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Obama Warns to Sidestep Lawmakers, Addresses Domestic, Foreign Issues
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama has used his fifth State of the Union address to tell lawmakers that he's still willing to work with Congress. But Obama said he'll sidestep obstructionist lawmakers "whenever and wherever" necessary to reduce the wage gap between rich and poor.
One executive action he'll take is to increase the minimum wage for some federal contract workers to a minimum of $10.10.
The president called on Democrats and Republicans in the House to follow the Senate's lead and approve an overhaul of immigration laws. He called on them to pass legislation this year.
He also addressed foreign policy. He said any U.S. troops that remain in Afghanistan after 2014 will only help continue to train Afghan forces and carry out counterterror operations against extremists.
Obama also said negotiations to limit Iran's nuclear program will be difficult and may not succeed. But he warned Congress that any new economic sanctions against Tehran while the discussions are ongoing will be vetoed.
Congressional Republicans responded quickly and forcefully to Obama's nationally televised vow to act on his own if lawmakers won't cooperate with his agenda.
House Speaker John Boehner says Obama "must understand his power is limited." He is calling on Obama to work with Congress on goals they "can achieve together to create jobs and promote greater opportunity."
Despite Obama's promise to act regardless of Congress, there is little evidence Republicans will move Obama's way.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who delivered the Republicans' official response, said Obama's policies "are making people's lives harder."
Voters also are responding to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.
Seventy-year-old retired Army colonel Bill Deile of Florida says he took Obama's promise to sidestep Congress to get things done as a "veiled threat." Fifty-two-year-old Dean Weygandt, a union technician in Toledo, says it's about time Obama used executive orders for his agenda.
Mary Lynn English, who's pursued more than 100 marketing jobs in recent years without success, says she's not impressed with the president's positivity. The 44-year-old from Asheville, N.C., says what the president is saying are just words, and she'll be happier when there's some action.
Alan McIntyre is a self-employed 43-year-old in suburban Cincinnati, who calls Obama's speech "disgusting."
McIntyre says he says he can't support Obama's plan to help lower-income Americans save for retirement by giving them guarantees they won't lose the principal on their investments.
McIntyre says in investments, "You have to assume that risk, that's called responsibility."
Voters on the left also are weighing in after Tuesday's State of the Union address.
Liberal activists in Massachusetts and beyond say they're skeptical about Obama's ability to achieve the goals outlined in his State of the Union address.
Those gathered in living room watch parties joined many in the Democratic Party's far-left wing who are disappointed by the president's job performance facing a deeply divided Congress. Liberal leaders offered mixed reactions to the speech.
Some said they were pleased with Obama's focus on the minimum wage and economic inequality but it did little to stem their waning enthusiasm for the president.
They are frustrated with Obama's progress on liberal prescriptions for health care, taxes and Wall Street reform, among other issues. The reactions underscore lingering tension between the Democratic Party's moderate and liberal wings.
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