Obama says crisis over, unveils vision of ‘middle-class economics’


Washington (IANS): Noting he had no more campaigns to run, a defiant and upbeat Barack Obama set out to seal his legacy in the final two years of his presidency with a blunt veto threat against any attempts to undermine his legislative achievements. He also said the “shadow of crisis” had passed over the US, the nation was strong and had now only to “turn the page”.

“I have no more campaigns to run,” he reminded the Republican-controlled Congress Tuesday night, reminding lawmakers that he won all of them, as he outlined an ambitious vision for “middle-class economics” with a call for tax reform, free community college and child care.

“My only agenda for the next two years is the same as the one I’ve had since the day I swore an oath on the steps of this Capitol – to do what I believe is best for America,” he said in his annual State of the Union message.

“If you share the broad vision I outlined tonight, join me in the work at hand. If you disagree with parts of it, I hope you’ll at least work with me where you do agree,” Obama said.

In an address running over an hour, Obama, in a dark suit and a light blue tie, also offered a blunt veto threat of any Congressional proposals to undermine his major legislative achievements to date.

“We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix,” he said.

“And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, it will earn my veto.”

Obama said the “shadow of crisis has passed” after years dominated by wars, recession and the threat of terror, saying that it’s now time for the nation to “turn the page.”

“America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this: The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong,” he said.

Under Obama’s plan, tax hikes on the wealthy would help finance tax breaks for middle-income Americans, including a $500 boost for families with two working spouses and a tripling of the child care tax credit.

Other proposals included a push for more paid sick leave and a free community college education for qualified students.

Focused on domestic politics, Obama made no reference to his upcoming historic trip to India later this week.

But he accused China of wanting to “write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region. That would put our workers and our businesses at a disadvantage.”

“Why would we let that happen? We should write those rules. We should level the playing field,” he said seeking”trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe.”

Obama also asked Congress to formally authorise the use of force against the Islamic State terror group.

He also told Congress that he will veto any additional sanctions on Iran as the administration seeks to finalize a long-elusive nuclear deal with the country.

Defending his administration’s move to normalise diplomatic relations with Cuba, he said that it ends “a policy that was long past its expiration date.”