Last night, President Obama zeroed in on the country's economic recovery while speaking to Congress and the nation in his first State of the Union address. He touted what the Recovery Act had done—tax cuts for "for 95 percent of working families.. for small businesses...for first-time homebuyers..."—but acknowledged, "I realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response. That is why jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010... I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay."
He also addressed the slow-moving, stalled health reform bill, calling it a "complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people" and humorously noting, "It should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics.”
The President also reminded America of his campaign platform of change, "I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I could do it alone. Democracy in a nation of 300 million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That's just how it is." And he warned Democrats not to "run for the hills" because "the people expect us to solve some problems" and added, "if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town—a supermajority—then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership."
Video of the State of the Union is below; you can read the full transcript here and the White House has bullet points from the address here, such as the freeze on non-security discretionary spending and proposing limits on lobbyists
The NY Times said of Obama's address, "It was a confident performance, more defiant than contrite, more conversational than soaring. He appealed to and scolded both parties, threatened vetoes, blamed his predecessor and poked fun at lawmakers." Politico thought the speech was "a document of downsized ambitions for a downsized moment in his presidency."
And the Republican response, given by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, argued that Obama and the "Democratic Congress" are "trying to do too much" with "deficit spending, adding to the bureaucracy, and increasing the national debt on our children and grandchildren," adding, "Most Americans do not want to turn over the best medical care system in the world to the federal government."