This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
President Obama gave his first State of the Union speech Wednesday night. He talked mostly about the economy, and he repeated some of his message the next day in Florida.
BARACK OBAMA: "The worst of the storm has passed. But I think all of you understand the devastation remains. One in ten Americans still can't find work. That's why creating jobs has to be our number one priority in two thousand and ten."
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His speech to both houses of Congress followed a defeat last week for his Democratic Party. The Republicans won a special Senate election in Massachusetts. They now have enough seats to block legislation in the Senate.
Independent voters helped elect President Obama but have since turned away from the Democrats. Congressional elections are this November.
BARACK OBAMA: "I know it's an election year. And after last week, it's clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual. But we still need to govern. To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills."
To help create jobs, he urged the Senate to join the House of Representatives in passing a second economic stimulus bill.
BARACK OBAMA: "People are out of work. They are hurting. They need our help and I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay."
He also called for a three-year freeze on some federal spending. And he set a goal to double American exports over the next five years.
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In addition, he said he takes his share of the blame for not explaining health care proposals more clearly to the public. But he added:
BARACK OBAMA: "Do not walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people."
President Obama again promised to remove all American combat troops from Iraq by the end of August. He predicted success in Afghanistan. And he had a warning for nations that violate international agreements "in pursuit of nuclear weapons." He said that is why North Korea now faces stronger sanctions.
BARACK OBAMA: "And as Iran's leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: they, too, will face growing consequences. That is a promise."
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The new governor of Virginia gave the Republican response to the State of the Union speech. Bob McDonnell said Democrats are spending too much and creating a level of debt that cannot be supported.
BOB MCDONNELL: "What government should not do is pile on more taxation, regulation and litigation that kill jobs and hurt the middle class."
On Friday President Obama proposed tax credits for every new employee that a business hires this year. He also joined House Republicans for a sometimes tense meeting at their yearly gathering.
And the Commerce Department reported that economic growth at the end of two thousand nine was the fastest in six years. This early estimate was higher than expected. However, it was largely the result of businesses cutting their supplies of unsold goods at a slower rate.
Investments in equipment rose sharply. But consumer spending increased just two percent. Still, a private report said consumer confidence in the economy reached a two-year high this month.
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. For more news, and for transcripts and MP3s of our reports, go to voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Mario Ritter.