President Barack Obama begins his speech at 9:09 p.m.
The constitution declares that the president will give the state of the union "from time to time." They've done so during the good and the bad.
You can look back and say, we were always destined to succeed, but look at Bull Run, Black Tuesday, Bloody Sunday, "the future was anything but certain."
"It tested the courage of our convictions."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Ledger-Enquirer
"Again we are tested, and again we must answer history's calls."
Into the economy ...
The worst has passed, but the devastation remains. Businesses have closed, rural areas hit hard. People are working "longer and harder for less."
"I know the anxieties that are out there now." But these struggles are why he ran for president. For some, change hasn't come fast enough.
Question: Why work on Wall Street rewarded and on Main Street it isn't?
We can't afford pettiness now. We face big challenges, both parties must overcome differences and even though we've got various beliefs and values, we face the same problems.
A woman wrote to me: "We are strained but hopeful. Struggling but encouraged."
Because of this, I've never been more hopeful about America's future than tonight.
(The first applause during the speech)
"Despite our hardships, our union is strong."
If one thing unified both parties, it was the bank bailout. "It was about as popular as a root canal."
I said I'd do what was necessary. If allowed meltdown, unemployment could be higher, more homes lost.
But the markets are now stabilized, "and we recovered most of the money we spent on the banks. Most, but not all."
To get the rest, I proposed a fee on the biggest banks. Wall Street's not "keen." But they can afford to rescue taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.
Things done to stabilized economy: Passed 25 different tax cuts. "Now let me repeat, we cut taxes."
(Republicans don't clap)
"I thought I'd get some applause on that one."
The result: Americans had more to spend, and we haven't raised income taxes on anyone.
Because of that, there are 2 million people working who otherwise wouldn't be.
(Harry Reid caught yawning)
The stimulus bill, aka the recovery act, helped achieve saving jobs. Economists say it's helped save jobs and "avert disaster."
After two years of recession, the economy is growing again. Retirement funds growing back, and some beginning to hire again.
But there are other stories: People who send out resumes, get no replies.
"That is why jobs must be our No. 1 focus in 2010."
Start with small businesses, where most new jobs are. Through determination, small businesses have grown. I propose a new tax business tax credit, to those who hire new workers or raise wages. Eliminate capital gains tax on new small businesses.
"We can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow."
Put more people to work building clean energy buildings.
Give tax breaks to people who create jobs "right here in America."
The House has already passed a bill that includes some of these steps. I know the Senate will do the same.
"People are out of work. They're hurting, and they need help. I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay."
We must lay a foundation for longterm growth. We can't repeat the 90s.
I've been told that my grand schemes are too big, that they should be put on hold.
"How long should we wait? Washington has told us to wait for decades. Meanwhile, China's not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany's not waiting."
"I do not accept second place for the United States of America."
We must be serious about fixing the problem of growth.
Families and consumers must have the info to make good decisions. The House has passed financial reform, "and the lobbyists are trying to kill it."
Moving onto to innovation ...
To make clean energy jobs, we need clean nuclear power plants, offshore oil and gas development, biofuels and clean coal technologies, "and, yes, it means passing a clean climate and energy bill ..."
Question: Can we afford that in this economy? Doubts about global warming ...
The nation that leads the way will lead the world, "and America needs to be that nation."
We need to make and export more goods. Tonight, a goal: We'll double our exports, it'll support 2 million American jobs.
"We have to seek new markets aggressively." We can't lose the chance to create new jobs in America.
We'll strengthen trade relations with South America, Panama, Columbia.
We've got to invest in the stengths of our people.
Moving onto education ...
The best anti-poverty program in the world is an education. But in this economy, a high school diploma doesn't guarantee a job. We've got to revitalize our community colleges.
Let's give $10,000 to families for four years of college and increase Pell grants.
Forgive debt of college students after 20 years, if they pay 10 percent.
"Because in America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college."
Moving onto home ownership ...
This year, we'll step up refinancing, so people can get more affordable mortgages. It's to relieve the burden on middle class families, and that leads to ...
Health insurance reform.
"Now, let's clear a few things up."
I didn't pick this because it was good politics, to get a win under my belt. I chose it because of the stories I heard, about people with pre-existing conditions, people who have been denied coverage.
"We are closer than ever to bringing security to thousands of Americans."
(Acknowledge Michelle Obama)
"She gets embarassed."
We could reduce deficit by $1 trillion over next two decades. It's a complex issue, people became skeptical. "I take my share of the blame for not explaining it better to the American people."
People wondered what was in it for them.
I want people to take another look at the plan. Doctors think it's an improvement. But if anyone has a better approach that will bring down the deficit, stop insurance company abuses, "Let me know. Let me know. I'm eager to see it."
"Here's what I ask Congress: Don't walk away from reform. Let's get it done."
But health care reform won't dig us out of a financial hole.
Moving on to government spending ...
There were plenty of problems before I walked in the door. "Families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same."
How to solve the cash problem: Halt certain government spending. We'll work within a budget. "And if I have to enforce this discipline through veto, I will."
Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will continue to have skyrocking costs. The Senate blocked the creation of a committee to address spending, so I'll make one through executive order.
"The Senate should restore the pay as you go law." It was the reason for surpluses in the 90s.
Some Democrats will say: You can't freeze spending when people hurt. It won't take effect until next year. " (sounds of surprise) "That's how budgeting works."
The right will make its same arguments about increasing tax cuts for even wealthy Americans, but that's what we did for eight years, and that got us into this situation.
Let's invest in our people without leaving them in debt.
"Let's try common sense. A novel concept."
Moving onto government corruption ...
We post White House visitors online. We must restrict contributions lobbyists give to lawmakers. Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a law that will open the floodgates.
I want Congress to post all earmark requests online before a vote, so we can see how our money is spent.
I'm not naive, I didn't think my election would usher in peace and harmony.
Some disagreements will always exist. "What frustrates the American people is that every day is election day."
Neither party should delay every bill just because they can. Don't stop the qualification of people to public office because of a pet project or a grudge.
Those actions stop helping Americans and it sows division in our people and our government.
"I will not give up on trying to change the tone of our politics."
To the Democrats - we've got the largest majority in decades, and we've still got problems.
To the Republicans - if you want to insist that we must have 60 votes, then the responsibility to govern is yours as well. Maybe it's good short term politics, but it's not good leadership.
"Let's show the American people we can do it together."
I want to start monthly meetings with leaders of both parties.
Moving on to national security ...
We all love this country. Let's leave behind the fear and division, create a better vision for us and the world.
We've renewed focus on security, we've prohibited torture and forged ties with other countries. In Iraq and Afghanistan, our troops can begin coming home in 2011.
"As a candidate, I promised I would end this war and that's what I'm doing."
"Make no mistake ... all of our troops are coming home."
Our troops must know they have our support, and they must know we'll support them when they return home.
The threat of nuclear weapons: Us and Russia are working on an arms treaty. We must ensure such weapons never fall into the hands of terrorists.
Look at North Korea and Iran - they're isolated because of their stance on nuclear weapons. Iran will face greater consequences in the future.
Moving on to America helping others, various goals ...
Our destiny is connected to people beyond our shores. More than 10,000 Americans are helping Haiti rebuild.
We support women's rights, "for America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity. Always."
We have strength in our diversity. My administration has a civil rights division. We support hate crimes legislation.
I want to repeal the law that prohibits gays from serving in the military.
We must fix our broken immigration system.
It's our ideals that helped create our nation. Americans meet their responsibilities each day, they help others.
"These aren't Republican values or Democrat values. They're American values."
But people have lost faith in the media, big corporations. When a CEO rewards himself for failure, people have greater doubts. People lose faith. TV talking heads reduce big arguments into sound bites.
Moving on to the pep talk ...
"No wonder there's so much cynicism out there. No wonder there's so much disappointment."
"I campaigned on a promise of change. Change we can believe in, I promised."
But I didn't say it was easy, or that I could do it alone. Democracy can be "messy and complicated."
We can play it safe, point fingers and do what must be done to get re-elected. But that's not what is good for the next generation.
If people did that 200 years ago, "we wouldn't be here tonight."
We've had setbacks, but they don't compare to what the American people have dealt with. And even with those setbacks, the optimism lives.
I've gotten letters - a boy sent me his allowance and told me to give it to the people of Haiti.
The spirit that has sustained this nation for two centuries lives on in us.
"A new year is coming. A new decade is stretching before us. We don't quit."
"Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America."