Jennifer Wishon, and John Jessup, take you behind the headlines as they cover both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

LIVE Blog of the State of the Union

What is the state of the union?  In his first address of his historic second term President Obama will tell Americans his thoughts and offer details of his agenda for the next four years.  It's an ambitious agenda that includes deficit reduction, immigration reform and gun control and the clock is ticking.  The President only has about a year and a half to make major progress on his goals before the Congressional mid-term elections heat up.  He'll immediately take his campaign for his agenda on the road with appearances in Asheville, North Carolina; Atlanta Georgia and Chicago, Illinois scheduled this week.


First Lady Michelle Obama is seated in the gallery of the House Chamber.  She's wearing a sleeveless dress that's black on the top with a glittery burgundy skirt.  A number of guests are seated with her.  The President will mention most of them during his speech.

9:00 The President's cabinet enters the House Chamber led by newly confirmed Secretary of State John Kerry.

9:10 President Obama is introduced and enters the House Chamber escorted by members of Congress including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.  The President is wearing a lavender tie and dark suit.

9:16 President's first line: JFK reference.  "Fifty-one years ago, John F. Kennedy declared to this Chamber that “the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress…It is my task,” he said, “to report the State of the Union – to improve it is the task of us all.”

9:17 President says "there is much progress to report"  after a decade of war "our brave men and women are coming home".

9:17 "We buy more American cars than we have in five years, and less foreign oil than we have in twenty."

9:18 "Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger."

9:19 First mention of "the middle class".  This will be a MAJOR theme of the President's address.

9:20 Says Americans don't expect government to solve every problem, but that they do expect leaders to put the nation's interests before political party.

9:21 Work begins by making decisions about our budget.  First mention of the "sequester".

9:23 The President continues his campaign rally cry that the wealthy must "pay their fair share" saying, "But we can’t ask senior citizens and working families to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest and most powerful."

9:24 "already the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is helping to slow the growth of health care costs".  The law takes full effect next year.

9:25 "Our government should make promises it can't keep, but we should keep the promises we've already made."

9:27 President says now is our best chance for bipartisan tax reform. "To hit the rest of our deficit reduction target, we should do what leaders in both parties have already suggested, and save hundreds of billions of dollars by getting rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the well-off and well-connected."

9:28 Tax reform and entitlement reform won't be easy "none of us will get 100% of what we want." The alternative, he says, will result in the loss of jobs (the unemployment rate is 7.9%).

9:29 "Let’s agree, right here, right now, to keep the people’s government open, pay our bills on time, and always uphold the full faith and credit of the United States of America. (applause) The American people have worked too hard, for too long, rebuilding from one crisis to see their elected officials cause another."
9:29 "Deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan".

9:34 "We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years.  We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar – with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it." 

9:30 "nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.  It’s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth."

9:31 Says American manufacturers are bringing jobs back to the US.  This year Apple will start making Macs in America again.

9:32 Asking Congress to expand pilot program that trains workers for available manufacturing jobs.

9:34  "We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years.  We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar – with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it. "

9:34 "We must do more to combat climate change." ...."the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15.  Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense."

9:36 "if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.  I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."
White House officials say the Obama Administration is prepared to take Executive Actions as much as possible to achieve the President's goals.

9:37 President issues a new goal:  "let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years.  The states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make it happen."

9:39 President gets chuckles from some members of Congress when he says he knows they want jobs in their districts because he's seen them at "ribbon cuttings".

9:39 President announces "Fix it First" program to put people to work fixing the nation's infrastructure.  He's suggesting public-private partnerships to fund the projects.

9:42 President says fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program.  "Tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America."  President says every dollar invested in early education saves money later because more students graduate and less teens have babies or commit crime.

9:46 Colleges must keep costs down and "it's our job to make sure they do." 

9:46 Tomorrow Obama Administration will release a new "College Scorecard."   "where you can get the most bang for your educational buck."  Check for that.

9:47 "the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform."  Biden stands and claps for this, Boehner sits and claps.  President says faith community agrees.

9:48 Real reform, the president says, includes pathway to citizenship, learning English and getting in line behind people immigrating legally.  He also wants to reform the legal immigration system by cutting red tape.  The President released his immigration plan several weeks ago.

9:49 Says economy stronger when women can operate free from fear of discrimination or domestic violence.  Calls on House pass Violence Against Women Act passed by the Senate today.  He also calls on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to address inequality in pay between men and women.

9:51 Make Minimum Wage?  The President wants to raise the federal MW to $9/hour. "in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty."

9:53 A nod to families.  President wants to remove "financial deterrents to marriage" for low- income people and encourage fatherhood, "because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child; it’s having the courage to raise one."

9:55 On to the military.  "by the end of next year our war in Afghanistan will be over".  Says over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will come home.

9:56 says al Qaeda is now a "shadow" of its former self.

9:57 We will continue to take the fight to terrorists who pose the greatest threat to Americans.

9:58 We will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  At the same time we'll engage Russia to reduce our arsenals.

9:59 Cyber attacks. Says America's enemies are seeking to hack into our companies, power grid, etc.

10:00 Executive Order:  "earlier today, I signed a new executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs, and our privacy."

10:02 An "AIDS free generation is within our reach." 

10:02  "America must remain a beacon to all who seek freedom during this period of historic change."  In the Middle East, "we will stand with citizens as they demand their universal rights, and support stable transitions to democracy."

10:03 Says American can't dictate the course of change in countries like Egypt, but says "we can – and will – insist on respect for the fundamental rights of all people."

10:04 POTUS mentions his trip to the Middle East (Israel, West Bank, Jordan) next month, but not mention of Mid East peace.

10:05 A nod to the LGBT community, "We will ensure equal treatment for all service members, and equal benefits for their families – gay and straight."

10:05 "women have proven under fire that they're ready for combat."
10:06 "We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home.  That includes our most fundamental right as citizens:  the right to vote."  Says we are "betraying our ideals" when people have to wait in line for hours to vote.

10:07 President is launching a non-partisan commission to improve the voting experience in America.

10:08 Says this time the debate over how to reduce gun violence is different because of the shootings in Newtown, CT.

10:09 Says police chiefs across America are tired of their officers being "outgunned".  Calls on Congress to take an up or down vote on his proposals to reduce gun violence. 

10:10 President mentions Hadiya Pendleton.  The 15 year old was shot and killed in a Chicago park days after she performed in the inaugural parade for the president.  The president says the crime happened just a mile away from his Chicago home.  Her mom and dad are seated beside the First Lady in the gallery.

10:11 Chamber goes crazy as the president says Pendleton, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, the victims of the shootings in Newtown, Aurora and Blacksburg deserve a vote on his proposals.
10:15 "We may do different jobs, and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us.  But as Americans, we all share the same proud title: we are citizens."

10:16  Closing lines: "it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story."
10:16 "Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America."

Florida Senator and GOP superstar Marco Rubio will deliver the GOP Response.  He'll be followed by Kentucky Senator and Tea Party superstar Rand Paul who will deliver the Tea Party Response.

Senator Marco Rubio

10:30 Wearing lavender tie, similar to the one the president wore, and a dark suit.  He's standing in front of a window and American flag.

10:30 Begins by congratulating President Obama on his second term.

10:30 Says life is precious

10:31 Talks about his parents immigrating to America from Cuba and working their way to the middle class.

10:31 Free enterprise economy is the source of middle class prosperity.

10:32 President Obama's solution to almost every problem we face is to spend more, tax more, borrow more.  Calls "more government" is an old idea that's failed every time it's been tried.

10:32 Says many government programs, like "Obamacare" hurt the middle class. 

10:33 "Government is limited by the constitution."

10:34 "I still live in the same working class neighborhood I grew up in".  Says the President's suggestion that Republicans only care about the wealthy is wrong.

10:35 "I don't oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich.  I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors."

10:36 "Raising taxes won't create jobs."

Several times Rubio appears to wipe sweat from the side of his face.

10:37 Says we need to give parents - especially parents with special needs - the opportunity to send their children to school where they want.

10:38 Says a few months ago he paid off the last of the more than $100,000 in student loans he racked up.

10:40 "I would never support changes to Medicare that would hurt seniors like my mother."

10:40 Says violent crime must be dealt with but President's proposals aren't the way to do it.

10:41 Rubio takes a drink of water.

10:41 Says Republicans have a plan to avoid the so- called sequester cuts.

10:42 Camera zooms in

10:42 "I know both Republicans and Democrats love their country.  I pray we come together to resolve our differences."

10:42 Says our strengths don't come from Washington, they come from our people.

10:43 "The dream of a better life for our children is the dream of parents everywhere."  Says America is one of the few places on earth where those dreams are still possible.

10:44 "May God bless our president and may God continue to bless the United States of America."

posted @ Tuesday, February 12, 2013 8:52 PM | Feedback (3)