Pres. Obama’s State of the Union focused on easing burden for middle class

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- President Obama spoke to the nation Tuesday night, laying out his plan for his final two years in office. The nation's economy was front and center as the president spoke in front of a joint session of congress.

He offered up a number of ideas, but for the first time in his presidency, President Obama is working with a Republican controlled Congress on both sides of the rotunda.

The president says he'll submit a budget to Congress within two weeks and travel the country trying to win support for his proposals. He'll push for equal wages and to raise the minimum wage, and ask Congress to provide funds to make a community college education free for most students.

He's also looking for cooperation to improve the country's infrastructure. The president said his policies are aimed at making life easier for the middle class.

"We need to set our sights higher than just making sure government doesn't screw things up, that government doesn't halt the progress we're making.  We need to do more than just do no harm.  Tonight, together, let's do more to restore the link between hard work and growing opportunity for every American," President Obama said.

The president also discussed the threat of terrorism and normalizing relations with Cuba. The Republican response was given by freshman Iowa Senator Joni Ernst. She took on the president on taxes and the Keystone Pipeline.

“We heard the message you sent in November loud and clear, and now we're getting to work to change the way Washington's been taking our country,” Senator Ernst said.

She also said there are issues where the White House and Congress can work together, such as trade and simplifying the tax code.

People in the Kansas City metro area were listening closely to Tuesday night’s message. At Tower Tavern on Martini Corner, several customers asked the bartenders to turn the channel so they could watch the State of the Union address.

All of the president’s proposals cost money, and have many Republican leaders declaring them dead on arrival. So while politicians are destined to disagree, FOX 4 asked people here in Kansas City what they thought about the president's address.

“I think it's going to go Republican agenda, veto pen. Those are the two things that are probably going to happen for the next two years. And then as a voting Democratic republic, we're going to have the option to renew that government in two years, and I think it will be real interesting when that happens,” said KC resident Dan Scott.

“I just want to see how that trickle down of taxing more of the wealthy comes down the scale to people who make $20, $30, $40,000 a year. How's that actually going to impact their lives rather than, okay, we're going to do it. I want to see those action items in place,” said KC resident Jeff Nuss.

The people FOX 4 spoke with say most people living in Kansas City are in the middle class, so they're eager to see if President Obama's touted "middle class economics" really works.

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