News / USA

Obama: 'Big Ideas' in Economy-Focused State of the Union Address

President Barack Obama at a campaign event, at the Apollo Theater in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, January 19, 2012.
President Barack Obama at a campaign event, at the Apollo Theater in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, January 19, 2012.

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union Address on Tuesday to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.  Mr. Obama hopes to point the way forward for the nation's economic recovery, frame the political debate with opposition Republicans and make a strong case to Americans to reelect him this year.

This will be Mr. Obama's third State of the Union Address.  Each to a great extent has been dominated by the economic crisis he inherited from his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, and his own efforts to promote jobs and economic growth.

The political stakes are high in a presidential election year.  Americans will choose in November between giving Mr. Obama four more years in office and one of the current Republican contenders who say Mr. Obama has spent enough time in the White House.

National unemployment, now at 8.5 percent, is falling but not as quickly as Mr. Obama had hoped.  Although he came to office urging an end to contentious Washington politics, he has struggled with Republicans seeking to block his economic initiatives.

Mr. Obama provided a glimpse of what he will say Tuesday night in a video outlining what he calls a blueprint for an economy “built to last” focused on new proposals in manufacturing, clean energy and education.

It will be based on key themes he sounded last year in a speech, stressing the importance of the middle class, and of fair play in the economy.

"This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class and folks trying to work their way into the middle class because we can go in two directions," said President Obama. "One is towards less opportunity and less fairness.  Or we can fight for where I think we need to go - building an economy that works for everyone, not just a wealthy few."

Mr. Obama will likely again reach out to Republicans, but will contrast his vision for the future with theirs.  He faces more battles with Republican lawmakers in coming months over efforts to reduce federal deficit spending and taxes.

Remarks by House of Representatives Speaker, Republican John Boehner, who appeared on the "Fox News Sunday" television program, suggest that the political tension will continue.

"The president's policies have failed to get our economy moving again, and as a matter of fact it is the president's policies that have actually made our economy worse," said Boehner.

Congress is also under pressure.  A recent Washington Post/ABC News public opinion poll shows that 84 percent of Americans disapprove of the job U.S. lawmakers are doing.

Mr. Obama’s political strategy will continue targeting what he calls a dysfunctional Congress.  But Press Secretary Jay Carney says the president is ready to work with congressional Republicans.

"We disagree with that premise that we can't get anything done just because it is an election year," said Carney. "I don't think the American people want that to be true or would be happy if that were true."

Among those listening closely to Mr. Obama will be former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich who used his victory speech after the recent South Carolina Republican primary vote to portray Mr. Obama as a radical.

"This is the most important election of our lifetime," said Gingrich. "If Barack Obama can get reelected after this disaster, just think how radical he would be in a second term."

President Obama will likely list what he considers his key accomplishments:  health care reform, tightening regulations on Wall Street and the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden along with the end of the Iraq War and staying on course for America's withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Political analysts and media pundits will watch closely to see what affect this year's address will have on Mr. Obama's public approval ratings, which, according to the Gallup polling Organization, have averaged about 44 percent this year.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs