[bksvol-discuss] President's State Of The Union Speech

  • From: "Chela Robles" <cdrobles693@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <bookshare-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2010 21:24:18 -0800

  
The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release 
January 27, 2010 
Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address
9:11 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Madam 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.  For 220 years, our leaders 
have fulfilled this duty. They've done so during periods of prosperity and 
tranquility.  And they've done so in the midst of war and depression; at 
moments of great strife and great struggle.

It's tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was 
inevitable -- that 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.  These were the 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, as 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 by a severe 
recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply 
in debt.  Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not 
act, we might face a second depression.  So we acted -- immediately and 
aggressively.  And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed.

But the devastation remains.  One in 10 Americans still cannot find work.  Many 
businesses have shuttered.  Home values have declined.  Small towns and rural 
communities have been hit especially hard.  And for those who'd already known 
poverty, life has become that much harder.

This recession has also compounded the burdens that America's families have 
been dealing with for decades -- the 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.  They're not new.  These 
struggles are the reason I ran for President.  These struggles are what I've 
witnessed for years in places like Elkhart, Indiana; Galesburg, Illinois.  I 
hear about them in the letters that I read each night.  The toughest to read 
are those written by children -- asking why they have to move from their home, 
asking when their mom or dad will be able to go back to work.

For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fast enough.  Some 
are frustrated; some are angry.  They don't understand why it seems like bad 
behavior on Wall Street is rewarded, but hard work on Main Street isn't; or why 
Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems.  They're 
tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness.  They know we 
can't afford it.  Not now.  

So we face big and difficult challenges.  And what the American people hope -- 
what they deserve -- is 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, 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?  They share a stubborn resilience in the face of 
adversity.  After one of the most difficult years in our history, they remain 
busy building cars and teaching kids, starting businesses and going back to 
school. They're coaching Little League and helping their neighbors.  One woman 
wrote to me and said, "We are strained but hopeful, struggling but encouraged." 

It's because of this spirit -- this great decency and great strength -- that I 
have never been more hopeful about America's future than I am tonight.  
(Applause.)  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 that matches their 
decency; that embodies their strength.  (Applause.)    
And tonight, 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 same banks that 
helped cause this crisis.  It was not easy to do. And if there's one thing that 
has unified Democrats and Republicans, and everybody in between, it's that we 
all hated the bank bailout.  I hated it -- (applause.)  I hated it.  You hated 
it.  It was about as popular as a root canal.  (Laughter.)  

But when I ran for President, I promised I wouldn't just do what was popular -- 
I would do what was necessary.  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. 

So I supported the last administration's efforts to create the financial rescue 
program.  And when we took that program over, we made it more transparent and 
more accountable.  And as a result, the markets are now stabilized, and we've 
recovered most of the money we spent on the banks.  (Applause.)  Most but not 
all.

To recover the rest, I've proposed a fee on the biggest banks.  (Applause.)  
Now, I know Wall Street isn't 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.  (Applause.)

Now, 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. 

That's why we extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 18 
million Americans; made health insurance 65 percent cheaper for families who 
get their coverage through COBRA; and passed 25 different tax cuts.

Now, let me repeat:  We cut taxes.  We cut taxes for 95 percent of working 
families.  (Applause.)  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.  (Applause.)

I thought I'd get some applause on that one.  (Laughter and applause.)

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 haven't 
raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person.  Not a single dime.  
(Applause.)

Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working 
right now who would otherwise be unemployed.  (Applause.)  Two hundred thousand 
work in construction and clean energy; 300,000 are teachers and other education 
workers.  Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, 
first responders.  (Applause.)  And we're on track to add another one and 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 to the jobs, is 
the Recovery Act.  (Applause.)  That's right -- the Recovery Act, also known as 
the stimulus bill.  (Applause.)  Economists on the left and the right say this 
bill has helped save jobs and avert disaster.  But you don't have 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 to be skeptical about the Recovery Act, until he 
had to add two more work shifts just because of the business it created.  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 wouldn't be laid off 
after all. 

There are stories like this all across America.  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.   

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.  That is why jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010, and that's 
why I'm calling for a new jobs bill tonight.  (Applause.)  

Now, the true engine of job creation in this country will always be America's 
businesses.  (Applause.)  But government can create the conditions necessary 
for businesses to expand and hire more workers. 

We should start where most new jobs do -- in small businesses, companies that 
begin when -- (applause) -- companies that begin when an entrepreneur -- when 
an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides it's time she 
became her own boss.  Through sheer grit and determination, these companies 
have weathered the recession and they're ready to grow.  But when you talk to 
small businessowners in places like Allentown, Pennsylvania, or Elyria, Ohio, 
you find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again, they're 
mostly lending to bigger companies.  Financing remains difficult for small 
businessowners across the country, even those that are making a profit.

So tonight, I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street 
banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the 
credit they need to stay afloat. (Applause.)  I'm also proposing a new small 
business tax credit 
-- one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers 
or raise wages.  (Applause.)  While we're at it, let's also eliminate all 
capital gains taxes on small business investment, and provide a tax incentive 
for all large businesses and all small businesses to invest in new plants and 
equipment.  (Applause.) 

Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of 
tomorrow.  (Applause.)  From the first railroads to the Interstate Highway 
System, our nation has always been built to compete.  There's no reason Europe 
or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture 
clean energy products.

Tomorrow, I'll visit Tampa, Florida, where workers will soon break ground on a 
new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act.  (Applause.)  There are 
projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help move 
our nation's goods, services, and information.  (Applause.) 

We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities -- 
(applause) -- and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more 
energy-efficient, which supports clean energy jobs.  (Applause.)  And to 
encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it is time to 
finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and 
give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United 
States of America.  (Applause.)

Now, the House has passed a jobs bill that includes some of these steps.  
(Applause.)  As the first order of business this year, I urge the Senate to do 
the same, and I know they will.  (Applause.)  They will.  (Applause.)  People 
are out of work.  They're hurting.  They need our help.  And I want a jobs bill 
on my desk without delay.  (Applause.)

But the truth is, these steps won't make up for the seven million jobs that 
we've lost over the last two years.  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 America's families have confronted for years.  

We can't afford another so-called economic "expansion" like the one from the 
last decade -- what 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. 

From the day I took office, I've been told that addressing our larger 
challenges is too ambitious; such an effort would be too contentious.  I've 
been told that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just 
put things on hold for a while. 

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?  (Applause.)

You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the 
problems have grown worse.  Meanwhile, China is not waiting to revamp its 
economy.  Germany is not waiting.  India is not waiting.  These nations -- 
they're not standing still.  These nations aren't playing for second place.  
They're putting more emphasis on math and science.  They're rebuilding their 
infrastructure.  They're making serious investments in clean energy because 
they want those jobs.  Well, I do not accept second place for the United States 
of America.  (Applause.) 

As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may 
become, it's time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering 
our growth.

Now, one place to start is serious financial reform.  Look, I am not interested 
in punishing banks.  I'm interested in protecting our economy.  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. 

We need to make sure consumers and middle-class families have the information 
they need to make financial decisions.  (Applause.)  We can't allow financial 
institutions, including those that take your deposits, to take risks that 
threaten the whole economy.  

Now, the House has already passed financial reform with many of these changes.  
(Applause.)  And the lobbyists are trying to kill it.  But we cannot let them 
win this fight.  (Applause.)  And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not 
meet the test of real reform, I will send it back until we get it right.  We've 
got to get it right.  (Applause.)

Next, we need to encourage American innovation.  Last year, we made the largest 
investment in basic research funding in history -- (applause) -- an investment 
that could lead to the world's 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 year's 
investments in clean energy -- in the North Carolina company that will create 
1,200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California 
business that will put a thousand people to work making solar panels.

But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more 
efficiency, more incentives.  And that means building a new generation of safe, 
clean nuclear power plants in this country.  (Applause.)  It means making tough 
decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.  
(Applause.)  It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal 
technologies.  (Applause.)  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.  (Applause.)

I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year.  (Applause.)  And 
this year I'm eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate.  
(Applause.) 

I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a 
tough economy.  I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming 
scientific evidence on climate change.  But here's the thing -- even if you 
doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy 
are the right thing to do for our future -- because the nation that leads the 
clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.  And 
America must be that nation.  (Applause.)

Third, we need to export more of our goods.  (Applause.)  Because the more 
products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right 
here in America.  (Applause.)  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.  (Applause.)  To help meet this goal, we're launching a 
National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase 
their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security.  
(Applause.)

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.  (Applause.)  But realizing those 
benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by 
the rules.  (Applause.)  And that's why we'll 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 and Panama and 
Colombia.  (Applause.)

Fourth, we need to invest in the skills and education of our people.  
(Applause.)

Now, this year, we've broken through the stalemate between left and right by 
launching a national competition to improve our schools.  And the idea here is 
simple:  Instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success.  Instead of 
funding the status quo, we only invest in reform -- reform 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 the inner city.  In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty 
program around is a world-class education.  (Applause.)  And in this country, 
the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than on their 
potential. 

When we renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we will work with 
Congress to expand these reforms to all 50 states.  Still, in this economy, a 
high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job.  That's why 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.  (Applause.) 

To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted 
taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans.  (Applause.)  Instead, 
let's take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of 
college and increase Pell Grants.  (Applause.)  And let's tell another one 
million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 
percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be 
forgiven after 20 years -- and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career 
in public service, because in the United States of America, no one should go 
broke because they chose to go to college.  (Applause.) 

And by the way, it's time for colleges and universities to get serious about 
cutting their own costs -- (applause) -- because they, too, have a 
responsibility to help solve this problem. 

Now, the price of college tuition is just one of the burdens facing the middle 
class.  That's why last year I asked Vice President Biden to chair a task force 
on middle-class families.  That's why we're nearly doubling the child care tax 
credit, and making it easier to save for retirement by giving access to every 
worker a retirement account and expanding the tax credit for those who start a 
nest egg.  That's why we'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 
housing market have allowed millions of Americans to take out new loans and 
save an average of $1,500 on mortgage payments.     

This year, we will step up refinancing so that homeowners can move into more 
affordable mortgages.  (Applause.)  And it is precisely to relieve the burden 
on middle-class families that we still need health insurance reform.  
(Applause.)  Yes, we do.  (Applause.)

Now, let's clear a few things up.  (Laughter.)  I didn't choose to tackle this 
issue to get some legislative victory under my belt.  And by now it should be 
fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics.  
(Laughter.)  I took on health care because of the stories I've heard from 
Americans with preexisting conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage; 
patients who've been denied coverage; families -- even those with insurance -- 
who are just one illness away from financial ruin.

After nearly a century of trying -- Democratic administrations, Republican 
administrations -- we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the 
lives of so many Americans.  The approach we've taken would protect every 
American from the worst practices of the insurance industry.  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 kids healthier. (Applause.)  Thank you.  She gets embarrassed. 
 (Laughter.)

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 Office 
-- the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official 
scorekeeper for Congress -- our approach would bring down the deficit by as 
much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.  (Applause.)

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 I know that with all the lobbying and 
horse-trading, the process left most Americans wondering, "What's in it for me?"

But I also know this problem is not going away.  By the time I'm finished 
speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance.  
Millions will lose it this year.  Our deficit will grow.  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.  (Applause.)

So, as temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan 
we've proposed.  There's 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.  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.  (Applause.)  Let me know.  Let me know.  (Applause.)  I'm eager to see 
it. 

Here's what I ask Congress, though:  Don't 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.  (Applause.)  Let's get it done.  Let's get it 
done.  (Applause.)

Now, even as health care reform would reduce our deficit, it's not enough to 
dig us out of a massive fiscal hole in which we find ourselves.  It's a 
challenge that makes all others that much harder to solve, and one that's been 
subject to a lot of political posturing.  So let me start the discussion of 
government spending by setting the record straight. 

At the beginning of the last decade, the year 2000, America had a budget 
surplus of over $200 billion.  (Applause.)  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.  All this was 
before I walked in the door.  (Laughter and applause.)

Now -- just stating the facts.  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.  That, too, is a fact.

I'm absolutely convinced that was the right thing to do.  But families across 
the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions.  The federal 
government should do the same.  (Applause.)  So tonight, I'm proposing specific 
steps to pay for the trillion dollars that it took to rescue the economy last 
year.

Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three 
years.  (Applause.)  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 don't.  
And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will.  (Applause.)  

We will continue to go through the budget, line by line, page by page, to 
eliminate programs 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'll extend our middle-class tax cuts.  But at a time of record deficits, we 
will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, for investment fund managers, and 
for those making over $250,000 a year.  We just can't afford it.  (Applause.) 

Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we'll 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.  That's why 
I've called for a bipartisan fiscal commission, modeled on a proposal by 
Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad.  (Applause.)  This can't be one 
of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem.  The 
commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain 
deadline. 

Now, yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this 
commission.  So I'll issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward, 
because I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans.  
(Applause.)  And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the 
pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 
1990s.  (Applause.)  
 
Now, I know that some in my own party will argue that we can't address the 
deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting.  And I 
agree -- which is why this freeze won't take effect until next year -- 
(laughter) -- when the economy is stronger.  That's how budgeting works.  
(Laughter and applause.)  But understand -- understand if we don't take 
meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the 
cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery -- all of which would have an 
even worse effect on our job growth and family incomes. 

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 cuts including those for 
the wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, maintain the status quo on 
health care, our deficits will go away.  The problem is that's what we did for 
eight years.  (Applause.)  That's what helped us into this crisis.  It's what 
helped lead to these deficits.  We can't do it again.

Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for 
decades, it's time to try something new.  Let's invest in our people without 
leaving them a mountain of debt.  Let's meet our responsibility to the citizens 
who sent us here.  Let's try common sense.  (Laughter.)  A novel concept.

To do that, we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars 
right now.  We face a deficit of trust -- deep and corrosive doubts about how 
Washington works that have been growing for years.  To close that credibility 
gap we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue -- to end the 
outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; to give our people the 
government they deserve.  (Applause.)

That's what I came to Washington to do.  That's why -- for the first time in 
history -- my administration posts on our White House visitors online.  That's 
why we've excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs, or seats on federal boards 
and commissions.

But we can't stop there.  It's time to require lobbyists to disclose each 
contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or with 
Congress.  It's time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists 
give to candidates for federal office. 

With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court 
reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special 
interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our 
elections.  (Applause.)  I don't think American elections should be bankrolled 
by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.  
(Applause.)  They should be decided by the American people.  And I'd urge 
Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these 
problems.

I'm also calling on Congress to continue down the path of earmark reform.  
Applause.)  Democrats and Republicans.  (Applause.)  Democrats and Republicans. 
 You've trimmed some of this spending, you've embraced some meaningful change.  
But restoring the public trust demands more.  For example, some members of 
Congress post some earmark requests online.  (Applause.)  Tonight, I'm calling 
on Congress to publish all earmark requests on a single Web site before there's 
a vote, so that the American people can see how their money is being spent. 
(Applause.)

Of course, none of these reforms will even happen if we don't also reform how 
we work with one another.  Now, I'm not naïve.  I never thought that the mere 
fact of my election would usher in peace and harmony -- (laughter) -- and some 
post-partisan era.  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, they've been taking place for over 200 years.  They're the very 
essence of our democracy.

But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is 
Election Day.  We can't wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see 
who can get the most embarrassing headlines about the other side -- a belief 
that if you lose, I win.  Neither party should delay or obstruct every single 
bill just because they can.  The confirmation of -- (applause) -- I'm speaking 
to both parties now.  The confirmation of well-qualified public servants 
shouldn't be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual 
senators.  (Applause.) 

Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how 
false, no matter how malicious, is just part of the game.  But it's precisely 
such politics that has stopped either party from helping the American people.  
Worse yet, it's sowing further division among our citizens, further distrust in 
our government.

So, no, I will not give up on trying to change the tone of our politics.  I 
know it's an election year.  And after last week, it's clear that campaign 
fever has come even earlier than usual.  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 problems, not run for the hills.  
(Applause.)  And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes 
in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town -- a 
supermajority -- then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well.  
(Applause.)  Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but 
it's not leadership.  We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our 
ambitions.  (Applause.)  So let's show the American people that we can do it 
together.  (Applause.)

This week, I'll be addressing a meeting of the House Republicans.  I'd like to 
begin monthly meetings with both Democratic and Republican leadership.  I know 
you can't wait.  (Laughter.)

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.  We can 
argue all we want about who's to blame for this, but I'm not interested in 
re-litigating the past. I know that all of us love this country.  All of us are 
committed to its defense.  So let's put aside the schoolyard taunts about who's 
tough.  Let's reject the false choice between protecting our people and 
upholding our values.  Let's leave behind the fear and division, and do what it 
takes to defend our nation and forge a more hopeful future -- for America and 
for the world.  (Applause.)

That's the work we began last year.  Since the day I took office, we've renewed 
our focus on the terrorists who threaten our nation.  We've made substantial 
investments in our homeland security and disrupted plots that threatened to 
take American lives.  We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed 
Christmas attack, with better airline security and swifter action on our 
intelligence.  We've prohibited torture and strengthened partnerships from the 
Pacific to South Asia to the Arabian Peninsula.  And in the last year, hundreds 
of al Qaeda's fighters and affiliates, including many senior leaders, have been 
captured or killed -- far more than in 2008.

And in Afghanistan, we're 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.  (Applause.)  We will reward good governance, work to 
reduce corruption, and support the rights of all Afghans -- men and women 
alike.  (Applause.)  We're joined by allies and partners who have increased 
their own commitments, and who will come together tomorrow in London to 
reaffirm our common purpose.  There will be difficult days ahead.  But I am 
absolutely confident we will succeed.

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.  (Applause.)  We will support the Iraqi government -- 
we will support the Iraqi government as they hold elections, and we will 
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.  (Applause.)   

Tonight, all of our men and women in uniform -- in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and 
around the world -- they have to know that we -- that they have our respect, 
our gratitude, 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.  
(Applause.)  That's why we made the largest increase in investments for 
veterans in decades -- last year.  (Applause.)   That's why we're building a 
21st century VA.  And that's why Michelle has joined with Jill Biden to forge a 
national commitment to support military families.  (Applause.)

Now, even as we prosecute two wars, we're also confronting perhaps the greatest 
danger to the American people -- the threat of nuclear weapons.  I've embraced 
the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan 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.  (Applause.)  And at April's Nuclear Security 
Summit, we will bring 44 nations together here in Washington, D.C. 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.  (Applause.)

Now, these diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with 
those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of 
nuclear weapons.  That's why North Korea now faces increased isolation, and 
stronger sanctions -- sanctions that are being vigorously enforced.  That's why 
the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is 
more isolated.  And as Iran's leaders continue to ignore their obligations, 
there should be no doubt:  They, too, will face growing consequences.  That is 
a promise.  (Applause.)

That's the leadership that we are providing -- engagement that advances the 
common security and prosperity of all people. We're working through the G20 to 
sustain a lasting global recovery.  We're working with Muslim communities 
around the world to promote science and education and innovation.  We have gone 
from a bystander to a leader in the fight against climate change. We're 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 bioterrorism or an infectious disease 
-- a plan that will counter threats at home and strengthen public health abroad.

As we have for over 60 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's why, as we meet here tonight, over 10,000 Americans are working 
with many nations to help the people of Haiti recover and rebuild.  (Applause.) 
 That's why we stand with the girl who yearns to go to school in Afghanistan; 
why we support the human rights of the women marching through the streets of 
Iran; why 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.  
(Applause.)  Always.  (Applause.)

Abroad, America's 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're all created 
equal; that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the 
law you should be protected by it; if you adhere to our common values you 
should be treated no different than anyone else.    

We must continually renew this promise.  My administration has a Civil Rights 
Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment 
discrimination.  (Applause.)  We finally strengthened our laws to protect 
against crimes driven by hate.  (Applause.)  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.  (Applause.)  
It's the right thing to do.  (Applause.)  

We're going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws -- so that women get 
equal pay for an equal day's work.  (Applause.) And we should continue the work 
of fixing our broken immigration system -- to secure our borders and enforce 
our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our 
economy and enrich our nation.  (Applause.)

In the end, it's our ideals, our values that built America  -- values 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 aren't Republican values or 
Democratic values that they're living by; business values or labor values.  
They're American values.  

Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest 
institutions -- our corporations, our media, and, yes, our government -- still 
reflect these same values.  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, people's doubts grow.  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 to silly 
arguments, big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away.  

No wonder there's so much cynicism out there.  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 who aren't sure if they 
still believe we can change -- or that I can deliver it. 

But remember this -- I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I 
could do it alone.  Democracy in a nation of 300 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.  That's just how it is.

Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and 
avoid telling hard truths and pointing fingers.  We can do what's necessary to 
keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election instead of doing 
what's best for the next generation. 

But I also know this:  If people had made that decision 50 years ago, or 100 
years ago, or 200 years ago, we wouldn't be here tonight.  The only reason we 
are here 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 their grandchildren.

Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them 
were deserved.  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 going -- what keeps me fighting -- is that despite all these 
setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism, that fundamental decency 
that has always been at the core of the American people, that lives on.   

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 it lives on in all the Americans who've dropped everything to go someplace 
they've never been and pull people they've never known from the rubble, 
prompting chants of "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!  U.S.A!" when another life was saved. 

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 don't quit.  I don't quit.  (Applause.)  Let's seize this moment -- to start 
anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.  
(Applause.)

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

                                         END                   10:20 P.M. EST
 

--
Chela Robles
E-Mail: cdrobles693@xxxxxxxxx

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