Final Thoughts: President Obama entered tonight’s speech with a new Republican Congress, but also an improving economy and approval ratings above 50%. The mood on Capitol Hill was somewhat sober with the recent events in Tucson looming over as a dark cloud. The president struck the right tone and set out priorities that have been long ignored by politicians.
By proposing a spending freeze over the next five years, the president is sure to upset Democrats and not please many Republicans that would rather see huge cuts in federal spending. His middle-of-the-road position makes him appear to be serious about tackling problems while others nitpick in a partisan fashion. He noted that if Republicans are serious about cutting the deficit, then they should support letting tax cuts for the wealthy expire and getting rid of subsidies to oil companies.
The president proposed getting 80% of the country’s energy from clean sources by 2030. Investments will have to be made and prioritized. Not only is it a matter of smart economics, it is a national security issue as well. This should be our Sputnik moment, where the country rallies behind a cause like we did during the Space Race over 50 years ago. President Obama made the case that we need a similar race towards energy innovation.
The president laid out an optimistic, yet realistic, plan for the future tonight. Smart investment in clean energy, reforming our education system and continuing the recovery in our economy through infrastructure upgrades and exports. It’s something that all Americans can stand behind.
10:13 p.m.: “The state of our Union is strong.”
10:12 p.m.: America was founded on being a nation of big dreams. “We do big things.”
10:06 p.m.: “Starting this year no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love.” Repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was passed during last year’s Congress.
10:03 p.m.: The people in South Sudan voted for independence with American assistance. The United States “supports the democratic aspirations of all people.”
10:02 p.m.: President will visit South America in March to build new alliances.
10:01 p.m.: The New START Treaty reduces nuclear arms between the United States and Russia. It also re-instates inspections.
10:00 p.m.: “American Muslims are a part of our American family.”
9:58 p.m.: “Nearly 100,000 brave young men and women” have left Iraq “with their heads held high.” Combat missions have ended, violence is down and a new government has formed. “America’s commitment has been kept. The Iraq War is coming to an end.”
9:57 p.m.: Promises to veto any bill with earmarks in it. That’s a pretty small and symbolic promise, Mr. President.
9:55 p.m.: “We need to think bigger.” Small, symbolic budget cuts will not solve any problems.
9:54 p.m.: “We shouldn’t just give our people a government that is more affordable, we should give them a government that is more competent.”
9:53 p.m.: Proposes simplified tax code.
9:51 p.m.: To tackle the deficit “we simply cannot afford a permanent expansion” of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
9:48 p.m.: President proposes freezing government spending for next five years. Already froze federal worker pay.
9:43 p.m.: President mentions passing health care with Democrats in the chamber standing up. Vows to protect the bill from Republican attempts at repeal, but is willing to work with Republicans to improve the bill. “Instead of fighting the battles of the last two years, let’s fix what needs fixing and move forward.”
9:39 p.m.: President proposes investments in transportation and infrastructure. Goal is to have high-speed rail accessible to 80% of Americans. Projects are already under-way in California, Florida and the Midwest. High-speed rail is cheaper, better for the environment, and in some cases faster than flying on a plane.
9:36 p.m.: Children of undocumented parents go to our colleges, but “go back home and compete against us”. President argues that it is time to address the issue of immigration. “Let’s stop expelling talented young people… who could be further enriching this nation.”
9:34 p.m.: “Higher education must be within the reach of every American.”
9:32 p.m.: President argues it is time to treat teachers with respect. Reward good teachers and punish bad ones.
9:30 p.m.: “We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl that needs to be celebrated, but the winner of the Science Fair.”
9:28 p.m.: “By 2035, 80% of America’s energy will come from renewable sources”
9:27 p.m.: “Instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.” Proposes paying for new technology by eliminating tax cuts to big oil.
9:26 p.m.: “We can be the first nation to have a million electric vehicles by 2015.”
9:24 p.m.: Obama argues that Clean energy should be the next Space Race.
9:23 p.m.: President references Sputnik and how the U.S. surpassed the Soviet Union in the Space Race.
9:22 p.m.: “We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.”
9:21 p.m.: “The future is ours to win. But to get there we can’t stand still”.
9:19 p.m.: Technology and automation has led to fewer jobs needed.
9:16 p.m.: Corporate profits and the stock market are up, but we measure progress by average citizen.
9:14 p.m.: “What comes of this moment” depends on not whether we “sit together tonight, but whether we work together tomorrow.”
9:12 p.m.: The President notes an empty chair in the Chamber reserved for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
9:11 p.m.: President Obama begins to speak with Vice President Joe Biden and new Speaker of the House John Boehner sitting behind him.
Tonight I will be liveblogging the State of the Union address by President Obama. Refresh frequently for live updates.