Obama looks forward to ‘breakthrough year’ in State of the Union speech

29 Jan 14
US President Barack Obama has asserted that 2014 will be a ‘breakthrough year’ for the US economy and promised to combat financial inequality, expand growth opportunities and create jobs for Americans.

By Judith Ugwumadu | 29 January 2014

US President Barack Obama has asserted that 2014 will be a ‘breakthrough year’ for the US economy and promised to combat financial inequality, expand growth opportunities and create jobs for Americans.

In his annual State of the Union address yesterday, Obama said the US economy was back on track after five years of slow growth since the recession. He said deficits had been cut by more than half, unemployment remained at its lowest rate since 2009, while the housing market was rebounding and the manufacturing sector starting to create jobs for the first time since the 1990s.

‘After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better-positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on earth,’ Obama said.

However, the president said more needed to be done to overcome the ‘serious blows’ of the economic crash. He noted that .

Obama promised to reverse these trends pledging a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth and boost prosperity for ordinary people.

He said: ‘Wherever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.

‘We know where to start: the best measure of opportunity is access to a good job.’

Listing a series of ways to restore that promise of growth, Obama asked both the Democrats and the Republicans to work together to close loopholes in the tax code that cause wastage and reduce the tax burden on businesses.

He also added that if the US was serious about economic growth it needed to ‘fix its broken immigration system’ and called for the Senate to complete the immigration reform process.

‘Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. So let’s get immigration reform done this year,’ he said.

Obama’s plan for immigration reform would crack down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants and provides undocumented immigrants with a way to earn legal status by paying their taxes, learning English and undergoing background checks.

He continued: ‘The ideas I’ve outlined so far can speed up growth and create more jobs. But in this rapidly changing economy, we have to make sure that every American has the skills to fill those jobs.

‘I’m also convinced we can Americans return to the workforce faster by reforming unemployment insurance so that it’s more effective in today’s economy.  But first, this Congress needs to restore the unemployment insurance you just let expire for 1.6 million people.’

He also said the government had a bill ready to lift the current federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour, set in 2009, to $10.10.

Speaking on his flagship , Obama added: ‘For decades, few things exposed hard-working families to economic hardship more than a broken health care system. And in case you haven’t heard, we’re in the process of fixing that.’

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