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Obama calls for revival of middle class America

world Updated: Feb 14, 2013 02:28 IST
Yashwant Raj

US President Barack Obama's first State of the Union address of his second term was mostly about the economy. But the loudest bipartisan cheers came for his push for immigration reforms.

And the emotional high point was reached towards the end when he urged in the measured cadence of a preacher a vote for laws to end gun violence.

"It is our generation's task," the president said, "to reignite the true engine of America's economic growth - a rising, thriving middle class." And he proceeded to detail his plan to bring jobs home from abroad, kick-start manufacturing.

Though the economy has recovered from the Great Recession, unemployment remains high. The president conceded "too many people still can't find full-time employment". He added: "Corporate profits have skyrocketed to all-time highs - but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged."

Of all the issues laid out by him, immigration reforms looked the most popular, and therefore most doable. The president's "words and tone were measured" and he sounded "productive", Republican congressman and vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan said.


Republicans senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Democrat Chuck Schumer - who are working on a bipartisan immigration bill - sat together and cheered the president.

Both Democrats and Republicans are keen to push through comprehensive reforms - improving policing, clearing a path to citizenship and expediting process for relatives.

Gun violence cast a shadow over the address with a large number of congressmen wearing green ribbons in remembrance of the children and educators killed in Newtown.

Many victims - relatives and survivors - of gun violence sat with Michelle Obama in her box, including Kaitlin Roig, a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown.

But the president didn't mention a ban on assault weapons, something he has advocated but will find it difficult to pilot through congress, even among some Democrats.