WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Obama called for a smarter government to act during his first State of the Union address since winning re-election.
Mr. Obama offered an expansive second-term agenda focused heavily on the economy and jobs. He mentioned Caterpillar, saying manufacturers have added about 500,000 jobs over the past three years, including big yellow. The company is bringing jobs back from Japan.
He also gave an impassioned call for Congress to vote on his proposed gun control legislation. The president urged congress to revive a "rising, thriving middle class," pledging to fight for a higher minimum wage, more government investment in schools and clean energy, and deficit reduction achieved through spending cuts and tax increases.
"America is not a place where chance of birth or circumstance should decide our destiny. And that is why we need to build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class for all who are willing to climb them," said Obama.
Senator Dick Durbin agrees with the President that a minimum wage increase is necessary.
"We need a minimum wage increase in Illinois and across this nation and remember every dollar earned is another dollar spent," said Durbin, (D) Illinois.
President Obama's call for an increase in the federal minimum wage mirrors Governor Pat Quinn's state of the state proposal raise Illinois minimum wage to $10 over the next four years. However, not everyone was on the President's side, with many saying this speech was no different than ones he has given in past years.
"Multiple times before I have heard the same soaring rhetoric and promises to focus on the issues most important to the American people. Multiple times I have been disappointed. Tonight's speech was no different," said Rep. Aaron Schock, (R) Illinois.
President Obama also discussed decreasing the country's debt, closing tax loopholes, reforming medicare and bringing more jobs back to American soil.