"Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time," Obama said. "For now decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect."
In their response to Obama's speech, Republicans stressed the nation's budget deficit and the level of federal spending, the Associated Press reported.
"Spending has raged out of control and America's debt has ballooned," House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers was quoted saying.
Meanwhile, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell offered a "fresh start" to Obama but said there was a "transcendent challenge of unsustainable federal spending and debt," the AP said.Obama gave his address after taking a ceremonial oath of office on the steps of the Capitol under an overcast Washington sky. The president had been officially sworn by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in the White House Blue Room on Sunday, a small ceremony necessitated by the way the calendar fell this year. The constitution requires that the president take the oath of office by noon on the Jan. 20 following an election. Later, the president and First Lady Michelle Obama waved to crowds as they strolled down Pennsylvania Avenue in the inauguration parade.