As he presides over a nation in its fifth year of the worst recession since the Great Depression, President Obama revisited the problem of America’s stagnant economy and stubbornly high unemployment rate – arguing that America doesn’t need “bigger government” and simultaneously announcing massive new federal plans in his State of the Union address.
“Tonight, thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, there is much progress to report,” Obama declared.
“After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home. After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over six million new jobs. We buy more American cars than we have in five years, and less foreign oil than we have in 20. Our housing market is healing, our stock market is rebounding, and consumers, patients and homeowners enjoy stronger protections than ever before.
“Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger.”
Since Obama took office, the number of Americans receiving food stamps has ballooned by 49.3 percent. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remains fixed at 8 percent – higher than the 7.8 percent unemployment rate when Obama became president in 2009. Also, consumer confidence has been slipping.
Obama blasted those in Congress who have suggested “cuts to things like education and job training, Medicare and Social Security benefits,” claiming everyone must “do their fair share.”
“Most Americans – Democrats, Republicans and independents – understand that we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. They know that broad-based economic growth requires a balanced approach to deficit reduction, with spending cuts and revenue, and with everybody doing their fair share.”
Claiming Obamacare “is helping to slow the growth of health-care costs,” Obama promised to go even further to “reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies and ask more from the wealthiest seniors.”
Meanwhile, Americans watching online weren’t receptive to Obama’s message. A Bing live poll showed increasingly negative numbers throughout the address.
The president continued to target wealthy Americans: “To hit the rest of our deficit reduction target, we should do what leaders in both parties have already suggested, and save hundreds of billions of dollars by getting rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the well-off and well-connected.”
Obama presented budget proposals that he claimed “are fully paid for and fully consistent with the budget framework both parties agreed to just 18 months ago.”
“Now is our best chance for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down the deficit. … Nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime,” he said. “It’s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth.”
However, Obama promised in his 2009 State of the Union speech that he would "cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office." Instead, the deficit soared, averaging three times that of deficits during the George W. Bush administration.
He turned some heads when he said, "The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next."
It was ironic to conservatives, who have long decried what they see as the Obama's administration's exploitation of the Cloward-Piven strategy of "manufactured crisis," created by socialist progressive icons Richard Cloward and his wife, Francis Fox Piven. In fact, as WND has reported, Obama was a member of the socialist New Party pioneered by Piven in Chicago.
Obama presented a road map for what he wants to accomplish in 2013, urging Congress to pass legislation investing in projects to boost the economy, including infrastructure, research and education. After disavowing the chasing of "manufactured crises," Obama went on to insist the country focus on defeating global warming.
"For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change," he said. "Yes, it's true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires and floods – all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it's too late. ...."
"But if Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."
Obama promised to cut red tape and speed up oil and gas permits.
"I'm also issuing a new goal for America: Let's cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next 20 years," he said. "The states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make it happen."
He demanded that Congress pass legislation to help U.S. families overcome lending obstacles and refinance their homes.
"That's holding our entire economy back, and we need to fix it," he said. "Right now, there's a bill in this Congress that would give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today's rates.
"Democrats and Republicans have supported it before. What are we waiting for? Take a vote, and send me that bill."
Obama also proposed making preschool available to every child in America and releasing a new "college scorecard" to evaluate universities based on cost." He pressed Congress to act on immigration reform.
"Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship – a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally," he said. "And real reform means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods, reduce bureaucracy, and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy. ..."
"As we speak, bipartisan groups in both chambers are working diligently to draft a bill, and I applaud their efforts. Now let's get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away."
Obama called for a substantial increase in the federal minimum wage.
"Tonight, let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour. ... In fact, working folks shouldn't have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay has never been higher. So here's an idea that Gov. Romney and I actually agreed on last year: Let's tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on."
Announcing that he will bring home 34,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by 2014, Obama said, "By the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over."
To deal with al-Qaida threats, Obama said, "We will need to help countries like Yemen, Libya and Somalia provide for their own security, and help allies who take the fight to terrorists, as we have in Mali. And, where necessary, through a range of capabilities, we will continue to take direct action against those terrorists who pose the gravest threat to Americans."
With regard to Iran, he called for "a diplomatic solution": "[A] coalition stands united in demanding that they meet their obligations, and we will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon. At the same time, we will engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals, and continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands – because our ability to influence others depends on our willingness to lead."
Obama announced that he signed a new executive order to "strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs, and our privacy."
"Now, Congress must act as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks," he said.
He added that his administration intends to complete negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership.
"[T]onight, I am announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union – because trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs."
Obama promised to reform America's entire voting system.
"Tonight, I'm announcing a nonpartisan commission to improve the voting experience in America," he said. "And I'm asking two long-time experts in the field, who've recently served as the top attorneys for my campaign and for Gov. Romney's campaign, to lead it. We can fix this, and we will. The American people demand it. And so does our democracy."
He called for gun-control measures like tougher background checks, laws governing sale of firearms and plans to "get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets."
"Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress," he said. "If you want to vote 'no,' that's your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun."
As Obama announced his gun-control proposals, online public opinion turned "very negative," with more than 11.3 million people voting:
Finally, he acknowledged several guests in the audience and concluded:
"We may do different jobs, and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title: We are citizens.
"It's a word that doesn't just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we're made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations; that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story.
"Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America."