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Sound Off on the State of the Union Highlights

In his 2013 State of the Union, President Obama called for gun control, immigration, mortgage and medicare reform, and action on climate change, the minimum wage and the Paycheck Fairness Act.

President Barack Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union address to the House of Representatives and the Senate. Obama focused on the economy, immigration reform, raising the minimum wage, gun control and complete troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Here are highlights from the 2013 State of the Union text.

On Medicare Reform

We can’t ask senior citizens and working families to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest and most powerful…We’ll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies and ask more from the wealthiest seniors.  We’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital – they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive.  And I am open to additional reforms from both parties, so long as they don’t violate the guarantee of a secure retirement.  Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep – but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.

On Deficit Reduction

To hit the rest of our deficit reduction target, we should do what leaders in both parties have already suggested, and save hundreds of billions of dollars by getting rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the well-off and well-connected.  After all, why would we choose to make deeper cuts to education and Medicare just to protect special interest tax breaks?  How is that fair?

So let’s set party interests aside, and work to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future.  And let’s do it without the brinkmanship that stresses consumers and scares off investors.  The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next.

On Economic Investment

Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio.  A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.  There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns.  So tonight, I’m announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Departments of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs.  And I ask this Congress to help create a network of fifteen of these hubs and guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is Made in America.

On Climate Change

I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago.  But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.  I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

On Mortgage Reform

Right now, there’s a bill in this Congress that would give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s rates.  Democrats and Republicans have supported it before.  What are we waiting for?  Take a vote, and send me that bill. 

On Immigration

On Immigration: Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship – a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally.

And real reform means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods, reduce bureaucracy, and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy.

On Women’s Rights

Today, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act that Joe Biden originally wrote almost 20 years ago.  I urge the House to do the same.  And I ask this Congress to declare that women should earn a living equal to their efforts, and finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.

On the Minimum Wage

Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.  This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families.  It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead. 

On Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Tonight, I can announce that over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan.  This drawdown will continue.  And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.

On Gun Control

Overwhelming majorities of Americans – Americans who believe in the 2nd Amendment – have come together around commonsense reform – like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun.  Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals.  Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because they are tired of being outgunned.

Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress.  If you want to vote no, that’s your choice.  But these proposals deserve a vote.  Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun….The families of Newtown deserve a vote…The families of Aurora deserve a vote…The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they deserve a simple vote.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENTS

What did you think of this year's State of the Union?

Homer February 13, 2013 at 06:08 AM
Tax & spend. Tax, kill small businesses, tax, raise minimum wage, tax, increase unemployment, tax, increase fiscal oversight of (school, healthcare), tax, fund high-speed rail, tax, regulate energy consumption, tax, establish a committee, tax...
met00 February 14, 2013 at 09:47 AM
At 15.8 percent of GDP, federal revenue is at almost the lowest point in 60 years. BofA, Citi, JP Mogan and other banks (and Wall Street) that socialized their losses from fraud in 2007-2008 have had none of their executives go to jail, and have paid no income tax in 2011 on the trillions of dollars they made. Maybe before we break the backs of the working class we should consider actually ending the failed economic policies of the Chicago School that got us into this mess and revert back to the 1958 tax code of GOP President Dwight D Eisenhower (with the dollar amounts adjusted for inflation). Then, after four or eight years under a fair tax code, let's see where the country is.
Dan Avery February 19, 2013 at 05:35 AM
This man is responsible for keeping the kill-list going. We are not impeaching him because?

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