U.S. President Barack Obama plans to use Tuesday's State of the Union speech to say that he will bypass Congress to strengthen the American middle class.
In excerpts released to news organizations, Mr. Obama will tell Congress and the American people that while corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, average wages have barely budged. He will say that too many Americans are working harder just to get by.
While the president is eager to work with Congress, he plans to announce that he will take steps without legislation -- a move called an executive order -- to expand opportunities for the middle class.
The president's approval rating has dropped to less than 50 percent. With the electorate in a pessimistic mood over the economy and gridlock in Congress. Mr. Obama is looking to make a fresh start in 2014.
Mr. Obama is trying to bounce back from a number of controversies last year, including news about National Security Agency spying, the disastrous introduction of his health care website, and the 16-day government shutdown over the budget standoff.
Mr. Obama also will urge the full Congress to approve an immigration reform measure that passed in the Senate last year. The bill stalled in the House of Representatives under intense opposition from conservatives.