CHARLESTON, W.Va. — President Barack Obama wants 2014 to be a “year of action.” Despite economic improvements in the United States over the past four years, Obama said income inequality has deepened and upward mobility has stalled.
To address those issues, Obama detailed proposals in Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, for the months and years ahead, that he said were designed to speed up economic growth and strengthen the middle class.
Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) was not inspired. “I thought it was a little more of the same, kind of, some retreaded thoughts, no specific ideas,” she said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
First District Congressman David McKinley (R-WV) said, while Obama may have a point about income inequality, he neglected to address the reasons for the widening gap between the rich and the poor.
“I’m not ready to start jumping at a class warfare bandwagon that this president wants to do,” said McKinley. “This was a very populist speech that was trying to get at the base for the 2014 election.”
McKinley said his questions about the possibilities of a U.S. economic turnaround, improvements for the health care law and ways to cut wasteful spending were not answered in the speech.
During his State of the Union Address, Obama called on Congress to “fix our broken immigration system,” restore emergency unemployment benefits that expired at the end of 2013, expand the earned income tax credit, reform the tax code to close loopholes and encourage business growth, speed up the trade deal approval process and authorize funds for natural gas fueling stations, while reducing tax breaks for fossil fuel industries.
“He didn’t say coal, but fossil fuels, and so we know what he means,” noted Capito.
Through executive orders, meaning without the help of Congress, President Obama said he plans to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 per hour, review job-training programs and support for the unemployed and streamline the permitting process for natural gas plants.
Additionally, the President is pushing the creation of a new starter retirement savings account that will allow people to save money, through their employers, with accounts like Roth IRAs or savings bonds with backing from the U.S. government.
He visited several places on Wednesday to promote some of the proposals he made in Tuesday’s State of the Union Address.