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A day after giving the State of the Union address, President Obama began a road trip to sell the economic program and other goals he laid out in his speech. While congressional Democrats said they were invigorated by the president’s approach, top Republicans criticized his policies and his pledge to veto bills that could roll back health care and immigration reform.
On this day after the State of the Union, President Obama took the next steps toward trying to make his agenda a reality. He sought a new setting and a new audience far from Washington.
With the big speech behind him, the president journeyed deep into Republican territory to sell his economic program to Boise, Idaho.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. These policies will keep on working, as long as politics in Washington doesn't get in the way of our progress.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
Let's make sure all our people have the tools and the support that they need to go as far as their dreams and their effort will take them.
The road trip is designed to build on last night's address to Congress and the nation and on the president's declaration that years of recession and war are finally over.
It has been, and still is, a hard time for many, but, tonight, we turn the page.
And, for Mr. Obama, turning that page means pushing a newly assertive agenda, despite last fall's Democratic losses. The agenda includes first-time proposals, such as making community college free for many Americans, requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave to their employees, and bolstering efforts to prevent cyber-attacks.
Overseas, he's calling for new authority to use force against the Islamic State, plus lifting the decades-long embargo on Cuba.
But it was clear last night what the new Republican majorities in the House and Senate think of the president's calls for new taxes.
But, for far too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing.
And of his plan to raise the minimum wage.
If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, try it.
If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.
Today, House Speaker John Boehner drove home the criticism.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, Speaker of the House: All the president really offered last night was more taxes, more government, more of the same approach that has failed the middle class for decades. These just aren't the wrong policies. They're the wrong priorities.
Top Republicans also criticized the president's pledge to veto bills that could roll back health care and immigration policies.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, Majority Leader:
Now, we know the president may not be wild about the people's choice of a Congress, but he owes it to the American people to find a serious way to work with the representatives that they elected.
And if the president is willing to put the veto threats away and the designed-to-fail talking points aside, we can still cooperate to get some smart things done for the people we represent.
But, as the president said last night, with no more campaigns to run, he will put all his energy into pushing his ideas.
Today, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and other Democrats said they're invigorated by that approach.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D) Minnesota: that the president is not going to be spending his next year-and-a-half slouched in his armchair planning his presidential library. And I think what we saw last night is a president that wants to get things done in his remaining time in office. And I think that we see an energized country that is — also wants to get through the gridlock and move forward.
President Obama plans to move forward again tomorrow with an event in another heavily Republican state, Kansas.
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