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Obama vows job creation without adding to deficit

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 ~ Updated 11:58 PM

(Photo)
FILE -- In this Jan. 24, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington. As President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, Feb. 12, 2013, he presides over an economy much healthier than the one he inherited four years ago. Yet growth remains slow and unemployment high.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
WASHINGTON -- Uncompromising and politically emboldened, President Barack Obama urged a deeply divided Congress on Tuesday night to embrace his plans to use government money to create jobs and strengthen the nation's middle class. He declared Republican ideas for reducing the deficit "even worse" than the unpalatable deals Washington had to stomach during his first term.

In his first State of the Union address since winning re-election, Obama conceded economic revival is an "unfinished task," but he claimed clear progress and said he prepared to build on it as he embarks on four more years in office.

Obama's plans include pursuing a broader agenda, including immigration overhaul, stricter gun laws and climate-change legislation.

He announced steps to reduce the U.S. military footprint abroad, with 34,000 American troops withdrawing from Afghanistan within a year. And he had a sharp rebuke for North Korea, which launched a nuclear test just hours before his remarks, saying, "Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only isolate them further."

In specific proposals for shoring up the economy in his second term, an assertive Obama called for increased federal spending to fix the nation's roads and bridges, the first increase in the minimum wage in six years and expansion of early education to every American 4-year-old. Seeking to appeal for support from Republicans, he promised none of his proposals would increase the deficit "by a single dime" although he didn't explain how he would pay for his programs or how much they would cost.

In the Republican response to Obama's address, rising GOP star Marco Rubio of Florida came right back at the president, saying his solution "to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more."

Sen. Rubio, in prepared remarks, said presidents of both parties have recognized that the free enterprise system brings middle-class prosperity.

"But President Obama?" Rubio said. "He believes it's the cause of our problems."

Still, throughout the House chamber there were symbolic displays of bipartisanship. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., arrived early and sat with Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., just returned in January nearly a year after suffering a debilitating stroke.

But as a sign that divisions still remain, three of the most conservative Supreme Court justices skipped Obama's speech. Six of the nine attended. Missing were Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito.

Jobs and growth dominated Obama's address. Many elements of his economic blueprint were repacked proposals from his first term that failed to gain traction on Capitol Hill.

Standing in Obama's way now is a Congress that remains nearly as divided as it was during the final years of his first term, when Washington lurched from one crisis to another.

The president implored lawmakers to break through partisan logjams, asserting that "the greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next."

"Americans don't expect government to solve every problem," he said. "They do expect us to forge reasonable compromise where we can."

Yet Obama offered few signs of being willing to compromise, instead doubling down on his calls to create jobs by spending more government money and insisting lawmakers pay down the deficit through a combination of targeted spending cuts and tax increases. He offered few specifics about what he wanted to see cut, focusing instead on the need to protect programs that help the middle class, elderly and poor.

He reiterated a willingness to tackle entitlement changes, particularly on Medicare, though he has ruled out increasing the eligibility age for the popular benefit program for seniors.

Republicans are ardently opposed to Obama's calls for legislating more tax revenue to reduce the deficit and offset broad the automatic spending cuts -- known as the sequester -- that are to take effect March 1. The president accused GOP lawmakers of shifting the cuts from defense to programs that would help the middle class and elderly, as well as those supporting education and job training.

"That idea is even worse," he said.

Obama broke little new ground on two agenda items he has pushed vigorously since winning re-election: overhauling the nation's fractured immigration laws and enacting tougher gun control measures in the wake of the horrific massacre of school children in Newtown, Conn. Yet he pressed for urgency on both, calling on Congress to send him an immigration bill "in the next few months" and insisting lawmakers hold votes on his gun proposals.

"Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress," he said.

Numerous lawmakers wore green lapel ribbons in memory of those killed in the December shootings in Connecticut. Among those watching in the House gallery: the parents of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, shot and killed recently in a park just a mile from the president's home in Chicago, as well as other victims of gun violence.

On the economy, Obama called for raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 by 2015. The minimum wage has been stagnant since 2007, and administration officials said the increase would strengthen purchasing power. The president also wants Congress to approve automatic increases in the wage to keep pace with inflation.

"Here's an idea that Gov. [Mitt] Romney and I actually agreed on last year: Let's tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on."

Obama renewed his calls for infrastructure spending, investments he sought repeatedly during his first term with little support from Republicans. He pressed lawmakers to approve a $50 billion "fix it first" program that would address the most urgent infrastructure needs.

Education also figures in Obama's plans to boost American competitiveness in the global economy. Under his proposal, the federal government would help states provide preschool for all 4-year-olds. Officials did not provide a cost for the preschool programs but said the government would provide financial incentives to help states.

Among the other initiatives Obama is proposing:

* A $1 billion plan to create 15 "manufacturing institutes" that would bring together businesses, universities and the government. If Congress opposes the initiative, Obama plans to use his presidential powers to create three institutes on his own.

* Creation of an "energy security trust" that would use revenue from federal oil and gas leases to support development of clean energy technologies such as biofuels and natural gas

* Doubling of renewable energy in the U.S. from wind, solar and geothermal sources by 2020.

Tuesday night's address marked Obama's most expansive remarks on the economy since the November election. Since securing a second term, the president has focused more heavily on new domestic policy proposals, including immigration changes and preventing gun violence following the horrific shooting of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn.

Obama called on Congress to tackle the threat of climate change, another issue that eluded him in his first term. The president pledged to work with lawmakers to seek bipartisan solutions but said if Capitol Hill doesn't act, he'll order his Cabinet to seek steps he can take using his presidential powers.

Taking a swipe at those who question the threat of global warming, Obama said, "We can choose to believe that superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science -- and act before it's too late."

Obama also called on Congress to pass legislation giving the government more power to combat the rapidly growing threat of cyberattacks. And, as a down payment on that, the president announced that he has signed an executive order to fight electronic espionage through the development of voluntary standards to protect networks and computer systems that run critical infrastructure.


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The people of Afghanistan have to fight for their freedom the same as we did during the revolution. We're giving them the training to do it and the tools. Now let them do it. If they fail, they fail. We will know that we did all we could and are leaving honorably.

-- Posted by 1patriot on Tue, Feb 12, 2013, at 10:10 AM

Obama lies every breath he takes he can't tell the truth on anything he talks about like the gun control bull, he told a lie about how most of the people of in the country want gun control that is a lie.

-- Posted by ssinteriors on Wed, Feb 13, 2013, at 5:40 AM

God bless our President. What an honorable man.

-- Posted by Lippy Radeck on Wed, Feb 13, 2013, at 7:50 AM

Even my 10 year old can figure out that raising the minimum wage raises prices. The business guy selling hamburgers, or books, or widgets now has to raise the prices to pay for the wage increase (not to mention increased taxes, insurance costs, unemployment, workers compensation, etc. So who loses? The supplier of these products has to raise prices. So who loses? The employee who was making $7.25 now has to pay more for his/her purchases. The net effect is the employee has gained nothing. If would like everyone to make $100,000 or more a year, but then a foot long at Subway would be $50.

Four more years of this kind of thinking......

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Wed, Feb 13, 2013, at 8:57 AM

"Obama vows job creation without adding to deficit"

How about these?

"Obama vows to cut deficit in half in first term" - then he doubles it.

"Obama says he's ok with $5 gallon gas" - then gas hits record highs last month

"Obama vows if stimulus passed unemployment will stay below 8%" - then it shot up to 10%

"Obama vows to close Gitmo terrorist prison his first year in office" - it's still open today

"Obama vows health care costs to decline $2,500 with Obamacare" - then they went UP over $2,500 after it passed.

What a dishonorable man and a complete liar. I didn't watch - I couldn't hear his lies for more than 3 minutes.

-- Posted by Dug on Wed, Feb 13, 2013, at 9:08 AM

I cannot bear to even look at this mans picture, much less listen to more of his hot air. He is a liar, and an absolote disgrace to the United States of America!

-- Posted by arrestthem on Wed, Feb 13, 2013, at 11:22 AM

Don't forget the rising cost of electricity that he promised too. That is one promise he kept. My bill has doubled in the last 2 years. Won't watch him and have NEVER referred to him as my president and never will!

-- Posted by scared of the future on Wed, Feb 13, 2013, at 11:27 AM


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