U.S. News


State of the Union: Focus On Upward Mobility, Economy

In his annual address, the president said restoring the promise of moving up the economic ladder should be the nation's top priority.
Posted at 11:17 PM, Jan 28, 2014

BARACK OBAMA: "Corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled." (Via The White House)

Social mobility and taking action: those were the big themes of President Obama's fifth State of the Union address. It was a speech that emphasized steps the president could take on his own, without Congress —

— especially in regard to income inequality. Since 2009, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans have taken 95 percent of the income gains. So strengthening the lower rungs of the economic ladder — and helping them move up — was a big part of Tuesday's speech.

OBAMA: "Here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth but the strength of our work ethic. ... The defining project of our generation must be to restore that promise." (Via CNN)

Among Obama's more specific economic proposals: giving tax incentives to businesses that bring jobs back to the U.S., undoing last year's cuts to federally-funded research and reforming the nation's immigration system — which of course he's urged before.

Obama also pushed an increased $10.10 minimum wage.

"Today the federal minimum wage is worth about 20 percent less than when Ronald Reagan first stood here. ... Say 'yes.' Give America a raise." (Via C-SPAN)

And he very briefly touched on nuclear talks with Iran.

OBAMA: "If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident American can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today." (Via MSNBC)

This year's speech was not Obama's longest State of the Union address, but it was long by historical standards, clocking in at about one hour.