Tonight at the State of the Union address, President Obama is expected to discuss measures to address our nation’s job crises, lift wages for millions of workers, and slow the growth of economic inequality, which he has called “the defining challenge of our time.”
The Economic Policy Institute has continuously put out research documenting the flat wages of middle class workers and the growing gap between wages and productivity. EPI researchers have also documented the importance of extending emergency unemployment insurance, which Congress let expire last year.
State of the Union address: Contents
This morning, the White House announced it will, through executive order, require federal contractors to pay new employees a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour. EPI first studied this issue in 2000, with the briefing paper The Forgotten Workforce, and again in 2009 in Outsourcing Poverty. EPI Vice-President Ross Eisenbrey recently called on President Obama to take this action, writing “The government needs to change the way contracts are awarded, to insure that taxpayer funds are not used to create an ever larger workforce that is unable to escape poverty and support a decent standard of living.”
President Obama could also raise wages for millions by changing the rules for how overtime is calculated. The threshold over which salaried workers are exempt from overtime has lagged behind inflation since 1975. EPI released a policy memo suggesting that the Department of Labor raise the threshold from $455 per week to $970 per week. EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey has written about this issue in the New York Times.
The president should also strongly endorse the Harkin-Miller Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Over 600 economists, include seven Nobel laureates, have signed on to an EPI letter endorsing a higher minimum wage.
Lastly at the State of the Union address, the president could put a stop to trade deals that increase our trade deficits and cost America jobs.
GOP fact check video on State Of The Union Address 2014
The live reporting of State of the Union address 2014:
UPDATE: 7:41 PM (All times are in EST) We will begin live blogging of the State of The Union at 9PM, but we have the live feed, which we are posting above these updates for now. Check out pre-coverage of SOTU from the White House.
Check back at 9:00 PM EST for the live coverage..
9:02 Our coverage starts now Barack Obama is on time and starts the STOU by quoting JFK about being partners for progress. JFK said it is my job to give the STOU, tonight there is much progress to report. Our men and women are coming home.
9:05 Stock market rebounding, home market coming back, and together we have cleared away ‘the rubble of crisis’; now we can say with confidence that the STOU is stronger. However, millions of Americans cannot find jobs, wages and incomes are barely budging. We must have a thriving middle class.
9:10 The Government must open the door to all and work for the people. The American people do not expect agreement on everything, but they do expect us to put the nation’s interest before the party’s. We need to finish the job on reducing the deficit. Congress passed a law in 2011 about the Sequester, which would jeopardize military, medical research, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. That is why everyone said these cuts were a really bad idea. Some in Congress proposed spending cuts only to medicare, job training etc. Obama says in the STOU that would make it even worse. Medicare must be modestly reformed or we will jeopardize retirement for the working class. We cannot just shift the cost of healthcare onto the middle class and cities, we cannot cut our way to prosperity.
9:15 The affordable healthcare act is already cutting insurance costs. Our medical bills should be based on the quality of care not the number of middle tests. I am open to traditional reforms from both parties, as long as they keep the promises we have already made. Obama talks about lowering tax rates for domestic manufacturers while making sure billionaires cannot cut the line. Obama says the politics will be hard for both sides, but the alternative will be worse. So let us pass a budget which is responsible, we cannot have manufactured crises .
NOTE: We will post the full State Of The Union Address when it becomes available
9:20: Deficit reduction is not the only goal, middle class jobs must be. We should ask ourselves three questions 1. how do we attract more jobs 2. Give workers skills 3. Make sure workers have a decent living. Obama plans to layout fully paid for and wont increase the deficit by a single dime. Ford, Apple, Caterpillar are bringing jobs back to America. We can accelerate this trend, which we are already doing ie 3D printing in a new manufacturing hub. I propose 4 new centers impacted by globalization, and ask Congress for 15 new hubs.
To make best products we must also invest in new ideas. Every dollar invested in the human genome generated $144. We now are investing in the brain. Now we need investments in these areas like we did during the space rate.
9:25 We must do more to combat climate change. The 12 hottest years on record all came in the last 15 years. Heatwaves, droughts etc. are all causes. Science believes that global warming caused events like Hurricane Sandy. I urge Congress to propose a bipartisan bill which can also create jobs. However, if Congress will not act, I will act with an executive order. Let us drive down wind and solar costs even more. The natural gas boom should be encouraged, that is why we will cut red tape, but I also want R&D to make natural gas even cleaner. Natural gas and oil should be used to set up a fund to eliminate the need for cars running on gas. Let us cut in half home and business energy use over the past 20 years. The energy sector is just one part of the aging infrastructure.
9:30 Barack Obama State Of The Union Address (STOU) 2014 full transcript embedded at the bottom.
9:35 Barack Obama State Of The Union Address (STOU) 2014 full transcript embedded below so we will now switch from verbatim notes to more formal notes. Obama wants to update High School for the “skills needed in today’s society”. Higher education is too expensive and costs too much debt. We have made college more affordable, but tax payers cannot keep subsiding these costs and we must make sure that colleges.
9:40 Everyone agrees that we need comprehensive immigration reform and now is the time to get it done. This will involve going to the back of the line, background checks, and learning English. We also need to reform legal immigration to attract highly skilled immigrants. Obama asks in the STOU to send him a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
However, Obama says it cannot end there. The House should sign The Violence Against Women Act, which Joe Biden created. Congress should pass the paycheck fairness act this year. Today a full time worker making minimum wage cannot make it and live below the poverty line. The wealthiest nation on Earth should have to live in poverty says Obama. This single step would raise the income for millions of Americans. For businesses it would mean more customers with money, and working folks should not have to wait for the minimum wage to go up, it should be tied to the wage of living. However, there are still pockets of poverty. We need to build new opportunities for the lower class. Obama will partner with hard hit town to get back on their feet. He will give tax credits and will encourage more incentive for fathers to raise children. Stronger families, stronger communities and a stronger America.
9:45: Obama brings up the disastrous war in Afghanistan. The war will be over by this time next year, Obama declares. Obama says the new threat from terrorists will need to be helping nations who fight them, not occupying countries, ironically Obama brings up Libya. Obama has kept Congress fully informed about the war on terror to make sure that everything is transparent. Leaders of Iran and North Korea must meet our demands.
9:50: Obama says we will support stable transitions to democracy; We can and will insist on respect for citizens in Syria and Egypt. He says we will support Israel in pursuit of a lasting peace. Obama plans to travel to the Middle East next month.
9:55 Obama says that the US must also protect democracy at home, and no one should be denied the right to vote. Obama calls for a bi-partisan committee to find a way to fix the voting system.
10:00 Obama calls for gun control citing many recent massacres by gunmen such as Sandy Hook.
Speech is over full transcript can be found below.