President Obama Delivers State of the Union Address

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President Obama used his State of the Union Address to push for income equality. The President says he wants to expand economic opportunity for all Americans.

"Even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by."

President Obama says he'll sign an executive order raising the minimum wage for new federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour. He wants Congress to raise it for everyone else.

The President also announced a new retirement savings option for workers who don't have 401ks called "MyRA".

“MyRa guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in.”

After years of gridlock on capitol hill, President Obama is using his executive authority to achieve policy goals and bypass an uncooperative Congress.

"Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do."

Republicans warn raising the minimum wage will cost jobs. President Obama is taking his message on the road starting Wednesday, with stops in four states.

Other items on the President’s agenda - equal pay for women, restoring long-term unemployment benefits, and increased access to quality per-kindergarten education.

Fortenberry Statement on State of the Union Address  
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jeff Fortenberry made the following statement after the President’s State of the Union address:
“Overall, it was an aspirational, optimistic, and forward-looking speech.  The President’s emphasis on new American manufacturing jobs, new American energy independence and increased energy efficiency, and new small business growth hold value as an agenda to increase economic opportunities for all Americans.  He rightfully acknowledged that we must again have an economy that honors the dignity of work.  I also appreciated his focus on preventing a nuclear Iran.  He spoke on the prudent use of diplomatic and military power, and his salute of the American Marine injured during his tenth deployment was a very poignant moment. 
“That said, Washington is not the answer to all of our problems.  The new health care law, while helping some, is hurting many others.  This was a serious omission in the speech.  American renewal is happening community by community and neighborhood by neighborhood.  The President and Congress should focus on getting our finances in order, creating a more fair and equitable tax code, fixing the brokenness of the new health care law, and protecting Americans from very serious existing threats to our national security.  The President’s threat of using his own power in spite of Congress unnecessarily diminished the more uplifting portions of the address.”

Smith Disappointed by State of the Union Speech
Washington, D.C.– Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) said he was “disappointed” by President Obama’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on January 28, 2014.
“Tonight’s speech was an opportunity for President Obama to change course and begin working with members of both parties on an agenda to put America on a better path,” said Smith.  “I am disappointed the President continues to stand by the same tired, government-heavy policies, such as his disastrous health care law, which clearly are failing the American people.
“I am particularly concerned by the President’s plans to bypass Congress through executive actions and new regulations.  In a divided government, no one can expect to get everything they want.  The President should respect, rather than undermine, the checks and balances established by the founders of our nation in the Constitution.”

Fischer Statement on State of the Union
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) released the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address:
“I agree with the president that we must focus on policies that strengthen middle class families. Median household income has dropped $4,000 since 2009, 350,000 Americans have stopped looking for work, and healthcare costs are rising – instead of declining, as promised – for far too many Nebraskans. I’m ready to work with the president and any of my colleagues willing to try a new direction to jumpstart our economy – that means focusing on the private sector. Growing government isn’t the answer. Recent Gallup polling suggests two-thirds of the American people are concerned with the size and scope of the federal government. Middle class families aren’t asking government for a hand up – they’re just asking that government stop holding them down. 
“We can immediately get to work on a number of bipartisan initiatives. These include repealing the medical device tax, passing comprehensive tax reform, protecting the privacy of American citizens, promoting free trade, and addressing the reams of red tape holding back entrepreneurs and innovators. It is my expectation, and the expectation of Nebraskans, that the president will work with – not around – Congress to pursue common ground. The president has his ‘pen’ and his ‘phone,’ but he also has a duty to abide by the Constitution he swore to protect and defend.”