"State of the Union, 2013" from VOA

Joe Biden, Barack Obama, John Boehner

From VOA Learning English, this is IN THE NEWS in Special English.

President Obama set out goals for his second term earlier this week during his fifth State of the Union message to Congress. The president spoke largely about his economic goals for the United States. He noted the need for the two main political parties to support his efforts to help the middle class, create jobs and reduce the deficit.

“Nothing I am proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime. It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth.”

Mr. Obama promised that his proposals would not increase the size of the federal deficit. He said major economic growth requires a balanced method to reduce the deficit, where everyone does his fair share. He suggested reforming Medicare, the government-assisted health care program. His proposals include cutting taxpayer money to drug companies.

President Obama also repeated his call to do away with tax laws and deductions for the wealthy. He called for a tax system that does not result in the movement of jobs overseas, and one that lowers tax rates for businesses that create jobs in the United States. He urged lawmakers to pass a budget that replaces unnecessary cuts with “smart savings and wise investments in our future.”

The president said the American economy is stronger when the skills and creativity of “striving, hopeful immigrants” are used. He said leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement and religious communities all agree that the time has come for immigration reform. He asked lawmakers to speed passage of measures aimed at improving immigration policy.

“As we speak, bipartisan groups in both chambers are working diligently to draft a bill, and I applaud their efforts. Now let's get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away, and America will be better for it. Let's get it done.”

Mr. Obama said real reform means stronger border security and establishing a responsible pathway to citizenship. He said the reform means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods and reduce bureaucratic barriers.

Senator Marco Rubio delivered the Republican Party's response to the president's State of the Union speech. Senator Marco Rubio delivered the Republican Party's response to the president's State of the Union speech
​​Senator Marco Rubio of Florida gave the official Republican Party reaction to the president’s speech. He agreed to the need for immigration reform and for a system to invite what he called the “best and the brightest” to come to America. The Senator said the country needs a responsible system for dealing with illegal immigrants. And he called for stronger enforcement of existing laws.

“We need a responsible, permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally. But first, we must follow through on the broken promises of the past, to secure our borders and enforce our laws.”

Mr. Rubio was elected to the Senate in 2010 with the help of Tea Party activists. The Tea Party is a movement largely within the Republican Party. Its goal is to reduce the power and size of the federal government in the lives of Americans. Tuesday night, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky spoke for the Tea Party on the immigration issue.

“We're the party that embraces hard work and ingenuity. Therefore, we must be the party that embraces the immigrant who wants to come to America for a better future. We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities. We must be the party that says, 'If you want to work, if you want to be an American, we welcome you.'“


1. There is a deficit when there is _____________ .
a: debt
b: wealth
c: security
d: income

2. "Striving, hopeful immigrants" in the U. S. are very good for ____________ .
a: the American economy
b: the economies of the immigrants' native countries
c: the Canadian economy
d: the European economy

3. When someone "sets priorities", they ___________________.
a: choose to do all of the tasks
b: choose only the least expensive tasks
c: choose the most important tasks

4. The February 2013 State of the Union Address was Barack Obama's ________________ State of the Union speech before the Congress of the U.S.
a: first
b: fourth
c: fifth
d: second

5. Senator Marco Rubio was elected to the senate in 2010 mostly because of support from _______________ .
a: the Republican Party
b: the Tea Party
c: wealthy donners
d: contributions from MoveOn.com

6. Barack Obama wants a tax system that does not ____________ .
a: eliminate deductions for the rich
b: lower tax rates for businesses that create jobs in the United States
c: result in the movement of jobs overseas
d: make any substantial changes

7. At the top of this article, there is a picture of Barack Obama talking about climate change. From the picture, you can see that ______________ .
a: John Boehner enthusiastically supports the president
b: the president doesn't really believe in what he's saying
c: neither Joe Biden, the vice president nor John Boehner the Republican speaker of the house, support the president's message on climate change
d: John Boehner's face shows no response

8. Barack Obama wants to reform Medicare, and also cut taxpayer _____________ prescription drug companies.
a: dependence on
b: subsidies to
c: exploitation of
d: abuse of

9. Law enforcement, business leaders, religious communities, and labor agree that ___________________ .
a: God exists
b: the time has come for immigration reform
c: workers' wages must be raised
d: illegal immigration must be stopped

10. From the picture you see on top of this article, you can probably tell that the Democrats and Republicans _______________________ .
a: fundamentally disagree with each other on most issues
b: are both very much against the policies of Barack Obama
c: both would rather that Senator Marco Rubio were the president
d: both stand up and applaud everything Barack Obama says and does

Barack Obama speaks to Latino journalists about Immigration Reform:

Grammar Interactive Courses

Video Lessons PRACTICE GRAMMAR, LISTENING, READING, VOCABULARY all levels - open online access


Vocabulary and Idioms - all levels

Free Computer and Upper Level English courses