SOTU: 7 Things Obama Always Says

4. Shrink Our 'Deficit of Trust.'Obama can't talk about the future without talking about smaller deficits and fiscal responsibility. In 2009, Obama referenced his ill-fated pledge to halve the deficit by the end of his first term—since then, he's called for smaller deficits in every State of the Union address. And he's used the phrase "deficit of trust" in every speech except 2011's, segueing into political commentary. "Because we're also suffering from a deficit of trust, I am committed to restoring a sense of honesty and accountability to our budget," he said in 2009. "We face a deficit of trust—deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years," he said in 2010. Last year, he dropped the phrase twice, saying his mortgage policies would "give those banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust" and again referencing the "deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street."

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5. America, and Specific Americans, Are the Best. It wouldn't be a State of the Union address without praise for America's resilience, particularly private-sector businesses and the unparalleled motivation of the American worker. In 2009, he called Americans "the hardest-working people on Earth." In 2010, he pledged, "We don't quit. I don't quit." In 2011, he reminded us that "America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities." In every year but 2010, Obama has talked about individuals with inspiring stories to illustrate these points: a bank president who gave away his bonus, a young girl who wrote to ask for funding for her school, the owner of a Pennsylvania drilling company who helped in the Chilean mine disaster, and a single mom who was laid off but found work at a turbine factory after taking robotics courses, to name a few.

6. Investment. Calls for "invest[ing]" have appeared in each of Obama's SOTU addresses, which makes sense: The speeches look forward to the future, and Obama typically calls for laying groundwork through investment in energy, education, and/or infrastructure. in 2011, Obama pledged, "We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology—an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people." Sometimes, he phrases it defensively. Last year, Obama warned, "Don't gut these investments in our budget. Don't let other countries win the race for the future."

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7. China, India, and Germany. Obama has mentioned China in all four of his speeches, Germany in three of them, and India in two. You can bet that at some point tonight, Obama will compare America to these nations, either in technology, energy production, or education. "I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here," he said last year. "China is not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany is not waiting. India is not waiting," he said in 2010.

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