2013 State of the Union Address Recap
When President Obama first took the podium for his 2013 State of the Union Address Tuesday night, he made it clear that Americans have much to be thankful for. The stock market is on the rebound, there is less U.S. dependence on foreign oil, the economy is addng jobs, and thousands of American military troops stationed abroad are scheduled to return home.
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"We can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger," said Obama. But, there is still more work to be done.
Over the course of the speech, Obama tackled numerious domestic and international issues, from violence against women to the eradication of AIDS worldwide. Of particular importance at the beginning of the address was the state of the American economy. And while Obama touched on specific economic drivers like saving $340 billion in healthcare spending over the next ten years through Obamacare, or increasing investments in clean energy to simultaneously reduce waste and create jobs, the President made it clear that the most important objective on Capitol Hill is to foster compromise between the two parties.
According to an infographic displayed during the speech, "77% of Americans believe the political games in Washington are causing serious harm to our country." Added Obama, "America moves forward only when we do so together."
Obama called out Congress for looking only to program cuts to reduce the national deficit instead of considering closing tax loopholes for the "well-off and well-connected." And, speaking of America's looming deficit, Obama stated that his administration is more than halfway ($2.5 million) toward the goal of reducing over $4 trillion worth of debt.
Other topics discussed include the upgrading of the country's infrastructure through the development of Obama's Fix It Fast Program, a program designed to create jobs and put people to work on the most needed repairs of roads and bridges. In an effort to ensure that Americans are prepared and qualified for the economy's new jobs, Obama also declared a renewed emphasis on education, beginning with the very young. By partnering with states, he proposed, high quality pre-school will be made available to every child - whether middle class or poor.
One of the night's most emotional moments came during the discussion of gun control. Obama addressed the Newton, Connecticut, tragedy and also called attention to the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, a teenager who was shot and killed in a Chicago park just a week after performing at Obama's inauguration with her high school marching band. Pendleton's mother and father were in the audience, as were shooting victim Senator Gabrielle Giffords and her husband.
"We were never sent here to be perfect," said Obama of the responsibility of Americans to look out for each other. "We were sent here to make what difference we can."
But while its evident that many Americans believe that this is, indeed, the time to get serious about gun control (up to 83% support more checks on gun buyers), Obama again put the ball in the court of Congress. To Pendleton's parents, and Gabby Giffords, and the families of the victims in Newtown and Aurora, Colorado, Obama was clear and direct - "They deserve a vote."
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