Overall, the President really came off as a condescending politician. You can tell he thought this speech was critical, and that he used his best campaign speech writers on it. The entire thing is one more rehash of candidate Obama trying to run against what appears to be George Bushs third term. And the overly simplistic lectures on why he actually did very well in his first year, but that we just couldnt figure out his higher powers, really oozed with the contempt of a professor being sent to teach remedial math at a community college. It grew rank, fast. And stayed with us throughout.
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Madame Speaker, Vice President Biden, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:
Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the President shall give to Congress information about the state of our union. Ah. Thank goodness youve finally read it. Did you get to the part where it doesnt mention czars? For two hundred and twenty years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty. They have done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. And they have done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggle.
Its tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitablethat America was always destined to succeed. But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. Wow. Great lead in. Nothing says how good things are here like you going on about how bad it all seems. These were times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements; our hesitations and our fears; America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, and one people. We were one nation, one people in the Civil War? We were one nation, one people under FDR, when almost half the country hated him? We were one nation, one people when we had segregation? The Czar has said it before: it wont hurt ya to crack open a history book.
Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer historys call.
One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt. Yes, and it accelerated worse when you took power. Quit blaming Bush for things the Democrats fueled to get you elected. Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression. So we actedimmediately and aggressively. And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed. If by passed, you mean possibly not even halfway through, yes.
But the devastation remains. One in ten Americans still cannot find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. For those who had already known poverty, life has become that much harder. This isnt your fault. You inherited this mess from Hoover.
This recession has also compounded the burdens that Americas families have been dealing with for decadesthe burden of working harder and longer for less; of being unable to save enough to retire or help kids with college.
So I know the anxieties that are out there right now. Theyre not new. These struggles are the reason I ran for President. These struggles are what Ive witnessed for years in places like Elkhart, Indiana, and Galesburg, Illinois. The Czar spoke to some people in Elkhart back in 2008. They feel totally betrayed by you. I hear about them in the letters that I read each night. The toughest to read are those written by childrenasking why they have to move from their home, or when their mom or dad will be able to go back to work. Cheap theater, but what president doesnt do this schmaltz?
For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fast enough. Some are frustrated; some are angry. Check your polls. Its actually most. They dont understand why it seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded but hard work on Main Street isnt; or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems. They are tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we cant afford it. Not now. Yes, and they are taking it out on you. Now how about it?
So we face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hopewhat they deserveis for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics. For while the people who sent us here have different backgrounds, different stories and different beliefs, the anxieties they face are the same. The aspirations they hold are shared. A job that pays the bills. A chance to get ahead. Most of all, the ability to give their children a better life.
You know what else they share? A gnawing disappointment with your administration? They share a stubborn resilience in the face of adversity. After one of the most difficult years in our history,Which the next president will inherit from you, right? they remain busy building cars and teaching kids; starting businesses and going back to school. Theyre coaching little league and helping their neighbors. As one woman wrote me, “We are strained but hopeful, struggling but encouraged.” Americans sure aint about to sit around waiting for you to get to work.
It is because of this spiritthis great decency and great strengththat I have never been more hopeful about Americas future than I am tonight. Well, Scott Brown did get elected. 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, its time the American people get a government that matches their decency; that embodies their strength. You mean we dont need to wait until 2012?
And tonight, Id 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 same banks that helped cause this crisis. Waitwhat? We want to help out the guys that screwed us? What? It was not easy to do. True: it can be hard to donate money to a guy that mugged you an hour earlier. And if theres one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, its that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it. You hated it. Yeah, but you did it. It was about as popular as a root canal. Pause for laugh track.
But when I ran for President, I promised I wouldnt just do what was popularI would do what was necessary. Yes, and now we know what you meant by that. And if we had allowed the meltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what it is today. More businesses would certainly have closed. More homes would have surely been lost. Question from the back! How so? Please show your math. There is a good chance we might have recovered sooner, too.
So I supported the last administrations efforts to create the financial rescue program. Something else you inherited, eh? And when we took the program over, we made it more transparent and accountable(…in ways you will never see…) . As a result, the markets are now stabilized, and we have recovered most of the money we spent on the banks. Great. Would like back now.
To recover the rest, I have proposed a fee on the biggest banks. I know Wall Street isnt keen on this idea, but if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need. Except that fee gets passed onto the banking customers; so in effect, your plan is to get us to pay ourselves back on your bad debt? Interesting….The Czar wonders: could that work?
As we stabilized the financial system, we also took steps to get our economy growing again, save as many jobs as possible, and help Americans who had become unemployed. We look forward to your results.
Thats why we extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 18 million Americans; made health insurance 65% cheaper for families who get their coverage through COBRA; and passed 25 different tax cuts.
Let me repeat: we cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95% of working families. We cut taxes for small businesses. We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college. As a result, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas, and food, and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keep more workers. And we havent raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person. Not a single dime. The Czar eagerly awaits to see the vetting of these claims. Except one: it is very probable that some folks have only one single dime left.
Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. 200,000 work in construction and clean energy. 300,000 are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, and first responders. And all these are union jobs, by the way. And we are on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year. And thats in your administration alone.
The plan that has made all of this possible, from the tax cuts to the jobs, is the Recovery Act. Thats rightthe Recovery Act, also known as the Stimulus Bill. Economists on the left and the right say that this bill has helped saved jobs and avert disaster. But you dont have to take their word for it. The Czar notices that the President keeps trying to reassure people quite defensively that he isnt a screw up, and this isnt a joke. Tiresome isnt the word…scary is.
Talk to the small business in Phoenix that will triple its workforce because of the Recovery Act. Not the one-hundred and twenty-five that closed their doors?
Talk to the window manufacturer in Philadelphia who said he used to be skeptical about the Recovery Act, until he had to add two more work shifts just because of the business it created. That will be slight comfort to the thousands of unemployed Phillies who did not get hired.
Talk to the single teacher raising two kids who was told by her principal in the last week of school that because of the Recovery Act, she wouldnt be laid off after all.
There are stories like this all across America. Yes, anecdotes, all of which you are taking credit for. Feel free to take credit for the unemployment numbers you spat out at the start of your speech. And after two years of recession, the economy is growing again. Retirement funds have started to gain back some of their value. Businesses are beginning to invest again, and slowly some are starting to hire again. This part is true. The Czar gives no beef here.
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 where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response. And where is your credit-taking now? That is why jobs must be our number one focus in 2010, and that is why I am calling for a new jobs bill tonight.
Now, the true engine of job creation in this country will always be Americas businesses. But government can create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand and hire more workers. Yes, they are called the November elections.
We should start where most new jobs doin small businesses, companies that begin when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides its time she became her own boss.
Through sheer grit and determination, these companies have weathered the recession and are ready to grow. But when you talk to small business 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 remains difficult for small business owners across the country.
So tonight, Im proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid (thats our money; we would like it back) and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. But the community banks did not suffer the way the big commercial banks did. They have the money to loanwhat hurts the small lenders are the low interest rates. I am also proposing a new small business tax creditone that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages. While were at it, lets also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment; and provide a tax incentive for all businesses, large and small, to invest in new plants and equipment. We need to see details. Why not eliminate capital gains taxes for all businesses? This is all pipedream stuff. The Czar is willing to offer a full apology, once any of this becomes reality.
Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow. From the first railroads to the interstate highway system, our nation has always been built to compete. Theres no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products. But there are practical reasons America does not. Fast trains have never proven profitable or economically advantageous. If they were, we would have them and not highly socialized governments. And you can ask Spain how well their clean energy manufacturing programs are going.
Tomorrow, Ill visit Tampa, Florida, where workers will soon break ground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act. Just what Tampa needs, by the way: another easy way out of it. How about helping out the Bucs on their recovery? There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help our nation move goods, services, and information. Then name another. We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities (no reason why you couldnt have done this already.), and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy efficient (we have this already), which supports clean energy jobs. And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, its time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs in the United States of America. Heres a great idea. Start dismantling the unions that inflate hourly wages to the point where jobs are shipped overseas to non-union countries. The labor is killing us, not the $20 they pay extra in taxes.
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 the same. People are out of work. They are hurting. They need our help. And I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay. Always without delay, this one.
But the truth is, these steps still wont make up for the seven million jobs weve lost over the last two years. The Czars point exactly, thank you. The only way to move to full employment is to lay a new foundation for long-term economic growth, and finally address the problems that Americas families have confronted for years. Grandmas stashing pills in the attic?
We cannot afford another so-called economic “expansion” like the one from last decadewhat some call the “lost decade”where jobs grew more slowly than during any prior expansion; where the income of the average American household declined while the cost of health care and tuition reached record highs; where prosperity was built on a housing bubble and financial speculation. Ah yes, another dig at Bush. Except his economic record is waaayyyy better than yours. Slow job growth? Better than 10% unemployment.
From the day I took office, I have been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitiousthat such efforts would be too contentious, that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for awhile. Who said that? What was his name? What did he wear that day? Was this Rahm?
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 as the problems have grown worse. No, youve played this card too many times, Mr. President. No one is saying this to you. What we are saying is, we have had enough of your leftist theory and professorial lecturing. Meanwhile, Chinas not waiting to revamp its economy. Germanys not waiting. Indias not waiting. These nations arent standing still. These nations arent playing for second place. Theyre putting more emphasis on math and science. Theyre rebuilding their infrastructure. They are making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.
Well I do not accept second-place for the United States of America. No, were last place, right? As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may be, its time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth. Yeah, but what a great time the last year was. Nothin but net, baby.
One place to start is serious financial reform. Look, I am not interested in punishing banks, Im interested in protecting our economy. But what if… what if you could do both? Thatd be cool, eh? A strong, healthy financial market makes it possible for businesses to access credit and create new jobs. It channels the savings of families into investments that raise incomes. But that can only happen if we guard against the same recklessness that nearly brought down our entire economy. Yes, and the weeding out of Democratic incumbents is already under way!
The House has already passed financial reform with many of these changes. And the lobbyists are already trying to kill it. Well, we cannot let them win this fight. Lobbyist influence has soared under your administration. Forgive us our skepticism. And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back. And C-Span wont hear a word about it!
Next, we need to encourage American innovation. Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in historyan investment that could lead to the worlds cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched. And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last years investment in clean energyin the North Carolina company that will create 1200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put 1,000 people to work making solar panels. Cough, cough. Bush spent more on science and research than you plan to. Cough, cough. Still time to change this.
Warning: Cap and Trade cheerleading follows! But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.
I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. There it is! This year, I am eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate. Its already dead in the Senate, Mr. President. I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our futurebecause the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation. Didnt you just say our nation is hurting, and that Congress cant screw around anymore? Which is it? Getting Americans their money, or taking it from them? Make up your mind!
Third, we need to export more of our goods. Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America. So tonight, we set a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America. To help meet this goal, were launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security. This is classic campaign nonsense. Double what exports? From what to what? You could take any benchmark and claim it doubled. This means nothing. And what two million jobs? Where? In what industries?
We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores. But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules. And thats why we will continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea, Panama, and Colombia. Doha trade agreements have failed every year since 2001. Forget it.
Fourth, we need to invest in the skills and education of our people.
This year, we have broken through the stalemate between left and right by launching a national competition to improve our schools. The idea here is simple: instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reformreform that raises student achievement, inspires students to excel in math and science, and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans, from rural communities to inner-cities. In the 21st century, one of the best anti-poverty programs is a world-class education. In this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than their potential. Puter, take note! The President is throwing out the unions! At least, he must be. How else will he achieve this?
When we renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we will work 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 will revitalize our community colleges, which are a career pathway to the children of so many working families. To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer-subsidies that go to banks for student loans. Boy, hes got us really hating those evil bankers, eh? Think hes ever been in one? Instead, lets take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell Grants. And lets tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only ten percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after twenty yearsand forgiven after ten years if they choose a career in public service. Yeah, lets tell them that. What we wont tell them is that they wind up paying more in the long run because they will become taxpayers paying into another increasing entitlement system like social security. Hear it out: if you forgive all these debts, who pays for them? You increase the number of people who will go into public service (and you really should say more government jobs, because thats what you mean), which increases the value for the next batch…and so on, until you have a burgeoning system of write offs. The tax payers go broke trying to fund a system that will never pay itself off, just like social security or welfare. Because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college. And its time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costsbecause they too have a responsibility to help solve this problem. Except, sir, thats market forces at work. They keep raising their tuition because we keep paying these outrageous amounts. If they cut costs, they only increase profit…I think theyre already way ahead of you on this one.
Now, the price of college tuition is just one of the burdens facing the middle-class. Thats why last year I asked Vice President Biden to chair a task force on Middle-Class Families. Wow. Great choice. Because no one understands the pain of a middle class family with four college-bound kids like a wealthy white guy suffering chronic job aptitude problems. Thats why were nearly doubling the child care tax credit, and making it easier to save for retirement by giving every worker access to a retirement account and expanding the tax credit for those who start a nest egg. Thats why were working to lift the value of a familys single largest investmenttheir home. The steps we took last year to shore up the housing market have allowed millions of Americans to take out new loans and save an average of $1,500 on mortgage payments. Yes, and all these were the high risk mortgagors who caused the bubble in the first place. This year, we will step up re-financing so that homeowners can move into more affordable mortgages. And it is precisely to relieve the burden on middle-class families that we still need health insurance reform. We actually expected this sooner.
Youve played this card too many times, Mr. President. No one is saying this to you. What we are saying is, we have had enough of your leftist theory and professorial lecturing.Now lets be clearI did not choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. Good thing, because you failed. And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didnt take on health care because it was good politics. Evidently you have seen your polling numbers.
I took on health care because of the stories Ive heard from Americans with pre-existing conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage; patients whove been denied coverage; and familieseven those with insurancewho are just one illness away from financial ruin. Stories from a small number of Americansless than eight percentwho decided the other 92% of you should foot their bill. Because under this presidency, the majority has no power.
After nearly a century of trying, (Ah, good: he acknowledges all he learned from Woodrow Wilson) we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the lives of so many Americans. The approach weve taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. Like free-market capitalism. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market. It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care. And by the way, I want to acknowledge our First Lady, Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make our kids healthier. Pause for laugh track.
Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan. It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses. And according to the Congressional Budget Officethe independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congressour approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades. Holy crap, give it a rest. You gave this speech already, and it bombed! You lost. Plain and simple. Americans do not believe you.
Still, this is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And your share is, evidently, 58% according to Rasmussen. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americans wondering whats in it for them. No, we wondered whats next.
But I also know this problem is not going away. By the time Im finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Through unemployment. Our deficit will grow. And the Mandarin said the President would never admit this! Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber. Pause for laugh track.
As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan weve proposed. Theres a reason why many doctors, nurses, and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo. Many, yes: but far from most. Most medical professionals want this reform annihilated. Not amended. Not tweaked. Annihilated. Reduced to nothing. Gone. The Czar hears them. But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. Yes, the GOP submitted just such a plan about six months ago that the CBO endorsed. You refused to consider it. Heres what I ask of Congress, though: Do not walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. The American people spoke when Massachusetts voted.
Now, even as health care reform would reduce our deficit, its not enough to dig us out of a massive fiscal hole in which we find ourselves. Its a challenge that makes all others that much harder to solve, and one thats been subject to a lot of political posturing. This entire paragraph makes no sense. What?
So let me start the discussion of government spending by setting the record straight. At the beginning of the last decade, America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion. By the time I took office, we had a one year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. That was before I walked in the door. Yes, Bush was a spender. And you quadrupled it. He would bow to the master.
Now if we had taken office in ordinary times, I would have liked nothing more than to start bringing down the deficit. But we took office amid a crisis, and our efforts to prevent a second Depression have added another $1 trillion to our national debt. But your efforts to fix healthcare would have added $3 trillion at least. So which is it?
I am absolutely convinced that was the right thing to do. The Czar is convinced it was the Left thing to do. But families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same. So tonight, Im proposing specific steps to pay for the $1 trillion that it took to rescue the economy last year.
Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will. Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we dont. And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will. Hey NASA; remember when you cheered last month when he promised to add funding to space technology and research? Just kidding.
We will continue to go through the budget line by line to eliminate programs that we cant afford and dont work. Feel free to email us for our list of recommendations. You will be delighted at our ability to dissolve about six cabinet departments instantly. Weve already identified $20 billion in savings for next year. To help working families, we will extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, investment fund managers, and those making over $250,000 a year. We just cant afford it. But they can, you see, because they are rich and therefore evil. By the way, the President makes more than $250,000 a year.
Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we will still face the massive deficit we had when I took office. More importantly, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket. Thats why Ive called for a bipartisan, Fiscal Commission, modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad. This cant be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem. (Obama-Biden) The Commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline. Yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this commission. So I will issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward, because I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans. Because if there is one thing that really annoys a Progressive leftist, its that pesky representational republic idea called Congress. And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason why we had record surpluses in the 1990s. Uh, no. The record surpluses in the 1990s were from the massive increase in tax revenues caused by skyrocketing salaries that resulted from a dangerously over-inflated tech bubble in the stock market. Check out what happened in mid-to-late 2000…also on Clintons watch.
I know that some in my own party will argue that we cannot address the deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting. Right. So scrap cap and trade and scrap healthcare. You cant keep going back and forth on this. I agree, which is why this freeze will not take effect until next year, when the economy is stronger. But understandif we do not take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recoveryall of which could have an even worse effect on our job growth and family incomes. Dont talk to us like were morons. It sounds more like youre reassuring yourself whats supposed to play out…like a college kid repeating textbook phrases an hour before the exam.
From some on the right, I expect well hear a different argumentthat if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cuts for wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, and maintain the status quo on health care, our deficits will go away. The problem is, thats what we did for eight years. Yeah, eight years under Reagan. And it led to a massive economic boom. What happened under Bush was reckless spending to promote pseudo-bipartisanship when the Democrats got into office in 2006. Thats what helped lead us into this crisis. Its what helped lead to these deficits. And we cannot do it again. Well, well see about this in 10 months.
Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, its time to try something new. Lets invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Lets meet our responsibility to the citizens who sent us here. Lets try common sense. Wait, no one is chanting four more years? Hold the cue cards up higher.
To do that, we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trustdeep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap we must take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; and to give our people the government they deserve. Nope, no chanting. Perhaps they dont understand what youre doing?
Thats what I came to Washington to do. Thats whyfor the first time in historymy Administration posts our White House visitors online. And thats why weve excluded lobbyists from policy-making jobs or seats on federal boards and commissions. Dont they get it? Dont they see?
But we cant stop there. Its time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my Administration or Congress. And its time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office. Dont these people realize youre giving a campaign speech? Wheres the chanting? Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interestsincluding foreign corporationsto spend without limit in our elections. Well I dont think American elections should be bankrolled by Americas most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. No, because it turns out that Republicans tend to get elected. They should be decided by the American people, and thats why Im urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong. Right! Screw the Supreme Court. Who are they to decide whats unconstitutional? Say, what kind of lawyer were you anyhow? If a law is struck down by SCOTUS, it wont help to pass the same law again.
Im also calling on Congress to continue down the path of earmark reform. You have trimmed some of this spending and embraced some meaningful change. But restoring the public trust demands more. For example, some members of Congress post some earmark requests online. Tonight, Im calling on Congress to publish all earmark requests on a single website (www.gormogons.com) before theres a vote so that the American people can see how their money is being spent. God bless transparency! Say, when will this actually start up? We still are waiting on your coming clean about our money.
Of course, none of these reforms will even happen if we dont also reform how we work with one another.
Now, I am not naïve. I never thought the mere fact of my election would usher in peace, harmony, and some post-partisan era. No, but you did promise it. I knew that both parties have fed divisions that are deeply entrenched. And on some issues, there are simply philosophical differences that will always cause us to part ways. These disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security, have been taking place for over two hundred years. They are the very essence of our democracy.
But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. And every speech a campaign speech. We cannot wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about their opponenta belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can. No, they do it because of the very fundamental belief differences you mentioned a second ago. Its your speech: stay with it. The confirmation of well-qualified public servants should not be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual Senators. Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, is just part of the game. But it is precisely such politics that has stopped either party from helping the American people. Worse yet, it is sowing further division among our citizens and further distrust in our government. Seconds to go until he addresses the Brown victory…
So no, I will not give up on changing the tone of our politics. I know its an election year. And after last week, it is clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual. Ding! And there it is! But we still need to govern. To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills. Yes, youve wasted four complete years. Time to show up for work on your last week before unemployment. And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that sixty votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Actually, this is an excellent line! And the GOP should take it to heart. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but its not leadership. Also true. GOP: hes giving you time to hone your campaign strategies. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions. So lets show the American people that we can do it together. This week, Ill be addressing a meeting of the House Republicans. And I would like to begin monthly meetings with both the Democratic and Republican leadership. I know you cant wait. Wait: there was no laugh track here. Why is everyone giggling?
Throughout our history, no issue has united this country more than our security. Sadly, some of the unity we felt after 9/11 has dissipated. Yeah, we miss the good old days of intense national sorrow and disgust. We can argue all we want about whos to blame for this, but I am not interested in re-litigating the past (especially when its looking more and more like your partys fault). I know that all of us love this country. All of us are committed to its defense. So lets put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough. Lets reject the false choice between protecting our people and upholding our values. Lets leave behind the fear and division, and do what it takes to defend our nation and forge a more hopeful futurefor America and the world. Actually, the criticism has been pretty much directed solely at you. Like the schoolyard schmuck who says Lets not fight as the tough kids start throwing punches. Yeah, that tends to work only when the tough kids say it.
That is the work we began last year. Since the day I took office, we have renewed our focus on the terrorists who threaten our nation. We have made substantial investments in our homeland security and disrupted plots that threatened to take American lives. Evidently the system worked again? Because it seems like your investment was a Dutch guy who knew how to hit. We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack, with better airline security, and swifter action on our intelligence. Somehow, your use of the present tense fills us with little confidence. We have prohibited torture and strengthened partnerships from the Pacific to South Asia to the Arabian Peninsula. Heck, yeah: were the largest Muslim country in the world! And in the last year, hundreds of Al Qaedas fighters and affiliates, including many senior leaders, have been captured or killedfar more than in 2008. And those captured are being read their Miranda rights as the US citizens we believe they are.
In Afghanistan, we are increasing our troops and training Afghan Security Forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011, and our troops can begin to come home. We will reward good governance, reduce corruption, and support the rights of all Afghansmen and women alike. We are joined by allies and partners who have increased their own commitment, and who will come together tomorrow in London to reaffirm our common purpose. There will be difficult days ahead. But I am confident we will succeed. …with this GOP plan.
As we take the fight to al Qaeda, we are responsibly leaving Iraq to its people. As a candidate, I promised that I would end this war, and that is what I am doing as President. We will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this August. We will support the Iraqi government as they hold elections, and continue to partner with the Iraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity. But make no mistake: this war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home. Thank goodness for the surge!
Tonight, all of our men and women in uniformin Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the worldmust know that they have our respect, our gratitude, and our full support. And just as they must have the resources they need in war, we all have a responsibility to support them when they come home. That is why we made the largest increase in investments for veterans in decades. That is why we are building a 21st century VA. And that is why Michelle has joined with Jill Biden to forge a national commitment to support military families. Let us give the President our support and credit here. Certainly, can you remotely imagine President Clinton doing anything like this?
Even as we prosecute two wars, we are also confronting perhaps the greatest danger to the American peoplethe threat of nuclear weapons. I have embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan (yeah, they both would have loved you) through a strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons, and seeks a world without them. To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuring our deterrent, the United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades. And at Aprils Nuclear Security Summit, we will bring forty-four nations together behind a clear goal: securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years, so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists. And how many of these 44 countries have them? Will Iran be there? North Korea? China? Lotsa luck.
These diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of these weapons. That is why North Korea now faces increased isolation, and stronger sanctionssanctions that are being vigorously enforced. They are so grounded. That is why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. No texting, no cell phones, and NO TV! And as Irans leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: they, too, will face growing consequences. What they oughta face is US support for the growing democratic revolution struggling to take form. Yet another opportunity missed. Seriously, do you not read this website?
That is the leadership that we are providingengagement that advances the common security and prosperity of all people. We are working through the G-20 to sustain a lasting global recovery. We are working with Muslim communities around the world to promote science, education and innovation. We assume thats a one-way promotion. We have gone from a bystander to a leader in the fight against climate change. You bet we have. We are actively fighting the climate change folks.Google Borepatch, why doncha? We are helping developing countries to feed themselves, and continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS. And we are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to bio-terrorism or an infectious diseasea plan that will counter threats at home, and strengthen public health abroad.
As we have for over sixty years, America takes these actions because our destiny is connected to those beyond our shores. But we also do it because it is right. That is why, as we meet here tonight, over 10,000 Americans are working with many nations to help the people of Haiti recover and rebuild. That is why we stand with the girl who yearns to go to school in Afghanistan; we support the human rights of the women marching through the streets of Iran; and we advocate for the young man denied a job by corruption in Guinea. For America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity. Do you think he knows about these things, or is just reading what a speechwriter put in? Seriously, can he explain the differences between Guinea and Guinea-Bissau?
Abroad, Americas greatest source of strength has always been our ideals. The same is true at home. We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal, (Whoops. Thats the Declaration of Independence, folks. Slight mistake.) that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else. And that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
We must continually renew this promise. My Administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate. Sigh. And still nothing about crimes driven by ♥♥♥love♥♥♥ This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. We are going to crack down on violations of equal pay lawsso that women get equal pay for an equal days work. And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration systemto secure our borders, enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nations. And there you have it. A one-term president.
In the end, it is our ideals, our values, that built Americavalues that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants from every corner of the globe; values that drive our citizens still. Every day, Americans meet their responsibilities to their families and their employers. Time and again, they lend a hand to their neighbors and give back to their country. They take pride in their labor, and are generous in spirit. These arent Republican values or Democratic values theyre living by; business values or labor values. They are American values. No good campaigning for your second term now.
Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutionsour corporations, our media, and yes, our governmentstill reflect these same values. Mostly our government. Each of these institutions are full of honorable men and women doing important work that helps our country prosper. But each time a CEO rewards himself for failure, or a banker puts the rest of us at risk for his own selfish gain, peoples doubts grow. Damn those bankers! Each time lobbyists game the system or politicians tear each other down instead of lifting this country up, we lose faith. The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates into silly arguments, and big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away. Take that, Olbermann!
No wonder theres so much cynicism out there.
No wonder theres so much disappointment. If you missed the speech on television, this is where the President looked into a mirror.
I campaigned on the promise of changechange we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who arent sure if they still believe we can changeor at least, that I can deliver it. Especially since about an hour ago, you claimed you never thought for a second you could.
But remember thisI never suggested that change would be easy, or that I can do it alone. No, in fact, you said you had no intention of it at all. Democracy in a nation of three hundred million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. Thats just how it is. Hes talking to us like were morons again.
Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths. We can do whats necessary to keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election instead of doing whats best for the next generation. Well, it worked for Clinton.
But I also know this: if people had made that decision fifty years ago or one hundred years ago or two hundred years ago, we wouldnt be here tonight. yeah, thanks a helluva lot, guys. What were you thinking? The only reason we are is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard; to do what was needed even when success was uncertain; to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and grandchildren.
Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved. Thats mighty big of you. But I wake up every day knowing that they are nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across this country have faced this year. And what keeps me goingwhat keeps me fightingis that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimismthat fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American peoplelives on. Now lets list your successes. Ready? Go! All right… done.
It lives on in the struggling small business owner who wrote to me of his company, “None of us,” he said, “…are willing to consider, even slightly, that we might fail.”
It lives on in the woman who said that even though she and her neighbors have felt the pain of recession, “We are strong. We are resilient. We are American.”
It lives on in the 8-year old boy in Louisiana, who just sent me his allowance and asked if I would give it to the people of Haiti. And what did you say? And it lives on in all the Americans whove dropped everything to go some place theyve never been and pull people theyve never known from rubble, prompting chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A!” when another life was saved. No kidding. Now the rest of the world can apologize to us.
The spirit that has sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you, its people.
We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We dont quit. I dont quit. Sorry, Puter. You had your hopes up, didnt you? Lets seize this momentto start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.
Thank you. God Bless You. And God Bless the United States of America. Amen. Because we really need it after last year.