President Barack Obama challenged Congress to join him in taking on “our generation’s task” to ignite the growth of a “rising, thriving middle class,” using the first State of the Union speech of his second term to prod Republicans to compromise on the major challenges facing the nation.
“It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country — the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love,” Obama said Tuesday night, sounding familiar themes from his re-election campaign last year.
The president emphasized economic growth and job creation, and insisted that his proposals would not increase the nation’s federal deficit.
He also made an emotional plea for Congress to hold votes on controversial proposals for tougher gun laws after the Newtown, Connecticut, shootings in December that killed 20 schoolchildren.
At the same time, Obama called for legislators to work together for the good of the nation, saying Americans “expect us to put the nation’s interests before party.”
“They do expect us to forge reasonable compromise where we can,” he said. “For they know that America moves forward only when we do so together, and that the responsibility of improving this union remains the task of us all.”
It was his fourth State of the Union address and seventh speech to a joint sitting of Congress, and analysts considered it a crucial moment for setting the tone for the political dialogue after four years of partisan division and congressional dysfunction.
With the government facing deep spending cuts mandated by a previous agreement between Obama and Congress to raise the federal debt ceiling, Obama renewed his call for a comprehensive deficit-reduction plan that includes new tax revenue coupled with spending cuts.
President Obama also called for the Federal minimum wage to be raised to $9.00, citing statistics which show that even in homes where two family members work full-time entry level jobs, they are unable to live above the poverty line. He also spoke strongly about the need to keep the world safe from nuclear weapons, directly addressing concerns about Iran and North Korean nuclear programs, as well as the U.S./Soviet programs.
Did you watch the President’s speech? Conservatives are already attacking him, saying that his approach represents big government that will only deepen the economic crisis in the U.S.
What do you think?