Maggie: President Obama outlined his plans for the country last night in the State of the Union address. It was his chance to prove himself a leader in the face of recent polls showing that less than half of the country approve of the job that he is doing.
Keith Kocinski has the details.
Keith: Thanks, Maggie. The U.S. Constitution requires the president to update Congress on the state of the union. Our first president, George Washington, started the tradition and last night, 44th president Barack Obama continued it.
President Obama: 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.
Keith: The president started off the night discussing the economy and how we are on the road to recovery. But he says there is still more work to be done.
Obama: Even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by.
Keith: The president also talked about his new plan to raise the minimum wage for some federal workers to $10 an hour. And he pressed Congress to raise it for everyone.
Obama: Say yes. Give America a raise!
Keith: Education was also a big theme in his speech.
Obama: Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. are making big strides in preparing students with the skills for the new economy – problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, math. Now, some of this change is hard.
Keith: President Obama talked about how the U.S. plans to be a leader, changing the way we create and use energy.
Obama: Meanwhile, my administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and jobs growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, our communities.
Keith: School and mall shootings have made headlines recently, prompting the president to address the topic again and talk about his plans for pushing new gun control laws.
Obama: I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, in our shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook.
Keith: Another theme throughout the president’s speech was that if Congress doesn’t act, he will through executive actions.
Obama: Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.
Keith: After the speech, Republicans got their chance to respond. This year, there were several Republican speakers. Usually there is only one, but this year the party couldn’t agree on a single speaker. The official Republican response…
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers: Republicans have plans to close the gap, plans that will focus on jobs first without more spending, government bailouts and red tape.
Keith: But the Tea Party, that represents more conservative Republicans, had their own response by Utah Senator Mike Lee.
Senator Mike Lee: You’re probably as frustrated as I am.
Keith: And then Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who was last year’s Tea Party pick, took his response to social media.
Senator Rand Paul: A stagnant economy, a growing federal government.
Keith: Clearly, there are a lot of different opinions in the political scene right now. And while the president has laid out his plans, making them happen is easier said than done.
Maggie: Thanks, Keith.
Now, did you miss some of the president’s address last night? Well, don’t worry because we will have the full text of the State of the Union address over at Channelone.com.