U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday night used the State of the Union address to formally lay out his second-term agenda and generate public support to deal with the "unfinished tasks." (Xinhua Photo)
By Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday night put the focus on getting the nation back to work, but Republicans blasted the president for what they contend is an ongoing policy of spending, tax hikes and bigger government.
"It is our generation's task, then, to reignite the true engine of America's economic growth -- a rising, thriving middle class," Obama said in his nationally televised State of the Union Address.
"It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country -- the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love," he said.
But speaking for the Republican Party, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio blasted the president's speech, reiterating the GOP's claims that the president is bent on creating bigger government and more spending, saying he hoped "the president will abandon his obsession with raising taxes."
In a nationally televised Republican response, he said government is not the solution for everything, and that the American people, not big government, is the core of American strength.
Appearing on Fox News just after the president's address, pundit Charles Krauthammer echoed those sentiments.
"(Obama) talked about unbelievably numerous initiatives which are all going to involve spending at a time of 16 trillion (U.S.) dollars of debt," he said, mirroring critics who contend that investments in green energy and infrastructure, which Obama called for in his speech, were merely code for more spending and higher taxes.
"He didn't look as if he's that interested in solving our debt issue," Krauthammer said.
While Republicans paint Obama as particularly left leaning, Rutgers University presidential historian David Greenberg described Obama as a moderate liberal, standing in the same place on the political spectrum as past Democratic presidents such as Bill Clinton.
"He is a liberal to moderate Democrat and he's basically where the Democratic Party is and has been for a number of years. He's certainly not leftist," he said.
The speech, a reiteration of a number of White House platforms, and the Republican response, indicated that the bitterly divided Congress will continue to disagree on a number of issues, experts said.
"Republicans will continue to criticize the president's proposals in terms of the expansion of government, failure to act on the debt, and concerns about economic and job growth," said Dan Mahaffee, an analyst with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.
Despite the president's re-election, Congressional Republicans still have a significant amount of power. "Compromise with them may be (Obama's) greatest legacy," he said.
Obama laid out a laundry list of challenges Tuesday night, from green energy to raising the minimum wage to gun control to repairing the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country.
"I took away from the speech the sense that he's ready to do business," Greenberg said. "And also that he still hopes to find bipartisan common ground on any number of issues."
Experts said chances are high of a bipartisan deal on immigration, as both parties have indicated a willingness to hammer out an agreement, and the GOP knows it must invite more Hispanic voters into the tent after losing 71 percent of the Latino vote in November's presidential elections.
Greenberg, however, said he doubted the two parties will come together on gun control.
The issue hit the national spotlight in December when a gunman killed 20 elementary school children in one of the nation's most grizzly mass shootings.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday used his first State of the Union address in his second term to return focus on his "unfinished task" of reigniting the economic growth for middle-class Americans.
He also made another bid to seek public support for a broad agenda including long-time divisive issues of immigration reform, gun control and climate change. Full story
WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday kicked off a three-day road trip to sell economic initiatives unveiled in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
"The true engine of America's economic growth has always been our middle class." Manufacturing sector can make the nation stronger, and after shedding jobs for more than 10 years, U.S. manufacturers have now added about 500,000 jobs over the past three years, Obama said at a manufacturing company in Asheville, North Carolina. Full story