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Obama: American dream in peril, fast action needed

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address Tuesday as Vice President Joe Biden, left, and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listen in the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address Tuesday as Vice President Joe Biden, left, and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listen in the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Photo by The Associated Press.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Declaring the American dream under siege, President Barack Obama called Tuesday night for a flurry of help for a hurting middle class and higher taxes on millionaires, delivering a State of the Union address filled with re-election themes. Restoring a fair shot for all, Obama said, is “the defining issue of our time.”

Obama outlined a vastly different vision for fixing the country than the one pressed by the Republicans challenging him in Congress and fighting to take his job in the November elections. He pleaded for an active government that ensures economic fairness for everyone, as his opponents demand that the government back off and let the free market rule.

Obama offered steps to help students afford college, a plan for more struggling homeowners to refinance their homes and tax cuts for manufacturers. He threw in some politically appealing references to accountability, including warning universities they will lose federal aid if they don’t stop tuition from soaring.

Standing in front of a divided Congress, with bleak hope this election year for much of his legislative agenda, Obama spoke with voters in mind.

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