Tonight at 9 p.m. EST, President Obama will deliver his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. The president will cover terrorism, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the relief efforts in Haiti, but the bulk of his speech will focus on the economy, job creation, and the needs of struggling families. His plan is expected to include proposals to lower the cap on federal student loan payments to 10% and to increase the childcare tax credit.
The tradition of addressing Congress the first month of each year began with George Washington in 1790. Until 1923, when Calvin Coolidge’s State of the Union address was broadcast over the radio, American citizens could only read reports of the address in newspapers. Harry Truman’s 1947 address was the first to be broadcast on television.
Obama will deliver his speech on all major news networks as usual and, for the first time, the White House will stream the address live on its website. The White House will also host a live chat on its Facebook page. YouTube’s CitizenTube station will also stream the speech; viewers can post comments and questions for the President there, too, where he’ll answer them next week.
The Republican National Committee and Democratic Party are encouraging supporters to organize Watch Parties. To find a party near you, or to host your own party, visit either the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, or both. The televised Republican response to the State of the Union will be given by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and the RNC will post minute-by-minute responses and fact checks here beginning at 9 p.m.