Barack Obama's State of the Union address: What you need to know

Dina Rickman@dinarickman
Wednesday 21 January 2015 10:00

US president Barack Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union (SOTU) address last night. This is what you need to know:

What did Obama actually say?

Obama unveiled a series of tax-and-spend policies including raising taxes on the rich in a pitch aimed at middle class Americans. He also said the "shadow" of economic crisis had passed. Many of the changes he set out are unlikely to become law, as The Independent's US editor David Usborne notes:

While even the White House knows that there is zero chance of Republicans in Congress approving his taxation changes, it is also confident that the pitch for relief for the poor and middle class will resonate with many Americans.

Obama also condemned the persecution of LGBT individuals and discussed closing Guantanamo Bay, expanding access to higher education and defeating Isis terrorists.

What didn't he say?

Three topics were conspicuous by their absence: North Korea, immigration reform and gun control.

Obama had a great ad-libbed comeback to Republican heckles

Obama: I have no more campaigns to run

[Republican applause]

Obama: ... I know because I won both of them.

There were tributes to victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks

Members of Congress waved yellow pencils to honour the dead.

Michelle Obama wore the same outfit as Alicia Florrick from the Good Wife

We wouldn't normally mention the First Lady's attire, but this is clearly relevant.

Obama used these words for the first time ever in an SOTU speech:





But in general, words are out and emoji are in:

The Guardian and the Huffington Post both 'translated' the speech:

How did the Republicans react?

This was Republican speaker John Boehner's face when Obama mentioned gay marriage:

And this was what Republican Bobby Jindal, whose grasp on grammar is about as solid as his knowledge of British no-go zones, had to say:

Republican Senator Ted Cruz also botched his response:


And Rand Paul actually tweeted this:

More: Read the full speech

More: What you need to know about the US midterm elections