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Showing Revision 2 created 01/21/2015 by Claude Almansi.

  1. (Applause)
    (Barak Obama) Thank you
  2. (Speaker) Members of Congress, I have the
    high privilege and distinct honor
  3. of presenting to you the President of the
    United States.
  4. (Applause)
    (B. Obama) Thank you so much. Thank you.
  5. Thank you so much.
  6. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of
    Congress, my fellow Americans:
  7. We are fifteen years into this new century.
  8. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching
    our shores;
  9. that unfolded with a new generation fighting
    two long and costly wars;
  10. that saw a vicious recession spread across
    our nation and the world.
  11. It has been, and still is, a hard time for
    many.
  12. But tonight, we turn the page.
  13. Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America,
  14. our economy is growing and creating jobs at
    the fastest pace since 1999.
  15. (Applause)
  16. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it
    was before the financial crisis.
  17. More of our kids are graduating than ever
    before;
  18. more of our people are insured than ever before;
  19. (Applause)
  20. and we are as free from the grip of foreign oil
    as we’ve been in almost 30 years.
  21. (Applause)
  22. Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our
    combat mission in Afghanistan is over.
  23. (Applause)
  24. Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American
    troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  25. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain.
  26. And we salute the courage and sacrifice of
    every man and woman
  27. in this 9/11 Generation who has served to
    keep us safe.
  28. We are humbled and grateful for your service.
  29. (Applause)
  30. America, for all that we’ve endured;
  31. for all the grit and hard work required to
    come back;
  32. for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this:
  33. The shadow of crisis has passed,
    and the State of the Union is strong.
  34. (Applause)
  35. At this moment
  36. – with a growing economy, shrinking deficits,
    bustling industry,
  37. booming energy production —
  38. we have risen from recession freer to write
    our own future
  39. than any other nation on Earth.
  40. It’s now up to us to choose who we want
    to be over the next fifteen years,
  41. and for decades to come.
  42. Will we accept an economy where only a few
    of us do spectacularly well?
  43. Or will we commit ourselves to an economy
    that generates rising incomes
  44. and chances for everyone who makes the effort?
  45. (Applause)
  46. Will we approach the world fearful and reactive,
  47. dragged into costly conflicts that strain
    our military and set back our standing?
  48. Or will we lead wisely,
  49. using all elements of our power to defeat
    new threats and protect our planet?
  50. Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into
    factions and turned against one another —
  51. or will we recapture the sense
    of common purpose
  52. that has always propelled America forward?
  53. In two weeks, I will send this Congress a
    budget filled with ideas
  54. that are practical, not partisan.
  55. And in the months ahead, I’ll crisscross
    the country making a case for those ideas.
  56. So tonight, I want to focus less on a checklist
    of proposals,
  57. and focus more on the values at stake in the
    choices before us.
  58. It begins with our economy.
  59. Seven years ago, Rebekah and Ben Erler of
    Minneapolis were newlyweds.
  60. (Laughter)
  61. She waited tables. He worked construction.
  62. Their first child, Jack, was on the way.
  63. They were young and in love in America,
  64. and it doesn’t get much better than that.
  65. “If only we had known,” Rebekah wrote
    to me last spring,
  66. “what was about to happen to the housing
    and construction market.”
  67. As the crisis worsened, Ben’s business dried
    up, so he took what jobs he could find,
  68. even if they kept him on the road for long
    stretches of time.
  69. Rebekah took out student loans,
    and enrolled in community college,
  70. and retrained for a new career.
  71. They sacrificed for each other.
  72. And slowly, it paid off.
  73. They bought their first home.
    They had a second son, Henry.
  74. Rebekah got a better job, and then a raise.
  75. Ben is back in construction — and home
    for dinner every night.
  76. “It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote,
  77. “what you can bounce back from when you
    have to…
  78. we are a strong, tight-knit family
  79. who has made it through some very,
    very hard times.”
  80. We are a strong, tight-knit family
  81. who has made it through some very,
    very hard times.
  82. America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our
    story.
  83. They represent the millions who have worked
    hard,
  84. and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled.
  85. You are the reason that I ran for this office.
  86. You’re the people I was thinking of six
    years ago today,
  87. in the darkest months of the crisis,
  88. when I stood on the steps of this Capitol
  89. and promised we would rebuild our economy
    on a new foundation.
  90. And it’s been your resilience, your effort
  91. that has made it possible for our country
    to emerge stronger.
  92. We believed we could reverse the tide of outsourcing,
  93. and draw new jobs to our shores.
  94. And over the past five years,
  95. our businesses have created more
    than 11 millionnew jobs.
  96. (Applause)
  97. We believed we could reduce
    our dependence on foreign oil
  98. and protect our planet.
  99. And today, America is number one in oil and
    gas.
  100. America is number one in wind power.
  101. Every three weeks, we bring online as much
    solar power as we did in all of 2008.
  102. And thanks to lower gas prices and higher
    fuel standards,
  103. the typical family this year should save
    about $750 at the pump.
  104. (Applause)
  105. We believed we could prepare our kids for
    a more competitive world.
  106. And today, our younger students have earned
  107. the highest math and reading scores on record.
  108. Our high school graduation rate has hit an
    all-time high.
  109. More Americans finish college than ever
    before.
  110. (Applause)
  111. We believed that sensible regulations could
    prevent another crisis,
  112. shield families from ruin, and encourage fair
    competition.
  113. Today, we have new tools to stop
    taxpayer-funded bailouts,
  114. and a new consumer watchdog to protect us
  115. from predatory lending and abusive credit
    card practices.
  116. And in the past year alone,
  117. about ten million uninsured Americans finally
    gained the security of health coverage.
  118. (Applause)
  119. At every step, we were told our goals were
    misguided or too ambitious;
  120. that we would crush jobs and explode deficits.
  121. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic
    growth in over a decade,
  122. our deficits cut by two-thirds,
  123. a stock market that has doubled,
  124. and health care inflation at its lowest rate
    in fifty years.
  125. (Applause)
  126. It's good news, people.
  127. (Laughter)
  128. So -- so -- the verdict is clear.
    (Applause)
  129. Middle-class economics works.
  130. Expanding opportunity works.
  131. And these policies will continue to work,
    as long as politics don’t get in the way.
  132. We can’t slow down businesses or put our
    economy at risk
  133. with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns.
  134. We can’t put the security of families at
    risk by taking away their health insurance,
  135. or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street,
  136. or refighting past battles on immigration
    when we’ve got to fix a broken system.
  137. And if a bill comes to my desk that tries
    to do any of these things,
  138. I will veto it;
    they will have earned my veto.
  139. (Applause)
  140. Today, thanks to a growing economy,
    the recovery is touching more and more lives.
  141. Wages are finally starting to rise again.
  142. We know that more small business owners
    plan to raise their employees’ pay
  143. than at any time since 2007.
  144. But here’s the thing
  145. — those of us here tonight, we need
    to set our sights higher
  146. than just making sure government
    doesn’t screw things up.
  147. that government doesn't
    halt the progress we’re making.
  148. We need to do more than just do no harm.
  149. Tonight, together, let’s do more
  150. to restore the link between hard work and
    growing opportunity for every American.
  151. (Applause)
  152. Because families like Rebekah’s still need
    our help.
  153. She and Ben are working as hard as ever,
  154. but have had to forego vacations
    and a new car
  155. so they can pay off student loans and save
    for retirement.
  156. Friday night pizza, that's a big splurge.
  157. Basic childcare for Jack and Henry costs
    more than their mortgage,
  158. and almost as much as a year
    at the University of Minnesota.
  159. Like millions of hardworking Americans,
    Rebekah isn’t asking for a handout,
  160. but she is asking that we look for more ways
    to help families get ahead.
  161. And in fact, at every moment
    of economic change throughout our history,
  162. this country has taken bold action to adapt
    to new circumstances,
  163. and to make sure everyone gets a fair shot.
  164. We set up worker protections, Social Security,
  165. Medicare, Medicaid to protect ourselves
    from the harshest adversity.
  166. We gave our citizens schools and colleges,
    infrastructure and the internet
  167. — tools they needed to go as far as
    their effort and their dreams will take them.
  168. That’s what middle-class economics is
  169. — the idea that this country does best
    when everyone gets their fair shot,
  170. everyone does their fair share,
    everyone plays by the same set of rules.
  171. We --
    (Applause)
  172. We don’t just want everyone to share in
    America’s success
  173. — we want everyone to contribute to
    our success.
  174. (Applause)
  175. So -- so what does middle-class economics
    require in our time?
  176. First  — middle-class economics means
  177. helping working families feel more secure
    in a world of constant change.
  178. That means helping folks afford childcare,
    college, health care, a home, retirement —
  179. and my budget will address each of these issues,
  180. lowering the taxes of working families
  181. and putting thousands of dollars back into
    their pockets each year.
  182. (Applause)
  183. Here’s one example.
  184. During World War II, when men like
    my grandfather went off to war,
  185. having women like my grandmother
    in the workforce
  186. was a national security priority
  187. — so this country provided universal childcare.
  188. In today’s economy, when having both
    parents in the workforce
  189. is an economic necessity for many families,
  190. we need affordable, high-quality childcare
    more than ever.
  191. (Applause)
  192. It’s not a nice-to-have 
    — it’s a must-have.
  193. So it’s time we stop treating childcare as
    a side issue, or a women’s issue,
  194. and treat it like the national economic priority
    that it is for all of us.
  195. (Applause)
  196. And that’s why my plan will make quality
    childcare more available,
  197. and more affordable,
  198. for every middle-class and low-income family
    with young children in America
  199. — by creating more slots and a new tax
    cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.
  200. (Applause)
  201. Here’s another example.
  202. Now, today, we’re the only advanced country
    on Earth
  203. that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or
    paid maternity leave to our workers.
  204. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick
    leave.
  205. Forty-three million.
  206. Think about that.
  207. And that forces too many parents to make the
    gut-wrenching choice
  208. between a paycheck and a sick kid at home.
  209. So I’ll be taking new action to help states
    adopt paid leave laws of their own.
  210. And since paid sick leave won where it was
    on the ballot last November,
  211. let’s put it to a vote right here in Washington.
  212. Send me a bill that gives every worker in
    America
  213. the opportunity to earn seven days
    of paid sick leave.
  214. (Applause)
    It’s the right thing to do.
  215. It's the right thing to do.
    (Applause)
  216. Of course, nothing helps families make ends
    meet like higher wages.
  217. That’s why this Congress still needs to
    pass a law
  218. that makes sure a woman is paid the same as
    a man for doing the same work.
  219. Men (?): It’s 2015.
    (laughter)
  220. It’s time.
  221. We still need to make sure employees get the
    overtime they’ve earned.
  222. And to everyone in this Congress who still
    refuses to raise the minimum wage,
  223. I say this:
  224. If you truly believe you could work full-time
    and support a family
  225. on less than $15,000 a year, try it.
  226. If not, vote to give millions of the
    hardest-working people in America a raise.
  227. (Applause)
  228. Now, these ideas won’t make everybody rich,
    or relieve every hardship.
  229. That’s not the job of government.
  230. To give working families a fair shot,
  231. we’ll still need more employers to see beyond
    next quarter’s earnings
  232. and recognize that investing in their workforce
  233. is in their company’s long-term interest.
  234. We still need laws that strengthen rather
    than weaken unions,
  235. and give American workers a voice.
  236. (Applause)
  237. But --
    (Applause)
  238. But you know --
    (Applause)
  239. things like child care and sick leave
    and equal pay;
  240. things like lower mortgage premiums and a
    higher minimum wage
  241. — these ideas will make
    a meaningful difference
  242. in the lives of millions of families.
  243. That is a fact.
  244. And that’s what all of us
    — Republicans
    and Democrats alike —
  245. were sent here to do.
  246. Second, to make sure folks keep earning
    higher wages down the road,
  247. we have to do more to help Americans
    upgrade their skills.
  248. Now, America thrived in the 20th century
    because we made high school free,
  249. sent a generation of GIs to college,
    trained the best workforce in the world.
  250. We were ahead of the curve.
  251. But other countries caught on.
  252. And in a 21st century economy
    that rewards knowledge like never before,
  253. we need up our game (?)
    we need to do more.
  254. By the end of this decade,
  255. two in three job openings will require some
    higher education.
  256. Two in three.
  257. And yet, we still live in a country where
    too many bright, striving Americans
  258. are priced out of the education they need.
  259. It’s not fair to them,
    and it’s sure not smart for our future.
  260. And that’s why I am sending this Congress
    a bold new plan
  261. to lower the cost of community college — to
    zero.
  262. (Applause)
  263. Keep in mind: forty percent of our college students choose community college.
  264. Some are young and starting out.
  265. Some are older and looking for a better job.
  266. Some are veterans and single parents trying
    to transition back into the job market.
  267. Whoever you are,
  268. this plan is your chance to graduate ready
    for the new economy,
  269. without a load of debt.
  270. Understand, you’ve got to earn it
  271. — you’ve got to keep your grades up
    and graduate on time.
  272. Tennessee, a state with Republican leadership,
  273. and Chicago, a city with Democratic leadership,
  274. are showing that free community college is
    possible.
  275. I want to spread that idea all across America,
  276. so that two years of college becomes as free
    and universal in America
  277. as high school is today.
  278. (Applause)
  279. Let's stay ahead of the curve.
    (Applause)
  280. And -- and I want to work with this Congress,
  281. to make sure those already burdened
    with student loans
  282. can reduce their monthly payments,
  283. so that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s
    dreams.
  284. (Applause)
  285. Thanks to Vice President Biden’s great work
    to update our job training system,
  286. we’re connecting community colleges with
    local employers
  287. to train workers to fill high-paying jobs
    like coding, and nursing, and robotics.
  288. Tonight, I’m also asking more businesses
  289. to follow the lead of companies like CVS and
    UPS,
  290. and offer more educational benefits and paid
    apprenticeships
  291. — opportunities that give workers the
    chance to earn higher-paying jobs
  292. even if they don’t have a higher education.
  293. And as a new generation of veterans comes
    home,
  294. we owe them every opportunity to live the
    American Dream they helped defend.
  295. Already, we’ve made strides towards ensuring
    that
  296. every veteran has access
    to the highest quality care.
  297. We’re slashing the backlog that had too
    many veterans waiting years
  298. to get the benefits they need,
  299. and we’re making it easier for vets to translate
    their training and experience
  300. into civilian jobs.
  301. And Joining Forces, the national campaign
    launched by Michelle and Jill Biden,
  302. (Applause)
    Thank you, Michelle, thank you, Jill.
  303. has helped nearly 700,000 veterans and
    military spouses get a new job.
  304. (Applause)
  305. So to every CEO in America, let me repeat:
  306. If you want somebody who’s going to get
    the job done, and done right, hire a veteran.
  307. (Applause)
  308. Finally, as we better train our workers, we
    need the new economy
  309. to keep churning out high-wage jobs for our
    workers to fill.
  310. Since 2010, America has put more people
    back to work than Europe, Japan,
  311. and all advanced economies combined.
  312. (Applause)
  313. Our manufacturers have added almost
    800,000 new jobs.
  314. Some of our bedrock sectors, like our auto
    industry, are booming.
  315. But there are also millions of Americans
  316. who work in jobs that didn’t even exist
    ten or twenty years ago
  317. — jobs at companies like Google, and eBay,
    and Tesla.
  318. So no one knows for certain which industries
    will generate the jobs of the future.
  319. But we do know we want them here in America.
  320. (Applause)
    We know that.
  321. And that’s why the third part of
    middle-class economics is all about
  322. building the most competitive economy anywhere,
  323. the place where businesses want to locate
    and hire.
  324. 21st century businesses need 21st century
    infrastructure
  325. — modern ports, stronger bridges, faster
    trains and the fastest internet.
  326. Democrats and Republicans used to agree on
    this.
  327. So let’s set our sights higher than a single
    oil pipeline.
  328. Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan
    that could create
  329. more than thirty times as many jobs per year,
  330. (Applause) and make this country stronger for decades to come.
  331. Let's do it. Get it done.
    (Applause)
  332. Let's get it done.
    (Applause)
  333. 21st century businesses, including small businesses,
  334. need to sell more American products overseas.
  335. Today, our businesses export more than ever,
  336. and exporters tend to pay their workers higher
    wages.
  337. But as we speak,
  338. China wants to write the rules for the world’s
    fastest-growing region.
  339. That would put our workers and businesses
    at a disadvantage.
  340. Why would we let that happen?
  341. We should write those rules.
  342. We should level the playing field.
  343. That’s why I’m asking both parties
  344. to give me trade promotion authority to protect
    American workers,
  345. with strong new trade deals
    from Asia to Europe
  346. that aren’t just free, but also fair.
  347. That's the right thing to do.
    (Applause)
  348. Look, I’m the first one to admit --
  349. I'm the first one to admit that past trade deals
    haven’t always lived up to the hype,
  350. and that’s why we’ve gone after countries
    that break the rules at our expense.
  351. But ninety-five percent of the world’s
    customers live outside our borders.
  352. We can’t close ourselves off from those
    opportunities.
  353. More than half of manufacturing executives
    have said
  354. they’re actively looking at bringing jobs
    back from China.
  355. So let’s give them one more reason to get it
    done.
  356. 21st century businesses will rely on American
    science and technology,
  357. research and development.
  358. I want the country that eliminated polio and
    mapped the human genome
  359. to lead a new era of medicine
  360. — one that delivers the right treatment
    at the right time.
  361. (Applause)
  362. In some patients with cystic fibrosis,
  363. this approach has reversed a disease once
    thought unstoppable.
  364. So tonight, I’m launching a new
    Precision Medicine Initiative
  365. to bring us closer to curing diseases like
    cancer and diabetes
  366. — and to give all of us access to the
    personalized information we need
  367. to keep ourselves and our families healthier.
  368. (Applause)
    We can do this.
  369. I intend to protect a free and open internet,
  370. extend its reach to every classroom,
    and every community,
  371. and help folks build the fastest networks,
  372. so that the next generation of digital
    innovators and entrepreneurs
  373. have the platform to keep reshaping our world.
  374. I want Americans to win the race for the kinds
    of discoveries that unleash new jobs
  375. — converting sunlight into liquid fuel;
    creating revolutionary prosthetics,
  376. so that a veteran who gave his arms for his
    country can play catch with his kids again;
  377. pushing out into the Solar System not just
    to visit, but to stay.
  378. Now, last month, we launched
    a new spacecraft
  379. as part of a re-energized space program
  380. that will send American astronauts to Mars.
  381. And in two months,
    to prepare us for those missions,
  382. Scott Kelly will begin a year-long stay in
    space.
  383. So, good luck, Captain — 
    and make sure to Instagram it.
  384. (Applause)
  385. Now, the truth is,
  386. when it comes to issues like infrastructure
    and basic research,
  387. I know there’s bipartisan support in this
    chamber.
  388. Members of both parties have told me so.
  389. Where we too often run onto the rocks is how
    to pay for these investments.
  390. As Americans, we don’t mind paying our fair
    share of taxes,
  391. as long as everybody else does, too.
  392. But for far too long, lobbyists have rigged
    the tax code with loopholes
  393. that let some corporations pay nothing while
    others pay full freight.
  394. They’ve riddled it with giveaways
    that the superrich don’t need,
  395. while denying a break to
    middle class families who do.
  396. This year, we have an opportunity to change
    that.
  397. Let’s close loopholes so we stop rewarding
    companies that keep profits abroad,
  398. and reward those that invest in America.
  399. (Applause)
  400. Let’s use those savings to rebuild our infrastructure
  401. and to make it more attractive for companies
    to bring jobs home.
  402. Let’s simplify the system
  403. and let a small business owner file based
    on her actual bank statement,
  404. instead of the number of accountants she can
    afford.
  405. (Applause)
  406. And let’s close the loopholes that lead
    to inequality
  407. by allowing the top one percent to avoid
    paying taxes on their accumulated wealth.
  408. We can use that money to help more families
    pay for childcare
  409. and send their kids to college.
  410. We need a tax code that truly helps working
    Americans trying to get a leg up
  411. in the new economy, and we can achieve that
    together.
  412. (Applause)
    We can achieve it together.
  413. Helping hardworking families make ends meet.
  414. Giving them the tools they need for
    good-paying jobs in this new economy.
  415. Maintaining the conditions for growth and
    competitiveness.
  416. This is where America needs to go.
  417. I believe it’s where the American people
    want to go.
  418. It will make our economy stronger a year from
    now, fifteen years from now,
  419. and deep into the century ahead.
  420. Of course, if there’s one thing this new
    century has taught us,
  421. it’s that we cannot separate our work at
    home from challenges beyond our shores.
  422. My first duty as Commander-in-Chief is to
    defend the United States of America.
  423. In doing so, the question is not --
  424. In doing so, the question is not whether America leads in the world, but how.
  425. When we make rash decisions, reacting to the
    headlines instead of using our heads;
  426. when the first response to a challenge is
    to send in our military
  427. — then we risk getting drawn into
    unnecessary conflicts,
  428. and neglect the broader strategy we need for
    a safer, more prosperous world.
  429. That’s what our enemies want us to do.
  430. I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership.
  431. We lead best when we combine
    military power with strong diplomacy;
  432. when we leverage our power with coalition
    building;
  433. we don’t let our fears blind us to
    the opportunities
  434. that this new century presents.
  435. That’s exactly what we’re doing right
    now
  436. — and around the globe, it is making a
    difference.
  437. First, we stand united with people around
    the world
  438. who’ve been targeted by terrorists — from
    a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris.
  439. We will continue to hunt down terrorists and
    dismantle their networks,
  440. and we reserve
    the right to act unilaterally,
  441. as we have done relentlessly
    since I took office,
  442. to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat
    to us and our allies.
  443. (Applause)
  444. At the same time, we’ve learned some costly
    lessons over the last thirteen years.
  445. Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys
    of Afghanistan,
  446. we trained their security forces, who’ve
    now taken the lead,
  447. and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice
  448. by supporting that country’s first democratic
    transition.
  449. Instead of sending large ground forces overseas,
  450. we’re partnering with nations from South
    Asia to North Africa
  451. to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten
    America.
  452. In Iraq and Syria, American leadership 
    —  including our military power —
  453. is stopping ISIL’s advance.
  454. Instead of getting dragged into another
    ground war in the Middle East,
  455. we are leading a broad coalition, including
    Arab nations,
  456. to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist
    group.
  457. (Applause)
  458. We’re also supporting a moderate opposition
    in Syria that can help us in this effort,
  459. and assisting people everywhere
  460. who stand up to the bankrupt ideology
    of violent extremism.
  461. Now, this effort will take time.
  462. It will require focus.
  463. But we will succeed.
  464. And tonight, I call on this Congress to show
    the world
  465. that we are united in this mission
  466. by passing a resolution to authorize the use
    of force against ISIL.
  467. We need to add a form (?)
  468. (Applause)
  469. Second, we are demonstrating the power of
    American strength and diplomacy.
  470. We’re upholding the principle that bigger
    nations can’t bully the small
  471. — by opposing Russian aggression,
    and supporting Ukraine’s democracy,
  472. and reassuring our NATO allies.
    (Applause)
  473. Last year,
  474. as we were doing the hard work of imposing
    sanctions along with our allies,
  475. as we were reinforcing our presence with the front-line states,
  476. Mr. Putin’s aggression, it was suggested,
  477. was a masterful display of strategy and strength.
  478. That's what I heard from some folks.
  479. Well, today, it is America that stands strong
    and united with our allies,
  480. while Russia is isolated, with its economy
    in tatters.
  481. That’s how America leads — not with
    bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.
  482. (Applause)
  483. And in Cuba, we are ending a policy
    that was long past its expiration date.
  484. (Applause)
  485. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for
    fifty years,
  486. it’s time to try something new.
    (Laughter and applause)
  487. And our shift in Cuba policy has the potential
  488. to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere;
  489. it removes a phony excuse for restrictions in
    Cuba;
  490. stands up for democratic values;
  491. and extends the hand of friendship to the
    Cuban people.
  492. And this year, Congress should begin
    the work of ending the embargo.
  493. You know, as --
    (Applause)
  494. As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said,
    (Applause)
  495. diplomacy is the work of “small steps.”
  496. These small steps have added up
    to new hope for the future in Cuba.
  497. And after years in prison,
  498. we’re overjoyed that Alan Gross is back
    where he belongs.
  499. Welcome home, Alan. We're glad you're here.
    (Applause)
  500. Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran,
  501. where, for the first time in a decade,
  502. we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear
    program
  503. and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material.
  504. Between now and this spring,
  505. we have a chance to negotiate
    a comprehensive agreement
  506. that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran;
  507. secures America and our allies — including
    Israel;
  508. while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict.
  509. There are no guarantees that negotiations
    will succeed,
  510. and I keep all options on the table to prevent
    a nuclear Iran.
  511. But new sanctions passed by this Congress,
    at this moment in time,
  512. will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails
  513. — alienating America from its allies;
  514. making it harder to maintain sanctions,
  515. and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear
    program again.
  516. It doesn’t make sense.
  517. And that's why I will veto any new sanctions
    bill that threatens to undo this progress.
  518. (Applause)
  519. The American people expect us to only go to
    war as a last resort,
  520. and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.
  521. Third, we’re looking beyond the issues that
    have consumed us in the past
  522. to shape the coming century.
  523. No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able
    to shut down our networks,
  524. steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy
    of American families,
  525. especially our kids.
  526. (Applause)
  527. So we are making sure our government
    integrates intelligence
  528. to combat cyber threats,
  529. just as we have done to combat terrorism.
  530. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally
    pass the legislation we need
  531. to better meet the evolving threat of
    cyber-attacks,
  532. combat identity theft, and protect
    our children’s information.
  533. That should be a (UNCLEAR)
    (Applause)
  534. You know, if we don’t act, we’ll leave
    our nation and our economy vulnerable.
  535. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies
  536. that have unleashed untold opportunities for
    people around the globe.
  537. In West Africa, our troops, our scientists,
    our doctors, our nurses
  538. and healthcare workers are rolling back Ebola
  539. — saving countless lives and stopping
    the spread of disease.
  540. (Applause)
  541. I couldn’t be prouder of them,
  542. and I thank this Congress for your bipartisan
    support of their efforts.
  543. But the job is not yet done — and the
    world needs to use this lesson
  544. to build a more effective global effort to
    prevent the spread of future pandemics,
  545. invest in smart development, and eradicate
    extreme poverty.
  546. In the Asia Pacific, we are modernizing alliances
  547. while making sure that other nations play
    by the rules
  548. — in how they trade, how they resolve
    maritime disputes,
  549. how they participate in meeting common
    international challenges
  550. like nonproliferation and disaster relief.
  551. And no challenge — no challenge — poses
    a greater threat to future generations
  552. than climate change.
  553. (Applause)
  554. 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record.
  555. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but
    this does
  556. — 14 of the 15 warmest years on record
    have all fallen
  557. in the first 15 years of this century.
  558. I’ve heard some folks try
    to dodge the evidence
  559. by saying they’re not scientists;
  560. that we don’t have enough information
    to act.
  561. Well, I’m not a scientist, either.
  562. But you know what — I know a lot of
    really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA,
  563. and at our major universities.
  564. And the best scientists in the world
    are all telling us
  565. that our activities are changing the climate,
    and if we do not act forcefully,
  566. we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer,
    hotter heat waves,
  567. dangerous droughts and floods,
  568. and massive disruptions that can trigger
    greater migration,
  569. and conflict, and hunger around the globe.
  570. The Pentagon says that climate change poses
  571. immediate risks to our national security.
  572. We should act like it.
  573. And hat’s why --
    (Applause)
  574. that's why over the past six years,
  575. we’ve done more than ever before to combat
    climate change,
  576. from the way we produce energy, to the way
    we use it.
  577. That’s why we’ve set aside more public
    lands and waters
  578. than any administration in history.
  579. And that’s why I will not let this Congress
    endanger the health of our children
  580. by turning back the clock on our efforts.
  581. I am determined to make sure
  582. that American leadership drives
    international action.
  583. (Applause)
  584. In Beijing, we made an historic announcement
  585. — the United States will double the pace
    at which we cut carbon pollution,
  586. and China committed, for the first time, to
    limiting their emissions.
  587. And because the world’s
    two largest economies came together,
  588. other nations are now stepping up,
    and offering hope that, this year,
  589. the world will finally reach an agreement
    to protect the one planet we’ve got.
  590. And there’s one last pillar to our leadership — 
    and that’s the example of our values.
  591. As Americans, we respect human dignity,
    even when we’re threatened,
  592. which is why I’ve prohibited torture,
  593. and worked to make sure our use
    of new technology like drones
  594. is properly constrained.
  595. (Applause)
  596. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable
    anti-Semitism
  597. that has resurfaced in certain parts of the
    world.
  598. It’s why we continue to reject offensive
    stereotypes of Muslims
  599. — the vast majority of whom share our
    commitment to peace.
  600. That’s why we defend free speech,
    and advocate for political prisoners,
  601. and condemn the persecution of women,
    or religious minorities,
  602. or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual,
    or transgender.
  603. We do these things not only because
    they’re the right things to do,
  604. but because ultimately,
    they will make us safer.
  605. (Applause)
  606. As Americans, we have a profound
    commitment to justice
  607. — so it makes no sense to spend three
    million dollars per prisoner
  608. to keep open a prison
    that the world condemns
  609. and terrorists use to recruit.
  610. (Applause)
  611. Since I’ve been President, we’ve worked
    responsibly
  612. to cut the population of GTMO in half.
  613. Now it’s time to finish the job.
  614. And I will not relent in my determination
    to shut it down.
  615. It’s not who we are, it's time to close GTMO.
  616. (Applause)
  617. As Americans, we cherish our civil liberties
  618. — and we need to uphold that commitment
  619. if we want maximum cooperation from other
    countries and industry
  620. in our fight against terrorist networks.
  621. So while some have moved on from the
    debates over our surveillance programs,
  622. I have not.
  623. As promised, our intelligence agencies have
    worked hard,
  624. with the recommendations of privacy advocates,
  625. to increase transparency and build more
    safeguards against potential abuse.
  626. And next month, we’ll issue a report on
    how we’re keeping our promise
  627. to keep our country safe while strengthening
    privacy.
  628. Looking to the future instead of the past.
  629. Making sure we match our power with
    diplomacy, and use force wisely.
  630. Building coalitions to meet new challenges
    and opportunities.
  631. Leading — always — with the example
    of our values.
  632. That’s what makes us exceptional.
  633. That’s what keeps us strong.
  634. That’s why we have to keep striving
  635. to hold ourselves to the highest of standards 
    — our own.
  636. You know, just over a decade ago, I gave a
    speech in Boston
  637. where I said there was no liberal America,
    or a conservative America;
  638. a black America or a white America
  639. — but a United States of America.
  640. I said this because I had seen it
    in my own life,
  641. in a nation that gave
    someone like me a chance;
  642. because I grew up in Hawaii,
    a melting pot of races and customs;
  643. because I made Illinois my home — a
    state of small towns, rich farmland,
  644. and one of the world’s great cities;
  645. a microcosm of the country where Democrats
    and Republicans and Independents,
  646. good people of every ethnicity and every faith,
    share certain bedrock values.
  647. Over the past six years, the pundits have
    pointed out more than once
  648. that my presidency hasn’t delivered on this
    vision.
  649. How ironic, they say, that our politics seems
    more divided than ever.
  650. It’s held up as proof not just of my own
    flaws — of which there are many —
  651. but also as proof that the vision itself is
    misguided, naïve,
  652. that there are too many people in this town
  653. who actually benefit from partisanship and
    gridlock
  654. for us to ever do anything about it.
  655. I know how tempting such cynicism may be.
  656. But I still think the cynics are wrong.
  657. I still believe that we are one people.
  658. I still believe that together, we can do great
    things, even when the odds are long.
  659. (Applause)
  660. I believe this because over and over in my
    six years in office,
  661. I have seen America at its best.
  662. I’ve seen the hopeful faces
    of young graduates
  663. from New York to California;
  664. and our newest officers at West Point,
    Annapolis, Colorado Springs,
  665. New London.
  666. I’ve mourned with grieving families in Tucson
    and Newtown; in Boston,
  667. in West Texas, and West Virginia.
  668. I’ve watched Americans beat back adversity
    from the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains;
  669. from Midwest assembly lines
    to the Mid-Atlantic seaboard.
  670. I’ve seen something like gay marriage
  671. go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart
  672. to a story of freedom across our country,
  673. a civil right now legal in states that seven
    in ten Americans call home.
  674. (Applause)
  675. So I know the good, and optimistic,
    and big-hearted generosity
  676. of the American people who, every day,
  677. live the idea that we are our brother’s
    keeper, and our sister’s keeper.
  678. And I know they expect those of us who serve
    here to set a better example.
  679. So the question for those of us here tonight
    is how we, all of us,
  680. can better reflect America’s hopes.
  681. I’ve served in Congress with many of you.
  682. I know many of you well.
  683. There are a lot of good people here, on both
    sides of the aisle.
  684. And many of you have told me that this isn’t
    what you signed up for
  685. — arguing past each other on cable shows,
    the constant fundraising,
  686. always looking over your shoulder at how the
    base will react to every decision.
  687. Imagine if we broke out of these tired old
    patterns.
  688. Imagine if we did something different.
  689. Understand — a better politics isn’t
    one where Democrats abandon their agenda
  690. or Republicans simply embrace mine.
  691. A better politics is one where we appeal to
    each other’s basic decency
  692. instead of our basest fears.
  693. A better politics is one where we debate
    without demonizing each other;
  694. where we talk issues, and values,
    and principles, and facts,
  695. rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial
    gaffes,

  696. or fake controversies that have nothing to
    do with people’s daily lives.
  697. (Applause)
    A politics --
  698. A better politics is one where we spend less
    time
  699. drowning in dark money for ads that pull us
    into the gutter,
  700. and spend more time lifting young people up,
    with a sense of purpose and possibility,
  701. asking them to join in the great mission
    of building America.
  702. If we’re going to have arguments,
    let’s have arguments
  703. — but let’s make them debates worthy
    of this body and worthy of this country.
  704. We still may not agree on a woman’s right
    to choose,
  705. but surely we can agree it’s a good thing
    that teen pregnancies and abortions
  706. are nearing all-time lows,
  707. and that every woman should have access to
    the health care she needs.
  708. (Applause)
  709. Yes, passions still fly on immigration,
  710. but surely we can all see something
    of ourselves in the striving young student,
  711. and agree that no one benefits
    when a hardworking mom
  712. is snatched from her child,
  713. and that it’s possible to shape a law that
    upholds our tradition as a nation of laws
  714. and a nation of immigrants.
  715. I've talked to Republicans and Democrats
    about that.
  716. That's something that we can share.
  717. We may go at it in campaign season,
  718. but surely we can agree that the right to
    vote is sacred;
  719. that it’s being denied to too many;
  720. and that, on this 50th anniversary of the
    great march from Selma to Montgomery
  721. and the passage of the Voting Rights Act,
  722. we can come together,
    Democrats and Republicans
  723. to make vote immediate
    for every single man.
  724. (Applause)
  725. We may have different takes on the events
    of Ferguson and New York.
  726. But surely we can understand a father
  727. who fears his son can’t walk home without
    being harassed.
  728. And surely we can understand the wife
  729. who won’t rest until the police officer
    she married
  730. walks through the front door at the end of
    his shift.
  731. And surely we can agree it’s a good thing that
    for the first time in 40 years,
  732. the crime rate and the incarceration rate
    have come down together,
  733. and use that as a starting point for Democrats
    and Republicans,
  734. community leaders and law enforcement,
  735. to reform America’s criminal justice system
    so that it protects and serves all of us.
  736. (Applause)
  737. That’s a better politics.
  738. That’s how we start rebuilding trust.
  739. That’s how we move this country forward.
  740. That’s what the American people want.
  741. That’s what they deserve.
  742. I have no more campaigns to run.
  743. My only agenda --
    (laughter)
  744. I know because I won both of them
    (laughter and cheers)
  745. My only agenda for the next two years is the
    same as the one I’ve had
  746. since the day I swore an oath on the steps
    of this Capitol
  747. — to do what I believe is best for America.
  748. If you share the broad vision I outlined tonight,
  749. I ask you to join me in the work at hand.
  750. If you disagree with parts of it,
  751. I hope you’ll at least work with me where
    you do agree.
  752. And I commit to every Republican here tonight
  753. that I will not only seek out your ideas,
  754. I will seek to work with you to make this
    country stronger.
  755. (Applause
  756. Because -- I want this chamber,
    I want this city, to reflect the truth
  757. — that for all our blind spots and
    shortcomings,
  758. we are a people with the strength and
    generosity of spirit to bridge divides,
  759. to unite in common effort, and help our neighbors,
  760. whether down the street or on the other side
    of the world.
  761. I want our actions to tell every child, in
    every neighborhood:
  762. your life matters, and we are as committed
    to improving your life chances
  763. as we are to work on behalf of my own kids.
  764. (Applause)
  765. I want future generations to know that we
    are a people
  766. who see our differences as a great gift,
  767. that we are a people who value the dignity
    and worth of every citizen
  768. — man and woman, young and old, black
    and white, Latino and Asian,
  769. immigrant and Native American, gay and straight,
  770. Americans with mental illness or physical
    disability.
  771. Everybody matters.
  772. I want them to grow up in a country
    that shows the world
  773. what we still know to be true:
  774. that we are still more than a collection of
    red states and blue states;
  775. that we are the United States of America.
  776. (Applause)
  777. I want them to grow up in a country
    where a young mom
  778. can sit down and write a letter to her President
  779. with a story to sum up these past six years:
  780. “It is amazing what you can bounce back
    from when you have to…
  781. we are a strong, tight-knit family
  782. who has made it through
    some very, very hard times.”
  783. My fellow Americans, we too are a strong,
    tight-knit family.
  784. We, too, have made it through some hard times.
  785. Fifteen years into this new century,
  786. we have picked ourselves up,
    dusted ourselves off,
  787. and begun again the work of remaking America.
  788. We’ve laid a new foundation.
  789. A brighter future is ours to write.
  790. Let’s begin this new chapter — together — and
    let’s start the work right now.
  791. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless this
    country we love. Thank you.
  792. (Applause)