Obama renews vow to fight for working class
February 1st, 2014
11:23 AM ET
4 years ago

Obama renews vow to fight for working class

Washington (CNN) - After a week in which he signed executive orders focused on bolstering the middle class, President Barack Obama repeated his State of the Union promise Saturday to act with or without Congress.

In what he termed a "three-minute version" of Tuesday's all-encompassing State of the Union speech, the President promised he would not let his "opportunity agenda" get stalled by a bitterly divided legislative branch, and that "wherever I can take a step to expand opportunity for more families on my own, I will."

"Every single day," Obama said, "I’m going to fight for these priorities - to shift the odds back in favor of more working and middle-class Americans, and to keep America a place where you can always make it if you try."

Though Obama has witnessed the unemployment rate fall to its lowest level in more than five years, average wages have remained relatively stagnant as the gap between the nation's wealthiest and its poorest citizens continues to grow. The President said it is his mission to "reverse those trends."

"Inequality has deepened. Too many Americans are working harder and harder just to get by. And too many still aren’t working at all," Obama said.

In the condensed version of his State of the Union address, Obama touched on four parts of his agenda: spurring job creation, training more Americans for skilled jobs, enhancing access to education and helping make sure Americans save enough money to comfortably retire. Obama said he will ask leaders in business, education and philanthropy to partner with him to advance his agenda, reiterating that wherever he can bypass Congress, he will.

"These ideas will strengthen the middle class and help more people work their way into the middle class," he said.
Despite his repeated assertion that he will use a "pen and a phone" to help achieve parts of his agenda, Obama has not relied on executive orders in the past. He has signed them at the lowest rate since the Grover Cleveland administration and has proved reluctant to test his executive authority.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. smith

    Obama has raised taxes and health care premiums on the working class. Please, if that is your idea of help I don`t want your help.

    February 1, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  2. Hector Slagg

    I believe the Frame's the Constitution already did that.

    February 1, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Remember when the baggers did not even know they got a tax cut from Obama's stimulus? Remember when right wingnuts living in red states got to keep their junk policies for another year? And, after 5 years, the republican solution for health care is to allow you to buy insurance across state lines, allowing the states with the least regulations to decide what premiums will be. The working class has almost been destroyed by republican Hoover economics.

    February 1, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  4. Tampa Tim

    I do not want any help from the GOP as their agenda is not what the country needs. Repealing ACA, eliminating women's reproductive rights, tax cuts for the wealthy; and no help for poor people, seniors, veterans, students, and workers, makes them the worst group in history.

    February 1, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  5. Lisa Hurley

    Mr. President,
    I challenge you t o do what you say you will. My husband has been unemployed on an off for 4 yrs now. I sent you his resume since you claim you want to help the middle class who are unemployed long term. Prove It! Since I mailed my husbands resume to your office last week, I challenge you to find him a job. So, far everything you have said you would do has not helped us or any other long term unemployed. This is your challenge Mr. President. I know nothing will come of it but I just want to see if you are actually going to do it or if it is a bunch of bull you have spewed to us middle class for the past 5 yrs. I am challenging you because I have nothing to lose. I have been through hell these past4 yrs and we about to lose our home we fought hard to save So, this is to see if you will do what you claim you will do. That is help the long term middle class. My husband has a college degree and has a good working history. He took jobs o pay bills. He is not lazy. So, Mr. PRESIDENT, lets see what you and your administration will really do to help us middle class long term unemployed. I have challenged you lets see what you are made of. Lets see I you really keep your word or if this is more bull.... you pew out. I know the answer but it would be nice to see you prove me wrong for once.

    February 1, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  6. Gunderson

    Obama still selling Snake Oil. Talk about Preaching to the Choir! The middle Class can take care of themselves as long as the Big Government Liberals don't Tax Business to death. Why you think many businesses now off shore where they do most of their production. Please liberal's, don't do me any more favors, I can't afford 'em!

    February 1, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. Name rose54

    @TampaTim. Oh,please Tim. Will your convoluted imaginings never cease? Have been reading your drivel for months. You poor useful idiot. Keep bleating, Tim.

    February 1, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  8. rs

    Obama has raised taxes and health care premiums on the working class. Please, if that is your idea of help I don`t want your help.
    Well if you want a GOP plan- I'd recommend set tax levels from the Eisenhower period: 87-92% for the top earners, even Nixon's at around 85% would be good. We sure know the current plutocrats dribble down economics put 95% of the wealth made during the recovery went to the 1%.

    February 1, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority

    Trickle-down economics doesn't work (just ask David Stockman, the architect of the idea under Reagan). Tax cuts for the rich don't create jobs here in the U.S. (and cutting them during wartime like GW Bush did results in evaporating the budget surplus and driving our nation into debt). The GOP's policies are PROVEN FAILURES.

    I applaud the President for his actions and encourage him to continue. Our economy is slowly turning around and investment HERE in OUR people and OUR country is what will continue economic broad-based economic growth HERE.

    February 1, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. rs

    The problem with the GOP is that their actions are all to transparent. They have slashed the social safety net; they have attacked the unemployed, the poor and the disabled; they meanwhile cut taxes to the rich, corporations and continue to lard out "incentives" to big oil, corporate farms and other supporters.

    The Right can whine (i.e. lie) about what the President has done to the middle class (really? affordable health care is evil?), but pretty much anyone with a room temperature IQ have figured out that whatever the GOP claims the President has done to the middle class is nothing compared to what the GOP will do if they ever regain the Presidency ever again.

    February 1, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority

    @smith: "Obama has raised taxes and health care premiums on the working class. Please, if that is your idea of help I don`t want your help."

    Federal income taxes on the working class went up – a little:

    Income Group/Average tax increase (Source: Tax Policy Center)
    Less than 10k = $17
    10k-20k = $12
    20k-30k = $19
    30k-40k = $23
    40k-50k = $23
    50k-75k = $14
    75k-100k = $14
    100k-200k = $34
    200k-500k = $1,918
    500k-1 million = $7,630
    More than 1 million = $7,563

    Regarding health insurance premiums, for most people, their cost went down; many qualify for subsidy; and all are now guaranteed minimum types of coverage (with an emphasis on preventive care, which reduces healthcare costs down the road, given that preventive care helps people live healthier lives).

    I'll take this kind of help over the failed repub policies ANY DAY.

    February 1, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority

    Even welfare queen WalMart is finally catching a clue that repub economic policies stink. The economic impact of repubs cutting SNAP benefits has resulted in decreased sales at WalMart and a dip in the value of their stock.

    For example, if you owned 10,000 shares of Wal*mart stock, yesterday you lost $5,500... because of repub policy that cut SNAP benefits. If your town has a million shares owned by all its citizens who invest in the stock market, your town just lost $550,000 dollars collectively, thanks to repub policy ...

    Repubs and tea bags especially call SNAP recipients lazy and un-American. People with working brains who can see the whole picture realize that there's an economic impact to taking out of a program that directly results in sales of food – from retailers like WalMart. Some economists are predicting that some businesses would experience a 10% decline in food sales – that matches the 10% decline in food stamps.

    See what I mean by GOP economic policies being proven failures? If WalMart can figure it out, I'm sure a majority of voters can realize this, too.

    11/4/14 = Vote Democratic

    February 1, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  13. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Obama has raised taxes and health care premiums on the working class. Please, if that is your idea of help I don`t want your help.

    No he hasn't, stop lying.

    February 1, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority

    "Rich people are not the cause of a robust economy, they are the result of a robust economy." – Ron Garrett, Angel Investor

    February 1, 2014 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. Tampa Tim

    Name rose – Thanks for reading my comments. I feel good when the reality challenged take time to stop watching Fox, and actually read. Some day I may travel over on I – 4 and visit you in fantasy land.

    February 1, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. countingdown

    Tampa Tim
    How well did that tax cut stimulus work huh!
    My junk policy was my choice! How about letting me keep it as long as I wish!
    After 5 years the conservative solution is to give my health care choice back to me where it belongs!
    The working poor is worse under this administration, because they are programmed to wait on the government to give them something.

    You don't want to accept conservative values, but have no clue what the country needs.
    What about the rights of the unborn? How could you make such idiotic post had your birth mother exercised her choice to terminate?
    As far as the wealthy, your only choice is for all working Americans pool their earnings then divide by 317 million and pay each one from the pool, brilliant NOT! EQUALITY IS UNOBTAINABLE!
    Human desire to better ones life for their families and own self will always be the rule rather than the exception.

    February 1, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. Thomas

    Sarah Palin / Kid Rock 2016
    Stop the war against the Rich , smash the glass celling .

    February 1, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  18. don in albuquerque


    Please check out the amount of taxes GE paid. Some years it is 0.00. Yes Gundy, that is a goose egg, zero, zip, nada (durning big profit years). Kind of like your post. Sheer fantasy.

    February 1, 2014 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  19. Name

    What we need is more freedom, no income tax, tax more on foreign stuff coming in so it will make companies want to stay here instead of going to another country where its cheaper to have business. Dodge and GM , Ford stop building cars here because of the free tax from Canada and to Mexico. It's cheaper in Asia that's where all the toy and cloths making companies went. Less big government the better, all we need them for is our military and roads

    February 1, 2014 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  20. Winston Smith

    The (so called), middle class will be under attack as long as the (so called), middle class votes republican. They either don't know, or don't want to know their predicament because they believe they are among the wealthy, when it's all smoke and mirrors. You are a burden to your employer, and an embarrassment to the truly wealthy. They don't want us around. Just think about it for a while, it'll come to you before too much time has passed. Then be adult enough to accept the situation.

    February 1, 2014 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  21. J.V.Hodgson

    America, the land of the free ( hand on your heart as you sing it) and the brave, and equality for all.... that's why the French gave us the statue of liberty ( something French I don't understand like " liberte, fraternity, egalite" cause I'm an independent!!
    Current GOP
    1) You live here, work here, pay taxes. Now prove yourself you illiterate hobo by voter id birth certificate that you have the basic democratic freedom to vote in the country in which you live and reside, etc,etc
    2) Never mind all that you are doing work we ( real americans) don't wanna do because it don't pay enough or beneath our dignity. Let the Hobo's blacks and Latino's do it for $7 bucks an hour or less... not a real minimum wage that allows a basic lifestyle.
    3) Cant do 2 above because small business profits will be affected! No they wont, the cost will get passed on. for places like Big mac or Walmart the the cost effect will be spread over higher ticket items with little increase on daily essentials
    Immigration reform tax reform. The GOP will never support as long a BOH is president because they know his ideas will lead to significant economic growth making it impossible to win in 2016 or even 2014.

    February 2, 2014 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  22. jackbooted

    Oh ya....IF by the stroke of a pen Obama can reduce wage disparity and redistribute wealth, I dare him to limit federal contractor CEO compensation...LOL

    February 2, 2014 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  23. don in albuquerque

    Let the redistribution begin. Ever hear about a little thing that happened in France. It was called "The Terror." It's what happens when the rich, and the government continually ignore the poor, and middle class. "Let the eat cake", but remember sweetie....they'll only eat it for so long and then they'll be coming to your house for filet mignon.

    February 2, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  24. jackbooted

    Work that "we" do not want to do...............let me think...or not.....

    Please take a look at published numbers regarding the building trades. You will find these are not minimum wage jobs no one wants and who works in them. But we can talk about taking and giving...the Democratic way to gain votes.

    February 2, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  25. countingdown

    5 years, FIVE YEARS, we have had this administration. 8 million jobs lost because libs like you wanted affordable housing given to people who couldn't afford them, with millions more entering the work force and no jobs available. Only 2 million jobs gained in that 5 years. That translates to a job deficit equal to or greater than initial jobs lost. The first order of business in Obama's first term was to screw 145 million working Americans with Obamacare. Those of us who lost our health insurance not only lost it as individuals but families and the initial 6 to 8 million people who lost insurance is multiplied greatly.. The first thing in your empty mind when you read this will be the so called hindrance to obama's agenda by conservatives, which is ludicrous, because how was obamacare passed in the first place and why wasn't Obama focused on jobs from the beginning. What little restrictions conservatives were able to achieve to this administration's failed agenda is a blessing, because unfettered spending with unlimited debt would put America in a hole impossible to escalate. You and all liberals ranting about the tea party and conservatives only proves you can't defend this administration's actions.
    Start (thinking) for yourself for the 1st, FIRST time, because a new direction is coming and you can begin counting down!

    February 2, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
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