Instead of big promises of overhaul, small changes to the United States legislation and economy were suggested as items to focus on in 2014. President Barack Obama welcomed the speaker of the house Joe Biden and the people of America at the 2014 State of the Union address this week.
Obama told a story about a teacher who helped raise graduation levels in more than three decades. American businesses have added more than eight million new jobs in the past four years, he said. America’s people are weaning off foreign oil and agriculture and medicine are booming. The war in the Middle East is finally drawing to a close after 12 years.
“Tonight, this chamber speaks with one voice, to the people we represent: It is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong,” Obama said.
Unemployment rates are the lowest in five years, he said. The housing market is booming, and more oil is being produced in the country than being bought from overseas. The deficit has been cut in half and America is the top country to invest in.
The United States is better positioned for the 21st century than any other country, Obama said.
The government shutdown hindered the productivity of the nation and wronged the American people.
Congress made strides in correcting the budget cut and bettering understanding between the Democrat and Republican parties, he said.
“In the coming months, let’s see what we can do together,” Obama said. “Let’s make this year a year of action.”
Even if Congress does not cooperate, Obama said he will use executive orders and presidential authority to make action occur.
Obama asked those in the chamber to focus on the American people and to believe in opportunity for all, the principles America is based on.
That ideology has suffered some blows due to technology, shift of global markets and elimination of middle class jobs, he said.
The economic foundations for the middle class were weakened, Obama said. After four years, corporations and big business have flourished, while middle class jobs have stalled.
Minimum wage has risen slightly but not enough to fuel upward mobility.
Changes will be proposed to help stabilize the gap between classes, Obama said. Action without legislation will speed the process.
Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program has helped childhood obesity rates go down without a need for legislative action, he said. Joining forces is another program that has helped 400,000 veterans and their spouses find jobs. The White House has set up a College Opportunity Summit to reduce inequality and improve college graduation rates. Homelessness and marriage equality are issues that will be focused on as well.
Birth circumstances are unimportant, Obama said. Opportunity is what America is based on and a good job is the first step. Companies plan to hire more workers with the economy picking up.
The tax code will need to be reworked, Obama said. The current tax code punishes businesses investing in America and rewards companies keeping profits abroad. Fixing the tax code would reverse the current situation and bring jobs back to the U.S.
Money saved from tax reform can be used for rebuilding infrastructure, he said. Bills passed this summer can be completed to make the country a faster, more efficient place. The next wave of technology can bring jobs into the county.
Carbon pollution will be regulated to control climate change, Obama said. Leaving a healthier planet is essential.
Immigration reform will shrink the deficit and make the U.S. a more attractive place for international businesses, he said. Immigration reform is a priority.
Raising federal minimum wage and wage equality for women is priority, Obama said.
Making health care affordable through the Affordable Healthcare Act has worked, he said. Being dropped to a pre-existing condition and women having to pay more for health insurance is a thing of the past.
At the end of the address, Obama recognized Army Ranger Cory Remsburg, who was injured by a roadside bomb while deployed in Afghanistan in 2009.
“Men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy,” Obama said.