A feisty President Obama used his State of the Union address Tuesday night to double down on the progressive principles that won him a second term, challenging the GOP to come along for the ride.

The president outlined a sweeping list of political priorities that touched on many worthy goals making preschool available to all children, expanding green energy development, comprehensive immigration reform, gun control and a broad infrastructure repair program.

"It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many and not just the few," the president said. "That it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation."

Unfortunately, the president spent relatively little time on the problem many Americans say they find the most troubling the federal debt.

Yes, he took it on. He acknowledged how spiraling health care costs are driving deficits, and talked about how the nation "must embrace the need for modest reform" of Medicare.

However, the recommendations he offered were fuzzy statements such as asking "more from the wealthiest seniors" and changing the way the government pays for Medicare.

Then, the president pivoted to what he said was the need to close loopholes and deductions for the wealthy and well-off.

If only the nation's budget problems were so easily solved. Democrats, led by the president, must come to the table with meaningful entitlement cuts as a part of a balanced approach to get the country on firmer financial footing.

As the cold, hard math of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission showed, the path there involves additional revenues, but also more painful reductions than Democrats favor.

To be clear, there were many laudable ideas and touching moments in the president's address so many it was hard to keep track.

The president's vision of government was one poised to nurture a nation recovering from wounds inflicted by the economic meltdown.

It was one of compassion for hard working Americans who are struggling, unable to get ahead.

But this vision for prosperity, however admirable, cannot be supported by a government with record debt that cannot even agree on a plan to heal itself.