updated 1/25/2011 6:34:54 PM ET 2011-01-25T23:34:54

Republicans awaiting the president's State of the Union address urged President Barack Obama to give up on new spending programs and join them instead in a drive to wrestle the federal budget deficit under control.

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"America is fast approaching a tipping point. Reckless spending today threatens to impoverish future generations tomorrow," said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who's been tapped to give the official GOP response to Obama's Tuesday night speech to Congress and the nation.

Previewing the official GOP response to SOTU

"The budget battle ahead will determine whether we continue our decline into a cradle-to-grave welfare state or move in a new direction consistent with America's founding ideals," Ryan added in an e-mail sent to conservative activists.

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The GOP's point man on spending
Ryan will be the point man in the new House GOP majority's drive to rein in spending and bring the budget closer to balance. Tuesday's speech is the highest profile assignment yet for a wonky former congressional staff aide who has evolved into one of his party's brightest stars.

Ryan is best known for a controversial budget plan brimming with politically unpopular ideas like gradually turning Medicare into a voucher program, curbing Social Security benefits and allowing younger workers to divert Social Security taxes into private accounts. He says such tough steps are needed, given intractable budget deficits that threaten America's prosperity.

Story: House GOP to endorse pre-Obama spending levels

Ryan's plan, the "Roadmap for America," is so politically toxic that GOP campaign operatives urged candidates to shy away from it. Democrats went on the attack as soon as Ryan was named to deliver Tuesday's GOP response.

"Paul Ryan owes it to the national audience tonight to explain why he wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "He can't sweep his roadmap under the rug just because the spotlight will be shining brighter than usual."

Vote: Will you watch the State of the Union?

Obama was to make his speech before a House chamber packed with Tea Party-backed GOP freshmen elected with a determination to slash spending and thwart the president's agenda.

In an unusual move, Tea Party-favorite Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., was set to follow Ryan's response with a nationally televised speech of her own.

Obama's call for a freeze on the annual operating budgets of most domestic agencies doesn't go far enough for Republicans. They are also deeply skeptical of his plan for investments in education, infrastructure, and research and development.

Video: What will Obama say to America? (on this page)

"I'm hopeful that the president has listened to the American people," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "I'm hopeful that the word 'investment' really isn't more stimulus spending and a bigger government here in Washington."

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Explainer: State of the union: by the numbers

  • After President Barack Obama's delivery of the annual State of the Union address to Congress, here is a look at some of the facts and figures that shape American life and how they have changed in the past decade (based on the latest available data, compiled from multiple sources).

  • Economy and Business

    Unemployed workers, January 2000: 4.0%
    Unemployed workers, January 2011: 9.4%

    Dow Industrial Average, Jan. 25, 2000:11,029
    Dow Industrial Average, Jan. 20, 2011:11,822

    U.S. federal debt, September 2000:$5,674,178,209,886
    U.S. federal debt, September 2010:$13,561,623,030,891

    Median new home price, January 2000: $163,500
    Median new home price, November 2010: $213,000

    Household income (top 5%), 2000:$252,400
    Household income (top 5%), 2009:$295,388

    Household income (bottom 5%), 2000:$10,157
    Household income (bottom 5%), 2009:$11,552

    Total U.S. population, 2000: 281,421,906
    Total U.S. population, 2010:308,745,538

    Number of U.S. millionaires, 2000:6.3 million
    Number of U.S. millionaires, 2010:7.8 million

    Price of admission to Forbes 400 list, 2000:$725 million
    Price of admission to Forbes 400 list, 2010:$1 billion

  • Politics

    Congressional approval, December 2000:55% approve; 30% disapprove     
    Congressional approval, September 2010:
    20% approve, 73% disapprove

    Confidence in national news media, December 2000:40% have little or no confidence
    Confidence in national news media, January 2011:42% have little or no confidence

    Confidence in the federal government, December 2000:19% have little or no confidence
    Confidence in the federal government, January 2010:
    35% have little or no confidence

    Hispanic/Latino electorate in 2000 election:7%
    Hispanic/Latino electorate in 2008 election:9%

    Women serving in Congress, 2000: 67
    Women serving in Congress, 2011: 93

    African-American members in U.S. Senate, 2000:0
    African-American members in U.S. Senate, 2011:0

  • Health

    Life expectancy at birth, 2000:76.8 years
    Life expectancy at birth, 2010:78.3 years, projected

    Number of uninsured Americans, 2000: 38.4 million
    Number of uninsured Americans, 2010:
    50.7 million

    Cancer deaths, all causes, 2000:553,091
    Cancer deaths, all causes, 2010:
    569,490

  • Travel

    Average price of a gallon of gas, 2000:$1.51/gallon
    Average price of a gallon of gas, 2011:
    $3.08/gallon

    Average airfare, 2000:$339
    Average airfare, 2011: $335 (through second quarter of 2010)

    First-bag fee, 2000: None
    First-bag fee, 2010:$20-25 (on most major U.S. carriers)

    Average hotel, 2000:$85.89/night
    Average hotel, 2011:$97.89/night (through September 2010)

    One-day ticket to Walt Disney World, 2000:$46
    One-day ticket to Walt Disney World, 2011:$82

  • Tech and Science

    Google searches per day, 2000: 30 million
    Google searches per day, 2011:
    Over 1 billion

    Wireless phone subscribers in U.S., 2000:97 million (34% of population)
    Wireless phone subscribers in U.S., 2011:293 million (93% of population)

    Facebook users, worldwide, 2000: 0
    Facebook users, worldwide, 2011:600 million

    Federal spending on research and development, 2000:$99 billion (actual spending)
    Federal spending on research and development, 2011:$148 billion (proposed)

    NASA science missions in operation, 2000: 38
    NASA science missions in operation, 2011:67

  • Education

    Public schools that require student uniforms, 1999-2000:12%
    Public schools that require student uniforms, 2007-2008:18%

    Public schools reporting the use of one or more security cameras, 1999-2000:19%
    Public schools reporting the use of one or more security cameras, 2007-2008:55%

    Nationwide graduation rates at public high schools, 2000-2001:71.7%
    Nationwide graduation rates at public high schools, 2007-2008:74.9%

    Average salary for public high school teachers, 1999-2000:$42,546
    Average salary for public high school teachers, 2008-2009:$53,724

    Minorities enrolled in 4-year institutions, 2000:1.5 million
    Minorities enrolled in 4-year institutions, 2007:1.8 million

    Average college tuition for 4-year private institutions, 1999-2000:$20,706
    Average college tuition for 4-year private institutions, 2009-2010:$26,273

    Science and math literacy (U.S. ranking on OECD PISA test given to 15-year-olds), 2000:14th in science, 19th in math
    Science and math literacy (U.S. ranking on OECD PISA test given to 15-year-olds), 2009:23rd in science, 31st in math

  • Sports

    Highest paid athletes (includes salaries, bonuses, prize money, endorsements and appearance fees), 2000:Michael Schumacher, $59 million
    Highest paid athletes (includes salaries, bonuses, prize money, endorsements and appearance fees), 2010:Tiger Woods, $105 million

    Cost of a Super Bowl ad, 2000:$2.1 million
    Cost of a Super Bowl ad, 2011:$3 million

    Rose Bowl payout (amount paid to each participating team), 2000:$12 million
    Rose Bowl payout (amount paid to each participating team), 2011:$21.2 million

    Average cost of an NFL ticket, 2000:$45.63
    Average cost of an NFL ticket, 2011:$76.47

  • Entertainment and Lifestyle

    Average movie ticket price, 2001: $5.66
    Average movie ticket price, 2011: $7.95

    Golden Globe winner for best picture, 2001:"A Beautiful Mind"
    Golden Globe winner for best picture, 2011:"The Social Network"

    Number of wide-release 3-D movies, 2001: 1
    Number of wide-released 3-D movies, 2011:30+

    Oprah Winfrey net worth, 2001:$800 million
    Oprah Winfrey net worth, 2011:$2.7 billion

    Number of children in the Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar family, 2001: 13
    Number of children in the Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar family, 2011: 19

    Most-watched TV show, 2001-2002:"Friends," 24.46 million average
    Most-watched TV show, 2010:"American Idol," 29.8 million average

    Highest-paid TV actor, 2001:Kelsey Grammer, $1.6 million per episode
    Highest-paid TV actor, 2011:Charlie Sheen, $1.25 million per episode

    Number of reality shows in Nielsen top 10, 2001: 2
    Number of reality shows in Nielsen top 10, 2010: 5

    Top-earning concert act, 2001:U2, estimated ticket sales $109.7 million
    Top-earning concert act, 2010:Bon Jovi, estimated ticket sales $201.1 million

    Average concert ticket price, 2001:$43.86
    Average concert ticket price, 2010:$55

    Popularity rank of the names "Malia" and "Sasha," 2000:498, 476
    Popularity rank of the names "Malia" and "Sasha," 2009:192, 261

Video: Jarrett: Jobs growth will be focus of speech

  1. Closed captioning of: Jarrett: Jobs growth will be focus of speech

    >> valerie jarrett is a senior adviser to mr. obama. thanks for joining us.

    >> thank you, matt. good morning.

    >> let's talk about what's being called the president's move to the center. here's what mitch mcconnell said over the weekend. "i'm happy the president is pivoting, slooet let's see if he's willing to do it and if he is i think he'll find a lot of help among republicans in congress." is this about a pivot, move to the center? is it a reaction to the last election or in preparation for the next election?

    >> none of the above , matt. what the president is focused on every day since he was elected is what are we going to do to grow our economy, create jobs in america . he had to make very tough decisions and now we have seen the economy coming back. we're seeing private sector job growth , over a million this year. the stock market is up so people's retirement funds are increasing. as we look to the future we are really focused on winning for america . that's going to be the focus of the speech. what we can do together.

    >> one of the things he's doing is reaching out to big business , appointing two big business leaders to key posts. is there a risk-reward in that? does he risk alienating liberal voters by doing that?

    >> no. i think what he's doing is recognizing that the long-term sustainable growth and job creation of our country rests with the private sector . so who better than creating jobs in america , who's exporting goods created in america all over the world and bringing goods back to america to strengthen the economy, who better to advise the president? he has advisors from small, medium, large, all kinds of businesses, matt. i don't think we should jump to conclusions because of one really important appointment.

    >> let me ask you about deficit and spending. is the president tonight going to do what some democrats criticized republicans for not doing over the past year or so? will he get specific about where he will make cuts in spending? will he embrace some of the tough recommendations from the deficit reduction commission -- you know, cutting things like social security , medicare and defense?

    >> tonight's budget -- speech really will lay out a framework for the future. in the next few weeks he'll release his budget which will be specific. on social security the president has said he wants to keep social security strong. he doesn't believe in privatizing social security , letting it go up and down with the marketplace. on that specific point he will be very clear, but the budget will come out in three weeks. it will be specific. at the end of tonight's speech, i think every american will understand the president is absolutely committed to getting our fiscal house in order, bringing down the deficit.

    >> quickly, if you will, in the wake of the tragic shootings in tucson, there have been calls for tougher gun laws in this country. the mayor of new york city called on the president to use this opportunity to get tough on gun laws and to change the way background checks are done for gun purchasers. will the president directly address gun control in tonight's speech?

    >> i'm not going to preview what he's going to say specifically, but we'll have an empty seat in the chamber. congresswoman giffords has a long way to go. it is a reminder of how we have to work to bring down crime, to build an environment of civility where we can disagree without leading to violence and the president clearly has always stated that he supports the assault weapons ban . i don't want to get too much into the details of tonight, but certainly an empty seat in the house is a reminder for everyone, not just this evening but around the country.

    >> ms. jarrett, thanks for your time this morning.

    >> you're welcome, matt.

    >> you can watch live coverage of president obama 's state of the union tonight at 9:00 eastern/6:00 pacific time here on

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