Obama Lays Out Bold Vision for Second Term

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WASHINGTON -- In his first State of the Union address since winning reelection, President Barack Obama laid out his second-term vision, touching on everything from the economy to education to America's role on the world stage and here at home.

Emboldened by another four years in the Oval Office, President Obama declared a stronger America than it was at the start of his first term.

"Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis and can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger," the president began.

Is the president overly optimistic about his agenda? Dr. Charles Dunn, distinguished professor of government at Regent University, explains more, on CBN Newswatch, Feb. 13.

To keep it on that path, Obama argued against the looming threat of sequester -- or automatic spending cuts to the military and domestic programs set to kick in March 1. Such cuts are something Republicans and Democrats increasingly say appear unavoidable.

"I think we have to implement them to show the American people that we mean business about spending cuts," Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., said.

"You will see furloughs," Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said. "People will be hurt both in the public sector and private sector that have contracts with the government of the United States to carry out research and development."

Click play below to watch the entire State of the Union.

The president also pressed Congress to create a fairer and more competitive America, continuing his push for a progressive agenda laid out at his second inaugural address.

With that, he stressed the importance of building a thriving middle class, urging Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour and to invest in early childhood education and programs to place people in jobs that fix the country's collapsing infrastructure.

Obama prodded Congress on climate control and continued his call for comprehensive immigration reform -- an issue gaining traction even among Republicans on Capitol Hill.

"I think they get it, and only because Hispanics have made them get it," Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-District of Columbia, said. "There are growing numbers all going to the polls to vote for a Democrat."

On national security, the president announced that 34,000 U.S. troops will return from Afghanistan in the next year, and by the end of 2014 the war in Afghanistan will be over.

He pledged to work closer with Congress in pursuing terrorists and addressing nuclear threats, like Iran and North Korea.

But he also addressed hot-button issues like climate change, voting reforms and gun control. Victims from some of the recent shootings in Tucson, Ariz., Aurora, Colo., and Newton, Conn., were in the room.

"They deserve a vote," the president said. "Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek and Tuscson and Blacksburg and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence deserve a simple vote."

One Republican congressman said the president's focus to prevent violence on children is too narrow, saying he fails to remember lives lost to abortion.

"When he talks about a thousand children that will never have birthdays in the last month or so, he leaves out the 4,000 children that died today, that will also never have birthdays," Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., told CBN News.

While Republicans will create roadblocks to the president's agenda, he also has another challenge: time, which is not on his side. While it's only the beginning of Obama's second term, political experts say presidents usually have about year to a year and half before attention shifts to the next wave of elections.

That means he has little time to pull off major legislative feats.

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John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/John.V.Jessup.