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Obama challenges Congress in State of the Union

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama challenged a divided Congress on Tuesday to back his proposals to create jobs for the middle class in a State of the Union speech that will laid out an ambitious second-term agenda.

Obama enters addressed a joint session of Congress at a time when he was again locked in a bitter battle with Republicans over taxes and spending, and this tussle casted a heavy shadow over his appearance.

Seeking to use momentum from his re-election victory, the Democratic president urged Congress to increase taxes on the wealthy, overhaul U.S. immigration laws and enact tighter gun controls. He has about one year to get his legislative priorities enacted before Americans shift attention to 2014 congressional elections.

Obama, who won re-election last November with a vow to favor middle-class voters over the wealthy, sought to make good on his promises to them in what his critics called a liberal agenda.

“It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few,” he said.

While heavily focused on domestic policies, Obama’s speech had some crucial foreign policy elements.

He outlined steps to unwind U.S. involvement in the unpopular 11-year-old Afghanistan war and announced that 34,000 U.S. troops of the 66,000 troops still there will return by early 2014.

He did not plan to give details of what sort of residual American presence might remain in Afghanistan after 2014, when the U.S. withdrawal is supposed to be complete.

Obama’s speech comes a day after North Korea conducted its third underground test of a nuclear device in response to what it called U.S. hostility. Obama has called the atomic explosion a “provocative act and is expected to address Pyongyang’s action in his speech.

He also announced the launch of U.S.-European Union talks on a transatlantic free trade agreement.

But the major portion of Obama’s speech marked a renewed focus on the tepid U.S. economy as he tried to satisfy Americans’ concerns about a stubbornly high unemployment rate of 7.9 percent that persists despite a soaring stock market.

Obama urged investment in infrastructure, manufacturing, clean energy and education. Republicans, who control the House and represent a vocal minority in the Senate, oppose increased government spending and want to tame debt and deficits with spending cuts.

Obama said his additional proposals are fully paid for and consistent with a budget framework both parties agreed to 18 months ago that set spending caps and would reduce the deficit spending by $2 trillion.

He would like to raise $800 billion in revenue by closing tax loopholes enjoyed mostly by the wealthy. Republicans who just agreed to higher taxes on wealthier Americans to avert a fiscal crisis at the end of 2012 are opposed.

“Let me repeat — nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime. It’s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth,” Obama said.

He said his actions are needed to help restore a middle class battered by a deep recession and flat income growth.

“It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation of ours,” he said.

RUBIO REPLY

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a rising Republican star who is the son of Cuban immigrants, delivered his party’s response to Obama’s speech, a major entry onto the national stage for a potential 2016 presidential candidate.

He contrasted Obama’s speech by saying tax increases will not produce needed jobs nor reduce the deficit, and that government spending needs to be reined in.

Rubio madae an impassioned plea to let the free enterprise system work.

“Economic growth is the best way to help the middle class. Unfortunately, our economy actually shrank during the last three months of 2012. But if we can get the economy to grow at just 4 percent a year, it would create millions of middle-class jobs,” he said.

Obama has a narrow window before Washington turns its attention to the 2014 mid-term elections, which could sweep more Republicans into Congress and accelerate the subsequent “lame duck” status that defines presidents who are not running for office again.

“He basically has a year for major legislative accomplishments because after the first year you get into the mid-term elections, which will partially be a referendum on his presidency,” said Michele Swers, an associate professor of American government at Georgetown University in Washington.

Comments

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 2 months ago

O'Bama is a sack of **** and Karl Marx would be very proud.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 2 months ago

Sister, please explain how you included the picture of Barry in your comment.

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VSU 1 year, 2 months ago

I was watching the live coverage of the manhunt in California then it got interupted by Obuma. The manhunt coverage of Dorner was far more interesting and entertaining than anything Obuma had to say.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 2 months ago

I watched the Westminster Dog Show and really enjoyed it. I can't believe the ratty little Affenpinscher won Best in Show. The English sheep dog won Reserve Best in Show which is the first time they have given that award. For Best in Breed selections I liked the Scotty and American Fox Hound, Jewel better. I really wanted Jewel to win but she was upstaged a bit by the Scotty and a couple of others. But the Affenpinscher was tacky IMO. Which didn't count tonight.

As for Obama, he had his bite at the apple on his last go round when he had both houses of Congress and he blew it royally. I do agree on bringing all of the men and women home from the middle east. If Obama had developed a rational energy policy from the beginning we would probably own the place. (IMO) Enough on him though.

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bubbasmithredneck 1 year, 2 months ago

Awesome message last night by the POTUS. If only he had a Congress with common sense to work with, this country go forward even more. This country has been held back by a bunch of Republican idiots who are more interested in politics, than common sense ideas that can help this country.Despite a dead beat congress, the POTUS is still doing a great job and we can still enjoy his work for 4 MORE YEARS!!!

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B4it 1 year, 2 months ago

Spoken like a true racist liberal who has watched too much MSNBC. Careful BSRN, you may need to take your meds to get your blood pressure back down.

Even though you THINK BHO has helped you, he and his admin have done more to divide this country than ever before in our history. Just ask yourself if you think you should spend more than you make, and then if you should ask your friends to help you pay off the debt. If not, why should you support BHO to do this to our country?

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VSU 1 year, 2 months ago

bubbasmif's head is like a vacant house. You come a knockin' and nobody is home.

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Trustbuster 1 year, 2 months ago

I watched the 50th Anniversary James Bond edition movie "Skyfall." It was more realistic than the State of the Union speech. What a sad commentary!

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bigbob 1 year, 2 months ago

Lieing piece of dog do do. Why doesn't he do something besides arm is muslum brothers in Egypt & other middle eastern countries. If he was a white republican he would be condemned by the media but he is a black libtard so they protect & love him.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 2 months ago

A look at some of the claims in O'Bama's State of the Union speech and how they fit with the facts:

OBAMA: "After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over 6 million new jobs."

THE FACTS: That's in the ballpark, as far as it goes. But Obama starts his count not when he took office, but from the point in his first term when job losses were the highest. In doing so, he ignores the 5 million or so jobs that were lost on his watch, up to that point.

Private sector jobs have grown by 6.1 million since February 2010. But since he became president, the gain is a more modest 1.9 million.

And when losses in public sector employment are added to the mix, his overall jobs record is a gain of 1.2 million.


OBAMA: "We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas."

THE FACTS: Not so fast.

That's expected to happen in 12 more years.

Under a deal the Obama administration reached with automakers in 2011, vehicles will have a corporate average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, twice the 27 miles per gallon, on average, that cars and trucks get today. Automobile manufacturers won't start making changes to achieve the new fuel economy standards until model year 2017. Not all cars will double their gas mileage, since the standard is based on an average of a manufacturers' fleet.


OBAMA: "Already the Affordable Care Act is helping to reduce the growth of health care costs."

THE FACTS: The jury is still out on whether Obama's health care overhaul will reduce the growth of health care costs. It's true that cost increases have eased, but many experts say that's due to the sluggish economy, not to the health care law, whose main provisions are not yet fully in effect.


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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 2 months ago

OBAMA: "Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship -- a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally."

THE FACTS: The seemingly stern admonition that illegal immigrants must go to the back of the line, often heard from the president, doesn't appear to have much practical effect except in the most obvious sense. Everyone who joins a line, whether for a movie, a coffee or citizenship, starts at the back of that particular line. It's not clear he is saying anything more than that illegal immigrants won't get to cut in line for citizenship once they've obtained provisional legal status.

Like those living abroad who have applied to come to the U.S. legally, illegal immigrants who qualify for Obama's proposed path to citizenship will surely face long waits to be processed. But during that time, they are already in the U.S. and will get to stay, work and travel in the country under their new status as provisional immigrants, while those outside the U.S. simply have to wait.

Sending illegal immigrants to the "back of the line" is something of a distinction without a difference for some legal immigrants who dutifully followed all the rules before coming to the United States.

For instance, some legal immigrants who are in the U.S. on an employer-sponsored visa can't easily change jobs, or in some cases take a promotion, without jeopardizing their place in line to get a green card. In other cases, would-be legal immigrants in other countries wait for years to be able to settle in the U.S.

Obama is using "back of the line" somewhat figuratively, because there are multiple lines depending on the applicant's relationship with family already in the U.S. or with an employer. Generally, a foreign-born spouse of a U.S. citizen or someone with needed skills and a job offer will be accepted more quickly than many others.

But even as a figurative point, his assertion may cloak the fact that people who came to the U.S. illegally and win provisional status have the great advantage over applicants abroad of already being where they all want to go.


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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 2 months ago

OBAMA: "Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road. ... And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives. ... Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than $7 later on -- by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime."

THE FACTS: Dozens of studies have shown Head Start graduates are more likely to complete high school than their at-risk peers who don't participate in the program. But a study last year by the Department of Health and Human Services that found big vocabulary and social development gains for at-risk students in pre-kindergarten programs also found those effects largely faded by the time pupils reached third grade. The report didn't explain why the kids saw a drop-off in performance or predict how they would fare as they aged.


OBAMA: "I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."

THE FACTS: Obama failed to get a global warming bill through Congress when both Houses were controlled by Democrats in 2010. With Republicans in control of the House, the chances of a bill to limit the gases blamed for global warming and to create a market for businesses to trade pollution credits are close to zero. The Obama administration has already acted to control greenhouse gases through existing law. It has boosted fuel-efficiency standards and proposed rules to control heat-trapping emissions from new power plants. And while there are still other ways to address climate change without Congress, it's questionable regulation alone can achieve the reductions needed to start curbing global warming.

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oldster 1 year, 2 months ago

Wow! Sister Ruby! My hat is off to you, excellent commentary with facts to back it up. Good job.

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Gollygee 1 year, 2 months ago

Although I agree with the facts on this, don't think for a minute little sister did that on her own. She cut and pasted all that from the internet. Just like in grade school I'd like to see a link to the website to cite her plagarism, err, work.

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B4it 1 year, 2 months ago

Golly... just say thanks to Sis for the research to educate, rather than dictate!

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VSU 1 year, 2 months ago

This wasn't the state of the union address, it was the state of delusion address.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 2 months ago

Yes I'm not smart enough to make all that up. Glad you all enjoyed it.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 2 months ago

Thank you Sis for the Truth. Sadly some here will find fault with anyone who tells the Truth. You did the WORK to find the Truth and they prefer to just swallow what they are feed.

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bubbasmithredneck 1 year, 2 months ago

Awesome message last night by the POTUS. If only he had a Congress with common sense to work with, this country go forward even more. This country has been held back by a bunch of Republican idiots who are more interested in politics, than common sense ideas that can help this country.Despite a dead beat congress, the POTUS is still doing a great job and we can still enjoy his work for 4 MORE YEARS!!!

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 2 months ago

ROFLMAO those with no common sense trying to claim those who do not blindly follow lack common sense. THANKS that has to be Today’s best Funny! :-)

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bubbasmithredneck 1 year, 2 months ago

If you cant appreciate the POTUS, then you are might be considered Un-American.....leave America if you think its so bad.....BYE! President Obama won b/c the majority of normal people voted for him.....I guess you didn't, so what does that make you?

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MisterEd 1 year, 2 months ago

Obama won because the majority of people with their love of all things "free" voted for him. If that's what you call normal, then I'll be damn proud to be not normal.

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bubbasmithredneck 1 year, 2 months ago

Those are Anti-American comments by Sister Ruby.....The Albany Herald should not allow this type of commentary......

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TrixibelleBento 1 year, 1 month ago

I didn't watch the SOTU. I, like FT, watched Westminster and really enjoyed the dogs. I didn't like the Affenpinscher either; I prefered the Old English Sheep Dog. He was awesome. However, I would vote for the Affenpinscher over the current POTUS though. Dog treats for everyone and you're allowed to pee on folks if you don't agree with them.

I followed the news snippets the following morning and it seems like the same ole tired speech. He says the same thing over and over. How many times have we been told that the road to recovery is lined with federal oversight and funding? This is not the way that people become successful...personal responsibility and HARD WORK is what does. The left is afraid of that, because most of them don't have discernable skills.

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