Obama Vows to Overcome Stalemates in State of Union Address
By Mikaela Lefrak and Jamie Bologna
BU News Service
President Obama called for a “year of action” in Congress and voiced impatience with partisanship in Washington in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
“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,” Obama said.
The President focused much of his speech, which lasted more than an hour, on proposals for jobs, including raising the minimum wage and continuing federal investment in clean energy.
He made clear his continued frustration with the Congressional stalemates that have affected many of his key policy initiatives, including the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. He did credit bipartisan efforts in the Senate on their work on immigration reform, and called upon the House to do the same.
One of the louder rounds of applause of the night came when the President called for equal pay for women in the workforce and extended maternity and paternity leave.
“It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode,” he said.
Obama also touched on foreign relations, including diplomatic efforts in the Middle East. He highlighted the progress being made in diffusing the nuclear threat in Iran, but he also threatened to veto any new sanctions passed by Congress that could throw a wrench in diplomacy talks.
Regarding issues of privacy, Obama renewed his promise to reform surveillance programs and cited the limits his administration has set on combat drones. Notably, the President did not mention Edward Snowden or the NSA scandal.
In the Republican response, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash) reiterated the President’s call for action on job creation but offered a plan hinging on free market economic policies.
“We hope the President will join us in a year of real action – by empowering people – not making their lives harder with unprecedented spending, higher taxes, and fewer jobs,” she said from the Capitol.