Liz Schrayer

With President Obama’s fifth State of the Union tonight, most of the pundits are busy speculating on his priorities for the year. I keep thinking about his legacy.

In last year’s State of the Union, President Obama challenged the world to “eradicate… extreme global poverty.” And the truth is, it actually could happen in our lifetime.

SOTU-2_2Last week, Bill and Melinda Gates outlined how there will be almost no poor countries left in the world by 2035. Programs funded by the International Affairs Budget will help accomplish this, and in fact already have. Since 1990, the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day has been cut in half.

George W. Bush’s legacy has largely been defined by PEPFAR, a program that the Obama administration has embraced, and that continues to save millions of lives in Africa. President Obama has built on these programs, launching new initiatives in this arena, engaging the private sector, enhancing our accountability, and driving towards results. He, like his predecessor, recognizes that fighting global poverty is not just the right thing to do, but it also benefits America’s economic and security interests.

Tonight, President Obama has the opportunity to define his legacy of changing the course of millions of lives around the world. That’s a speech everyone will remember and all parties can agree on.

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