A confident, upbeat President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address Tuesday night, telling the GOP-controlled Congress and the American people that "the shadow of crisis has passed" and “the state of the union is strong.” Before outlining his plan for 2015, Obama boasted of a fast-growing economy, shrinking unemployment, dwindling deficits, sweeping health coverage, low gasoline prices and an end to the American combat mission in Afghanistan. The president vowed to close Guantanamo Bay and defeat the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS.
“So the verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works,” Obama said. “And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way.”
The president urged the new Republican Congress to work with him. But he vowed to veto any bills that jeopardize middle-class families, the Affordable Care Act or his executive actions on immigration.
Obama pledged to continue working to help the middle class by raising taxes for America’s wealthiest, lowering them for working families and raising the minimum wage. “And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it,” Obama said.
He called on Congress to work with him in eliminating the cost of community college for high school graduates and passing bipartisan infrastructure and research bills. “Democrats and Republicans used to agree on this. So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline,” Obama said, referring to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline bill, which he has said he will veto. “When it comes to issues like infrastructure and basic research, I know there’s bipartisan support in this chamber.”
The president asked Congress to pass bipartisan legislation authorizing the use of force against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria, as well as a bill to end the embargo on Cuba. Obama explicitly threatened to veto any new sanctions passed by Congress that jeopardizes diplomatic progress, including nuclear negotiations with Iran.
Obama went off-script when a line about how he had "no more campaigns to run" drew applause. "I know because I won both of them," he ad-libbed.
As Obama wrapped up his nearly 30-minute-long speech, he sounded like the keynote speaker of the 2004 Democratic convention, a speech that propelled him into the White House. He emphasized unity in what has been a polarized nation. “Everybody matters,” the president said. “We are still more than a collection of red states and blue states; we are the United States of America.”