President Obama says 2014 will be a “year of action” during State of the Union address

President Obama touted early in his fifth State of the Union Address this year would be a “year of action” by explaining how the programs he plans on improving have already benefited citizens.

“A teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades,” Obama said. He later cited an entrepreneur starting up a new tech company and hiring employees and an autoworker who works on fuel-efficient cars.

Obama admitted that Congress was difficult to work with at times, but announced that Congress created a budget compromise last month that should “leave us freer to focus on creating new jobs, not creating new crises.”

In addition to job creation, the president covered a wide variety of topics including taking care of our veterans and wounded soldiers, unemployment and immigration reform, equal pay for women, quality early childhood education, college affordability and defense budget reform. Obama also wants to take the 60,000 soldiers left in Afghanistan out by the end of the year.

President Obama reviewed his most recent accomplishments including an increase in solar energy and the success of healthcare reform. Americans are putting solar panels on their homes and businesses every four minutes, Obama said. According to a graphic on an enhanced dual screen, the solar industry has created 23,000 new jobs in the past year. Obama said these jobs couldn’t be outsourced.

Obama said more than 12 million Americans have benefited from his healthcare reform. With the Affordable Care Act, Obama said “more than three million Americans under age 26 have gained coverage under their parents’ plans,” and “more than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage.” Under ACA, Americans with pre-existing conditions like asthma, back pain or cancer can never be dropped or denied coverage. Six out of 10 Americans are receiving ACA for less than $100 a month, according to the dual screen graphic.

President Obama listed many goals that he hopes to accomplish this year, but said that in order to accomplish these goals, the nation needs to work together.

One example the president used was Costco. Costco raised the wages for its workers without government intervention. The president asked why Costco could do this, yet Congress couldn’t pass a bill proposed to raise the national minimum wage.

Although the president wants to make this a “year of action,” he might have to use more of his presidential power to do so. Obama said he is eager to work with Congress, but is willing to move toward his goals without them.

“America does not stand still  and neither will I,” Obama said. “So wherever and whenever I can take the steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

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