News / USA

Obama Touts Economic Plan in State of the Union Address

Kent Klein

As he faces a tough re-election campaign, President Barack Obama devoted much of his annual State of the Union address Tuesday night to his plan to speed the U.S. economic recovery. 

President Obama went before a sharply divided Congress and a concerned American public to promote his ideas for boosting economic prosperity.

"Tonight I want to speak about how we move forward and lay out a blueprint for an economy that is built to last - an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers and a renewal of American values," he said.

A Look at President Obama's Previous State of the Union Addresses

  • 2011: Mr. Obama proposed a partial government spending freeze, and called for more investment in education and infrastructure.  He said the war in Iraq is coming to an end.  He said the U.S. stands with the people of Tunisia, whose protests drove their president out of the country.
  • 2010: Mr. Obama urged Americans to work together to solve the damaged economy and other problems. He said the U.S. faces a deficit of trust in government.  He also pledged to remove U.S. combat troops from Iraq and said the U.S. will succeed in Afghanistan.
  • 2009: While not technically a State of the Union, Mr. Obama delivered a speech on the economy to a joint session of Congress one month after taking office.  He said years of irresponsibility and short-term thinking had brought a "day of reckoning."

To reassure a worried middle class, the president stressed one of the main themes of his re-election campaign: reducing income inequality and making the economy more fair.

"The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive.  No challenge is more urgent.  No debate is more important," he said.

The president said it is time to reclaim what he called "American values."

"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," he said.

Mr. Obama's plan includes tax breaks for companies that keep jobs in the U.S, a new Trade Enforcement Unit to investigate unfair trade practices in other countries, support for clean energy industries, tighter financial regulation, and programs to help send more Americans to college.

With comprehensive immigration reform stalled in Congress, the president called for smaller measures.

"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 and defend this country," he said.

Mr. Obama acknowledged that his proposals face fierce opposition from Republicans in Congress, and he said he will continue fighting, with or without their support.

"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," he said.

In the Republican response, Governor Mitch Daniels of the central state of Indiana blasted what he called Mr. Obama's "extremism" and "pro-poverty policy."

"No feature of the Obama presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others.  As in previous moments of national danger, we Americans are all in the same boat," he said.

President Obama said the U.S. has achieved a number of foreign policy victories in the past year.  

He mentioned the end of the Iraq war, progress being made in the war in Afghanistan, and the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, as well as the Arab Spring movement and hope for greater freedom in Burma.  

Mr. Obama also said U.S.-led international pressure on Iran because of its nuclear program is having an effect.

He said the renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe, and that America is back.

"Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, does not know what they are talking about," he said.

The president leaves Wednesday on a three-day, five-state trip, during which he will take his economic plan to the American people.

Watch the entire speeches:



You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs