Obama: Nation stronger, GOP should back his plans

Associated Press

President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Uncompromising and politically emboldened, President Barack Obama urged a deeply divided Congress Tuesday night to embrace his plans to use government money to create jobs and strengthen the nation's middle class. He declared Republican ideas for reducing the deficit "even worse" than the unpalatable deals Washington had to stomach during his first term.

In his first State of the Union address since winning re-election, Obama conceded economic revival is an "unfinished task," but he claimed clear progress and said he was seeking to build on it as he embarks on four more years in office.

"We have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and we can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is strong," Obama said, speaking before a joint session of Congress and a television audience of millions.

In specific proposals for his second term, an assertive Obama called for increased federal spending to fix the nation's roads and bridges, the first increase in the minimum wage in six years and expansion of early education to every American 4-year-old. Seeking to appeal for support from Republicans, he promised that none of his proposals would increase the deficit "by a single dime."

In the Republican response to Obama's address, rising GOP star Marco Rubio of Florida came right back at the president, saying his solution "to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more."

Sen. Rubio, in prepared remarks, said presidents of both parties have recognized that the free enterprise system brings middle-class prosperity.

"But President Obama?" Rubio said. "He believes it's the cause of our problems."

Obama also announced new steps to reduce the U.S. military footprint abroad, with 34,000 American troops withdrawing from Afghanistan within a year. And he had a sharp rebuke for North Korea, which launched a nuclear test just hours before his remarks, saying, "Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only isolate them further."

Despite the pressing foreign policy concerns, jobs and growth dominated Obama's prime-time address, underscoring the degree to which the economy remains a vulnerability for the president and could disrupt his plans for pursuing a broader agenda, including immigration overhaul, stricter gun laws and climate change legislation.

Standing in Obama's way is a Congress that remains nearly as divided as it was during the final years of his first term, when Washington lurched from one crisis to another.

The president implored lawmakers to break through partisan logjams, asserting that "the greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next."

"Americans don't expect government to solve every problem," he said. "They do expect us to forge reasonable compromise where we can."

Yet Obama offered few signs of being willing to compromise himself, instead doubling down on his calls to create jobs by spending more government money and insisting that lawmakers pay down the deficit through a combination of targeted spending cuts and tax increases. But he offered few specifics on what he wanted to see cut, focusing instead on the need to protect programs that help the middle class, elderly and poor.

He did reiterate his willingness to tackle entitlement changes, particularly on Medicare, though he has ruled out increasing the eligibility age for the popular benefit program for seniors.

Republicans are ardently opposed to Obama's calls for legislating more tax revenue to reduce the deficit and offset broad the automatic spending cuts — known as the sequester — that are to take effect March 1.

Obama broke little new ground on two agenda items he has pushed vigorously since winning re-election: overhauling the nation's fractured immigration laws and enacting tougher gun control measures in the wake of the horrific massacre of school children in Newtown, Conn. Yet he pressed for urgency on both, calling on Congress to send him an immigration bill "in the next few months" and insisting lawmakers hold votes on his gun proposals.

"Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress," he said. "If you want to vote no, that's your choice."

Numerous lawmakers wore green lapel ribbons in memory of those killed in the December shootings in Connecticut. Among those watching in the House gallery: the parents of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, shot and killed recently in a park just a mile from the president's home in Chicago, as well as other victims of gun violence.

On the economy, Obama called for raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 by 2015. The minimum wage has been stagnant since 2007, and administration officials said the increase would strengthen purchasing power. The president also wants Congress to approve automatic increases in the wage to keep pace with inflation.

Looking for common ground anywhere he could find it, Obama framed his proposal to boost the minimum wage by pointing out that even his GOP presidential rival liked the idea. He said, "Here's an idea that Gov. Romney and I actually agreed on last year: Let's tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on."

Obama also renewed his calls for infrastructure spending, investments he sought repeatedly during his first term with little support from Republicans. He pressed lawmakers to approve a $50 billion "fix it first" program that would address the most urgent infrastructure needs.

Education also figures in Obama's plans to boost American competitiveness in the global economy. Under his proposal, the federal government would help states provide pre-school for all 4-year-olds. Officials did not provide a cost for the pre-school programs but said the government would provide financial incentives to help states.

Among the other initiatives Obama is proposing:

* A $1 billion plan to create 15 "manufacturing institutes" that would bring together businesses, universities and the government. If Congress opposes the initiative, Obama plans to use his presidential powers to create three institutes on his own.

* Creation of an "energy security trust" that would use revenue from federal oil and gas leases to support development of clean energy technologies such as biofuels and natural gas

* Doubling of renewable energy in the U.S. from wind, solar and geothermal sources by 2020.

Tuesday night's address marked Obama's most expansive remarks on the economy since the November election. Since securing a second term, the president has focused more heavily on new domestic policy proposals, including immigration changes and preventing gun violence following the horrific shooting of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn.

Obama also called on Congress to tackle the threat of climate change, another issue that eluded him in his first term. The president pledged to work with lawmakers to seek bipartisan solutions but said if Capitol Hill doesn't act, he'll order his Cabinet to seek steps he can take using his presidential powers.

Taking a swipe at those who question the threat of global warming, Obama said, "We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science  — and act before it's too late."

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Comments

Bob White's picture

Ms. Gamache one question for

Ms. Gamache one question for you and the rest of the people. What makes Mr. Obamas ideas the right way to go. Why arent somebody elses ideas the right choice? The problem with you is that if somebody disagrees with the president then they are wrong but 8 years ago it wasnt the president was right and the Demos were wrong it was the President didnt know anything and its all his fault for all the wrong.Maybe before you rush to blame and look for faults on the GOP maybe we should look to do something down the middle. Yes I know those darn GOP they just done listen and do as they are told.
One other thing when I was a younger person minimum wage was for a young person just starting out at working and I dont think it was to support a family. If that is what you strive in life to make minimum wage well then I guess you should strive a little higher. I know you bleeding hearts have a good reason people have to live on minimum wage but thats the reason people will continue to need help. A simple sign at most wild life reserves and it goes somthing like this " dont feed the animals because they will become depenent on it" Im not calling these people animals I am just using a sign to compare what is happening to people .

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Right or wrong

Whether his policies are right or wrong is a question that can only be answered if they are actually implemented. The point right now is that his policies as outlined in his speech have a 67% approval of the American people. In a democracy this would seem to mean we should at least give them a try. I think the real reason the Republicans are so hell bent on obstructing his policies is that they are scared to death that they will work and that the American people will realize the emptiness of the Republican principles.

Nathan Schultz's picture

Really?

What do people think a minimum wage rate increase will accomplish? Current minimum wage effects about 4% of the labor force with the majority of those earning at or below minimum wage being under 25. What happens to the mainer earning $10 or $11 an hour when the costs of goods and services increase without their wages rising? Is 13 years of compulsory education just not enough to educate the children, we really need to get started a year earlier? Is the problem that the government has not intervened enough in recent years? Moved from 9.7 trillion debt at the end of 07 to a current 16.5, had QE1, QE2, QE3, now QE infinity with a fed rate under .25% for the last 4 years, the outstanding federal student loan balances exceed 1 trillion but if we just spend more it will be ok. Give me a break.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Rubio is smoking good stuff...

Poor Rubio, when he makes a loaded comment of the, "But President Obama?" Rubio said. "He believes it's the cause of our problems."

Typical of a TPGOP to think that they can read peoples thoughts, mind and speak for them...or for Americans...This coming from a liar, swearing his parents left Cuba under the oppression of Castro and they were already in the USA.

Here is the real problem and bigger picture;

TPGOP are focused on your bedroom, they being the dangerous religious Taliban on all faiths but theirs, stopping people from voting, giving everyone guns and care not of safety for you or your children, gerrymandering districts for power and want to change electoral voting, wanting corporations to strip the lands and pollute for profit and not public health or the Earths existence.

Yep, the snake on the "Don't Tread on me" flag is the real symbol of the TPGOP...only a group like them, would use Satan's' symbol of a viper, as they are slippery, slimy and speak with forked tongue and are not to trusted or believed.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Who to blame

You cannot blame a guy for bad ideas when the House of Representatives won't even allow them to come up for a vote. Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot when they automatically reject everything he suggests in knee-jerk fashion. The Democrats did not do this to Bush. If they pass his programs and they don't work then it would be the time to blame him. As of now, the House Republicans are just seen as obstructionist and the more they do this the more popular Obama becomes. It is especially dumb of them to do this when polls show the people of this country are overwhelmingly fed up with this tactic. It is also really dumb because it gives Obama a great weapon. He simply adopts Republican positions and they get whiplash campaigning against the very thing they were for before. See Obamacare and the proposed laws on closing gun show loopholes, immigration reform, getting Bin Laden, border security etc. etc. If he's for something they have to be against it even if they were the ones to suggest it to begin with. Not a plan for success.

Bob White's picture

I am just amazed. When Bush

I am just amazed. When Bush was president and even well after he left office everything was his fault such as Katrina, the economy to us getting attacked. This guy gets a pass on everything. Its all the GOP to Boehnors fault when things dont go the way they should. People are still suffuring in NJ and NY but its not his fault its Fimas fault. Couldnt get a real deal on the fiscal cliff nope not his fault thats those SOB Boehnors fault. Then he lied and said Gee it was just a large crowd that went wild that killed four americans and when preasure was put on him and his administration those mean republicans making it all about politics. To top it all off her is a guy that ran the deficit WAY up the gas prices have gone WAY up and still going up and the economy is stalled or maybe moving deathly slow and he gets reelected. I know its not his fault its those darn GOP fighting him all the time.
Maybe he will get something done this time he did say he would and his party is in charge. Wait for the first two years of his first term the DEMs had the power and see how good that has turned out.
Dont get me wrong their are plenty of blame to go around and everybody needs to do their part.
Thats all I have to say I will let you lefties rip me apart and show how foolish I am Have a good day

Zack Lenhert's picture

One word...."Filibuster". Its

One word...."Filibuster".

Its hard to blame Obama for current economic conditions when his agenda is continually blocked by Senate filibusters and House Republicans. Take the last debt ceiling crisis for example. What happened to the "Grand Bargain" between Boehner and Obama?.. it got shot down by the Tea Party....or emergency relief for Sandy, House Republicans played political football with that, even getting called out by members of their own party. How many of Obama's cabinet appointees are being held up by Senate filibusters?....I beleive a record amount.

Yes... Bush got a lot of flack from the media towards the end of his Presidency (he had TONS of public support after 9/11), but he did not have to deal with anywhere close to the obstruction being posed by Republicans in Congress these past few years.

Jason Theriault's picture

The reason he gets a pass

Is that people don't see him at fault. We can have honest disagreements, and I'm not saying one side is right or wrong. But the American people blame the republicans more than the democrats for the political strife. You can excuse it however you want, but politics is as much PR as fact, and the democrats are winning that battle.

I think it comes down to Obama. He has reigned in the democrats. They appear far more centrist than the GOP, which looks like all they are doing is trying to fight the president.

GARY SAVARD's picture

Bob, this is not a good site

Bob, this is not a good site to leave conservative, honest comments on. Believe me, I know.

Jason Theriault's picture

Why?

I think this site is one of the few where civility is upheld and the moderators are doing a great job. I may disagree with you, but I certainly don't think I'm right all the time and that you're wrong all the time.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Obama: Nation stronger, GOP should back his plans

Readers 13.02.12 18:18 hst
.i know i am predictable ..l o l . The guy is a real orator . Great speech by an historic President . Take that , nay sayers • Boos and shoots ? Put on your walking shoes and boots . Take a hike  
It's a new century - thank goodness - filled with new & novel , brave and bold ideas . No more tired 19th century ideas please , Mayor Mac , to cope with these new realities . Forward
Sound familiar ? It should . It's the Obama - Biden campaign slogan
ƒast ƒorward • Now , Governor /s, Steve

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