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Obama calls 2014 ‘a year of action’

President presses Congress to act in State of the Union address

Posted: January 29, 2014 7:00 a.m.
Updated: January 29, 2014 7:00 a.m.

President Barack Obama delivers the State of Union address before a joint session of Congress in the House chamber Tuesday in Washington, as Vice President Joe Biden, left, and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, listen.


WASHINGTON (AP) — Seeking to energize his sluggish second term, President Barack 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 modest executive actions to increase the minimum wage for federal contract workers and make 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 prime-time address before a joint session of Congress and millions of Americans watching on television.

Draped in presidential grandeur, Obama’s address served as the opening salvo in a midterm election fight for control of Congress that will quickly consume Washington’s attention. Democrats, seeking to cast Republicans as uncaring about the middle class, have urged Obama to focus on economic mobility and the gap between the wealthy and poor. His emphasis on executive actions was greeted with shouts of “Do it!” from many members of his party.

Declaring 2104 a “year of action,” Obama also sought to convince an increasingly skeptical public that he still wields power in Washington even if he can’t crack through the divisions in Congress. Burned by a series of legislative failures in 2013, White House aides say they’re now redefiningsuccess not by what Obama can jam through Congress but by what actions he can take on his own.

Indeed, Obama’s proposals for action by lawmakers were slim and largely focused on old ideas that have gained little traction over the past year. He pressed Congress to revive a stalled immigration overhaul, pass an across-the-board increase in the federal minimum wage and expand access to early childhood education — all ideas that gained little traction after he proposed them last year. The president’s 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.

“The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by, let alone get ahead,” Obama said. “And too many still aren’t working at all.”

The president garnered some of his loudest applause — at least from Democrats — when he took on lawmakers who oppose his signature health care law, which floundered in its initial rollout last fall. Obama said that while he doesn’t expect to convince Republicans on the merits of the law, “I know that the American people aren’t interested in refighting old battles.”

Republicans quickly panned the executive initiative as ineffective. Said Boehner: “The question is how many people, Mr. President, will this executive action actually help? I suspect the answer is somewhere close to zero.”

White House officials countered by saying many more working people would benefit if Congress would go along with Obama’s plan to raise the minimum wage across the board.


ohhyaa: Posted: January 29, 2014 7:15 a.m.

I will side step Congress whenever and wherever necessary to narrow economic disparities between rich and poor.

So business as usual. No clear vision for adding jobs, more red tape for small businesses and disproportionate taxation. Good job buddy.

OldReliable: Posted: January 29, 2014 7:32 a.m.

Obama lives in a dream world.

michael: Posted: January 29, 2014 8:32 a.m.

I thought Obama would be a great President, I wish I was correct.

17trillion: Posted: January 29, 2014 8:45 a.m.

I didn't think he would be a good President Michael, how could he, he's never done a thing in his life. But, I was cautiously optimistic. Today he is a small man with small ideas. He's the biggest partisan and yet says with a straight face that partisanship is the problem.

Remember his first meeting with congressional leaders from both parties and some Repub said something and his retort was something to the effect that he won the election and he will have his way. That shows the smallness of the man right there in his first days on the job.

michael: Posted: January 29, 2014 9:14 a.m.

He fooled me once but not twice. Yes I remember when Obama told McCain " I won". I can no longer watch him speak! He should receive an award for the biggest lose.

projalice11: Posted: January 29, 2014 9:19 a.m.

These priorities matter regardless of what one's thinks.
Agree or disagree they are all important for a better way of life for all Americans.


1. Work to overturn Citizens United and get money out of our politics.

2. Pass a new Voting Rights Act and stop voter suppression in the states.

3. Prevent war with Iran.

4. Raise the minimum wage (federally or locally).

5. Work to defend and expand Social Security benefits.

6. Fight against fracking and other polluting industries.

7. Fully implement Obamacare.

michael: Posted: January 29, 2014 9:30 a.m.

I can agree with numbers 1,2, 3, and maybe 4. 5 is in trouble. To support 6 I would have to forget all I know about fracking and the production of natural gas and oil. NO to number 7 in its current form.

Vtown123: Posted: January 29, 2014 11:33 a.m.

Lies, lies, and more lies. Our government is so screwed up, it doesn't matter who our president is. They think they can change everything, but once they get into office, they are told what to do. They are merely puppets. Big government is taking over George Orwell style.

aSCVmom: Posted: January 29, 2014 12:05 p.m.

I can NOT watch him or listen to him...!!!!!!!!
PLUS... I think it is a SAD,SAD state when accoring to NBC/Wall Street Journal...63 % of those polled don't believe him... I want a President I can admire...I guess I will keep waiting....AND...proably wait some more...

src: Posted: January 29, 2014 1:02 p.m.

1) Obama said he was getting the money out of politics, wasn't going to have lobbyists in his cabinet. Podesta was his most recent acquisition, hypocritical much?
2) A Voter ID act to true up the vote only makes sense.
3) Only Iran can prevent war with Iran.
4) No. Employees should be paid based on what they bring to the table. Low skill = low wages. Acquire skills, education, pull yourself up. Don't look for a hand to pull you.
5) SS age needs to be raised, ultimately SS needs to be done away with, it's a failed program. Change it to a personal program similar to a 401k.
6) Stop the needless EPA infringement on our production of energy and on the economy. This admin has been hijacked my environmental extremists. The president showed his hand last night.
7) I assume by "full implementation" you mean single payer, which is what they wanted all along, and what they will push for when this archaic legislation fails. Then we get to bail out the insurance companies. But, ultimately I see it back in front of SCOTUS and shot down as a tax can not be levied on a person for not buying something.

This man is a joke. He promised his voters he would not rule by executive order like his predecessor. He lied. He promised to close Gitmo back in 2007, the doors are still open, but we're going to close it now. I promise. Back to focusing on green energy, but just the installation. Where are all those solar panels getting produced? Didn't we fork out a TON of money for US production? Never mind that. Yes, he did end the Iraq war. And now several other cells have taken over again. And we're giving them more resources through our misguided efforts in Syria and North Africa. Afghanistan is going to be another debacle that will be handled poorly. He has overseen the largest increase in income disparity in our nation's history, now he wants to knock the top and middle down to bring the bottom up. Anyone who didn't see right through him after his first SOTU hasn't been paying attention. The man is a great campaigner, you've got to give him that. But possibly the worst leader this nation has ever, and hopefully will ever see. Can't wait for the fools to hop on Clinton '16.

DMeyer: Posted: January 29, 2014 2:32 p.m.

I didn't get to see his speech. Did he by chance say when we will all be getting our 2,500 bucks now that we have Obamacare? I keep checking the mail box and still no check.

stray: Posted: January 29, 2014 3:01 p.m.

@src - "This man is a joke"

That is an understatement!

@src - "He did end the Iraq war" -

That is correct src., but let's give credit where credit is due. George Bush signed a contract agreement with Iraq back in 2008 to be completely out of Iraq before the end of 2011. Obozo only implemented Bush's contract.

@src - "Obama is possibly the worst leader this nation has ever, and hopefully will ever see"

I fully agree with that, and I NEVER thought anybody could ever be worse than Jimmy "peanut brain" Carter !!!

All in all, the damage Obozo has done to this country is going to take a long time to fix. He has NEVER shown leadership and it's very apparent that it's HIS WAY or the HIGHWAY. Oh, and his promises for a TRANSPARENT administration... Where's that along with ALL of his other promises ??? It's been said before around here... All those promises that come out of his mouth are the SAME things that comes out of his a$$ ...


philellis: Posted: January 29, 2014 4:55 p.m.

Fortunately, several of the "checks and blances" provided by the Constitution are still working, otherwise Obama might be operating more like his hero Hugo Chavez.

cms96a: Posted: January 29, 2014 8:43 p.m.

So all we are getting from this bozo is ONE year of action??? What happened to the other 7 years?

ricketzz: Posted: January 30, 2014 6:08 a.m.

Whoever said the government is too corrupt to fix, and that it should be torn down and rebuilt, is correct. You could put Jesus in the Oval Office and he'd be doing jello shots with lobbyists before the week was up.

Power absolutely corrupts. The government is broken because we stopped forcing them to behave. We vote for big DoD appropriations or we vote for endless social programs; whatever we think will serve us best. We screwed our progeny. We didn't deserve the government we got after ww2 but we totally deserve the one we have now.

projalice11: Posted: January 30, 2014 8:23 a.m.

All is not lost. Big or small every bit of good news about the the economy is the step in the the right direction.

"The economy grew 3.2 percent in the final quarter of 2013, shrugging off the effects of the fall’s government shutdown and debt standoff, and raising hopes that the recovery is finally getting more robust."

stray: Posted: January 30, 2014 9:13 a.m.

@projalice - "Every bit of good news about the the economy is the step in the the right direction"

You forgot to mention that the price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, increased 1.2% in the fourth quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.7% in the fourth quarter. If you include food and energy prices, the percentages for domestic purchases increase substantially. Simply stated, it costs more to live! I'm sure that Obama blames George Bush for that too!

Just wait until you receive your new health care premiums under Obamacare and then determine if we're stepping in the right direction as you say.

walkinonsunshine: Posted: January 30, 2014 9:22 a.m.

To Obama "a yr of action" translates to= More tee times. See ya on the green. Is anyone really surprised?- "Obama’s proposals for action by lawmakers were slim and largely focused on old ideas that have gained little traction over the past year."

stray: Posted: January 30, 2014 3:37 p.m.

@projalice - "Fully implement Obamacare"

Below, in a video, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Seelius speaks about abortion language in Senate Health Bill. Kathleen Sebelius praises the accounting trick in the Senate Bill. In other words, everyone in the government system (Obamacare) will be forced to contribute to a separate fund for abortion coverage. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Still want to fully implement Obamacare projalice ???

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