(Reuters) - President Barack Obama asked the U.S. Congress to support an ambitious agenda for his second term during the annual State of the Union speech on Tuesday.
Obama called for tax reform legislation, overhauls of gun and immigration laws, and an increase in the federal minimum wage, among other proposals.
Here are some key quotes from Obama’s remarks and reactions to his speech.
Obama on the “sequester” planned spending cuts:
“These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness. They’d devastate priorities like education, energy, and medical research. They would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican, on the sequester:
“The president had an opportunity to offer a solution tonight, and he let it slip by. We are only weeks away from the devastating consequences of the president’s sequester, and he failed to offer the cuts needed to replace it.”
Obama on Medicare:
“We’ll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies and ask more from the wealthiest seniors. We’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital - they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive.”
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, in the Republican Party’s response to Obama’s speech, on Medicare:
”I would never support any changes to Medicare that would hurt seniors like my mother. But anyone who is in favor of leaving Medicare exactly the way it is right now is in favor of bankrupting it.
“Republicans have offered a detailed and credible plan that helps save Medicare without hurting today’s retirees. Instead of playing politics with Medicare, when is the president going to offer his detailed plan to save it? Tonight would have been a good time for him to do it.”
Obama on taxes:
“The American people deserve a tax code that helps small businesses spend less time filling out complicated forms, and more time expanding and hiring; a tax code that ensures billionaires with high-powered accountants can’t pay a lower rate than their hard-working secretaries; a tax code that lowers incentives to move jobs overseas, and lowers tax rates for businesses and manufacturers that create jobs right here in America.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on taxes:
“President Obama says he wants a ‘balanced approach’ to reduce our deficit. That’s code for higher taxes. But he already got his tax increases - and not just on rich people ... Republicans want more money in your pocket - not in government’s pocket.”
Obama on climate change:
“I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford on climate change:
“It is encouraging to hear President Obama highlight the urgent need to address climate change, but unless the president uses his authority to put the brakes on new fossil fuel projects like Arctic drilling, Keystone XL, and exporting America’s coal abroad, his efforts to move us to clean energy will remain one step forward, two steps back.”
Rubio on climate change:
“When we point out that no matter how many job-killing laws we pass, our government can’t control the weather, he accuses us of wanting dirty water and dirty air.”
Obama on immigration:
”Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship - a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally.
“And 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.”
Texas Republican Representative Randy Neugebauer, on Twitter, on immigration:
“I support legal immigration, but we must incentivize people to abide by the law, not break it, to come to our great nation.”
Obama on the 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 $9.00 an hour.”
Neera Tanden, president of left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress, on minimum wage:
“President Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage is a giant step for the middle class. It would help millions of people striving to enter the middle class and would strengthen the economy by increasing workers’ purchasing power.”
Obama on gun control:
“I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different. Overwhelming majorities of Americans - Americans who believe in the second amendment - have come together around commonsense reform - like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun ... Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress.”
Rubio on gun control:
“We must effectively deal with the rise of violence in our country, but unconstitutionally undermining the second amendment rights of law-abiding Americans is not the way to do it.”
Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Jim Loney