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POLITICS

Nation’s Report Card

January 25th, 2012

Photo credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Last night, President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address — a speech that’s given each year by the President of the United States to Congress (including members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives) but also seen in the U.S. and around the world on live TV.  It’s basically an update on how our country is doing, like a report card for the nation. But also, because it’s an election year and President Obama is running for president again, he outlined his vision for the future as well.

The theme of President Obama’s speech, which lasted about an hour, was “An America Built to Last.” You can watch the speech in its entirety below or read the transcript here . There is a brief summary below as well.

Some notable points President Obama made:

Abroad

* He brought to an end the nearly 10 year war in Iraq. Over 1 million troops who fought there over the last nine years are finally home, though several thousand gave their lives.

* He eliminated the Al-Qaeda terror group’s leader, Osama bin Laden, and pointed out that the U.S. is safer as a result.

* Libya’s leader, Colonel Qaddafi, one of the longest serving dictators in the world, is also gone, thanks to considerable help from the U.S.  President Obama added that “tyranny is no match for liberty.”

* President Obama believes the U.S. relationship with Europe, one of America”s “oldest alliances”, is stronger than ever.

* He reinforced a longstanding notion of U.S. foreign policy: “Anyone who says America is in decline or that our influence has waned doesn’t know what he’s talking about … America remains the one indispensible nation in world affairs — and as long as I’m President I intend to keep it that way.”

At Home

* President Obama said that “the most defining issue of our time is how to keep the economy strong,”  saying that he created 3 million jobs in the past 22 months. And agreed to cut $2 trillion from the budget deficit.

He went on to outline how he intends to keep the economy strong by providing a “blueprint for an economy built to last.” The blueprint focused on, among other things:

* Manufacturing. Keeping jobs here in America instead of letting them go abroad to people in other countries. This happens because U.S. companies take factories overseas and people in other countries will often work for less money.

* Education and teachers are a top priority. He said, “teachers matter.” And that every person in the room he was addressing could remember a teacher they had that made a difference in their lives. He also proposed that students should be required to stay in school until they graduate high school or turn 18 years old. He also wants to find a way to make continued schooling, such as university, affordable for everyone. That’s a growing problem at the moment.

* Skills. He outlined ideas for trying to create education programs to help teach the skills necessary for new job openings.

* Energy. President Obama spoke a lot about energy, namely trying to have the U.S. rely less on getting our oil and gas from other countries. But also working toward alternative and “cleaner” forms of energy (wind, solar, and nuclear are examples of that).

And he proposed doing all of this without increasing the government’s role in American’s lives. He quoted his belief, similar to Abraham Lincoln (a Republican from his former home state), that “government should only do for people what they can not do for themselves, and no more.”

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As is customary, the Republicans are given a chance to react to the speech in a rebuttal on TV. Indiana’s Governor Mitch Daniels spoke on behalf of the Republicans. His main concern was that President Obama’s policies are damaging the economy rather than making it better. You can read or watch his entire speech and on USA Today’s website by clicking here .

The Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also spoke on TV last night and said about President Obama that “what he says and what he has done are very different. In fact, he’s doing the exact opposite.” And claimed that many of the ideas President Obama outlined were ideas that Mr. Romney has had previously.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. Photo credit: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

So at the beginning of this national election year, President Obama believes the State of the Union is strong compared to when he entered office and poised to get even stronger, but many Republican leaders argue the opposite. Such is the nature of democratic politics and every citizen has to draw their own conclusion.

For more information and fact-checking of the President’s speech, you can click here to be taken to FactCheck.org, a Project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center .  Or here for the Associated Press’s version .

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