Conservative Advantage Grows Ahead of 2014 Midterm Elections

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President Barack Obama’s January 28 State of the Union address without a doubt set the stage for the 2014 midterm congressional elections. Before Congress, the president declared the state of the union was strong. “Here are the results of your efforts: The lowest unemployment rate in over five years; a rebounding housing market; a manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s,” he proclaimed. But of course, the U.S. economic situation does look better if 2009 is used as the baseline. Yet Obama did not speak for long without identifying the nation’s challenges as well. “Average wages have barely budged,” he said. “Inequality has deepened; upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by — let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.”

The economy will not be the only issue for debate in the coming months — issues such as abortion, healthcare, and government spending will be hotly debated as well. However, Obama did indeed put the spotlight on the state of the American middle class during the State of the Union address, announcing his plans to expand opportunities of all. “The President’s top priority remains ensuring middle class Americans feel secure in their jobs, homes, and budgets,” read a fact sheet released by the White House alongside the official address.

Of particular importance to Obama’s domestic agenda are the still-exceedingly-high numbers of long-term unemployed Americans and low wages. The U.S. economy may recovering, and recovering rapidly as The Economist’s Zanny Minton Beddoes told NPR, but that recovery is leaving behind a large percentage of the country’s residents. “A lot of the gains of the recovery that we’ve seen have gone to the people at the very top, particularly the top 1 percent,” Minton said. “Ordinary people’s incomes have not accelerated that much, and so it doesn’t seem as though the economy is doing that well.”

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