|President Obama: America is back!|
|Thursday, 26 January 2012 11:31|
Keeping American dream alive is "defining issue of our time"
Launching with his foreign policy successes – the war ending in Iraq and the killing of Osama Bin Laden – President Obama delivered his third State of the Union address before a joint sitting of Congress on Tuesday night.
He told Americans the country still faced significant challenges, but the solution was a choice between opportunities for a few or giving everyone a chance to prosper. He said the basic American dream that if one worked hard, one could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send one's kids to college and put a little away for retirement, must be kept alive. Finding a way to do this is the "defining issue of our time," he said.
"No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important," he said. "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." What is at stake, and must be reclaimed, he said, are American values, not Democratic or Republican values.
"The state of our Union is getting stronger," President Obama said, "and we've come too far to turn back now."
Resurgence of the auto industry
The President said he's willing to work with anyone in Congress to build on this momentum, but he intended to fight obstruction with action and oppose any effort to return to the same policies that brought on this economic crisis. "I will reject any efforts to go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits," he said. The president offered a blueprint to move the economy forward, "an economy built to last – built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values."
Taking an obvious shot at Republican presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, and others who wanted him to let the industry go bankrupt, President Obama said, "On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen." He said, "We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world's No. 1 automaker."
Referring to the resurgence in the U.S. auto industry, the president said the blue print begins with manufacturing and the opportunity must be seized to bring manufacturing back. He told business leaders to ask themselves what they can do "to bring jobs back to your country and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed."
Pointing to tax inequities that have been at the center of the debate recently, the President said it will cost the country nearly $1 trillion more to continue "what was supposed to be a temporary tax break for the wealthiest two percent of Americans.... Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary."
He said this money could be used to invest in education and medical research and called for the tax code to be changed to follow the Buffett rule that if one makes more than $1 million a year, one should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes.
He continued: "Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense."
The president announced several policy proposals for the final year of his first term in office. These proposals include:
• a tax code that lets the Bush tax cuts expire and the wealthy pay more taxes
• more refinancing for pressured homeowners allowing them to save $3,000 a year on their mortgage
• additional tax breaks for companies that create jobs in the U.S.; more clean energy incentives
• enhanced education and job training initiatives
• establishment of a Financial Crimes Unit to crack down on large-scale fraud and protect people's investments
• a minimum tax rate for the wealthiest Americans
• the creation of a China task force to monitor trade violations
However, President Obama said, "none of these reforms can happen unless we also lower the temperature in this town. 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... An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody."
He expressed confidence in the renewal of America's leadership globally, saying, "Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn't know what they're talking about."
|Last Updated on Friday, 27 January 2012 11:46|