State of the Union: Obama demands spread of wealth
US President Barack Obama has declared an end to the financial crisis and pledged economic policies to benefit all Americans, in his annual State of the Union address to Congress.
In a speech devised to appeal to working families, Mr Obama outlined his strategy for “middle-class economics”.
“It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next 15 years,” he said.
But the plans are unlikely to make it past a Republican-controlled Congress.
In a speech which he described as more focused on values than policies, Mr Obama declared America had turned a page after the worst recession since the Depression.
The president said he planned to build on this growth by providing working families with help in the form of sick and maternity leave and affordable child care.
“Middle-class economic works. Expanding opportunity works. And these politics will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way,” he said.
He also pledged that Congress should pass a law to give women the same wages as men for doing the same job. “It’s 2015. It’s time,” he said.
Mr Obama’s speech included plans to build a competitive economy by improving America’s infrastructure and providing free access to community college.
“This plan is your chance to graduate ready for a new economy, without a load of debt,” he said.
In a policy which is likely to bring him into direct conflict with the Republican-led Congress, Mr Obama pledged to close tax loopholes on large inheritances, raise capital gains tax on the richest earners from 23.8% to 28% and introduce new fees on US financial firms with assets about $50bn.
Some senior members of the Republican party has already dismissed this as “class warfare”.