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Saturday, November 1, 2014 | Last updated: 6:13am

Obama lays out plan for nation in State of the Union Address



WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama returned to the unfinished business of a still-struggling economy Tuesday night, outlining a second-term agenda with proposals designed to create jobs, expand the middle class and spur financial growth.

“We can fix this and we will,” the president said repeatedly.

In his annual State of the Union address, Obama laid out plans in four main areas — manufacturing, education, clean energy and infrastructure ­— to try to help the nation recover from the worst recession in decades at what he said would be no additional cost.

“A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs — that must be the North Star that guides our efforts,” Obama said. “Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills they need to get those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?”

Obama described a nation that has made progress, ending long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while clearing away “the rubble” of the Great Recession, but one that still needs additional help to prosper. He declared that the state of the union is stronger, but not strong.

“It is our generation’s task, then, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth — a rising, thriving middle class,” he said.

“It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country — the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, or who you love. It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation of ours,” he
said.

He proposed raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour. He recommended spending $65 billion on road, bridge and building repairs. He unveiled a plan to save eligible homeowners $3,000 annually by refinancing at lower interest rates.

Obama also insisted that Democrats and Republicans put aside their
differences and take action, mostly immediately to find an alternative to looming across-the-board budget cuts that could harm the economy in weeks.

“The American people don’t expect government to solve every problem,” he said. “They don’t expect those of us in this chamber to agree on every issue. But they do expect us to put the nation’s interests before party. They do expect us to forge reasonable compromise where we can.”

Obama also said that by this time next year more than half the U.S. troops in Afghanistan — 34,000 — will have returned home as the Afghans take responsibility for security.

He condemned North Korea for conducting its third nuclear test hours earlier, warning that it undermines regional stability, violates North Korea’s United Nations obligations and increases the risk of proliferation. He also called for a reduction in nuclear weapons worldwide.


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