President Obama will use the high-profile address to try anew for momentum for the president’s agenda as he declares 2014 a “year of action” with or without congressional support. Here are some likely key points:
Obama is expected to make the widening income gap between rich and poor a centerpiece of his speech, calling on lawmakers to restore jobless benefits for 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans, expand preschool initiatives and boost the federal minimum wage. Unable to get traction on Capitol Hill for his economic initiatives, the president will announce some policies he will undertake on his own, the White House said. The president is expected to announce a plan to generate commitments from the private sector to hire people who have been out of work for extended periods of time.
He is expected to renew his call for Congress to overhaul the nation’s patchwork immigration laws. The effort gained momentum last year when the Senate passed a landmark bill, but the legislation stalled in the Republican-led House.
Health care law
The president will also tout the health law, which has rebounded somewhat after a disastrous launch in October. The administration said about 3 million people have enrolled in federal- and state-run health insurances exchanges, although the percentage of young, healthy people signing up will likely need to increase by the March 31 deadline in order to keep costs down.