Obama: Spare education from budget cuts

Obama also called for 100,000 more science and technology teachers by the end of the decade. And he wants Congress to replace the No Child Left Behind law with new measures giving more flexibility to schools.

The president asked for more federal investment in infrastructure as well, saying: “Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans.”

“This isn’t just about a faster internet and fewer dropped calls,” he continued. “It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. … It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device, a student who can take classes with a digital textbook, or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.”

To help pay for these initiatives, Obama wants to eliminate billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to oil companies, get rid of corporate tax loopholes that allow some companies to skate by without paying U.S. taxes, and roll back the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

“Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break,” the president said. “It’s not a matter of punishing their success; it’s about promoting America’s success.”

Republicans controlling the House of Representatives present a roadblock to Obama’s proposals.

“We face a crushing burden of debt,” said Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan in the official Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union speech. “The debt will soon eclipse our entire economy and grow to catastrophic levels in the years ahead.”