"Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis," Obama said in his prime-time State of the Union Address.

"But tonight, we turn the page," he said.

"With a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production – we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.

"More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we've been in almost 30 years," he said.

"The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong," he said, adding its now up to Americans to choose what they we want to be over the next fifteen years.     

"We are fifteen years into this new century. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world," he said.

Obama argued that new policy proposals — which include an ambitious plan to raise taxes on wealthy Americans and financial institutions to pay for progressive priorities — favour the middle class, and that "middle-class economics works."

"And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don't get in the way," he said and threatened to veto any legislation that would challenge his key decisions.

"We can't slow down businesses or put our economy at risk with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns. We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unravelling the new rules on Wall Street, or re-fighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix. And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, it will earn my veto," he warned.

The president called for tax reform that eliminates corporate-friendly loopholes, highlighted his earlier proposal for free community college.

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