Full Text State of the Union 2012 January 25, 2012: President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address Transcript





Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address

United States Capitol
Washington, D.C.

9:10 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq.  Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought — and several thousand gave their lives.

We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world.  (Applause.)  For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.  (Applause.)  For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country.  (Applause.)  Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated.  The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.

These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces.  At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations.  They’re not consumed with personal ambition.  They don’t obsess over their differences.  They focus on the mission at hand.  They work together.

Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example.  (Applause.)  Think about the America within our reach:  A country that leads the world in educating its people.  An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs.  A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world.  An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.

We can do this.  I know we can, because we’ve done it before.  At the end of World War II, when another generation of heroes returned home from combat, they built the strongest economy and middle class the world has ever known.  (Applause.)  My grandfather, a veteran of Patton’s Army, got the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.  My grandmother, who worked on a bomber assembly line, was part of a workforce that turned out the best products on Earth.

The two of them shared the optimism of a nation that had triumphed over a depression and fascism.  They understood they were part of something larger; that they were contributing to a story of success that every American had a chance to share — the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.

The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive.  No challenge is more urgent.  No debate is more important.  We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.  (Applause.)  What’s at stake aren’t Democratic values or Republican values, but American values.  And we have to reclaim them.

Let’s remember how we got here.  Long before the recession, jobs and manufacturing began leaving our shores.  Technology made businesses more efficient, but also made some jobs obsolete.  Folks at the top saw their incomes rise like never before, but most hardworking Americans struggled with costs that were growing, paychecks that weren’t, and personal debt that kept piling up.

In 2008, the house of cards collapsed.  We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them.  Banks had made huge bets and bonuses with other people’s money.  Regulators had looked the other way, or didn’t have the authority to stop the bad behavior.

It was wrong.  It was irresponsible.  And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work, saddled us with more debt, and left innocent, hardworking Americans holding the bag.  In the six months before I took office, we lost nearly 4 million jobs.  And we lost another 4 million before our policies were in full effect.

Those are the facts.  But so are these:  In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than 3 million jobs.  (Applause.)

Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005.  American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s.  Together, we’ve agreed to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion.  And we’ve put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like this never happens again.  (Applause.)

The state of our Union is getting stronger.  And we’ve come too far to turn back now.  As long as I’m President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum.  But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.  (Applause.)

No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits.  Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last -– an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.

Now, this blueprint begins with American manufacturing.

On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse.  Some even said we should let it die.  With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen.  In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility.  We got workers and automakers to settle their differences.  We got the industry to retool and restructure.  Today, General Motors is back on top as the world’s number-one automaker.  (Applause.)  Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company.  Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories.  And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.

We bet on American workers.  We bet on American ingenuity.  And tonight, the American auto industry is back.  (Applause.)

What’s happening in Detroit can happen in other industries.  It can happen in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh.  We can’t bring every job back that’s left our shore.  But right now, it’s getting more expensive to do business in places like China.  Meanwhile, America is more productive.  A few weeks ago, the CEO of Master Lock told me that it now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home.  (Applause.)  Today, for the first time in 15 years, Master Lock’s unionized plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity.  (Applause.)

So we have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back.  But we have to seize it.  Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple:  Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.  (Applause.)

We should start with our tax code.  Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas.  Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.  It makes no sense, and everyone knows it.  So let’s change it.

First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it.  (Applause.)  That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home.  (Applause.)

Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas.  (Applause.)  From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax.  And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here in America.  (Applause.)

Third, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut.  If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making your products here.  And if you want to relocate in a community that was hit hard when a factory left town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers.  (Applause.)

So my message is simple.  It is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America.  Send me these tax reforms, and I will sign them right away.  (Applause.)

We’re also making it easier for American businesses to sell products all over the world.  Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years.  With the bipartisan trade agreements we signed into law, we’re on track to meet that goal ahead of schedule.  (Applause.)  And soon, there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea.  Soon, there will be new cars on the streets of Seoul imported from Detroit, and Toledo, and Chicago.  (Applause.)

I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products.  And I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules.  We’ve brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration –- and it’s made a difference.  (Applause.)  Over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires.  But we need to do more.  It’s not right when another country lets our movies, music, and software be pirated.  It’s not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours only because they’re heavily subsidized.

Tonight, I’m announcing the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trading practices in countries like China.  (Applause.)  There will be more inspections to prevent counterfeit or unsafe goods from crossing our borders.  And this Congress should make sure that no foreign company has an advantage over American manufacturing when it comes to accessing financing or new markets like Russia.  Our workers are the most productive on Earth, and if the playing field is level, I promise you -– America will always win.  (Applause.)

I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can’t find workers with the right skills.  Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job.  Think about that –- openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work.  It’s inexcusable.  And we know how to fix it.

Jackie Bray is a single mom from North Carolina who was laid off from her job as a mechanic.  Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College.  The company helped the college design courses in laser and robotics training.  It paid Jackie’s tuition, then hired her to help operate their plant.

I want every American looking for work to have the same opportunity as Jackie did.  Join me in a national commitment to train 2 million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job.  (Applause.)  My administration has already lined up more companies that want to help.  Model partnerships between businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte, and Orlando, and Louisville are up and running.  Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers -– places that teach people skills that businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.

And I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people like Jackie have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help that they need.  It is time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work.  (Applause.)

These reforms will help people get jobs that are open today.  But to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, our commitment to skills and education has to start earlier.

For less than 1 percent of what our nation spends on education each year, we’ve convinced nearly every state in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning — the first time that’s happened in a generation.

But challenges remain.  And we know how to solve them.

At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced states to lay off thousands of teachers.  We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000.  A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance.  Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives.  Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies — just to make a difference.

Teachers matter.  So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let’s offer schools a deal.  Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones.  (Applause.)  And in return, grant schools flexibility:  to teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.  That’s a bargain worth making.  (Applause.)

We also know that when students don’t walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma.  When students are not allowed to drop out, they do better.  So tonight, I am proposing that every state — every state — requires that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18.  (Applause.)

When kids do graduate, the most daunting challenge can be the cost of college.  At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July.  (Applause.)

Extend the tuition tax credit we started that saves millions of middle-class families thousands of dollars, and give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years.  (Applause.)

Of course, it’s not enough for us to increase student aid.  We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money.  States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets.  And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down.

Recently, I spoke with a group of college presidents who’ve done just that.  Some schools redesign courses to help students finish more quickly.  Some use better technology.  The point is, it’s possible.  So let me put colleges and universities on notice:  If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down.  (Applause.)  Higher education can’t be a luxury -– it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.

Let’s also remember that hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge:  the fact that they aren’t yet American citizens.  Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation.  Others came more recently, to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else.

That doesn’t make sense.

I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration.  That’s why my administration has put more boots on the border than ever before.  That’s why there are fewer illegal crossings than when I took office.  The opponents of action are out of excuses.  We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now.  (Applause.)

But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, defend this country.  Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship.  I will sign it right away.  (Applause.)

You see, an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country.  That means women should earn equal pay for equal work.  (Applause.)  It means we should support everyone who’s willing to work, and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.

After all, innovation is what America has always been about.  Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses.  So let’s pass an agenda that helps them succeed.  Tear down regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow.  (Applause.)  Expand tax relief to small businesses that are raising wages and creating good jobs.  Both parties agree on these ideas.  So put them in a bill, and get it on my desk this year.  (Applause.)

Innovation also demands basic research.  Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched.  New lightweight vests for cops and soldiers that can stop any bullet.  Don’t gut these investments in our budget.  Don’t let other countries win the race for the future.  Support the same kind of research and innovation that led to the computer chip and the Internet; to new American jobs and new American industries.

And nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy.  Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources.  (Applause.)  Right now — right now — American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years.  That’s right — eight years.  Not only that — last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years.  (Applause.)

But with only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, oil isn’t enough.  This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.  (Applause.)  A strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.

We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years.  (Applause.)  And my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy.  Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.  And I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use.  (Applause.)  Because America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.

The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy.  (Applause.)  And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of 30 years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock –- reminding us that government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.  (Applause.)

Now, what’s true for natural gas is just as true for clean energy.  In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries.  Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled, and thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.

When Bryan Ritterby was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried that at 55, no one would give him a second chance.  But he found work at Energetx, a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan.  Before the recession, the factory only made luxury yachts.  Today, it’s hiring workers like Bryan, who said, “I’m proud to be working in the industry of the future.”

Our experience with shale gas, our experience with natural gas, shows us that the payoffs on these public investments don’t always come right away.  Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail.  But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy.  I will not walk away from workers like Bryan.  (Applause.)  I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.

We’ve subsidized oil companies for a century.  That’s long enough.  (Applause.)  It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising.  Pass clean energy tax credits.  Create these jobs.  (Applause.)

We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives.  The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change.  But there’s no reason why Congress shouldn’t at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation.  So far, you haven’t acted.  Well, tonight, I will.  I’m directing my administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes.  And I’m proud to announce that the Department of Defense, working with us, the world’s largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history -– with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year.  (Applause.)

Of course, the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy.  So here’s a proposal:  Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings.  Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, more jobs for construction workers who need them.  Send me a bill that creates these jobs.  (Applause.)

Building this new energy future should be just one part of a broader agenda to repair America’s infrastructure.  So much of America needs to be rebuilt.  We’ve got crumbling roads and bridges; a power grid that wastes too much energy; an incomplete high-speed broadband network that prevents a small business owner in rural America from selling her products all over the world.

During the Great Depression, America built the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge.  After World War II, we connected our states with a system of highways.  Democratic and Republican administrations invested in great projects that benefited everybody, from the workers who built them to the businesses that still use them today.

In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects.  But you need to fund these projects.  Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home.  (Applause.)

There’s never been a better time to build, especially since the construction industry was one of the hardest hit when the housing bubble burst.  Of course, construction workers weren’t the only ones who were hurt.  So were millions of innocent Americans who’ve seen their home values decline.  And while government can’t fix the problem on its own, responsible homeowners shouldn’t have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief.

And that’s why I’m sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low rates.  (Applause.)  No more red tape.  No more runaround from the banks.  A small fee on the largest financial institutions will ensure that it won’t add to the deficit and will give those banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust.  (Applause.)

Let’s never forget:  Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that do the same.  It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom.  No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts.  An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.

We’ve all paid the price for lenders who sold mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them, and buyers who knew they couldn’t afford them.  That’s why we need smart regulations to prevent irresponsible behavior.  (Applause.)  Rules to prevent financial fraud or toxic dumping or faulty medical devices — these don’t destroy the free market.  They make the free market work better.

There’s no question that some regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly.  In fact, I’ve approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his.  (Applause.)  I’ve ordered every federal agency to eliminate rules that don’t make sense.  We’ve already announced over 500 reforms, and just a fraction of them will save business and citizens more than $10 billion over the next five years.  We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill — because milk was somehow classified as an oil.  With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk.  (Laughter and applause.)

Now, I’m confident a farmer can contain a milk spill without a federal agency looking over his shoulder.  (Applause.)  Absolutely.  But I will not back down from making sure an oil company can contain the kind of oil spill we saw in the Gulf two years ago.  (Applause.)  I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury poisoning, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean.  I will not go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny your coverage, or charge women differently than men.  (Applause.)

And I will not go back to the days when Wall Street was allowed to play by its own set of rules.  The new rules we passed restore what should be any financial system’s core purpose:  Getting funding to entrepreneurs with the best ideas, and getting loans to responsible families who want to buy a home, or start a business, or send their kids to college.

So if you are a big bank or financial institution, you’re no longer allowed to make risky bets with your customers’ deposits.  You’re required to write out a “living will” that details exactly how you’ll pay the bills if you fail –- because the rest of us are not bailing you out ever again.  (Applause.)  And if you’re a mortgage lender or a payday lender or a credit card company, the days of signing people up for products they can’t afford with confusing forms and deceptive practices — those days are over.  Today, American consumers finally have a watchdog in Richard Cordray with one job:  To look out for them.  (Applause.)

We’ll also establish a Financial Crimes Unit of highly trained investigators to crack down on large-scale fraud and protect people’s investments.  Some financial firms violate major anti-fraud laws because there’s no real penalty for being a repeat offender.  That’s bad for consumers, and it’s bad for the vast majority of bankers and financial service professionals who do the right thing.  So pass legislation that makes the penalties for fraud count.

And tonight, I’m asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorney general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis.  (Applause.)  This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.

Now, a return to the American values of fair play and shared responsibility will help protect our people and our economy.  But it should also guide us as we look to pay down our debt and invest in our future.

Right now, our most immediate priority is stopping a tax hike on 160 million working Americans while the recovery is still fragile.  (Applause.)  People cannot afford losing $40 out of each paycheck this year.  There are plenty of ways to get this done.  So let’s agree right here, right now:  No side issues.  No drama.  Pass the payroll tax cut without delay.  Let’s get it done.  (Applause.)

When it comes to the deficit, we’ve already agreed to more than $2 trillion in cuts and savings.  But we need to do more, and that means making choices.  Right now, we’re poised to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was supposed to be a temporary tax break for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.  Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households.  Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans?  Or do we want to keep our investments in everything else –- like education and medical research; a strong military and care for our veterans?  Because if we’re serious about paying down our debt, we can’t do both.

The American people know what the right choice is.  So do I.  As I told the Speaker this summer, I’m prepared to make more reforms that rein in the long-term costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and strengthen Social Security, so long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors.

But in return, we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes.  (Applause.)

Tax reform should follow the Buffett Rule.  If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes.  And my Republican friend Tom Coburn is right:  Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires.  In fact, if you’re earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn’t get special tax subsidies or deductions.  On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn’t go up.  (Applause.)  You’re the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages.  You’re the ones who need relief.

Now, you can call this class warfare all you want.  But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes?  Most Americans would call that common sense.

We don’t begrudge financial success in this country.  We admire it.  When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich.  It’s because they understand that when I get a tax break I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference — like a senior on a fixed income, or a student trying to get through school, or a family trying to make ends meet.  That’s not right.  Americans know that’s not right.  They know that this generation’s success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to the future of their country, and they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility.  That’s how we’ll reduce our deficit.  That’s an America built to last.  (Applause.)

Now, I recognize that people watching tonight have differing views about taxes and debt, energy and health care.  But no matter what party they belong to, I bet most Americans are thinking the same thing right about now:  Nothing will get done in Washington this year, or next year, or maybe even the year after that, because Washington is broken.

Can you blame them for feeling a little cynical?

The greatest blow to our confidence in our economy last year didn’t come from events beyond our control.  It came from a debate in Washington over whether the United States would pay its bills or not.  Who benefited from that fiasco?

I’ve talked tonight about the deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street.  But the divide between this city and the rest of the country is at least as bad — and it seems to get worse every year.

Some of this has to do with the corrosive influence of money in politics.  So together, let’s take some steps to fix that.  Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress; I will sign it tomorrow.  (Applause.)  Let’s limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact.  Let’s make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can’t lobby Congress, and vice versa — an idea that has bipartisan support, at least outside of Washington.

Some of what’s broken has to do with the way Congress does its business these days.  A simple majority is no longer enough to get anything -– even routine business –- passed through the Senate.  (Applause.)  Neither party has been blameless in these tactics.  Now both parties should put an end to it.  (Applause.)  For starters, I ask the Senate to pass a simple rule that all judicial and public service nominations receive a simple up or down vote within 90 days.  (Applause.)

The executive branch also needs to change.  Too often, it’s inefficient, outdated and remote.  (Applause.)  That’s why I’ve asked this Congress to grant me the authority to consolidate the federal bureaucracy, so that our government is leaner, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people.  (Applause.)

Finally, none of this can happen unless we also lower the temperature in this town.  We need to end the notion that the two parties must be locked in a perpetual campaign of mutual destruction; that politics is about clinging to rigid ideologies instead of building consensus around common-sense ideas.

I’m a Democrat.  But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed:  That government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.  (Applause.)  That’s why my education reform offers more competition, and more control for schools and states.  That’s why we’re getting rid of regulations that don’t work.  That’s why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program.

On the other hand, even my Republican friends who complain the most about government spending have supported federally financed roads, and clean energy projects, and federal offices for the folks back home.

The point is, we should all want a smarter, more effective government.  And while we may not be able to bridge our biggest philosophical differences this year, we can make real progress.  With or without this Congress, I will keep taking actions that help the economy grow.  But I can do a whole lot more with your help.  Because when we act together, there’s nothing the United States of America can’t achieve.  (Applause.)  That’s the lesson we’ve learned from our actions abroad over the last few years.

Ending the Iraq war has allowed us to strike decisive blows against our enemies.  From Pakistan to Yemen, the al Qaeda operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they can’t escape the reach of the United States of America.  (Applause.)

From this position of strength, we’ve begun to wind down the war in Afghanistan.  Ten thousand of our troops have come home.  Twenty-three thousand more will leave by the end of this summer.  This transition to Afghan lead will continue, and we will build an enduring partnership with Afghanistan, so that it is never again a source of attacks against America.  (Applause.)

As the tide of war recedes, a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo; from Sana’a to Tripoli.  A year ago, Qaddafi was one of the world’s longest-serving dictators -– a murderer with American blood on his hands.  Today, he is gone.  And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change cannot be reversed, and that human dignity cannot be denied.  (Applause.)

How this incredible transformation will end remains uncertain.  But we have a huge stake in the outcome.  And while it’s ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well.  We will stand against violence and intimidation.  We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings –- men and women; Christians, Muslims and Jews.  We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty.

And we will safeguard America’s own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests.  Look at Iran.  Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program now stands as one.  The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent.

Let there be no doubt:  America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.  (Applause.)

But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.

The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe.  Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever.  Our ties to the Americas are deeper.  Our ironclad commitment — and I mean ironclad — to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.  (Applause.)

We’ve made it clear that America is a Pacific power, and a new beginning in Burma has lit a new hope.  From the coalitions we’ve built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we’ve led against hunger and disease; from the blows we’ve dealt to our enemies, to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back.

Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.  (Applause.)

That’s not the message we get from leaders around the world who are eager to work with us.  That’s not how people feel from Tokyo to Berlin, from Cape Town to Rio, where opinions of America are higher than they’ve been in years.  Yes, the world is changing.  No, we can’t control every event.  But America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs –- and as long as I’m President, I intend to keep it that way.  (Applause.)

That’s why, working with our military leaders, I’ve proposed a new defense strategy that ensures we maintain the finest military in the world, while saving nearly half a trillion dollars in our budget.  To stay one step ahead of our adversaries, I’ve already sent this Congress legislation that will secure our country from the growing dangers of cyber-threats.  (Applause.)

Above all, our freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it.  (Applause.)  As they come home, we must serve them as well as they’ve served us.  That includes giving them the care and the benefits they have earned –- which is why we’ve increased annual VA spending every year I’ve been President.  (Applause.)  And it means enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our nation.

With the bipartisan support of this Congress, we’re providing new tax credits to companies that hire vets.  Michelle and Jill Biden have worked with American businesses to secure a pledge of 135,000 jobs for veterans and their families.  And tonight, I’m proposing a Veterans Jobs Corps that will help our communities hire veterans as cops and firefighters, so that America is as strong as those who defend her.  (Applause.)

Which brings me back to where I began.  Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn a thing or two from the service of our troops.  When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian, Latino, Native American; conservative, liberal; rich, poor; gay, straight.  When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails.  When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one nation, leaving no one behind.

One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden.  On it are each of their names.  Some may be Democrats.  Some may be Republicans.  But that doesn’t matter.  Just like it didn’t matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates — a man who was George Bush’s defense secretary — and Hillary Clinton — a woman who ran against me for president.

All that mattered that day was the mission.  No one thought about politics.  No one thought about themselves.  One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn’t deserve credit for the mission.  It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job — the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the compound; the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs.  More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other — because you can’t charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there’s somebody behind you, watching your back.

So it is with America.  Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes.  No one built this country on their own.  This nation is great because we built it together.  This nation is great because we worked as a team.  This nation is great because we get each other’s backs.  And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard.  As long as we are joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

10:16 P.M. EST

History Buzz January 25, 2012: James Davis: Civil War lecture to be history professor’s last at Illinois College


History Buzz


Civil War lecture to be history professor’s last at IC

Source: Jacksonville Journal Courier, 1-25-12

Illinois College invites the community to attend a presentation on how Illinois College and the Jacksonville community were involved in the Civil War.

Historian and Illinois College Professor Emeritus of History James Davis will be speaking on the subject 7 p.m. Wednesday in Room 6 of the Kirby Learning Center. This will be the last chance to attend a lecture by the retired professor before he moves to Michigan this spring.

The program is free and will feature the activities and events associated with the Civil War along with subtopics that include life in the town and college during the war, roles played by Jacksonville and IC during the war, and the impact of the war on the community and nation.

Davis specializes in 19th century American history and has authored three books, including “Frontier Illinois and Dreams to Dust,” which was nominated for four awards including the Parkman Award and the Bancroft Prize….READ MORE

Full Text January 25, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks at U.S. Department of Agriculture’s New School Lunch Nutrition Standards Announcement at Parklawn Elementary School



Healthy Changes on the Menu for School Lunches

Source: WH, 1-25-12

First Lady Michelle Obama has lunch with Parklawn Elementary  School students
First Lady Michelle Obama joins children for lunch at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., Jan. 25, 2012. Mrs. Obama was joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and celebrity cook Rachael Ray for a Let’s Move! event celebrating the school’s food service employees serving healthy meals that meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new and improved nutrition standards for school lunches. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today introduced new rules that mean America’s school children will soon be eating healthier lunches in the cafeteria.

The new USDA guidelines, which implement important provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, substantially increase the amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on the menu, while reducing saturated fat, trans fats and sodium, and set calorie limits based on the age of children being served. The standards make the same kinds of practical changes that many parents are already encouraging at home, and that are a key pillar of Let’s Move, the First Lady’s initiative that is focused on improving child nutrition and reducing childhood obesity.

Speaking at the Parklawn elementary school in Alexandria, VA, Mrs Obama praised parents for their contribution to the movement to improve the food served in schools:

When we send our kids to school, we have a right to expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we’re trying to keep from them when they’re at home.  We have a right to expect that the food they get at school is the same kind of food that we want to serve at our own kitchen tables.

After the press conference, the First Lady and Secretary Vilsack joined students for a healthy lunch of turkey tacos, black bean and corn salad and fresh fruit, prepared by celebrity chef Rachael Ray.


Remarks by the First Lady in School Lunch Standards Announcement

Parklawn Elementary School
Alexandria, Virginia

11:32 A.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you, everyone.  Please, sit, rest.  This is exciting.  It is such a pleasure to be here today.  This is an exciting day.

I want to start by thanking Secretary Vilsack, not just for that very kind introduction but for his outstanding work as Secretary of Agriculture.  He has been just a major proponent on so many issues that are near and dear to me, and we wouldn’t be here without his efforts and the efforts of his entire agency.  So, thank you, sir.

I’d also like to thank Principal Akroyd and Jen Fitzgerald for their terrific work and for hosting us here today at Parklawn Elementary School.  Go, Panthers!  (Laughter.)  I hear you’re the “purring Panthers.”  (Laughter.)  It’s very, very good — very good.  We are so happy to be here and so proud of you all.

And I want to recognize all of the educators, the administrators, the food service workers and the advocates who are here today for everything that you do, every day, on behalf of our kids.  This is a great celebration for us all.

And of course, I want to give a special hello to Rachael Ray, who’s a special guest here.  I know she’s hard at work getting lunch ready, and I am hungry — (laughter) — so I’m looking forward to it.  But she has been a true advocate on this issue for quite some time, and we’re just thrilled that she’s here with us today.

And finally, I want to thank all of the parents who are here today — because, I just want to be clear that we can’t make any mistake about it — this movement to improve the food in our schools is happening in large part because of all of you, the parents.  It’s happening because you all stood up.  It’s happening because you all spoke out and you asked for something better for our kids.

Because, as parents, we all know that if left to their own devices, many of our kids would eat candy for breakfast, they’d follow it up with a few French fries for lunch and cookies and chips for snacks, and then they’d come home for a big chocolate sundae for dinner, right?  (Laughter.)  And we know that it is our responsibility, as adults, to make sure they don’t do that.  So it’s our responsibility to make sure that they get basic nutrition that they need to stay healthy.

And that’s why so many of us try so very hard to prepare decent meals at home, and to limit how much junk food they get at home, and to ensure that they have a reasonably balanced diet.   And when we’re putting forth this kind of effort at home — and many of us are, and it’s difficult to do every single day — it’s always a challenge, particularly with tough economic times and not enough time in the day — but when we’re putting forth these efforts, when we’re doing what we’re supposed to do at home, the last thing we want is to have all these hard efforts, all this hard work undone in the school cafeteria.

When we send our kids to school, we have a right to expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we’re trying to keep from them when they’re at home.  We have a right to expect that the food they get at school is the same kind of food that we want to serve at our own kitchen tables.

And let’s be clear, this isn’t just about our kids’ health. Studies have shown that our kids’ eating habits can actually affect their academic performance as well.  And I’m sure that comes as no surprise to the educators here today.  Anyone who works with kids knows that they need something other than chips and soda in their stomachs if they’re going to focus on math and science, right?  Kids can’t be expected to sit still and concentrate when they’re on a sugar high, or when they’re stuffed with salty, greasy food — or when they’re hungry.

And that brings me to another important point.  For many kids whose families are struggling, school meals can be their main — or only — source of nutrition for the entire day.  So when we serve higher-quality food in our schools, we’re not just fighting childhood obesity; we’re taking the important steps that are needed to fight child hunger as well.

And that’s why so many schools across this country have been working so hard to improve the food that they serve to our kids in school.  In fact, there are many schools that have been meeting these new standards for years, long before this legislation was passed.  Thousands more have made significant improvements, offering their students a whole array of healthy — and tasty, mind you — new options.

For example, right here at Parklawn and in schools throughout this district, you all are doing some wonderful things, serving baked chicken tenders instead of frying them — small things; replacing white rice with brown rice.  You’re offering all kinds of veggie side dishes, everything from succotash to broccoli, exposing kids to a whole array of wonderful tastes and flavors.

And we’re seeing changes like these in schools all across the country, of all sizes — rural, urban and suburban.  And I’m not just talking about schools in well-off areas with plenty of resources.  I’m talking about schools like F.S. Ervin — it’s an elementary school in Pine Hall [sic], Alabama.  Now, Pine Hall [sic] is a little-bitty town, rural town, with a population under 1,000 and an average household income of less than $26,000.  But they have made some important changes to their school menu already — things like replacing canned vegetables with fresh or frozen ones, moving in more whole grains, offering plenty of fresh fruit, and even baking their French fries instead of frying them.  These are small changes.

And plenty of schools like F.S. Ervin are getting creative in this way.  There are schools around the country that are holding taste tests and recipe contests to get kids really involved in the whole change — give kids a competition and they’ll get involved.  There are schools that are partnering with farmers and with chefs in their communities, and that’s making a difference.  They’re making these small, daily changes — simple things like replacing whole milk with skim milk — changes that add up over time and it can make a real difference in the life of our kids.

And again and again, schools are finding that when they actually offer these healthier options, kids aren’t just willing to try them, they actually like them.  That’s the thing, that’s the surprising thing.  I’ve been to so many schools across the country where parents see their kids eating fresh vegetables off the vine, kids they say would never try anything, but that’s the beauty of children — they change.  They change much easier than we do, and when we give them an opportunity to try something new, they embrace it oftentimes, and they come back for more.

So while budgets are tight right now, there are schools across the country that are showing that it doesn’t take a whole lot of money or resources to give our kids the nutrition they deserve.  What it does take, however, is effort.  What it does take is imagination.  What it does take is a commitment to our children’s futures.

So today, I am asking parents and educators and food service workers across this country to embrace this effort on behalf of our children.  Embrace it.  Because we all know that we are some of the best role models for our kids.  We are the first and best role models.  And if kids are like mine, if I’m excited about something, they’re excited about it — right?  If we as adults embrace it, the kids will follow suit.  They’re looking to us to figure out how to make this happen.  So if we get pumped up about this effort, get excited, get creative, the kids will follow suit and they will do it with vigor and vim, and they’ll be out there out front in a way that we would never expect.

So I want to thank you all once again for all that you do every day on behalf of our children.  I’m excited to be here.  This is a great day, a wonderful accomplishment.  And it’s just exciting to be able to highlight the work that’s being done here at Parklawn.

So now, as I mentioned, I’m a little hungry.  (Laughter.)  I understand that I get to hang out with the kids, have a little lunch.  And it’s turkey tacos!  Sounds really good.  So with that, I want to thank you all for being here, and we’re going to have some lunch.

Thank you all.  (Applause.)

11:42 A.M. EST

Full Text January 25, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Blueprint for Manufacturing at Conveyor Engineering and Manufacturing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa



Everything You Need to Know About the President’s Blueprint for Manufacturing

Source: WH, 1-25-12

President Barack Obama looks at an agricultural auger in Cedar<br /><br /><br /><br />

President Barack Obama looks at an agricultural auger while touring Conveyer Engineering and Manufacturing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Jan. 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In Cedar Rapids today, the President offered more details about his plan to reform taxes. The package he’s presenting is fully paid for—the tax credits he’s proposing would be offset by closing loopholes on companies that encourage the shielding of profits overseas. And the objective isn’t to raise taxes on business. In fact, one of the overarching goals would be to simplify the tax code so businesses can focus on investing and creating jobs, instead of filling out tax forms.

Specifically, President Obama is proposing a 20 percent income tax credit for companies that bring jobs back to the United States. He’s asking Congress to create a new credit to provide $2 billion per year in incentives for three years for businesses that invest in communities that affected by job loss. He’s pushing to extend tax credits to drive nearly $20 billion of investment in domestic clean energy manufacturing and a provision that allows companies to expense the full cost of their investments in equipment. The President plans to pay for those proposals with the $23 billion the government would raise from closing the loophole that allows corporations to expense outsourcing.

Get more details here.

An America that lasts

Taken together, these ideas represent one part of President Obama’s blueprint for the future. To see more details from that plan, go here.

To look at the data and charts that helped to inform the thinking that went into the State of the Union, go here.


Remarks by the President at Conveyor Engineering and Manufacturing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Conveyor Engineering and Manufacturing
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

11:47 A.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  Hello, Iowa!  Hello, Cedar Rapids!  (Applause.)  All right.  Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.  Please have a seat.

It is great to be back in Iowa, although it is a little colder here — (laughter) — than it was in Washington.  I want to thank Jeff for the introduction.  It’s good to see your governor, Governor Branstad, and Mayor Corbett.  Outstanding members of the congressional delegation.  All kinds of good friends.  In fact, this whole row here, if I start introducing them, it will make my speech twice as long, but I love these guys.  And it is wonderful to be back here in Iowa.

I know there’s been a lot of excitement here over the past couple of months.  It kind of made me nostalgic.  (Laughter.)  I used to have a lot of fun here in Iowa.  I remember a great backyard barbecue out in Marion way back in 2007.  Good burgers.  I did not have as much gray hair back then.  (Laughter.)

But when I think about all the days I spent in Iowa, so much of my presidency, so much about what I care about, so much what I think about every day, has to do with the conversations that I had with you.  People’s backyards, VFW halls.  Those conversations I carry with me.

All across this state, in all 99 counties — and I was in I think just about every county — we talked about how for years the middle class was having a tougher time.  Hard work had stopped paying off for too many people.  Good jobs and manufacturing were leaving our shores.

Folks at the very, very top saw their incomes rise like never before, but most Americans, most folks in Iowa, were just trying to stay afloat.  And that was before the financial crisis hit in 2008.

The crisis struck right at the end of a long campaign, but we didn’t even understand at that point how bad that crisis was going to be.  And millions of our neighbors were put out of work.

But we did know then what we know today — that when we come together as a country, there’s no reason why we can’t restore that basic American promise, that if you work hard, you can do well.

America is not about handouts.  America is about earning everything you’ve got.  But if you’re willing to put in the work, the idea is that you should be able to raise a family and own a home; not go bankrupt because you got sick, because you’ve got some health insurance that helps you deal with those difficult times; that you can send your kids to college; that you can put some money away for retirement.  That’s all most people want.

Folks don’t have unrealistic ambitions; they do believe that if they work hard they should be able to achieve that small measure of an American Dream.  That’s what this country is about.  That’s what you deserve.  That’s what we talked about during the campaign.

Now, today, three years after the worst economic storm in three generations, we are making progress.  Our businesses have created more than 3 million jobs over the last 22 months.  If you look at a job chart, if you look at a chart of what’s happened in terms of jobs in America, we lost 4 million jobs before I took office, another 4 million in the few months right after I took office, before our economic policies had a chance to take effect, and we’ve been growing and increasing jobs ever since — 3 million over the last 22 months.  Last year, we created the most jobs since 2005.  And today, American manufacturers like this one are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the 1990s.  And that’s good news.

Our economy is getting stronger.  We’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s getting stronger.  And we’ve come way too far to turn back now.  After everything that’s happened, there are people in Washington who seem to have collective amnesia.  They seem to have forgotten how we got into this mess.  They want to go back to the very same policies that got us into it — the same policies that have stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for years.

And their philosophy, what there is of it, seems to be pretty simple:  We’re better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves, and everybody can play by their own rules.  And I’m here to say they’re wrong.  (Applause.)  We’re not going to go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing and bad debt and phony financial profits.  That’s not how America was built.  We’re not going to go back to that.

So last night, in the State of the Union, I laid out my vision for how we move forward.  I laid out a blueprint for an economy that is built to last.  (Applause.)

It’s an economy built on American manufacturing, with more good jobs and more products made right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  It’s an economy built on American energy, fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources that make us more secure and less dependent on foreign oil.  (Applause.)  And by the way, there’s a connection between those two things.  This company right here, some of its key customers are folks who are active in alternative energy.  There are jobs to be had — and Iowa knows all about it — when we are pursuing aggressively clean energy and alternative energy.

It’s an economy built on the skills of American workers — getting people the education and the training they need so they’re prepared for the jobs of today, and they’re ready to compete for the jobs of tomorrow.

And most importantly, it’s an economy that’s built on a renewal of American values, heartland values.  (Applause.)  Values that Iowa knows something about — hard work, responsibility, and the same set of rules for everybody, from Wall Street to Main Street.  (Applause.)

That has to be our future.  That’s how we restore that basic American promise.  And it starts with manufacturing.

Look what happened in our auto industry.  On the day I took office, it was on the verge of collapse.  And some even said we should let it die.  I’ve got the clips in case — (laughter) — because I remember.  They were beating the heck out of me.  “Why are you doing this?  Why are you intervening?”

But we stood to lose a million jobs — not just in the auto industry, but all the suppliers, all the related businesses.  So I refused to let that happen.

In exchange for help — see, keep in mind, that the administration before us, they had been writing some checks to the auto industry with asking nothing in return.  It was just a bailout, straight — straightforward.  We said we’re going to do it differently.

In exchange for help, we also demanded responsibility from the auto industry.  We got the industry to retool and to restructure.  We got workers and management to get together, figure out how to make yourselves more efficient.

And over the past two years, that entire industry has added nearly 160,000 jobs.  GM is number one in the world again.  Ford is investing billions in new American plants.  Chrysler is growing faster.  (Applause.)  So today, the American auto industry is back.

And I want what’s happening in Detroit to happen in other industries.  I want it to happen in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh.  And I want it to happen right here in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  (Applause.)

Now, it’s already happening at places like Conveyor.  These folks make some big stuff.  I just got a tour — a quick tour from Graig and Jeff, met some of the workers here, and they told me the story of how Conveyor started.  Like so many other wonderful American companies, it started in a garage.  Couldn’t make that up.  Today, they employ 65 people -– from engineers and welders to assembly line workers and salespeople.  They specialize in making augers — giant screws -– and they’re used to mix and move everything from cement to chocolate.  They don’t use the same ones for — (laughter) — just in case you were wondering.

So Conveyor has doubled in size twice over the last 16 years, and over the next several years, they’re hoping to double again.

See, right now, we have a huge opportunity to help companies like this hire more workers because what’s — here’s what’s happening globally.  Obviously, the economy had shifted all around the world.  And we were getting more competition from other countries like China that were catching up and have very low wage rates.  We had technology that was displacing a lot of workers.  But here’s what’s going on:  It’s getting more expensive to do business in China now.  Their wages are going up.  Transportation costs to ship a big auger over here, it starts becoming cost prohibitive.

Meanwhile, America is getting more productive.   We’ve become more efficient.  We are as competitive as we’ve ever been.  So for a lot of companies, it’s starting to make a lot more sense to bring jobs back home.

But we’ve got to seize that opportunity.  We’ve got to help these companies succeed.  And it starts with changing our tax code.  It starts with changing our tax code.  (Applause.)

Now, right now, companies get all kinds of tax breaks when they move jobs and profits overseas.  Think about that.  A company that chooses to stay in America gets hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.  That’s wrong.  It doesn’t make sense.  We’ve got to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, reward companies like Conveyor that are doing business right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

Now, before the other side gets all excited, let me be clear:  If you’re a company that wants to outsource jobs or do business around the world, that’s your right.  It’s a free market.  But you shouldn’t get a tax break for it.  Companies that are bringing jobs back from overseas should get tax breaks.  High-tech manufacturers should get tax breaks.  Manufacturers like Conveyor that stamp products with three proud words:  Made in America.  Those are the folks who should be rewarded through our tax code.  (Applause.)

Jeff and Graig told me that if we pass tax reforms like these, they’d be able to buy more equipment for their facility.  So let’s do it.  Today, my administration is laying out several concrete actions we could take right now to discourage outsourcing and encourage investing in America.  You need to tell Congress to send me this tax reform plan.  I will sign it right away.

We need to make it easier for American businesses to do business here in America, and we also need to make it easier for American businesses to sell our products other places in the world.  I don’t want to export our jobs; I want to export our goods and our services.

So two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years.  And by the way, Iowa, you should be interested that obviously a big chunk of those exports are also agricultural, which is doing wonders for this state’s economy.   The agricultural sector is doing very well.  But I also want us to export manufacturing.

And we’re on track to meet our goal of doubling exports; actually we’re ahead of schedule.  Exports has been one of the strengths of this recovery.  And soon, thanks to new trade agreements I’ve signed, not only are we going to be sending more soy beans into South Korea, but we’re also going to start seeing new cars on the streets of Seoul, South Korea, imported from Detroit and Toledo and Chicago.  (Applause.)

I don’t mind Kias being sold here, I just want to make sure that they’re also buying some Chevys and some Fords.  So we’re going to keep boosting American manufacturing.  We’re going to keep training workers with the skills they need to find these jobs.  We’re going to keep creating new jobs in American energy, including alternative energy that’s been a source of strength for a lot of rural communities in Iowa.  And an economy built to last also means making sure that there’s a sense of fair play and shared responsibility.

Now, most immediately — I was talking about taxes on business — the most immediate thing we need to do with our tax code is make sure that we stop a tax hike on 160 million working Americans at the end of next month.  (Applause.)  People can’t afford losing $40 out of each paycheck.  Not right now.  Your voices convinced Congress to extend this middle-class tax cut before.  You remember there was a little resistance there at the end of last year?  But you guys sent a message:  Renew that payroll tax cut, strengthen the economy.  But they only extended it for two months.  We now have to extend it for the entire year.  So I need your help to make sure they do it again.  Tell Congress to pass this tax cut without drama, without delay.  (Applause.)  No soap operas.  Just get it done.

In the longer run, if we’re going to invest in our future, we’ve also got to get our fiscal house in order.  You hear a lot of talk about deficits and debt.  And those are legitimate concerns, although the most important thing we can do to actually reduce the debt is to grow the economy.  So we can’t abandon our investments in things like manufacturing and education investment because if we’re growing faster, the debt and deficits start coming down, the numbers get easier to manage.  You can’t just cut your way out of it.  It’s just like a family.  If you are struggling to get out of debt, but you decide, well, I’ll just — I won’t repair the roof or the boiler, and I’ll stop sending my kid to college, that’s not the way you’re going to solve your long-term problems.

Now, we’re going to have to make some tough choices, though.  And right now, we are scheduled to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was intended to be a temporary tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.  A quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households.  Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.  Warren Buffett’s secretary was at the State of the Union last night — just to confirm — (laughter) — that fact.

Now, does that make any sense to you?  Do we want to keep these tax cuts for folks like me who don’t need them?  I’m doing okay.  (Laughter.)  I really am.  And look, nobody likes paying taxes.  I understand that.  So if we didn’t need it, if the country was in a surplus like it was back in 2000, I’d understand us saying, well, let’s try to let millionaires keep every last dime.  I get that.  But that’s not the situation we’re in.  And so we’ve got to make choices.

Do we want to keep investing in everything that’s important to our long-term growth — education, medical research, our military, caring for our veterans — all of which are expensive? Or do we keep these tax cuts for folks who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them?  Because we can’t do both.  I want to be very clear about this.  We cannot do both.  (Applause.)  You’ve got to choose.

So I believe we should follow what we call the Buffett Rule:  If you make more than a million dollars a year — I don’t mean that you’ve got a million dollars’ worth of assets.  I don’t mean a family that’s been saving all their lives and doing well and is comfortable, and finally they’ve got a little nest egg.  If you make more than a million dollars a year, you should pay a tax rate of at least 30 percent.  (Applause.)  If, on the other hand, you make less than $250,000 a year, which includes 98 percent of you, your taxes shouldn’t go up.  (Applause.)

And by the way, if we do that and we make some smart cuts in other areas, we can get this deficit and debt under control and still be making the investments we need to grow the economy.  (Applause.)

A lot of — I hear folks running around calling this class warfare.  This is not class warfare.  Let me tell you something, asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary, that’s just common sense.  (Applause.)  That’s common sense.  I mean, we’re talking about going back to tax rates that we had under Bill Clinton — when, by the way, the economy grew faster and jobs increased much faster.  And in the meantime, Warren Buffett will do fine.  (Laughter.)  I will do fine.  We don’t need tax breaks.  You do.  You’re the ones who’ve seen your wages stall, the cost of everything from groceries to college tuition going up.  So I want to give you a break.  I don’t need a break.

Look, we don’t begrudge success in America.  This family business right here, I want them to thrive.  I want these guys to keep growing and growing and growing.  (Applause.)  And hire and hire and hire.  When we talk — when Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share in taxes, it’s not because Americans envy the rich.  Most of them want to get rich.  Most of them will work hard to try to do well financially.  It’s because if I get a tax break I don’t need and the country can’t afford, then either it’s going to add to our deficit — and that’s what happened between 2000 and 2008, basically.  All these tax cuts just added to the deficit because they weren’t paid for, so it takes money out of the treasury.

Or, alternatively, if we’re going to close that deficit, somebody else is going to have to pick up the tab.  It might be a senior who now suddenly has to pay more for their Medicare.  It’s got to be a student who’s suddenly having to pay more for their student loan.  It might be a family that’s just trying to get by and suddenly their tax rates go up.  That’s not right.  That’s not who we are.

One of the biggest disagreements I have with some folks in Washington is the nature of America’s success.  Each of us is only here because somebody somewhere felt a responsibility to each other and felt a responsibility to our country’s future.  And that starts within our own families.  It starts with us making sure our kids are responsible and we’re instilling in them the values of hard work and doing your homework and treating other people with respect.  But then it expands from there, to our neighborhoods and our communities.  And we recognize that if everybody is getting a fair shot, everybody has a chance to do better.

That’s what built this country.  Now it’s our turn to be responsible.  Now it’s our turn to leave an America that’s built to last.  And I think we can do it.  (Applause.)  I’m confident we can do it.  I believe it because of what I see in places like Cedar Rapids, what I hear when I meet the folks who are gathered here today.

I mean, think about what you’ve accomplished coming back from those floods.  (Applause.)  Now, that wasn’t a matter of just each person being on their own.  It was a matter of everybody pulling together — (applause) — to rebuild a city and make it stronger than it was before.  That’s how we work.  And that FEMA assistance wasn’t — it didn’t come out of nowhere.  It came around because, as a country, as a United States of America, we decide, you know what, when any part of the country gets in trouble, we’re going to step in and help out.  That’s what we do.  (Applause.)

This country only exists because generations of Americans worked together, and looked out for each other, and believed that we’re stronger when we rise together.  And those values are not Democratic values or Republican values.  Those are American values.  Those are the values we have to return to.  (Applause.)

So we’re going to keep on moving on American energy.  We’re going to keep on moving on American manufacturing.  We are going to push hard to make sure that American workers have the skills they need to compete.  And we’re going to make sure that everything we do abides by those core American values that are so important.

And I know that if we work together and in common purpose, we can build an economy that gives everybody a fair shot.  We can meet this challenge.  And we’ll remind everybody just why it is the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

12:15 P.M. CST

History Buzz January 25, 2012: Kenneth Swopes: Ball State professor recalls his sabbatical in China & research on Ming Dynasty


History Buzz


Ball State professor recalls his sabbatical in China

Source: BS Daily News, 1-25-12


Kenneth Swopes, associate professor of history explains his research about the Ming dynasty while pointing out relics that have helped him with his research. He talked about his findings to students and other professors Tuesday afternoon in the Burkhart building.

A historian of late imperial and northeast Asian military history presented the culmination of his sabbatical findings to a room full of students and colleagues Wednesday afternoon.

Kenneth Swope, associate professor of history, gave students and fellow professors the opportunity to learn more about the Ming Dynasty.

Swope’s research was a self-described overview of the book he wrote, which will be published at the end of this year.

Swope had planned to have the book published sooner, but by “happy coincidence,” he ran into the problem of having more primary sources than he had hoped for while on sabbatical in China.

“A lot of Chinese primary documents out of the archives in Beijing or Nanjing — where the two main archives are — are still published in hardcopy,” Swope said. “They’re not up on the internet or published digitally.”

One collection Swope used for his research was a collection of 102 volumes, about 500 pages each, of copies of handwritten documents from the Ming Dynasty.

The collection is estimated at $20,000-$25,000.

Swope said he read about 48 of the volumes for his sabbatical research.

“With reduced budgets and things, universities libraries aren’t able to buy these things,” Swope said. “So you still have to go there to do research.”

The book, entitled “The Military Collapse of China’s Ming Dynasty,” is the result of several years of work and research by Swope.

Beginning with an introduction from department chair Kevin Smith, Swope talked about the collapse of the Ming dynasty.

Attributing the fall of the Ming Dynasty to Emperor Wanli, Swope made a connection between the dynasty and American politics.

Swope provided reasons for the fall of the ancient power with significant reasons being economic and political factors.

“The first problem was economics, money problems,” Swope said. “Again, this is something we can identify with given the fiscal problems of our own government.”

With the Ming Dynasty, they had large amounts of physical wealth and were far more advanced than many other places in the world because their wealth had increased due to the finding of America.

Citing land taxes as the base of revenue, Swope connected the rich of the Ming Dynasty to part of the country’s economic problems.

“The rich found ways to dodge taxes,” Swope said. “The upper one percent of the Ming Dynasty were dodging all the taxes.”

History Buzz January 25, 2012: James Davis: Civil War lecture to be history professor’s last at Illinois College


History Buzz


Civil War lecture to be history professor’s last at IC

Source: Jacksonville Journal-Courier, 1-25-12

Illinois College invites the community to attend a presentation on how Illinois College and the Jacksonville community were involved in the Civil War.

Historian and Illinois College Professor Emeritus of History James Davis will be speaking on the subject 7 p.m. Wednesday in Room 6 of the Kirby Learning Center. This will be the last chance to attend a lecture by the retired professor before he moves to Michigan this spring.

The program is free and will feature the activities and events associated with the Civil War along with subtopics that include life in the town and college during the war, roles played by Jacksonville and IC during the war, and the impact of the war on the community and nation.

Davis specializes in 19th century American history and has authored three books, including “Frontier Illinois and Dreams to Dust,” which was nominated for four awards including the Parkman Award and the Bancroft Prize.

As a faculty member since 1971, Davis was the first to earn the Harry Joy Dunbaugh Distinguished Professor Award twice (1981 and 1993) and has taken students to do research in places like the Library of Congress and the National Archives. He has also taken students on trips to the Soviet Union, France and other countries, as well as to Civil War battlefields.

During his time at IC, Davis has received a number of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities including three grants to direct Summer Seminars at the college on the American frontier for teachers from all over the country and two grants to study Russian art and architecture in Russia.

History Buzz January 25, 2012: Lyman Van Slyke: Historian awarded Lyman Award from Stanford University alumni association


History Buzz


Historian Lyman Van Slyke awarded Lyman Award from alumni association

An annual service award named for former Stanford President Richard Lyman this year goes to a Chinese historian whose leadership of 35 alumni travel/study trips totals more than a year.

Source: Stanford Report, 1-25-12

Lyman Van Slyke, professor emeritus of history, has been named the 2011 winner of the Richard W. Lyman Award, given annually by the Stanford Alumni Association (SAA) for exceptional service to alumni by a faculty member.

The award recognizes Van Slyke’s participation in SAA’s Travel/Study program, which provides educational travel to more than 80 countries each year, led by members of the Stanford faculty.

Van Slyke, who joined the Stanford faculty in 1963, has led 35 tours of China and Southeast Asia. As a faculty member, Van Slyke helped establish the Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies in Taipei, Taiwan, and directed Stanford’s Center for East Asian Studies. He won the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1984.

“Van has repeatedly shown an inspiring amount of generosity to ensure travelers have a finely tuned, thoughtful and educational trip,” said Brett Thompson, director of Travel/Study programs. “He helps us craft each itinerary from scratch and happily speaks off-the-cuff during bus rides, at museums or any other time he has something to share.”

Thompson added, “Of particular note is Van’s willingness to go back time and time again to the same places to show new sets of alumni travelers the places and people he knows so well. He has led the China Yangtze trip alone a dozen times. And, if one were to count up the hours of his service to Travel/Study alone, it would total over a year.”…READ MORE

%d bloggers like this: