Jan. 24 - U.S. President Obama spotlights economic inequity in the State of the Union, calling for reform of system that gives wealthy lower tax rates. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
U.S. President Barack Obama used the State of the Union address to focus on economic inequity, calling for tax reform in an effort to change a system that allows the wealthy to pay a lower rate than middle-class Americans. While saying that the State of the Union was strong, more needs to be done to address inequities. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama saying: "The state of our Union is getting stronger. And we've come too far to turn back now. As long as I'm President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place. " His message comes as potential Republican rival Mitt Romney, one of the wealthiest men to ever run for the White House, released tax records showing he paid an effective tax rate that is much lower than the top tax rates on wages. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama saying: "Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that does the same. It's time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts." Taxes are the most divisive issue at the heart of this year's election campaign. Obama, seeking a second term despite a slow economic recovery and a high jobless rate, hopes to tap into middle-class voters' resentment against Wall Street while their families are hurting. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama saying: "We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share." Obama is set to revive his call to rewrite the tax code to adopt the so-called "Buffett rule," named after the billionaire Warren Buffett, who supports the president and says it is unfair that he, Buffett, pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, who sat with First Lady Michelle Obama during the address. Democrats have hammered Republicans in Congress for supporting tax breaks that favor the wealthy while Republicans staunchly oppose tax hikes, even on the richest Americans, arguing they would hurt a fragile economic recovery. Obama also defended his foreign policy record. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama saying: "We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. " Most of Obama's proposals will face stiff Republican resistance, limiting the chance of any headway in a divided Congress before the Nov. 6 Presidential election. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters