At the same time, the president explained how our deficit stifles middle-class opportunities. The president has outlined some first steps that demonstrate his fiscal seriousness. But there is much more to do, and I hope that both parties will tackle our deficit with common purpose—not by proposing small symbolic cuts, but by taking the real action that fiscal responsibility demands: pursuing tax reform and simplification that reduces the deficit and creates jobs; scrutinizing defense spending for waste; and keeping Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid solvent.

Finally, just as the president ended our combat mission in Iraq, he is focused on transitioning to an Afghan-led fight and beginning the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Our troops have put al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership under unprecedented pressure, which both helps to protect America from terrorist attacks and helps the Afghan government to ultimately stand on its own feet. Democrats also remain committed to countering the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and we have made unparalleled strides to stem Iranian nuclear ambitions.

Tonight’s address is an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the unified effort that our common challenges demand.