The president criticized the economic gap between “those at the top” and those “working too hard just to get by.”
Economic inequality was a major focus of U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address, delivered Jan. 28 to members of Congress and to the nation.
The president criticized the economic gap between “those at the top” and those “working too hard just to get by.” He called for the support of “entrepreneurs and small business owners” to help bolster “middle class jobs.”
In addition, he reinforced his call for Congress to raise the national minimum raise to $10.10, pointing to a handful of states and private companies that have already adopted policies boosting minimum wages for employees.
“It's good for the economy, it's good for America,” the president said, announcing that he would sign an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors.
In addition to economic concerns, Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address touched on immigration, gun control, energy and foreign policy.
He vowed to “fix our broken immigration system,” asking Congress to “get immigration reform done this year.”
He also stressed the need to improve education across the country and expand industries such as clean energy to enhance the U.S. role in the global economy.
Turning to “women’s issues,” the president avoided the controversial topics of abortion and the federal contraception mandate, instead focusing his comments on gender wage equality and stating that a woman should be able “to have a baby without sacrificing her job.”
“I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds,” he said.
Addressing the 2010 Affordable Care Act, Obama encouraged Americans to apply for health insurance by the end of March. While he acknowledged continued Republican opposition to the law, he suggested that they had not put forward any better alternatives.
Also discussed in his speech were the federal government’s partnerships with local and state leaders on “issues from homelessness to marriage equality” – the first mention of marriage redefinition in a State of the Union address.
In addition, the president discussed the official end of the United States' interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, while noting continued involvement in the Middle East and other areas “as al Qaeda affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world.”
He pledged support for the Syrian opposition “that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks” and promised the expansion of cybersecurity and other security programs.