President Obama promises "a year of action" on inequality

EDUCATION, jobs and "opportunity" are the key prongs of United States President's Barack Obama's promise for a year of action on inequality.

Pres Obama made the pledge during his annual State of the Union address, a key speech noting achievements and plans for the future from the White House.

The president who first campaigned nationally on Hope has faced a divided Congress for more than a year, which has put paid to many reforms in the US.

Tensions were brought to a head during last year's temporary standoff on signing off on the nation's debt limit, and Pres Obama made it clear he was prepared to use his powers to circumvent the people's house.

He pledged to "take steps without legislation", to achieve a "year of action" on inequality, referring to education, job opportunities and retirement savings as key initiatives for 2014.

But he faces a politically dangerous terrain, with the Republican Party holding the numbers in both the Congress and Senate to block actual legislative reforms.

And as the focus turns in Washington to the mid-term elections - the key precursor to electing his replacement in the White House - 2014 could be the most testing year yet from America's first black President.