The 2011 State of the Union Address: Enhanced Version

August 14, 2019

(gavel) Floor Services Chief:
Mr. Speaker, the President
of the United States. (applause) (striking of the gavel) (applause) Speaker of the House:
I have the high privilege and
distinct honor of presenting the President of the United States. (applause) The President:
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Thank you so much. Thank you very much. Thank you. Everybody
please have a seat. Thank you. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice
President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow
Americans: Tonight I want to begin by congratulating the men
and women of the 112th Congress, as well as your new
Speaker, John Boehner. (applause) And as we mark this occasion,
we’re also mindful of the empty chair in this chamber, and
we pray for the health of our colleague — and our
friend — Gabby Giffords. (applause) It’s no secret that those of
us here tonight have had our differences over
the last two years. The debates have
been contentious; we have fought fiercely
for our beliefs. And that’s a good thing. That’s what a robust
democracy demands. That’s what helps set
us apart as a nation. But there’s a reason the
tragedy in Tucson gave us pause. Amid all the noise and passion
and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no
matter who we are or where we come from, each of us
is a part of something greater — something more
consequential than party or political preference. We are part of the
American family. We believe that in a country
where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we
are still bound together as one people; that we share common
hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl
in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children,
and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled. That, too, is what sets
us apart as a nation. (applause) Now, by itself, this simple
recognition won’t usher in a new era of cooperation. What comes of this
moment is up to us. What comes of this moment will
be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight,
but whether we can work together tomorrow. (applause) I believe we can. And I believe we must. That’s what the people who
sent us here expect of us. With their votes,
they’ve determined that governing will now be a shared
responsibility between parties. New laws will only
pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together,
or not at all — for the challenges we face
are bigger than party, and bigger than politics. At stake right now is not who
wins the next election — after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs
and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard
work and industry of our people is rewarded. It’s whether we sustain the
leadership that has made America not just a place on a map,
but the light to the world. We are poised for progress. 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 we have never
measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by
the success of our people. By the jobs they can find
and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small
business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into
a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a
better life that we pass on to our children. That’s the project the American
people want us to work on. Together. (applause) We did that in December. Thanks to the tax
cuts we passed, Americans’ paychecks are
a little bigger today. Every business can write off
the full cost of new investments that they make this year. And these steps, taken by
Democrats and Republicans, will grow the economy and add
to the more than one million private sector jobs
created last year. But we have to do more. These steps we’ve taken over the
last two years may have broken the back of this recession,
but to win the future, we’ll need to take on
challenges that have been decades in the making. Many people watching tonight
can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant
showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn’t always need a degree,
and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors. If you worked hard, chances
are you’d have a job for life, with a decent paycheck
and good benefits and the occasional promotion. Maybe you’d even have the pride
of seeing your kids work at the same company. That world has changed. And for many, the
change has been painful. I’ve seen it in the
shuttered windows of once booming factories, and
the vacant storefronts on once busy Main Streets. I’ve heard it in the
frustrations of Americans who’ve seen their paychecks dwindle or
their jobs disappear — proud men and women who feel like the
rules have been changed in the middle of the game. They’re right. The rules have changed. In a single generation,
revolutions in technology have transformed the way we
live, work and do business. Steel mills that once
needed 1,000 workers can now do the
same work with 100. Today, just about any company
can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever
there’s an Internet connection. Meanwhile, nations like China
and India realized that with some changes of their own, they
could compete in this new world. And so they started educating
their children earlier and longer, with greater
emphasis on math and science. They’re investing in research
and new technologies. Just recently, China became
the home to the world’s largest private solar research
facility, and the world’s fastest computer. So, yes, the world has changed. The competition
for jobs is real. But this shouldn’t
discourage us. It should challenge us. Remember — for all the hits
we’ve taken these last few years, for all the naysayers
predicting our decline, America still has the
largest, most prosperous economy in the world. (applause) No workers — no workers are
more productive than ours. No country has more
successful companies, or grants more patents to
inventors and entrepreneurs. We’re the home to the world’s
best colleges and universities, where more students come to
study than any place on Earth. What’s more, we are the first
nation to be founded for the sake of an idea — the idea that
each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That’s why centuries of pioneers
and immigrants have risked everything to come here. It’s why our students don’t
just memorize equations, but answer questions like “What
do you think of that idea? What would you change
about the world? What do you want to
be when you grow up?” The future is ours to win. But to get there, we
can’t just stand still. As Robert Kennedy told us,
“The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.” Sustaining the American
Dream has never been about standing pat. It has required each generation
to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands
of a new age. And now it’s our turn. We know what it takes to
compete for the jobs and industries of our time. We need to out-innovate,
out-educate, and out-build the
rest of the world. (applause) We have to make America the best
place on Earth to do business. We need to take responsibility for our
deficit and reform our government. That’s how our
people will prosper. That’s how we’ll win the future. (applause) And tonight, I’d like to
talk about how we get there. The first step in winning
the future is encouraging American innovation. None of us can predict with
certainty what the next big industry will be or where
the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn’t
know that something called the Internet would lead to
an economic revolution. What we can do — what America
does better than anyone else — is spark the creativity and
imagination of our people. We’re the nation that put cars
in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison
and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation
doesn’t just change our lives. It is how we make our living. (applause) Our free enterprise system
is what drives innovation. But because it’s not always
profitable for companies to invest in basic research,
throughout our history, our government has provided
cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the
support that they need. That’s what planted the
seeds for the Internet. That’s what helped make possible
things like computer chips and GPS. Just think of all the good jobs
— from manufacturing to retail — that have come from
these breakthroughs. Half a century ago, when the
Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a
satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we would
beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t
even there yet. NASA didn’t exist. But after investing in better
research and education, we didn’t just
surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of
innovation that created new industries and
millions of new jobs. This is our generation’s
Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that
we needed to reach a level of research and development we
haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race. And in a few weeks, I will be
sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We’ll invest in
biomedical research, information technology,
and especially clean energy technology — (applause) — an investment that will
strengthen our security, protect our planet, and
create countless new jobs for our people. Already, we’re seeing the
promise of renewable energy. Robert and Gary Allen are
brothers who run a small Michigan roofing company. After September 11th, they
volunteered their best roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their
factory went unused, and the recession hit them hard. Today, with the help
of a government loan, that empty space is being used
to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold
all across the country. In Robert’s words, “We
reinvented ourselves.” That’s what Americans have
done for over 200 years: reinvented ourselves. And to spur on more success
stories like the Allen Brothers, we’ve begun to reinvent
our energy policy. We’re not just
handing out money. We’re issuing a challenge. We’re telling America’s
scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the
best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest
problems in clean energy, we’ll fund the Apollo
projects of our time. At the California
Institute of Technology, they’re developing a way to
turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars. At Oak Ridge
National Laboratory, they’re using supercomputers to
get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities. With more research
and incentives, we can break our dependence
on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to
have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. (applause) We need to get behind
this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m
asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we
currently give to oil companies. (applause) I don’t know if — I don’t
know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just
fine on their own. (laughter) So instead of subsidizing
yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s. Now, clean energy breakthroughs
will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know
there will be a market for what they’re selling. So tonight, I challenge you to
join me in setting a new goal: By 2035, 80 percent of America’s
electricity will come from clean energy sources. (applause) Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean
coal and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need
them all — and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work
together to make it happen. (applause) Maintaining our leadership
in research and technology is crucial to America’s success. But if we want to win the future
— if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not
overseas — then we also have to win the race to
educate our kids. Think about it. Over the next 10 years, nearly
half of all new jobs will require education that goes
beyond a high school education. And yet, as many as a quarter
of our students aren’t even finishing high school. The quality of our math and
science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to ninth in
the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether
all of us — as citizens, and as parents — are willing
to do what’s necessary to give every child a chance to succeed. That responsibility begins
not in our classrooms, but in our homes
and communities. It’s family that first instills
the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the
TV is turned off and homework gets done. We need to teach our kids that
it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves
to be celebrated, but the winner of
the science fair. (applause) We need to teach them that
success is not a function of fame or PR, but of
hard work and discipline. Our schools share
this responsibility. When a child walks
into a classroom, it should be a place
of high expectations and high performance. But too many schools
don’t meet this test. That’s why instead of just
pouring money into a system that’s not working, we
launched a competition called Race to the Top. To all 50 states, we said, “If
you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher
quality and student achievement, we’ll show you the money.” Race to the Top is the most
meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than 1 percent of what
we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states
to raise their standards for teaching and learning. And these standards were
developed, by the way, not by Washington, but by
Republican and Democratic governors throughout
the country. And Race to the Top should be
the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left
Behind with a law that’s more flexible and focused on
what’s best for our kids. (applause) You see, we know what’s possible
from our children when reform isn’t just a top-down mandate,
but the work of local teachers and principals, school
boards and communities. Take a school like Bruce
Randolph in Denver. Three years ago, it was rated
one of the worst schools in Colorado — located on turf
between two rival gangs. But last May, 97 percent of the
seniors received their diploma. Most will be the first in their
families to go to college. And after the first year of
the school’s transformation, the principal who made it
possible wiped away tears when a student said,
“Thank you, Ms. Waters, for showing that we are
smart and we can make it.” (applause) That’s what good schools can
do, and we want good schools all across the country. Let’s also remember
that after parents, the biggest impact on a child’s
success comes from the man or woman at the front
of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are
known as “nation builders.” Here in America, it’s time we
treated the people who educate our children with the
same level of respect. (applause) We want to reward good
teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones. (applause) And over the next 10 years, with
so many baby boomers retiring from our classrooms, we
want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields
of science and technology and engineering and math. (applause) In fact, to every young
person listening tonight who’s contemplating their
career choice: If you want to make a difference in
the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference
in the life of a child — become a teacher. Your country needs you. (applause) Of course, the education
race doesn’t end with a high school diploma. To compete, higher education
must be within the reach of every American. (applause) That’s why we’ve ended the
unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and
used the savings to make college affordable for
millions of students. (applause) And this year, I ask
Congress to go further, and make permanent our tuition
tax credit — worth $10,000 for four years of college. It’s the right thing to do. (applause) Because people need to be
able to train for new jobs and careers in today’s
fast-changing economy, we’re also revitalizing
America’s community colleges. Last month, I saw the promise of
these schools at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina. Many of the students there
used to work in the surrounding factories that have
since left town. One mother of two, a
woman named Kathy Proctor, had worked in the furniture
industry since she was 18 years old. And she told me she’s earning
her degree in biotechnology now, at 55 years old, not just
because the furniture jobs are gone, but because she wants to
inspire her children to pursue their dreams, too. As Kathy said, “I hope it
tells them to never give up.” If we take these steps — if
we raise expectations for every child, and give them the best
possible chance at an education, from the day they are born until
the last job they take — we will reach the goal that I set
two years ago: By the end of the decade, America will once again
have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. (applause) One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of
thousands of students excelling in our schools who are
not American citizens. Some are the children
of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with
the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and
pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet they live every day
with the threat of deportation. Others come here from
abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they
obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home
to compete against us. It makes no sense. Now, I strongly believe
that we should take on, once and for all, the issue
of illegal immigration. And I am prepared to work with
Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our
laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are
now living in the shadows. (applause) I know that debate
will be difficult. I know it will take time. But tonight, let’s agree
to make that effort. And let’s stop
expelling talented, responsible young people who
could be staffing our research labs or starting a new business,
who could be further enriching this nation. (applause) The third step in winning the
future is rebuilding America. To attract new businesses to
our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to
move people, goods, and information —
from high-speed rail to high-speed Internet. (applause) Our infrastructure
used to be the best, but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now
have greater Internet access than we do. Countries in Europe and Russia
invest more in their roads and railways than we do. China is building faster
trains and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own
engineers graded our nation’s infrastructure,
they gave us a “D.” We have to do better. America is the nation that built
the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity
to rural communities, constructed the
Interstate Highway System. The jobs created by these
projects didn’t just come from laying down track or pavement. They came from businesses that
opened near a town’s new train station or the new off-ramp. So over the last two years,
we’ve begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has
meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit
construction industry. And tonight, I’m proposing
that we redouble those efforts. (applause) We’ll put more Americans
to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. We’ll make sure this
is fully paid for, attract private investment, and
pick projects based [on] what’s best for the economy,
not politicians. Within 25 years, our goal is
to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail. (applause) This could allow you to go
places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will
be faster than flying — without the pat-down. (laughter and applause) As we speak, routes in
California and the Midwest are already underway. Within the next five years,
we’ll make it possible for businesses to deploy the
next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98
percent of all Americans. This isn’t just about — (applause) — this isn’t about faster
Internet or fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part
of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in
Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will
be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can
download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device;
a student who can take classes with a digital textbook;
or a patient who can have face-to-face video
chats with her doctor. All these investments —
in innovation, education, and infrastructure — will make
America a better place to do business and create jobs. But to help our
companies compete, we also have to knock down
barriers that stand in the way of their success. For example, over the years, a
parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to
benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or
lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with
one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense,
and it has to change. (applause) So tonight, I’m asking Democrats and
Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the
corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years — without
adding to our deficit. It can be done. (applause) To help businesses sell
more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our
exports by 2014 — because the more we export, the more
jobs we create here at home. Already, our exports are up. Recently, we signed agreements
with India and China that will support more than 250,000 jobs
here in the United States. And last month, we finalized a
trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least
70,000 American jobs. This agreement has unprecedented
support from business and labor, Democrats and Republicans — and
I ask this Congress to pass it as soon as possible. (applause) Now, before I took office, I
made it clear that we would enforce our trade agreements,
and that I would only sign deals that keep faith with
American workers and promote American jobs. That’s what we did with Korea,
and that’s what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with
Panama and Colombia and continue our Asia Pacific and
global trade talks. (applause) To reduce barriers to
growth and investment, I’ve ordered a review of
government regulations. When we find rules that put
an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. (applause) But I will not hesitate to
create or enforce common-sense safeguards to protect
the American people. (applause) That’s what we’ve done in this
country for more than a century. It’s why our food is safe to
eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe. It’s why we have speed
limits and child labor laws. It’s why last year, we put
in place consumer protections against hidden fees and
penalties by credit card companies and new
rules to prevent another financial crisis. (applause) And it’s why we passed reform
that finally prevents the health insurance industry from
exploiting patients. (applause) Now, I have heard rumors that a
few of you still have concerns about our new health care law. (laughter) So let me be the first to say
that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to
improve this law by making care better or more affordable,
I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by
correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an
unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses. (applause) What I’m not willing to do —
what I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance
companies could deny someone coverage because of a
preexisting condition. (applause) I’m not willing to
tell James Howard, a brain cancer
patient from Texas, that his treatment
might not be covered. I’m not willing to
tell Jim Houser, a small business
man from Oregon, that he has to go back
to paying $5,000 more to cover his employees. As we speak, this law is making
prescription drugs cheaper for seniors and giving uninsured
students a chance to stay on their patients’ —
parents’ coverage. (applause) So I say to this
chamber tonight, instead of re-fighting the
battles of the last two years, let’s fix what needs fixing
and let’s move forward. (applause) Now, the final critical step in
winning the future is to make sure we aren’t buried
under a mountain of debt. We are living with a legacy
of deficit spending that began almost a decade ago. And in the wake of
the financial crisis, some of that was necessary to
keep credit flowing, save jobs, and put money in
people’s pockets. But now that the worst
of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact
that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable. Every day, families sacrifice
to live within their means. They deserve a government
that does the same. (applause) So tonight, I am proposing
that starting this year, we freeze annual
domestic spending for the next five years. (applause) Now, this would reduce the
deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade,
and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share
of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was President. This freeze will
require painful cuts. Already, we’ve frozen the
salaries of hardworking federal employees for the
next two years. I’ve proposed cuts to
things I care deeply about, like community action programs. The Secretary of Defense has
also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending
that he and his generals believe our military can do without. (applause) I recognize that some in this
chamber have already proposed deeper cuts, and I’m willing
to eliminate whatever we can honestly afford to do without. But let’s make sure that we’re
not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens. (applause) And let’s make sure that
what we’re cutting is really excess weight. Cutting the deficit by gutting
our investments in innovation and education is like lightening
an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may make you feel like
you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long
before you feel the impact. (laughter) Now, most of the cuts and
savings I’ve proposed only address annual
domestic spending, which represents a little more
than 12 percent of our budget. To make further progress, we
have to stop pretending that cutting this kind of spending
alone will be enough. It won’t. (applause) The bipartisan fiscal commission
I created last year made this crystal clear. I don’t agree with
all their proposals, but they made
important progress. And their conclusion is that the
only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending
wherever we find it — in domestic spending, defense
spending, health care spending, and spending through tax
breaks and loopholes. (applause) This means further
reducing health care costs, including programs like
Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single
biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. The health insurance law we
passed last year will slow these rising costs, which is part
of the reason that nonpartisan economists have said that
repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a
trillion dollars to our deficit. Still, I’m willing to look at
other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans
suggested last year — medical malpractice reform to rein
in frivolous lawsuits. (applause) To put us on solid ground, we
should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social
Security for future generations. (applause) We must do it without putting
at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or
people with disabilities; without slashing benefits
for future generations; and without subjecting
Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the
whims of the stock market. (applause) And if we truly care
about our deficit, we simply can’t afford a
permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest
2 percent of Americans. (applause) Before we take money away from
our schools or scholarships away from our students, we should
ask millionaires to give up their tax break. It’s not a matter of
punishing their success. It’s about promoting
America’s success. (applause) In fact, the best thing we could
do on taxes for all Americans is to simplify the
individual tax code. (applause) This will be a tough job,
but members of both parties have expressed an
interest in doing this, and I am prepared to join them. (applause) So now is the time to act. Now is the time for both sides
and both houses of Congress — Democrats and Republicans — to
forge a principled compromise that gets the job done. If we make the hard choices
now to rein in our deficits, we can make the investments
we need to win the future. Let me take this
one step further. We shouldn’t just give our
people a government that’s more affordable. We should give them a
government that’s more competent and more efficient. We can’t win the future with
a government of the past. (applause) We live and do business
in the Information Age, but the last major
reorganization of the government happened in the
age of black-and-white TV. There are 12 different agencies
that deal with exports. There are at least five
different agencies that deal with housing policy. Then there’s my favorite
example: The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while
they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department
handles them when they’re in saltwater. (laughter) I hear it gets even more
complicated once they’re smoked. (laughter and applause) Now, we’ve made great strides
over the last two years in using technology and
getting rid of waste. Veterans can now download their
electronic medical records with a click of the mouse. We’re selling acres of federal
office space that hasn’t been used in years, and we’ll
cut through red tape to get rid of more. But we need to think bigger. In the coming months, my
administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate,
and reorganize the federal government in a way that
best serves the goal of a more competitive America. I will submit that proposal to
Congress for a vote — and we will push to get it passed. (applause) In the coming year, we’ll also
work to rebuild people’s faith in the institution
of government. Because you deserve to know
exactly how and where your tax dollars are being spent, you’ll
be able to go to a website and get that information for the
very first time in history. Because you deserve to know
when your elected officials are meeting with lobbyists, I ask
Congress to do what the White House has already done —
put that information online. And because the American people
deserve to know that special interests aren’t larding up
legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should
know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks
inside, I will veto it. I will veto it. (applause) The 21st century government
that’s open and competent. A government that
lives within its means. An economy that’s driven by
new skills and new ideas. Our success in this new and
changing world will require reform, responsibility,
and innovation. It will also require us to
approach that world with a new level of engagement
in our foreign affairs. Just as jobs and businesses
can now race across borders, so can new threats
and new challenges. No single wall
separates East and West. No one rival superpower
is aligned against us. And so we must defeat determined
enemies, wherever they are, and build coalitions that
cut across lines of region and race and religion. And America’s moral example must
always shine for all who yearn for freedom and
justice and dignity. And because we’ve
begun this work, tonight we can say that American
leadership has been renewed and America’s standing
has been restored. Look to Iraq, where nearly
100,000 of our brave men and women have left with
their heads held high. (applause) American combat patrols have
ended, violence is down, and a new government
has been formed. This year, our civilians will
forge a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people, while
we finish the job of bringing our troops out of Iraq. America’s commitment
has been kept. The Iraq war is
coming to an end. (applause) Of course, as we speak, al Qaeda
and their affiliates continue to plan attacks against us. Thanks to our intelligence and
law enforcement professionals, we’re disrupting plots and
securing our cities and skies. And as extremists try to inspire
acts of violence within our borders, we are responding with
the strength of our communities, with respect for
the rule of law, and with the conviction that
American Muslims are a part of our American family. (applause) We’ve also taken the fight to al
Qaeda and their allies abroad. In Afghanistan, our troops have
taken Taliban strongholds and trained Afghan security forces. Our purpose is clear: By
preventing the Taliban from reestablishing a stranglehold
over the Afghan people, we will deny al Qaeda the safe
haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11. Thanks to our heroic
troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the
control of the insurgency. There will be tough
fighting ahead, and the Afghan government
will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the
capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring
partnership with them. This year, we will work with
nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin
to bring our troops home. (applause) In Pakistan, al Qaeda’s
leadership is under more pressure than at any
point since 2001. Their leaders and operatives are
being removed from the battlefield. Their safe havens are shrinking. And we’ve 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. (applause) American leadership can also be
seen in the effort to secure the worst weapons of war. Because Republicans and
Democrats approved the New START treaty, far fewer
nuclear weapons and launchers will be deployed. Because we rallied the world,
nuclear materials are being locked down on every continent
so they never fall into the hands of terrorists. (applause) Because of a diplomatic effort
to insist that Iran meet its obligations, the Iranian
government now faces tougher sanctions, tighter
sanctions than ever before. And on the Korean Peninsula, we
stand with our ally South Korea, and insist that North Korea
keeps its commitment to abandon nuclear weapons. (applause) This is just a part of how we’re
shaping a world that favors peace and prosperity. With our European allies,
we revitalized NATO and increased our cooperation on
everything from counterterrorism to missile defense. We’ve reset our
relationship with Russia, strengthened Asian alliances,
built new partnerships with nations like India. This March, I will
travel to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador to forge new
alliances across the Americas. Around the globe, we’re
standing with those who take responsibility — helping
farmers grow more food, supporting doctors
who care for the sick, and combating the corruption
that can rot a society and rob people of opportunity. Recent events have shown us that
what sets us apart must not just be our power — it must also
be the purpose behind it. In south Sudan — with our
assistance — the people were finally able to vote for
independence after years of war. (applause) Thousands lined up before dawn. 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.” (applause) And we saw that same desire
to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people
proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear:
The United States of America stands with the
people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic
aspirations of all people. (applause) We must never forget that the
things we’ve struggled for, and fought for, live in the
hearts of people everywhere. And we must always remember that
the Americans who have borne the greatest burden in this struggle
are the men and women who serve our country. (applause) Tonight, let us speak with one
voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of
our troops and their families. Let us serve them as well as
they’ve served us — by giving them the equipment they need, by
providing them with the care and benefits that they have earned,
and by enlisting our veterans in the great task of
building our own nation. Our troops come from every
corner of this country — they’re black, white, Latino,
Asian, Native American. They are Christian and
Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that
some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American
will be forbidden from serving the country they love
because of who they love. (applause) And with that change, I call on
all our college campuses to open their doors to our military
recruiters and ROTC. It is time to leave behind the
divisive battles of the past. It is time to move
forward as one nation. (applause) We should have no illusions
about the work ahead of us. Reforming our schools,
changing the way we use energy, reducing our deficit —
none of this will be easy. All of it will take time. And it will be harder because
we will argue about everything. The costs. The details. The letter of every law. Of course, some countries
don’t have this problem. If the central government
wants a railroad, they build a railroad, no matter
how many homes get bulldozed. If they don’t want a bad
story in the newspaper, it doesn’t get written. And yet, as contentious and
frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I
know there isn’t a person here who would trade places with
any other nation on Earth. (applause) We may have
differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights
enshrined in our Constitution. We may have different opinions,
but we believe in the same promise that says this is a
place where you can make it if you try. We may have different
backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that
says this is a country where anything is possible. No matter who you are. No matter where you come from. That dream is why I can stand
here before you tonight. That dream is why a
working-class kid from Scranton can sit behind me. (laughter and applause) That dream is why someone who
began by sweeping the floors of his father’s Cincinnati bar can
preside as Speaker of the House in the greatest nation on Earth. (applause) That dream — that American
Dream — is what drove the Allen Brothers to reinvent their
roofing company for a new era. It’s what drove those students
at Forsyth Tech to learn a new skill and work
towards the future. And that dream is the story of
a small business owner named Brandon Fisher. Brandon started a company
in Berlin, Pennsylvania, that specializes in a new
kind of drilling technology. And one day last summer, he saw
the news that halfway across the world, 33 men were
trapped in a Chilean mine, and no one knew
how to save them. But Brandon thought
his company could help. And so he designed a rescue that
would come to be known as Plan B. His employees worked around
the clock to manufacture the necessary drilling equipment. And Brandon left for Chile. Along with others, he
began drilling a 2,000-foot hole into the ground,
working three- or four-hour — three or four days at
a time without any sleep. Thirty-seven days
later, Plan B succeeded, and the miners were rescued. (applause) But because he didn’t
want all of the attention, Brandon wasn’t there
when the miners emerged. He’d already gone back home,
back to work on his next project. And later, one of his
employees said of the rescue, “We proved that Center
Rock is a little company, but we do big things.” (applause) We do big things. From the earliest
days of our founding, America has been the
story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That’s how we win the future. We’re a nation that says, “I
might not have a lot of money, but I have this great
idea for a new company.” “I might not come from a
family of college graduates, but I will be the first
to get my degree.” “I might not know those
people in trouble, but I think I can help
them, and I need to try.” “I’m not sure how we’ll reach
that better place beyond the horizon, but I know
we’ll get there. I know we will.” We do big things. (applause) The idea of America endures. Our destiny remains our choice. And tonight, more than
two centuries later, it’s because of our people
that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and
the state of our union is strong. Thank you. God bless you, and may God bless
the United States of America. (applause)

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