Washington Declaring “I don’t quit,” President Barack Obama fought to recharge his embattled presidency with a State of the Union vow to get jobless millions back to work and stand with Americans angry at Wall Street greed and Washington bickering. He said he would fight on for overhauls of health care, energy and education.
“Change has not come fast enough,” Obama said Wednesday night before a politician-packed House chamber and a TV audience of millions. “As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may be, it’s time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.”
He looked to change the conversation from how his presidency is stalling to how he is seizing the reins. With State of the Union messages traditionally delivered at the end of January, Obama had one of the presidency’s biggest platforms a week after Republicans scored an upset takeover of a Senate seat in Massachusetts.
The address at a glance:
• Urged the Senate to follow the House and pass a second jobs bill this year.
• Proposed using $30 billion repaid by Wall Street banks to help community banks lend to small businesses.
• Proposed new tax credit for small businesses that hire workers or raise the wages of current employees.
• Proposed eliminating all capital gains taxes on small-business investment and providing tax incentives for all businesses to invest in new plants and equipment.
• Suggested slashing tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas and extending them to companies that create U.S. jobs.
• Set a goal of doubling exports over the next five years, contending it will support 2 million jobs at home. Announced an initiative to help farmers and small businesses increase exports.
• Urged Democrats dispirited by the loss of their 60-vote Senate majority not to abandon the effort to overhaul the health care system.
• Urged elimination of taxpayer subsidies for banks providing student loans.
• Proposed $10,000 tax credit for four years of college, along with higher Pell Grants.
• Proposed capping student loan repayments at 10 percent of income and forgiving all student loan debt after 20 years, or after 10 years if the student enters public service.
• Urged Senate passage of comprehensive energy and climate legislation to help the country shift toward cleaner energy sources and help create jobs.
• Proposed three-year freeze on most domestic spending, beginning in 2011. Spending on national security, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security would be exempt.
• Announced he will issue an executive order creating a bipartisan task force to recommend ways to reduce the deficit.
• Urged Senate to follow the House and pass a financial overhaul bill to protect consumers from industry abuses and make sure they have the information they need to make decisions about what to do with their money.
• Reiterated pledge to remove all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of August.