5 Things to Know About Obama's State of the Union Speech

4 years ago

In the first State of the Union address of his second term, President Obama covered a lot of ground. The cautious Obama from the campaign trail seems to be gone for good, replaced by the bold Obama that came out at his second inauguration. In fact, Tuesday night's address reiterated many of the progressive goals he laid out in last month’s speech.

Let's start with the most popular topic:

1. Jobs

Right from the start, President Obama jumped into a discussion about the economy, taking pride in the signs of recovery –- including six million new jobs, a strengthened auto industry, and stronger housing market. The president stressed the importance of equal pay for women and laid out a priority to bring overseas manufacturing and R&D jobs back to the states. Then, he put forward one of his boldest ideas of the night: raise the minimum wage to $9/hour. According to the White House, this was the most tweeted topic of the night.

2. Education

The president then rolled out an ambitious plan for re-tooling public education at the 20,000-foot level, including universal preschool programs, high school curriculum aimed at high tech economy, and a system to rank colleges based on affordability and value. What he didn’t address was how these programs would be paid for, or how well the current Race to the Top plan is doing.

3. Gun Control

Did you notice those large green ribbons worn on the lapels of lawmakers? They were in tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. Obama mentioned Hadiya Pendleton, the high school majorette who was shot and killed in Chicago, the week after performing at the inauguration. Michelle Obama comforted Pendleton’s parents, and the crowd nearly burst into cheers as the president listed off the towns affected by mass shootings in the past year.

4. The Environment

In a jab at his opponents, President Obama called for people to heed scientists' warnings about climate change, "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."

5. Immigration

Comprehensive immigration reform is another area in which voters have high expectations for the president. While his plan sounded strong at first blush, many immigration advocates were underwhelmed -- or even concerned by the details.

Bonus: The Fun Stuff

Of course, no political event in the age of Twitter is complete without a few surprises and new memes. SOTU 2013 brought us babies, 102-year-old voters, and... a very thirsty Marco Rubio (okay, technically, that was during the GOP response). And although Twitter was just waiting for Ted Nugent, who was the guest of Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), to do something he'd regret, the rocker behaved himself for the most part.

Did you watch the State of the Union address? What topics are most important to you?

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs at HapaMama and A Year (Almost) Without Shopping.

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