President Obama delivered his second State of the Union address last night. Speaking before a newly divided Congress, Obama said the United States was in a 21st century version of the space race and in a global competition to create jobs in science and research. Obama focused much of his speech on the issue of jobs and proposed a number of deficit-cutting measures, including a five-year freeze in spending on some domestic programs. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama delivered his second State of the Union address last night. Speaking before a newly divided Congress, Obama said the United States was a 21st century version of the space race and in a global competition to create jobs in science and research. Obama did not recommend any particular new programs but spoke in general terms about his administration’s priorities, including job creation and new technologies.
In a change from tradition, many Democrat and Republican lawmakers sat next to each other in the chamber instead of on opposite sides of the aisle. The gesture was intended to show unity, amidst the heated debate since the shooting in Tucson three weeks ago that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Congressmember Gabrielle Giffords.
While Obama began his speech by paying tribute to Giffords, he did not address the issue of gun control. Obama instead spoke in broad terms and focused mainly on the issue of jobs, saying the U.S. is facing a “Sputnik moment.”
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we would beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t even there yet. NASA didn’t exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets, we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.
This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the space race. And in a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology — an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.
AMY GOODMAN: While the President spoke about the need for clean energy, he did not mention global warming or even use the word “climate” once in his address. He also did not mention the BP oil spill, the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
President Obama did discuss the need to reduce the deficit and proposed a number of deficit-cutting measures, including a ban on earmarks and a five-year freeze in spending on some domestic programs.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable. Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same. So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. Now, this would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama spoke briefly about the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He reiterated his plan to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July. He also pledged to meet the end-of-the-year deadline to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq, more than eight years after the invasion, claiming the Iraq war is coming to an end.
After Obama’s State of the Union address, the House Budget Committee chair, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, gave the official Republican response. Ryan called for less government spending to reduce the deficit.
REP. PAUL RYAN: We’re in a moment where if government’s growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America’s best century will be considered our past century. This is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency. Depending on bureaucracy to foster innovation, competitiveness and wise consumer choices has never worked, and it won’t work now. We need to chart a new course.
AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’ll be joined in Park City, Utah, by consumer advocate Joan Claybrook and former mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson. Stay with us.