(CNN) - Her school has become a symbol of the kind of crumbling infrastructure that President Obama hopes his stimulus bill will improve.
But on Tuesday, Ty'Sheoma Bethea became the face of the issue, when she joined first lady Michelle Obama as her guest for the president's first speech to a joint session of Congress.
The White House invited Ty'Sheoma, a student at the J.V. Martin Junior High School in Dillon, South Carolina, after a letter she sent lawmakers appealing for help rebuilding her school made its way to the president.
The eighth-grader reportedly boarded her first plane with her mother, Dina Leach, from South Carolina to Washington to attend the speech.
The eighth-grader was inspired to write the letter by Obama, who mentioned her school in his first presidential news conference on February 9. After visiting the school, he referenced J.V. Martin as evidence of educational institutions that would benefit from school construction funding in his $787 billion stimulus package.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - More than two dozen guests joined first lady Michelle Obama at the president's speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.
One person on the first lady's guest list was Leonard Abess Jr., a Miami banker who received a $60 million bonus from the proceeds from the sale of shares of City National Bank in Florida and gave it out to his 399 workers and 72 former workers.
During his speech, President Obama said Abess didn't tell anyone about his generosity, but when the local newspaper found out, Abess simply said, "I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn't feel right getting the money myself."
Abess demonstrates the kind of "responsibility" the president has called for from high-profile financial CEOs, the White House said.
Obama contrasted Abess' story with the greed that he said got the country into the problems it faces now.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama pledged Tuesday night to cure Americans from what he called "the crushing cost of health costs," saying the country could not afford to put health-care reform on hold.
"This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes," Obama said in his speech to a joint session of Congress.
Obama pointed to the increasing number of uninsured and rapidly rising health-care premiums, which he said was one reason small business closed their doors and corporations moved overseas.
Obama's prescription for health-care reform included making "the largest investment ever" in preventive care, rooting out Medicare fraud and investing in electronic health records and new technology in an effort to reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy and save lives.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll indicates that two-thirds of those who watched President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress reacted favorably to his speech.
Sixty-eight percent of speech-watchers questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey Tuesday night had a very positive reaction to the president's address, with 24 percent suggesting they had a somewhat positive response and 8 percent indicating they had a negative reaction.
Since the president is a Democrat, the audience watching his speech is a bit out of line with the nation's breakdown by party. The speech audience questioned in the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll is about 8 to 10 points more Democratic than the general public.
(CNN) - For political impact, the President deserves a strong A for his speech tonight - it was inspiring, spoke to the chief concerns most Americans appear to have about his economic program, and explained the bailouts for banks and autos in terms that were very understandable.
It was also the most ambitious speech that we have heard from a President in decades - the first half sounded like FDR fighting for the New Deal, the second half, Lyndon Johnson fighting for the Great Society. Rhetorically, I thought the speech was a B - it had very little music. Clearly, as he himself said, he wanted to speak plainly and until near the end, he avoided soaring language. In short, I don't think it will find its way into an anthology of great speeches, but it will serve the President extremely well with the public.
(CNN) - I give him an A. As flat as his inaugural address was, this speech was the opposite - positive, vigorous, and forward-looking. The language was bipartisan, even if many of his proposals were not. His best moment yet as President - except he needs to get a tie which doesn't vibrate on television.
(CNN) - I'd give the president's performance tonight a solid B: Substantive, not inspirational. Sober, more programs than hope. Lots of promises - details to come.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he'll soon be laying out specifics on how to win the war in Afghanistan and responsibly end the one in Iraq.
"We are now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war," he told a joint session of Congress.
Meanwhile, he said, both Afghanistan and its border with Pakistan will remain a key focus.
"With our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat al Qaeda and combat extremism," Obama said. "Because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens half a world away."
He said his budget will pay for more soldiers and Marines, increase their pay and improve veterans' benefits.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama said Tuesday that his administration has identified $2 trillion in government spending cuts that can be made over the next decade.
Speaking in his first address to a joint session of Congress, Obama said the cuts were identified as his staff has gone "line by line" over the federal budget, with a goal of cutting the federal deficit in half by the end of his first term.
"In this budget, we will end education programs that don't work and end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don't need them," Obama said.
Watch: Obama lays out budget goals
"We'll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq, and reform our defense budget so that we're not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don't use."
He also said he will target waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare system and "restore fairness and balance" to the tax code.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Theater: when President Obama said we have to do something about the deficit so we don’t pass it on to our children, the Republicans responded with their heartiest cheer yet - so much so it made the president laugh. Next sentence, he talked about the debt “we inherited,” and all the Democrats lept to their feet to cheer with gusto.