Jan 26

Past Event

State of the Union 2011: Addressing a Divided Congress

Event Materials



  • A Unifiying Message

    Thomas Mann: President Obama succeeded in sending the right, unifying message to the public. But the divisions on the role of government are still there.

    Thomas E. Mann

  • Better Explanation Needed on Federal Debt

    Alice Rivlin: A better explanation was needed on this looming debt and how the solution is not just cutting discretionary spending but might involve raising taxes.

    Alice M. Rivlin

  • A Tone of Competition

    Robert Kagan: It was an intensely competitive speech—competitive with everyone else in the world. That was the most important foreign policy tone.

    Robert Kagan

  • Narrative Reflects the Producer Class

    Bruce Katz: It’s surprising how President Obama’s rhetoric and narrative has begun to reflect the “producer class” in American business—people like Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric.

    Bruce Katz


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President Obama delivered his State of the Union address to a divided Congress on January 25, turning the constructive agreements reached during the lame duck session last month, and appeals for civil discourse in the aftermath of the Tucson shootings, into broader policy overtures for the year ahead. Many of the problems confronting the nation—high unemployment and sluggish growth, growing deficits and debt, educational quality, and the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq—resonate with both Republicans and Democrats but also invoke profoundly different values and approaches. The challenge will be to bring the chambers and the parties together beyond the ceremonial address and move forward.

On January 26, the day after the president’s speech, Brookings hosted a discussion of the address and the chances for bipartisan action in 2011. Brookings President Strobe Talbott introduced the forum and Senior Fellow Thomas Mann led the discussion that included Senior Fellows Alice Rivlin and Robert Kagan, and Vice President and Metropolitan Policy Program Director Bruce Katz.

After the program, panelists took audience questions.

Event Agenda


January 26, 2011

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM EST

The Brookings Institution

Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW


For More Information

Brookings Office of Communications

(202) 797-6105