On Monday, Obama also said that he would focus his economic agenda on lifting those less fortunate out of poverty and preserving the nation's entitlement programs. He even addressed domestic concerns like climate change and voting rights. And he said he would focus his foreign policy on engaging with foreign countries and avoiding armed conflict.
But in order to accomplish many of those goals, Obama will have to bridge a partisan divide that has only deepened during his first term despite his 2008 campaign credo to usher in a new era of post-partisanship in Washington. The president faces bruising fights ahead with Republicans on issues like the debt ceiling and the federal budget deficit. And he's also likely to face resistance on big-ticket items like immigration.
The president noted that his oath is "to God and country, not party and faction" and urged lawmakers, many of whom were gathered at the Capitol, to find common ground.
"For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today's victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall," he said.