I must say -- I am so proud to listen to the vision President Obama has for my country as he laid it all out in detail during the State of the Union address last night. I will also add that I expected no less as usual from President Obama.
The President came out highlighting his populist message that we must all work together to achieve great things and build this country in its time of trial and tribulations. If there was one paragraph that sums the gist of the President's message while covering many new ideas, it would be this:
I'm reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes. No one built this country on their own. This Nation is great because we built it together. This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great because we get each other's backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we're joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.Video of the speech from last night and read the full transcript of President Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address.
The president talked about the struggle Americans are facing, the collapse of the house of cards, the robbing of livelihoods by mortgage companies who sold mortgages to people who couldn't afford, the extortion of average working class American's money by banks that contributed to the lose of more than eight million jobs and about an economy that was in the down fall and in crisis. He highlighted the bold actions he took to grow the economy over the past 22 months where businesses have created 3.2 million jobs, the most private sector jobs since 2005, a manufacturing sector that is creating jobs for the first time in two decades, an Auto industry that was on the verge of losing one million jobs but now back on top as the world's No. 1 automaker (GM) while the entire industry created close to 160,000 jobs. He also noted the bipartisan effort to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion, the signing of the law that will hold Wall Street accountable so that what happened in this recession because of lack of oversight and de-regulation won't happen again while emphasizing his core message that if we act for our common purpose and effort that there is nothing we can't achieve.
The state of our union is getting stronger. And we've come too far to turn back now. As long as I'm president, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.The President was magnificent and in fact received a huge applause when he stated that we are a nation ready to "restore where everyone gets a fair shot, does their fair share, and plays by the same set of rules" and keep the promises alive. He asked business leaders to be patriotic and to ask themselves what they can do to bring jobs back to their country, and made a promise that the Administration will do everything it can to help them succeed. He highlighted his vision to create new jobs in America, discourage outsourcing, and encourage insourcing by taking away the deduction for outsourcing, making companies pay a minimum tax for profits and jobs overseas, and rewarding companies for bringing jobs back to America. He noted that these are the promise we must keep going forward so that every American can have a story of success to share.
No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that's built to last -- an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers and a renewal of American values.
The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What's at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them.The emphasis on the tax code reflected how unfair the code is and the need to change it to make it fairer and simpler for the middle class while making sure millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share at least 30% in taxes, ending subsidies for millionaires, extending the payroll tax cut for working families, allowing responsible homeowners the opportunity to refinance, eliminating tax deductions for those making over $1 million and protecting taxpayers below $250,000 making sure their taxes don't go up. Addressing the current tax code, the President stated:
Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.[...]
We should start with our tax code. Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and everyone knows it. [...]On giving hard-working, responsible Americans a fair shot, the President outlined his plan to" forge new partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train and place 2 million skilled workers", "reforming job training and unemployment insurance to help put more Americans back to work", "attract, prepare, support, and reward great teachers to help students learn", "keep students in high school" and "double work-study jobs and take steps to hold down college costs for middle-class families". Addressing education investment and teachers lack of resouces, the President noted:
[...]Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30% in taxes. And my Republican friend Tom Coburn is right: Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. In fact, if you're earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn't get special tax subsidies or deductions. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98% of American families, your taxes shouldn't go up. You're the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You're the ones who need relief.[...]
[...]My message is simple. It is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. Send me these tax reforms, and I will sign them right away.
At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced states to lay off thousands of teachers. We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives. Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies -- just to make a difference.The President also addressed the importance of immigration reform to the hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students who are not American citizens that were brought to this country as small children but live every day with the threat of deportation. He mentioned about those who came recently to study that are forced to leave after finishing their education against their will "sending them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else". He emphasized how as Americans we must think common sense and take on comprehensive immigration reform to give responsible young people a chance to earn their citizenship so they can contribute to America:
Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let's offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren't helping kids learn.
I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. That's why my administration has put more boots on the border than ever before. That's why there are fewer illegal crossings than when I took office.The President also talked about making the most of "America’s energy resources promoting safe, responsible development of the near 100-year supply of natural gas" that will support more than 600,000 jobs in the next decade while ensuring public health and safety. He spoke about incentivizing manufacturers to make energy upgrades to their facilities that would save $100 billion to the nation's energy bills and reducing our dependency on foreign oil.
The opponents of action are out of excuses. We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let's at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.
We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I'm requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.The President also spoke about reforming regulations and the need to eliminate rules that don't make sense and how the administration has already announced over 500 regulations whereby a few of them will help businesses and citizens save over $10 billion. However, he also noted that he will not back down from enforcing those regulations that protects the environment, our kids, our food and water, insurance companies abuse, etc. Specifically, he stated:
The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don't have to choose between our environment and our economy. And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of 30 years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock -- reminding us that government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.
I'm confident a farmer can contain a milk spill without a federal agency looking over his shoulder. But I will not back down from making sure an oil company can contain the kind of oil spill we saw in the Gulf two years ago. I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury pollution, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean. I will not go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women differently from men.Speaking politely to the Republicans, the President also addressed the gridlock to pass the payroll tax and stop a tax hike on 160 million working Americans when the economy is just showing signs of recovery.
And I will not go back to the days when Wall Street was allowed to play by its own set of rules. The new rules we passed restore what should be any financial system's core purpose: Getting funding to entrepreneurs with the best ideas, and getting loans to responsible families who want to buy a home, start a business, or send a kid to college.
So if you're a big bank or financial institution, you are no longer allowed to make risky bets with your customers' deposits. You're required to write out a "living will" that details exactly how you'll pay the bills if you fail -- because the rest of us aren't bailing you out ever again. And if you're a mortgage lender or a payday lender or a credit card company, the days of signing people up for products they can't afford with confusing forms and deceptive practices are over. Today, American consumers finally have a watchdog in Richard Cordray with one job: To look out for them.
...People cannot afford losing $40 out of each paycheck this year. There are plenty of ways to get this done. So let's agree right here, right now: No side issues. No drama. Pass the payroll tax cut without delay.The President pointed out how Congress must work together and eliminate the inefficiencies of doing business as usual where nothing can pass Congress because of some member of Congress are influenced by outside influence.
I've talked tonight about the deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. But the divide between this city and the rest of the country is at least as bad -- and it seems to get worse every year.President Obama praising a former Republican President, Abraham Lincoln's ideology on the role Government must play in society said, "I'm a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more." In fact, he taunting indirectly some Republican double speakers who complain the most about government spending but "supported federally financed roads, and clean energy projects, and federal offices for the folks back home".
Some of this has to do with the corrosive influence of money in politics. So together, let's take some steps to fix that. Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow. Let's limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact. Let's make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can't lobby Congress, and vice versa -- an idea that has bipartisan support, at least outside of Washington.
Some of what's broken has to do with the way Congress does its business these days. A simple majority is no longer enough to get anything -- even routine business -- passed through the Senate. Neither party has been blameless in these tactics. Now both parties should put an end to it. For starters, I ask the Senate to pass a rule that all judicial and public service nominations receive a simple up or down vote within 90 days.
The point is, we should all want a smarter, more effective government. And while we may not be able to bridge our biggest philosophical differences this year, we can make real progress. With or without this Congress, I will keep taking actions that help the economy grow. But I can do a whole lot more with your help. Because when we act together, there is nothing the United States of America can't achieve.The President addressed his foreign policies as a policy that has made America safe and respected around the world where American leadership can be felt all around the world and that alliances that had been tared by the Bush Presidency is now stronger than ever with countries in Europe and Asia. He also stated because of this stronger alliance, American is able to pass a strong sanction on Iran to ensure that it will not be a nuclear State. He mentioned the end of the Iraq war and the fact that 33,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan will be returning home by the end of this summer.
That is the lesson we've learned from our actions abroad over the last few years.
Ending the Iraq war has allowed us to strike decisive blows against our enemies. From Pakistan to Yemen, the al Qaeda operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they can't escape the reach of the United States of America.In conclusion, President Obama stated his point that we must work as a team.
From this position of strength, we've begun to wind down the war in Afghanistan. Ten-thousand of our troops have come home. Twenty-three thousand more will leave by the end of this summer.
...America is back. ...Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence[around the world] has waned, doesn't know what they're talking about. That's not the message we get from leaders around the world, all of whom are eager to work with us.
One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden. On it are each of their names. Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesn't matter. Just like it didn't matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates -- a man who was George Bush's defense secretary; and Hillary Clinton, a woman who ran against me for president.I am so proud of the bestest President Eva!
All that mattered that day was the mission. No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn't deserve credit for the mission. It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job -- the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the compound; the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs. More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other -- because you can't charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there's someone behind you, watching your back.
So it is with America. Each time I look at that flag, I'm reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes. No one built this country on their own. This Nation is great because we built it together. This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great because we get each other's backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we're joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.
A post State of the Union Conversation with President Obama: Pics of at the SOTU from AP and Reuters: