President Barack Obama delivered his yearly State of the Union Address today, January 24. The speech updated Congress, as well as the nation, about the state of the country and Obama’s plans and goals for the future.
Obama started off his speech by discussing the various victories that his administration had achieved–from ending the war in Iraq to ensuring that Osama bin Laden was no longer a threat to the nation. Following his introduction, Obama began to discuss the potential that the nation could achieve should it work together.
“These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America’s armed forces,” Obama said. “Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.”
After setting the course of his speech with a positive note, Obama opened with a discussion of the history of the housing crash and his plan for creating new jobs. Citing the “strongest economy and middle class the world has ever known” that had been created after World War Two, Obama stressed the need to bring back jobs to America. Obama advocated for subsidies to be offered to companies that managed to create jobs within America.
“My message is simple,” Obama said. “It’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. Send me these tax reforms, and I’ll sign them right away.”
Obama also discussed his successes in creating jobs. In the months prior to him taking office, the nation lost nearly four million jobs. However, in the last 22 months, businesses created more than three million jobs. To support his statement, Obama championed the bright future of the United States automobile industry.
“Today, General Motors is back on top as the world’s number one automaker,” Obama said. “Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160 thousand jobs.”
Using the beginning of the discussion of jobs to launch into his next topic, education, Obama began to discuss the irony in the nation having a plethora of jobs available in science related matters but not having qualified individuals to fill these positions.
“Join me in a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job,” Obama said. “My administration has already lined up more companies that want to help. Model partnerships between businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte, Orlando, and Louisville are up and running. Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers—places that teach people skills that local businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.”
In continuation with the subject of domestic reform, Obama stressed the need for a firmer national commitment to education. While nations across the world are doubling monetary investment in student education, Obama criticized the recent layoffs of thousands of teachers due to tighter state budgets.
By making education a higher priority on state budgets, he believes that schools will be allowed the freedom to make a greater investment in educational freedom and creativity, instead of simply teaching to the test.
“Teachers matter,” Obama said. “So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let’s offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: to teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.”
To combat the high drop out rate, he proposed that all states require students to continue with schooling until they either graduate or turn 18. To combat the low affordability of college, on the other hand, Obama said that Congress needs to stop increases in student loan interest rates, extend the tuition tax credit, and double work study jobs in the next five years.
Moreover, the President recognized the need to wean off of the nation’s dependency on oil. He advocated that the United States develop natural gas and to continue its commitment to researching clean energy.
“I’m directing my Administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power three million homes,” Obama said. “And I’m proud to announce that the Department of Defense, the world’s largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history – with the navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year.”
When it came to taxation, Obama reiterated and expanded on the Buffet rule and said that people earning over $1 million a year should not pay less than a 30 percent tax rate. However, he said that for families earning less than $250 thousand a year, there should be no tax increase.
“Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households,” Obama said. “Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Or do we want to keep our investments in everything else—like education and medical research; a strong military and care for our veterans?”
To conclude his speech Obama tied metaphor regarding the flag that the SEAL Team took when they retrieved bin Laden.
“Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those fifty stars and those thirteen stripes,” Obama said. “No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together.”
For the full video of the President’s speech, click here.