President Barack Obama said Tuesday in his fifth State of the Union address that he plans to take executive action on a range of issues. His proposals include raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for federal contract workers; creating a new "starter" retirement savings account system; launching four new manufacturing institutes; and other initiatives designed to spur economic growth, create jobs and expand access to education.
"What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require Congressional action, and I'm eager to work with all of you," Obama said. "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."
Obama challenged Congress to make universal pre-K available for all four year olds, finish transportation and waterways bills, reverse research budget cuts, fund job programs, restore unemployment insurance, reduce student loans and fix the tax code. He also said he will address gun violence "with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook."
Republican House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that his party will not allow the president to "trample all over" them by pushing his agenda through executive actions:
This idea that he's just going to go it alone, I have to remind him we do have a constitution. And the Congress writes the laws, and the president's job is to execute the laws faithfully. And if he tries to ignore this he's going to run into a brick wall.
Yet Boehner did say he thought Republicans could find common ground with Obama and Democrats on a host of issues like immigration, energy and cyber security. "If the President is serious about a year of action it would be nice if he would just reach out and work with us," Boehner said.
Out of 24 concrete proposals made in Obama's 2013 State of the Union, only five were successfully enacted. Another six are in progress.
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