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.