President Barack Obama gave credit to the American people for making the country strong in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. As expected, he focused on the nation's economy, and called for making this year "a year of action."
The president received a warm welcome, despite months of bitter political bickering in Washington. And the president wasted no time in thanking the country for its patience.
"Tonight, this chamber speaks with one voice to the people we represent: it is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong," he said.
Obama used most of his speech to focus on the U.S. economy and issues facing the middle class, assuring voters that things are getting better.
"For the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is," he said, but added that improvement is not coming fast enough.
"The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by - let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all."
Part of his prescription - proposals to raise the minimum wage, expanded educational opportunities and fixing “our broken immigration system."
The president also launched a passionate defense of his health care reform law, known as "Obamacare," saying he would work with Congress when possible, but would act alone if necessary.
In the Republican response Tuesday night, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers said Obama’s policies “are making people’s lives harder" and laid out this challenge for the president.
"We hope the president will join us in a year of real action - by empowering people - not making their lives harder with unprecedented spending, higher taxes and fewer jobs," she said.
Differences between lawmakers and Obama also remain in key areas of foreign policy. The president promised to continue to pursue al-Qaida and other terrorists, but said the U.S. needs to take a different approach in places like Iran.
"For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed," the president said, and vowed to veto any sanctions bill that threatens to derail the Iran talks.