News Column

Obama Will Seek to Bolster Middle Class in State of the Union

Feb 12, 2013

US President Barack Obama will call for a re-ignition of the US economy with the goal of bolstering the middle class as he takes to the podium to deliver his annual State of the Union address to Congress Tuesday evening.

"It is our generation's task, then, to reignite the true engine of America's economic growth - a rising, thriving middle class," Obama is to say, according to excerpts of his speech released in advance by the White House.

"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, what you look like, or who you love."

Though the speech is expected to focus on economic issues, media reports Tuesday also indicated he will lay out a plan for withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan. Some 34,000 troops will return home by next February, halving the US footprint in the country, unnamed administration officials were quoted as saying.

He will also renew a call for a reduction in nuclear weapons in the wake of a North Korean nuclear test, according to The New York Times.

The annual address, which airs during key evening viewing and is among the most closely watched of presidential speeches each year, comes less than a month after Obama began his second term with an inaugural speech that laid out a sweeping liberal agenda - highlighting gay rights, climate change and immigration, but stopping short of discussing many policy specifics.

Obama will echo themes of his re-election campaign, calling for a "government that works on behalf of the many, and not just the few," and focussing on job creation and training.

"A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs - that must be the North Star that guides our efforts," he is to say. "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 needed to do those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?"

The excerpts also included a vow to keep his proposals from increasing the nation's deficit, as Congress looks to cut spending.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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