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Obama’s First State of the Union—Full Remarks

Posted on Jan 27, 2010
White House / Pete Souza

(Page 2)

Now, the true engine of job creation in this country will always be America’s businesses.  (Applause.)  But government can create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand and hire more workers.

We should start where most new jobs do—in small businesses, companies that begin when—(applause)—companies that begin when an entrepreneur—when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides it’s time she became her own boss.  Through sheer grit and determination, these companies have weathered the recession and they’re ready to grow.  But when you talk to small businessowners in places like Allentown, Pennsylvania, or Elyria, Ohio, you find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again, they’re mostly lending to bigger companies.  Financing remains difficult for small businessowners across the country, even those that are making a profit.

So tonight, I’m proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. (Applause.)  I’m also proposing a new small business tax credit
-– one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages.  (Applause.)  While we’re at it, let’s also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment, and provide a tax incentive for all large businesses and all small businesses to invest in new plants and equipment.  (Applause.)

Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow.  (Applause.)  From the first railroads to the Interstate Highway System, our nation has always been built to compete.  There’s no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products.


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Tomorrow, I’ll visit Tampa, Florida, where workers will soon break ground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act.  (Applause.)  There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help move our nation’s goods, services, and information.  (Applause.)

We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities—(applause)—and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy-efficient, which supports clean energy jobs.  (Applause.)  And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

Now, the House has passed a jobs bill that includes some of these steps.  (Applause.)  As the first order of business this year, I urge the Senate to do the same, and I know they will.  (Applause.)  They will.  (Applause.)  People are out of work.  They’re hurting.  They need our help.  And I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay.  (Applause.)

But the truth is, these steps won’t make up for the seven million jobs that we’ve lost over the last two years.  The only way to move to full employment is to lay a new foundation for long-term economic growth, and finally address the problems that America’s families have confronted for years. 

We can’t afford another so-called economic “expansion” like the one from the last decade –- what some call the “lost decade” -– where jobs grew more slowly than during any prior expansion; where the income of the average American household declined while the cost of health care and tuition reached record highs; where prosperity was built on a housing bubble and financial speculation.

From the day I took office, I’ve been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious; such an effort would be too contentious.  I’ve been told that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for a while.

For those who make these claims, I have one simple question: How long should we wait?  How long should America put its future on hold?  (Applause.)

You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse.  Meanwhile, China is not waiting to revamp its economy.  Germany is not waiting.  India is not waiting.  These nations—they’re not standing still.  These nations aren’t playing for second place.  They’re putting more emphasis on math and science.  They’re rebuilding their infrastructure.  They’re making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.  Well, I do not accept second place for the United States of America.  (Applause.)

As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may become, it’s time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.

Now, one place to start is serious financial reform.  Look, I am not interested in punishing banks.  I’m interested in protecting our economy.  A strong, healthy financial market makes it possible for businesses to access credit and create new jobs. It channels the savings of families into investments that raise incomes.  But that can only happen if we guard against the same recklessness that nearly brought down our entire economy.

We need to make sure consumers and middle-class families have the information they need to make financial decisions.  (Applause.)  We can’t allow financial institutions, including those that take your deposits, to take risks that threaten the whole economy. 

Now, the House has already passed financial reform with many of these changes.  (Applause.)  And the lobbyists are trying to kill it.  But we cannot let them win this fight.  (Applause.)  And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back until we get it right.  We’ve got to get it right.  (Applause.)

Next, we need to encourage American innovation.  Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history -– (applause)—an investment that could lead to the world’s cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched.  And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy.  You can see the results of last year’s investments in clean energy -– in the North Carolina company that will create 1,200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put a thousand people to work making solar panels.

But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives.  And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.  (Applause.)  It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.  (Applause.)  It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies.  (Applause.)  And, yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.  (Applause.)

I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year.  (Applause.)  And this year I’m eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate.  (Applause.)

I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy.  I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.  But here’s the thing—even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future—because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.  And America must be that nation.  (Applause.)

Third, we need to export more of our goods.  (Applause.)  Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America.  (Applause.)  So tonight, we set a new goal:  We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America.  (Applause.)  To help meet this goal, we’re launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security.  (Applause.)

We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores.  (Applause.)  But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules.  (Applause.)  And that’s why we’ll continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea and Panama and Colombia.  (Applause.)

Fourth, we need to invest in the skills and education of our people.  (Applause.)

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By Leila, February 11, 2010 at 12:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

He promises to veto spending except on social and health care programs… And
national security. Why can we not let go of our stupid let’s make more weapons

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By TAO Walker, January 29, 2010 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ is right about theamericanpeople and nativeamericanpeople being in pretty much the same desparate straits, depending on the deree of “individual”-ization they’re stuck in.  Us surviving free wild Turtle Island Natives, however, have stayed out of that trap….which is why we might offer some help to our more-or-less tame Sisters and Brothers who will do the Ceremonies needed to get out of it.

“Off-the-grid” is good as far as it goes, but screamingpalm will need to get together with others of the same persuasion if s/he hopes to stay there.

Good luck, All.


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By screamingpalm, January 28, 2010 at 7:28 pm Link to this comment

Super Lou, Hammond Eggs:

Boy did I get the wrong idea, I retract my wish that he upholds that promise! Thanks for the link- clearly the purpose is not to ensure solvency and get rid of fraud like I had thought.

Wise words a usual TAO Walker, though I don’t pretend that the Tiyoshpaye Way would ever be realistically possible (for me). A dream perhaps. I think you had said previously that the way to do this is [simply] gather one’s neighbors and just do it? I try to remain as “off the grid” as possible though.

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By JDmysticDJ, January 28, 2010 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment

Tao Walker

There is more than a “simulacrum” between theamericanpeople and nativeamericanpeople, we’re all in this together. Doom is no respecter of peoples.

Thanks for the trip to the dictionary; are your semantics a CONstruction?

The Tiyoshpaye way looks better, and better, every day.


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By TAO Walker, January 28, 2010 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment

Barack Obama sure does give good talking-head, alright.  Funny, though, it seems to be only those among theamericanpeople who elected him to office (NOT, CONtrary to all the media misrepresentation, “power”), who have yet to catch-on that he’s filling the reality (as distinguished from the textbook idealized simulacrum) of the post about as well as can be.

Your doom, as “individuals,” is sealed, tame Sisters and Brothers.  Your ‘options’ now are limited to resignation or escape.

For the latter, go The Tiyoshpaye Way.


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By Hammond Eggs, January 28, 2010 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

By screamingpalm, January 28 at 3:23 am #

The strongest language in the speech was the threat to veto spending and promise to issue an executive order to create a commission to look at Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. A promise I hope he actually keeps.

This so-called an ominously named “bipartisan” commission will actually exist to destroy Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  Knowing Obama to be the reactionary Democrat that he is, it is a promise he will most assuredly keep.

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By rico, suave, January 28, 2010 at 11:40 am Link to this comment

“He may be the most popular politician in the U.S.”

That’s like saying herpes is the most popular venerial disease.

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By Blackspeare, January 28, 2010 at 11:08 am Link to this comment

Obama may be able to get a law passed that overturns the recent SCOTUS ruling on business/union politicking, but with the present make-up of SCOTUS it would eventually be ruled unconstitutional, but it would momentarily stop such political contributions.

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By gerard, January 28, 2010 at 10:39 am Link to this comment

“American Exceptonalism” is killing us.  Because of such silly national conceit we cannot even admit our mistakes, let alone learn from them. 
  My heart sunk to the pit last night when (in view of all the lack of creativity and courage, came the sudden change to sanctimonious tone and the trite pandering to our national glory.  Enough to make you cry—especially in times like these when we desperately need a bold vision and action for the future of our children and the world.

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By JDmysticDJ, January 28, 2010 at 10:23 am Link to this comment

I like Obama. I have since the early days of the primary, but I wonder why? Maybe it’s because of his ground breaking election, seeing as how I considered myself a member of the rainbow coalition back in the 80’s. There is something about the guy that is likable; his popularity exceeds that of Congressional Democrats and Republicans. He may be the most popular politician in the U.S.

Obama may not be the best President we’ve ever had, but clearly he is one of the best motivational speakers we’ve had as a President. His “State of the Union” address was nothing more than a glorified “Pep Rally.” His belief in American exceptionalism seems to be very appealing to Americans, “Rah rah, zis boom bah, be true to your school.” Since when are Jingoism and extreme Nationalism not considered to be vices? Apparently they’re not vices, when they are American Jingoism and extreme Nationalism.

Somehow being 2nd doesn’t seem all that bad to me; it beats 39th, or last. We are 1st in several categories though. Need I list them? Our military spending equals that of every other nation on this planet combined, for starters. Oh well, sometimes perceptions are more important than reality.

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By Super Lou, January 28, 2010 at 9:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The “Commission” to look at Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security is a tool designed to deflect blame from Obama instituting Right Wing “reforms.”  Once again, going after the weakest and most politically defenseless members of society.

Read this, and you might change your opinion about the “Commish” being a promise you hope he actually keeps:

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By rico, suave, January 28, 2010 at 6:58 am Link to this comment


I’m not sure you can compare czarist Russia with the US.

Of course, most of the Russian proletariat agreed with Tolstoy and overthrew the Czar. And we all know what a great improvement that turned out to be.

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By Not One More!, January 28, 2010 at 12:11 am Link to this comment

I remember last year he said in a speech that Guantanamo would be shut down in a year. Lot’s of ‘liberals’ bought that and great cheer and hope. It is now a year and on to new promises and hope.

Support Republicans
Vote for a Democrat

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By thebeerdoctor, January 27, 2010 at 11:57 pm Link to this comment

“The greater the state, the more wrong and cruel its patriotism, and the greater is the sum of suffering upon which its power is founded.”

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By Rob, January 27, 2010 at 11:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here’s a tag cloud of Obama’s 2010 State of the Union Address:

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By screamingpalm, January 27, 2010 at 11:23 pm Link to this comment

Well, I think there can be little doubt that the President is abandoning progressives. As David Brooks said on the “News Hour”, this was a very moderate speech and contained many things you’d expect to hear from Republicans.

On one hand he talks about job creation, and then on the other he wants to extend the reach of the WTO with Doha. The strongest language in the speech was the threat to veto spending and promise to issue an executive order to create a commission to look at Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. A promise I hope he actually keeps.

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