New programs and reforms center of State of the Union

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Economic, immigration and gun control reform were the targets of President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address in his second term.

Obama said the state of the country is better than it has been.

President Barack Obama at the State of the Union address Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

“Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis and can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger,” Obama said.

But the president is aware that the economy is still not the best. He laid out several proposals to better the country including closing tax loopholes on the rich and wealthy, education reform, military aid overseas and addition of private sector jobs. A big surprise was his proposal to adjust minimum wage

“Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour,” Obama said.

Obama said he and Mitt Romney agreed on this plan during their campaigns. This change would take place by 2015.

Obama outlined several other proposals for economic reform, including a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on most needed repairs.

He said overhauling the legal immigration process would continue to benefit the economy as entrepreneurs from other countries immigrate to the U.S.

“Real reform means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods, reduce bureaucracy, and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy,” Obama said.

In the first lady’s box were seated Nate and Cleo Pendleton, parents of Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school. Stories like the Pendletons’ and the tragedies in Newtown, Aurora and Tuscon became a focus of Obama’s closing remarks asking Congress for gun control reform.

“They deserve a simple vote,” Obama said.

Obama urged Americans to consider what it means to be a citizen and join in unity to solve these problems.

“Stronger families. Stronger communities. A stronger America.”

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