Comments on the State of the Union
The full text of the State of the Union address and interspersed commentary is provided below the fold. The response provided by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell in the chamber of the oldest legislative body in America was brilliant and a stark contrast to the address by President Obama. In Richmond, an address of optimism belonging to a free people who are capable, self sufficient and generous and who can govern themselves at government which is close to and response to them. In Washington, an address of a petty tyrant, that national government is the only answer to all problems for a people who are dependent serfs. Comments are shown offset by breaks and contrasting color.
Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the Presidentshall give to Congress information about the state of our union. Fortwo hundred and twenty years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty.They have done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. Andthey have done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments ofgreat strife and great struggle.
It's tempting to look back on these moments and assume that ourprogress was inevitable – that America was always destined to succeed.But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run and the Allies firstlanded at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the marketcrashed on Black Tuesday and civil rights marchers were beaten onBloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. These were timesthat tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of ourunion. And despite all our divisions and disagreements; our hesitationsand our fears; America prevailed because we chose to move forward asone nation, and one people.
Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer history's call.
One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked bysevere recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and agovernment deeply in debt. Experts from across the political spectrumwarned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression. So weacted – immediately and aggressively. And one year later, the worst ofthe storm has passed.
But the devastation remains. One in ten Americans still cannot findwork. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Smalltowns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. For thosewho had already known poverty, life has become that much harder.
This recession has also compounded the burdens that America'sfamilies have been dealing with for decades – the burden of workingharder and longer for less; of being unable to save enough to retire orhelp kids with college.
So I know the anxieties that are out there right now. They're notnew. These struggles are the reason I ran for President. Thesestruggles are what I've witnessed for years in places like Elkhart,Indiana and Galesburg, Illinois. I hear about them in the letters thatI read each night. The toughest to read are those written by children –asking why they have to move from their home, or when their mom or dadwill be able to go back to work.
For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fastenough. Some are frustrated; some are angry. They don't understand whyit seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded but hard work onMain Street isn't; or why Washington has been unable or unwilling tosolve any of our problems. They are tired of the partisanship and theshouting and the pettiness. They know we can't afford it. Not now.
So we face big and difficult challenges. And what the Americanpeople hope – what they deserve – is for all of us, Democrats andRepublicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbingweight of our politics. For while the people who sent us here havedifferent backgrounds, different stories and different beliefs, theanxieties they face are the same. The aspirations they hold are shared.
=========================The people do not have shared aspirations. Some have aspirations that the rest will pay for their health care, mortgage, rent, food, education etc. The rest hope to pay for these things themselves. If the first group succeeds the second cannot, and for the second group higher taxes, fewer choices, diminished freedom destroys their hope and ability to give their children a better life.================================
A job that pays the bills. A chance to get ahead. Most of all, theability to give their children a better life.
You know what else they share? They share a stubborn resilience inthe face of adversity. After one of the most difficult years in ourhistory, they remain busy building cars and teaching kids; startingbusinesses and going back to school. They're coaching little league andhelping their neighbors. As one woman wrote me, "We are strained buthopeful, struggling but encouraged."
It is because of this spirit – this great decency and great strength– that I have never been more hopeful about America's future than I amtonight. Despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up.We do not quit. We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit.In this new decade, it's time the American people get a government thatmatches their decency; that embodies their strength.
And tonight, I'd like to talk about how together, we can deliver on that promise.
It begins with our economy.
Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the samebanks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And ifthere's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, it's thatwe all hated the bank bailout. I hated it. You hated it. It was aboutas popular as a root canal.
But when I ran for President, I promised I wouldn't just do what waspopular – I would do what was necessary. And if we had allowed themeltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what itis today. More businesses would certainly have closed. More homes wouldhave surely been lost.
So I supported the last administration's efforts to create thefinancial rescue program. And when we took the program over, we made itmore transparent and accountable. As a result, the markets are nowstabilized, and we have recovered most of the money we spent on thebanks.
To recover the rest, I have proposed a fee on the biggest banks. Iknow Wall Street isn't keen on this idea, but if these firms can affordto hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay backthe taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.
As we stabilized the financial system, we also took steps to get oureconomy growing again, save as many jobs as possible, and helpAmericans who had become unemployed.
That's why we extended or increased unemployment benefits for morethan 18 million Americans; made health insurance 65% cheaper forfamilies who get their coverage through COBRA; and passed 25 differenttax cuts.
Let me repeat: we cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95% of workingfamilies. We cut taxes for small businesses. We cut taxes forfirst-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care fortheir children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying forcollege. As a result, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas,and food, and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keepmore workers. And we haven't raised income taxes by a single dime on asingle person. Not a single dime.
==========================By letting the tax cuts expire you have raised taxes on every single person and by hundreds of dollars not dimes. ==========================
Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americansworking right now who would otherwise be unemployed. 200,000 work inconstruction and clean energy. 300,000 are teachers and other educationworkers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctionalofficers, and first responders. And we are on track to add another oneand a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year.
The plan that has made all of this possible, from the tax cuts tothe jobs, is the Recovery Act. That's right – the Recovery Act, alsoknown as the Stimulus Bill. Economists on the left and the right saythat this bill has helped saved jobs and avert disaster. But you don'thave to take their word for it.
Talk to the small business in Phoenix that will triple its workforce because of the Recovery Act.
Talk to the window manufacturer in Philadelphia who said he used tobe skeptical about the Recovery Act, until he had to add two more workshifts just because of the business it created.
Talk to the single teacher raising two kids who was told by herprincipal in the last week of school that because of the Recovery Act,she wouldn't be laid off after all.
There are stories like this all across America. And after two yearsof recession, the economy is growing again. Retirement funds havestarted to gain back some of their value. Businesses are beginning toinvest again, and slowly some are starting to hire again.
But I realize that for every success story, there are other stories,of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing wheretheir next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week afterweek and hear nothing in response. That is why jobs must be our numberone focus in 2010, and that is why I am calling for a new jobs billtonight.
Now, the true engine of job creation in this country will always beAmerica's businesses. But government can create the conditionsnecessary for businesses to expand and hire more workers.
We should start where most new jobs do – in small businesses,companies that begin when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, ora worker decides its time she became her own boss.
Through sheer grit and determination, these companies have weatheredthe recession and are ready to grow. But when you talk to smallbusiness owners in places like Allentown, Pennsylvania or Elyria, Ohio,you find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again,they are mostly lending to bigger companies. But financing remainsdifficult for small business owners across the country.
So tonight, I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money WallStreet banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give smallbusinesses the credit they need to stay afloat. I am also proposing anew small business tax credit – one that will go to over one millionsmall businesses who hire new workers or raise wages. While we're atit, let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small businessinvestment; and provide a tax incentive for all businesses, large andsmall, to invest in new plants and equipment.
Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructureof tomorrow. From the first railroads to the interstate highway system,our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europeor China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories thatmanufacture clean energy products.
Tomorrow, I'll visit Tampa, Florida, where workers will soon breakground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act. Thereare projects like that all across this country that will create jobsand help our nation move goods, services, and information. We shouldput more Americans to work building clean energy facilities, and giverebates to Americans who make their homes more energy efficient, whichsupports clean energy jobs. And to encourage these and other businessesto stay within our borders, it's time to finally slash the tax breaksfor companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those tax breaks tocompanies that create jobs in the United States of America.
The House has passed a jobs bill that includes some of these steps.As the first order of business this year, I urge the Senate to do thesame. People are out of work. They are hurting. They need our help. AndI want a jobs bill on my desk without delay.
But the truth is, these steps still won't make up for the sevenmillion jobs we've lost over the last two years. The only way to moveto full employment is to lay a new foundation for long-term economicgrowth, and finally address the problems that America's families haveconfronted for years.
We cannot afford another so-called economic "expansion" like the onefrom last decade – what some call the "lost decade" – where jobs grewmore slowly than during any prior expansion; where the income of theaverage American household declined while the cost of health care andtuition reached record highs;
==============================Tuition, health care and housing prices reached record highs only as the result of government interference in the market place.
where prosperity was built on a housingbubble and financial speculation.
From the day I took office, I have been told that addressing ourlarger challenges is too ambitious – that such efforts would be toocontentious, that our political system is too gridlocked, and that weshould just put things on hold for awhile.
For those who make these claims, I have one simple question:
How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold?
You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even asthe problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China's not waiting to revampits economy. Germany's not waiting. India's not waiting. These nationsaren't standing still. These nations aren't playing for second place.They're putting more emphasis on math and science. They're rebuildingtheir infrastructure. They are making serious investments in cleanenergy because they want those jobs.
Well I do not accept second-place for the United States of America.
================================Or first place. In fact I would prefer last place, but I am not quite there yet. I still need cap and tax to get there.=================================
As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debatesmay be, it's time to get serious about fixing the problems that arehampering our growth.
One place to start is serious financial reform. Look, I am notinterested in punishing banks, I'm interested in protecting oureconomy. A strong, healthy financial market makes it possible forbusinesses to access credit and create new jobs. It channels thesavings of families into investments that raise incomes. But that canonly happen if we guard against the same recklessness that nearlybrought down our entire economy.
We need to make sure consumers and middle-class families have theinformation they need to make financial decisions. We can't allowfinancial institutions, including those that take your deposits, totake risks that threaten the whole economy.
=====================Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, AIG, Fannie and Freddie all were not deposit taking institutions. It was their failure that threatened the economy. How can a tax on banks improve the stability of the financial system? ==================
The House has already passed financial reform with many of thesechanges. And the lobbyists are already trying to kill it. Well, wecannot let them win this fight. And if the bill that ends up on my deskdoes not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back.
Next, we need to encourage American innovation. Last year, we madethe largest investment in basic research funding in history – aninvestment that could lead to the world's cheapest solar cells ortreatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched.And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can seethe results of last year's investment in clean energy – in the NorthCarolina company that will create 1200 jobs nationwide helping to makeadvanced batteries; or in the California business that will put 1,000people to work making solar panels.
But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need moreproduction, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a newgeneration of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. Itmeans making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oiland gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuelsand clean coal technologies. And yes, it means passing a comprehensiveenergy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make cleanenergy the profitable kind of energy in America.
I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. Thisyear, I am eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate. Iknow there have been questions about whether we can afford such changesin a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree withthe overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But even if youdoubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency andclean energy are the right thing to do for our future – because thenation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation thatleads the global economy. And America must be that nation.
Third, we need to export more of our goods. Because the moreproducts we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we supportright here in America. So tonight, we set a new goal: We will doubleour exports over the next five years, an increase that will support twomillion jobs in America. To help meet this goal, we're launching aNational Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businessesincrease their exports, and reform export controls consistent withnational security.
We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitorsare. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign tradedeals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores.=================================Free nations do not trade. Companies and individuals trade. Governments can only negotiate to remove governmental barriers to free trade between individuals and enterprises.==============================
But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so ourtrading partners play by the rules. And that's why we will continue toshape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and why we willstrengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like SouthKorea, Panama, and Colombia.
Fourth, we need to invest in the skills and education of our people.
This year, we have broken through the stalemate between left andright by launching a national competition to improve our schools. Theidea here is simple: instead of rewarding failure, we only rewardsuccess. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform –reform that raises student achievement, inspires students to excel inmath and science, and turns around failing schools that steal thefuture of too many young Americans, from rural communities toinner-cities. In the 21st century, one of the best anti-povertyprograms is a world-class education. In this country, the success ofour children cannot depend more on where they live than their potential.==============================But meanwhile he did not oppose ending vouchers in D.C. and condemning the students their to attend their failed school system.===============================When we renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we willwork with Congress to expand these reforms to all fifty states. Still,in this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job.I urge the Senate to follow the House and pass a bill that willrevitalize our community colleges, which are a career pathway to thechildren of so many working families. To make college more affordable,this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer-subsidies that goto banks for student loans. Instead, let's take that money and givefamilies a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increasePell Grants. And let's tell another one million students that when theygraduate, they will be required to pay only ten percent of their incomeon student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after twentyyears
=============================Profligacy writ large. Encourage students to incur debts which are wildly out of proportion the the earnings their education would enable, and then write the debt off when it is unpaid.=======================================
– and forgiven after ten years if they choose a career in publicservice. Because in the United States of America, no one should gobroke because they chose to go to college. And it's time for collegesand universities to get serious about cutting their own costs – becausethey too have a responsibility to help solve this problem.
Now, the price of college tuition is just one of the burdens facingthe middle-class. That's why last year I asked Vice President Biden tochair a task force on Middle-Class Families. That's why we're nearlydoubling the child care tax credit, and making it easier to save forretirement by giving every worker access to a retirement account andexpanding the tax credit for those who start a nest egg. That's whywe're working to lift the value of a family's single largest investment– their home. The steps we took last year to shore up the housingmarket have allowed millions of Americans to take out new loans andsave an average of $1,500 on mortgage payments.
================================Save an average of $1,500 on mortgage payments? A year? A month? Life of mortgage? =============================
This year, we will stepup re-financing so that homeowners can move into more affordablemortgages. And it is precisely to relieve the burden on middle-classfamilies that we still need health insurance reform.
Now let's be clear – I did not choose to tackle this issue to getsome legislative victory under my belt. And by now it should be fairlyobvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics.
I took on health care because of the stories I've heard
=======================His national health care reform plan is based on stories he has heard?======================
from Americans with pre-existing conditions whose lives depend on gettingcoverage; patients who've been denied coverage; and families – eventhose with insurance – who are just one illness away from financialruin.
After nearly a century of trying, we are closer than ever tobringing more security to the lives of so many Americans. The approachwe've taken would protect every American from the worst practices ofthe insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsuredAmericans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in acompetitive market. It would require every insurance plan to coverpreventive care. And by the way, I want to acknowledge our First Lady,Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tacklethe epidemic of childhood obesity and make our kids healthier.==============================Mrs. Obama is appointed fat czar. ==============================
Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who haveinsurance to keep their doctor and their plan. It would reduce costsand premiums for millions of families and businesses. And according tothe Congressional Budget Office – the independent organization thatboth parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress – ourapproach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion overthe next two decades.==========================His approach is cut Medicare by $500 billion per year. For 20 years that is $10 trillion. How come the savings will be just $1 trillion for 20 years?==========================
Still, this is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, themore skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for notexplaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that withall the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americanswondering what's in it for them.
But I also know this problem is not going away. By the time I'mfinished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their healthinsurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow.Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Smallbusiness owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. I will notwalk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in thischamber.
As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at theplan we've proposed. There's a reason why many doctors, nurses, andhealth care experts who know our system best consider this approach avast improvement over the status quo. But if anyone from either partyhas a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down thedeficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stopinsurance company abuses, let me know. Here's what I ask of Congress,though: Do not walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are soclose. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for theAmerican people.
Now, even as health care reform would reduce our deficit, it's notenough to dig us out of a massive fiscal hole in which we findourselves. It's a challenge that makes all others that much harder tosolve, and one that's been subject to a lot of political posturing.
So let me start the discussion of government spending by setting therecord straight. At the beginning of the last decade, America had abudget surplus of over $200 billion. By the time I took office, we hada one year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of notpaying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drugprogram.=======================Is Obama proposing doing away with Medicare Part D? Seniors should be concerned. First death panels, now no drugs. =======================
On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillionhole in our budget. That was before I walked in the door.
Now if we had taken office in ordinary times, I would have likednothing more than to start bringing down the deficit. But we tookoffice amid a crisis, and our efforts to prevent a second Depressionhave added another $1 trillion to our national debt.
I am absolutely convinced that was the right thing to do. Butfamilies across the country are tightening their belts and making toughdecisions. The federal government should do the same. So tonight, I'mproposing specific steps to pay for the $1 trillion that it took torescue the economy last year.
==================================Wipe out the $1 trillion deficit, $15 billion at a time for 3 years. This does not add up. Did the President take any of those math courses he is promoting?
Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending forthree years. Spending related to our national security, Medicare,Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. But all otherdiscretionary government programs will. Like any cash-strapped family,we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrificewhat we don't. And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will.
We will continue to go through the budget line by line to eliminateprograms that we can't afford and don't work. We've already identified$20 billion in savings for next year. To help working families, we willextend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, wewill not continue tax cuts for oil companies, investment fund managers,and those making over $250,000 a year. We just can't afford it.
Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we will stillface the massive deficit we had when I took office. More importantly,the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue toskyrocket. That's why I've called for a bipartisan, Fiscal Commission,modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat KentConrad. This can't be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets uspretend we solved a problem. The Commission will have to provide aspecific set of solutions by a certain deadline. Yesterday, the Senateblocked a bill that would have created this commission. So I will issuean executive order that will allow us to go forward, because I refuseto pass this problem on to another generation of Americans. And whenthe vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-golaw that was a big reason why we had record surpluses in the 1990s.
=================The reaction to this was just derisive laughter. The president was openly mocked at this point. ================
I know that some in my own party will argue that we cannot addressthe deficit or freeze government spending when so many are stillhurting. I agree, which is why this freeze will not take effect untilnext year, when the economy is stronger.
===================The 2010 budget has already been signed without any freeze. That is why any freeze cannot take place until 2011. ===================
But understand – if we do nottake meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets,increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery – all ofwhich could have an even worse effect on our job growth and familyincomes.
From some on the right, I expect we'll hear a different argument –that if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cutsfor wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, and maintain thestatus quo on health care, our deficits will go away. The problem is,that's what we did for eight years. That's what helped lead us intothis crisis. It's what helped lead to these deficits. And we cannot doit again.
Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominatedWashington for decades, it's time to try something new. Let's invest inour people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Let's meet ourresponsibility to the citizens who sent us here. Let's try common sense.
To do that, we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit ofdollars right now. We face a deficit of trust – deep and corrosivedoubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. Toclose that credibility gap we must take action on both ends ofPennsylvania Avenue to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to doour work openly; and to give our people the government they deserve.
That's what I came to Washington to do. That's why – for the firsttime in history – my Administration posts our White House visitorsonline. And that's why we've excluded lobbyists from policy-making jobsor seats on federal boards and commissions.
=====================There may be a job or seat that has not been filled by a lobbyist. If so I have not heard of it. But to say that lobbyists have been excluded from policy making jobs is a flat lie. ====================
But we can't stop there. It's time to require lobbyists to discloseeach contact they make on behalf of a client with my Administration orCongress. And it's time to put strict limits on the contributions thatlobbyists give to candidates for federal office. Last week, the SupremeCourt reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for specialinterests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit inour elections. Well I don't think American elections should bebankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreignentities. They should be decided by the American people, and that's whyI'm urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to rightthis wrong.==========================Congress shall make no law respecting freedom of speech. What part of no do you not understand Mr. President. Your oath was to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution. When you disrespect the Supreme Court sitting right in front of you, you make yourself look the petty tyrant.==========================
I'm also calling on Congress to continue down the path of earmarkreform.============================That omnibus spending bill with 8000+ earmarks was the path or earmark reform?============================
You have trimmed some of this spending and embraced somemeaningful change. But restoring the public trust demands more. Forexample, some members of Congress post some earmark requests online.Tonight, I'm calling on Congress to publish all earmark requests on asingle website before there's a vote so that the American people cansee how their money is being spent.
Of course, none of these reforms will even happen if we don't also reform how we work with one another.
Now, I am not naïve. I never thought the mere fact of my electionwould usher in peace, harmony, and some post-partisan era. I knew thatboth parties have fed divisions that are deeply entrenched. And on someissues, there are simply philosophical differences that will alwayscause us to part ways.===================================Slavery versus freedom is not a philosophical difference. We will always be unalterably opposed to every tyranny over the minds of man. </span>================================
These disagreements, about the role ofgovernment in our lives, about our national priorities and our nationalsecurity, have been taking place for over two hundred years. They arethe very essence of our democracy.
But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where everyday is Election Day. We cannot wage a perpetual campaign where the onlygoal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about theiropponent – a belief that if you lose, I win.
==============================Was it not Obama who told Republicans, we had an election, I won you lost?==============================
Neither party should delayor obstruct every single bill just because they can.===================================They should not obstruct every bill, just those that trample on the rights of the people and destroy the substance. ========================
The confirmation of well-qualified public servants should not be held hostage to the petprojects or grudges of a few individual Senators. Washington may thinkthat saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, is justpart of the game. But it is precisely such politics that has stoppedeither party from helping the American people. Worse yet, it is sowingfurther division among our citizens and further distrust in ourgovernment.
So no, I will not give up on changing the tone of our politics. Iknow it's an election year. And after last week, it is clear thatcampaign fever has come even earlier than usual. But we still need togovern. To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largestmajority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems,not run for the hills.
============================Why would democrats be running for the hills unless they know the American people have no confidence in their program and are looking to promote them into careers outside of government.
And if the Republican leadership is going toinsist that sixty votes in the Senate are required to do any businessat all in this town, then the responsibility to govern is now yours aswell. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, butit's not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not ourambitions. So let's show the American people that we can do ittogether. This week, I'll be addressing a meeting of the HouseRepublicans. And I would like to begin monthly meetings with both theDemocratic and Republican leadership. I know you can't wait.
Throughout our history, no issue has united this country more thanour security. Sadly, some of the unity we felt after 9/11 hasdissipated. We can argue all we want about who's to blame for this, butI am not interested in re-litigating the past. I know that all of uslove this country. All of us are committed to its defense. So let's putaside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough. Let's reject the falsechoice between protecting our people and upholding our values. Let'sleave behind the fear and division, and do what it takes to defend ournation and forge a more hopeful future – for America and the world.
That is the work we began last year. Since the day I took office, wehave renewed our focus on the terrorists who threaten our nation.===================================Focus like a laser beam, but be effective. Don't mirandize panty bomber leaving America vulnerable.=============================
We have made substantial investments in our homeland security anddisrupted plots that threatened to take American lives. We are fillingunacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack, with betterairline security, and swifter action on our intelligence. We haveprohibited torture and strengthened partnerships from the Pacific toSouth Asia to the Arabian Peninsula. And in the last year, hundreds ofAl Qaeda's fighters and affiliates, including many senior leaders, havebeen captured or killed – far more than in 2008.
In Afghanistan, we are increasing our troops and training AfghanSecurity Forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011, andour troops can begin to come home. We will reward good governance,reduce corruption, and support the rights of all Afghans – men andwomen alike. We are joined by allies and partners who have increasedtheir own commitment, and who will come together tomorrow in London toreaffirm our common purpose. There will be difficult days ahead. But Iam confident we will succeed.======================Dead silence, no applause to the line 'I am confident we will succeed. Not one member of congress believed him. ======================As we take the fight to al Qaeda, we are responsibly leaving Iraq toits people. As a candidate, I promised that I would end this war, andthat is what I am doing as President. We will have all of our combattroops out of Iraq by the end of this August. We will support the Iraqigovernment as they hold elections, and continue to partner with theIraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity. But make nomistake: this war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home.=========================Our combat troops will be out of Iraq or all of our troops are coming home. Which is it? =========================
Tonight, all of our men and women in uniform -- in Iraq,Afghanistan, and around the world – must know that they have ourrespect, our gratitude, and our full support. And just as they musthave the resources they need in war, we all have a responsibility tosupport them when they come home. That is why we made the largestincrease in investments for veterans in decades. That is why we arebuilding a 21st century VA. And that is why Michelle has joined withJill Biden to forge a national commitment to support military families.==========================Mrs. Biden and Obama will work to reduce obesity among military children. That will support them. ==========================
Even as we prosecute two wars, we are also confronting perhaps thegreatest danger to the American people – the threat of nuclear weapons.I have embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan througha strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons, and seeks a worldwithout them. To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuringour deterrent, the United States and Russia are completing negotiationson the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades. Andat April's Nuclear Security Summit, we will bring forty-four nationstogether behind a clear goal: securing all vulnerable nuclear materialsaround the world in four years, so that they never fall into the handsof terrorists.
=====================The vulnerable nuclear material is in North Korea and Pakistan. Just how will diplomats in wet panties go about this task. Strongly worded letters threatening paper cuts.=====================
These diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealingwith those nations that insist on violating international agreements inpursuit of these weapons. That is why North Korea now faces increasedisolation, and stronger sanctions – sanctions that are being vigorouslyenforced. That is why the international community is more united, andthe Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran's leaderscontinue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: they,too, will face growing consequences.
That is the leadership that we are providing – engagement thatadvances the common security and prosperity of all people. We areworking through the G-20 to sustain a lasting global recovery. We areworking with Muslim communities around the world to promote science,education and innovation. We have gone from a bystander to a leader inthe fight against climate change. We are helping developing countriesto feed themselves, and continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS. And weare launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity torespond faster and more effectively to bio-terrorism or an infectiousdisease – a plan that will counter threats at home, and strengthenpublic health abroad.
As we have for over sixty years, America takes these actions becauseour destiny is connected to those beyond our shores. But we also do itbecause it is right. That is why, as we meet here tonight, over 10,000Americans are working with many nations to help the people of Haitirecover and rebuild. That is why we stand with the girl who yearns togo to school in Afghanistan; we support the human rights of the womenmarching through the streets of Iran; and we advocate for the young mandenied a job by corruption in Guinea. For America must always stand onthe side of freedom and human dignity.
Abroad, America's greatest source of strength has always been ourideals. The same is true at home. We find unity in our incrediblediversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: thenotion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are orwhat you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected byit;
===================================This is exactly wrong. You are protected by the constitution and the laws if you abide by them or not, if you adhere to our common values or not. ===================================
that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated nodifferent than anyone else.
We must continually renew this promise. My Administration has aCivil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rightsviolations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened ourlaws to protect against crimes driven by hate. This year, I will workwith Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that deniesgay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of whothey are. We are going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws –so that women get equal pay for an equal day's work. And we shouldcontinue the work of fixing our broken immigration system – to secureour borders, enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays bythe rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nations.
In the end, it is our ideals, our values, that built America –values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants fromevery corner of the globe; values that drive our citizens still. Everyday, Americans meet their responsibilities to their families and theiremployers. Time and again, they lend a hand to their neighbors and giveback to their country. They take pride in their labor, and are generousin spirit. These aren't Republican values or Democratic values they'reliving by; business values or labor values. They are American values.
Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that ourbiggest institutions – our corporations, our media, and yes, ourgovernment – still reflect these same values. Each of theseinstitutions are full of honorable men and women doing important workthat helps our country prosper. But each time a CEO rewards himself forfailure, or a banker puts the rest of us at risk for his own selfishgain, people's doubts grow. Each time lobbyists game the system orpoliticians tear each other down instead of lifting this country up, welose faith. The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates into sillyarguments, and big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away.
No wonder there's so much cynicism out there.=======================Every time we payoff senators in the hundreds of millions for their votes and conduct negotiations in secret and abjure amendments and vote on thousand page bills no one has read we redouble the cynicism and disappointment.
No wonder there's so much disappointment.
I campaigned on the promise of change – change we can believe in,the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans whoaren't sure if they still believe we can change – or at least, that Ican deliver it.
But remember this – I never suggested that change would be easy, orthat I can do it alone. Democracy in a nation of three hundred millionpeople can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to dobig things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy.That's just how it is.
Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playingit safe and avoid telling hard truths. We can do what's necessary tokeep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election insteadof doing what's best for the next generation.
But I also know this: if people had made that decision fifty yearsago or one hundred years ago or two hundred years ago, we wouldn't behere tonight. The only reason we are is because generations ofAmericans were unafraid to do what was hard; to do what was needed evenwhen success was uncertain; to do what it took to keep the dream ofthis nation alive for their children and grandchildren.=======================================We, the people, have always done what is hard, for ourselves and our families. The government never does what is hard, just what will be in their personal political interest. =======================================
Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, andsome of them were deserved. But I wake up every day knowing that theyare nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across thiscountry have faced this year. And what keeps me going – what keeps mefighting – is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit ofdetermination and optimism – that fundamental decency that has alwaysbeen at the core of the American people – lives on.
It lives on in the struggling small business owner who wrote to meof his company, "None of us," he said, "…are willing to consider, evenslightly, that we might fail."
It lives on in the woman who said that even though she and herneighbors have felt the pain of recession, "We are strong. We areresilient. We are American."
It lives on in the 8-year old boy in Louisiana, who just sent me hisallowance and asked if I would give it to the people of Haiti. And itlives on in all the Americans who've dropped everything to go someplace they've never been and pull people they've never known fromrubble, prompting chants of "U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A!" when another lifewas saved.
The spirit that has sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you, its people.======================We, the people, will not quit defending our freedom. And that means getting rid of you and your party.======================
We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficultdecade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. Wedon't quit. I don't quit. Let's seize this moment – to start anew, tocarry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.
Thank you. God Bless You. And God Bless the United States of America.