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IV Drip

Obama's State of the Union address: Reaction and key moments


For an hour on Tuesday evening, Barack Obama set out the policies against which the success of his second term as President will be chalked up. Gun control, climate change, equal pay for women and an end to the war in Afghanistan all featured in the State of the Union address, which also put front and centre a pledge to reignite the economy. Reaction this morning is largely favourable, if a touch mild.

Key moments

On gun control: "I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different." Obama pledged to ban assault weapons and require background checks for all firearm purchases.

On climate change: "If Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will". With a tax credit for renewable energy, the President wants to double the production of wind, solar and geothermal sources by 2020.

On Afghanistan: "By the end of next year our war in Afghanistan will be over".  34,000 troops -over half the 66,000 the US has currently deployed - will be withdrawn within a year, leaving the rest to maintain security and train the Afghan forces.

On the minimum wage: "Let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty". If pushed through, hourly wages would be raised to $9.


In the Guardian Gary Younge lauds the range of Obama's policies but stifles a yawn. This speech was forgettable, he says, lacking a coherent vision.

Ted Widmer in the New York Times is kinder, with particular appreciation for Obama's statement of intent on climate change. "It was reassuring to see a hard-nosed plan", he says.

In a video report for the BBC Steve Kingstone says this emboldened speech was "unashamedly left of centre", a thumb to the nose at Republicans.

If you were looking for emotional weight, notes The Washington Post's Greg Sargent, it was to be found in the arresting moment Obama repeated that victims of gun violence deserved a vote on reform.

On foreign policy Fred Kaplan strikes a note of caution. Obama mentioned it for barely 10 minutes, he writes in Slate. But perhaps that's how it should be "after a decade of war-weariness".