Heads up: Top comment and controversy

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our war in Afghanistan will be over".  34,000 troops -over half the 66,000 the US has currently deployed - will be withdrawn within a year, leaving the rest to maintain security and train the Afghan forces.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

Reaction

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".

React Now

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: odd pub names, final polls in Scotland and war historians

John Rentoul
 

i Editor's Letter: We are winning the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. It's time to up the ante

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week