State of the Union: Obama challenges divided Congress to back his job proposals

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union Speech. Credit: Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union Speech.
Credit: Reuters

President Barack Obama sketched an ambitious second-term agenda in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, challenging a divided Congress to back his proposals to create middle-class jobs and overhaul gun and immigration laws.

Obama entered the well of the House of Representatives for his address to a joint session of Congress at a time when he is again locked in a bitter battle with Republicans over taxes and spending, and this tussle cast a heavy shadow over his appearance.

Americans, said Obama, do not expect government to solve every problem, “but they do expect us to put the nation’s interests before party. They do expect us to forge reasonable compromises where we can.”

But many of his proposals may face a difficult path getting through Congress. He proposed raising the U.S. minimum wage for workers from $7.25 to $9 an hour. Republicans typically oppose increases in the minimum wage out of worry it will prompt businesses to fire workers.

He backed a $50 billion program to fund infrastructure rebuilding projects like fixing aging bridges, but many Republicans are adamantly against such stimulative government spending after Obama’s first term $787 billion stimulus did not lead to a dramatic reversal in the unemployment rate.

“Our economy is adding jobs, but too many people still can’t find full-time employment,” he said. “Corporate profits have rocketed to all-time highs, but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged.”

It was the kind of rhetoric Obama used to great effect during his re-election campaign when he appealed to the middle class, and he made clear he wanted to help those who supported him, to “reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth, a rising, thriving middle class.”

Seeking to use momentum from his re-election victory, the Democratic president urged Congress to increase taxes on the wealthy, overhaul U.S. immigration laws and enact tighter gun controls. He has about a year to get his legislative priorities enacted before Americans shift attention to 2014 congressional elections.

In a nod to Republican worries over what they see as out-of-control government spending on entitlement programs for the elderly and poor, Obama said he would back efforts to reduce health-care spending by the same amount over a decade as proposed by a bipartisan commission whose recommendations he had rejected.

While heavily focused on domestic policies, Obama’s speech had some crucial foreign policy elements.

He outlined steps to unwind U.S. involvement in the unpopular 11-year-old Afghanistan war and plans to announce that 34,000 of the 66,000 U.S. troops still there will return by early 2014.

He did not give details of what sort of residual American presence might remain in Afghanistan after 2014, when the U.S. withdrawal is supposed to be complete.

Obama’s speech came a day after North Korea conducted its third underground test of a nuclear device in response to what it called U.S. hostility.

“Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only isolate them further, as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats,” he said.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Actor Tracy Morgan wasn't wearing seatbelt in June…

By Jonathan Stempel(Reuters) - Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and others in his limousine were not wearing seat belts when their vehicle was struck by…

National

Connected cars: Is AT&T leaving Verizon in its…

By Marina Lopes and Bernie WoodallWASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - Verizon Communications, the No.1 U.S. wireless carrier known for its widespread coverage, is falling behind its biggest…

Local

Grand jury begins hearing evidence in Eric Garner…

A grand jury began hearing evidence Monday relating to the death of Eric Garner while in police custody in July. Garner, 43, of Staten Island,…

Local

Mayor announces plan for solar panels at city…

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the planned installation of 24 new solar panels at city schools on Monday morning. The panels, a $28 million investment,…

Going Out

Taste what Lower Manhattan is cooking at today's…

The Lower Manhattan food scene has changed a lot in three years, which you can taste first hand when the neighborhood's food festival returns. On…

Television

Review: 'Selfie' tries to coast on the charm…

"Selfie" offers cute leads and some good jokes, but focuses too much on a vague distaste for social media.

Movies

Review: Jason Reitman's 'Men, Women & Children' is…

Jason Reitman's "Men, Women & Children" takes a hysterical and melodramatic look at disconnection in the digital age, turning strong actors into zombies.

Television

TV watch list, Monday, Sept. 29: 'Castle,' 'Mom'…

Tune in for the season premieres of "Castle," "Mom" and "NCIS: Los Angeles."

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

MLB

Joe Girardi not confident David Robertson will return…

David Robertson was as seamless as anyone could be replacing Mariano Rivera as he converted 39 saves, with a 3.08 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony preaches patience with new coach, offense

While star forward Carmelo Anthony said he’s “enthusiastic” and “optimistic” for the upcoming season, he still wants everyone — from within the locker room and…

Education

How to ace your private school interview

Getting ready for a private school interview can be daunting for many, most of whom might never have been in an interview situation before. We’ve…

Education

5 questions parents should ask while visiting private…

It can be hard to know what to look for when searching for a new school for your child. Parents considering several different schools can…

Education

3 ways to save money on college application…

With the average high school student applying to 5 or 6 schools, hefty application and test score fees can add up quickly. We’ve compiled some…

Education

Nap rooms: The latest college campus trend

College is a time filled with new experiences (and lots of schoolwork), leaving little time for students to get a good night’s rest. University of…

Comments

1

  1. Hi there, simply become alert to your blog via Google, and
    found that it’s truly informative. I’m going to be careful for brussels.
    I’ll appreciate when you proceed this in future. Many other people will probably be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

    my page; [url=http://www.weprintdirectforless.com/printing-deals.asp]Rack Cards[/url]