State of the Union: Obama calls for action, with or without Congress

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WASHINGTON D.C. (CNN) - The year of action. That's what 2014 is all about for President Barack Obama, and it was the underlying theme of Tuesday night's State of the Union address.

"Let's make this a year of action," Obama said. "That's what most Americans want -- for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations."
It's an optimistic goal for a President with a 43% approval rating entering his sixth year in office and facing a determined opposition otherwise known as the House of Representatives.

Speaking from the lectern inside the House chamber for his fifth State of the Union address, Obama outlined his goals and priorities that included economic opportunity, energy and education.

"... What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require congressional action, and I'm eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still, and neither will I," Obama said during his speech.

In other words, with up to 535 members of Congress sitting in the same room during his speech, the President told them that he's going to go around them if necessary. One way is by using his pen to sign executive orders -- unilateral presidential directives.
Obama called for more government support to rebuild the nation's infrastructure, but warned he was willing to go it alone.

"I will act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects, so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible," he said.

The Republican Party has balked at the idea.

Speaking to reporters earlier Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner said Republicans are "just not going to sit here and let the President trample all over us."

Obama also chided congressional Republicans for trying to undermine his signature health care law, which passed in 2010 without GOP support.

"The American people aren't interested in refighting old battles," Obama said.
"Let's not have another 40-something votes to repeal a law that's already helping millions of Americans. ...The first 40 were plenty. ... We all owe it to the American people to say what we're for, not just what we're against."

Separately, the President also unveiled a proposal for a new type of account that allows Americans to save for retirement.

Obama said he will order the U.S. Treasury to create a new federal retirement savings account called MyRA, a savings bond that he added would guarantee "a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in." It will be available to those whose jobs don't offer traditional retirement savings programs, he said.

Additionally, Obama called for:

-- Eliminating $4 billion in tax subsidies for the fossil fuel industries "that don't need it" and instead "invest more in fuels of the future that do.
-- Women who make 77 cents for each dollar a man earns to get equal pay for equal work, adding "that is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment."
-- Setting new fuel standards for American trucks to help reduce U.S. oil imports "and what we pay at the pump."

-- Reworking the corporate tax code. He urged Congress to work with him to close "wasteful, complicated loopholes that punish businesses investing here" and instead "lower tax rates for businesses that create jobs right here at home."

-- Congress to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay in 2014.

Obama also reiterated that he will veto any new sanctions bill from Congress that would derail talks on preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, adding that "for the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed."
Brazile: Obama's message: A dysfunctional Congress, but we'll get it done anyway
Even as the President cited a growing economy and increasing corporate profits, Obama said average wages have been flat.

He announced an executive order impacting the minimum wage, an issue that has not received a lot of traction yet in Congress as Republicans largely oppose any federal increase, saying it will place a burden on employers.

He asked Congress to get on board with a Democratic proposal to raise the federal minimum to $10.10 per hour.

Obama also promised an executive order to raise the minimum wage for some government contract workers. While the action is relatively narrow and affects less than half a million people, the hope is that this will spur Congress to follow suit for all low-wage workers in the U.S.


  • Tim

    There are 3 branches of government. Obama needs to except it and start working with congress instead of playing the side stepping game… The man is an exceptional LIAR , I will give him that !

    • JA

      When you have a group focused on doing what’s best for them instead of what’s best for the majority, or allowing things like the government to shut down because they aren’t getting their way, they become necessary.

      Here’s how many executive orders the last few presidents have used:
      Ronald Reagan 381
      George H.W. Bush 166
      Bill Clinton 364
      George W. Bush 291
      Barack Obama (as of 01/14/14) 167

      Doesn’t seem to be using an unusual amount, but it may be hard to accept that.

      • Wake Up

        JA, the Obama haters are so blinded by their hate that they do not think straight. They can not see that Republicans were for the health care mandate (when it came out of the Heritage Foundation and implement by a Republic governor named Romney) before they were against it (when it came from President Obama)! Also, Republicans were for universal contraception coverage (when Governor Huckabee sign the requirement when he was the Governor of Arkansas) before they were against it (in Huckabee’s speech last weekend).

      • J

        Yup, it’s frustrating, Wake Up.

        Those hating ACA “because it is socialism” will surely utilize SOCIAL security. Those hating the idea of providing cheaper health care for those that can’t afford it seem to support blowing up foreign countries. Those screaming for “limited government,” support the government being involved with a woman’s body. I could continue…

        Then there’s a president who seems determined to do what’s best for the majority: healthcare reform to fix the ridiculous inflation of health costs, increased minimum wage so everyone with a job can have a reasonable standard of living, bringing our troops back home from a war that will never “end” otherwise, decreasing the unemployment rate, immigration reform, women’s rights, energy independence, working towards lowering pollution (climate change is real, people) etc…

        Then it won’t happen due to the other party blocking it, or will just barely happen in a way it will fail, and he’ll receive the blame. I don’t know if it’s just prejudice or people being that serious about sticking to party lines, but either case it’s upsetting.

  • Branko Pezdi

    Obama and the Democrat Party have perfected the art of dumbing down people, pandering to the stupid, and therefore managing to stay in power virtually indefinitely.

  • kevin

    all you guys complaining about things yall cant change either aint not a one of yall could do any better our governmentis a failing bissness .we pay for it but cant controll it .sad aint it

      • J

        Here’s how many executive orders the last few presidents have used:
        Ronald Reagan 381
        George H.W. Bush 166
        Bill Clinton 364
        George W. Bush 291
        Barack Obama (as of 01/14/14) 167

        So the previous presidents were bigger dictators. Gotcha.

  • Tim

    ” Those hating ACA “because it is
    socialism” will surely utilize SOCIAL
    security ”

    Yes they will, because they were forced to pay in. Its thier money not the governments.

    I think the dumbing down has reached a new level !

    • Wake Up

      Tim, the average social security recipient will draw out all the money they contributed in their work life after about five years on social security. After that it is the contributions of those that died before retiring and other people’s money that they get in their monthly check. There is no doubt that social security is a socialist type program — and people love it! Before social security, those older than 65 had the highest levels of poverty. After social security, that age group has the lowest levels of poverty! Interestingly, the Republicans tried to kill social security after it was passed, just as they are now trying to kill the ACA. Think goodness they did not succeed then, and they will not now with the ACA!!

  • Tim

    Wake up, ACA is on borrowed time.. Just like prohibition it will fail and be repealed.. I don’t think either party has the correct solution to fix healthcare. Aca has caused many working class americans to lose HC including myself.

    • J

      I’m sure he would have preferred a single payer system. I would have too. It has worked in other countries, whereas the pre-ACA healthcare system was atrocious. However, unfortunately it surely wouldn’t have passed. This was a compromise, and a step forward.

      ACA has caused many working class Americans to be able to afford healthcare.

    • Wake Up

      Tim, if you feel comfortable telling us, I would like to hear the details concerning exactly how the ACA caused you to lose your healthcare insurance.

  • April Felicia Mears Johnson

    Ut Ok what upsets me I worked my whole life payed my taxes no I am unable to work and.I.can’t draw my disability or my ssi check because of a.messed up government my husband served his country he lost list leg he draws his check that fine but I worked because his check don’t pay all the.bills I had to work my doctor tell me my health is so bad I can’t work n.more some day I’m no able to get out of the bed but they tell me because my husband draws I can’t that what upsets me then they make food cost and gas prices go up hell yea I’m upset at what is going on in the government and president maybe if they had to live like we did they would see how we have to live instead of living in some big house people doing their cooking cleaning living with out the worry if their power or water will get cut off because they are living life making a lot of money off the taxes we pay in and that why people who needs their disability checks and their ssi checks I say cut the president and the governments pay checks let them see how it is to worry about bills like we do its hard both parents being disabled and trying to have to kids in school I’m tired of the government and president taking from us they never give to help us they hurt us they don’t help they don’t care about any thing but keeping their jobs and being able to live their lifestyle they are living and that’s is

    • J

      Too bad you don’t have facts.

      The Lifeline program originated in 1984, during the administration of Ronald Reagan; it was expanded in 1996, during the administration of Bill Clinton; and its first cellular provider service (SafeLink Wireless) was launched by TracFone in 2008, during the administration of George W. Bush. All of these milestones were passed prior to the advent of the Obama administration.

  • Tim

    j, yes , now many are on medicad.. Again ACA is on borrowed time … Atleast Alabama was smart enough to not expand medicaid… Very small % of people have actually bought ins on exchanges which is not subsidized.. The worst thing is it will take years. to fix the damage Obama has done to this great country…

  • Bill

    How much longer do we(the tax payers )have to support the 3rd and 4th Generations of welfare benefactors? The children born into these families that have been on some kind of welfare for GENERATIONS don’t know what RIGHT looks like. It’s NOT the childrens fault. We HAVE to break this cycle of governmnet handouts!!!!! People have to learn to stand on their OWN two feet!!
    There are those who need a helping hand because of disabilities and TEMPORARY out of work. But again…..NOT for generations. If nothing else offset the welfare payments with some kind of work requirement to receive payment. There are those who like to use Europe as an example of how GREAT things are over there. Their “welfare” folks work for their check!!! Even if it’s picking up trash and sweeping the streets.
    Our “welfare” folks sit on their A– watch wide sreen TV’s, drive nice cars and talk on government provided cell phones. What’s wrong with this picture?????
    Go ahead and let this administration “Brainwash” you that their way is the best way. There’s 535+ other idiots(both republication and Democrate) that can’t find their way in the dark! The President is ONLY one man….who can’t LEAD!!!
    Elections are coming up soon. Hold their feet to the fire.

    • Wake Up

      Bill, as usual, your post is heavy on hate and light on facts! Seventy percent of all welfare recipients are on the program less than 24 months. Also, President Clinton signed legislation that limits welfare to no more than two years at one time and a five year lifetime limit. Your tired old “they are living on welfare for generations” argument died with Ronald Reagan!

      • J

        Although, I can agree with him that the system of just giving money can be improved. There are other countries that offer assistance that isn’t monetary (as well as a check), such as training. This allows the person to build skills that will help get them back into the work force.

        However, the rest of the argument is severely flawed.

  • Bill

    There’s no hate. I was on welfare as a young boy and that program as it existed back then is gone. Your numbers may reflect what the system wants you to believe. Do your own study and go to the section eight housing areas and ask how long they’ve been on the system……I have. There isn’t any teeth in the enforcement of the program and there isn’t enough staffing to police it either.
    “J” is another Liberal who believes………never mine.

    • J

      The enforcement program is the problem, not the program itself. Cut the programs, and you’re going to punish the people that legitimately need it. It’s interesting how the same group that claims they’re pro-life are so eager to pull support for any children unlucky enough to end up in a home that depends on such social systems.

      What do I believe? It shouldn’t surprise me you are quick to pass judgment.

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