MAIN STREET CLOSED, IN BOTH DIRECTIONS, BETWEEN UNIVERSITY AND ELMWOOD
The President and The State of the Union
(AP) - Seeking to energize his sluggish second term, President Obama vowed Tuesday night in his State of the Union address to sidestep Congress "whenever and wherever" necessary to narrow economic disparities between rich and poor.
He unveiled an array of executive actions that included increasing the minimum wage for some federal contract workers and making it easier for millions of low-income Americans to save for retirement. "America does not stand still and neither do I," Obama declared in his annual prime-time address before a joint session of Congress and millions of Americans watching on television.
He pressed Congress to revive a stalled immigration overhaul and pass an across-the-board increase in the federal minimum wage. His one new legislation proposal calls for expanding an income tax credit for workers without children. Republicans, who saw their own approval ratings fall further in 2013, have also picked up the refrain of income inequality in recent months, though they have cast the widening gap between rich and poor as a symptom of Obama's economic policies. "Republicans have plans to close the gap, plans that focus on jobs first without more spending, government bailouts and red tape," said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., in the Republicans' televised response to the president's speech.
The economy and other domestic issues, including health care, dominated the president's address. He touched only briefly on foreign policy, touting the drawdown of American troops from Afghanistan this year and reiterating his threat to veto any new sanctions Congress might levy on Iran while nuclear negotiations with the Islamic republic are underway.
Even as Washington increasingly focuses on income inequality, many parts of the economy are gaining strength, with corporate profits soaring and the financial markets hitting record highs. But with millions of Americans still out of work or struggling with stagnant wages, Obama has found himself in the sometimes awkward position of promoting a recovery that feels distant for many.