The White House has released the text of President Obama's State of the Union address, as prepared for delivery:
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:
Tonight I want to begin by congratulating the men and women of the 112th Congress, as well as your new Speaker, John Boehner. And as we mark this occasion, we are also mindful of the empty chair in this Chamber, and pray for the health of our colleague — and our friend — Gabby Giffords.
President Obama will be in upstate New York today touring a General Electric factory and showcasing that company's successes. Mr. Obama just named GE's chief executive the head of a new panel on jobs and competitiveness. GE boss Jeff Immelt has been speaking about the need to focus on manufacturing and increase the country's exports.
While the housing sector's troubles continue to drag down the U.S. economy, manufacturing is doing well, largely because of strong sales overseas.
The exports boom has helped the manufacturing sector grow at a pace three times faster than the rest of the economy. According to federal data released last week, exports rose for the third straight month in November to nearly $160 billion.
Overseas customers are buying more U.S. airplanes, pharmaceuticals, foods, industrial supplies, cotton, computers and more.