Obama Wants to Spread Wealth - State of the Union


US President Barack Obama gave his annual State of the Union speech to Congress last night and in it he declared that the financial crisis in the country had ended and that he was introducing new economic policies that would benefit everyone.

In a speech aimed, according to experts, at working families, the president outlined a strategy for ‘middle class economics’.  The biggest problem he will face, however, is a Republican controlled Congress.


The speech was focused more on values than policies with Mr Obama announcing that America had turned a page after the worst recession the country had faced since the Depression.  He outlined plans to build on this growth including helping working families with sick and maternity leave, along with affordable childcare.

He questioned if the country wanted an economy where only a few do spectacularly well or one where incomes in general are rising and everyone who makes an effort has chances of being better off.

Among the plans announced to achieve this include building a more competitive economy by improving infrastructure and also providing free access to community college.  This means people could graduate, ready to work in the new economy, without already being burdened by debts.


The measures follow announcements at the weekend from the White House that they are planning t close loopholes on large inheritances as well as raise capital gains tax on the very richest earners from 23.8% to 28%.  There are also plans to introduce new fees on US financial firms that have assets of or above $50 billion.

Other measures announced in the speech include:

  • Improvements to statutory sick leave and the minimum wage
  • Help for nine million students to attend community college
  • Better consumer protection online and increased cyber security
  • Continuation of the plans to shut the prison at Guantanamo Bay
  • Equalising pay for women with men

Foreign policy

On the foreign policy front, Mr Obama insisted that the US reserved the ‘right to act unilaterally’ when it came to hunting down terrorists and called on Congress to pass a resolution that authorises the use of force against Islamic State.

The president once again stated that he believed the US could negotiate with Iran to prevent the country from gaining nuclear weapons and that he would veto any new attempts to bring new sanctions against the country.

He added that the decision to end the long standing policy on Cuba and to ‘try something new’ had the potential to end the legacy of mistrust that stood between the two countries.  Alan Gross, who had recently been released by Cuba having been imprisoned there for five years, was among the guests of Michelle Obama for the speech.

Mr Obama ended the speech by saying he was optimistic that Congress could be worked with, despite the months of political gridlock he had been facing.


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