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Obama's State of the Union address both bold and modest (+video)

Little in the president's State of the Union address was new – he's touched on the ideas many times before – but he didn't seem to be in a mood to bow to Republicans.

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So what big questions did Obama’s outline of his 2013 agenda raise? Here are a few quick reactions.

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WILL HE GET GUN VOTES? Perhaps the most emotional part of the president’s speech was his call for each of his major gun-control proposals to receive a vote in Congress. That would include a possible ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, expanded background checks, and more federal laws against the transfer of weapons to criminals, among other things.

“Each of those proposals deserves a vote in Congress. If you want to vote no, that’s your choice ... the families of Newtown deserve a vote. Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote,” said Obama.

WHAT DOES HE WANT ON CLIMATE CHANGE? The president cited the scientific consensus on climate change and noted that the weather seems to be notably changing around us. Then he urged Congress to act on a “bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on a few years ago.”

If Congress doesn’t act, he said, he’ll use executive authority to do what he can to limit greenhouse gas emissions and lower use of fossil fuels.

The “market-based solution” he referred to was a so-called “cap and trade” approach to a private market in carbon emissions. Senator McCain (R) of Arizona is no longer in favor of working on that sort of approach and Senator Lieberman is now ex-Senator Lieberman. Change in this area almost certainly will have to come from the White House.

WILL OBAMA TELL CONGRESS MORE ABOUT DRONE STRIKES? To be clear, the president said nothing explicit about the use of unmanned aircraft to attack terror suspects. The word “drone” did not pass his lips. But he pledged to give lawmakers more insight into “direct actions” taken against the most dangerous terror suspects.

“In the months ahead, I will continue to engage with Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention, and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world,” said Obama.

Does this mean the administration might support a secret court of federal judges to oversee drone targets and operations? That’s an idea the some key members of Congress have floated in recent weeks and CIA director-designate John Brennan did not push back against the formation of such a court in his nomination hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week.


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