US President Barack Obama has pledged to bypass a divided Congress and take action on his own to bolster America’s middle class in his latest State of the Union address.
The annual policy statement reflected his frustration with Republican politicians who have either watered down or blocked past initiatives.
“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. 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.”
On foreign affairs, the president’s mantra was “give diplomacy a chance”. Once again Congress came in for a rebuke with Obama warning he would veto any new sanctions bill that might threaten to derail talks over Tehran’s nuclear programme.
“If Iran’s leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I’ll be the first to call for more sanctions and stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon. But if Iran’s leaders do seize the chance, and we’ll know soon enough, then Iran can take an important step to rejoin the community of nations and we will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without the risks of war.”
White House officials see the speech as an opportunity for Obama to restore his popularity after a botched roll out of his signature healthcare reform.
But time is running short before attention will turn to the 2016 race to elect his successor, threatening to render him irrelevant.