As the nation rebounds from eco­nomic dis­aster and faces polit­ical divide in Wash­ington, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama deliv­ered his State of the Union address Tuesday night that put the economy front and center, and stressed inno­va­tion and bipar­ti­san­ship as crit­ical for America to “win the future.” North­eastern Uni­ver­sity fac­ulty across sev­eral dis­ci­plines react to the speech.

William Crotty, Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Public Life:

Given his objec­tives, it was a suc­cessful speech. … My feeling is his objec­tives were to first estab­lish him­self and pres­i­dency as a mod­erate, prag­matic cen­trist. It’s been a dif­fi­cult two years, as the other side has painted him as socialist and lib­eral. That was the basic under­lying mes­sage. The second thing was to repo­si­tion his pres­i­dency for the elec­tion to come, and to set the frame­work for the poli­cies dis­cus­sions and expec­ta­tion. I think he did that well. Third, he put the Repub­lican Party on the defen­sive, and he did this with the unwit­ting aid of Repub­li­cans them­selves. The rejoin­ders by Rep. Paul Ryan and Rep. Michelle Bach­mann were so neg­a­tive and apoc­a­lyptic that his call for a future of hope was a nice con­trast that worked in his favor.

Greg Goodale, assis­tant pro­fessor of com­mu­ni­ca­tion studies:

It was nice to know that the pundit class was wrong as usual. They were expecting a very tepid speech, and I thought the speech was pretty aggres­sive. The obvious par­allel was to Pres­i­dent Bill Clinton’s speech in 1995 after the Democ­rats were shel­lacked in the 1994 elec­tions. That was not what Obama did, and I thought he took a very pro­duc­tive turn. … State of the Union speeches are often long laundry lists of poli­cies the pres­i­dent wants to imple­ment. Obama’s laundry list was shorter than others I remember. He was trying to ele­vate level of debate from spe­cific ques­tions to much broader ques­tions like, ‘What is the role of gov­ern­ment in Amer­ican society?’ There was a very inten­tional move to go big rather than small, and I think that serves the pres­i­dent well.

William Dickens, Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of eco­nomics and social policy:

The invest­ments the pres­i­dent talked about in sci­ence, edu­ca­tion and infra­struc­tures were things most econ­o­mists would agree would help the economy grow at just about any point in time. How­ever, the pres­i­dent nearly ignored the big issue — that there are many unem­ployed people and under­uti­lized resources in the country. A big reason the deficit is high now is because people are out of work, so tax rev­enues are down and social costs to sup­port them are up. Trying to cut the deficit before we put people back to work could be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive, since it will cause us to lose the jobs that are cur­rently funded by the spending we would lose.