Obama To Urge A United Focus On Jobs

January 25, 2011

Liz Halloran

President Obama, in his second State of the Union address — his first before a divided Congress — is expected to characterize the nation's challenges as between the United States and the rest of the world, and not Democrats and Republicans.

In excerpts released by the White House, the president is expected to say Tuesday night that "governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties."

And he will note the reality that he and Democrats face with a newly divided Congress, where Republicans now control the House and enjoy a larger minority in the Senate.

"New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans," he will say. "We will move forward together, or not at all — for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics."

Earlier Tuesday, the White House strategically leaked word that the president planned to propose extending a three-year freeze on certain domestic programs that he proposed in 2010 for another two years, and will call for $78 billion in defense spending cuts.

Exempt from the freeze, aides say, would be the enormous and expensive entitlement programs that include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and national security and debt expenditures.

In a speech that will likely focus heavily on the nation's economic trials, including stubborn unemployment and exploding debt and deficits, Obama is expected to note that the economy has begun to grow, and the nation is "poised for progress." But the imperative, he will say, is to guarantee that homegrown jobs come with it.

"At stake right now is not who wins the next election — after all, we just had an election," Obama will say, according to official excerpts. "At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else.

"It's whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It's whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world," Obama is expected to say. "Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again."

The president is expected to speak at length about spending and the deficit, and building competitiveness and growth. He will likely invoke themes he's hit in recent appearances, from the need for innovation and education, to reforms and infrastructure improvement.

And he'll refer to the challenges faced by the country today as "our generation's Sputnik moment."

"Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon," Obama is expected to say. "The science wasn't there yet. NASA didn't even exist."

The president is expected to caution that America's progress has never been measured just by Wall Street and corporate profits, but by the quality of life.

"We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer," he'll say, according to excerpts. "By the prospects of a small-business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children.

"That's the project the American people want us to work on," the president is expected to say. "Together." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.