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President Barrack Obama gives the state of the union address on 2 large projectors in Walter hall on January 24th. Members of Obama For America all gathered in Walter to watch the president 's speech.

President Obama appeals to students in yearly address

After standing ovations for the survival of Rep. Gabriel Gifford and the demise of Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama declared the nation is finally recovering from a painful recession and challenged politicians to unite to continue the progress Tuesday night.

Obama delivered a populist challenge to shrink the gap between rich and poor, promising to tax the wealthy more and help jobless Americans get work and hang onto their homes.

Seeking re-election and needing results, the president invited Republicans to join him but warned, “I intend to fight.”

Ryan Dilworth, president of Ohio University College Republicans, said although Obama’s ideas were intriguing, he will not get caught up in false hope of promises that “only look good on paper.”

“I liked a lot of the ideas, especially energy reform and natural gas,” Dilworth said. “But I don’t have quite the faith that all those things are going to be done.”

In his address, Obama offered steps to help students afford college, a plan for more struggling homeowners to refinance their homes and tax cuts for manufacturers.

Shannon Welch, secretary of the Ohio University College Democrats, said she was glad to hear Obama address concerns of students.

“Education reform and student-loan debt are important issues, and it was one of my favorite parts of his speech,” Welch said.

Obama referenced accountability and warned universities they will lose federal aid if they don’t stop tuition from soaring.

Obama spent little time focusing on American involvement abroad but rather highlighted internal challenges.

“I liked the focus on domestic policy rather than foreign,” said Chase Withorn, President of Ohio University Students for Liberty. “But fact is (government) is still spending trillions of dollars supporting troops overseas.”

In a swipe at the nation’s growing income gap, Obama called for a new minimum tax rate of at least 30 percent on anyone making more than $1 million.

“Asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense,” Obama said.

In response to the national foreclosure crisis as an ongoing sore in American financial problems, Obama proposed a new program to allow homeowners with privately held mortgages to refinance at lower interest rates, saving nearly $3,000 a year for average borrowers.

He also proposed to devote half of the money no longer being spent on U.S. military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan to “do some nation-building right here at home,” to help create more jobs and increase competitiveness. The other half, he said, would go to help pay down the national debt.

Obama closed his remarks by referencing the efforts made by the Navy SEAL team who killed Osama bin Laden saying, “Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesn’t matter … all that mattered that day was the mission.”

Nick Tuell, president of University College Democrats highlighted Obama’s addressing the importance of parties working cohesively in Washington.

“The reference to the Seals’ operation was elegant and empowering,” Tuell said. “It applies to the difficulties in today’s government and how differences need to be addressed and united.”

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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