“Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes. No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team. This nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we are joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.”
With those words President Barack Obama ended his 2012 State of the Union address.
He began his address by reminding us that for the first time in nine years we no longer have troops fighting in Iraq.
“Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought — and several thousand gave their lives.
We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.”
President Obama reminded us that the economy was in a mess when he took office and that significant progress has been made in turning things around.
“In the six months before I took office, we lost nearly 4 million jobs. And we lost another 4 million before our policies were in full effect.
Those are the facts. But so are these: In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than 3 million jobs.
Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005. American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. Together, we’ve agreed to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion. And we’ve put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like this never happens again.
The state of our Union is getting stronger. And we’ve come too far to turn back now. As long as I’m President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.
The President challenged Congress to extend the payroll tax cut for working Americans and proposed a 30% minimum tax on millionaires (the Buffett Rule) saying;
“You can call this class warfare all you want,” Obama said. “But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.”
President Obama spoke of the need for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to this country when they were children.
“I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. That’s why my administration has put more boots on the border than ever before. That’s why there are fewer illegal crossings than when I took office. The opponents of action are out of excuses. We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now.
But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.”
The President called for an end to the subsidies provided to oil companies for old energy replacing those with incentives for development of new Clean Energy sources.
“We’ve subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits. Create these jobs.”
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez sent said after the speech:
“Tonight the President outlined his vision for our great country. I was glad a majority of his speech focused on our economy and the changes we must implement in order to get us back on track. A growing divide exists within our middle class, and this divide will continue until we implement real reform to our tax structure – both for families and for corporations. We must put into place a fair tax structure that eliminates tax breaks for the top two percent of income earners – the rich must pay their fair share.
“The President also devoted a good portion of his speech to the importance of affordable housing – I’m glad he made this a bigger priority than last year. The residents I represent in Orange County have and continue to suffer from scam mortgage lenders and high foreclosure rates, and stabilizing the housing industry must be a priority by the Administration and Congress. I look forward to working with the President to execute his plan to further address the foreclosure crisis so we can together make America a better place to live.
“Another component to continuing our economic improvement is investing in our children’s education. I applaud the President’s commitment to keeping the costs of public education down – higher education is fundamental to the success of our nation. The President took a strong stance tonight, stating that public universities that keep raising tuition rates will see a decline in taxpayer dollars. I agree with the President, and believe it is imperative that every student who dreams of a college education is able to afford one.
“While the President touched on immigration, I’m disappointed the Administration and this Congress has not focused enough on this issue. Comprehensive immigration reform simply must be addressed in a meaningful, substantive way – it is fundamental to our economic improvement and to the fabric of our nation.
“Bottom line – while many Americans continue to struggle, the President reminded us tonight how resilient the people of our country are, and that our great nation is strong and growing even stronger. I share his commitment to getting Americans back to work and looking forward to an even better tomorrow.”
In case you missed the speech, or just want to see it again, below is the video of his address.