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Economy to Dominate Obama's State of the Union Speech

  • VOA News

President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama.

U.S. President Barack Obama is focusing his annual State of the Union address Tuesday on the nation's economy.

In an email to supporters Saturday, White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer said President Obama "will lay out a set of real, concrete, practical proposals to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class, and empower all who hope to join it."

Pfeiffer said three words sum up Obama's message in the speech before Congress: "opportunity, action, and optimism."

Millions of Americans are still out of work more than five years after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The latest figure puts the nationwide unemployment rate at 6.7 percent.

Pfeiffer said Obama will seek to work with Congress in 2014, which the White House is calling a "year of action," but he will not wait for lawmakers "when American jobs and livelihoods depend on getting something done."

The warning comes as divisions between Republicans and the president's Democratic Party remain high, and the president's approval rating remains low.

But Pfeiffer highlighted economic progress already being made, saying U.S. businesses have created more than eight million new jobs in nearly four years and are primed to create more. And he said President Obama will outline new efforts to help the long-term unemployed following a trip to communities across the U.S. in the week after his speech.

The president is also expected to use the address to defend his signature health care law, push immigration reform and discuss international issues, including the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and progress with Iran.

The Tuesday night speech at the Capitol will be Obama's fifth State of the Union address. Tens of millions of Americans are expected to tune in on television.

House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers -- a member of the House of Representatives from Washington state -- will deliver the Republican response.

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