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Obama takes centre ground in speech

President Barack Obama has called for unity with newly empowered Republicans in a State of the Union policy speech that laid the foundation for the second half of his presidential term and next year's fight for re-election.

Mr Obama staked out territory in America's political centre.

He defended programmes dear to his Democratic base, including the federal Social Security pension programme and his health care overhaul.

But he also backed some top priorities of Republicans, who took control of the House of Representatives this month.

He called for cutting the corporate tax rate, freezing some federal spending, shaking up the federal bureaucracy and eliminating politicians' pet projects.

He made a direct appeal for bipartisanship, saying: "We will move forward together or not at all."

The nationally televised address before both chambers of Congress is always one of America's most closely watched political events, but this year's speech had extra drama. For the first time in his two-year presidency, Mr Obama was appearing before a divided Congress.

After November elections that Mr Obama has described as a "shellacking", Republicans narrowed the Democratic advantage in the Senate as well as taking control of the House of Representatives.

Mr Obama said the American people are counting on their leaders to create jobs in the United States. "At stake right now is not who wins the next election," Mr Obama said. "After all, we just had an election."

Mr Obama focused on federal spending for education, innovation and infrastructure as ways the government can support America's foundation and help businesses create jobs for a generation. He paired that with a call to reduce the federal debt and to make the government leaner.


From Belfast Telegraph