Barack Obama urged the Congress to join efforts in trying to roll back a 30-year-long slump in the fortunes of the counrty’s struggling middle classes as he used his annual State of the Union speech to try and inject some momentum into his second term.
Despite recent poll showing that the president is at a low point now, Obama spoke with a tone of defiant optimism – urging the U.S. lawmakers to act for the sake of boosting new jobs, improving education and infrastructure while vowing to act alone to try and accomplish what Washington’s divided politics could not.
“Opportunity is who we are. And the defining project of our generation is to restore that promise,” said Mr Obama as he laid down a challenge to Congress to focus “on creating new jobs, not creating new crises.”
“I’m eager to work with all of you,” Obama added. “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.”
President’s orders included increase of wage for federal contract workers, creation of a “starter savings account” to help millions save for retirement, and plans to establish new fuel efficiency standards for trucks, reports Reuters.
Obama explained to the nation that he was driven to act by the worsening and widening gap between rich and poor and the fact that while the stock market has soared, average wages have barely budged.
“Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better,” he claimed.
“Inequality has deepened,” Obama said. “Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by, let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.”
In this year’s State of Union address the U.S. President asked Congress and major bosses of American industry to do what opinion polls show a majority of Americans support and raise a wage that – adjusted for inflation – is now at 1950 levels.
“It will give businesses customers with more money to spend. It doesn’t involve any new bureaucratic program. So join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise,” he urged.