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State of the union 2012: live coverage of Obama’s address

Follow live coverage of President Obama’s 2012 state of the union address to Congress, promising ‘No bailouts, no handouts and no cop-outs’

8.56pm: The joint session of Congress has risen as one for a standing ovation as congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords enters.

Giffords was shot in the head in Tuscon last January, and although she has by all accounts made a remarkable recovery, she has recently announced that she is stepping down from Congress.

8.53pm: While we are waiting, here’s some background on the usual TV viewing figures for the state of the union.

And why not, here’s the text of George Washington’s very first state of the union address, which includes this:

Uniformity in the currency, weights, and measures of the United States is an object of great importance, and will, I am persuaded, be duly attended to.

Will Obama do the same? Doubtful. He probably yearns to impose a European socialist style metric system (I’m channeling Newt Gingrich’s brain there).

8.51pm: Speaker of the House John Boehner is gavelling everyone to order, and as usual he sounds as if he’s knocked back a couple of stiff ones before stepping up to the podium. Not that he has, it’s just his manner. But even if he had, well good for him.

8.49pm: C-Span is the best channel to watch the state of the union on, because it just shows a live feed from the floor of Congress without commentary, and you get to look clever by saying “Oh look there’s that guy from whatever” and so on.

It’s basically prom night for elderly politicians.

8.45pm: Among the many guests of the president and first lady tonight is an unusual one: Warren Buffett’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek. Why?

Well, Debbie Bosanek has become a figure of some national note, after her billionaire investor boss once suggested it was absurd that he should pay a lower tax rate than his secretary:

The face of the “Buffett Rule,” the tax policy President Obama is pushing, inspired by Buffett’s assertion that he shouldn’t pay a lower tax rate than his secretary does, says she doesn’t have anything to add to a tax-policy debate.

8.40pm: If you refresh your browser, you’ll be able to see live video of the state of the union above on this page.

8.30pm: And the lucky member of the cabinet – who gets to stay behind in a secure location in case something dreadful happens and wipes out the American political class in Congress – is former Iowa governor and current agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack.

So in the worst case scenario, there’s America’s 45th president.

8.15pm: Not to be outdone, the Republicans have released portions of Mitch Daniels’s pre-butal from his official response to the state of the union:

It’s not fair and it’s not true for the President to attack Republicans in Congress as obstacles on these questions. They and they alone have passed bills to reduce borrowing, reform entitlements, and encourage new job creation, only to be shot down nearly time and again by the President and his Democrat Senate allies.

No feature of the Obama Presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others. As in previous moments of national danger, we Americans are all in the same boat. If we drift, quarreling and paralyzed, over a Niagara of debt, we will all suffer, regardless of income, race, gender, or other category. If we fail to shift to a pro-jobs, pro-growth economic policy, there will never be enough public revenue to pay for our safety net, national security, or whatever size government we decide to have.

Mitch Daniels isn’t exactly the most dynamic speaker in the world. In fact he’s usually not even the most dynamic speaker in an empty room. But doing the reply is tough: none of the trappings of power, and all the networks cut away after about two minutes – faster if they can manage it.

8.05pm: We already have excerpts released by the White House ahead of the speech tonight – and the strongest line so far comes when Obama says: “No bailouts, no handouts and no cop-outs”:

Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.

The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them.

As long as I’m president, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.

No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.

Let’s never forget: Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that does the same. It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts and no cop-outs. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.

8pm: President Obama’s 2012 state of the union address tonight comes as the first salvos of the US presidential campaign are being fired. So far it has been the Republican contenders who have been dishing it out – and tonight is Barack Obama’s first big chance to seize the nation’s attention.

Tonight Obama has to walk the line between being the nation’s commander in chief making new proposals and as an incumbent running for re-election in 10 months time, with the weak American economy once again hanging over proceedings.

The address itself – a requirement of the president mandated in the US constitution – starts at 9pm ET (2am GMT), when Obama address the joint houses of Congress as well as members of his administration, cabinet and the US supreme court.

But the real audience is the huge audiencetens of millions viewers watching at home, with the address carried live on the major networks – ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC – and the Spanish language channels Telemundo and Univision, as well as the cable news channels CNN, CNBC, Fox News and MSNBC.

Last year’s state of the union address reached 48 million people, according to Neilsen, while George Bush’s final address in 2007 drew 32 million.

We’ll be live blogging the speech itself and all the reaction, including the official response from Mitch Daniels, the Republican governor of Indiana, and the GOP presidential candidates, including Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

Feel free to leave your comments below. Before we get underway, catch up with the action on the Republican campaign trail with our live blog of the day’s activity.

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