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Economy a priority for State of the Union address

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President Barack Obama will deliver the State of the Union address tonight at 9 p.m. Republicans, Democrats and academics alike expect the economy, more specifically jobs, to be the focus of the president’s speech.

The U.S. unemployment rate dipped to 9.4 percent in December compared with 9.9 percent a year earlier. There were an estimated 103,000 jobs created last month, compared with 109,000 lost in December 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We’re not going to have a debate in Washington about whether we need to make some changes and whether we need to control spending,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. “We’re going to have, hopefully, a bipartisan discussion and work together on how we go about doing that.”

Gibbs did not reveal much during a press briefing Monday, but he did confirm the economy is at the top of the president’s agenda for tonight’s address.

“I will say that I think you’ll hear the president … spend most of his time talking about the economy, talking about the challenges that we face both in the short term in terms of doing whatever we can to help create jobs, in the medium and long term to continue working on issues like competitiveness and innovation, and ensuring that in the medium and the long term we get our fiscal house in order,” Gibbs said. 

Interested parties at Ohio State have diverging expectations of Obama’s upcoming address:

Paul Beck, a distinguished professor of social and behavioral sciences, said job loss and unemployment rates are still big issues.

“(Obama has) had a really challenging two years,” Beck said. “He inherited an economy that was in awful shape and he has tried to address it in a very “polarized partisan climate.”

 

Meagan Cyrus, president of OSU College Republicans, said she is “disappointed in the administration’s handling of the economy.”

“We are seeing a lot of spending and not a lot of result,” said Cyrus, a third-year in political science.

She praised Obama on his recent extension of tax cuts.

Cyrus also expects Obama to focus on job creation, an issue she said the president will need to move toward the middle on, especially with the 2012 election around the corner.

 

Matt Caffrey, a fourth-year in political science and president of OSU College Democrats, touted Obama’s recent “big successes,” including the tax cut extensions, unemployment benefits extension, and his response to the tragedy in Tucson.

“It has been incredible what he has been able to do in the past two years,” Caffrey said.

He said Obama “has his groove back,” and expects the president to hit the “mega-issue” of job creation pretty hard tonight.

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