The State of the Union and the "Year of Action"

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President Obama delivers the 2014 State of the Union speech.

In his State of the Union speech last night, President Obama chided Congress for their inactivity, and vowed to make 2014 a "year of action" on the minimum wage, climate policy, and immigration. James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic, reviews the speech and what comes next.


Brian's Five Key Quotes from the State of the Union

  • Flipping the Script on the Usual "State of the Union" Line "Tonight, this chamber speaks with one voice to the people we represent: It is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong. (Applause.)"
  • Can He Really Get Businesses to Voluntarily Raise Wages? "Nick Chute is here today with his boss, John Soranno. John’s an owner of Punch Pizza in Minneapolis, and Nick helps make the dough. (Laughter.) Only now he makes more of it. (Laughter.) John just gave his employees a raise, to 10 bucks an hour -- and that’s a decision that has eased their financial stress and boosted their morale. Tonight, I ask more of America’s business leaders to follow John’s lead: Do what you can to raise your employees’ wages. (Applause.) It’s good for the economy. It’s good for America. (Applause.) To every mayor, governor, state legislator in America, I say you don’t have to wait for Congress to act -- Americans will support you if you take this on."
  • The Only Gun Control Reference. Still Promising Action? "Citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day. I’ve seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, police officers all over this country who say “we are not afraid." And I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, in our shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook. (Applause.)"
  • Forceful on Climate Change. "Because a changing climate is already harming Western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods. That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities, and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air. (Applause.) The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require some tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. (Applause.) And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did. (Applause.)"
  • How Will He Boost The Tech Sector? (James Fallows Has Been Reporting on "Turnaround" Communities) "We also have the chance, right now, to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs. My administration has launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh, North Carolina and Youngstown, Ohio, where we’ve connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies. Tonight, I’m announcing we’ll launch six more this year. Bipartisan bills in both houses could double the number of these hubs and the jobs they create. So get those bills to my desk; put more Americans back to work. (Applause.)"