January 26, 2011 (Washington D.C.) – President Barack Obama, speaking before a politically divided Congress, called on legislators to set aside partisan differences and work together to help America outcompete other nations in a fast-changing global economy. “We need to out-innovate, out educate and outbuild the rest of the world,” he said. “We have to make America the best place on earth to do business.”
The President laid out a blueprint to “win the future” that include investment in infrastructure, high-speed rail, clean-energy technology and high-speed internet, as well as eliminating “No Child Left Behind” and instead implementing his “Race to the Top” goals to improve education of our nation’s children. He also called for specific budget cuts to reduce the deficit by $400 billion over 10 years.
View a video of the State of the Union Speech: http://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2011/01/26/2011-state-u...
Read the full text: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/25/remarks-president-...
Read other highlights of the President's speech and the Republican response below:
The President called for investment in innovation to boost America's competitiveness against countries such as India and China, noting that it’s not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research.
“Throughout our history, our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. That’s what planted the seeds for the Internet. That’s what helped make possible things like computer chips and GPS," he said. "Just think of all the good jobs -- from manufacturing to retail -- that have come from these breakthroughs. Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we would beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t even there yet. NASA didn’t exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.”
The President said he will send Congress a budget that will include a level of research and development not seen since the Space Race. “We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology -– (applause) -- an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”
He cited the example of a small roofing company in Michigan. “After September 11th, they volunteered their best roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their factory went unused, and the recession hit them hard. Today, with the help of a government loan, that empty space is being used to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold all across the country. In Robert’s words, “We reinvented ourselves.”
Noting that Americans have reinvented themselves repeatedly in our 200 year history, Obama said the nation is now reinventing its energy policy. “We’re issuing a challenge. We’re telling America’s scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we’ll fund the Apollo projects of our time.”
The President called for civility in the wake of the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, whose seat was empty during last night’s speech as members wore black-and-white lapel ribbons to honor the dead and injured. The tone in the audience was civil, with many members of both parties seated together this year instead of on opposite sides of the aisle.
He praised House Speaker John Boehner as an example of “someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father’s Cincinnati bar” as an example of the possibilities that America offers to people of all backgrounds.
"We measure progress by the success of our people,” the President said. “By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children."
He highlighted the need for improving access to higher education. "But if we want to win the future - if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas - then we also have to win the race to educate our kids,” he said. “Over the next 10 years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren't even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us - as citizens, and as parents - are willing to do what's necessary to give every child a chance to succeed."
He called Race to the Top “ the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than 1 percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. And these standards were developed, by the way, not by Washington, but by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country.”
He pledged to work with both parties on immigration reforms and strengthening our borders, but also made clear he intends to address the needs of children raised in this country by undocumented immigrants. “Let's stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation,” he said, noting that these children have been raised as Americans.
With the worst of the recession over, the President pledged to address spending and said it’s not acceptable for the government to spend more than it brings in. “Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same. So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president." He also indicated the nation can’t afford the “expense” of extending tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires while cutting services to those who are less fortunate.
To free up funds for projects proposed, the President also pledged the largest overall of the federal government in decades to consolidate agencies with overlapping jurisdictions.
He said he would welcome ideas from Republicans on healthcare if those ideas would improve care or reduce costs, but that he would oppose reducing healthcare quality, such as going back to the days when insurance companies could deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.
The President pledged to begin bringing troops home from Afghanistan in July but did not give a timetable for full withdrawal.
He praised America’s entrepreneurial spirit, cited a U.S. company that devised the solution to free trapped Chilean miners, and said the American dream endures.
“Our destiny remains our choice,” he said. ? It’s because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.”
The Republican Response
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan delivered the official Republican response to the President’s State of the Union address.
Ryan praised Obama for addressing the deficit. “We face a crushing burden of debt. The debt will soon eclipse our entire economy, and grow to catastrophic levels in the years ahead.”
But he criticized Obama’s spending proposals and investment thus far in stimulus expenditures. “Unfortunately, instead of restoring the fundamentals of economic growth, he engaged in a stimulus spending spree that not only failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs, but also plunged us even deeper into debt,” he said, noting that unemployment remains at 9%.
Ryan outlined Republican goals, which include paring back the role of government, a sharp contrast to Obama’s strategy of investment to reinvent America for the future. He said Republicans believe "that the government has an important role to create the conditions that promote entrepreneurship, upward mobility, and individual responsibility."
“We believe, as our founders did, that “the pursuit of happiness” depends upon individual liberty; and individual liberty requires limited government,” Republican Ryan concluded. “Limited government and free enterprise have helped make America the greatest nation on earth.”