construction. They were young and in love in America."
Free community college
Obama discussed his proposal of two free years of community college for all Americans. According to the proposal, three-quarters of the cost would be covered by federal funding, and states would be responsible for the rest. Students would also have to maintain a 2.5 grade point average.
"I am sending Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college—to zero."
Obama's middle-class tax code proposes closing the trust fund loophole and other "wasteful" tax policies to help level the playing field. Obama called the tax code unfair, saying the 400 richest taxpayers paid an average tax rate below 17 percent in 2012.
"Lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing," he said.
Obama proposed helping middle-class families with young kids cover child care costs by tripling the maximum child care tax credit to $3,000 per child and cutting taxes for 5.1 million families.
"We can use that money to help more families pay for child care and send their kids to college."
Federal funding for individualized medicine
"We are pleased and heartened that President Obama plans to increase federal funding for precision or individualized medicine, which Mayo Clinic views as integral to the future of health care. We eagerly await more details of the initiative and look forward to contributing however we can. The Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine has been a leader in this field for many years and opened the world's first integrated, multidisciplinary Individualized Medicine Clinic for patients with rare or undiagnosed diseases and patients with refractory cancers." Acting Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, Richard Weinshilboum M.D., said.