Valdosta Daily Times

National, International News

January 21, 2013

Term II: U.S. must help poor, elderly, Obama says

WASHINGTON — Declaring "our journey is not complete," President Barack Obama took the oath of office for his second term before a crowd of hundreds of thousands Monday, urging the nation to set an unwavering course toward prosperity and freedom for all its citizens and protect the social safety net that has sheltered the poor, elderly and needy.

"Our country cannot succeed when shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it," Obama said in his relatively brief, 18-minute address. "We believe that America's prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class," he added, echoing his calls from the presidential campaign that catapulted him to re-election.
 
The president declared that a decade of war is ending, as is the economic recession that consumed much of his first term.
 
He previewed an ambitious second-term agenda, devoting several sentences to the threat of global climate change and saying that failure to confront it "would betray our children and future generations." Obama's focus on climate change was notable given that he barely dealt with the issue in his first term.
 
In an era of looming budget cuts, he said the nation has a commitment to costly programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. "These things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us," he said.
 
Sandwiched between the bruising presidential campaign and relentless fiscal fights, Monday's inaugural celebrations marked a brief respite from the partisan gridlock that has consumed the past two years. Perhaps seeking a fresh start, Obama invited several lawmakers to the White House for coffee before his speech, including the Republican leaders with whom he has frequently been at odds.
 
Looking to the challenges ahead, Obama implored Congress to find common ground over the next four years. And seeking to build on the public support that catapulted him to the White House twice, the president said the public has "the obligation to shape the debates of our time."

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