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1/28/2014 8:29:00 PM
Obama promises to flex his presidential muscles
President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

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 redefining success 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."

The president's speech drew an eclectic mix of visitors to the House chamber. Among those sitting with first lady Michelle Obama were two survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing, as well as Jason Collins, an openly gay former NBA player. Republican House Speaker John Boehner brought business owners from his home state of Ohio who say Obama's health care overhaul is hurting their companies. Willie Robertson, a star of the television show "Duck Dynasty," also scored a seat in the House gallery, courtesy of the Republicans.

Though Obama sought to emphasize his presidential powers, there are stark limits to what he can do on his own. For example, he unilaterally can raise the minimum hourly wage for new federal contractors from $7.25 to $10.10, as he announced, but he'll need Congress in order to extend that increase to all of America's workers.

The executive order for contractors, which Obama will sign in the coming weeks, is limited in its scope. It will not affect existing federal contracts, only new ones, and then only if other terms of an agreement change.

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.

"Give America a raise," Obama declared.

Among the president's other executive initiatives is a plan to help workers whose employers don't offer retirement savings plans. The program would allow first-time savers to start building up savings in Treasury bonds that eventually could be converted into traditional IRAs. Obama is expected to promote the "starter" accounts during a trip to Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The president also announced new commitments from companies to consider hiring the long-term unemployed, the creation of four "manufacturing hubs" where universities and businesses would work together to develop and train workers, new incentives to encourage truckers to switch from dirtier fuels to natural gas or other alternatives and a proposed tax credit to promote the adoption of cars that can run on cleaner fuels, such as hydrogen, natural gas or biofuels.

The president's go-it-alone strategy is in many ways an acknowledgment that he has failed to make good on two major promises to the American people: that he would change Washington's hyper-partisanship and that his re-election would break the Republican "fever" and clear the way for congressional action on major initiatives.

Some Republicans have warned that the president's focus on executive orders could backfire by angering GOP leaders who already don't trust the White House.

Obama isn't abandoning Congress completely. He made a renewed pitch for legislation to overhaul the nation's fractured immigration laws, perhaps his best opportunity for signing significant legislation this year. But the odds remain long, with many Republicans staunchly opposed to Obama's plan for creating a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people already in the U.S. illegally.

Seeking to give the GOP some room to maneuver, Obama did not specifically call for a citizenship pathway Tuesday, saying only, "Let's get it done. It's time."

Opening a new front with Congress, the president called for an extension of the earned-income tax credit, which helps boost the wages of low-income families through tax refunds. Obama wants it broadened so that it provides more help than it does now to workers without children, a view embraced by some Republicans and conservative economists.

Obama singled out Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who has proposed replacing the tax credit with a federal wage supplement for workers in certain low-paying jobs. Unlike Obama, however, Republicans have suggested expanding the tax credit as an alternative to increasing the minimum wage.

Pivoting briefly to foreign policy, Obama reaffirmed that the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan will formally conclude at the end of this year. But he said a small contingent of American forces could be left behind if the Afghan government quickly signs a bilateral security agreement, a prospect that looks increasingly uncertain.

The president also warned lawmakers in both parties against passing new economic sanctions against Iran while the U.S. and international partners are holding nuclear negotiations with the Islamic republic. He renewed his commitment to veto sanctions legislation if it passes, arguing that a new round of penalties would upend the sensitive diplomacy.

ICT - Hummingbead of Kingman
Related Links:
• Video of the State of the Union speech


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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014
Article comment by: pl .....

yeah, Frankie, I'm going to single-handedly reverse the nation's course on Common Core, Agenda 21, the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty, the homosexual agenda, massive illegal immigration, Islamic subterfuges, and the rapid Nazification of America. Maybe not, but I am going to tell the truth, in a setting where they thought I had been driven off in a hail of extortion attempts and other crimes.

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014
Article comment by: Here a thought

On the way out the door Pres Obama will do the country a favor and remove Marijuana from a schedule one narcotic thus ending prohibition or opening door for leglization nationwide.

Why....Because he can. With the boost to the economy a new prosperous industry will provide.
He may end up looking like a real peach... Maybe even get credit for turning the economy around.

That would be a fine "how do ya like me now" in the face of his haters.


Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

"I may be moving back to Kingman, to hold your criminals responsible"

You can't do that from BBC with a lawyer? Get real. You tapped for year about how "indictments and arrests" are coming, and they never did. Unless you are threatening some direct action (which you have hinted at in the past. Please, ask me to post exact quotes of yours, lol.), you will just do what you have done in years past. Post your rants at this website and never offering a shred of proof. You don't have to live in Kingman to do that.

Just more of the usual from you.

LOL


Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

One hears much about the 2% the job creators! Reality is without us 98% consumers they have no businesses, since no business can exist with out customers! The rich think their wealth just appeared out of no where, it like all things has a start and it starts with the first sale of a goods or service to a customer! Higher wages for the consumer means more profits, common sense says if one has more income you have more to spend on goods and services!

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Minor Corrections

The one thing that was an absolute riot last night was the Democratic SOTU. That puppet had a difficult time spewing the party talking points – it was obvious he was putting out a massive number of lies. And then there were the meaningless tirades. How sad that the Democrats cannot come up with a simple program based on what the people have to say, rather than the foolishness we saw from their lipped script that made not a whit of sense.

I know I am not alone it being excited to see the 2016 Clown Show hit the road as the Demos once again roll across the country with the saddest bunch of losers and fools lying and vying for the nomination. And I’m still holding out for Hillary Clinton to be the next loser they put out there. The big question is will the husband be the VP nominee?

And it will be so much fun to watch our usual suspects here jump from candidate to candidate – in a blind attempt to justify failure - always a laugh riot.



Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Another Thought

"That poor woman had a difficult time spewing the party talking points"

I actually was trying to doze off as she spoke and had my eyes closed. However, the tone of her voice and the way it was coming through was remnant of a teacher speaking to her second grade students. It really lacked any depth and sounded like she was still trying to convince herself. Not a very convincing speech. Maybe she should of just read "Green Eggs and Ham"!


Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: David Gaither

[quote] "If this is dictatorship give me more!"

Really scary that this is the belief of the liberals/socialists/communist/democrats!


Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Oh Ya

"Did he honestly say 30 million new jobs?"

Sorry but the answer is "NO"! It's apparent you didn't listen to the speech. Check the transcript and please stop pulling numbers out of a hat. CREDIBILITY!


Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Persuasion of the Pen

This article reads like a genteeled version of the feverish Rush Limbaugh.on his meds. It is writings like this that turn me farther away from the Repubs. And the author's written year of "2104" as the year for action, was the smallest clue that grew my conviction the author is wrong in many other significant directions.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: pl .....

If Obama really wanted to narrow economic disparities, he could begin by renouncing the treaties whose purpose and result was the transfer of our nation's industries and IT sector to other countries (including our enemies). Then he could really be a man and announce that Reagan's illegal amnesty to millions of criminal invaders was a sham, and they & their descendants will all be expelled from this country. Then he could RESIGN from office for continuing the Skull & Bones/Halliburton/Blackwater et.al. wars-based-upon-packs-of-lies and their own acts of terrorism - this having cost Americans trillions of dollars. I may be moving back to Kingman, to hold your criminals responsible, so I can take your sticks and stones here Bob, Victor, and the rest of you.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

He issued a legal document under his authority to require federal contractors to pay minimum $10.10 to average citizens! If this is dictatorship give me more! I think the fake patriots in the tea party/GOP care not one bit for the common working man/woman but keep their noses in that dark place behind the 2%, who only care about their corporate profits!

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Capt. Nice

Anyone who watched Obama and the state of the union has too much time on their hands.
From what I hear it was weak and more of the same garbage. I think he just loves to be in front of the camera, reading what someone else wrote and acting like some sort of King.
I watched a good western movie which was way more entertaining, plus way more educational and where people don't lie!


Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Edward Tomchin

Do you really believe anyone -- other than the other few radical rightwing wingnuts -- listen or believes anything you say? You're lies have been pointed out over and over again by people with a sense of responsibility. At long last, have you no shame?

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Frederick Williams

If the "Farm Bill" comes to the President to sign, I hope he vetoes it until they put back in it the 20% of the "Food Stamp Program" they cut from it.

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Bob Moore

The one thing that was an absolute riot last night was the “Republican Response.” That poor woman had a difficult time spewing the party talking points – it was obvious she was attempting to hold down her supper while putting out that massive number of lies. And then there were the other responses. How sad that the GOP cannot come up with a simple response based on what the president had to say, rather than the foolishness we saw from the total of four “responses” and not one of them made a whit of sense.

I know I am not alone it being excited to see the 2016 Clown Show hit the road as the GOP once again rolls across the country with the saddest bunch of losers and fools vying for the nomination. And I’m still holding out for Chris Christie to be the next loser they put out there. The big question is which will be the VP nominee?

And it will be so much fun to watch our usual suspects here jump from candidate to candidate – always a laugh riot.


Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Kingman Home owner

He didn't say anything about all the illegals' working in America either. If you all think they are only picking lettuce now you are fools. I bet there are 500 illegals working at the Power Plant out of Meridian Mississippi and they are making over 30 an hour. This wouldn't happen in Arizona.


Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: David Gaither

[quote] "So now he is in a transition from "Amateur" to "Dictator"!" Just make that "Amateur Dictator"!

[quote] "1. Cut the deficit in half - yeah, right after he doubled it." Uhmm, sorry, but it's the Congress that does that. Let me be "absolutely clear on that", the Repubs in Congress that did that...Dems certainly wouldn't have anything to do with that!

[quote] "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."

Yep, sure sounds like a dictator to me! You might add criminal to that for his actions certainly are not defending and protecting the Constitution, as the oath of office demands!

Voters, give the Repubs a majority in the House and Senate and they will impeach this BIG MISTAKE in the White House!


Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Who wrote this? Healthcare didn't dominate, wasn't brought up until 40 minutes in.

Watching intently, couldn't decide between ho-hum and small ball. Dems in focus group were not impressed.

One thing jumped out at me. Many flat out lies. Jotted a few down.

1. Cut the deficit in half - yeah, right after he doubled it. Old lie here.

2. Took credit for energy production in America. Right, but ONLY on private lands - still blocking it all on federal land.

3. Climate change (global warming) is real he said. Totally disproved. We should probably fear an ice age coming.

4. Showcased (used) the wonderful vet, ignored the 20% retirement cuts other vets wanted him to speak against.

5. LIED about medicaid signups. People sign up for medicaid everyday, not linked to obamacare. 3.9 million he said signed up under obamacare is a proven lie.

6. Did he honestly say 30 million new jobs? Are you kidding? We have the lowest # in the workforce since probably the Great Depression. 93 million Americans could be working that are not.

7. Going to close Gitmo he said. Really?

8. The worst for me - spoke of the bad economy. But...it's YOUR economy, o.

9. Women make less than men he said - especially if you are a woman working in his White House. Hahaha!


Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Rick O'Shea

So now he is in a transition from "Amateur" to "Dictator"!



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