President Obama stood before Congress Tuesday night for his fifth State of the Union address.
Now entering his sixth year in office, he holds a 43 percent approval rating and faces much opposition from the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.
While Obama realizes that things are best accomplished when all parties cooperate, he wants 2014 to be a “year of action” and seems determined to independently pursue his agenda, even if Congress refuses to cooperate.
“What I offer … 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," Obama said during the State of the Union address.
One of his proposals involved raising federal workers’ minimum wage to $10.10, despite Congress’ previous lack of action to raise the wage to $9 by the end of 2015. Republicans say they oppose such an increase because it would pose difficulties for employers.
Similarly Obama requested equal pay for women, stating that their 77-cent earning to every man’s dollar is “wrong” and “an embarrassment.”
Other major topics included immigration and retirement savings. Congress was called upon to pass immigration overhaul this year, which would provide citizenship to approximately 11 million immigrants illegally residing in the U.S. Republicans in the House of Representatives are expected to outline the foundation of the plan later this week.
As for retirement, Obama suggested creating a MyRA bond as a new savings account program. If pursued, MyRAs will be offered to employees whose companies do not offer traditional retirement plans.
The president also hopes to expand the earned-income tax credit to increase wages for low-income families through tax refunds and wind down the war in Afghanistan. The goal is to remove most troops and complete operations by the end of the year while still keeping a small unit to train Afghan forces and track al-Qaida.
Despite a positive outlook, CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley does not think Republicans will respond any differently to Obama’s repeated proposals, therefore making it difficult to achieve big results in 2014.