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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

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Obama looks for spark in State of the Union address

Obama

WASHINGTON – Declaring “I don’t quit,’” President Barack Obama fought to recharge his embattled presidency with a State of the Union vow to get jobless millions back to work and stand on the side of Americans angry at Wall Street greed and Washington bickering. Defiant despite stinging setbacks, he said he would fight on for ambitious overhauls of health care, energy and education.

“Change has not come fast enough,” Obama acknowledged Wednesday night before a politician-packed House chamber and a TV audience of millions. “As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may be, it’s time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.”

Obama looked to change the conversation from how his presidency is stalling — over the messy health care debate, a limping economy and the missteps that led to Christmas Day’s barely averted terrorist disaster — to how he is seizing the reins. He spoke to a nation gloomy over double-digit unemployment and federal deficits soaring to a record $1.4 trillion, and to fellow Democrats dispirited about the fallen standing of a president they hoped would carry them through this fall’s midterm elections.

With State of the Union messages traditionally delivered at the end of January, Obama had one of the presidency’s biggest platforms just a week after Republicans scored an upset takeover of a Senate seat in Massachusetts, prompting hand-wringing over his leadership. With the turnover erasing Democrats’ Senate supermajority needed to pass most legislation, it also put a cloud over health care and the rest of Obama’s agenda.

Obama implored lawmakers to press forward with his prized health care overhaul, in severe danger in Congress. “Do not walk away from reform,” he said. “Not now. Not when we are so close.”

Republicans applauded the president when he entered the chamber and craned to welcomed Michelle Obama. But bipartisanship disappeared early, with Republicans sitting stone-faced through several rounds of emphatic Democratic cheering and as Obama took a sharp jab at GOP congressional strategy. “Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership,” he said.

The president devoted about two-thirds of his speech to the economic worries foremost on Americans’ minds as recession persists. “The devastation remains,” he said.

Obama emphasized his ideas, some new but mostly old and explained anew, for restoring job growth, taming budget deficits and changing a Washington so polarized that “every day is Election Day.” Such roots of intense voter emotions once drove supporters to Obama but now are turning on him as he governs.

Declaring that “I know the anxieties” of Americans’ struggling to pay the bills while big banks get bailouts and bonuses, Obama prodded Congress to enact a second stimulus package “without delay,” urging that it contain help for small businesses and funding for infrastructure projects. Also, fine tuning a plan first announced in October, Obama said he will initiate a $30 billion program to provide money to community banks at low rates, if they boost lending to small businesses.ey would come from balances left in the $700 billion Wall Street rescue fund — a program “about as popular as a root canal” that Obama made of point of saying “I hated.”

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