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
International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

National

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement…

(Reuters) - A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion,…

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…

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]