President Obama has wrapped up his State of the Union address, calling for a "year of action" on everything from income inequality to immigration reform, from "equal pay for equal work" for women to better retirement planning for Americans. Obama emphasized that he plans to act on his own when necessary, reports the New York Times. (He "declared independence from Congress," says the story.) Politico and the Hill also emphasize this angle in their coverage. The full text is out, via the Washington Post. A sampling:
- Obama said he will "direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA." He calls it "a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg," and one that guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in." Details will be fleshed out tomorrow.
- The economy is growing, he says, "and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by—let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all."
- "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." He said he'll work with Congress but will use executive action when he sees fit. (As with his plan to raise the minimum wage of federal contract workers.)
- "Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. ... It's time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a Mad Men episode."
- He defended ObamaCare, saying that "more than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage." He also pleaded with Republicans to resist the urge for "another 40" futile votes to repeal it.
- Army Ranger Cory Remsburg got a long standing ovation when introduced by the president. Remsburg was nearly killed in Afghanistan, on his 10th deployment. "He’s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again. ... Men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy."
- Laugh line: In regard to ObamaCare: "Moms, get on your kids to sign up. Kids, call your mom and walk her through the application. It will give her some peace of mind—plus, she’ll appreciate hearing from you."
- "America must move off a permanent war footing."
- "I will reform our surveillance programs—because the vital work of our intelligence community depends on public confidence, here and abroad, that the privacy of ordinary people is not being violated."
- "Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did."
- "Let's get immigration reform done this year," he said, praising bipartisan progress in both the Senate and House.
- "This Congress needs to restore the unemployment insurance you just let expire for 1.6 million people."