State of the Union 2011: Fact Checking President Obama's Speech

PHOTO President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address
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Economy was the central focus of President Obama's State of the Union address tonight, a roughly 60-minute address that touched on an array of issues, from bipartisanship to the war in Afghanistan.

The president pledged to confront the nation's challenges hand in hand with Republicans and challenged members of Congress to reach across the political aisle and to tackle heavily partisan issues like clean energy and job growth.

ABC News takes a look at some of the claims in the president's address tonight and separates facts from fiction.

Tax Cuts:

"Thanks to the tax cuts we passed, Americans' paychecks are a little bigger today. Every business can write off the full cost of the new investments they make this year. These steps, taken by Democrats and Republicans, will grow the economy and add to the more than one million private sector jobs created last year."

The White House inked a deal with Republicans last month to extend for 13 months Bush-era tax cuts that were set to expire at the end of 2010. The tax cut extension bill passed in early December, much to the ire of many House Democrats.

By enacting a temporary break on the Social Security payroll tax, Americans, on average, will be getting $2,000 more in their paychecks this year than previous years. But not all income groups will benefit from the change. For those who make less than $20,000 per year, the new tax package actually means a smaller paycheck. That's because the extension cut the Making Work Pay tax credit that gave working individuals $400 and couples filing jointly $800 on their 2009 and 2010 tax returns.

The bill also included a provision for businesses that would allow both large and small businesses to write off the full cost of most of their investments in 2011. The Treasury Department estimated that this could generate more than $50 billion in additional investment this year.

Education Reform:

"Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning."

The president established the Race to the Top program in February 2009, one of his first steps in the education sector as commander-in-chief. The $4.3 billion program was part of the Recovery Act and is designed to reward states that are "implementing significant education reforms." It constitutes less than 1 percent of total U.S. education spending, which is expected to reach or exceed $900 billion this year.

The program has led to much debate and strife over some schools being left behind in this competitive process, especially in states with strong union presence. Critics also doubt the long-term viability of the plan.

Over the course of the competition, 35 states and the District of Columbia adopted rigorous common academic standards in reading and math, and 34 states changed laws or policies to improve education.

Economic Recovery:

"We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again."

President Obama hailed the rebound of the securities markets and corporate profits as signs the economy is recovering from recession. The data show both claims are true.

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