President Barack Obama is expected to highlight a resurgence in the U.S. economy during his annual State of the Union address to Congress late Tuesday. He has already taken his message to the public, previewing his administration’s plans to boost American manufacturing and access to higher education.
The president hit the road in the weeks before the State of the Union, beginning the new year with a look back at the progress made in 2014.
“In December, our businesses created 240,000 new jobs. Our unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent, which is the lowest in six-and-a-half years. What that means is, 2014 was the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s,” said Obama.
The president’s comments came during an event announcing a plan to offer two years of free tuition at community colleges for eligible students.
Just days before, during another stop on his State of the Union preview tour, this one at a Ford factory in Michigan - Obama said America’s resurgence is real and pointed to the turnaround in the struggling U.S. auto industry.
“Last year, American autoworkers churned out cars faster than any year since 2005. Ford has brought jobs back from Mexico, created nearly 24,000 new jobs across this country,” said Obama.
Despite a year that was full of international challenges - from the fight against the Islamic State militant group to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, President Obama has not wavered from his goal of boosting the American middle class.
Former Obama advisor Larry Korb with the Center for American Progress said the U.S. leader will likely focus on domestic issues in his State of the Union speech.
“I think he recognizes that we have got to get strong at home before we can be strong in the world. And basically our roads are crumbling. We need to do something about Highway Trust Fund, for example. I think he’s going to say you can’t be effective in the world unless you’re strong at home,” said Korb.
With a Republican-controlled Congress, the president’s proposals to create manufacturing hubs, expand broadband access and offer free tuition will likely run into opposition, particularly if the programs require lawmakers to sign off on more spending.