[House Document 112-1]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]

112th Congress, 1st Session - - - - - - - - - - - House Document 112-1






                              OF THE UNION

  January 26, 2011.--Message and accompanying papers referred to the 
 Committee on the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to 
                               be printed
To the Congress of the United States:
    Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, 
distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:
    Tonight I want to begin by congratulating the men and women 
of the 112th Congress, as well as your new Speaker, John 
Boehner. And as we mark this occasion, we are also mindful of 
the empty chair in this Chamber, and pray for the health of our 
colleague--and our friend--Gabby Giffords.
    It's no secret that those of us here tonight have had our 
differences over the last 2 years. The debates have been 
contentious; we have fought fiercely for our beliefs. And 
that's a good thing. That's what a robust democracy demands. 
That's what helps set us apart as a Nation.
    But there's a reason the tragedy in Tucson gave us pause. 
Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public 
debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where 
we come from, each of us is a part of something greater--
something more consequential than party or political 
    We are part of the American family. We believe that in a 
country where every race and faith and point of view can be 
found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share 
common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little 
girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own 
children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled.
    That, too, is what sets us apart as a Nation.
    Now, by itself, this simple recognition won't usher in a 
new era of cooperation. What comes of this moment is up to us. 
What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we 
can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together 
    I believe we can. I believe we must. That's what the people 
who sent us here expect of us. With their votes, they've 
determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility 
between parties. New laws will only pass with support from 
Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or 
not at all--for the challenges we face are bigger than party, 
and bigger than politics.
    At stake right now is not who wins the next election--after 
all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and 
industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It's 
whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. 
It's whether we sustain the leadership that has made America 
not just a place on a map, but a light to the world.
    We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst 
recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come 
roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing 
    But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks 
alone. We measure progress by the success of our people. By the 
jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By 
the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a 
good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for 
a better life that we pass on to our children.
    That's the project the American people want us to work on. 
    We did that in December. Thanks to the tax cuts we passed, 
Americans' paychecks are a little bigger today. Every business 
can write off the full cost of the new investments they make 
this year. These steps, taken by Democrats and Republicans, 
will grow the economy and add to the more than one million 
private sector jobs created last year.
    But we have more work to do. The steps we've taken over the 
last 2 years may have broken the back of this recession--but to 
win the future, we'll need to take on challenges that have been 
decades in the making.
    Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time 
when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or 
a business downtown. You didn't always need a degree, and your 
competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors. If you 
worked hard, chances are you'd have a job for life, with a 
decent paycheck, good benefits, and the occasional promotion. 
Maybe you'd even have the pride of seeing your kids work at the 
same company.
    That world has changed. And for many, the change has been 
painful. I've seen it in the shuttered windows of once booming 
factories, and the vacant storefronts of once busy Main 
Streets. I've heard it in the frustrations of Americans who've 
seen their paychecks dwindle or their jobs disappear--proud men 
and women who feel like the rules have been changed in the 
middle of the game.
    They're right. The rules have changed. In a single 
generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way 
we live, work, and do business. Steel mills that once needed 
1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just 
about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their 
products wherever there's an Internet connection.
    Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with 
some changes of their own, they could compete in this new 
world. And so they started educating their children earlier and 
longer, with greater emphasis on math and science. They're 
investing in research and new technologies. Just recently, 
China became home to the world's largest private solar research 
facility, and the world's fastest computer.
    So yes, the world has changed. The competition for jobs is 
real. But this shouldn't discourage us. It should challenge us. 
Remember--for all the hits we've taken these last few years, 
for all the naysayers predicting our decline, America still has 
the largest, most prosperous economy in the world. No workers 
are more productive than ours. No country has more successful 
companies, or grants more patents to inventors and 
entrepreneurs. We are home to the world's best colleges and 
universities, where more students come to study than any other 
place on Earth.
    What's more, we are the first Nation to be founded for the 
sake of an idea--the idea that each of us deserves the chance 
to shape our own destiny. That is why centuries of pioneers and 
immigrants have risked everything to come here. It's why our 
students don't just memorize equations, but answer questions 
like ``What do you think of that idea? What would you change 
about the world? What do you want to be when you grow up?''
    The future is ours to win. But to get there, we can't just 
stand still. As Robert Kennedy told us, ``The future is not a 
gift. It is an achievement.'' Sustaining the American Dream has 
never been about standing pat. It has required each generation 
to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age.
    Now it's our turn. We know what it takes to compete for the 
jobs and industries of our time. We need to out-innovate, out-
educate, and out-build the rest of the world. We have to make 
America the best place on Earth to do business. We need to take 
responsibility for our deficit, and reform our Government. 
That's how our people will prosper. That's how we'll win the 
future. And tonight, I'd like to talk about how we get there.
    The first step in winning the future is encouraging 
American innovation.
    None of us can predict with certainty what the next big 
industry will be or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty 
years ago, we couldn't know that something called the Internet 
would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do--what 
America does better than anyone--is spark the creativity and 
imagination of our people. We are the Nation that put cars in 
driveways and computers in offices; the Nation of Edison and 
the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, 
innovation doesn't just change our lives. It's how we make a 
    Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But 
because it's not always profitable for companies to invest in 
basic research, throughout history our Government has provided 
cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that 
they need. That's what planted the seeds for the Internet. 
That's what helped make possible things like computer chips and 
    Just think of all the good jobs--from manufacturing to 
retail--that have come from those breakthroughs.
    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'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't there yet. 
NASA didn't even 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. 
In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to the 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 jobs for our people.
    Already, we are seeing the promise of renewable energy. 
Robert and Gary Allen are brothers who run a small Michigan 
roofing company. After September 11th, they volunteered their 
best roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their 
factory went unused, and the recession hit them hard. Today, 
with the help of a Government loan, that empty space is being 
used to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold all 
across the country. In Robert's words, ``We reinvented 
    That's what Americans have done for over 200 years: 
reinvented ourselves. And to spur on more success stories like 
the Allen Brothers, we've begun to reinvent our energy policy. 
We're not just handing out money. We're issuing a challenge. 
We're telling America's scientists and engineers that if they 
assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on 
the hardest problems in clean energy, we'll fund the Apollo 
Projects of our time.
    At the California Institute of Technology, they're 
developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our 
cars. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they're using 
supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear 
facilities. With more research and incentives, we can break our 
dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country 
to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.
    We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for 
it, I'm asking the Congress to eliminate the billions in 
taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't 
know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their 
own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest 
in tomorrow's.
    Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into 
clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for 
what they're selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in 
setting a new goal: by 2035, 80 percent of America's 
electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks 
want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and 
natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all--and I 
urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it 
    Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is 
crucial to America's success. But if we want to win the 
future--if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and 
not overseas--then we also have to win the race to educate our 
    Think about it. Over the next 10 years, nearly half of all 
new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school 
degree. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren't 
even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science 
education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to 
9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree. 
And so the question is whether all of us--as citizens, and as 
parents--are willing to do what's necessary to give every child 
a chance to succeed.
    That responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but in 
our homes and communities. It's family that first instills the 
love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV 
is turned off and homework gets done. We need to teach our kids 
that it's not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to 
be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success 
is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and 
    Our schools share this responsibility. When a child walks 
into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and 
high performance. But too many schools don't meet this test. 
That's why instead of just pouring money into a system that's 
not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top.
    To all 50 States, we said, ``If you show us the most 
innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student 
achievement, we'll show you the money.''
    Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public 
schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we 
spend on education each year, it has led over 40 States to 
raise their standards for teaching and learning. These 
standards were developed not by Washington, but by Republican 
and Democratic governors throughout the country. And Race to 
the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we 
replace No Child Left Behind with a law that is more flexible 
and focused on what's best for our kids.
    You see, we know what's possible for our children when 
reform isn't just a top-down mandate, but the work of local 
teachers and principals; school boards and communities.
    Take a school like Bruce Randolph in Denver. Three years 
ago, it was rated one of the worst schools in Colorado; located 
on turf between two rival gangs. But last May, 97 percent of 
the seniors received their diploma. Most will be the first in 
their family to go to college. And after the first year of the 
school's transformation, the principal who made it possible 
wiped away tears when a student said ``Thank you, Mrs. Waters, 
for showing . . . that we are smart and we can make it.''
    Let's also remember that after parents, the biggest impact 
on a child's success comes from the man or woman at the front 
of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as 
``nation builders.'' Here in America, it's time we treated the 
people who educate our children with the same level of respect. 
We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad 
ones. And over the next 10 years, with so many Baby Boomers 
retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new 
teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and 
    In fact, to every young person listening tonight who's 
contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a 
difference in the life of our Nation; if you want to make a 
difference in the life of a child--become a teacher. Your 
country needs you.
    Of course, the education race doesn't end with a high 
school diploma. To compete, higher education must be within 
reach of every American. That's why we've ended the unwarranted 
taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and used the savings to 
make college affordable for millions of students. And this 
year, I ask the Congress to go further, and make permanent our 
tuition tax credit--worth $10,000 for 4 years of college.
    Because people need to be able to train for new jobs and 
careers in today's fast-changing economy, we are also 
revitalizing America's community colleges. Last month, I saw 
the promise of these schools at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina. 
Many of the students there used to work in the surrounding 
factories that have since left town. One mother of two, a woman 
named Kathy Proctor, had worked in the furniture industry since 
she was 18 years old. And she told me she's earning her degree 
in biotechnology now, at 55 years old, not just because the 
furniture jobs are gone, but because she wants to inspire her 
children to pursue their dreams too. As Kathy said, ``I hope it 
tells them to never give up.''
    If we take these steps--if we raise expectations for every 
child, and give them the best possible chance at an education, 
from the day they're born until the last job they take--we will 
reach the goal I set 2 years ago: by the end of the decade, 
America will once again have the highest proportion of college 
graduates in the world.
    One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds 
of thousands of students excelling in or schools who are not 
American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented 
workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their 
parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our 
flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation. 
Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and 
universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we 
send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.
    Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and 
for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to 
work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, 
enforce our laws, and address the millions of undocumented 
workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate 
will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let's agree to 
make that effort. And let's stop expelling talented, 
responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start 
new businesses, and further enrich this Nation.
    The third step in winning the future is rebuilding America. 
To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, 
most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information from 
high-speed rail to high-speed Internet.
    Our infrastructure used to be the best--but our lead has 
slipped. South Korean homes now have greater Internet access 
than we do. Countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their 
roads and railways than we do. China is building faster trains 
and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded 
our Nation's infrastructure, they gave us a ``D.''
    We have to do better. America is the Nation that built the 
transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural 
communities, and constructed the interstate highway system. The 
jobs created by these projects didn't just come from laying 
down tracks or pavement. They came from businesses that opened 
near a town's new train station or the new off-ramp.
    Over the last 2 years, we have begun rebuilding for the 
21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs 
for the hard-hit construction industry. Tonight, I'm proposing 
that we redouble these efforts.
    We will put more Americans to work repairing crumbling 
roads and bridges. We will make sure this is fully paid for, 
attract private investment, and pick projects based on what's 
best for the economy, not politicians.
    Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of 
Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you to 
go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some 
trips, it will be faster than flying--without the pat-down. As 
we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already 
    Within the next 5 years, we will make it possible for 
business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless 
coverage to 98 percent of all Americans. This isn't just about 
a faster Internet and fewer dropped calls. It's about 
connecting every part of America to the digital age. It's about 
a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small 
business owners will be able to sell their products all over 
the world. It's about a firefighter who can download the design 
of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can 
take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have 
face-to-face video chats with her doctor.
    All these investments--in innovation, education, and 
infrastructure--will make America a better place to do business 
and create jobs. But to help our companies compete, we also 
have to knock down barriers that stand in the way of their 
    Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax 
code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with 
accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no 
taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest 
corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has 
to change.
    So tonight, I'm asking Democrats and Republicans to 
simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the 
playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax 
rate for the first time in 25 years--without adding to our 
    To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal 
of doubling our exports by 2014--because the more we export, 
the more jobs we create at home. Already, our exports are up. 
Recently, we signed agreements with India and China that will 
support more than 250,000 jobs in the United States. And last 
month, we finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that 
will support at least 70,000 American jobs. This agreement has 
unprecedented support from business and labor; Democrats and 
Republicans, and I ask this Congress to pass it as soon as 
    Before I took office, I made it clear that we would enforce 
our trade agreements, and that I would only sign deals that 
keep faith with American workers, and promote American jobs. 
That's what we did with Korea, and that's what I intend to do 
as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia, and continue 
our Asia Pacific and global trade talks.
    To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I've ordered a 
review of Government regulations. When we find rules that put 
an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. But I 
will not hesitate to create or enforce commonsense safeguards 
to protect the American people. That's what we've done in this 
country for more than a century. It's why our food is safe to 
eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to 
breathe. It's why we have speed limits and child labor laws. 
It's why last year, we put in place consumer protections 
against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies, and 
new rules to prevent another financial crisis. And it's why we 
passed reform that finally prevents the health insurance 
industry from exploiting patients.
    Now, I've heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns 
about the new health care law. So let me be the first to say 
that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to 
improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am 
eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a 
flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary 
bookkeeping burden on small businesses.
    What I'm not willing to do is go back to the days when 
insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a 
pre-existing condition. I'm not willing to tell James Howard, a 
brain cancer patient from Texas, that his treatment might not 
be covered. I'm not willing to tell Jim Houser, a small 
business owner from Oregon, that he has to go back to paying 
$5,000 more to cover his employees. As we speak, this law is 
making prescription drugs cheaper for seniors and giving 
uninsured students a chance to stay on their parents' coverage. 
So instead of re-fighting the battles of the last 2 years, 
let's fix what needs fixing and move forward.
    Now, the final step--a critical step--in winning the future 
is to make sure we aren't buried under a mountain of debt.
    We are living with a legacy of deficit spending that began 
almost a decade ago. And in the wake of the financial crisis, 
some of that was necessary to keep credit flowing, save jobs, 
and put money in people's pockets.
    But 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 5 years. 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 
    This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we have 
frozen the salaries of hardworking Federal employees for the 
next 2 years. I've proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, 
like community action programs. The Secretary of Defense has 
also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that 
he and his generals believe our military can do without.
    I recognize that some in this Chamber have already proposed 
deeper cuts, and I'm willing to eliminate whatever we can 
honestly afford to do without. But let's make sure that we're 
not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens. And 
let's make sure what we're cutting is really excess weight. 
Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation 
and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by 
removing its engine. It may feel like you're flying high at 
first, but it won't take long before you'll feel the impact.
    Now, most of the cuts and savings I've proposed only 
address annual domestic spending, which represents a little 
more than 12 percent of our budget. To make further progress, 
we have to stop pretending that cutting this kind of spending 
alone will be enough. It won't.
    The bipartisan Fiscal Commission I created last year made 
this crystal clear. I don't agree with all their proposals, but 
they made important progress. And their conclusion is that the 
only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending 
wherever we find it--in domestic spending, defense spending, 
health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and 
    This means further reducing health care costs, including 
programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single 
biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance 
reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why 
nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care 
law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit. 
Still, I'm willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, 
including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical 
malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.
    To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan 
solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. 
And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the 
most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing 
benefits for future generations; and without subjecting 
Americans' guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the 
stock market.
    And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot 
afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 
2 percent of Americans. Before we take money away from our 
schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask 
millionaires to give up their tax break.
    It's not a matter of punishing their success. It's about 
promoting America's success.
    In fact, the best thing we could do on taxes for all 
Americans is to simplify the individual tax code. This will be 
a tough job, but members of both parties have expressed 
interest in doing this, and I am prepared to join them.
    So now is the time to act. Now is the time for both sides 
and both houses of Congress--Democrats and Republicans--to 
forge a principled compromise that gets the job done. If we 
make the hard choices now to rein in our deficits, we can make 
the investments we need to win the future.
    Let me take this one step further. We shouldn't just give 
our people a Government that's more affordable. We should give 
them a Government that's more competent and efficient. We 
cannot win the future with a Government of the past.
    We live and do business in the information age, but the 
last major reorganization of the Government happened in the age 
of black and white TV. There are 12 different agencies that 
deal with exports. There are at least five different entities 
that deal with housing policy. Then there's my favorite 
example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while 
they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles 
them when they're in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more 
complicated once they're smoked.
    Now, we have made great strides over the last 2 years in 
using technology and getting rid of waste. Veterans can now 
download their electronic medical records with a click of the 
mouse. We're selling acres of Federal office space that hasn't 
been used in years, and we will cut through red tape to get rid 
of more. But we need to think bigger. In the coming months, my 
Administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, 
and reorganize the Federal Government in a way that best serves 
the goal of a more competitive America. I will submit that 
proposal to the Congress for a vote--and we will push to get it 
    In the coming year, we will also work to rebuild people's 
faith in the institution of Government. Because you deserve to 
know exactly how and where your tax dollars are being spent, 
you will be able to go to a website and get that information 
for the very first time in history. Because you deserve to know 
when your elected officials are meeting with lobbyists, I ask 
the Congress to do what the White House has already done: put 
that information online. And because the American people 
deserve to know that special interests aren't larding up 
legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should 
know this: if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I 
will veto it.
    A 21st century Government that's open and competent. A 
Government that lives within its means. An economy that's 
driven by new skills and ideas. Our success in this new and 
changing world will require reform, responsibility, and 
innovation. It will also require us to approach that world with 
a new level of engagement in our foreign affairs.
    Just as jobs and businesses can now race across borders, so 
can new threats and new challenges. No single wall separates 
East and West; no one rival superpower is aligned against us.
    And so we must defeat determined enemies wherever they are, 
and build coalitions that cut across lines of region and race 
and religion. America's moral example must always shine for all 
who yearn for freedom, justice, and dignity. And because we 
have begun this work, tonight we can say that American 
leadership has been renewed and America's standing has been 
    Look to Iraq, where nearly 100,000 of our brave men and 
women have left with their heads held high; where American 
combat patrols have ended; violence has come down; and a new 
government has been formed. This year, our civilians will forge 
a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people, while we finish 
the job of bringing our troops out of Iraq. America's 
commitment has been kept; the Iraq War is coming to an end.
    Of course, as we speak, al Qaeda and their affiliates 
continue to plan attacks against us. Thanks to our intelligence 
and law enforcement professionals, we are disrupting plots and 
securing our cities and skies. And as extremists try to inspire 
acts of violence within our borders, we are responding with the 
strength of our communities, with respect for the rule of law, 
and with the conviction that American Muslims are a part of our 
American family.
    We have also taken the fight to al Qaeda and their allies 
abroad. In Afghanistan, our troops have taken Taliban 
strongholds and trained Afghan Security Forces. Our purpose is 
clear--by preventing the Taliban from reestablishing a 
stranglehold over the Afghan people, we will deny al Qaeda the 
safe-haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11.
    Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans 
are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough 
fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver 
better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the 
Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. 
This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a 
transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to 
bring our troops home.
    In Pakistan, al Qaeda's leadership is under more pressure 
than at any point since 2001. Their leaders and operatives are 
being removed from the battlefield. Their safe-havens are 
shrinking. And we have sent a message from the Afghan border to 
the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: We will not 
relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you.
    American leadership can also be seen in the effort to 
secure the worst weapons of war. Because Republicans and 
Democrats approved the New START Treaty, far fewer nuclear 
weapons and launchers will be deployed. Because we rallied the 
world, nuclear materials are being locked down on every 
continent so they never fall into the hands of terrorists.
    Because of a diplomatic effort to insist that Iran meet its 
obligations, the Iranian government now faces tougher and 
tighter sanctions than ever before. And on the Korean 
peninsula, we stand with our ally South Korea, and insist that 
North Korea keeps its commitment to abandon nuclear weapons.
    This is just a part of how we are shaping a world that 
favors peace and prosperity. With our European allies, we 
revitalized NATO, and increased our cooperation on everything 
from counter-terrorism to missile defense. We have reset our 
relationship with Russia, strengthened Asian alliances, and 
built new partnerships with nations like India. This March, I 
will travel to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador to forge new 
alliances for progress in the Americas. Around the globe, we 
are standing with those who take responsibility--helping 
farmers grow more food; supporting doctors who care for the 
sick; and combating the corruption that can rot a society and 
rob people of opportunity.
    Recent events have shown us that what sets us apart must 
not just be our power--it must be the purpose behind it. In 
South Sudan--with our assistance--the people were finally able 
to vote for independence after years of war. Thousands lined up 
before dawn. People danced in the streets. One man who lost 
four of his brothers at war summed up the scene around him: 
``This was a battlefield for most of my life. Now we want to be 
    We saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the 
will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a 
dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of 
America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the 
democratic aspirations of all people.
    We must never forget that the things we've struggled for, 
and fought for, live in the hearts of people everywhere. And we 
must always remember that the Americans who have borne the 
greatest burden in this struggle are the men and women who 
serve our country.
    Tonight, let us speak with one voice in reaffirming that 
our Nation is united in support of our troops and their 
families. Let us serve them as well as they have served us--by 
giving them the equipment they need; by providing them with the 
care and benefits they have earned; and by enlisting our 
veterans in the great task of building our own Nation.
    Our troops come from every corner of this country--they are 
black, white, Latino, Asian, and Native American. They are 
Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that 
some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be 
forbidden from serving the country they love because of who 
they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college 
campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the 
ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the 
past. It is time to move forward as one Nation.
    We should have no illusions about the work ahead of us. 
Reforming our schools; changing the way we use energy; reducing 
our deficit--none of this is easy. All of it will take time. 
And it will be harder because we will argue about everything. 
The cost. The details. The letter of every law.
    Of course, some countries don't have this problem. If the 
central government wants a railroad, they get a railroad--no 
matter how many homes are bulldozed. If they don't want a bad 
story in the newspaper, it doesn't get written.
    And yet, as contentious and frustrating and messy as our 
democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn't a person here 
who would trade places with any other Nation on Earth.
    We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in 
the rights enshrined in our Constitution. We may have different 
opinions, but we believe in the same promise that says this is 
a place where you can make it if you try. We may have different 
backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is 
a country where anything's possible. No matter who you are. No 
matter where you come from.
    That dream is why I can stand here before you tonight. That 
dream is why a working class kid from Scranton can stand behind 
me. That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors 
of his father's Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the 
House in the greatest Nation on Earth.
    That dream--that American Dream--is what drove the Allen 
Brothers to reinvent their roofing company for a new era. It's 
what drove those students at Forsyth Tech to learn a new skill 
and work towards the future. And that dream is the story of a 
small business owner named Brandon Fisher.
    Brandon started a company in Berlin, Pennsylvania, that 
specializes in a new kind of drilling technology. One day last 
summer, he saw the news that halfway across the world, 33 men 
were trapped in a Chilean mine, and no one knew how to save 
    But Brandon thought his company could help. And so he 
designed a rescue that would come to be known as Plan B. His 
employees worked around the clock to manufacture the necessary 
drilling equipment. And Brandon left for Chile.
    Along with others, he began drilling a 2,000 foot hole, 
into the ground, working 3 or 4 days at a time with no sleep. 
Thirty-seven days later, Plan B succeeded, and the miners were 
rescued. But because he didn't want all of the attention, 
Brandon wasn't there when the miners emerged. He had already 
gone home, back to work on his next project.
    Later, one of his employees said of the rescue, ``We proved 
that Center Rock is a little company, but we do big things.''
    We do big things.
    From the earliest days of our founding, America has been 
the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That's how we 
win the future.
    We are a Nation that says, ``I might not have a lot of 
money, but I have this great idea for a new company. I might 
not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the 
first to get my degree. I might not know those people in 
trouble, but I think I can help them, and I need to try.
    ``I'm not sure how we'll reach that better place beyond the 
horizon, but I know we'll get there. I know we will.''
    We do big things.
    The idea of America endures. Our destiny remains our 
choice. And tonight, more than two centuries later, it is 
because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey 
goes forward, and the state of our Union is strong.
    Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United 
States of America.

                                                      Barack Obama.
    The White House, January 25, 2011.