State of the Union: Obama Doesn't Budge on Cuts, Taxes
Posted at: 02/12/2013 8:26 PM
| Updated at: 02/12/2013 8:29 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is telling congressional Republicans that he is still willing to reduce the deficit but only with a mix of increased taxes and reduced spending, an offer he made during budget talks that collapsed at the end of last year. Republicans say they reject raising more tax revenue.
In his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, Obama is reiterating his proposal to reduce spending by $900 billion and increase taxes by $600 billion through a tax overhaul. The combined $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction would also reduce government payments on the debt. Obama intends to use some of those savings to pay for initiatives meant to create jobs.
The $900 billion in cuts include reductions of $400 billion in spending on Medicare and other health care programs.
Obama calls for raising minimum wage to $9 an hour
President Barack Obama wants an increase in the minimum hourly wage from the current $7.25 to $9 by the end of 2015. Obama also proposes the minimum wage be required to keep pace with inflation.
The current rate took effect in 2009. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have higher minimum wage rates than the federal requirement. Washington state's is highest at $9.19.
The proposal, which Obama made during his State of the Union address Tuesday, is sure to draw opposition from business groups and congressional Republicans who say higher rates increase costs and reduce employment. The White House says the new wage would raise pay for more than 15 million workers and indirectly help millions more.
Obama wants the rate to increase in stages over three years.
Obama on immigration: 'Let's get this done'
President Barack Obama is renewing his call for a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system, telling Congress during his State of the Union address: "Now let's get this done."
He asked for a bill in the next few months and pledged to sign it "right away."
Obama wants legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., among other steps.
Eight Republican and Democratic senators are working to complete a bill by next month.
An aide says the four Democrats in the group — Chuck Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado — plan to update Obama on their progress during a meeting at the White House on Wednesday.
Obama: Consensus for more checks for gun buyers
President Barack Obama is emphasizing the need for more background checks for gun buyers in his State of the Union address, saying that overwhelming majorities of Americans favor the proposal as a way to keep firearms from criminals.
Obama said Tuesday night that senators from both parties are working on legislation to prevent people from legally buying guns and then giving them to criminals.
He said police chiefs want lawmakers to ban "weapons of war" and magazines carrying large amounts of ammunition so law enforcement officers won't be outgunned.
The president proposed all those ideas after the December killings of 20 first-graders in Connecticut. But expanded background checks is the only one he described as having vast support — a description that matches public polling and reflects congressional sentiment too.
Obama wants expanded access to pre-school
President Barack Obama wants all 50 states to provide pre-kindergarten schools for 4-year-olds, a plan that the White House says will result in better prepared students and ultimately a more educated workforce.
Obama's plan, unveiled in his State of the Union address Tuesday, would provide federal government support to the states to provide access to preschool for all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds.
Obama also wants the federal government to give the states incentives to provide full-day kindergarten.
Obama campaigned in 2008 on a plan for universal pre-school. Advocates say such a plan results in improved student test scores and reduced spending on government assistance programs. Skeptics say that evidence of positive results is limited and that preschool can encourage children to spend less time with their parents.
Obama calls al-Qaida 'shadow of former self'
President Barack Obama says al-Qaida is a "shadow of its former self," and does not pose the kind of threat to America that requires tens of thousands of U.S. troops to fight abroad.
In his State of the Union address Tuesday, the president said U.S. troops will continue pursuing the remnants of al-Qaida in Afghanistan for a number of years.
He noted that various al-Qaida affiliates have emerged elsewhere in the world in recent years, including in Yemen and Somalia. Instead of sending large numbers of U.S. troops to fight there, he said, the U.S. aim will be to help those countries provide their own security and to help allies fight al-Qaida, as the French have done in the African nation of Mali.
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