US President Obama urges boost to economy

LONDON (ShareCast) - US President Barack Obama tackled a host of issues ranging from gun control to immigration to climate control in his State of the Union address last night.

As far as markets are concerned, Obama pushed for measures to aid the middle class and called on opposition Republicans, collectively known as the GOP, to back his proposals in order to boost the economy.

Obama outlined suggestions such as raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour by the end of 2015, and $50bn in infrastructure spending and agreements to promote cleaner energy and improved manufacturing. The President attempted to head off GOP opposition insisting that such initiatives would not increase the deficit by a "single dime".

"Let's be clear: deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan," he said.

Obama and congressional Republicans continue to butt heads over fiscal policies. They are attempting to negotiate to stop $1.2tn in automatic spending cuts that will begin taking effect on March 1st if an agreement is not reached.

Obama continued to push tax hikes, a major issue of opposition from the GOP. In fact, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio called the President's desire for tax increases an "obsession" and warned him that they would only serve to hurt middle class families.

Rubio believes that higher taxes on the wealthy will damper economic growth and could even lead to higher unemployment.

JM