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State of the Union Recap
  • January 24, 2012 : 20:01
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President Barack Obama delivered his third State of the Union Address last night, a speech many pundits predicted would be the launching pad for his re-election campaign but that proved to be an optimistic, rhetoric laden blueprint for the future of America. It touched on the many issues facing Americans today: job creation, tax reform, education and sustainable energy. It was a speech hailed as hopeful but not without its trepidations and reprimands. Obama chided both sides of Congress for their stagnant insistence on partisan lines and he did not shy away from the idea of class warfare. The speech was not without its shots at his Republican challengers –this is after all an election year- but for the most part it was a populist, bipartisan program aimed at restoring faith in the American economy and the political process, regardless of political ties.

Here are the highlights:

On the War on Terror: “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.”

On the Economy: “We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

On Bailouts: “Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a Government and a financial system that do the same. It's time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.”

On Job Creation:  “In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than three million jobs. Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005…I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help they need. It's time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work.”

On Outsourcing: “It's time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America.”

On Tax Reform: “Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn't go up.”

On Education: “Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. Extend the tuition tax credit we started that saves middle-class families thousands of dollars. And give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years.”

On Immigration Reform: “Let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country.”

On American Energy: “This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy - a strategy that's cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I'm requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.”

On Housing: “I'm sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low interest rates.”

On the State of Politics: “I've talked tonight about the deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. But the divide between this city and the rest of the country is at least as bad - and it seems to get worse every year…We need to end the notion that the two parties must be locked in a perpetual campaign of mutual destruction; that politics is about clinging to rigid ideologies instead of building consensus around common sense ideas.”

Only Joke of the Night: “We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill - because milk was somehow classified as an oil. With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk.”

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