News / USA

Obama Stresses Economy and Job Creation in State of the Union Speech

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union Address on Capitol Hill, Jan 25 2011
President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union Address on Capitol Hill, Jan 25 2011
Kent Klein

Text of President Obama's speech

White House website


President Barack Obama has used his annual State of the Union address to outline his plan for growing U.S. jobs and making America more competitive in the global economy.  The president also proposed a partial government spending freeze, to help reduce the deficit.

In his yearly speech to Congress and tens of millions of Americans watching on television, President Obama called for more U.S. investment in education, infrastructure and scientific innovation.  

He said America needs to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.

“We have to make America the best place on earth to do business," said President Obama. "We need to take responsibility for our deficit and reform our government.  That is how our people will prosper.  That is how we will win the future.”  

Mr. Obama’s second State of the Union speech, before both houses of Congress, focused mostly on domestic issues, particularly the economy.

One seat in the House chamber was left empty, for Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who is recovering after being shot in an assassination attempt on January 8th.

That shooting, in which six people were killed, set off a national discussion about the need for greater civility in American politics.

As a result, many Democratic and Republican lawmakers sat together during this year’s State of the Union address, instead of the usual practice of sitting on separate sides of the aisle.

In the speech, the president used some of his most optimistic language yet in describing the nation’s economic recovery.

“Now we are poised for progress," said Obama. "Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back.  Corporate profits are up.  The economy is growing again.”

But Mr. Obama acknowledged that unemployment remains high and that Americans want their leaders to focus on creating jobs.

Related report by Carolyn Presutti

The president laid out an agenda for improving American competitiveness.  It includes increased government spending to help boost research and development, especially in clean energy technologies.

He also called for new federal initiatives to improve American schools and colleges, as well as investments in upgrading the country’s infrastructure and reforming government.

In the Republican Party response, Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said Mr. Obama continues to overspend.

“Depending on bureaucracy to foster innovation, competitiveness and wise consumer choices has never worked and it will not work now," said Representative Ryan. "We need to chart a new course.”

The president responded to Republican concerns about the federal deficit by proposing to freeze much of the government’s civilian spending at its current level for five years.  He said the plan would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion, over 10 years.

In a statement issued before the speech, Speaker of the House John Boehner called the proposal “inadequate.”

In other areas, Mr. Obama said Washington should take on the contentious issue of reforming U.S. immigration policy.

“I know that debate will be difficult and take time," he said. "But tonight, let’s agree to make that effort.  And let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses and further enrich this nation.”

On foreign affairs, the president said America’s standing in the world has been restored.

Mr. Obama said the Iraq war is coming to an end, progress is being made toward eventually handing over responsibility for Afghanistan’s security to Afghans, and the al-Qaida terror network is on the run.

“We have sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: We will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you," said President Obama.

The president said the United States stands with the people of Tunisia in their democratic aspirations, and he saluted the recent peaceful vote for independence in South Sudan.

“Thousands lined up before dawn," said Obama. "People danced in the streets.  One man who lost four of his brothers at war summed up the scene around him: ‘This was a battlefield for most of my life,’ he said.  ‘Now we want to be free.’”

Mr. Obama announced that he will visit Brazil, Chile and El Salvador, late in March.

He also called on lawmakers to approve a free trade agreement with South Korea and said he will pursue similar pacts with Panama and Colombia.

There was no mention of the stalled Middle East peace process.

On Wednesday, President Obama will visit Wisconsin, where he will begin a campaign for the initiatives he outlined Tuesday night.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Kurdish service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs