WASHINGTON (CBS) -- President Obama plans to focus on America's middle class in tonight's State of the Union address. He's also expected to talk about North Korea, Afghanistan and gun violence. Many victims of gun violence are in Washington to hear the speech.
President Obama is putting improving the economy front and center in his State of the Union Address. Presidential senior advisor Valerie Jarrett says, "If you really work hard and everybody gets a fair shot, everybody gets a fair shake, everybody plans by the same set of rules, and if we do that together, our nation will be stronger."
The President is giving the annual speech before Congress and the American people with unemployment hovering around 8-percent. Drastic cuts in domestic programs and military spending are also getting ready to sock the economy if the President and Congress can't reach a deal to stop them. Sen. Mitch MCConnell says, "The first thing many of us will be listening to tonight is the president's plan for controlling spending and replacing the Obama sequester."
The President will make room in the speech to address North Koreas nuclear test and plans to announce 34,000 U.S. troops will be home from Afghanistan by this time next year.
President Obama is also expected to speak about new gun laws with many victims of gun violence in the chamber. Some of those victims stood at a Senate hearing earlier today and will join their lawmakers as guests tonight. But many lawmakers remain opposed to laws banning assault weapons and high capacity magazine. Sen. Ted Cruz says, "In my view, stripping the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens does nothing to prevent criminals from carrying out violent crime."
With Congress so divided, the President will hit the road after his speech to take his agenda directly to the American people.
In the Republican response, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is expected to make the case for how smaller government can benefit the middle class and how less regulation will create more jobs.