February 13, 2013 - 09:38 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - President Barack Obama has urged Congress to back government action to revive the sluggish U.S. economy, in his annual State of the Union speech.
The Democratic president promised "smarter" rather than bigger government for "the many, and not just the few".
He also called for action on gun violence, climate change and immigration reform.
Speaking in the House of Representatives, Obama told his audience that his generation's task was "to reignite the true engine of America's economic growth - a rising, thriving middle class".
"We have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and we can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is strong,'' Obama said in an hour-long address.
Delivering growth and jobs will be the "North Star that guides our efforts", he added. But he insisted that nothing he planned would raise the deficit "by a single dime".
Obama proposed reforms to reduce the cost of Medicare, a federal healthcare program for pensioners, but argued "we can't just cut our way to prosperity".
In his speech, Obama went on to call for federal investment in infrastructure, clean energy and education.
Obama also said he would reduce by more than half the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan over the next year.
He asked Congress to raise the minimum wage, called for legislation to ensure women are paid equally to men, and announced a commission to improve the voting process.
On gun control, Obama said an "overwhelming" majority of Americans supported "common-sense reform" on firearms, including tighter background checks and restrictions on "weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines".
And he urged gun-control opponents to allow a vote in Congress on his proposals.
He also praised bipartisan efforts to draw up an immigration reform bill, adding that if he is sent legislation, "I will sign it right away".