Obama: nation must improve in education, job creation
January 27, 2010 9:44 PM
President Obama told Congress and the American people Wednesday night that education reform is critical to the growth of the nation, but in his first State of the Union address the spotlight remained on the economy and job growth.
In a speech that ran over one hour, Obama mentioned the need for improved education amidst rhetoric that centered largely on getting the nation out of debt and reducing the unemployment rate.
"The idea here is simple: instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform," Obama said before a joint session of Congress, "Reform that raises student achievement, inspires students to excel in math and science, and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans, from rural communities to inner-cities."
"In the 21st century," Obama said, "one of the best anti-poverty programs is a world-class education."
Obama did not offer many specifics in his speech toward addressing the problems of the education system, but did say that he wanted a $10,000 tax credit for families to send their children to college.
The President also said that the stimulus package saved 300,000 education jobs and that he favored forgiving student loan debt to graduates after 20 years.
Obama said that he and members of Congress "face a deficit of trust," in a speech that at times seemed to tap into the populist anger over bank bailouts, financial firm bonuses, and the slow recovery of the economy.
Obama addressed what he called the cynicism of TV punditry and the divisiveness of partisan politics, but said that fixing the problems this country faces would not come without a struggle.
"Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, it's that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it. You hated it." Obama said. He added that unemployment might be double what it is today if the government hadn't rescued the financial system.
Obama also sought to reiterate the need for health care reform, despite the weakened position that Democrats are in from losing the Massachusetts Senate seat once held by the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy to Republican Scott Brown.
The President said that the need for health care reform will not go away, but conceded at least some of the blame for "not explaining it more clearly to the American people."
"The approach we've taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market," Obama said.
The speech was wide ranging and covered many topics, yet woven into the transitions he always came back to the economy, jobs, or the growing deficit.
Obama also renewed his promise to remove combat troops from Iraq by this August and to finish the war in Afghanistan.
"We will support the Iraqi government as they hold elections, and continue to partner with the Iraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity." Obama said, "But make no mistake: this war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home."
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