Entries in State of the Union Address (40)


Obama State of the Union Refocuses Agenda on Jobs

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Pursuing an aggressive and diverse early second-term agenda, President Obama turned his focus Tuesday night to the economy, using his State of the Union address to unveil new government initiatives aimed at creating jobs.

The defining duty of the new Congress and new administration is to "reignite the true engine of America's economic growth -- a rising, thriving middle class," Obama said Tuesday night from the House chamber.

"That must be the North Star that guides our efforts," he said.

Obama's proposals had a familiar ring, including re-packaged economic ideas but also offering several bold new measures aimed at boosting the middle class.

None of the proposals would add to the deficit ,"by a single dime," Obama pledged, with costs offset by savings carved out in the budget and from money saved from ending two wars, he claimed.

"It's not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth," Obama said.

Read the Full Transcript of President Obama's State of the Union Address

For the first time as president, Obama called for raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour by 2015. He proposed to ensure future increases by indexing the minimum wage to inflation.

He proposed a national goal of universal pre-school education, an effort to help states provide tens of thousands of low- to middle-income four-year-old children access to quality public education from an earlier age.

And, to heal the nation's crumbling roads and bridges, Obama offered a $50 billion "fix it first" infrastructure program that would prioritize repair of existing structures before building new ones.

"Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation," Obama said. "How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?"

Answers to those questions, the president suggested, include redoubling investments in clean energy technologies -- a step which he said would both benefit the environment and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

"For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change," he said.

He called for doubling the amount of renewable electricity generated in the U.S. by 2020, and announced an energy version of his "Race to the Top" education program that would give states grants for the best energy efficiency programs.

In tandem with his economic focus, Obama announced the withdrawal of 34,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by this time next year, cutting in half the current force and marking a quickened pace for the final exit of U.S. combat forces by a 2014 deadline.

There are currently 66,000 U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan. Obama has vowed to bring nearly all of them home by the end of next year, though a small contingent will likely remain to train Afghan forces and assist counterterrorism operations, the president didn't mention.

Obama touched briefly on his recently-unveiled proposals to overhaul the nation's immigration system, expand rights for gay and lesbian Americans and curb an epidemic of gun violence.

With dozens of victims of gun violence looking on from the House gallery, including former Rep. Gabby Giffords, and families of victims from shootings at Newtown, Conn., Oak Creek, Wisc., and Aurora, Colo., Obama made an emotional plea for an up-or-down vote on his gun control plan.

"Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress," he said of proposed restrictions on assault-style weapons and high capacity magazines, and enhanced background checks, among other measures.

"If you want to vote no, that's your choice," he said. "But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun."

On foreign policy, Obama offered stern warnings to aspiring nuclear powers, Iran and North Korea, which conducted a nuclear test overnight in violation of international agreements. "Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only isolate them further," Obama said.

He also announced he will make a trip to the Middle East next month, which will include a stop in Israel -- his first as president. "We will stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and lasting peace," Obama said of the message he plans to bring to the region.

Giving a nod to emerging threats to peace, the president announced a long-anticipated executive order aimed at combating cyberterrorism from foreign governments and independent groups.

The order directs federal agencies to share information about electronic threats with U.S. infrastructure companies and requires the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop a framework of cybersecurity practices to reduce risks to critical infrastructure. "We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy," he said.

Obama's speech -- his fourth annual address before a joint session of Congress -- comes at a critical juncture for the U.S. economy, with unemployment hovering near 8 percent and new government economic forecasts showing sluggish growth through the next year.

Partisan wrangling over federal deficits and debt has raised the possibility that deep, across-the-board spending cuts will take effect March 1 and that the federal government could shut down at the end of next month without a budget deal. Both could further dampen economic growth and imperil the nation's credit rating, experts say.

Obama signaled a persistent desire to try for a big deal on the deficit, calling for compromise on spending cuts and tax increases, highlighting the human impact of the deeper cuts if they're allowed to go through.

"Now is our best chance for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down the deficit," he said. "The politics will be hard for both sides... but the alternative will cost us jobs, hurt our economy and visit hardship on millions of hardworking Americans."

But Republicans remain staunchly opposed to any new revenue, insisting it's up to Obama to tackle the drivers of the national debt.

"He doesn't have the courage to take on the liberal side of his own party," House Speaker Boehner said at a breakfast briefing with television correspondents and anchors. "He just doesn't have the courage to lead when it comes to our long-term spending problem."

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, delivering the official Republican response to Obama, argued that the president's agenda would undermine the middle class rather than help it, by increasing taxes and adding to the debt.

"Mr. President, I don't oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors," Rubio said, invoking his own working-class roots.

There were signs of bipartisanship at the annual Washington ritual on Capitol Hill. The "date night" approach of recent years, with many members crossing the aisle to sit with a colleague of the opposing party, has given way to two coalitions of Republicans and Democrats seeking compromise.

More than 40 members pledged to wear orange lapel pins branded with "problem solvers," showing a commitment to "substantive cooperation" in the new Congress, according to the group coordinating the effort. Dozens of other members planned to wear green and silver ribbons -- the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School -- to show solidarity with victims of gun violence and support for new gun control measures. The effort was led by Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin of Rhode Island.

Obama will waste little time building a public campaign for his agenda. Immediately following the address, he hosts a live conference call with supporters of his new outside advocacy group, Organizing for Action.

The president hits the road Wednesday morning to highlight key proposals from the speech. He will visit an auto parts manufacturer in North Carolina to promote new incentives for hiring, an Atlanta community center to talk about job skills training, and a Chicago-area school to discuss gun violence and education.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


WATCH LIVE: President Obama Delivers State of the Union Address 

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Tuesday night stands before Congress to deliver his fourth State of the Union address.

He's using his speech to outline what the White House calls “The President’s Plan for a Strong Middle Class and A Strong America.”

READ the FULL TEXT of the President's Speech

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Takes State of the Union Message on the Road

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama takes his message on the road Wednesday following his State of the Union address, launching a three-day tour across five battleground states.

The president will focus on U.S. manufacturing, one of the four pillars of his “Blueprint for an America Built to Last,” which he outlined in Tuesday night’s address.

The president will tour Conveyor Engineering & Manufacturing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday before delivering remarks. Later on, Obama will visit an Intel campus in Phoenix.

The president plans to touch on each of his pillars in the coming days. He will focus on energy Thursday with stops in Las Vegas and Denver. Obama will highlight skills for American workers in Detroit on Friday.

At every stop along the way, the president will push U.S. values, the fourth pillar, which will include a focus on economic fairness. In his State of the Union address, the president called for an America where everyone pays their “fair share,” including the wealthy.

In addition to outlining his economic agenda, the president’s address Tuesday night clearly set the tone for his upcoming re-election campaign. While the president will spend the next day speaking to voters in critical swing states, the White House says the trip is purely official presidential business.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


WATCH LIVE: The State of the Union Address & the GOP Response

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Tuesday night will stand before a divided Congress to deliver his third State of the Union address and outline his vision for an “America Built To Last.”

Echoing the themes of a speech he gave in Kansas last month, the president will detail his vision for economic fairness and a return to American values.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels will deliver the Republican response.

Below, find live analysis and commentary from the political teams at ABC News and Yahoo! News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


State of the Union 'Date Night': Lawmakers to Sit Together Again

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- More than 190 members of Congress will sit with a member of the opposing party Tuesday night, sitting together for the second straight year rather than divided to listen to President Obama’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in what has casually been dubbed “date night” on Capitol Hill.

Republicans and Democrats have traditionally sat separately on their respective sides of the aisle. But in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona last year, members of Congress teamed up for the first time, projecting a greater sense of unity and civility in politics.

Following a year that could go down as one of the fiercest and most partisan years on Capitol Hill in recent memory, the proposal for another bipartisan, mixed seating arrangement was envisioned again this year by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., at the one-year remembrance ceremony of the Tucson, Ariz., shooting earlier this month.

“It’s a symbolic gesture,” Udall spokeswoman Tara Trujillo said.  “It was a nice moment of bipartisanship last year.  The tradition is more divisive than anything and there’s no reason to continue it.  It helps change the climate at least for a day.”

A more cynical view is that a co-mingled Congress also makes it less obvious to the viewing public that much of Obama's speech will only be met with applause from his own party: no such "date nights" came to be under previous administrations.

On Tuesday night, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who completed her last event as a congresswoman the day before, will sit on the Democratic side between Reps. Jeff Flake, a Republican, and Raul Grijalva, a Democrat.  At last year’s State of the Union address, shortly after Giffords was shot and wounded, Flake and Grijalva flanked an empty seat reserved for the congresswoman.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mitch Daniels to Present GOP Response to Obama's State of the Union Address

Tom Williams/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Republican leaders announced Thursday that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels will deliver the GOP response to President Obama’s State of the Union address next week.

“It’s an honor to be asked.  I hope to do the assignment justice,” Daniels said in a statement.

“Mitch Daniels is a fierce advocate for smaller, less costly, and more accountable government, and has the record to prove it,” House Speaker John Boehner said. “As governor, he has turned deficits into surplus, reformed government from top to bottom, and created a better environment for private-sector job creation.  For making tough choices and keeping his promises, Mitch Daniels is the right choice at the right time to deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s address.”

The State of the Union address is scheduled for Tuesday evening, Jan. 24 before a joint session of Congress, with the Republican response to follow.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Seeks Power to Consolidate Federal Agencies

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- One year after first proposing consolidation of some overlapping government agencies, President Obama is finally ready to ask Congress for authority to take action.

White House officials say the request will be for what is called “authority to consolidate” some federal functions, starting in the trade area, including the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Trade Representative, the Small Business Administration and three other export-related offices.

The president is asking for powers he claims expired under the Reagan administration, which cut a significant amount of government bureaucracy in the 1980s.

In his State of the Union address to Congress in January 2011, Obama drew chuckles and even some applause from lawmakers when he cited what he called his favorite example of government overlap.

“The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater,” he declared to laughter in the House chamber.  “I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked."

“We live and do business in the information age, but the last major reorganization of the government happened in the age of black-and-white TV.  There are 12 different agencies that deal with exports.  There are at least five different agencies that deal with housing policy,” the president stated then.

This new authority would allow Congress to vote up or down the entire package of consolidations within 90 days.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


State of the Union: 'Date Night' on Capitol Hill?

(L-R) Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) talk before President Obama's State of the Union address on Capitol Hill on Jan. 25, 2011. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)(WASHINGTON) -- “Who are you going with?” could soon be heard around Capitol Hill again.

After a year of fierce division on Capitol Hill, this weekend there will be a renewed call for both parties to sit together -- rather than divided by party -- at President Obama's upcoming State of the Union address to at a joint session of Congress.

Last year, in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords, members of Congress teamed up with a member of the opposite party, sitting together as so-called “dates,” a bipartisanship showing after the Tucson tragedy.

Republicans and Democrats have traditionally sat together en masse on their respective sides of the aisle.  The simple idea was aimed at projecting a greater sense of unity and civility in politics.

After the particularly tense and partisan year that followed, one Senator feels that Congress needs this reminder again this year.  Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., was the first to propose the idea for last year’s event, and this Sunday at the Tucson one-year remembrance ceremony, he will renew the call again.

Udall will call for a permanent end to members sitting divided by parties during all future State of the Union addresses.

A cynical view would be that a politically integrated Senate is designed to mask opposition -- giving the false impression to the viewing public that the speech is being better received than would appear in a politically divided Senate. Traditionally, a president's speech is always enthusiastically applauded by members of his party, while his political opponents tend to sit on his or her hands.  

The State of the Union is Tuesday, January 24.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Pushes SOTU Message of Innovation in Weekly Address

Photo Courtesy - The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Continuing to sell his State of the Union message of “out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building our competitors” President Obama devotes his weekly address to sparking innovation in businesses across the country.
Taped Wednesday during his visit to the factory floor of Orion Energy System in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, the president said that the energy-efficient lighting company is an example of changes he wants made in businesses to lead to hiring and economic growth.
“This business and others like it, are showing us the way forward,” Obama says, “We’ll win the future by being the best place on Earth to do business.”
The president says that sparking innovation at businesses across the country will spur new products and technologies.
“This is going to lead to good, new jobs.  And that’s how we win the future -- by unleashing the talent and ingenuity of American businesses and American workers in every corner of this country.”
Next week the administration, and the president on Wednesday with a trip to State College, Pennsylvania, will fan out to push the message of innovation.
“And in the coming days, I’ll be shining a spotlight on innovators across America who are relying on new technologies to create new jobs and opportunities in new industries,” the president previews.
Ending on a confident note, the president says, “This is the future. And it’s bright.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


No Kidding! Salmon Is Serious Business, Alaska Dem Says

Photo Courtesy - Office of U.S. Senator Mark Begich(WASHINGTON) -- In Washington even a light-hearted joke has serious ramifications. Days after President Obama made a quip about salmon in the State of the Union address, Alaska Democrat Mark Begich sent some of his state’s smoked salmon to the White House – along with a letter with a serious message.

On Tuesday night in his address to Congress, President Obama joked about salmon as part of his call for a more efficient government.

“The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they're in saltwater. I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked,” quipped Obama.

That line made Begich’s ears perk up – and his constituents’, too.

“Of the many subjects in your speech, perhaps none caught the attention of my constituents more than your reference to salmon: Alaska’s official state fish and a billion-dollar, sustainable part of our economy,” Begich said in his letter to the president.

“I’ll leave it up to scientists to explain the cycle of this great fish, which are spawned in fresh water and spend their lives at sea, and why managing these species throughout their range is not a duplication of government efforts, but a fulfillment of our responsibility to sustain this iconic species.”

“Instead, I’d rather you just had a taste. Here for you and your family is a sample of smoked wild salmon from one of Alaska’s leading seafood processors. As you noted, the rules for smoked salmon are somewhat more complicated, but the result is a product that is as healthy as it is delicious.”

“I think one taste of Alaska salmon also will convince you why salmon are best kept wild and not grown in a test tube as some are asking the government to consider.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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