Obama's Speech: Technology Revolution Has Changed The Rules Mid-Game
In the prepared remarks:
- Obama asks for Congress to eliminate subsidies for oil companies, a move environmental policy experts applaud.
- He sets goal of having the U.S. get 80 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2035. As of 2005, the U.S. about 8 percent of the country's energy was clean. If the goal is achieved, it would mark a 900 percent increase in 30 years.
- He gives some love to Pasadena's CalTech University, saying "At the California Institute of Technology, they’re developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars."
- He takes aim at jocks and gives geeks some praise: "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 discipline."
- Obama implores kids listening to his speech to consider becoming a teacher because the nation needs 100,000 more of them in the fields of math and science by 2020.
- Obama asks Congress to make a permanent a tax credit of $10,000 over four years given to parents paying their kids college tuition. The credit was in effect in 2009 and 2010 as part of the Recovery Act, and was extended for 2011 and 2012 as part of the Bush-era tax cuts extension deal signed into law at the end of December.
- Obama calls on every college to welcome military recruiters and ROTC programs.
- Without mentioning it by name, the president says he still wants to see the DREAM Act get passed. The legislation, which got defeated twice in 2010, would provide a path to legal status for children in the country illegally who make it to college.
- Obama pledges he will compromise with Republicans on illegal immigration issues, if they agree to work with him.
- Obama wants to see money continue to flow to colleges, universities and researchers who can innovate.
- He also exaggerates a bit, saying high-speed rail routes in California and the Midwest are "underway." He vows crumbling bridges and roads will be repaired, smart projects will be fully-funded and withing 25 years, 80 percent of Americans will be able to choosee rail over plane.
- Obama says the corporate tax rate can be lowered, if Congress acts to simplify the tax code and get rid of the thousands of corporate tax loopholes.
- He does not plan on support an extension or making permanent of the Bush-era tax cuts he accepted for the two percent of wealthiest Americans.
HEALTH CARE REFORM
- In a joke, the president begins, "Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law."
- He says he's open to modifying the law, as long as the change makes health care more affordable.
- To start the process off, he says there's "a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses."
DEFICIT AND DEBT
- As announced earlier Tuesday, Obama promoses keeping federal non-defense discretionary spending at the present level through 2015, reducing the federal deficit by $400 billion during the next decade.
- In perhaps one his most powerful statements in the speech, he says in direct response to the budget-slashing plans of Republicans such as Paul Ryan and Rand Paul: "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."
- Probably angering the lawyers that helped fund his campaign, Obama says he's willing to support medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.
Best lines from the speech provide an example of the problems with how big and convulted the federal bureaucracy has become:
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 twelve 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 in when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.
- The White House will put together a proposal to merge, consolidate and eliminate things to get rid of all those overlaps and strange divisions. He will push for Congress to get it passed sometime this year.
EARMARKS AND TRANSPARENCY
- He will create a website showing how every single American taxpayer dollar sent to the feds is spent.
- He urges Congress to post records of meetings with lobbyists online.
- He pledges to veto any bill that contains earmarks.
- The president will visit Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador in March "to forge new alliances for progress in the Americas."