President Obama’s State of the Union speech in Congress was feisty and unapologetic. His foremost determined message was: reduce inequality. This comes well ahead of this autumn’s electoral renewal of the whole of the House of Representatives and one third of US Senators. This was his Democratic lead.
“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.”
With national unemployment at 6.7 percent and growth just above four percent, Obama talked about raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, riling Republicans.
“In the coming weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour — because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.”
A foreign policy promise long unkept was seen by critics as a dark mark on Obama’s record during his first term, and he is now seeking to redress that: Guantanamo.
“With the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay – because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action, but by remaining true to our Constitutional ideals.”
Obama said he would not see foreign policy efforts with Tehran go to waste — pretty much ‘give peace a chance’.
“Iran has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium. It is not installing advanced centrifuges. Unprecedented inspections help the world verify, every day, that Iran is not building a bomb. We’re engaged in negotiations to see if we can peacefully achieve a goal we all share: preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. If this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now, that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it.”
Obama was clear on Syria and Ukraine, saying support to rebels would only go to those dissociated from extremism, while he promised to uphold the right of peaceful expression of opposition to the government in Ukraine.