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State of the Union address to stress economy

WASHINGTON — Under pressure to energize the economy, President Barack Obama is expected to put job creation and American competitiveness at the center of his State of the Union address, promoting spending on education and research while pledging to trim the nation's soaring debt.

While the economy will serve as the major focus of the speech, the secondary theme will be a call for civility and compromise.

Obama is expected to strike a confident tone that the nation has turned the corner from economic crisis to a resumption of growth.

"The great majority of the speech will be on the steps that the president believes our country has to take to continue that economic recovery," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

That reflects voters' priorities in the latest polls and the message from November's elections that gave Republicans control of the House and a more robust Senate minority.

White House aides have not said much about the specific proposals the president will outline, but he is expected to call on business to work with him to create jobs and bring unemployment down from its 9.4 percent rate. And he will likely call on Congress to work with him on overhauls of the tax code and spending on Medicare, Social Security or defense.

Obama must address the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and other foreign policy concerns, but he will focus far more on domestic issues. Talk of "green energy" is more likely to focus on job creation than on global warming.

Republicans, meanwhile, have chosen House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to give the televised GOP response to the speech.

Ryan, 39, in his seventh House term, is known for his "Roadmap for America's Future," a plan for reducing federal budget deficits that includes permitting younger workers the option of setting aside Social Security tax payments for "personal retirement accounts."

Previous Republican responses to Obama's State of the Union addresses were given by governors, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Bob McDonnell of Virginia.

Information from McClatchy Newspapers and the Associated Press was used in this report.

State of the Union address to stress economy 01/22/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:16pm]
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