Obama’s “Year of Action” Against Inequality
The US did not have the greatest 2013, with proposals that had the potential for greatness – such as the Affordable Healthcare Act – suffering from enough hiccups that the greatness (for those who believed in it) was tarnished. President Barack Obama needs something good to get people back on his side, and he might just have done it with his State of Union address speech on Tuesday night.
Some parts of his proposed speech were available before hand, but they gave the general idea: 2014 is the year that President Obama tries to fix the economy with a “year of action”, and he will do it regardless of whether Congress agrees and supports him.
“What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals,” he stated. The changes the President is suggesting could potentially speed up economic growth for the US, but ultimately help bring back some strength to the middle class, building “new ladders of opportunity” for them.
The President explained that although those at the top of the financial ladder seem to be doing better than ever, the fact that the average wage hasn’t altered enough to accommodate for these changes, shows that those at the bottom of said ladder are working even harder just to make ends meet, “inequality has deepened”.
In his speech, he explained that it was the US government’s responsibility to sort out the economy, and make it better for everyone. The President acknowledged that there were no magic solutions, it wouldn’t happen immediately, and there would be disagreements, but what he was proposing could make a definite impact.
One proposal to help boost the economy included bumping up the minimum wage for some government contractor employees for the first time since July 2009, by almost 40% to $10.10. He said he hoped that other employers would be encouraged to do the same, without having to pass the necessary legislation.
President Obama did, however, explain that while some of his proposals do need congressional approval, and he was hoping that his proposals would be supported by Congress, but if they try to stand in the way, he will do whatever necessary to step around them. “America does not stand still,” explained the President, “and neither will I… wherever, and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”
The underlying message of his speech spoke of rebuilding the American dream, which is what has united people of all kinds across the country. “Opportunity is whom we are,” the President told Congress, “and the defining project of our generation is to restore that promise.”
“In the coming months, let’s see where else we can make progress together,” he added.
“Let’s make this a year of action.”