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 Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs