U.S. President Barack Obama is preparing to give his annual State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday, looking to rebound from last year's legislative setbacks and weak voter approval of his performance.
Congress last year defeated Obama's efforts for new gun control legislation and changes in the country's immigration laws are stalled. Surveys show his approval ratings are in the low 40 percent range, dipping in tandem with the balky start to his national health care reforms.
Share of Income Earned by Each Fifth of U.S. Households, 1947 - 2012
In his State of the Union speech, aides say Obama will emphasize his quest to narrow wide economic inequality in the country, calling for programs to boost job growth and raise wages for lower-income workers.
pWhite House rress secretary Jay Carney says the president will work with Congress when he can to boost the economic fortunes of the middle class but act unilaterally when he feels it is necessary.
"The president sees this as a year of action. To work with Congress where he can and to bypass Congress where necessary, to lift folks who want to come up into the middle class," Carney said.
Republican lawmakers opposed to Obama's policies say that it would be unconstitutional for him to act on some policies without congressional approval.
Several Republican lawmakers are planning speeches shortly after his State of the Union address to voice their complaints and offer their agendas. But the party's official response will be given by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a congresswoman from the western state of Washington.