WASHINGTON (RNN) - In a broad-based speech aimed at forging middle ground, President Barack Obama spoke of cutting the deficit, investing in clean energy and modifying healthcare reform in his third State of the Union address.
Honoring the Tucson 19
The victims of the Jan. 8 Tucson shooting were very much on the minds of those attending the State of the Union address.
In his opening remarks, President Barack Obama called attention to an empty chair in the audience, left open in honor Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is undergoing rehab in Houston after being shot "through-and-through" in the head by a .9 mm handgun.
Senators and representatives showed their solidarity by wearing black and white ribbons in honor of all the victims.
The family of Christina Taylor Greene, the youngest victim of the shooting, sat next to first lady Michelle Obama during the speech.
Daniel Hernandez, the intern who administered first aid to Giffords until medics arrived on scene, was also in the audience.
In total, 19 individuals were shot at a constituent meet-and-greet Giffords held at a local grocery store in Tucson.
In a speech that lasted just over an hour, Obama said Republicans and Democrats will move forward together or not at all and that new laws will only pass with bipartisan support.
"What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow. I believe we can. I believe we must," he said. "That's what the people who sent us here expect of us. With their votes, they've determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties."
The president said a key to winning the future includes American innovation. That means embracing new technologies like clean energy, he said.
"We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies," he said. "Instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's."
The president set a goal of having 80 percent of America's electricity coming from clean energy sources by 2035.
Obama also called for spending cuts to rein in a spiraling deficit, proposing a freeze of annual domestic spending for the next five years. He also pledged to develop a proposal to reorganize and streamline government and said he would push Congress to pass it.
"We shouldn't just give our people a government that's more affordable. We should give them a government that's more competent and efficient," he said. "We cannot win the future with a government of the past."
The president said he is open to modifications of his signature health care bill, but would not compromise on some of the key parts.
"I've heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law. So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved," he said. "What I'm not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let's fix what needs fixing and move forward."
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