White House press secretary Jay Carney dismissed suggestions that President Obama would offer a limited agenda in his 2014 State of the Union address, calling his fight against income inequality an “ambitious” goal.
“I think restoring security and economic vitality to the middle class is a very ambitious goal,” said Carney on Monday. “Restoring opportunity for all and expanding opportunity for all, those are very ambitious goals.
“Those are the goals the president has identified,” he added. “Those are the goals that the president will work all year toward achieving.”
The president’s domestic agenda stalled in Congress in 2013, and this year Obama has vowed to bypass Congress where possible and rely on executive action to push his policies. But critics say that without the support of lawmakers, the president cannot make real progress on many of his priorities.
Obama is likely to focus his address to Congress on Tuesday on new policies to fight income inequality, which he has called the “defining” challenge of our time, vowing to focus his second term on bolstering the middle class.
Carney though stressed that Obama would work with Congress where he could, but was ready to act on his own if lawmakers stalled.
“In conducting that work he will use every means available to him to move forward towards the achievement of those goals, and that includes working with Congress and passing legislation and signing it where Congress will work with him,” said Carney.
“But he simply won't stop there because, mindful of Congress' reluctance to be cooperative at times, the president is going to exercise his authority. He's going to use his pen and his phone to advance an agenda that is focused squarely on expanding opportunity, making sure that in America hard work and responsibility are rewarded, and that opportunity is expanded,” he continued.
Carney acknowledged that Obama was frustrated with Washington after a difficult 2013 which saw him unable to secure immigration reform or tougher gun control measures. But he added that Obama was ready to try to move his agenda forward.
White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer on Sunday said that Obama would offer “concrete” proposals on tackling income inequality.
“Tomorrow night, it's time to restore opportunity for all,” the president said in a short video posted on Vine, a video sharing application, previewing the speech.