Somber mood took over at State of the Union speech

January 26, 2011 1:05:02 AM PST
The president delivered a first-of-its-kind State of the Union speech Tuesday night. Republicans and Democrats sat together, resulting in more than just a symbolic gesture.

A much more somber mood took over the House. It wasn't the usual of circus of one side jumping up to applaud whenever they can and the other side sitting on their hands. The president's speech was less of a laundry list of accomplishments and goals; it was more of a framework.

President Barack Obama began by acknowledging the empty chair of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and calling on Congress to put aside the noise and rancor of partisan politics.

"What comes of this moment is up to us. What comes of this moment will be determined, not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow," said Obama.

The theme of the speech was winning the future.

"This is our generations Sputnik moment," said Obama.

The president said the country must invest in biomedical research, information technology, and clean energy.

"And to help pay for it I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own," said Obama.

He also called for investments in education and not just in dollars.

"We need to teach our kids that it's not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the since fair," said Obama.

And the third step is investing in the nation's infrastructure.

"We will put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges," said Obama.

He advocating simplifying the tax code, closing loopholes, and lowering the corporate income tax rate for the first time in 25 years.

The president promise he will work with Republicans on immigration reform, on cutting redundant regulations and government departments, and even revisiting health care reform -- as long as the changes make care better and more affordability.

"So instead of refighting the battles of the last two years, let's fix what needs fixing and move forward," said Obama.

Moving forward without taking a particular position left Republicans with very little to push against.

"Americans are skeptical of both political parties and that skepticism is justified, especially when it comes to spending," said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.

At the University of San Francisco politics professor Corey Cook watched the president's speech with his students.

"I think he laid out a vision for how he plans to govern over the next year or two and I think that it's fairly clear that his strategy is going to be to try to govern as a moderate, bring the two parties together, and find common ground," said Cook.

The president said the economy is coming around and in the past year unemployment has fallen by .5 percent. The Dow is up 17 percent, but the deficit is also up $1.7 trillion and home prices are down. The

Tea Party's response was delivered by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota.

"We have high unemployment, devalued housing prices, and the cost of gasoline is skyrocketing," said Bachmann.

Bachmann's response was in sharp contrast to the president's tone, but was muted a little when she showed up late to the studio. She said she was caught in traffic behind the presidents' motorcade.

Talking with Rep. George Miller, D- Martinez, and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D- Atherton, after the speech, both were struck by the feeling inside the House, a mood they described as serious and more bipartisan and the president's speech, very much in kind.