Reporting from Washington — President Obama hailed the economic potential of increased American exports and green technology Saturday, previewing themes expected to be at the heart of his second State of the Union address Tuesday night.
In his weekly address, Obama referred to Wednesday's state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao and his own trip to a General Electric plant in New York on Friday as examples of how innovation and opening new overseas markets to American products will help "win the future."
"Countries around the world are upping their game and giving their workers and companies every advantage possible. But that shouldn't discourage us," he said. "We just have to make sure we're doing everything we can to unlock the productivity of American workers, unleash the ingenuity of American businesses, and harness the dynamism of America's economy."
Republicans focused their response on Wednesday's vote in the House of Representatives to repeal Obama's signature legislative accomplishment, healthcare reform.
Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, a doctor, pressed the Democrats who still control the Senate to bring a repeal bill up for a vote in the chamber.
"We are now one step closer to victory in the fight for a healthcare policy that puts Americans first — not Washington," he said. "Our job won't be done until we repeal and replace this bad law."
Senate Democrats have maintained that the repeal effort is irrelevant because Obama would veto any such legislation even if it were to pass. Republicans say the reform law is "job killing," while Democrats counter that the repeal effort is distracting lawmakers from initiatives that could spur job creation, as the president outlined.
"Republicans, in their first two actions in the majority, have voted to allow adding $5 trillion to the deficit, and then to pile $230 billion on the deficit by repealing the healthcare law," House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland said in a statement. "That makes the new Republicans look just like the old Republicans — not taking any action to reduce the deficit or create jobs."
As the partisan wrangling continues, though, many lawmakers are planning to make a display of civility at Obama's address Tuesday to a joint session of Congress. Rather than sitting along party lines, dozens of lawmakers have paired off with colleagues from the other party and announced they will sit together for the address.
The break from tradition is a response to the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, critically wounded and six others dead.