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President Obama's 2011 State of the Union Address

Summary of Major Ideas and Plans

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President Obama's 2011 State of the Union Address
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On January 25, 2011, President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address in which he offered an uplifting yet pragmatic vision of the nation's work for the next year and beyond.

"We need to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world," summed President Obama of his plans and agenda for America.

The following is a summary, by excerpts, of the major ideas, plans and themes in the President's 7,000-word, 71-minute 2011 State of the Union speech.

Opening Thoughts

"Tonight I want to begin by congratulating the men and women of the 112th Congress, as well as your new speaker, John Boehner..."

"It's no secret that those of us here tonight have had our differences over the last two 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."

"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."

What's at Stake for the United States

"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 the 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 again.

"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."

"These steps we've taken over the last two 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.

"The world has changed."

"If you worked hard, chances are you'd have a job for life, with a decent paycheck and 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."

"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 the home to the world's largest private solar research facility and the world's fastest computer."

"Out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world"

"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 - no workers are more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs. We're the home to the world's best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any place on Earth."

"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."

STEP ONE - INNOVATION, RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT

"The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation... We're 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 is how we make our living.

"Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it's not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout our 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 GPS." "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." "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 happen."

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