Obama: 'I'll act on my own' agenda

President Obama vowed to use his executive authority to usher in a "year of action" even if Congress remains gridlocked, he said in his weekly address.

"Where Congress isn’t acting, I’ll act on my own to put opportunity within reach for anyone who’s willing to work for it," the president said.

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Obama pointed to a recent trip to North Carolina to announce the formation of a new public-private manufacturing institute as evidence of how he could act alone to spur economic activity.

"It’s a partnership between companies, colleges, and the federal government focused on making sure American businesses and American workers win the race for high-tech manufacturing and the jobs that come with it – jobs that can help people and communities willing to work hard punch their ticket into the middle class," Obama said.

In recent weeks, the White House has stressed that Obama would use a mixture of executive action and the bully pulpit — a "pen and phone strategy" — to rally the nation around his economic agenda.

On Thursday, Obama held a conference at the White House with university presidents and nonprofit groups designed to improve college access for low-income students. 

At a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Obama said he would talk to agency heads about using "all the tools available to us, not just legislation, in order to advance" his policy priorities.

The president did outline some goals that he hoped to accomplish with the help of lawmakers.

“I want to work with Congress this year on proven ways to create jobs, like building infrastructure and fixing our broken immigration system,” Obama said.