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Spotlight: Focusing middle class, Obama's state address eyes on 2016 election

English.news.cn   2015-01-21 15:50:51

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama vowed on Tuesday to promote "middle class economics," outlining his last-two-year office priorities, with an eye on gaining more supporters for his Democratic Party in next year's presidential election.

The nation is ready to "turn the page" from years of financial hardship, Obama said in his State of the Union address.

"With a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry and booming energy production, we have risen from recession. It's now up to us to choose who we want to be for decades to come," the President told a Republican-controlled Congress.

"The middle-class economics," Obama said, was "the idea that the country does best when everyone gets their fair short, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays the same set of rules."

Obama promised to lower the taxes of working families, and continue to push forward paid leave policies and minimum wage increases.

He proposed to triple the child-care tax credit, create a new credit for families in which both spouses work, consolidate and expand education tax breaks, and make retirement savings program available to more people. These tax breaks, together with other initiatives, will cost about 235 billion U.S. dollars over the next decade.

In the prime-time speech, Obama said that "the shadow of crisis has passed", vowing to work with Congress for a free community colleges plan, which will help Americans upgrade their skills and encourage more on-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities.

He also appealed to a bipartisan infrastructure plan to provide modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest Internet connections and to create more jobs.

"We have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth," Obama said.

In his speech, Obama also asked Congress to grant the administration the so-called "fast track" authority to negotiate far-reaching trade deals with Asia-Pacific and European countries.

"I'm asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren't just free, but fair," he said.

Talking about anti-terrorism policies, the President urged Congress to pass new legislation authorizing the fight against the Islamic State. "Tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission," Obama said, "It will require focus. But we will succeed."

He also called on lawmakers to lift the trade embargo on Cuba as he moves to normalize the two countries' relation.

"When what you're doing doesn't work for fifty years, it's time to try something new," Obama said, "Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere," promising to "extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people."

Obama said that the negotiations with Iran on a comprehensive agreement that prevents the country gaining nuclear weapons will continue. He also warned to "veto any new sanctions bill" passed by Congress "that threatens to undo this progress".

He continued to pledge to veto Republican legislation that would restrict abortion and speed the approval of natural gas pipelines. He promised that any attempt to roll back the health care law and delay his executive actions on immigration would meet with the same fate.

However, Obama offered his friendly hands to Republican lawmakers by seeking common grounds together, which he called "a better politics".

"A better politics is one where we appeal to each other's basic decency instead of our basest fears," Obama explained.

The president said that the debates between his Democratic Party and the Republican Party should carry out "without demonizing each other", and the debates should not be "fake controversies that have nothing to do with people's daily lives".

During his sixth annual speech, the second-term serving president also noted that the two parties can "come together" to make voting easier for Americans and "to reform America's criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all".

"That's a better politics. That's how we start rebuilding trust,"he said.

Commenting on Obama's speech, analysts believed that it seemed designed in part to live beyond his presidency by helping to starkly define the differences between Democrats and Republicans ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

"I have no more campaigns to run," Obama said,"I commit to every Republican here tonight that I will not only seek out your ideas, I will seek to work with you to make this country stronger."

Related:

Obama vows to rebuild economy to help middle class

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday night is proposing middle-class economics in his State of the Union address, driving the debate in the 2016 election on income inequality and middle-class economic issues.

"With a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry and booming energy production, we have risen from recession. It' s now up to us to choose who we want to be for decades to come," the President said at his State of the Union speech that outlined his vision for his last two years in office. Full Story

Obama urges Congress to support his Iran, Cuba policies

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged the Republican-controlled Congress to support his initiatives on the Iranian nuclear issues and ties with Cuba.

"Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we've halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material," said Obama in his second-to-last State of Union speech. Full Story

Editor: Yamei Wang
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