SOTU: Obama Seeks Workplace Equality, Tax Code Changes

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The year of action. That's what 2014 is all about for President Barack Obama, and it was the underlying theme of Tuesday night's State of the Union address.

"Let's make this a year of action," Obama said. "That's what most Americans want -- for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations."

It's an optimistic goal for a President with a 43% approval rating entering his sixth year in office and facing a determined opposition otherwise known as the House of Representatives.

Speaking from the lectern inside the House chamber for his fifth State of the Union address, Obama outlined his goals and priorities that included economic opportunity, energy and education.

Understanding the reality and the challenges before him, Obama announced plans to accomplish parts of his agenda without Congress.

"... What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require congressional action, and I'm eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still, and neither will I," Obama said during his speech.

In other words, with up to 535 members of Congress sitting in the same room during his speech, the President told them that he's going to go around them. One way is by using his pen to sign executive orders -- unilateral presidential directives.

Obama called for more government support to rebuild the nation's infrastructure, but warned he was willing to go it alone.

"I will act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects, so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible," he said.

The Republican Party has balked at the idea.

Speaking to reporters earlier Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner said Republicans are "just not going to sit here and let the President trample all over us."

“The President promises to make this year one of action, but getting things done will require more than just words," said U.S. Rep Tim Griffin (R) of Arkansas. "In his State of the Union address, he again invited critics of Obamacare to suggest ways we can improve our health care system, but 50 days later, I’m still waiting for his response to my letter detailing nine key proposals."

Separately, the President also unveiled a proposal for a new type of account that allows Americans to save for retirement.

Obama said he will order the U.S. Treasury to create a new federal retirement savings account called MyRA, a savings bond that he added would guarantee "a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in." It will be available to those whose jobs don't offer traditional retirement savings programs, he said.

Click here for the full text of the president's address.

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