Obama Promotes Economic Fairness in State of the Union Address

Posted January 24th, 2012 at 11:20 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama has used his third State of the Union address to outline a new economic blueprint that he says will work for everyone, not just the wealthy.

The president's speech on the nation's progress Tuesday came as he faces a contentious re-election bid this year.

Mr. Obama told a joint session of the U.S. Congress and millions of television viewers that his plans are for “an economy that's built to last,” one built on manufacturing, energy, skills for American workers and what he described as “a renewal of American values.”

He said the U.S. can either “settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well” while a growing number “barely get by,” or it can “restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

He warned Republican lawmakers that he will fight any effort to return to an economy that he says was “weakened by outsourcing, bad debt and phony financial profits.”

In his speech, which lasted more than an hour, President Obama pledged action on job creation, education, immigration, innovation and energy. He also called for the elimination of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and said he will not back down from government regulations to prevent irresponsible behavior.

Mr. Obama also asked Congress to use the money saved from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay down the national debt and repair crumbling infrastructure. He touted the nation's achievements in those wars, saying the U.S. has delivered “decisive blows” against its enemies. He said the al-Qaida operatives that remain are “scrambling,” knowing they cannot escape the reach of the U.S.

The president highlighted other examples of U.S. leadership around the world, including efforts to deal with Iran's nuclear program. He said anyone who says America's influence has waned does not know what they are talking about. He said the world is changing, but that America remains “the one indispensable nation in world affairs.”

Political analysts will watch closely to see what effect this address will have on Mr. Obama's public approval ratings, which, according to the Gallup polling organization, have averaged about 44 percent this year.