Obama’s focus: Jobs, health care, education

US President Barack Obama delivers his first State

US President Barack Obama delivers his first State of the Union address January 27, 2010 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Obama declared that the worst of the economic storm had passed, but that a trail of devastation was left behind. Seated behind Obama is Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images) (Credit: Getty/MANDEL NGAN)

WASHINGTON - President Obama delivered an urgent plea for unity last night during his first State of the Union address, seeking to recapture the energy that propelled him into office — and reverse his party’s trajectory on the heels of recent setbacks.


Obama refocused his agenda on the economy and jobs, casting himself as the advocate of average citizens.


>> Obama's proposals
>> Republican response
>> Poll: What did you like best?
>> Obama's five challenges
>> Michelle Obama's look on Wednesday night
>> Complete coverage: Obama's 2010 State of the Union address


But even as he returned to his campaign theme of hope, Obama summoned the frustration with government that drove his candidacy in the first place. Disparaging “the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades,” he demanded new cooperation from Congress.


“Let’s try common sense,” the president said.


Among his proposals:
 

Jobs

Obama told Congress that creating jobs must be its No. 1 focus this year. Saying businesses are the engine of job creation, he proposed that Congress take $30 billion from the Wall Street bailout to help community banks make loans to small businesses. He also is proposing a small business tax credit that would help a million small businesses, as well as eliminating capital gains taxes on small business investment.
 

Health Care

Hoping to rescue his health care overhaul, Obama appealed for support for the plan that is in severe danger in Congress, urging dispirited Democrats not to abandon the effort.


“By the time I’m finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance,” Obama said. “Patients will be denied the care they need. Small-business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. I will not walk away from these Americans. And neither should the people in this chamber.”
 

Education

Obama urged the spread of school reforms across the country and said the nation’s students need to be inspired to exceed in math and science.


He also called on Congress to finish work on a measure to revitalize community colleges. And he called for a $10,000 tax credit to families for four years of college, and an increase in Pell Grants. He also said college students should only have to devote 10 percent of their post-college income to repaying student loans.
 

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Reaching out to a skeptical gay community, Obama urged Congress to repeal the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.
 
Other highlights include:
Financial overhaul: Urged the Senate to follow the House and pass a financial overhaul bill to protect consumers from industry abuses and make sure they have the information they need to make decisions about what to do with their money.


Federal spending: Proposed a three-year freeze on most domestic spending, beginning in 2011. Spending on national security, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security would be exempt.


Open government: Called for requiring lobbyists to report each contact with his administration or Congress. Urged lawmakers to pass a bill to undo a recent Supreme Court ruling that allows companies and labor unions to spend freely on campaign ads that promote or target particular candidates by name.


Energy: Urged Senate passage of comprehensive energy and climate legislation to help the country shift toward cleaner energy sources.
 


>> Obama's proposals
>> Republican response
>> Poll: What did you like best?
>> Obama's five challenges
>> Michelle Obama's look on Wednesday night
>> Complete coverage: Obama's 2010 State of the Union address

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What was the most important area President Obama addressed in his speech?

Jobs and the economy Foreign policy Energy policy Unity Health care National optimism Deficits Education

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