Обама: “Чужденците да „заработват” американско гражданство!”

ВИДЕО: Американският президент Барак Обама по време на речта си в традиционното си за началото на годината обръщение и “зад кулисите”


+ ОРИГИНАЛНИ ТЕКСТОВЕ

24 януари 2012 г. Американският президент призова Конгреса да разработи законопроект, позволяващ на носещи ползи на САЩ чужденци да „заработват” американско гражданство. Това заяви американският президент Барак Обама по време на речта си в традиционното си за началото на годината обръщение “За състоянието на съюза”, което реално поставя началото на кампанията за президентските избори в САЩ, предаде AP. Както се знае голяма предизборна борба ще падне за латино-вота, а отношението на кандидатите към най-многобройната маса нелегални емигранти в законова Америка е от решаващо значение, особено в някои щати.
„Аз все още съм уверен, че ние трябва да се борим с нелегалната имиграция. И поради това моята администрация предприе повече от всякога мерки за охрана на границите. Ето поради това незаконното преминаване на границата сега е по-малко, отколкото при идването ми на власт”, каза Барак Обама пред Конгреса.
„Но ако в година на избори Конгресът не може да работи по мащабни планове, то нека поне да се разберем да прекратим изгонването на отговорни млади хора, които искат да работят в нашите лаборатории, да започнат бизнес или да защитават тази държава. Дайте ми закон даващ им шанс да заработят гражданство. И аз ще го подпиша незабавно”, поясни той.

Според американския президент в момента САЩ се бори за възстановяване не на демократични и републикански идеали, а на изконни американски ценности.

Средната класа в САЩ е изложена на риск заради икономическата криза. “Основният въпрос е как да запазим американската мечта – здравата работа позволява на всеки да изгради свой дом и да изхранва своето семейство. Пред нас има два варианта – или да станем страна, в която малък брой хора се справят наистина добре, но огромната част едва преживяват, или да възстановим икономиката си по нашия начин – всеки да има равен шанс и всеки да играе според едни и същи правила”, каза Обама.

Обама се защити и от критиките на републиканците, че неговата икономическа политика води до увеличаване на социалното неравенство. Той призна, че в началото на неговия мандат е имало загубени 4 млн. работни места и общо 8 млн. като цяло заради кризата още преди Обама да стане президент, но след това ефектът от политиката на Белия дом е довел до създаване на 3 млн. нови работни места само за последните 22 месеца.

За пореден път Барак Обама обърна внимание и на данъците. Той отново поиска да има увеличение на данъчния праг за най-богатите – тези с годишен доход от над 1 млн. долара. По негово мнение те трябва да дават поне 30% от доходите си за американската хазна – идея, която беше лансирана за пръв път в публичното пространство от Уорън Бъфет.

Той заяви, че най-голямото предизвикателство за САЩ в момента е да изпълни базовото си обещание, че многото труд се заплаща.

„Ние трябва да променим данъчния си кодекс така, че хората като мен и много членове на Конгреса да плащат честен дял от данъците. Ако печелите повече от милион на година, не трябва да плащате по-малко от 30% данъци. Ако печелите по-малко от 250 000 годишно, както 98% от американските семейства, данъците ви не трябва да се вдигат. Вие сте тези, борещите се с увеличаващите се цени и не помръдващите заплати. Вие сте нуждаещите се от облекчения”, допълва той.

“Няма по-важен дебат. Трябва да решим или да бъдем страна с все по-малко хора, които се справят, и все повече американци, които едва свързват двата края, или може да възстановим една икономика, където всеки има шанс и всеки играе по едни и същи правила”, заяви Обама по време на едночасовото си изказване в Конгреса.

И все пак президентът знае, че няма почти никакъв шанс да прокара закона за данъка на милионерите през Конгреса. Проблемът Обаче му дава възможност да съживи политическия дебат.

Американският президент предложи радикална промяна на американската икономика, която да се върне обратно на производствена база. Барак Обама отправи предложението си след десетилетия на намаляване на работните места в сферата на фабричното производство на фона на Китай. Той призова за „излъскване” на етикета „Произведено в САЩ”.

Но не спомена за данъчни облекчения за производителите: тези, които произвеждат в САЩ (а не евтинко в Китай и Африка) и така “създават” работни места в САЩ. Сега данъчните облекчения се дават на базата на висок доход (наследство от Буш) с теоретичното предположение, че най-богатите евентуално биха създали работни места в САЩ. Реалността е друга, или как?!

Друго намерение на Обама, свързано с икономиката, е създаването на служба за контрол прозрачността на външната търговия, задачата на която ще бъде да разследва нарушенията в сферата на търговията в страни, като Китай. Нейната основно задача ще бъде недопускането на територията на САЩ на фалшиви и опасни стоки.

В речта си Обама не пропусна и енергетиката – за пореден път той обеща повече помощ от държавата за зелената енергия и призова за премахване на облекченията пред петролните компании. По отншение на шистовия газ американският президент се изказа “за” добива му, но с уговорката, че всичко се прави при пълно спазване на технологичните изисквания за безопасност.

Обама се похвали и с външната политика на Белия дом – той напомни, че САЩ вече се изтегли от Ирак и по този начин промени курса, наследен от Джордж Буш.

Американският президент беше категоричен, че няма да се откаже от никоя от възможностите, включително военната, да попречи на Иран да се сдобие с ядрено оръжие.

“Световната общност преодоля своите разногласия и сега е обединена да възпре ядрените амбиции на Иран. Режимът е по-изолиран от всякога, лидерите му са изправени пред парализиращи санкции, и докато те избягват своите отговорности, този натиск няма да намалее.”, каза още Обама.

2012 State Of The Union Address: Enhanced Version

Behind The Scenes: Writing the 2012 State of the Union Address

 

5 comments for “Обама: “Чужденците да „заработват” американско гражданство!”

  1. Iren Angelova
    2012/01/25 at 5:44 PM

    Silna rech! Chetivo za vseki politik! Koncepciite, nachina po koito se podnesoha i nai-vajnoto- vazdeistvieto varhu vsi4ki, sa vazhititelni!

  2. 2012/01/26 at 7:47 AM

    LiveAtState: Foreign Policy Priorities for 2012
    http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ime/182503.htm

    Interview
    Jake Sullivan
    Director of Policy Planning
    Washington, DC
    January 24, 2012

    MS. JENSEN: Hi. Welcome to LiveAtState, the State Department’s interactive webchat platform for engaging international media. I am delighted to welcome our participants from all over the world. Thank you for joining us today. Today in our studio, we have Jake Sullivan, the director of policy planning here at the State Department, and he’ll be taking your questions on foreign policy priorities for 2012.

    Before I get started, I would just like to give you a few housekeeping notes. You can start to ask your questions now in the lower left-hand portion of your screen, in the box titled questions for Director Sullivan. And if at any time you experience problems submitting your questions, you can email us directly at Live@State.gov, and we’ll put your questions into the queue. And also, we have a listen-only phone bridge that’s available, and that number is listed in the bottom lower left-hand portion of your screen, so that if you have connectivity issues you can call in and listen to the webchat platform in a listen-only mode.

    And we will try to get to as many of your questions as we can in the 45 minutes we have. I just want you to know we have a lot of participants, so we’ll do our best to get them as quickly as we can. And if you would like to continue this conversation, you can do so on Twitter by going to the State Department’s official Twitter handle, it’s @StateDept and using the hashtag #JakeSullivan.

    And with that, I’ll turn it over. Welcome.

    MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you very much, Holly. I appreciate being here. And I’m very much eager to take everybody’s questions. I just thought I would start by saying that 2012 is going to be a very important year in foreign policy. There are a number of significant summits over the course of the year, including two that the United States will be hosting. There are fast-moving events that are sweeping the world, starting in the Middle East and North Africa but extending elsewhere as well. There are long-term global trends that are driving decisions and events all across the world from our own hemisphere to the Asia Pacific and elsewhere.

    And so the United States Government, the Secretary of State, the State Department, are all focused on what we need to do this year to respond to the challenges and opportunities of the moment as well as to take steps to secure and sustain America’s global leadership on behalf of the American people and on behalf of solving problems across the world so that more people in more places can live up to their potential.

    So with that, I’d be happy to take your questions on any topic under the sun. I can’t promise that I’ll be able to give a complete answer to all of them, but I look forward to a conversation over the next 45 minutes.

    MS. JENSEN: Our first question comes from the Daily News in Tanzania: There’s a shift of U.S. foreign policy. What is your priority for this year?

    MR. SULLIVAN: Well, when you take a complex and multidimensional foreign policy like that which the United States needs to pursue because of our interests and our relationships around the world, it’s hard to boil it down to a single priority. But I would say that there are a few things that are at the top of our agenda, and one of them is to consolidate the efforts that we have undertaken to shift from a decade of war and a focus on threats, which by necessity the last 10 years were mostly about, to a decade of opportunities, opportunities to help support democratic transitions in the Middle East and North Africa, opportunities to consolidate America’s engagement as a Pacific power in the part of the world that is increasingly becoming the strategic and economic center of gravity, opportunities to deepen partnerships in our own hemisphere as we head into the Summit of the Americas in April of 2012, and opportunities to drive a development agenda alongside our diplomacy agenda that gets to issues like health and food and climate so that we are creating better chances for people across the world to be able to redeem their aspirations, their political aspirations as well as their economic aspirations.

    So broadly speaking, that’s the frame with which we are seeing much of which will happen this year. Now, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be ongoing threats. There are. We’ve seen just in the last 24 hours continuing threatening statements out of Iran about the Straits of Hormuz. We have seen a continued effort on the part of violent extremists on virtually every continent to terrorize people and other threats as well. So we’ll remain vigilant, along with our partners, to deal with those challenges as well.

    MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Sean Embrack: Good morning. I am Sean Embrack, Newswatchguyana.com. What kind of support can the Caribbean region expect with regards to fighting HIV/AIDS and trans-border smuggling of narcotics and other illegal activities? And finally, is the U.S. cutting down on foreign spending in support of logistical activities to prevent these illegal activities?

    MR. SULLIVAN: The United States has really, over the past three years, deepened our partnership with the countries of the Caribbean. The CARICOM organization, which is the organization that represents the Caribbean states, has each year held a high-level meeting with the Secretary, with Secretary Clinton. And in those meetings, HIV/AIDS and the fight against narcotics have been front and center.

    On HIV/AIDS, we have extensive programming across the region as we try to deal with the challenge of those who currently have contracted HIV by providing them with lifesaving drugs, but then more broadly, an effort to build health systems in the countries of the Caribbean so that we can lick this disease once and for all to produce what Secretary Clinton has called an AIDS-free generation.

    On the narcotics side, the United States has been proud to partner with the Caribbean on something called the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, which is about security assistance, yes, but it’s also about strengthening intuitions in the countries of the Caribbean, law enforcement and judicial institutions, so that they gain greater capacity to be able to take on the threat, the scourge of drug trafficking within their own countries. And so it’s a multidimensional effort that we are putting significant resources behind. And when the Secretary was in Barbados some months ago, she laid out what the various components of this would look like, and will continue her engagement and consultations with the people of the Caribbean and the government of the Caribbean as we move forward.

    MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Anas Al Madhoun: Good morning, and thank you for giving us this opportunity to know about U.S. policy during 2012 regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

    MR. SULLIVAN: With respect to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, we are heartened by what we have seen over the course of the past few weeks with the Jordanian initiative to help broker direct face-to-face contacts between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, where they can sit and actually discuss the real issues of the conflict, starting with territory and security. And we would like to see that process continue. Indeed, we’d like to see it grow into a sustained and systematic negotiating process that takes on all of the permanent status issues that have divided the parties and kept peace elusive for all this time.

    At the same time that we’re supporting the Jordanian effort, and the Secretary had the opportunity just in the past week to engage with King Abdallah of Jordan and thank him for his efforts as well as the efforts of Foreign Minister Judeh, we are also trying to work with the Palestinian Authority, with President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyed to help with their effort to build the institutions of a future Palestinian state, to respond directly to the economic aspirations of the Palestinian people by providing economic opportunity, by providing the chance to grow an economy that can thrive over time and by deepening security cooperation so that every Palestinian citizen can live in peace and security.

    And so the combination of the political efforts and the state and institution building efforts that we are supporting is something that will remain a top priority for us in 2012. This is not to say that it’s going to be easy. It won’t. And over the past three years, we’ve seen challenges and difficulties and setbacks. But we believe that with good faith and with rolling up all of our collective sleeves, both the parties, the regional actors, the United States and the international community, that we can make progress in 2012. And so we don’t say this glibly or lightly, and we say it with clear eyes about what the obstacles are and have been for so long, but it is very important to the United States that we move along the path towards peace and that we do so at a time when change is sweeping the rest of the region and progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue is important to progress in terms of broader regional security and prosperity.

    MS. JENSEN: J. Brooks Spector wants to know: What is the long-term goals for U.S. policy vis-a-vis Iran? Where do you want to get in the future, assuming you get past the current tensions? And how is this tied to U.S. involvement with Pakistan, Afghanistan, and of course, Iraq?

    MR. SULLIVAN: Well, our long-term goal with respect to Iran is quite straightforward in terms of how we state it. It’s not as straightforward in terms of getting there. It is to ultimately, after Iran has fulfilled its obligations, welcome the people of Iran back into the international community as full participants. That is what the President and the Secretary have said since the start of this Administration. We would like to see Iran with a future that is as bright as – and as potent as the history of its great ancient civilization.

    Now, in order to get from where we are today to there requires Iran to take steps to come into compliance with its international obligations. That goes for its nuclear program. That goes for its sponsorship of terrorism and violence and its efforts to destabilize actors in the region. And in that regard, the question of Iran and Afghanistan and Iran and Iraq comes into play. We look to Iran to take steps to ensure that they are not engaging in activities in either Afghanistan or Iraq that attempt to destabilize or advance an agenda of violence or attempt to thwart the democratic aspirations of the people of those countries.

    And overall, we look to Iran to show the international community once and for all that it has a nuclear program that is peaceful and that is not intended for nuclear weapons, and so far, it has been categorically unwilling and unable to do that. And so it is very clear what is required of Iran, and now the choice is Iran’s to make, whether it’s prepared to step up and meet its obligations or whether instead it will continue to choose a course of continued diplomatic isolation and pressure.

    MS. JENSEN: The next question comes from Wen Xian from People’s Daily of China: What’s the priority of the U.S.’s policy towards China in 2012?

    MR. SULLIVAN: Every year has been a significant year in U.S.-China relations because this is one of the most complex and consequential and important relationships that the United States has. We are looking ahead, just in a few weeks time, to the visit – the return visit – of Vice President Xi who will come to Washington and then go out to the American heartland to Iowa. I’m actually from Minnesota myself, which is a state that borders Iowa to the north, so we’re going to be pleased to welcome the vice president to see, once again, life in the American Midwest and the values that the people of the heartland reflect in their daily lives. And then he’ll go out to Los Angeles.

    And that visit will be an important opportunity for us to both take stock of the progress we’ve made, to address some of the differences that remain between us, and to look forward to an action-oriented period of cooperation on significant issues. Among those issues are the global economy and the need for the United States and China to work together to ensure that the basic rules of the road are respected, that the international economic system become increasingly open, free, transparent, and fair. And in addition to global economics, there are questions around nuclear proliferation and the work that we can do together to pursue pressure on Iran to come into compliance within its international obligations and to pursue an effort to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

    Those are just some of what is an incredibly broad-based agenda that we have with the Chinese Government and the Chinese people. And we will also be clear along the way that we continue to have concerns about human rights in China and that we believe that, for China’s future, it is in the best interests of all of the people of China for the government to pursue a path of increasing respect for human rights and for political reform.

    MS. JENSEN: Just a quick note: You’ll notice that we have a live stream of all of our in-language Twitter feeds running across the bottom scroll of your screen. So if you would like to follow us on Twitter, you can do so in-language by going to any one of our 10 in-language Twitter feeds.

    Our next question comes from Hala Mohammed from Al Hurra Iraq: What do you – what will you do in America to help the Iraqis in establishing law?

    MR. SULLIVAN: Well, we have a very broad-based diplomatic engagement with Iraq across the board, across every segment of engagement that you’d see between two countries. And the rule of law is an incredibly important part of that, and it begins with the leadership of Iraq, from all of the various stakeholders across the country, coming together to produce a political pathway forward that is in keeping with the Iraqi constitution. And on an increasingly stable political platform that we are looking to them to build, we can then talk about increasing the capacity of Iraqi Government institutions, including the judiciary, including the police and security forces.

    And the United States is continuing support on all of those fronts. We have a police training program that seeks to improve the ability of the Iraqi police to protect citizens, but to do so in a way that’s in keeping with their rights under the Iraqi constitution. We have a program that works with judges across Iraq. And what we would like to see is for every Iraqi to know that when he or she goes to court, they will get a fair hearing, an impartial hearing, and a hearing where their grievances can be addressed in a way that is effective and transparent.

    And so those are just a couple of the examples of what is an incredibly broad-based effort by the United States Government to partner with and support the people of Iraq as they move along the path of democracy. Again, here, as in so many other places, this is not an easy proposition. There were many decades in which Iraqis lived under the fear and tyranny of a brutal dictator, where the institutions weren’t strong, where the courts weren’t fair. And so it will take time and effort and the support of the United States and the international community – and we’re intent on staying the course – to try to steadily build the strength of those institutions so that there can’t be backsliding, there can’t be the kinds of challenges and divisions that have marked Iraqi political history in the past.

    MS. JENSEN: Mainul Alam would like to know: Despite the rise of militancy, how will the USA deal with South Asia, particularly Bangladesh? Bangladesh has a good record to fight terrorism.

    MR. SULLIVAN: I would agree with that statement. Bangladesh does have a good record of counterterrorism cooperation with the United States and with the international community. And our relationship with Bangladesh, of course, extends beyond the question of counterterrorism, although that is a critical priority in our relationship.

    It includes a very significant development agenda on the health front, on the agriculture front, on trying to deal with the effects of climate change, especially in the low-lying areas of Bangladesh. And the progress that Bangladesh has made in its development has really been quite remarkable, but the distance it still has to travel to deal with poverty and health challenges and the effects of climate change is great, and the United States understands that and is committed to working both bilaterally and through international institutions to help the government and people of Bangladesh.

    Now at the same time, there’s a question of democratic development as well, and Bangladesh has traveled a far distance on this score as well. But there is also room for improvement too here, especially on the question of opening the political space to all of civil society and to all of the media to ensure that a vibrant, free media and civil society can help contribute to the long-term vitality of Bangladesh. And in this regard, as in others, the United States is committed to working with the government and people of Bangladesh to make progress and to continue to see the trend lines point in the right direction.

    MS. JENSEN: George Rodriguez is asking: What are the Obama Administration’s priorities regarding Central America?

    MR. SULLIVAN: Well, President Obama was in Central America in El Salvador last year and will be going to the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia this year, where, among all of the other major regional issues, Central America will be on the agenda.

    At the same time, Secretary Clinton has traveled to Central America multiple times, most recently to Guatemala, where, along with the presidents of many of the Central American nations and key leaders in the international community, the Central American states launched an initiative to deal with the regional security challenges that they are grappling with. And the international community pledged to support that not just with increased resources, but with better focused resources, with the kind of coordination that the leadership and people of Central America deserve so that all of the funds and assistance flowing in to fight drug traffickers, to fight violent criminals, flows in in a way that is in keeping with the priorities of the countries of Central America and is spent in a way and invested in a way that is efficient and effective.

    And the Secretary followed up that trip to Guatemala with a meeting at the United Nations General Assembly, again with leaders from Central America and leaders from around the world. And 2012 is really an opportunity to take off the page and put into practice the commitments that were made in those various meetings. And the Secretary is very focused on making that a key priority over the course of this year.

    But of course, it’s not just security that the United States is interested in in Central America. It’s human capital development. It’s democracy. And in this regard, we’ve been very concerned about the nature of the Nicaraguan elections, which were not free and fair.

    And so we are looking forward, over time, to working on a broad-based agenda with a particular emphasis on this regional security initiative that the Central American leaders themselves have embraced and led, and we’re looking to come in behind them in support.

    MS. JENSEN: We’ve gotten our first question in French, which we have translated to English for you. It comes from Wilfried Crecel from Hebdomadaire Diplomatie Benin. And he would like to know: What role will covert and overt operations in warfare play in the U.S. foreign policy in 2012? And what wars will continue? And if so, in which countries?

    MR. SULLIVAN: Well, the end of 2011 marked the end of the war in Iraq, and 2012 marks a period of transition in Afghanistan from the security lead being in the hands of the NATO-ISAF coalition to security lead over the course of this year and, moving into 2013 and 2014, increasingly shifting to the Afghan national security forces. So we will continue to fight in Afghanistan in 2012. We will continue to go after the violent extremist networks and the al-Qaida affiliates that pose a threat to U.S. forces, that pose a threat to the growth and development of a strong and stable Afghan state. But as we do so, we will also continue the transition process that was announced at the Lisbon summit – the Lisbon-NATO summit.

    In terms of other operations that the United States would be engaged in over the course of this year, of course, I can’t speak to anything in specific. That sort of goes beyond the scope of my position or my platform. But I will say that we will continue to take the fight the world over against terrorists who would threaten our friends and partners and would threaten the United States. And that will remain an important part of U.S. policy. And just as important as doing it is the partnership that we are building with other countries to be able to join us in that fight, to continue to put pressure on – relentless pressure – on those who would choose to use violence and terror to undermine progress, to sow fear, and to try to kill innocents. And the United States won’t tolerate that, and we will continue to make that an important part of our national security strategy.

    MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Alexander Gasyuk from Russia: Good morning and thank you for doing this. Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher has recently mentioned that the U.S. will get a missile defense agreement for cooperation with Russia. Given well-known serious disagreements on this matter between Washington and Moscow, what makes the State Department think so, and when, to your mind, will this happen? And can one think about 2012 as the year for signing this agreement?

    MR. SULLIVAN: I learned long ago not to make predictions in terms of ever signing diplomatic agreements, because there are a lot of complexities and challenges built into them. But I would say that it has been the consistent position of the Obama Administration that missile defense cooperation between the United States and Russia is the best path forward for both of our countries, that we face common threats from other actors who would potentially use or threaten to use missiles to the detriment of our interests and Russia’s interests and the interests of each of our friends and partners.

    So we do believe very much that missile defense cooperation and us working together on these issues will be in the long-term best interests of our own countries and of regional peace and security. And that is really, I think, what underlies Under Secretary Tauscher’s observation that we have been in an intense dialogue with the Russian Government about how we might work together. That dialogue has existed at every level, including at the level of President Obama and President Medvedev. And we would like to see 2012 as a year where we could make progress on this issue, where we could deepen understanding, where we could find ways to work together on questions related to missile defense, where we could ensure that there is transparency and understanding on both sides of what we are seeking to achieve and how we are seeking to achieve it.

    So the path is not necessarily a straight or short one, but it is certainly the case that we believe we have made progress in these conversations and that we can continue to make progress to an ultimate goal of real earnest, serious, effective missile defense cooperation between our two countries.

    MS. JENSEN: The next question comes from Mohammed Albishi: Increase economic sanctions Iran consistently. What is the political action you are waiting for in America from Iran in particular?

    MR. SULLIVAN: Well, I’m not sure I fully understand the political action in America. I think in terms of what we are looking for from the Iranians is quite straightforward. We are looking for them to abandon any effort to pursue a nuclear weapons program, to show the international community that they are committed to only a peaceful nuclear program. We are looking to them to cease destabilizing activities in the region, including the sponsorship of terror, and we are looking for them to uphold their broad range of international obligations, including treating their own citizens with the respect and dignity that they deserve.

    Those are the steps that the Iranian Government has within their power to take and should take – not for us, but for their own people and for the future of their own people. And insofar as the Iranian Government is prepared to take those steps, the international community is prepared to begin to bring them back into the global fold, but as long as Iran continues to defy its international obligations, the United States and our partners around the world will continue to impose pressure, will continue Iran’s diplomatic isolation, and that will remain the dynamic that we have seen over the course of the past month. So the choice is really Iran’s to make.

    Now, on a more specific element of this, Iran has suggested in various news outlets that it’s interested in talking about the nuclear program and other issues. Well, the United States and our partners have made very clear that we are prepared to sit down if Iran is serious, and so far, Iran has not stepped forward to demonstrate that it is prepared to sit at a table in a serious and constructive way and discuss the nuclear program and other related issues. So we are awaiting that signal from Iran, and again, it is in the hands of Iran to take that step.

    MS. JENSEN: Justin Stares, the Brussels correspondent for Public Service Europe would like to know: What are the remaining points of contention between the U.S. and European Union, please?

    MR. SULLIVAN: Well, it’s actually – it’s a little hard to answer that question, because the list of areas of convergence is just so long. And the United States works with the European Union in an incredibly effective and robust way. We have no better partner in terms of the broad range of activities that we are pursuing in the world, whether it is pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program or pressuring Syria to stop brutalizing its own people or working on a broad-based development agenda in places as far afield as Pakistan or East Asia or Africa and elsewhere. So it truly is a global partnership between the United States and the EU.

    But of course, there are places where we can deepen that cooperation, where we can become even more effective in the ways that we work together. And one of those ways that we have discussed through the Transatlantic Economic Dialogue is deepening the economic engagement between the United States and Europe as we both work through our own domestic economic challenges. So one of the agenda items, I think, that would be valuable this year for the United States and the EU to pursue is thinking about ways in which we can expand and deepen our links and our economic ties to the benefit of our people and the benefit of our economies.

    MS. JENSEN: If you’d like to follow the State Department on Twitter, you can go to our official Twitter handle, @StateDept. Our next question comes from Silva Pisani from La Nacion, Argentina: We heard about a great opportunity right now in the relationship between Argentina and the United States. What does it mean, and what are you expecting from Argentina? Maybe to fulfill its international compromises?

    MR. SULLIVAN: Secretary Clinton actually had the opportunity to speak with President Fernandez de Kirchner relatively recently, and the two of them talked about how it might be possible for the United States and Argentina to move forward in a greater and more effective spirit of cooperation, and there’s a broad range of activities that we can work together on starting with an entire agenda around thinking about our common interests in economic growth and development. We’re both members of the G-20, and cooperation in the G-20 could be an important place for us to work together. We both have deep interests in ensuring that nonproliferation norms are respected the world over. And whether it’s the Nuclear Security Summit or it is efforts to pressure Iran and try to bring them into compliance with their international obligations, there is work that we can do together on those global security challenges as well.

    So I think it is important for the United States and Argentina to think about what a program of work would look like over the course of 2012, what specific steps we could take together to show the people of both our countries how much we have to gain by intensive and effective practical cooperation. And I think that there is a real desire on the part of our government, as I think there is on the part of the Government of Argentina, to do exactly that.

    MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Donga Ilbo, Seoul, Korea: President Obama didn’t mention about the new North Korean leadership. Could you elaborate on the United States-North Korean policy?

    MR. SULLIVAN: Well, the United States’s policy toward North Korea has been steady and consistent over the course of the past three years. We believe very much that it is in the interests of everybody for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, for there to be a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, for North Korea to end its proliferation and testing activities once and for all, and for North Korea to refrain from any kind of provocative acts that might undermine the stability of the peninsula or the broader region. At the same time, we have made clear that if North Korea can fulfill its commitments under the 2005 joint statement and under United Nations Security Council resolutions, that there is a path forward for North Korea to become a full member of the international community once again. And our goal over time is to move in that direction.

    Now, North Korea has just undergone a leadership transition, and there is a lot of sorting out to do in that country about their choices for how they would like to proceed on all of the things I mentioned and many other things, including how the North Korean Government treats and deals with its own people. And so we are in a period now of real introspection there, and our message to the leadership of North Korea, working in partnership with our allies in Japan and South Korea – and especially South Korea – and working with other partners like China and Russia is to say we have a roadmap, we have a set of steps that you could take that over time would be as much in your interests as everybody else’s, and that in response to those steps, the international community would be prepared to take steps of its own.

    And that will continue to be our message when we engage with the North Koreans, when we speak both publicly and privately with our allies and partners in the region. And our goal is to see progress over the course of this year and in the years ahead. And as I said many times over the course of these 45 minutes, this is no easy task either. Again, we’ve had setbacks; again we’ve had difficulties achieving the kind of vision that I’ve just laid out. But the important thing is to set out a clear set of expectations and to approach what it takes to get to meet those expectations in good faith, in a straightforward and a direct and forceful way, and that’s what the United States has been doing and is intent on continuing to do over the course of this year.

    MS. JENSEN: The next question comes from Wajahat Ali Khan from Urdu daily, Khabrain: What is the new U.S. policy for Pakistan and Afghanistan?

    MR. SULLIVAN: Well, that is a very big question that I could probably take the rest of the time that I’ll be sitting in this chair to answer. I’ll start with Pakistan and say that the Government of Pakistan, the parliament in Pakistan is undergoing a review of their expectations and their understandings in the bilateral relationship. And we look forward to continuing to engage with the Pakistani Government so that they understand our perspective and our needs and what we are looking for in future cooperation between our two countries.

    The stakes in this are very high. We believe very much that cooperation between the United States and Pakistan on a broad range of issues is fundamentally in the interests of our two countries. And that’s not just true in the counterterrorism space, although that’s very important. It’s also true in the way that the United States and the international community can support the democratically elected government of Pakistan and can support an economic program over time that will lead to growth and economic stability in Pakistan so that it does not face the kinds of challenges it has faced in the past.

    So we will see over the course of the next several weeks an intensive period of work to deal with the very real issues that continue to exist between the United States and Pakistan in our relationship, and we’re going to try to do that in a straightforward way and we’re going to try to do it in a way that keeps our eye on the long game. And hopefully, the Pakistanis will do the same. And in the long game, the United States and Pakistan have much more to gain through cooperation than through any other dynamic that might emerge in our relationship.

    MS. JENSEN: We’re moving to Africa now. Christine Haguma wants to know: What is the USA doing to increase the business partnership with Africa?

    MR. SULLIVAN: This has been a very serious focus of Secretary Clinton’s over the course of the past three years. She, in 2009 in her first year in office, went to Kenya to the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum, where she immediately began engaging a broad range of African leaders on the question of how we can deepen economic and trade ties between the United States and Africa. How can the United States and our market provide greater opportunity for African entrepreneurs and African business people to grow jobs and sell products?

    And over the course of the past three years, that has continued to be a central question that she has consistently posed to people in our government and to people in Africa. And so in 2012, as we host the AGOA Forum here in the United States, we’re looking for making practical improvements to AGOA so that more people in more countries in Africa can take advantage of that act and what it has to offer.

    At the same time, we’re very much focused on an entrepreneurship initiative across the continent that finds young entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs from every corner of the continent, and says to them, look, if you’ve got a good idea, the United States is prepared to back you, not just with money but with opportunities to link you to markets, with opportunities to link you to other folks in the business sector who you can partner with in order to grow your business and in order to make your idea something that has real staying power.

    So I would say on the trade front, on the entrepreneurship front, and then very importantly on the regional integration front, where Sub-Saharan Africa trades with itself less than almost anywhere else in the world, the United States would like to help countries there break down barriers so that farmers or business people in one country can trade effectively with their neighbors and sell their goods and sell their products and sell their services. So that will remain an important diplomatic and development priority for the U.S. as relates Africa.

    Those are just three of what – I could talk about a dozen different ways in which the United States is trying to work through all kinds of innovative means to support job growth and business development in Africa. But it is an incredibly important priority for the Secretary and for this Administration.

    MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Anas Al Madhoun: Are the U.S. Department open to a channel negotiations with Hamas if they want elections in May, like what happened in Egypt?

    MR. SULLIVAN: Our position on Hamas has been very straightforward. We believe that Hamas needs to meet the three basic Quartet principles that should guide the future of peacemaking in the Middle East. That means, first, renouncing violence. It means, second, recognizing Israel and its right to exist. And it means, third, abiding by and declaring an unadorned intent to abide by past agreements and commitments made by the Palestinian leadership.

    Until Hamas is willing to take those steps, basic steps that would reflect its good faith as prepared to join a future of progress in the region, it is hard for the international community to look at Hamas and see an actor that is serious about trying to produce better outcomes for the region as a whole. And so I think we have made our expectations clear, our position clear on this. It remains the same today, and we would look to Hamas to take those steps as in the interests of everybody, including its own members.

    MS. JENSEN: The next question comes from Al Watan newspaper: Have you been affected U.S. foreign policy because of the proximity of elections, for example, your position on Syria?

    MR. SULLIVAN: Our position on Syria really has nothing to do with the elections that are occurring in the United States later this year, and it has everything to do with Bashar Assad’s continued brutality and violence and disregard for the dignity of his own people. And as long as the Syrian Government continues to use violence against its citizens, to put tanks into cities, to detain political prisoners, to deny access to international journalists who’d like to document the abuses happening there, the United States will work first and foremost with the Arab League but then with the broader international community to pressure this regime and to bring about a conclusion whereby Assad does the right thing and steps aside for the good of his country.

    That is built on American values. It’s built on an American interest in a Middle East that is sustainable over the long term with governments that respond to the aspirations of their people and don’t use force against their citizens. And it’s not in any way built on a sense of politics or things happening here domestically. So I think the people of Syria and the people of the world can rest assured that our policy towards Syria is serious, it is sincere, and it is very much focused on the welfare and well-being of the Syrian people.

    MS. JENSEN: The next question comes from Kosovo Times News Portal: Good morning, Mr. Sullivan. Diplomatic relations between Kosovo and Serbia do not exist, as Serbia rejects independence declared by Kosovo authorities. What can the U.S. Government do to help them establish good neighbor relations?

    MR. SULLIVAN: The United States is very much committed to progress on Kosovo-Serbia relations heading towards increasing normalization and practical cooperation between these two neighbors. Just a few days ago, Secretary Clinton spoke with President Tadic of Serbia to convey that position that the United States stands ready to work with Serbia and stands ready to work with Kosovo to help them head towards a process of normalization.

    Now, this is a challenging and difficult proposition for two countries that have had conflict in recent time, that have suspicion and skepticism on both sides of the border, and that continue to see episodes and activities that run counter to efforts to bring about progress on their relationship.

    But the United States, working with our European partners, working with the international community, is going to stay focused on trying to help on the practical steps that each country can take to improve confidence and to create a pathway ultimately towards normalization. And that will continue to be a priority for the United States, given how much we have invested in a Balkan region that can know a future of peace and prosperity as opposed to conflict and discord.

    MS. JENSEN: I’d just like to apologize; we only have time for one more question and I understand there’s a lot of really great questions in the queue. And I’d like to thank you for your participation, but this is going to be our last question. And it comes from Richard Thomas from Muscat Daily: You mentioned the importance of building partnerships with other countries in dealing with threats around the world. In terms of countering Iran, which partnership that the U.S. has in GCC/Middle East region are most important in this regard?

    MR. SULLIVAN: What has been interesting about Iran policy over the course of the past three years is just how broad-based the international coalition is that has come together to sharpen the choice for the Iranian regime to impose pressure that sends a clear signal to the Iranian leadership that their choice is either to continue to face this relentless and growing pressure or to come into compliance with their international obligations.

    And there is no one partner that can be singled out in this incredibly diverse coalition of actors. You’ve got the European Union in the just the last 48 hours announcing new, very powerful measures of pressure against Iran. You’ve got the countries of the GCC making clear that they are working to enforce the UN Security Council resolution and to send a message to Iran that it is not acceptable for Iran to threaten regional peace and stability. You’ve got countries like Korea and Japan who are playing an active role in this coalition. Then you have the members of the Permanent Five, including Russia and China, who signed on to UN Security Council Resolution 1929 and are part of the group that is sending a clear message to the Iranians that they have to be serious to come to the table and speak about their nuclear program in a constructive way.

    And that doesn’t even get to all of the other countries around the word throughout Europe, throughout Asia, throughout Latin America and elsewhere, that have played an important role in sending a very clear and broad-based message to the Iranians that it is incumbent upon them to take steps to give confidence to the international community, steps that they simply haven’t taken so far.

    MS. JENSEN: All right. Well, thank you. That’s all the time we have for today. I would like to thank all of you for joining us and all of your amazing questions you put forward. I’m sorry we couldn’t get to all of your questions in the 45 minutes we have, but I am assured that Jake will be back.

    There will be a full audio and video copy of today’s webchat available for download shortly after the conclusion of today’s program. And if you’d like to get the latest information from the State Department, you can do so on any of our 10 in-language Twitter feeds that you’ve seen scrolling across the bottom of your screen today or at our official @StateDept Twitter feed. And if you’d like to continue this conversation, you can do so by using the hashtag #JakeSullivan.

    We look forward to doing this again, and have a great day.

    # # #

  3. 2012/01/26 at 8:34 AM

    The White House

    Office of the Press Secretary
    For Immediate Release
    January 24, 2012
    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.)

    END
    10:16 P.M. EST

  4. 2012/01/26 at 8:36 AM

    The White House

    Office of the Press Secretary
    For Immediate Release
    January 26, 2012
    FACT SHEET: President Obama’s Blueprint to Make The Most of America’s Energy Resources

    In his State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out a Blueprint for an America Built to Last, underscoring his commitment to an all-of-the-above approach that develops every available source of American energy. This commitment includes the safe and responsible production of our oil and natural gas resources. Today, American oil production is at the highest level in eight years and last year we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years.

    At the same time, the President believes we need to double-down on clean energy in the United States. Transitioning to cleaner sources of energy will enhance our national security, protect the environment and public health, and grow our economy and create new jobs. Over the past few years, renewable energy use has nearly doubled. In fact, in 2011, the United States reclaimed the position as the world’s leading investor in clean energy – but staying on top will depend on smart, aggressive action moving forward.

    President Obama will begin the second day of his post-State of the Union swing with an event at a UPS facility in Las Vegas, focusing on the importance of American workers developing American-made energy for an economy that’s built to last. Following this event, the President will travel to Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado to deliver remarks on American energy and the steps his Administration is taking to promote energy security.

    President Obama’s Plan to Advance Safe Production of Oil and Gas Resources To Create Jobs, Enhance Energy Security, and Cut Pollution

    Make a new lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico to move forward on our national commitment to safe and responsible oil and gas development: In his State of the Union Address, the President directed the Department of Interior to finalize a national offshore energy plan that makes 75% of our potential offshore resources available for development by opening new areas for drilling in the Gulf and Alaska. On Thursday, the President will take a concrete step forward to develop our oil and gas resources, announcing that the Department of Interior will hold a new lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico. This lease sale will make approximately 38 million acres available, and could result in the production of 1 billion barrels of oil and 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

    Promote safe, responsible development of the near 100-year supply of natural gas, supporting more than 600,000 jobs while ensuring public health and safety: In 2009, we became the world’s leading producer of natural gas. In the State of the Union, the President directed the Administration to ensure safe shale gas development that, according to independent estimates, will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. These actions will include moving forward with common-sense new rules to require disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking operations on public lands.

    Reducing our dependence on oil by encouraging greater use of natural gas in transportation: The President’s plan includes: proposing new incentives for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that run on natural gas or other alternative fuels; launching a competitive grant program to support communities to overcome the barriers to natural gas vehicle deployment; developing transportation corridors that allow trucks fueled by liquefied natural gas to transport goods; and supporting programs to convert municipal buses and trucks to run on natural gas and to find new ways to convert and store natural gas.

    Harnessing American ingenuity to catalyze breakthrough technologies for natural gas: The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) will announce a new research competition in the coming months that will engage our country’s brightest scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to find ways to harness our abundant supplies of domestic natural gas to lessen our dependence of foreign oil for vehicles. The breakthrough technologies they will develop, whether they are for new ways to fuel our cars with natural gas or a method to turn that gas into liquid fuel, promise to break our dependence on foreign oil for our cars and trucks, allow us to breathe cleaner air, and ultimately save consumers at the pump. To date ARPA-E has hosted four rounds of competitions and attracted over 5000 applications from research teams, which has resulted in approximately 180 cutting edge projects.

    The President’s Commitment to Clean Energy

    Doubling the share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035: The centerpiece of the Administration’s strategy is a Clean Energy Standard, or “CES” – a flexible approach that harnesses American ingenuity and innovation, and channels it toward a clean energy future. By creating a market here at home for innovative clean energy technologies, we will unleash the ingenuity of our entrepreneurs and ensure that America leads the world in clean energy.

    Supporting clean energy with targeted tax incentives: The President supports renewing and extending a number of proven and successful provisions that are crucial to the continued growth of the domestic clean energy sector. This includes tax incentives for clean energy manufacturing, which could create up to 100,000 jobs, and the Production Tax Credit to support investment in the deployment of clean energy technologies like wind and solar.

    Opening public lands for private investments in clean energy: To enhance energy security and create new jobs, the Department of the Interior is committed to issuing permits for 10 gigawatts of renewable generation capacity – enough to power 3 million homes – from new projects on our public lands by the end of 2012.

    Securing renewable energy for the U.S. Navy: Securing a safe, clean and reliable energy supply for our nation’s defense forces is essential to carrying out missions vital to the security of the United States. The Department of Navy has committed to adding 1 gigawatt of renewable energy produced from sources like solar, wind, and geothermal to its energy portfolio for shore-side installations – enough to power 250,000 homes. Using existing authorities such as power purchase agreements, the Navy will ensure these energy projects are cost neutral and require no up-front investments by the government.

  5. 2012/01/26 at 9:09 AM

    The White House

    Office of the Press Secretary
    For Immediate Release
    January 21, 2012
    WEEKLY ADDRESS: Creating Jobs by Boosting Tourism

    WASHINGTON, DC— In this week’s address, President Obama told the American people about steps his Administration is taking to make it easier for travelers to visit the United States, because increasing tourism will help local economies and support businesses looking to expand and hire. This plan to boost tourism is part of a series of actions the President has taken without Congress, because we can’t wait any longer to take the steps we need to help grow the economy and create jobs. President Obama also said that in next week’s State of the Union Address, he will outline his blueprint for how our elected leaders and all Americans can work together to create an economy that is built to last.

    Remarks of President Barack Obama
    As Prepared for Delivery
    The White House
    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    Hello, everybody. On Thursday, I went down to Florida to visit Disneyworld. To Sasha and Malia’s great disappointment, I was not there to hang out with Mickey or ride Space Mountain. Instead, I was there to talk about steps we’re taking to boost tourism and create jobs.

    Tourism is the number one service we export. Every year, tens of millions of tourists come from all over the world to visit America. They stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants, and see all the sights America has to offer.

    That’s good for local businesses. That’s good for local economies. And the more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. It’s that simple.

    We can’t wait to seize this opportunity. As I’ve said before, I will continue to work with Congress, states, and leaders in the private sector to find ways to move this country forward. But where they can’t act or won’t act, I will. Because we want the world to know that America is open for business. And that’s why I announced steps we’re taking to promote America and make it easier for tourists to come and visit.

    Frequent travelers who pass an extensive background check will be able to scan their passports and fingerprints and skip long lines at immigration at more airports. We’re going to expand the number of countries where visitors can get pre-cleared by Homeland Security so they don’t need a tourist visa. And we’re going to speed up visa processing for countries with growing middle classes that can afford to visit America – countries like China and Brazil.

    We want more visitors coming here. We want them spending money here. It’s good for our economy, and it will help provide the boost more businesses need to grow and hire. And we can’t wait to make it happen.

    Too often over the last few months, we’ve seen Congress drag its feet and refuse to take steps we know will help strengthen our economy. That’s why this is the latest in a series of actions I’ve taken on my own to help our economy keep growing, creating jobs, and restoring security for middle-class families.

    In September, we decided to stop waiting for Congress to fix No Child Left Behind and give states the flexibility they need to help our kids meet higher standards. We made sure that small businesses that have contracts with the Federal Government can get paid faster so they can start hiring more people. We made it easier for veterans to get jobs and put their skills to work. We took steps to help families whose home values have fallen refinance their mortgages and save up to thousands of dollars a year. We sped up the loan process for companies that want to rebuild our roads and bridges – putting construction workers back on the job. And I appointed Richard Cordray to be America’s consumer watchdog and protect working Americans from the worst abuses of the financial industry.

    These are good steps. Now we need to do more.

    On Tuesday evening, I’ll deliver my State of the Union Address, where I’ll lay out my blueprint for actions we need to take together – not just me, or Congress, but every American – to rebuild an economy where hard work and responsibility are rewarded. An economy that’s built to last.

    I hope you’ll tune in. In the meantime, I’m going to keep doing everything I can to make this country not only the best place to visit and do business – but the best place to live and work and build a better life.

    Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend. And I’ll see you on Tuesday.