State of the Union: Barack Obama delivers the annual address

ariquelmy@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 24, 2012 

The Ledger-Enquirer live blogged the 2012 State of the Union address, which aired Jan. 24, 2012. See a full recap below:

The House of Representatives is filled with elected officials. President Barack Obama has not yet entered the chamber. The camera focuses on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who will resign her office within days.

The doors to the chamber have opened. Obama is announced. He enters and begins the long walk toward the lectern. People crowd toward the aisle to shake his hand. GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor is right behind him.

Obama greets Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. He's now making his way through the justices. Ruth Bader Ginsberg gets a hug. Obama then makes his way to Giffords and gives her a huge hug. The crowd's applause is overwhelming.

Obama reaches the lectern. He greets Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker John Boehner.

The president is once again announced -- a tradition for the State of the Union.

Obama's speech begins:

I went to Andrews Air Force base last month. I greeted troops which had recently returned from Iraq. Our nation is safer and more respected around the world.

(First standing O within 60 seconds of speech)

No Americans are now fighting in Iraq. Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to this country. (Standing O.)

Most of al-Qaeda's lieutenants are defeated. These achievements are a testament to America's armed forces. "They exceed all expectations."

"Imagine what we could accomplish if we follow their example."

The America within our reach: We teach our children, attract high paying jobs, we control our own energy. An economy built to last and where hard work pays off.

"We can do this, because we've done it before."

It happened after World War II. My grandfather was on the GI Bill. My grandmother was on an assembly line. They knew they were part of something larger. They had the American promise: work hard, put your kids through college.

How do we keep that promise alive? Nothing is more important. A shrinking number of people do very well, and a growing number of people are without. Or, we can all play by the same set of rules.

These aren't values divided by party. They're American values. "Let's remember how we got here."

Before the recession, jobs left. Technology made some jobs efficient and others obsolete. Personal debt kept growing.

"In 2008, the house of cards collapsed."

Banks made promises. Regulators looked the other way. "It was wrong. It was irresponsible."

We lost about 4 million jobs right before I took office. Those are facts.

In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than 3 million jobs. (Standing O.) Last year, the most jobs had been created since 2005.

We've agreed to cut the deficit, and we've agreed to hold Wall Street accountable so this situation never happens again.

"The state of our union has grown stronger."

I'll fight obstruction with action, and I'll oppose anything that brought about this economic crisis in the first place.

We won't return to an economy built on phony promises and bad debt. I will talk about an economy built on American values and workers.

This blueprint begins with American manufacturing. I refused to let American jobs disappear. We got auto industry to restructure. General Motors is now back on top as the world's No. 1 auto maker. Chrysler has grown more than any auto company. The whole industry has added about 160,000 jobs.

"Tonight, the American auto industry is back."

But this situation can happen in other industries. We can't bring every job back, but it's getting more expensive to do business in China. Meanwhile, it's cheaper to do business in America.

Master lock business in Milwaukee is working at full capacity for the first time in 15 years.

My message to business leaders: What can you do to bring jobs back to your country. Your country will do everything it can to help you succeed.

Let's talk about tax breaks: If you want to outsource jobs, you shouldn't get a tax deduction for doing it. That money should be used for companies who bring jobs home.

Also, no American company should avoid paying taxes by moving operations overseas. All companies should have to pay a minimum tax, and money should be used to lower taxes for companies who hire people in America.

"My message is simple: It's time to stop rewarding companies who send jobs overseas."

We're making it easier for American companies to sell products overseas. Soon, cars from America will be sold in foreign companies. I'll go anywhere to open markets for American products.

It's not OK when other counties allow our music and movies to be pirated.

I'm announcing an entity that will inspect these allegations. Our workers are the most productive on earth. "I promise you, if the playing field is level, America will always win."

Science-related jobs have more openings than any other job. SHOUT OUT: Jackie Bray is a single mom laid off as a mechanic. A company paid her tuition, then hired her to work at its plant. Let's train 2 million Americans to learn skills that will lead to a job.

My administration has lined up companies willing to help. Americans need to learn data management, for example. We need to put people to work.

These reforms will help people get jobs today. But the jobs of tomorrow require more. Tight budgets have caused states to lay off teachers. A great teacher can help a kid escape from poverty. Everyone here can point to a great teacher that changed their lives.

"Teachers matter."

Let's reward the best teachers. Let's give schools flexibility. Let's replace teachers who aren't helping kids learn. "That's a bargain worth making."

When students aren't allowed to drop out, they do better. I propose that every state requires that all students must graduate or turn 18 before they can leave school. When kids graduate, the biggest problem can be paying for college.

We can't subsidize skyrocketing tuition. Some schools redesign courses. I'll put colleges on notice. If you can't stop rising tuition costs, you'll get less government aid.

Here's another challenge: Some kids aren't American citizens. They may have been brought as infants, though they're truly American. Others are trained and then sent home with training.

There are fewer illegal crossings now. We should work on comprehensive immigration reform.

But election year politics could stop that. Send me a law that gives people a chance to earn their citizenship. I'll sign it.

Women should earn equal pay for equal work. (Is someone not clapping for this?)

"Innovation is what America has always been about."

Innovation demands basic research. Don't gut these investments in our budget. Don't let other countries beat us. That promise is the greatest in American made energy.

America's oil production now highest in eight years. But we've only got 2 percent of world's oil reserves. We need to use all our available resources. It must be cleaner, cheaper and full of new jobs. We've got natural gas that could last us 100 years. I'll do whatever I can to exploit this source.

"America will develop this resource without putting Americans at risk."

We should be the leader the in development of high tech batteries. I won't cede battery or wind industry to China. It's time to end tax payer giveaways to oil industry. Congress should pass clean energy tax credits and create jobs.

We need a clean energy standard. The Department of Defense will commit to clean energy. The Navy will purchase enough power to power 250,000 homes each year.

Help manufacturers to stop wasting energy. We'll have less pollution. Send me a bill that creates these jobs.

We need to rebuild America's infrastructure. We built the Hoover Dam during the Great Depression. In the next few weeks, I'll sign an executive order that helps construction projects. Let's do some nation building right here at home.

"There's never been a better time to build."

I'll give homeowners a chance to refinance at historically low rates.

It's time to apply the same rules to everyone. No bail outs, no cop outs. We need rules to prevent financial fraud. Don't destroy the free market. Make it better.

I've ordered federal agencies to remove rules that don't make sense. There was a rule that required milk farmers to pay $10,000 to prove they could handle it when a cow spilled milk. That was a milk spill you should cry about. (Slow clapping, gut hurting, bad joke ...)

I won't let Wall Street go back to playing by its own rules. If you're big bank, you can't play loose with people's money. Because we're not bailing you out again.

Some financial firms violate laws because there's no penalty for repeat offenders. I want the attorney general to examine abusive practices that led to the housing crisis. This will return us to the American values of fair play.

We need to stop a tax hike on millions of Americans while the economy is still fragile. People can't afford to lose $40 out of each paycheck. "Pass the payroll tax cut without delay. Let's get it done."

About the deficit: We must do more. We must make choices. Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

"The American people know what the right choice is. So do I." The wealthiest should pay their fair share of taxes. If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. If you make under $250,000, you shouldn't pay more.

This generation's success is because of past generations. That's how we'll reduce our deficit. "That's an America built to last."

I know people have differing views of taxes and debt and health care. But I bet most people are thinking the same thing right now: Nothing will happen in D.C. this year or next, because D.C. is broken.

The divide between D.C. and the rest of the country gets worse every year. Let's stop insider trading among members of Congress. I'll sign it tomorrow. Let's stop elected officials from owning stocks in companies they effect.

A simple majority is no longer enough to get simple business passed through the Senate. Both parties should put an end to it.

Also, I want to make the executive branch leaner and more responsive to the American people.

"We've got to lower the temperature in this town."

Politics isn't about rigid ideologies. I believe what Abraham Lincoln believed: that government should only do what it can for people that they cannot do for themselves.

That's why we're getting rid of regulations that don't work. Even my Republican friends agree.

We can make real progress. I will keep taking actions that help the economy grow. "When we work together, there's nothing the United States of America can't achieve."

We've learned that from actions abroad. We've started to wind down the war in Afghanistan. We'll ensure that country is never again a source of attacks against America.

We'll stand for rights of all people. Tyranny is no match for liberty. Look at Iran: that regime is more isolated than ever before. This pressure won't relent. We will prevent them from getting nukes.

A peaceful resolution is still possible.

We've led missions against poverty and disease. If people tell you America is in decline, they don't know what they're talking about. People across the world don't feel that way. We can't control everything, but we're indispensable in world events.

Our freedom endures because of those in uniform who defend it. We must serve them as much as they've served us. We've increased annual VA spending since I've been president. We provide tax credits to those who give jobs to veterans.

I propose a veterans job corps. America should be as strong as those who defend it.

This brings me back to where I began. We can learn from those who serve in the military. If you serve, it doesn't matter what you believe.

Political party doesn't matter in a situation such as the one where bin Laden was killed. "Our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes."

There is no challenge too great, no mission too hard. "The state of our union will always be strong. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America."

(End of speech)

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