Obama: Troops may remain in Afghanistan beyond war
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says a small U.S. military force may remain in Afghanistan next year, but he's promising to declare an end to the 12-year war there at the end of 2014.
Obama said during his State of the Union speech Tuesday that Afghanistan will take responsibility for its own future after the end of the year.
He said any U.S. troops that remain beyond 2014 will only help continue to train Afghan forces and carry out counterterror operations against al-Qaida and other extremists.
Obama did not say how many troops might remain in Afghanistan after this year.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has so far refused to sign a security agreement with the U.S. that would allow American troops to remain.
Obama calls for expansion of income tax creditWASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama wants to expand the earned-income tax credit, which helps boost the wages of low-income families through tax refunds.
Obama wants Congress to increase the credit for workers without children.
White House officials note that some Republicans and conservative economists have called for similar expansion of the tax credit or, as in the case of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, for a new federal wage supplement for certain low-income workers.
Republicans see a broader income tax credit as an alternative to increasing the minimum wage. Obama also wants an increase in the minimum wage.
The White House says the tax credit encourages work and helps reduce poverty.
Obama called for the tax credit expansion Tuesday in his State of the Union address.
Obama threatens to veto new sanctions against Iran
WASHINGTON (AP) — Negotiations to limit Iran's nuclear program will be difficult and may not succeed, President Barack Obama said Tuesday, but he warned Congress that any new economic sanctions against Tehran while the discussions are ongoing will be vetoed.
In his annual State of the Union speech, Obama said he's "cleared-eyed" about longstanding mistrust between Iran and six world powers that are working to prevent the Islamic republic from enriching enough uranium to build nuclear weapons. He also credited the U.S. for what he described as leading the way toward an interim agreement that has all but frozen Iran's nuclear program for the first time in a decade.
"The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible," Obama said. "But let me be clear: If this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it."
"For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed," he said.
Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is only for medical and peaceful energy programs.
But after years of negotiating, Iran agreed in November to slow its uranium enrichment program to a level that is far below what would be necessary to make a nuclear bomb. It also agreed to increased international inspections to give world leaders confidence that it is not trying to build weapons in secret.
In exchange, the U.S. and five other nations — Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China — agreed to ease an estimated $7 billion worth of international sanctions against Iran's crippled economy for a six-month period while negotiators try to broker a final settlement.
But critics in Congress want sanctions to remain in place, claiming that their harsh economic impact is what forced Iran to the negotiating table in the first place.
Obama pushed back in his Tuesday speech, and said he "will be the first to call for more sanctions" if Iran reneges on the deal.
"But if Iran's leaders do seize the chance, then Iran could take an important step to rejoin the community of nations, and we will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without the risks of war."
Obama: Time to 'fix our broken immigration system'WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says Democrats and Republicans in the House want to overhaul immigration laws. He calls on them to pass legislation this year.
In his State of the Union address, Obama says it is time to heed the calls to change immigration laws from business and labor leaders, religious leaders and law enforcement officials.
The Senate passed broad legislation last year that enhances border security and provides a path to citizenship for about 11 immigrants in the United States illegally. Among the proposals under consideration by House Republican leaders is one that would give legal status to immigrants in the U.S. illegally but not citizenship.
The White House has said Obama wants the legislation to lead to citizenship. But Obama did not make that demand Tuesday night.
Obama urges GOP to drop health care repeal votesWASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says he doesn't expect Republicans to agree with his health care law, but he's urging his political opponents to give up their repeated attempts to do away with it.
Obama said in his State of the Union address Tuesday night that more than 40 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act were plenty. He told members of Congress, quote, "We all owe it to the American people to say what we're for, not just what we're against."
He also used the opportunity in his high-profile speech to ask Americans to encourage those they know without insurance to sign up on government exchanges by the end of March. That's the deadline for Americans to get coverage or face a tax penalty.
Obama vows to improve education at all levelsWASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is promising to improve American education from preschool to college in his State of the Union address.
Obama promised to connect 15,000 schools and 20 million students with high-speed broadband in the next two years. It's part of the goal he announced last summer to connect 99 percent of students in kindergarten through 12th grade with upgraded technology. Obama says the initiative will be supported by charitable partnerships with companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint and Verizon.
He also says his administration will award grants to redesign winning high schools to prepare students for today's job market. He also wants colleges to improve access for low-income students and lower costs. And he renewed his call from last year's address for Congress to fund universal preschool.
Obama calls for new incentives for cleaner fuel
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is proposing new incentives for trucks to run on natural gas and other alternative fuels.
In his State of the Union address, Obama is also calling for a new tax credit to spur infrastructure for advanced vehicles that run on cleaner fuels, like hydrogen, natural gas or biofuels.
Most of Obama's other proposals on energy and climate change were already announced in a climate change speech last year. Those include new efficiency standards for trucks and environmental standards for drilling on public lands.
Obama is also repeating his 2013 call for Congress to repeal tax provisions that benefit the oil industry. He wants Congress to create a trust that would use oil and gas revenues to fund technology investments to shift cars off of oil.
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