White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer on Sunday said President Obama would offer “concrete” proposals to address income inequality in his State of the Union address and was ready to take a number of executive actions to move his agenda forward if Congress failed to act.
“The president will say to the country he's not going to wait. He has a pen, he has a phone. He's going to use those to move the ball forward to create opportunity,” said Pfeiffer on “Fox News Sunday.”
Obama will address Congress -- and the nation -- on Tuesday and has said 2014 will be a “year of action” on the economy and in particular on addressing income inequality, which he has called the “defining challenge” of our time.
The president has vowed, though, to use executive actions bypass Congress where he can if lawmakers fail to take up his domestic agenda. Last year, Congress failed to act on a number of Obama’s priorities, including gun control, and saw immigration reform stall in the GOP-controlled House.
“What you are going to hear from the president on Tuesday night are a series of concrete, practical, specific proposals on how we restore opportunity through a wide set of means,” said Pfeiffer, previewing the address. “These will be some legislative proposals but also a number of actions he can take on his own.”
Pfeiffer said Obama is willing to work with Congress. “This president has a legislative record that stands up to any: the Affordable Care Act, Wall Street reform, an array of issues we’ve made progress on,” said Pfeiffer. But he added that Obama would move ahead if lawmakers failed to act.
Pfeiffer also disputed the idea that Obama had failed to act on the economy, saying that while there was still work to be done, much progress had been made.
“We are working where we can with Congress and acting on our own where we can,” he said.
“We have divided government, the Republican Congress is not going to rubber stamp the president’s agenda, the president is not going to sign the Republican Congress’ agenda, so we have to find areas where we can work together. We can start by passing unemployment benefits for 1.6 million Americans, pass a farm bill, pass immigration reform, infrastructure, those are things we can do together.
“No one is going to get everything they want,” said Pfeiffer.
Obama will travel to four states after his address to hammer his economic message.