President Obama called for action in what he dubbed a “breakthrough year” during the State of the Union address Tuesday night.
And on his way in to the House of Representatives, he appeared confident.
“Tonight,” the president said in his speech, “this chamber speaks with one voice to the people we represent: It is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong.”
The address always brings together members of both parties — sometimes awkwardly. This time around, that didn’t change. It seems that there is still little Democrats and Republicans can agree on — even when it comes to how to hug.
It got a little awkward right off the bat between Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner.
Of course, there were pleasantries. Like that time when the two talked fashion.
But, as expected, partisanship set in pretty quickly — even though Obama did give Boehner a shoutout, calling him an example of the American dream (“the son of a barkeeper is speaker of the House”).
And when it came to one of the president’s biggest priorities, Biden was all smiles. Boehner, not so much.
“Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, more than 3 million Americans under age 26 have gained coverage under their parents’ plans,” Obama said Tuesday night.
The duo kind of stole the show, but it was first lady Michelle Obama who got some of the loudest applause.
“As usual,” the president said, “our first lady sets a good example.”
“Michelle and I want every child to have the same chance this country gave us,” Obama said. “But we know our opportunity agenda won’t be complete — and too many young people entering the work force today will see the American Dream as an empty promise — unless we do more to make sure our economy honors the dignity of work, and hard work pays off for every single American.”
The president outlined an expansive agenda, which included promises to tackle income inequality, create more jobs and provide health care for all.
Obama said it was all about creating “the America we want for our kids – a rising America where honest work is plentiful and communities are strong, where prosperity is widely shared and opportunity for all lets us go as far as our dreams and toil will take us.”
In keeping with tradition Republicans (respectfully) disagreed. Their messenger: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, who delivered the Republican response to the president.
“Tonight the president made more promises that sound good but won’t solve the problems actually facing Americans,” she said.