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Editorial: Obama must put focus on top needs

President Obama said during his State of the Union address Wednesday that America's union is strong and "we must answer history's call."

The major challenge facing Obama is that his administration has not weathered the first year of his presidency very well. While polls show the majority of Americans like the presidency, there is a growing unease about many of Obama's policies.

Granted, some of the challenges, such as continuing deficit spending, the greatest economic recession since the Depression and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, did not start under the Obama administration. However, each presidency has to deal with such challenges left over from previous administrations.

Obama's top priorities during his first year, such as health care reform and climate change, are important and need to be addressed. They are not a top priority for most Americans, who have been seeing continued job uncertainty, growing unemployment, financial crises and other economic challenges on a regular basis over the past two years.

The president needs to refocus his administration and address the problems and issues of most importance to all Americans.

The top priority for most Americans now is simple -- it's the economy.

Obama did a fine job Wednesday in defining the challenges facing America and its citizens. His speech lacked specifics as to how his administration will achieve the needed change to address those challenges. To this point, this administration has often focused upon the wrong priorities.

Obama signaled a new focus Wednesday upon the growing budget deficit. This too will be a challenge as even the Senate on Tuesday would not approve a deficit commission plan. Yet it is a critical issue for the future of our economy.

The biggest challenge facing Obama is the partisan gridlock that has frozen Washington in a permanent state of inaction. Both sides of Congress -- Democrat and Republican -- are unable and unwilling to compromise or make the tough choices America needs at the moment. Obama must find a way to bring the two sides into a working relationship that governs for the people.

A president can with the support of the people bring the appropriate pressure to bear upon Congress to address the nation's critical needs. The major question for Obama is can he once again capture the hopes of Americans that he has squandered in his first year.

Only time will tell.