On Tuesday, President Barack Obama delivered his second State of the Union, speaking of the need to maintain America’s leadership in a rapidly changing world so that our economy remains competitive. In order to do so, the President, whose approval ratings are faring slightly better than this time last year, put forth a plan to help the U.S. win the future by “out-innovating, out-educating and out-building our global competition”.
The President began his speech by acknowledging the arguments from both sides of the political spectrum:
It’s no secret that those of us here tonight have had our differences over the last two years. The debates have been contentious; we have fought fiercely for our beliefs. And that’s a good thing. That’s what a robust democracy demands. That’s what helps set us apart as a nation.
But he later called for a united effort to secure our future: “We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business. We need to take responsibility for our deficit and reform our government. That’s how our people will prosper. That’s how we’ll win the future.”
The first step, the President said, is encouraging innovation. He is issuing a challenge to America’s scientists and engineers to invent new clean energy technologies, calling for 80 percent of the nation’s electricity to come from clean sources by 2035 and ensuring the U.S. is the first to put 1 million electric vehicles on the roads by 2015. In order to pay for this, President Obama called for the elimination of oil subsidies, which could generate over $38 billion over the next decade.
In addition, the President also called on Congress to redefine the federal role in education by replacing No Child Left Behind with a new law that raises expectations, challenges failure, rewards success, and provides greater flexibility for schools to innovate and improve results for their students. He also wants his American Opportunity Tax Credit made permanent.
The President proposed efforts to repair and rebuild America’s infrastructure and guarantee the nation has the fastest way to move people, goods and information in terms of transportation and high-speed internet, extending the next generation of wireless coverage to 98 percent of the population. He also ordered a regulation review to remove unnecessary burdens to reform government, our corporate tax system and reduce the rate of health care cost growth.
In order to reduce the nation’s deficits, the President announced a five-year freeze on all spending outside of security, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, but stressed the importance of bipartisanship to cut spending where appropriate in order to “do big things”.
From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That’s how we win the future.
We’re a nation that says, “I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new company.” “I might not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the first to get my degree.” “I might not know those people in trouble, but I think I can help them, and I need to try.” “I’m not sure how we’ll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but I know we’ll get there. I know we will.”
We do big things.