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March 24, 2023

State of the Union: Obama calls for end to inequality

WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama has attacked income inequality as he set the tone for his re-election bid in his third State of the Union speech. Obama emphasised the importance of an economy that works for everyone, in the nationally televised address to Congress, the BBC said.

The speech saw a renewed call for higher taxes on the wealthy, something Republicans strongly oppose. The US economy is on the mend, but unemployment remains high at 8.5%. The annual State of the Union address – one of the most keenly watched events in US politics – traditionally includes policy prescriptions from the White House for the upcoming year.

President Obama’s speech on Tuesday in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives was delivered with an eye on November’s presidential election, when he will seek another four years in office.

Obama said the economy was bouncing back from the 2007-09 recession. He sounded a warning to his conservative opponents, as he added: “I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.”

Obama also made a renewed call for his Buffett Rule – a principle that millionaires should not pay a lower tax rate than typical workers. Pledging no tax increases for those earning under USD 250,000, Obama said: “If you make more than USD 1 M a year, you should not pay less than 30% in taxes.”

The president also talked about foreign policy in his speech, most notably about Iran, according to Voice of America. Obama said the world is united in its response to Iran, leaving the country “more isolated than ever” and its leaders facing “crippling” sanctions. He added that he will not rule out any option for preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but that the issue can be resolved peacefully.

Obama will promote the ideas outlined in his speech over the coming days in five states key to his re-election bid: Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Michigan. Opinion polls show his approval numbers languishing beneath 50%, with most Americans disapproving of how he has handled the economy.

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