(CNN) – This year, the term “State of the Union” refers only to the new CNN program anchored by John King, not to President Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress.
Americans may have gotten used to hearing the recognizable phrase over the years, but a new president’s first speech to Congress has not been called a "State of the Union” since 1977. Instead, the event often is referred to simply as a “message” or address to Congress, sometimes on a specific policy topic.
Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush each kicked off their terms with an “economic message.” Jimmy Carter delivered an address on energy policy at the start of his term in 1977. In 1989, George H.W. Bush called his first speech to a joint session of Congress, "Building a Better America."