Acknowledging that some Americans are "frustrated" and "angry" about the economic struggles they face, President Obama said in his address: "Jobs must be our No. 1 focus in 2010, and that is why I am calling for a new jobs bill tonight."
The president proposed a number of new job-creating measures, including a plan to take $30 billion from Wall Street banks to help small businesses stay afloat and a new tax credit for small businesses that hire new workers. The president also defended his initial stimulus package, saying, "Because of the steps we took, there are about 2 million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed."
The president also called for a three-year freeze on government spending, but said spending related to national security and entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid would be protected.
Republicans in the chamber responded positively to the president's call for small business tax cuts. But given the addition of one more Republican vote in the Senate, robbing Democrats of their 60-vote supermajority, it will be difficult for the president to get the support he needs for a significant new jobs program.
In the Republican response to President Obama's address, recently elected Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell planned to say that the president's "partial freeze on discretionary spending is a laudable step, but a small one." On the issue of jobs, McDonnell was to say, "What government should not do is pile on more taxation, regulation, and litigation that kill jobs and hurt the middle class."