Wel­come all to NPI’s 2012 cov­er­age of the State of the Union address. We’ll be updat­ing this post peri­od­i­cal­ly through­out the Pres­i­den­t’s speech.

Var­i­ous dig­ni­taries are cur­rent­ly fil­ing into the House cham­ber, and Rep. Gabrielle Gif­fords (D‑AZ) just entered the cham­ber to a stand­ing ova­tion. Gif­fords looks radi­ant. Her hus­band, astro­naut Mark Kel­ly is a guest in the First Lady’s box, along with War­ren Buf­fet’s sec­re­tary and others.

We’ve learned that the des­ig­nat­ed Cab­i­net mem­ber this evening, who will not be attend­ing the State of the Union, is Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Tom Vil­sack. One Cab­i­net mem­ber is so des­ig­nat­ed each time the Pres­i­dent deliv­ers the State of The Union Address, in case of a cat­a­stroph­ic event and to pro­vide con­ti­nu­ity of government.

Fol­low­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gif­fords, the Supreme Court Jus­tices and Mrs. Oba­ma made their entrances. Pres­i­dent Oba­ma is not far behind.

UPDATE, 6:10 PM (Ken): Pres­i­dent Oba­ma has entered the House cham­ber to sus­tained applause, stop­ping to embrace Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gif­fords and shak­ing Chief Jus­tice Roberts’ hand, among oth­ers’ as he makes his way up the aisle. In a few moments Speak­er John Boehn­er will intro­duce the Pres­i­dent and he will begin his remarks.

UPDATE, 6:20 PM (Ken): The theme of the President’s speech thus far appears to be the Amer­i­can Dream and the promise of our nation. Pres­i­dent Oba­ma is strik­ing a pos­i­tive tone, with the aspi­ra­tional lan­guage that we’ve come to expect .

Think about the Amer­i­ca with­in our reach: A coun­try that leads the world in edu­cat­ing its peo­ple. An Amer­i­ca that attracts a new gen­er­a­tion of high-tech man­u­fac­tur­ing and high-pay­ing jobs. A future where we’re in con­trol of our own ener­gy, and our secu­ri­ty and pros­per­i­ty aren’t so tied to unsta­ble parts of the world. An econ­o­my built to last, where hard work pays off, and respon­si­bil­i­ty is rewarded.


The defin­ing issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No chal­lenge is more urgent. No debate is more impor­tant. We can either set­tle for a coun­try where a shrink­ing num­ber of peo­ple do real­ly well, while a grow­ing num­ber of Amer­i­cans bare­ly get by. Or we can restore an econ­o­my where every­one gets a fair shot, every­one does their fair share, and every­one plays by the same set of rules. What’s at stake are not Demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues or Repub­li­can val­ues, but Amer­i­can val­ues. We have to reclaim them.

The Pres­i­dent is in his ele­ment and at his best when he dares his fel­low Amer­i­cans to dream and believe in the promise of our great nation.

UPDATE, 6:30 PM (Patrick): Oba­ma talked about increas­ing spend­ing on edu­ca­tion and mak­ing it hard­er for stu­dents to be pushed out of our edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem and increas­ing stu­dent aid. He also called on states to make high­er edu­ca­tion a pri­or­i­ty. This is beyond good, con­sid­er­ing the pol­i­cy of divest­ment states have pur­sued in regards high­er edu­ca­tion. He also men­tioned some of the trag­ic changes to the Pell Grant and stu­dent loans which were added to the omnibus spend­ing bill passed at the end of the year.

UPDATE, 6:40 PM (Ken): Here’s a few obser­va­tions about the Pres­i­den­t’s speech so far.

The first of the President’s guests for the speech has been men­tioned: Jack­ie Bray, a sin­gle mom from North Car­oli­na. Judg­ing by her reac­tion to the President’s remarks, it’s obvi­ous she was unaware what he was going to say about her.

Ronald Rea­gan, begin­ning with his 1982 address, is cred­it­ed with estab­lish­ing the tra­di­tion of hon­or­ing spe­cial guests seat­ed in the gallery (com­mon­ly known as the President’s box).

Vice-Pres­i­dent Biden and Speak­er Boehn­er have almost iden­ti­cal stone faces behind the Pres­i­dent, with only Biden tak­ing the time to applause from time to time. At least Boehn­er isn’t cry­ing again.

When Pres­i­dent Oba­ma men­tioned the need for com­pre­hen­sive immi­gra­tion reform, Sen­a­tor McCain looked like the cat that ate the canary and had a sly grin on his face. Depend­ing on whether or not it’s an elec­tion year, McCain might be for immi­gra­tion reform. Dur­ing elec­tion years he’s as reli­ably anti-immi­grant as any con­ser­v­a­tive Republican.

The Pres­i­dent just rein­forced a con­ser­v­a­tive frame by using the words “tax relief” with regard to small busi­ness. Fur­ther enforc­ing Repub­li­can dog­ma, Pres­i­dent Obama’s ener­gy pol­i­cy seems to include more drilling for oil, despite fol­low­ing up with words about nat­ur­al gas and renewables.

Over the last three years, we’ve opened mil­lions of new acres for oil and gas explo­ration, and tonight, I’m direct­ing my Admin­is­tra­tion to open more than 75 per­cent of our poten­tial off­shore oil and gas resources. Right now, Amer­i­can oil pro­duc­tion is the high­est that it’s been in eight years. That’s right – eight years. Not only that – last year, we relied less on for­eign oil than in any of the past six­teen years.

Per­haps the Pres­i­dent needs a reminder about the Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon dis­as­ter.

UPDATE, 6:50 PM (Patrick): Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Ray LaHood perked up when Oba­ma talked about issu­ing an Exec­u­tive Order to speed up con­struc­tion projects. Oba­ma then went on to say that those project need­ed to be fund­ed, and that we need to “[t]ake the mon­ey we’re no longer spend­ing at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-build­ing right here at home.” He def­i­nite­ly try­ing to come out strong for the year on the jobs front.

UPDATE 6:55pm, Ken: Here’s an overview of some of the new pol­i­cy ini­tia­tives announced by the Pres­i­dent dur­ing his remarks tonight.

  • A call for states to require all stu­dents to stay in high school until they grad­u­ate or turn eigh­teen. While cer­tain­ly laud­able, this pol­i­cy would­n’t be prac­ti­cal for some stu­dents whose cir­cum­stances in life may keep them from school so they can sup­port their families.
  • Direct­ing the Admin­is­tra­tion to open more than 75 per­cent of poten­tial off­shore oil and gas resources for explo­ration and drilling. See Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon dis­as­ter ref­er­ence earlier.
  • Allow­ing devel­op­ment of clean ener­gy on pub­lic lands to pow­er three mil­lion homes.
  • Sign­ing an Exec­u­tive Order to reduce the bureau­cra­cy that slows down con­struc­tion projects. As most con­struc­tion projects deal with state and local reg­u­la­tion, we’re curi­ous as to the word­ing of this order and how it will affect our state and municipalities.
  • Leg­is­la­tion to Con­gress for a plan that will give home­own­ers an oppor­tu­ni­ty to save about $3,000 a year on their mort­gage, by refi­nanc­ing at his­tor­i­cal­ly low inter­est rates. There would be a small fee on large finan­cial insti­tu­tions will help pay for the program.
  • Pres­i­dent Oba­ma asked Con­gress for a bill that bans the deplorable prac­tice of insid­er trad­ing by mem­bers of Con­gress, which is cur­rent­ly legal, and he pledged to sign it. NPI ful­ly sup­ports such a reform.

The Pres­i­dent also ordered fed­er­al agen­cies to elim­i­nate rules that don’t make sense.

We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farm­ers to spend $10,000 a year prov­ing that they could con­tain a spill – because milk was some­how clas­si­fied as an oil. With a rule like that, I guess it was worth cry­ing over spilled milk.

The Pres­i­dent pledged to estab­lish a Finan­cial Crimes Unit of high­ly trained inves­ti­ga­tors to crack down on large-scale fraud and pro­tect people’s investments.

He also said that he has direct­ed Attor­ney Gen­er­al Eric Hold­er to cre­ate a spe­cial unit of fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors and lead­ing state attor­neys gen­er­al to expand inves­ti­ga­tions into the abu­sive lend­ing and pack­ag­ing of risky mort­gages that led to the hous­ing crisis.

UPDATE, 7:15 PM (Patrick): The Pres­i­dent is spot on when he talks about shared respon­si­bil­i­ty. Tying togeth­er his ear­li­er point about the eco­nom­ic gains of the post-World War II era (where the mar­gin­al tax rate for the wealth­i­est was 90 per­cent) to the fact that since then have cre­at­ed a rad­i­cal­ly more unequal tax code today), he framed the issue in stark terms: “Now, you can call this class war­fare all you want. But ask­ing a bil­lion­aire to pay at least as much as his sec­re­tary in tax­es? Most Amer­i­cans would call that [un]common sense.”

UPDATE, 7:20 PM (Ken): Pres­i­dent Oba­ma just wrapped up the State of the Union on a high note, with hope­ful, inspi­ra­tional rhetoric echo­ing the begin­ning of the speech, when he ref­er­enced the cap­ture and death of Osama bin Laden. The con­clu­sion was vin­tage Oba­ma and the Pres­i­dent, as usu­al, nailed the delivery.

One of my proud­est pos­ses­sions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mis­sion to get bin Laden. On it are each of their names. Some may be Democ­rats. Some may be Repub­li­cans. But that doesn’t mat­ter. Just like it didn’t mat­ter that day in the Sit­u­a­tion Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates – a man who was George Bush’s defense sec­re­tary; and Hillary Clin­ton, a woman who ran against me for president.

All that mat­tered that day was the mis­sion. No one thought about pol­i­tics. No one thought about them­selves. One of the young men involved in the raid lat­er told me that he didn’t deserve cred­it for the mis­sion. It only suc­ceed­ed, he said, because every sin­gle mem­ber of that unit did their job – the pilot who land­ed the heli­copter that spun out of con­trol; the trans­la­tor who kept oth­ers from enter­ing the com­pound; the troops who sep­a­rat­ed the women and chil­dren from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs. More than that, the mis­sion only suc­ceed­ed because every mem­ber of that unit trust­ed each oth­er – because you can’t charge up those stairs, into dark­ness and dan­ger, unless you know that there’s some­one behind you, watch­ing your back.

So it is with Amer­i­ca. Each time I look at that flag, I’m remind­ed that our des­tiny is stitched togeth­er like those fifty stars and those thir­teen stripes. No one built this coun­try on their own. This Nation is great because we built it togeth­er. This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of tri­al, there is no chal­lenge too great; no mis­sion too hard. As long as we’re joined in com­mon pur­pose, as long as we main­tain our com­mon resolve, our jour­ney moves for­ward, our future is hope­ful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.

Thanks for fol­low­ing along with us tonight. We’ll post a roundup of SOTU analy­sis worth read­ing lat­er tonight or tomor­row morning.

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