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The state of our Union is Getting Stronger

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Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address

United States Capitol
Washington, D.C.

9:10 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought -- and several thousand gave their lives.

We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. (Applause.) For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. (Applause.) For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. (Applause.) Most of al Qaeda's top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban's momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.

These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America's Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They're not consumed with personal ambition. They don't obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together.

Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. (Applause.) Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we're in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren't so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.

We can do this. I know we can, because we've done it before. At the end of World War II, when another generation of heroes returned home from combat, they built the strongest economy and middle class the world has ever known. (Applause.) My grandfather, a veteran of Patton's Army, got the chance to go to college on the GI Bill. My grandmother, who worked on a bomber assembly line, was part of a workforce that turned out the best products on Earth.

The two of them shared the optimism of a nation that had triumphed over a depression and fascism. They understood they were part of something larger; that they were contributing to a story of success that every American had a chance to share -- the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.

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, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. (Applause.) What's at stake aren't Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. And we have to reclaim them.

Let's remember how we got here. Long before the recession, jobs and manufacturing began leaving our shores. Technology made businesses more efficient, but also made some jobs obsolete. Folks at the top saw their incomes rise like never before, but most hardworking Americans struggled with costs that were growing, paychecks that weren't, and personal debt that kept piling up.

In 2008, the house of cards collapsed. We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn't afford or understand them. Banks had made huge bets and bonuses with other people's money. Regulators had looked the other way, or didn't have the authority to stop the bad behavior.

It was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work, saddled us with more debt, and left innocent, hardworking Americans holding the bag. In the six months before I took office, we lost nearly 4 million jobs. And we lost another 4 million before our policies were in full effect.

Those are the facts. But so are these: In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than 3 million jobs. (Applause.)

Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005. American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. Together, we've agreed to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion. And we've put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like this never happens again. (Applause.)

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. (Applause.)

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.

Now, this blueprint begins with American manufacturing.

On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world's number-one automaker. (Applause.) Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.

We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back. (Applause.)

What's happening in Detroit can happen in other industries. It can happen in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh. We can't bring every job back that's left our shore. But right now, it's getting more expensive to do business in places like China. Meanwhile, America is more productive. A few weeks ago, the CEO of Master Lock told me that it now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home. (Applause.) Today, for the first time in 15 years, Master Lock's unionized plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity. (Applause.)

So we have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back. But we have to seize it. Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed. (Applause.)

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. So let's change it.

First, if you're a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn't get a tax deduction for doing it. (Applause.) That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home. (Applause.)

Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. (Applause.) From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here in America. (Applause.)

Third, if you're an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you're a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making your products here. And if you want to relocate in a community that was hit hard when a factory left town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers. (Applause.)

So 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. (Applause.)

We're also making it easier for American businesses to sell products all over the world. Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years. With the bipartisan trade agreements we signed into law, we're on track to meet that goal ahead of schedule. (Applause.) And soon, there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. Soon, there will be new cars on the streets of Seoul imported from Detroit, and Toledo, and Chicago. (Applause.)

I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products. And I will not stand by when our competitors don't play by the rules. We've brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration –- and it's made a difference. (Applause.) Over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires. But we need to do more. It's not right when another country lets our movies, music, and software be pirated. It's not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours only because they're heavily subsidized.

Tonight, I'm announcing the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trading practices in countries like China. (Applause.) There will be more inspections to prevent counterfeit or unsafe goods from crossing our borders. And this Congress should make sure that no foreign company has an advantage over American manufacturing when it comes to accessing financing or new markets like Russia. Our workers are the most productive on Earth, and if the playing field is level, I promise you -– America will always win. (Applause.)

I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can't find workers with the right skills. Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job. Think about that –- openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work. It's inexcusable. And we know how to fix it.

Jackie Bray is a single mom from North Carolina who was laid off from her job as a mechanic. Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College. The company helped the college design courses in laser and robotics training. It paid Jackie's tuition, then hired her to help operate their plant.

I want every American looking for work to have the same opportunity as Jackie did. Join me in a national commitment to train 2 million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job. (Applause.) My administration has already lined up more companies that want to help. Model partnerships between businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte, and Orlando, and Louisville are up and running. Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers -– places that teach people skills that businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.

And I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people like Jackie have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help that they need. It is time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work. (Applause.)

These reforms will help people get jobs that are open today. But to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, our commitment to skills and education has to start earlier.

For less than 1 percent of what our nation spends on education each year, we've convinced nearly every state in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning -- the first time that's happened in a generation.

But challenges remain. And we know how to solve them.

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.

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. (Applause.) And 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. That's a bargain worth making. (Applause.)

We also know that when students don't walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. When students are not allowed to drop out, they do better. So tonight, I am proposing that every state -- every state -- requires that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18. (Applause.)

When kids do graduate, the most daunting challenge can be the cost of college. At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. (Applause.)

Extend the tuition tax credit we started that saves millions of middle-class families thousands of dollars, and give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years. (Applause.)

Of course, it's not enough for us to increase student aid. We can't just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we'll run out of money. States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down.

Recently, I spoke with a group of college presidents who've done just that. Some schools redesign courses to help students finish more quickly. Some use better technology. The point is, it's possible. So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can't stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. (Applause.) Higher education can't be a luxury -– it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.

Let's also remember that hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge: the fact that they aren't yet American citizens. Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation. Others came more recently, to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else.

That doesn't make sense.

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 opponents of action are out of excuses. We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. (Applause.)

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, defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away. (Applause.)

You see, an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country. That means women should earn equal pay for equal work. (Applause.) It means we should support everyone who's willing to work, and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.

After all, innovation is what America has always been about. Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses. So let's pass an agenda that helps them succeed. Tear down regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow. (Applause.) Expand tax relief to small businesses that are raising wages and creating good jobs. Both parties agree on these ideas. So put them in a bill, and get it on my desk this year. (Applause.)

Innovation also demands basic research. Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched. New lightweight vests for cops and soldiers that can stop any bullet. Don't gut these investments in our budget. Don't let other countries win the race for the future. Support the same kind of research and innovation that led to the computer chip and the Internet; to new American jobs and new American industries.

And nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we've opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I'm directing my administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. (Applause.) Right now -- right now -- American oil production is the highest that it's been in eight years. That's right -- eight years. Not only that -- last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years. (Applause.)

But with only 2 percent of the world's oil reserves, oil isn't enough. This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy. (Applause.) A strategy that's cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.

We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years. (Applause.) 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. (Applause.) Because America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.

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. (Applause.) 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. (Applause.)

Now, what's true for natural gas is just as true for clean energy. In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world's leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled, and thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.

When Bryan Ritterby was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried that at 55, no one would give him a second chance. But he found work at Energetx, a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan. Before the recession, the factory only made luxury yachts. Today, it's hiring workers like Bryan, who said, "I'm proud to be working in the industry of the future."

Our experience with shale gas, our experience with natural gas, shows us that the payoffs on these public investments don't always come right away. Some technologies don't pan out; some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I will not walk away from workers like Bryan. (Applause.) I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.

We've subsidized oil companies for a century. That's long enough. (Applause.) It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits. Create these jobs. (Applause.)

We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there's no reason why Congress shouldn't at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. So far, you haven't acted. Well, tonight, I will. I'm directing my administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes. And I'm proud to announce that the Department of Defense, working with us, the world's largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history -– with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year. (Applause.)

Of course, the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy. So here's a proposal: Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, more jobs for construction workers who need them. Send me a bill that creates these jobs. (Applause.)

Building this new energy future should be just one part of a broader agenda to repair America's infrastructure. So much of America needs to be rebuilt. We've got crumbling roads and bridges; a power grid that wastes too much energy; an incomplete high-speed broadband network that prevents a small business owner in rural America from selling her products all over the world.

During the Great Depression, America built the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. After World War II, we connected our states with a system of highways. Democratic and Republican administrations invested in great projects that benefited everybody, from the workers who built them to the businesses that still use them today.

In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects. But you need to fund these projects. Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home. (Applause.)

There's never been a better time to build, especially since the construction industry was one of the hardest hit when the housing bubble burst. Of course, construction workers weren't the only ones who were hurt. So were millions of innocent Americans who've seen their home values decline. And while government can't fix the problem on its own, responsible homeowners shouldn't have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief.

And that's why I'm sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low rates. (Applause.) No more red tape. No more runaround from the banks. A small fee on the largest financial institutions will ensure that it won't add to the deficit and will give those banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust. (Applause.)

Let's never forget: Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that do the same. It's time to apply the same rules from top to bottom. No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.

We've all paid the price for lenders who sold mortgages to people who couldn't afford them, and buyers who knew they couldn't afford them. That's why we need smart regulations to prevent irresponsible behavior. (Applause.) Rules to prevent financial fraud or toxic dumping or faulty medical devices -- these don't destroy the free market. They make the free market work better.

There's no question that some regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly. In fact, I've approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his. (Applause.) I've ordered every federal agency to eliminate rules that don't make sense. We've already announced over 500 reforms, and just a fraction of them will save business and citizens more than $10 billion over the next five years. We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill -- because milk was somehow classified as an oil. With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk. (Laughter and applause.)

Now, I'm confident a farmer can contain a milk spill without a federal agency looking over his shoulder. (Applause.) Absolutely. 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. (Applause.) I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury poisoning, 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 your coverage, or charge women differently than men. (Applause.)

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, or start a business, or send their kids to college.

So if you are a big bank or financial institution, you're 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 are not bailing you out ever again. (Applause.) 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 -- those days are over. Today, American consumers finally have a watchdog in Richard Cordray with one job: To look out for them. (Applause.)

We'll also establish a Financial Crimes Unit of highly trained investigators to crack down on large-scale fraud and protect people's investments. Some financial firms violate major anti-fraud laws because there's no real penalty for being a repeat offender. That's bad for consumers, and it's bad for the vast majority of bankers and financial service professionals who do the right thing. So pass legislation that makes the penalties for fraud count.

And tonight, I'm asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorney general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. (Applause.) This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.

Now, a return to the American values of fair play and shared responsibility will help protect our people and our economy. But it should also guide us as we look to pay down our debt and invest in our future.

Right now, our most immediate priority is stopping a tax hike on 160 million working Americans while the recovery is still fragile. (Applause.) 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. Let's get it done. (Applause.)

When it comes to the deficit, we've already agreed to more than $2 trillion in cuts and savings. But we need to do more, and that means making choices. Right now, we're poised to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was supposed to be a temporary tax break for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Or do we want to keep our investments in everything else –- like education and medical research; a strong military and care for our veterans? Because if we're serious about paying down our debt, we can't do both.

The American people know what the right choice is. So do I. As I told the Speaker this summer, I'm prepared to make more reforms that rein in the long-term costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and strengthen Social Security, so long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors.

But in return, we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes. (Applause.)

Tax reform should follow the Buffett Rule. If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent 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 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn't go up. (Applause.) You're the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You're the ones who need relief.

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 don't begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it's not because they envy the rich. It's because they understand that when I get a tax break I don't need and the country can't afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference -- like a senior on a fixed income, or a student trying to get through school, or a family trying to make ends meet. That's not right. Americans know that's not right. They know that this generation's success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to the future of their country, and they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility. That's how we'll reduce our deficit. That's an America built to last. (Applause.)

Now, I recognize that people watching tonight have differing views about taxes and debt, energy and health care. But no matter what party they belong to, I bet most Americans are thinking the same thing right about now: Nothing will get done in Washington this year, or next year, or maybe even the year after that, because Washington is broken.

Can you blame them for feeling a little cynical?

The greatest blow to our confidence in our economy last year didn't come from events beyond our control. It came from a debate in Washington over whether the United States would pay its bills or not. Who benefited from that fiasco?

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.

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; I will sign it tomorrow. (Applause.) 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. (Applause.) Neither party has been blameless in these tactics. Now both parties should put an end to it. (Applause.) For starters, I ask the Senate to pass a simple rule that all judicial and public service nominations receive a simple up or down vote within 90 days. (Applause.)

The executive branch also needs to change. Too often, it's inefficient, outdated and remote. (Applause.) That's why I've asked this Congress to grant me the authority to consolidate the federal bureaucracy, so that our government is leaner, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people. (Applause.)

Finally, none of this can happen unless we also lower the temperature in this town. We need to end the notion that the two parties must be locked in a perpetual campaign of mutual destruction; that politics is about clinging to rigid ideologies instead of building consensus around common-sense ideas.

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. (Applause.) That's why my education reform offers more competition, and more control for schools and states. That's why we're getting rid of regulations that don't work. That's why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program.

On the other hand, even my Republican friends who complain the most about government spending have supported federally financed roads, and clean energy projects, and federal offices for the folks back home.

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's nothing the United States of America can't achieve. (Applause.) That's 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. (Applause.)

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. This transition to Afghan lead will continue, and we will build an enduring partnership with Afghanistan, so that it is never again a source of attacks against America. (Applause.)

As the tide of war recedes, a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo; from Sana'a to Tripoli. A year ago, Qaddafi was one of the world's longest-serving dictators -– a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today, he is gone. And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change cannot be reversed, and that human dignity cannot be denied. (Applause.)

How this incredible transformation will end remains uncertain. But we have a huge stake in the outcome. And while it's ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well. We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings –- men and women; Christians, Muslims and Jews. We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty.

And we will safeguard America's own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests. Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran's nuclear program now stands as one. The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent.

Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. (Applause.)

But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.

The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever. Our ties to the Americas are deeper. Our ironclad commitment -- and I mean ironclad -- to Israel's security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history. (Applause.)

We've made it clear that America is a Pacific power, and a new beginning in Burma has lit a new hope. From the coalitions we've built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we've led against hunger and disease; from the blows we've dealt to our enemies, to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back.

Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn't know what they're talking about. (Applause.)

That's not the message we get from leaders around the world who are eager to work with us. That's not how people feel from Tokyo to Berlin, from Cape Town to Rio, where opinions of America are higher than they've been in years. Yes, the world is changing. No, we can't control every event. But America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs –- and as long as I'm President, I intend to keep it that way. (Applause.)

That's why, working with our military leaders, I've proposed a new defense strategy that ensures we maintain the finest military in the world, while saving nearly half a trillion dollars in our budget. To stay one step ahead of our adversaries, I've already sent this Congress legislation that will secure our country from the growing dangers of cyber-threats. (Applause.)

Above all, our freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it. (Applause.) As they come home, we must serve them as well as they've served us. That includes giving them the care and the benefits they have earned –- which is why we've increased annual VA spending every year I've been President. (Applause.) And it means enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our nation.

With the bipartisan support of this Congress, we're providing new tax credits to companies that hire vets. Michelle and Jill Biden have worked with American businesses to secure a pledge of 135,000 jobs for veterans and their families. And tonight, I'm proposing a Veterans Jobs Corps that will help our communities hire veterans as cops and firefighters, so that America is as strong as those who defend her. (Applause.)

Which brings me back to where I began. Those of us who've been sent here to serve can learn a thing or two from the service of our troops. When you put on that uniform, it doesn't matter if you're black or white; Asian, Latino, Native American; conservative, liberal; rich, poor; gay, straight. When you're marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you're in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one nation, leaving no one behind.

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.

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 somebody 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 are joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END
10:16 P.M. EST

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Following is the full text of Gov. Mitch Daniels' Republican Address to the Nation, as prepared for delivery:

"The status of 'loyal opposition' imposes on those out of power some serious responsibilities: to show respect for the Presidency and its occupant, to express agreement where it exists. Republicans tonight salute our President, for instance, for his aggressive pursuit of the murderers of 9/11, and for bravely backing long overdue changes in public education. I personally would add to that list admiration for the strong family commitment that he and the First Lady have displayed to a nation sorely needing such examples.

"On these evenings, Presidents naturally seek to find the sunny side of our national condition. But when President Obama claims that the state of our union is anything but grave, he must know in his heart that this is not true.

"The President did not cause the economic and fiscal crises that continue in America tonight. But he was elected on a promise to fix them, and he cannot claim that the last three years have made things anything but worse: the percentage of Americans with a job is at the lowest in decades. One in five men of prime working age, and nearly half of all persons under 30, did not go to work today.

"In three short years, an unprecedented explosion of spending, with borrowed money, has added trillions to an already unaffordable national debt. And yet, the President has put us on a course to make it radically worse in the years ahead. The federal government now spends one of every four dollars in the entire economy; it borrows one of every three dollars it spends. No nation, no entity, large or small, public or private, can thrive, or survive intact, with debts as huge as ours.

"The President's grand experiment in trickle-down government has held back rather than sped economic recovery. He seems to sincerely believe we can build a middle class out of government jobs paid for with borrowed dollars. In fact, it works the other way: a government as big and bossy as this one is maintained on the backs of the middle class, and those who hope to join it.

"Those punished most by the wrong turns of the last three years are those unemployed or underemployed tonight, and those so discouraged that they have abandoned the search for work altogether. And no one has been more tragically harmed than the young people of this country, the first generation in memory to face a future less promising than their parents did.

"As Republicans our first concern is for those waiting tonight to begin or resume the climb up life's ladder. We do not accept that ours will ever be a nation of haves and have nots; we must always be a nation of haves and soon to haves.

"In our economic stagnation and indebtedness, we are only a short distance behind Greece, Spain, and other European countries now facing economic catastrophe. But ours is a fortunate land. Because the world uses our dollar for trade, we have a short grace period to deal with our dangers. But time is running out, if we are to avoid the fate of Europe, and those once-great nations of history that fell from the position of world leadership.

"So 2012 is a year of true opportunity, maybe our last, to restore an America of hope and upward mobility, and greater equality. The challenges aren't matters of ideology, or party preference; the problems are simply mathematical, and the answers are purely practical.

"An opposition that would earn its way back to leadership must offer not just criticism of failures that anyone can see, but a positive and credible plan to make life better, particularly for those aspiring to make a better life for themselves. Republicans accept this duty, gratefully.

"The routes back to an America of promise, and to a solvent America that can pay its bills and protect its vulnerable, start in the same place. The only way up for those suffering tonight, and the only way out of the dead end of debt into which we have driven, is a private economy that begins to grow and create jobs, real jobs, at a much faster rate than today.

"Contrary to the President's constant disparagement of people in business, it's one of the noblest of human pursuits. The late Steve Jobs - what a fitting name he had - created more of them than all those stimulus dollars the President borrowed and blew. Out here in Indiana, when a businessperson asks me what he can do for our state, I say 'First, make money. Be successful. If you make a profit, you'll have something left to hire someone else, and some to donate to the good causes we love.'

"The extremism that stifles the development of homegrown energy, or cancels a perfectly safe pipeline that would employ tens of thousands, or jacks up consumer utility bills for no improvement in either human health or world temperature, is a pro-poverty policy. It must be replaced by a passionate pro-growth approach that breaks all ties and calls all close ones in favor of private sector jobs that restore opportunity for all and generate the public revenues to pay our bills.

"That means a dramatically simpler tax system of fewer loopholes and lower rates. A pause in the mindless piling on of expensive new regulations that devour dollars that otherwise could be used to hire somebody. It means maximizing on the new domestic energy technologies that are the best break our economy has gotten in years.

"There is a second item on our national must-do list: we must unite to save the safety net. Medicare and Social Security have served us well, and that must continue. But after half and three quarters of a century respectively, it's not surprising that they need some repairs. We can preserve them unchanged and untouched for those now in or near retirement, but we must fashion a new, affordable safety net so future Americans are protected, too.

"Decades ago, for instance, we could afford to send millionaires pension checks and pay medical bills for even the wealthiest among us. Now, we can't, so the dollars we have should be devoted to those who need them most.

"The mortal enemies of Social Security and Medicare are those who, in contempt of the plain arithmetic, continue to mislead Americans that we should change nothing. Listening to them much longer will mean that these proud programs implode, and take the American economy with them. It will mean that coming generations are denied the jobs they need in their youth and the protection they deserve in their later years.

"It's absolutely so that everyone should contribute to our national recovery, including of course the most affluent among us. There are smart ways and dumb ways to do this: the dumb way is to raise rates in a broken, grossly complex tax system, choking off growth without bringing in the revenues we need to meet our debts. The better course is to stop sending the wealthy benefits they do not need, and stop providing them so many tax preferences that distort our economy and do little or nothing to foster growth.

"It's not fair and it's not true for the President to attack Republicans in Congress as obstacles on these questions. They and they alone have passed bills to reduce borrowing, reform entitlements, and encourage new job creation, only to be shot down time and time again by the President and his Democratic Senate allies.

"This year, it falls to Republicans to level with our fellow citizens about this reality: if we fail to act to grow the private sector and save the safety net, nothing else will matter much. But to make such action happen, we also must work, in ways we Republicans have not always practiced, to bring Americans together.

"No feature of the Obama Presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others. As in previous moments of national danger, we Americans are all in the same boat. If we drift, quarreling and paralyzed, over a Niagara of debt, we will all suffer, regardless of income, race, gender, or other category. If we fail to shift to a pro-jobs, pro-growth economic policy, there will never be enough public revenue to pay for our safety net, national security, or whatever size government we decide to have.

"As a loyal opposition, who put patriotism and national success ahead of party or ideology or any self-interest, we say that anyone who will join us in the cause of growth and solvency is our ally, and our friend. We will speak the language of unity. Let us rebuild our finances, and the safety net, and reopen the door to the stairway upward; any other disagreements we may have can wait.

"You know, the most troubling contention in our national life these days isn't about economics, or policy at all. It's about us, as a free people. In two alarming ways, that contention is that we Americans just can't cut it anymore.

"In word and deed, the President and his allies tell us that we just cannot handle ourselves in this complex, perilous world without their benevolent protection. Left to ourselves, we might pick the wrong health insurance, the wrong mortgage, the wrong school for our kids; why, unless they stop us, we might pick the wrong light bulb!

"A second view, which I admit some Republicans also seem to hold, is that we Americans are no longer up to the job of self-government. We can't do the simple math that proves the unaffordability of today's safety net programs, or all the government we now have. We will fall for the con job that says we can just plow ahead and someone else will pick up the tab. We will allow ourselves to be pitted one against the other, blaming our neighbor for troubles worldwide trends or our own government has caused.

"2012 must be the year we prove the doubters wrong. The year we strike out boldly not merely to avert national bankruptcy but to say to a new generation that America is still the world's premier land of opportunity. Republicans will speak for those who believe in the dignity and capacity of the individual citizen; who believe that government is meant to serve the people rather than supervise them; who trust Americans enough to tell them the plain truth about the fix we are in, and to lay before them a specific, credible program of change big enough to meet the emergency we are facing.

"We will advance our positive suggestions with confidence, because we know that Americans are still a people born to liberty. There is nothing wrong with the state of our Union that the American people, addressed as free-born, mature citizens, cannot set right. Republicans in 2012 welcome all our countrymen to a program of renewal that rebuilds the dream for all, and makes our 'city on a hill' shine once again."

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"President Obama offered common-sense solutions that will create jobs and put our country on a path to economic fairness. The policies proposed by the President will narrow the inequality gap in our country while making America a leader in clean energy technology, and continue the revival of our manufacturing sector. With millions of middle-class families in Nevada and across America making sacrifices every day, Democrats are united behind the principle that millionaires and billionaires should pay their fair share as well.

"To turn these job-creating proposals into reality, we need Republicans to work with us, and refrain from turning straightforward issues into all-or-nothing battles. I am optimistic that this year, Republicans will turn away from the Tea Party, and listen to the American people instead."

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Washington, DC – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following comments Tuesday night following the President's State of the Union Address:

 

"Tonight, the President delivered a campaign speech designed to please his liberal base. The President told the American people that he has a blueprint for the economy, but what he failed to mention is that we've been working off the President's blueprint for three years. And what's it gotten us: millions still looking for work, trillions in debt, and the first credit downgrade in U.S. history.

 

"The President also proposed some ideas tonight that could have bipartisan support. If he's serious about those proposals — if he really wants to enact them — he'll encourage the Democrats who run the Senate to keep them free from poison pills like tax hikes on job creators that we know from past experience turn bipartisan support into bipartisan opposition.

 

"The President can decide he's not interested in working with Congress if his party only controls one half of it. That's his prerogative. He can give up on bipartisanship. But we won't. Our problems are too urgent. The economy is too weak. The future is too uncertain.

 

"Let the President turn his back on bipartisanship. But we intend to do our jobs. And we invite him to join us."

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Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today after President Obama delivered his State of the Union address to a Joint Session of Congress:

 

"Tonight, the President delivered a strong vision to the American people of an economy that's built to last, that ensures a thriving middle class, that promotes fairness for working families, and that reignites the American dream.

 

"The pillars of President Obama's agenda are consistent with the American values of fairness, opportunity, and responsibility, and reflect the commitment of House Democrats to our 'Make It In America' initiative, to rebuilding America, to strengthening our communities, to securing our energy future, and to providing students and workers the skills to succeed.

 

"The President and Democrats agree: America's prosperity only goes as far as the success of our workers, the education of our children, the growth of our small businesses, and the economic security of our middle class. We also share the firm belief in freeing politics from special interests; indeed, only with fairness in our political system can we have fairness for the middle class. Together, we can fulfill the promise of an America built to last."

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Newt Gingrich released the following statement responding to President Obama's State of the Union address:

 

We have a crisis of work in this country and tonight President Obama proposed nothing in the way of policy changes that will get us to robust job creation and dramatic economic growth.

 

Instead, the president described his conviction that his big government is built to last and should be paid for with higher taxes.

 

But bigger government and higher taxes will not lead to jobs and growth. Bigger government and higher taxes will instead lead to more people on food stamps, a situation which the President and his party defend as a fair outcome.

 

Here we have to confront the truth about President Obama. Economic growth and prosperity is not really at the top of his agenda. He will always prefer a food stamp economy to a paycheck economy and call it fair.

 

For the president and a large part of the political class, it's about their power, their right to rule. They just want to take money from Joe the Plumber – the small business people who make over 90 percent of the new jobs -- and redistribute it to the government bureaucracy and their political friends and allies. That's why so much of that nearly trillion-dollar stimulus didn't create jobs but just went into the pockets of special interests who support President Obama and the leadership of the Democratic Party.

 

No better example of this exists than in the crisis of American energy. President Obama and his political allies – not of few of whom love living in energy inefficient houses or driving gas-guzzling luxury vehicles – openly admit they want gas prices to remain high so that the rest of America will learn to live more modestly. They think it's good for the rest of us. Only recently, the president canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline that would have created countless new jobs and helped America on the way to energy independence because he wanted to appease the far left of his party. And yet not a single word on the Keystone XL pipeline tonight.

 

To create jobs and growth in this country, we must start with dramatic tax reform that lowers taxes and maximizes capital investment and job creation. We must return to a dollar as good as gold whose purchasing power is the same in thirty years as it is today. We must dramatically expand American energy production. We must have smarter regulation at the same time we abolish destructive and costly regulatory systems beginning with Obamacare,Dodd-Franks, and Sarbanes-Oxley. And finally, unlike the current administration, we must have faith in job creators.

 

With these policies the state of the union will be much better. They will create an explosion in job creation and lead to robust economic growth and a return to prosperity. Furthermore, a paycheck economy will put us on a path to balanced budgets and paying down our national debt.

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MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A quarter of all the foreclosed homes in America right here in Florida. So, Mr. President, things aren't going so swimmingly. In fact, things are pretty tough for Americans across this country. And in my view, when you got up and said on the "Today" show three years ago that if you couldn't turn around this economy in three years, you'd be looking at a one-term proposition. Well, you're right and we're here to collect.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Now, there's another way in which I thought he was detached from reality last night, and detached from the people of America. He laid a number of prescriptions. Some of them were just, I thought, flat wrong.

But some were actually not bad. He said some of the things that you looked at and said, "Well, that makes some sense." For instance, he said, we really ought to lower the corporate tax rates to be competitive with others in the world, that ours are the highest in the world, except he's done the opposite. He's detached from his own reality what he has done. His words and his actions are so different it's sometimes hard to believe. So he has raised taxes on companies as opposed to lowering them.

And then there was that whole riff about -- about regulation and how regulations burden enterprises and small business. Didn't he realize that under his presidency the rate of new regulation introduction has tripled and he's also laid out a whole series of new regulations that he wants to put in place. So he says he wants to cut regulations even though he's the guy that dramatically increased them.

And then there was the talk about energy. Could you believe that saying he was in favor of a -- of a -- any of the above, he said any of the above energy resources. He wants to take -- use all of these energy resources. It's like, wait a second. Isn't this the guy that's been holding off offshore drilling? Isn't this the guy whose EPA has made it almost impossible for us to get oil out of north and South Dakota and parts of Oklahoma and Texas. Isn't this the guy whose regulators are making it almost impossible to get natural gas out of Pennsylvania?

I was with one senior executive -- chief executive of a big oil, excuse me of a big chemical company. He said we just announced a $20 billion factory in Saudi Arabia. We would have loved to have had it here in the U.S. But we can't count on getting out the natural gas because of government regulators.

This is a President who talks about deregulation even as he regulates; who talks about lowering taxes, even as he raises them; who talks about developing all of our energy resources even as he tries to shut them down. Coal in particular. Regulation after regulation making it almost impossible for coal -- coal users and for coal miners to be successful.

And then, of course, there was his discussion of China. I must admit that I took some pleasure in the fact that he's talking about cracking down on China even as he has not done so. He's had the occasion to label China as a currency manipulator which would allow him to apply tariffs to Chinese products where they have manipulated currency that killed American jobs or where they've hacked into our computers to steal our technology or -- or where they've stolen our intellectual property, our patents, our designs, our know how.

And so even as he's talking about cracking down on China he's left the door wide open to them to come in and run across our countryside stealing our jobs and killing our businesses.

The detachment between reality and what he says is so extraordinary, I was just shaking my head as I watched the TV last night. I think it's time to have somebody who says what he means and means what he says, and if I'm president, that's the kind of president I'll be.

Now when I got up this morning Ann was already awake. And she turned to me. We were still in bed. And she said, you know, the funny thing about listening to Barack Obama is that you not only have to listen to what he says, but you have to think about what he didn't say. My guess is that what he didn't say was probably even more disturbing and detached from reality than some of the things he did say.

What he didn't say last night is that we're spending too much and borrowing too much and that America is on a collision course with debt and that if we don't get off this course, we could sink the American economy and go into calamity. We're, if you will, virtual Titanic and he's saying full speed ahead. The difference, of course, is that with the Titanic they couldn't see the ice bergs.

In this case we can see the ice berg. We see it. We're headed towards it. And he's saying, full speed ahead. It is inexplicable that he can speak to the American people about the State of the Union and not describe the massive deficits we have, the fact that he has put in place almost as much public debt by the end of his first four years, his only four years, he will have put

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Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum made the following comments in reaction to President Obama's State of the Union Address.

 

Rick Santorum said: "Tonight Barack Obama transformed the President's annual State of the Union address into the kick-off of his re-election campaign. From beginning to end, the American people heard more of the same - empty promises and grand platitudes that will do nothing to help the millions of Americans who are unemployed or under employed find a good paying job.

 

Rather than call for decisive action in allowing projects like the Keystone Pipeline or reducing the regulatory burden his Administration has imposed, the President declared war on those who are most successful in our society. Barack Obama should realize he's the President of all Americans, but sadly, he has instead chosen to govern and campaign as the Divider-in-Chief.

 

We need to unite America and create an environment that rewards hard work and success, allowing people the opportunity to rise in society. We need a President who will rebuild the sector that built American economic greatness - manufacturing. My plan is diametrically opposed to that of the President's. Barack Obama speaks of raising taxes and imposing barriers to growth, my plan would eliminate the corporate taxes on manufacturers, eliminate the burdensome regulations of this Administration, and free our market to explore for the energy necessary to grow our economy.

 

Our Party needs to provide a clear contrast with Barack Obama in the general election. Our campaign does just that by focusing a positive message of a resurgent American manufacturing sector, an Administration that will believe in American exceptionalism again, and valuing the dignity of each and every human life. America deserves better than what they heard from Barack Obama tonight. "

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See below for 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul’s response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

 

“Tonight, President Obama once again showed that he does not represent the fundamental change this country needs. Instead of offering solutions to the problems our country faces, the President was intent on delivering a campaign speech, further dealing in the typical Washington political gamesmanship that has gotten us exactly nowhere close to improving the lives of the American people.

 

“In a speech where much of the rhetoric was devoted to job creation, it was strange that President Obama would brag about his job-destroying national health care plan, Obamacare, and the Dodd-Frank bill, which, contrary to the President’s claims, guarantees future taxpayer bailouts of large institutions. Unfortunately, President Obama’s ‘job creation’ policies amount to little more than continuing to allow government bureaucrats to pick winners and losers, which is a recipe for continued economic stagnation.

 

“President Obama claims to want an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. Yet he remains committed to the same old system of debt, deficits, bailouts, and cronyism that created our economic problems. The President speaks of giving us energy independence from unstable nations, yet he refuses to allow the type of development needed to achieve this goal, while at the same time his administration hands out favors to the politically connected – those given to the likes of Solyndra, who fail to produce jobs or energy but succeed in ripping off the taxpayers.

 

Of course, President Obama refuses to even mention the role the Federal Reserve plays in creating an economic system where some are denied a fair shot or even to support my efforts at bringing transparency to the Federal Reserve. Also not mentioned by President Obama is the very crucial need for reining in spending and balancing the federal budget. What is called by some ‘the greatest threat to our national security’ seems not to be of great importance to this President, although I, like many Americans, believe it to be cause for immediate measures, like the $1 trillion in spending cuts that would take place in my first year as President under my Plan to Restore America.

 

“In the area of foreign policy and civil liberties, President Obama’s rhetoric may be different, but the substance of his polices – as shown by his administration’s defense of the TSA’s treatment of my son, Senator Rand Paul, is hardly ‘change we can believe in.’ No wonder more and more Americans, especially young people, are rejecting the phony alternatives of Obama and establishment Republicans and embracing my campaign to Restore America Now.”

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Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney en route Cedar Rapids, IA, 1/25/2012

 

Aboard Air Force One

En Route Cedar Rapids, Iowa

 

11:24 A.M. EST

 

MR. CARNEY: Good morning, everyone. How are you? Welcome to the first leg of the President's three-day trip following his State of the Union address.

 

As you know, I believe, President Obama will visit Conveyor Engineering and Manufacturing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to discuss the American manufacturing pillar he laid out in last night's State of the Union address.

 

Conveyor Engineering and Manufacturing specializes in handcrafted custom machinery for large-scale processing of raw agricultural products used in the ethanol, food service, and related industries. The family-owned business employs approximately 65 workers, and began as a small shop in 1977. Three years ago, Conveyor moved into a new custom-built facility that more than doubled the size of its manufacturing space.

 

Under the new manufacturing policies the President proposed in the State of the Union, Conveyor would receive an increased manufacturing tax credit.

 

At the company, the President will tour the factory floor and deliver remarks to an audience of several hundred, including employees and invited guests.

 

During the three-stop tour, led by President Graig Cone, and operations manager Jeff Baxter, the President will see custom machinery that will be shipped to clients across the country. Prior to his remarks, the President will be introduced by Mr. Baxter, the operations manager.

 

I can also give you a little readout on the next stop, if that would be helpful.

 

Q Yes.

 

MR. CARNEY: The President will visit Intel's Ocotillo campus in Chandler, Arizona, to deliver remarks on American manufacturing. The Ocotillo campus is the site of a new chip manufacturing facility called Fab 42, whose groundbreaking Intel announced when President Obama visited the company's Oregon facility last February.

 

Intel is making a $5 billion investment to build the new Fab 42 facility, bringing thousands of construction and permanent manufacturing jobs to Arizona. When completed in 2013, Fab 42 will be the most advanced high-volume semiconductor manufacturing plant in the world. Intel would benefit from a number of the policies President Obama laid out in the State of the Union address, including tax breaks for high-tech manufacturers and companies that choose to stay or bring jobs back to America.

 

The President will deliver remarks to an audience of several thousand people including Intel employees and guests in front of the Fab 42 construction site. He will be introduced by Preston McDaniel, the senior program manager responsible for all aspects of Intel's Fab 42 factory construction.

 

That is my readout of the upcoming events, at the beginning of this fantastic trip. Questions, please.

 

Q Can you tell us about the Somali pirate operation and what led the President to make those remarks to Leon Panetta last night?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, it is true that the President, when he saw the Secretary of Defense, as well as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was congratulating them on a successful mission because he had been informed at, I believe, 6:43 p.m. of the success of the mission to rescue the American hostage as well as the Danish hostage.

 

What led to it was the President was apprised of the fact that Jessica Buchanan had been taken hostage back on, I believe it was October 25th -- he was apprised of it the next day, of the kidnapping, and was updated on it regularly.

 

I think the Department of Defense has more details on this, but the decision to go ahead with this rescue mission was made because there was information concerning the deteriorating health of Ms. Buchanan, as well as a window of opportunity to try to execute this mission. The President made the decision about 9:00 p.m. on -- let me make sure I get this right -- 9:00 p.m. on Monday night -- that's right -- when his counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, briefed the President in the residence at approximately 9:00 p.m. on Monday night. And the President authorized the operation to proceed.

 

Throughout the day yesterday, the President received updates from Mr. Brennan and was told at 6:43 p.m. that Ms. Buchanan and Mr. Thisted were safe and in U.S. hands.

 

Q Jay, did the President speak to the SEAL team or the SEAL team commander today expressing his --

 

MR. CARNEY: I have no calls to report. He did call -- upon return from finishing the State of the Union address, he called Ms. Buchanan's father at 10:32 p.m. -- John Buchanan -- and informed him of the successful mission.

 

Q Was there any concurrent Situation Room monitoring of this whole thing, like the situation that went on during the bin Laden operation?

 

MR. CARNEY: I would refer you to the Department of Defense for that kind of information. The mission was, as you would expect, monitored very closely throughout --

 

Q I mean, in the White House Situation Room --

 

MR. CARNEY: I think I just said that John Brennan was briefing the President regularly in his offices in the White House.

 

Q How does the President feel today about how the State of the Union went last night, the reaction to it?

 

MR. CARNEY: He feels very positive. He feels -- he felt good about the speech. He felt very satisfied with the way the speech came together and the message about laying out a Blueprint for an America Built to Last was both -- was well received both in the hall and outside, across the country.

So he understands that while many millions of Americans watched the speech last night, that part of his responsibility as President to try to move this agenda forward is to get out and talk about it around the country, which is why he's embarked on this trip today.

 

Q Jay, the President has been talking about "we can’t wait," but yesterday he talked a lot about initiatives that would require congressional action, some of which have failed in the past -- oil subsidies -- cutting oil subsidies, fee on big banks, those sorts of things. What kind of expectation does he honestly have that these things will happen, or are they merely kind of leverage points in order to get other things from them?

 

MR. CARNEY: I’ll make two points, Jim -- I appreciate the question. As we’ve said all along, the President is using every tool in his toolbox to try to advance his economic and jobs agenda. That includes working with Congress on things that require legislative action, but it also includes doing everything he can through executive action. And that was reflected in the State of the Union address last night. That has always been the case, and again, it was reflected last night.

He’s not naïve about the kind of resistance that he’s faced from Republican members of Congress and the obstructionist approach that many Republicans have taken to what is by any clear-eyed definition a very common-sense, centrist agenda. But he’s also optimistic that there will be opportunities this year to move important pieces of business through Congress, not because suddenly Republicans will relent out of charity or goodwill, but because they will be under pressure from their constituents to show that they’re doing something constructive to grow the economy and create jobs.

 

As I’ve said before, every single member of the House of Representatives who’s not retiring is up for reelection this fall, not just the President. A third of the Senate is up for reelection. And each of those elected representatives will have to explain to his or her constituents what they did in this Congress that helped the United States of America, helped the economy, helped create jobs. And if the answer is, I just opposed everything that President Obama put forward because President Obama put it forward, even though a lot of his ideas reflected input from Republicans or had their genesis in bipartisan proposals of the past, I think that’s a hard message to sell.

 

So we’re hopeful that on a broad array of issues, whether it’s helping ensure that Americans -- that every American can refinance, every responsible homeowner can refinance his or her home mortgage loan, or extending the payroll tax cut, or taking the action that the President will talk about today to enhance American manufacturing, make changes that are deficit-neutral to enhance American manufacturing -- is it really the position -- would it be the position of any member of Congress that they're against building the American manufacturing sector in this country, increasing the number of jobs that are available to Americans from that sector of the economy? Again, I’d like to hear the argument for that one.

 

Q On the Buffett Rule, how did the President ultimately settle on 30 percent? And what have you guys thought about to put in place to prevent it from hitting small businesses?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, first of all, I’m not going to give you a schedule of how broad individual tax reform would break down and what impact it would have on capital gains or dividends or -- the principle the President laid out would guide, he believes very strongly should guide, tax reform. The 30 percent makes a lot of sense and it’s not surprising because Warren Buffett, on this issue, himself has made a lot of sense, and it was the figure I believe Mr. Buffett also put forward.

 

Again, it’s a principle, and there’s a lot of data to back it up, that there are a lot of very fortunate Americans, millionaires and billionaires, who pay taxes at a substantially lower rate than many, many millions of Americans of more modest means. The President simply believes that as a matter of principle, that unfairness ought to be changed. And not because it’s class warfare, but because we have important priorities that need to be addressed in this country -- our national security, our investments in education and infrastructure, our commitments to our seniors -- and we are in a situation where we have to be very mindful of our fiscal health.

 

So those are choices that have to be made, because if you don’t insist that the tax code be fairer, that everyone does their fair share, then somebody else has to get stuck with the bill: seniors, middle-class Americans, kids with disabilities.

 

It’s just -- it’s a choice that -- or you just load up on the deficit and the debt. And the President is opposed to that. We’ve heard of a lot of tax plans lately that, among other things, would do the reverse of the Buffett Rule. They would lower taxes for millionaires and billionaires who are paying at a much lower rate than a lot of Americans with moderate incomes or eliminate them entirely. That’s not the right approach. And in addition to doing that -- or as a result of doing that, they would further add to our deficit and debt. The President believes that’s the wrong approach.

 

Q Jay, he had a fairly pointed tone against the lack of bipartisanship in Washington yesterday. Are we going to see that tone continue in these next five stops?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that as we move through these three days. The President feels very strongly that outside of the Beltway, the nation is not nearly as divided as it is in Washington, and that the partisanship for partisanship’s sake is excessive and frustrating for most Americans. They just want to see Washington work on the problems that they face every day.

 

So I think, broadly speaking, the tone that the President adopted last night will be reflected going forward, but it was also a very positive and optimistic tone. He is -- he rejects the idea that there are challenges out there that we can't solve. He rejects the idea that America is somehow in decline. In fact, he feels just the opposite.

 

And the remarkable progress that has been made in the last couple of years since the worst recession since the Great Depression only reinforces his opinion that we’re going to emerge stronger and better and with an economy that's built to last, as opposed to one that's built on ephemeral bubbles like the housing bubble or the Internet bubble or the financial sector bubble.

 

Q The President had some stern words for China last night on its trade practices. Are we going to hear more of that on this trip as he visits factories?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, again, today he’s focusing on what I described before about his -- the manufacturing pillar. Now, there’s an element here to that that has to do with enforcement on trade, as he talked about last night.

 

When the President discussed this during his Asia trip, that everybody has got to play by the same set of rules, and that's important because he knows that when American manufacturers are put on a level playing field, they're the best there are, and they can compete. So obviously that's an important part of his agenda. But I don't want to quantify how much that will be a focal point in today’s events, for example, but it is an important aspect of what he discussed last night.

 

Q How would that proposal on education work, Jay, where the President said that schools -- colleges or universities that raise tuition would see a decrease in federal funding?

 

Q And does that need legislative approval?

 

MR. CARNEY: The President will be discussing that specific proposal on Friday at Ann Arbor, so I’m going to let him give you more details. But the general principle is that if universities and colleges are not doing a good job of keeping costs down, or costs keep going up, then their support from the federal government will go down.

 

He believes that's very important because American -- higher education cannot become an unaffordable luxury for regular Americans because if it does, the impact on our long-term economic prospects will be very negative. So he’s committed to making sure that higher education -- quality higher education remains accessible to Americans of all economic backgrounds.

 

Q But where would the teeth be? I mean, how would you enact --

 

MR. CARNEY: I would let -- I would ask you to wait for the President to provide more details, and we’ll provide more details on Friday. Today’s focus is manufacturing.

 

Q Will he specify the manufacturing rate that he wants to see?

 

MR. CARNEY: Yes, he will specify -- he will give specifics today, and we’ll provide you more details today about actions that Congress could take right away in a deficit-neutral way to enhance American manufacturing.

 

Q Did he talk to you about seeing Gabby Giffords on the floor yesterday?

 

MR. CARNEY: He just said it was wonderful to see her -- briefly when we were on the plane earlier talking about it. And you could tell I thought, personally, when you watched it. But that's all he said -- it was wonderful to see her.

 

Q Jay, back to the 30 percent tax rate. Does the White House believe that Mitt Romney’s recently disclosed taxes and the effective rate of 14-15 percent that he pays provides a foundation for making the argument?

 

MR. CARNEY: The President’s approach on this issue long predates recent developments in the other party’s primary campaign. As you know, he’s been talking about the Buffett Rule for a number of months now. And the President’s ideas are not focused on any individual. They're focused on a general principle that millionaires and billionaires, folks who have had the good fortune of succeeding, thanks to all that this country has to offer, need to do their fair share; that they should not be paying taxes at a lower rate because of loopholes or irregularities in the tax system than average Americans.

 

Q But as you know events propel ideas, so is this an event that propels your idea?

 

MR. CARNEY: Well, again, the idea well predates the event that you’re describing, and again, it’s not targeted towards an individual. If this is a purely sort of campaign question about the President versus a potential Republican nominee, I’d refer you to Chicago.

 

Everybody good? Good. Anything else?

 

Q How are you doing?

 

MR. CARNEY: I'm great. I’m a little tired, but pretty pumped up. It was a great night last night, for a variety of reasons, the speech and the mission.

 

END

11:44 A.M. EST

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Guest LAW

Governor Charles E. “Buddy” Roemer released the following statement following President Obama’s State of the Union remarks:

 

Tonight’s State of the Union address is a time-honored tradition, and I show utmost respect for the Office of the President of the United States and appreciate the words he shared with the country tonight. I do have the responsibility, though, as an American citizen, to ask some tough questions of the President. I have to ask why, Mr. President, Congress has not been able to pass a budget in two years? Why have tax reform, immigration reform, fair trade reform with China, the banking reform - all the policies you talked about tonight – why have none of those things been accomplished, when you’ve had three years in office to make progress on them?

 

Now you say that you want to introduce a new unit to investigate abusive mortgage lending practices that led to the housing crisis, and a ‘trade enforcement unit’ to tell us what we already know about China’s manipulation of currency and unfair trade practices. There’s a big difference between President Obama and myself – I don’t believe that the solution to the government’s problems, and to the peoples’ problems, is MORE government. The solution is better government, and smarter government – adequate legislation to regulate lending, like that which Glass-Steagall provided, and tough action against China’s practices rather than a bloated investigation. Instead, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Obama administration started contracting with one of Newt’s many firms to serve as consultants for this new mortgage unit.

 

I was surprised to hear the President use the words ‘money in politics.’ That’s my issue, and I’ve been talking about it since I declared my candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. But unlike President Obama, I live the message, not taking a single penny from PACs or Super PACs, which distort and corrupt our politics. Limiting stock ownership by elected officials, keeping bundlers from lobbying, banning insider trading by members of Congress – which is illegal for EVERYONE, by the way, not just members of Congress – those are great things, but as long as PACs and Super PACs are buying our elections, they won’t mean anything. How can a president who is planning a billion dollar reelection campaign decry the influence of money in politics?

I have to say, I felt like the President and his speechwriters have been reading my website and brushing up on my speeches, because I’ve never had every idea I’ve been going around the country talking about stolen. Go to my website, and read my speech in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington. Read my speech from the National Press Club. Read my speech from Iowa, where I talk about ending ethanol subsidies. Energy, fair trade, deregulation, immigration reform – the President finally talked about all of them tonight, except for the most important one – corruption. President Obama would have you believe that Washington is broken, but it is not. It is corrupt. And it will be corrupt as long as you are raising money from the same Wall Street one-percenters who got us into the very mortgage crisis you’re now concerned about. After just two years in office, you have reverted to the job you do best – being a full-time campaigner. The policies you proposed tonight, I agree with many of them. But they will never happen until we take the money out of the equation. The country is looking to you, Mr. President. They are looking to you for leadership, and for reform. Not for pretty speeches and gutless action. End the corruption, lest we continue our drift into economic mediocrity.

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I am excited that Made in USA is front and center of the political debate. I have digested the above statements from the 2012 Presidential candidates into a policy that I believe they all should agree with:

 

The President did not cause the economic and fiscal crisis. Banks had made huge bets and bonuses with other people's money. Regulators had looked the other way, or didn't have the authority to stop the bad behavior. But ours is a fortunate land. Because the world uses our dollar for trade, we have a short grace period to deal with our dangers. But we need to grow our economy faster.

 

The new rules 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, or start a business, or send their kids to college. A Financial Crimes Unit of highly trained investigators will begin to crack down on large-scale fraud and protect people's investments. All financial regulation needs to be evaluated on whether it hampers or grows our economy.

 

The President is optimistic that there will be opportunities this year to move important pieces of business through Congress, because Republicans and Democrats will be under pressure from their constituents to show that they’re doing something constructive to grow the economy and create jobs. This will be done by focusing a positive message of a resurgent American manufacturing sector, a government that will believe in American exceptionalism again, and valuing the dignity of each and every human life.

 

American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. We have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back. We have to seize this window of opportunity. Every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here in America.

 

If you're an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you're a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making your products here. And if you want to relocate in a community that was hit hard when a factory left town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers. We also need to help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings.

 

In a Global Market all countries have to play by the same set of rules, so American manufacturers and service companies are put on a level playing field, so they can compete. To crack down on foreign competitors not playing fair, a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be established and charged with investigating unfair trading practices in countries like China. Congress needs to pass Senator Graham's Currency manipulation bill which would allow the United States to apply tariffs to Chinese products where they have manipulated currency that has killed American jobs. We also need to send a strong united message that China has to stop hacking into our computers, steal our technology, intellectual property, our patents, and our designs.

 

The United States must lower the corporate tax rates to be competitive with other countries in the world. Currently our rates are the highest in the world. We also need stop sending the wealthy benefits they do not need, and stop providing them so many tax preferences that distort our economy and do little or nothing to foster growth. We need to remove regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow.

 

 

To turn these job-creating proposals into reality, we need Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the Senate to WORK TOGETHER, and refrain from turning straightforward issues into all-or-nothing battles. They should not legislate poison pills like tax hikes on job creators. America will emerge stronger and better and with a paycheck economy that's built to last, as opposed to one that's built on ephemeral bubbles like the housing bubble or the Internet bubble or the financial sector bubble. A strong paycheck economy will put us on a path to balanced budgets and paying down our national debt.

 

The above policies proposed will never happen until we take the money out of the equation. That is why a law must me made to stop our elected officials from insider trading.

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Guest CREDO

In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced a new task force to investigate the criminal behavior of banks. But this investigation is in danger of being undercut by members of his administration who are actively pushing state attorneys general to approve a terrible deal with the banks that could give them immunity for crimes that have not yet been investigated.

 

Despite the president's announcement of a new task force to investigate Wall Street crimes, officials in the Obama administration are still pushing state attorneys general to cut a terrible deal with mortgage firms.

 

President Obama needs to step in and make sure investigations are not undercut by a sweetheart deal that lets banks off the hook for what appears to be widespread mortgage and foreclosure fraud.

 

Tell President Obama: No sweetheart deal for the banks.

 

The notorious robo-signing scandal is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wrongdoing by the mortgage industry.

 

Through congressional hearings, court cases and investigative reporting, we know of numerous stories of big financial firms engaging in shady mortgage practices, many of which seem on their face to be against the law.

 

But the Obama administration has been pushing the Attorneys General to reach a settlement deal before these issues have been investigated in any meaningful way.

In exchange for what amounts to a slap on the wrist, the banks will get broad immunity from future prosecution.

 

Tell President Obama: No sweetheart deal for the banks.

 

The pressure on the state attorneys general is coming from HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who is a quintessential Wall Street insider.

 

Secretary Geithner, who used to be the President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, has a long history of enabling Wall Street misconduct.

 

So it's not surprising that he would be pushing for a backroom deal that could short-circuit future attempts to investigate the banks, punish people for their wrongdoings, and force banks to change their practices to help borrowers and homeowners.

 

What is a little surprising is President Obama allowing this to happen after his political advisors have said that he plans on running against Wall Street as part of his reelection campaign.

 

In other words, President Obama will tell us he's for Wall Street accountability even as he's allowing his subordinates to sell us out to Wall Street.

 

President Obama can't have it both ways.

 

If President Obama is sincere about wanting to hold the banks accountable, he'll ensure his administration does nothing less that support investigating, prosecuting and punishing unscrupulous banks to the full extent of the law.

 

Tell President Obama: No sweetheart deal for the banks.

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Newt Gingrich released the following statement responding to President Obama's State of the Union address:

 

Here we have to confront the truth about President Obama. Economic growth and prosperity is not really at the top of his agenda. He will always prefer a food stamp economy to a paycheck economy and call it fair.

 

The Rebuttal

 

“First of all, I don’t put people on food stamps. People become eligible for food stamps. Second of all, the initial expansion of food-stamp eligibility happened under my Republican predecessor, not under me. Number three, when you have a disastrous economic crash that results in 8 million people losing their jobs, more people are going to need more support from government.” - President Obama

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