News / USA

Obama Speech to Focus on Economy, Political Cooperation

President Barack Obama works on his State of the Union Speech with Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau in the Oval Office, Jan. 24, 2011.
President Barack Obama works on his State of the Union Speech with Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau in the Oval Office, Jan. 24, 2011.
TEXT SIZE - +

U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver his State of the Union Address to the nation on Tuesday. Mr. Obama says his speech will focus on efforts to create jobs and increase U.S. global competitiveness, while taking steps to reduce the government's budget deficit spending and the national debt.  

In contrast with his first State of the Union Address early last year, the president faces a markedly changed political landscape, with Republicans holding a strong majority in the House of Representatives. 

Though largely symbolic, a House vote last week to repeal Mr. Obama's landmark health care law signaled what political analysts see as the start of a two-year effort by Republicans to weaken him and his fellow Democrats on the way to the 2012 general election.

Issues

STATE OF THE UNION TRIVIA

Did you Know?

  • The 221 year-old tradition is a requirement found in Article 2 Section 3 of the US Constitution and asks that the president "give to the Congress information on the State of the Union"
  • One member of the Cabinet is not present so that in case of an emergency, the line of succession is preserved
  • President Franklin Roosevelt coined the phrase "State of the Union"; before that the address was known as the "Annual Message" to Congress

    The first radio broadcast of the speech was under President Calvin Coolidge in 1923

    The first televised address was under President Harry Truman in 1947

    The first Internet broadcast of the speech was under President George W. Bush in 2002

In a message to supporters over the weekend, the president previewed what he said would be a main topic of his State of the Union speech -- the need, despite some improvements in the economy, to put Americans back to work.  

"My principal focus, my number one focus, is going to be making sure that we are competitive, that we are growing and we are creating jobs not just know but well into the future," said President Obama.

The president is expected to return to a theme he sounded frequently last year -  the need to maintain investments in education, scientific and technical innovation, and public infrastructure.   

Decisions

But as White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters on Monday, Mr. Obama will be blunt about hard decisions ahead, requiring cooperation between Democrats and Republicans, to reduce the federal budget deficit and bring down the national debt in the long term.

"We're not going to have a debate in Washington about whether we need to make some changes and whether we need to control our spending," Gibbs said. "We're going to have, hopefully, a bipartisan discussion and work together on how we go about doing that."

White House aides say the president probably will not make any specific commitments on the question of cutting spending on so-called "entitlement" programs, such as the Social Security system.  That was one recommendation by a bipartisan presidential commission.

Compromise

Analysts say that although President Obama is building a new centrist image for himself, managing to forge significant compromises with Republicans last year on taxes and help for the unemployed, the path will not be easy.

Appearing on NBC television's Meet the Press program, House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor suggested that Mr. Obama's talk about investments actually means more spending when the goal should be to cut government outlays.

"We've got to do what families in this country are doing, what businesses are doing," said Cantor. "You have got to learn to do more with less. You can't afford to sustain this level of borrowing and spending."

Opposition

Republicans vow to hold government spending to 2008 levels.  Just before the State of the Union Address,  they are expected to hold a vote on a non-binding resolution to require such reductions for discretionary, non-security programs.

On efforts by Republicans to dismantle the health care law, Democrats in the Senate are determined to use any debate to underscore what that would mean for Americans.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer appeared on CBS television's Face the Nation program.

"We will require them to vote on the individual protections in the bill that are very popular and that even some of the new Republican House members have said they support," Schumer said.

Budget

The main battle involving spending, where President Obama and Republicans are concerned, begins next month when the administration submits what Press Secretary Gibbs calls "a very detailed" budget to Congress.  

Gibbs expanded on the message the president will bring to Congress and the nation on Tuesday.

"I don't think anybody in this town or anybody in this country expect us not to wake up and still have some differences," Gibbs said. "That is why you have a democracy and why you have the system we have.  That is not to say though that as we are having some of those debates and discussions that we can't look at what unites rather than divides us and see if we can't make some progress on that."

Popularity

President Obama goes into the State of the Union address with a significant improvement in his public approval ratings, with several polls showing his support at or several points above 50 percent.

His remarks after the shootings in Tucson, Arizona, in which he urged that national debate not take place on the "usual plane of politics, point-scoring and pettiness" positively impacted perceptions of his leadership.  But polls show ongoing skepticism about his handling of the economy.

Among those expected in the House of Representatives chamber observing the president's speech will be Daniel Hernandez, the man credited with saving the life of wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and the family of Christina Taylor Green, the nine-year-old girl who was among six people killed in the Arizona shooting.

In support of the goal of increased cooperation, some Democrats and Republicans will sit together during the speech.   Among them will be South Carolina Republican Representative Joe Wilson, who heckled Mr. Obama by shouting "you lie" during the president's 2009 speech on health care.

International affairs

On foreign policy, President Obama is expected to speak, as Gibbs described, about the war in Afghanistan and where progress is being made.  He is also expected to reiterate U.S. determination to defeat and dismantle al-Qaida and other extremist groups.

The United States and NATO have agreed on a 2014 date for transferring all security responsibilities in Afghanistan to Afghan forces.  Mr. Obama is likely to pay tribute to the sacrifices of American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, and reiterate the objective of beginning a U.S. troop drawdown from Afghanistan in July of this year.   

* Watch this White House video to get a glimpse of how the process works -- and how President Obama is approaching tonight's speech.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid