Wednesday, January 25, 2012

President Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address: Full Speech and Synopsis

President Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address
Presidents have long used the State of the Union address to highlight their accomplishments, and layout their vision and plans for the upcoming year. This year was no different. 2012 is unique because it's an election year.  A year where the siting President is seeking a second-term and his policies are under attack by his opposition. Exemplifying the essence and persuasiveness of his oratory skills, President Obama took everyone to class giving a lesson that included a much needed walk down memory lane.  He detailed a list of his accomplishments, (ensuring to highlight the policy decisions that have worked and produced significant results, which are currently under scrutiny by GOP Presidential contenders) and provided an analysis of policy matters where both parties have been in agreement in past political climates; a quick preview into the issues he will tackle as candidate Obama. 

Ladies and Gentleman, He's Back!!!!  Class in in session.... 
Enhanced Broadcast - 2012 State of the Union Address

Republican Presidential Candidate Willard "Mitt" Romney made a "strategic decision" to release his tax returns for 2010 and 2011 on Tuesday, the same day as the President's State of the Union Address. His campaign hoped that the release would receive a decreased amount of attention due to the President's Speech. They were banking on the usual backlash that the President's speeches usually cause, pushing the reality of the released tax returns to the back burner.  Romney felt so confident with his decision and returns that he had this to say:

"I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more. I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes."

President Obama and his team were 10 steps ahead.  In anticipation of a move like this, combined with the campaign rhetoric used thus far, Obama served Romney and all the GOP contenders a curve ball. The President sent a message and stopped them dead in their tracks stating:

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.

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.

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. You're the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages.
You're the ones who need relief.
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.
Essentially, the tax system is beyond broken.  Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Warren Buffet, and most members of the US Congress are getting away with monetary murder receiving  tax breaks they don't need. The tax code will be a major issue in the 2012 election and the President has let it be known he is ready for the fight. To add a visual to his words, Warren Buffets Secretary Debbie Bosanek, of Berkshire Hathaway, was seated in the First Lady's box and was singled out in a portion of the speech. 

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.
The President made sure to highlight the auto loans that saved GM and prevented the country from entering a depression. The auto loan has also been a subject of ridicule by Republican Presidential Candidates.
 The most important portion of the speech came when the President literally called the US Congress out for not doing their job. He challenged them to send him legislation that will help move the country forward. He also made Congress aware that he fully expects them to play politics from now until the election, which equals nothing getting done, but he urged them to not play politics and put the people first.

Lastly, for all those naysayers who labeled this President as soft and unwilling to take tough actions with regards to our enemies, he kindly reminded them that Osama Bin Laden was taken out under his watch and without partisan bickering or stalemate from a do nothing congress.

Overall, the speech did an excellent job of touting the accomplishments of the administration thus far, just in case people forgot.  Most importantly, he made the case to voters that the work started in 2008 is not complete and that there is still work to do.

Full Text of President Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address

In fairness, please see the Republican response delivered by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels who also served as Budget Director under President George W Bush, and the Tea Party response delivered by former Presidential Candidate Herman Cain 

Republican Response

Tea-Party Response


1. What are your overall thoughts on the speech?
2. Was there anything that the President didn't touch on that you would have liked him to touch on?
3. Based on the speech, what do you anticipate as the single most important issue heading into the election?
4. Give your take on the state of our union?
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