The State of the Union
President Obama speaks to the nation about his goals for 2013
The speech is delivered at the U.S. Capitol to members of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, and other government officials. (Charles Dharapak / AP Images)
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union address, an important speech given every year by the nation's leader.
The President gave the speech in the U.S. Capitol to all members of Congress—Senators and Representatives—as well as to the Vice President, the Supreme Court Justices, other government officials, and special guests. Millions of people also watched the speech on television.
President Obama spoke about a wide range of issues affecting our nation. He talked a lot about the country's economy. It has improved, he said, but not enough.
"Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation," President Obama said. "How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills to get those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?"
The President said creating more jobs in America is important to having a stronger economy. He said the government should invest in education and help companies create new jobs, especially in science and engineering.
He proposed lowering the federal deficit, or how much money the government earns versus how much it spends, and changing the way Americans pay taxes. He recommended that Congress increase the minimum wage—the lowest amount of money a worker can legally be paid for each hour of work.
The President also addressed the problem of gun violence, an emotional topic for Americans just two months after the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. He urged that Republicans and Democrats come together to pass stricter gun control laws.
This year's State of the Union address was President Obama's fourth since taking office. The tradition is based on a requirement in the U.S. Constitution that says the President "shall, from time to time give to the Congress information on the state of the Union."
The opposing political party has responded to each State of the Union address since 1966. President Obama is a Democrat, so this year's response was by Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.
Delivering a speech in both English and Spanish, Senator Rubio said his party disagreed with many of President Obama's proposals. "The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families," Senator Rubio said.
Still, each of Tuesday's speeches indicated that the two parties need to work together to fix the country's problems.