August 23, 2014

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

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama looked to revive his second term in a sweeping speech to the nation Tuesday, outlining an agenda that calls for creating jobs and addressing the widening gap between rich and poor.

He offered a mix of new and old ideas in his annual State of the Union address, calling for a “Year of Action” and saying he wants to work with Congress but will act on his own when he can, if necessary.

“I’m eager to work with all of you,” Obama said in the speech to a nationally televised joint session of Congress. “But America does not stand still and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Entering his sixth year in office, Obama worked to tie economic woes to a long tide of history rather than his own record. He said that although the U.S. has largely pulled out of the economic recession, the middle class has lost jobs and income from three decades of blows, including shifts in technology and global competition.

“Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better,” he said. “But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. 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. And too many still aren’t working at all.”

He also strived to break away from Congress, substantively and politically.

Obama said he would:

  • Sign an executive order forcing federal contractors to raise the minimum wage for their low-paid workers — and he challenged Congress to do the same for all workers;
  • Introduce new retirement savings plans with a guaranteed return for workers whose employers do not offer such plans.
  • Host a summit to highlight policies that help working families.
  • Review the federal job training system and work with companies to increase apprenticeships.
  • Cut bureaucratic red tape by improving the efficiency of the federal permitting process.

Despite a host of pressing national security and foreign issues such as U.S. surveillance, Syria’s civil war and Iran’s nuclear program, Obama focused overwhelmingly on domestic affairs. He didn’t venture abroad until the final third of his hourlong speech, pointing to the scheduled withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan at the end of this year as a reason for Congress to lift restrictions that prevent the transfer of detainees from the detention camp at Guantanamo and close the camp.

His closing tribute to Army Ranger Cory Remsburg, partially paralyzed by a roadside bomb on his 10th deployment to Afghanistan, prompted a sustained standing ovation.

“Like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg never gives up and he does not quit,” Obama said.

Back on domestic issues, Obama said he will continue to push Congress to extend jobless benefits and raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for all Americans — a move some Democrats are eager to use to contrast with Republicans on the campaign trail in November.

  • CharlesMartel732

    I see. The answer to failed Big Government programs is MORE failing Big Government programs. I hope this nation survives the remaining years of Obama Jong-Un.

    • Zen Grouch

      You guys could always shut government down again, but don’t wuss out this time, keep that mother shut down until the clock runs out on Obama’s second term!

      …sheesh!

      • Kelvin Gray

        I get you there on this statement. But my only question has always been how does shutting down the government benefit any of the people that you are supposed to be fighting for? Shouldn’t both parties AND CONGRESS fight to avoid that at ALL costs rather than bicker about it?

        • Zen Grouch

          I was being snarky.

          But thanks for taking me seriously…
          …that’s a new experience for me.

      • ZX3

        …and then they can deal with Hilary?

  • alreadyfedup1

    “Obama Jong-Un” is as funny as “Obummer”. HAHAHAHA

    • CharlesMartel732

      Glad to provide a laugh after that State of the Coupe (gotta give Limbaugh credit for that) address last night.

      Here’s something Pinn-’O'-chio said to keep an eye on:

      “Introduce new retirement savings plans with a guaranteed return for workers whose employers do not offer such plans.”

      He should have added: ‘If you like your bank account and your private retirement account, you can keep it. Period.”

      The government move to Federalize your retirement is on the way.

      • Zen Grouch

        **Glad to provide a laugh after that State of the Coupe (gotta give Limbaugh credit for that) address last night.**

        What’s that?

        One of them tiny cars with a dozen Tea Baggers jammed inside?

        • Guest

          The word is “coup” short for “coup d’etat” Here is the definition of your word: What is a coupe?
          A coupe is a two door car, usually a sports car. Perhaps next time perhaps the president will have a sedan….

          • Zen Grouch

            Your comprehension skills are as astounding and needed as are your educational skills.

            Thank you very much Sir!

            –um… how do you pronounce that one?–

      • Conservator440

        Charles—use spell checker man. What is a coupe?
        A coupe is a two door car, usually a sports car. Proper spelling: Coup. I will have to tell your mother on you……

        • CharlesMartel732

          Conservator! Great to see you here, it’s been a long time. Pardon my lack of editing and careless grammar, Mother would be aghast should she find out.
          Good to see you!

          • Conservator440

            I am sure that mortified would be the reaction. I almost blamed this social error on Mr. Grouch. I looked earlier in the thread and realized that you were the purveyor of the faux pas. I did delete the erroneous message. My apologies to Mr. Grouch for my lack of proper blame.

  • bigmacky

    working with congress – that’s what you do if you are a president – if you do it without – dictator?

    • Zen Grouch

      Dictator?

      Nah… more like a realist who wants to accomplish something other than gridlock.

      • Larry Crnobrnja

        Wouldn’t you agree part of the president’s job is to find a way to resolve conflict in congress?

        • Zen Grouch

          If the congress is hell bent on gridlock, wouldn’t a never ending attempt on the president’s part just be buying into the insanity of shutting down the government, rather than doing something on his own?

          If he’s doing something the right doesn’t like… well, that’s too bad.

          If he’s doing something that’s illegal or unconstitutional… impeach him!

          Then there’s always the third option of actually working with the President, even if he’s an illegal alien from Kenya and a Marxist too boot!

          • Larry Crnobrnja

            I’m sorry, but was an answer to my question in there?

          • Zen Grouch

            I never directly answer quick sand questions from the right that start with, “Wouldn’t you agree…”

            As if you’re really looking for common ground!!!

  • Linda Groves

    Different day ,same old speech. LIES,LIES, and more LIES!! That’s all this POS so called president knows what to say.

  • bpbatista

    No mention of using the IRS and other government agencies to attack and intimidate his political opponents?

  • John Davidson

    Mr. Obama,
    If we like our Constitution can we keep it?

    • Mark B

      Carefull , i am not sure i would ask that question . He hates the constituion !

      • Zen Grouch

        Hmmm…

        Could it be that Congress isn’t doing that gridlock thing on purpose and it’s all related to paralysis by fear and cowering in the dark?

        –”Carefull” OBlackMa is still in office forcing his Mojo on us!–

    • Zen Grouch

      Come on guys…

      If you could impeach Clinton over a B.J. surely you can impeach Obama if you think he’s wiping his butt with the Constitution…

      …or are you THAT powerless?

      • Zen Grouch

        …guess they really ARE that powerless.

    • Larry Crnobrnja

      Offered without comment…

      • Zen Grouch

        I don’t get it…

        That’s suppose to be funny some how?

        • Larry Crnobrnja

          Actually no. It’s a crying shame.

      • CharlesMartel732

        Good one! I saw one of 0 dressed as a cheerleader ‘rah-rahing’ for Obamacare. Hilarious.

        • Zen Grouch

          REALLY!!!

          That’s FASCINATING!!!

    • Zen Grouch

      If you have to ask, you don’t deserve it.

      If someone takes it from you and you do nothing other than whine about it, once again, you don’t deserve it.

      So, if Obama is p****** all over the Constitution as the right wing nuts say, why don’t they do something about it.

      …I mean unless the only thing they’re good for is complaining, and shutting down the government.

      • Toad

        please dont shut down govrnment i need my checks

        go obama

        • Zen Grouch

          Toad…

          Your obstructionist is sheep’s clothing act must go over good at Tea Bagger Parties!

          –almost as funny as a human skin lampshade on the head–

          • Toad

            zen your funny i think we could be brothers

          • Zen Grouch

            Formerlorainresident is this Toadie your new persona?

            …one vanishes the other pops up, and pops off with the same same undercurrent.

  • John Davidson

    Introduce new retirement savings plans with a guaranteed return for workers whose employers do not offer such plans. I believe we have this already and they are called savings accounts or IRA’s. Don’t use the old make it and spend it, take some responsibility for yourself.

    • Zen Grouch

      If you don’t see the difference in a 401k with employer contributions, and a savings account or IRA, I doubt that you’ve ever had any of the above.

      **…and YES I will take fries with THAT!**

      • John Davidson

        Actually I have Traditional IRA’s, Roth IRA’s, and Simple IRA’s. I was never fortunate to have an employer contribute to my retirement. To give you a hint a Simple IRA is for the self employed.

        • Zen Grouch

          **I was never fortunate to have an employer contribute to my retirement.**

          That’s the whole point, isn’t it then?

          …I mean unless you’ve never had an employer other than yourself before.

          • John Davidson

            At first I did work for companies that did not have 401K plans so I contributed the max each year to my own IRA. At 25 went on my own. That was 40 years ago. Retired 3 years ago. No help from employers or the govt.

          • Zen Grouch

            Well Good for You!

    • Conservator440

      MIRA is based on savings bonds. All backed by the full faith and credit of a bankrupt government.

      • John Davidson

        Someone mentioned this morning that they already exist. Insurance companies call the annuities.

  • Mark B

    Maybe Oblamer could stay in washington for the entire year and stop jet setting around the world still campaging
    then maybe he could get something done and stop running up the debt .

  • Toad

    toad makes more than $10 a hour and does not work

    why work for $10 a hour then

    • Zen Grouch

      It may not feel like work now…

      …but see how easy it is making a dollar a pop in airport toilets once you get arthritis in your hands.

      –I bet your tune about Obama care changes then!–

  • Zen Grouch

    I feel so sad, ‘cuz I keep getting negative votes…

    Wonder if I’ll fare better over at the Urinal’s site?

    -sniff-

  • ZX3

    Zen…an Army of pun.

  • SniperFire

    “I’m eager to work with all of you,”

    Lie number 1,056,022.

  • SniperFire
    • Zen Grouch

      If you believe the U.S. is a “communist regime” then you one sick and extraordinarily stupid puppy dog, Ellie Mae Sugar Lumps.

    • Toad

      is that mr obama as a kid he used to be fat