Monday, January 31, 2011

Steelman responds to Martin's entrance into Senate race

Former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman issued the following statement, labeled as a response to former Matt Blunt chief of staff Ed Martin's decision to join the Senate race:

I am running to fight for Missouri families who want less government and more freedom. I remain focused on running against Senators Claire McCaskill and Harry Reid's control of the U.S. Senate.

Ed Martin announces run for Senate

Ed Martin, former chief of staff to Gov. Matt Blunt, announced today he will run for the U. S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Claire McCaskill.

Martin becomes the second Republican to enter the race, following former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman.

Kinder: I do not plan to endorse Sinquefield fair tax plan

In an interview with Steve Kraske, posted by Fired Up Missouri, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder said he is not endorsing billionaire Rex Sinquefield's so-called Fair Tax Plan:

Hartzler praises Florida's judge's decision striking down federal health care law

It should come as no surprise that Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler is a fan of Federal Judge Roger Vinson's decision today striking down the federal health care law:

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-4) applauds the decision by a federal judge in Florida who ruled the ObamaCare government takeover of health care is unconstitutional.

“We have been arguing since Day One that the ObamaCare law is bad for this country and that it is a violation of the U.S. Constitution,” said Hartzler. “This federal ruling validates the argument that liberals in Congress, who rammed this legislation through, did not have the right to mandate that every American must purchase health insurance. The U.S. House recently passed the legislation I co-sponsored repealing last year's job-destroying government takeover of healthcare. This ruling confirms that the House is on the right track in its desire to restore individual health care choices to the American people.”

Rupert Murdoch committee contributes $1,000 to Koster

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster continued to build on his list of out-of-state contributors today, landing a $1,000 contribution from News America Holdings, Inc. Fox PAC, Washington, D. C. a committee operated by Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch.

The PAC has donated to both Democrats and Republicans.

On Saturday, Koster received $50,000 from out-of-state sources.

Advertising revenues down for News-Leader parent company, Gannett

Advertising revenues for Gannett, owner of the Springfield News-Leader, were down 5.9 percent and operating revenues fell 4.7 percent compared to last year, according to the company's quarterly earnings statement, filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission:

Publishing segment operating revenues were $1.1 billion for the quarter, a decline of 4.7 percent compared to the fourth quarter in 2009. Sequential improvement in year-over-year comparisons for the retail and classified categories as well as circulation and other revenue was offset by a decline in national advertising. On a two-year comparison basis, publishing operating revenues in the fourth quarter were almost 8 percentage points better than third quarter comparisons and were the best quarterly comparisons for the year.

As noted, the company completed the sale of The Honolulu Advertiser and its related assets as well as a small directory publishing operation during the second quarter of 2010. Revenue associated with these businesses, now reflected as discontinued operations, totaled approximately $30 million in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Advertising revenues totaled $722.3 million compared to $767.6 million for the fourth quarter last year, a 5.9 percent decline. In the U.S., advertising revenues were 4.8 percent lower while at Newsquest, our operations in the UK, advertising revenues lagged last year by 7.9 percent, in pounds.


Link provided to federal judge's health care opinion

A U. S. District judge in Florida overturned the federal health care plan today. Judge Roger Vinson's ruling can be found at this link.

Flanagan offers update on pending legislation

In his latest report. Rep. Tom Flanagan, R-Carthage, offers an update on pending legislation:

We are very busy here in the Capitol with the public hearing portion of various committees underway. The committee I chair has heard over six hours of testimony from the public on the services and programs we cover. As we move forward with the legislative session, please don’t hesitate to let us know about the issues you’re passionate about.

Local Public Hearings:

A Public Service Commission public hearing will take place in Webster Hall at Missouri Southern State University on March 22, 2011. The topic of discussion will be an electric rate case filed by the Empire District Electric Company.

An informative first hearing and question and answer will begin at 11:30 a.m. A second local public hearing will begin at 5:30 p.m. I encourage any and all concerned with the case filed by Empire to attend and voice opinions.

Missouri State Capitol Commission (HCR4):

From a bird’s eye view, our capitol building is a source of pride – an architectural gem. If you look a little closer, however, there are many needed repairs. In an effort to expediate efforts to restore the Capitol, I have offered a resolution to establish the Missouri State Capitol Centennial Commission.

Under this resolution, restoration and renovation will be carried out in dilapidated portions of the Capitol. The Commission will be responsible in seeking out sources of funding - a feature that previous commissions were unable to do. I am hopeful we can help restore our Capitol’s grandeur with no increase in state spending.
Missouri Tax Amnesty Program (HB 116):

the state budget in a pinch, I've filed a tax amnesty bill to help increase state revenue. Under the provisions of this bill, delinquent tax payers can avoid penalties and interest while settling their debt with the state.

In tough economic times, cutting errant taxpayers a break is a quick way to put a dent in the budget deficit. Attracted by the absence of penalties and interest, those formerly avoiding tax payment will generate new revenues when they pay their back taxes. Many of these folks have long wanted to settle their bill, but were overwhelmed with penalties and interest. Current estimates from the Department of Revenue project revenue increases to be upwards of $70 million.
Air and Water Pollution (HB 96):

Another piece of legislation I've proposed focuses on companies that recycle animal parts into petroleum. The bill enforces penalties for exceeding limitations in air and water pollution. Penalties for violating the proposed standards will result in a fine of no less than ten thousand dollars and no more than thirty thousand dollars for each day the violation continues to occur. Companies in persistent violation will forfeit any permits issued by the Department of Natural Resources.

As you can see, much work has been done and much has been set into motion.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mayer: My top priority is putting Missourians back to work

In his latest report, Senate Majority Leader, Robert Mayer, R-Dexter, says his top priority is putting Missourians back to work:

It was an address heard throughout the state, but the reality of Missouri’s dire budget situation for me, hits close to home. In the governor’s annual state of the state address last week, he laid out his priorities for the Fiscal Year 2012 state budget. With a $300-$500 deficit, many difficult decisions have to be made this year, and I do not take the task of balancing our state’s budget lightly.

For the third year in a row, our state is going into the budget process with a shortfall. With more than 280,000 Missourians out of work, it’s time our state was presented a balanced and accountable budget – not one that relies on special legislation to pass in order for it to be balanced nor one that is dependent on hundreds of millions of dollars in federal budget stabilization extensions. Put simply, our state’s constitution requires us not to spend more than we take in.

In my opening day address, I presented my colleagues with several solutions to our state’s budget problems: put Missourians back to work, invest in educating our future workforce, and shrink the size and scope of state government. We need to look to long-term solutions, NOT propping up our state’s budget with one-time federal bailout dollars that come to an end this year.

As Senate leader, I’m dedicated to protecting taxpayers while focusing on K-12 education, higher education and health care. Spurring job creation in our state is another main focus, and in the Senate we have a comprehensive plan that will make it easier to do business in our state — allowing current companies to expand and attracting new businesses to the Show-Me State. We can do this by capping the corporate franchise tax, restoring balance to employment law in regard to the Missouri Human Rights Act, addressing our state’s “whistleblower” provisions, fixing a judicial decision in Missouri that had a negative effect on our workers’ compensation system, and making Missouri a “Right to Work” state.

I’ve made it my top priority to help get Missourians back to work. With much legislative effort during the 2010 regular session, and again during the 2010 special session, lawmakers passed House Bill 2 — better known as the Manufacturing Jobs Act. The legislation provides tax incentives for qualified auto suppliers or manufacturing facilities that create or retain Missouri jobs. Though it can apply to several companies in our state, this act was aimed at enticing the Ford Motor Company to manufacture a new product line at its existing automotive assembly plant in Claycomo, a suburb of Kansas City.

On Jan. 18, the Ford Motor Company signed a memorandum of understanding with our state, committing to invest at least $400 million to bring a next-generation production line to the Kansas City facility. This action will retain 3,750 jobs — jobs that will remain in our state, help boost our economy, and invest in Missourians who can now compete with other states regarding production jobs for the future.

However, this is far from where we need to be in our state in terms of promoting job growth and offering incentives to expand and attract new businesses to our state. We need to do more. Since June 2008, our state has lost nearly 104,000 jobs, one out of every six Missourians are currently receiving food stamps, and the number of citizens settling for part-time jobs has doubled in the past two years to approximately 150,000 Missourians – hard-working Missourians who need full-time jobs.

As the Senate and House work through their respective budget plans for 2012, I will keep you informed on how my colleagues and I allocate your hard-earned taxpayer dollars for vital functions of our state government. It’s crucial to get your input on how Missouri can best utilize these dollars and reduce the scope of state government, so keep your ideas coming through the Senate’s “Rebooting Government” website ( On this site, you can also listen to various members of the Senate present their recommendations for their respective work groups. You can also view a PowerPoint listing many of the work groups’ suggestions.

Blunt speaks on behalf of Balanced Budget Amendment

Proposition B, drug tests for welfare recipients addressed by House

McCaskill: Congress does not need an annual pay raise

Progress was made this week toward changing a system that gives Congress an automatic pay raise, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says in her latest report:

This week we made progress in two crucial areas of my ongoing campaign to clean up Congress: ending automatic congressional pay raises and stopping secret holds.

There’s just no reason Congress should be getting a pay raise every year. Americans across the country are out of work and those who are working are certainly not receiving automatic annual salary increases.

We talk a lot about cutting back – automatic pay raises should be the first item on the chopping block. Yes, Congress passed bills that I co-sponsored to eliminate the pay raise for 2010 and 2011, but those bills did not permanently remove the raise. So yesterday I introduced legislation that does.

But ending the pay raise is just part of my larger goal of applying common sense Missouri solutions to Washington's problems. As part of setting rules for the new Congress, the Senate finally passed the Secret Holds Elimination Resolution, which requires that all holds on legislation be disclosed within 48 hours.

As you know, I’ve been working on eliminating secret holds for more than a year. The practice allowed Senators to anonymously prevent consideration of legislation, robbing the American people of the chance to hold lawmakers accountable for their actions and stopping the Senate from doing the business you elected us to do. It’s your government. You deserve better transparency. Now you have it.

It's rarely easy to change long-standing rules and practices, but I'm committed to making the Senate more transparent and accountable

Steelman: It's the spending, stupid!

In her latest op-ed piece, former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, a candidate for U. S. Senate, criticizes President Barack Obama's State of the Union address:

Forgive me please, but to paraphrase James Carville, "It's the spending, stupid!"

Our nation is facing its highest debt levels since World War II, our economy remains stagnant and stalled, and family incomes continue to fall. The "stimulus" failed horribly, Obamacare is already sending premiums skyrocketing, and the CBO just yesterday said our deficit is even worse than previously thought.

The big government policies of President Barack Obama and the Democrat-controlled Senate have killed jobs, pushed us to the fiscal brink, and wrecked our economy.

Yet the only idea that the President put forth in his State of the Union speech was more spending. It is spending that is the problem, Mr. President.

The genius of America has been her faith in her people - not in government. This country will prosper again if we return to pro-growth and fiscally responsible policies. But it's going to take hard work to get us back on track.

Your voice and your power is needed more every day in this fight to save our country, my friends. It is as plain as the nose on your face: This President and his Democrat allies in the Senate like Senator Claire McCaskill want to take and spend your money to grow government and take your freedom.

We know we can do better, but the fight must be joined by all of us to make it happen. Your contribution to this campaign is your voice being heard. Our future is at stake. It is up to us.

It is Our Freedom and Our Fight. Please visit my website at to make a donation of any amount. I am very grateful for your support and together we can make the difference.

Mother Jones article: Roy Blunt big obstacle in Republicans' war against pork

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. is a big obstacle as Republicans' battle pork, according to an article in the investigative magazine Mother Jones:

After this week's State of the Union address, Blunt slammed Obama's vow to veto any bill with earmarks as a "power grab" that would "give the president too much power," arguing that the Constitution gave Congress the expiclit authority to dictate how spending would be apportioned. Blunt's pork-loving ways have drawn fire from the GOP's tea party right, who've already been infuriated with his House vote to support the Troubled Asset Relief Program, among other government spending bills.

Other Senate GOP newcomers—including Rand Paul (R-Ky.)—have gone squishy on earmarks as well. But Blunt's exceptionally staunch defense of earmarks could prove to be one of the biggest thorns in the GOP's side when it comes to the party's war on pork.

Hartzler reviews week in Washington

Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler gives a rundown on the week in Washington in her weekly newsletter:

It was another busy week in Washington which included being part of the historic March for Life, meeting President and Mrs. Obama, hearing the State of the Union address, and getting caught in one of Washington's major snowstorms.

The 38th Annual March for Life was on Monday. More than a thousand Missourians traveled through the night on buses to be in their nation's capital to support life. I was honored to meet with them and to get to speak to them and the crowd of more than 200,000 who had gathered on the National Mall prior to the March. It was an amazing sight to see and I was so honored to be a part of it.

Several 4th District folks came by our office later, including several students. It is encouraging to see so many sharp young people taking the lead for life among their generation. With their help, we can someday ensure that everyone enjoys the 'right to life.'

That evening I joined my fellow freshmen at the White House for a reception where I got to meet President and Mrs. Obama. The President said he looked forward to working with me. I certainly hope we can work together to create jobs, rein in runaway federal spending, and protect our liberties. Our country needs that now. I know I am committed to doing that. Based on his State of the Union address Tuesday night, he says he is, too, but I have my doubts. He talked about spending cuts at one point and then, with the next breath, called for more “investments,” which is code for more “borrowing and spending." We don't need to borrow more money from China and put our children further in debt. What we need is to make government more efficient and effective, rein in runaway spending, and get government out of our lives if we are to create more jobs.

Earlier that afternoon the House did just that. We approved Resolution 38 which reduces non-security spending for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011 to FY 2008 levels or less - which cuts spending by tens of billions of dollars. This is a necessary start. We’ll see what the Senate does with this common sense step. Members of the House took a stand. The Senate must do likewise. Citizens of this country deserve that from their elected officials.

The week ended with the House moving forward with our pledge to reduce the size of government and cut spending every week. We voted to end taxpayer funding of presidential campaigns and political conventions. Our legislation would end the diversion of important resources from federal programs that need those dollars. Americans who wish to contribute to presidential campaigns have the absolute right to do so, but can do so without the government and tax dollars being a part of it! It is wrong to have taxpayer dollars being spent on political campaigns and conventions.

Wednesday afternoon the snow hit. Heading home to Missouri proved to be no easy task as flight after flight out of Reagan National Airport was delayed or cancelled. My flight was one of the many that was cancelled. The storm created havoc on roads in and around the Nation's Capital and knocked out power to thousands of homes and businesses in the region. I finally got out on Thursday after another busy and productive week in Washington.

Next week is the first of several regularly scheduled district work weeks set aside for representatives to spend time at home with their constituents. I will be visiting a number of places in our 4th Congressional District and look forward to seeing many of you. If I don't see you and you have a problem with some aspect of federal government, we are available to help you. Please contact our office in Jefferson City at 573-634-4884 and we will be happy to get to work on getting you the assistance you need. I welcome your thoughts and ideas on strengthening our government, too. Together, we can do it.

Cleaver: President presented challenge to Congress

In his latest EC from DC column, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., discussed President Obama's State of the Union message:

Tuesday evening, I joined Senator Jerry Moran, Republican of Kansas, to attend the President’s address to the Joint Session of Congress. Seating at the State of the Union was different, in a positive way, this year. Instead of sitting divided, Democrats on one side of the aisle and Republicans on the other, we attempted to mix ourselves together. If you look to the President’s left, on the Republican side of the chamber, you will see me in the midst of Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Sen. Tom Culburn (R-OK). It was a nice group to sit with, and a cross section of our national mood.

As I looked down my row, at a seating arrangement that would have been scoffed at last year, I wondered whether Congress would indeed work together, even with all the 'Kumbaya' of the night. Many people came to the joint session with dates from the other party, and it remains to be seen whether this was a one-night stand. We will find hard problems ahead.

The President was very clear. He said, look people, cheer up, the glass is half full. I was happy to hear his optimism. He essentially told America that, despite the challenges of the past two years, we're on our way back up now and walking into a new door of opportunity. He's willing to walk through, but he needs members of Congress to oil the hinges. The question of the night is will Congress help hold open that door of opportunity-- or let it close in America’s face.

Richard provides lowdown on bills before Senate

In his weekly report, Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, reviews legislation pending before the Senate:

At this point in the legislative process, much of our work is accomplished in Senate committees. Bills are introduced on the floor and then assigned to a Senate committee that deals with bills relating to that particular area. This week, several high-profile measures to encourage job growth and fight fraud in elections were heard in Senate committees.

This year, one of our main focuses is passing legislation that will encourage job growth in our state. I am pleased to be directly involved in this process through my role as vice chair of the Senate Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government. This week, we heard testimony on two bills designed to make Missouri more competitive to businesses and to encourage businesses already in our state to reinvest in expansion.

Senate Bill 18 would cap the amount of corporate franchise tax a company pays at $2 million. Franchise tax is a tax that corporations pay in advance for doing business within the state. Currently, the largest franchise tax payer in the state pays approximately $1.9 million in franchise taxes. The legislation would allow corporations that reach the cap to continue to invest in Missouri without being penalized and would encourage investment by large corporations in Missouri.

Senate Bill 19 takes this effort a step further by gradually phasing out the corporate franchise tax completely. This bill would make Missouri more competitive with other states, like Kansas, which has been phasing out its franchise tax since 2007. With corporations already paying tax on income earned, in addition to paying sales tax and property tax, we are essentially double taxing corporations by charging them franchise tax.

Another bill heard in committee this week deals with voter ID, a measure that would require voters to show a photo ID in order to cast their ballot. The measure is designed to weed out voter fraud and make sure our system of elections is fair and free of abuse. The Legislature passed voter ID legislation in 2006, but it was overturned by the courts. A recent case upholding a similar law in Indiana has renewed our efforts in Missouri. In the Senate, we are working to pass a constitutional amendment (Senate Joint Resolution 9) that would require a photo ID to vote, as well as a Senate Bill 3, which lays out more specifics on the measure. The bill includes provisions exempting citizens who are unable to obtain photo identification because of a physical or mental disability, unable to pay for a document necessary to obtain identification, have a religious belief against forms of identification, or were born before Jan. 1, 1941.

The bills heard this week now need to be approved by their respective committees before they can be debated on the floor. As the session moves forward, we will be spending more time on the floor, discussing these measures as a full Senate. I will keep you informed on what is going on here in Jefferson City as legislation moves forward.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Morning Fix: Jury still out on Sarah Steelman as GOP Senate candidate

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, in his Morning Fix blog today, evaluated the Missouri U. S. Senate race, noting that there is no shortage of candidates wanting to challenge Claire McCaskill, now that McCaskill's predecessor, Jim Talent, has decided not to enter the race.

Cillizza also points out that Republicans are not exactly swarming toward the only announced candidate, former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman:

Former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman is the lone Republican in the race, but she's got no shortage of potential GOP opponents, including Rep. Sam Graves, former state party chairwoman Ann Wagner and former congressional candidate Ed Martin. What that suggests is that many aren't quite ready to embrace her as their next big Senate candidate. And if Talent bows out, these candidates will feel free to enter the race at will.

But that could be changing. Politico's Dave Catanese (who broke the news Tuesday) smartly points out that Sen. Roy Blunt's (R-Mo.) former chief of staff has penned a fundraising letter for Steelman. (Steelman, you may recall, opted against challenging Blunt in a primary last cycle.)

Whether that's a simple return of a favor or a sign of a larger amount of support from Team Blunt remains to be seen. The jury is still out on Steelman as a candidate, especially after she severely wounded the GOP's governor candidate in their 2008 primary. If Blunt jumps on board with Steelman, though, that would discourage other Republicans like Graves and Wagner (who was chairman of Blunt's campaign) and could help Steelman avoid another bruising primary.

Akin responds to State of the Union address

Second District Congressman Todd Akin issued the following response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address:

“In last night’s state of the union, President Obama recognized the political need of addressing job creation, a strengthened economy and smaller government.”

“Unfortunately the President provided no real leadership or real solutions to the problems of entitlements, taxes and red tape.”

“Reducing entitlements is a prerequisite to controlling government spending.”

“Instead, the President’s response has been to defend a government takeover of health care, a huge new government entitlement that costs taxpayers many billions of dollars.”

“We must cut taxes to create jobs. Unfortunately, this President stubbornly refuses to permanently eliminate dividend capital gains and death taxes.”

“We must also cut red tape to allow business to create jobs. Again, the President has gone around Congress to put in place regulations that bind the hands of business and place a tremendous drag on our economy.”

“It is disingenuous to talk of job creation or a strengthened economy without addressing entitlements, cutting taxes and eliminating red tape.”

Kinder: Justice Department's motion to dismiss health care lawsuit is a desperate ploy

In a news release issued today, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder says the Justice Department's motion to dismiss his lawsuit challenging the federal health care plan is "a desperate ploy." From the release:

On Tuesday, Lt Governor Peter Kinder filed a memorandum in opposition to the Obama Administration’s attempts to dismiss his constitutional challenge to the federal health care law. Kinder released the following statement:

“We have brought this constitutional challenge on behalf of countless Missourians who will lose their existing affordable health care coverage under the new Obama-Pelosi-Reid health care law. But instead of addressing our challenge on the merits, the Obama Administration has responded by asking the court to slam the federal court house door in the face of these citizens.

“The Obama Administration bizarrely claims that a federal court lacks the jurisdiction to hear these claims. We believe that this is a desperate ploy by an administration that has already suffered a major setback in a similar case when a federal judge in Virginia ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

“Our challenge must be allowed to go forward, and we hope that Judge Sippel will deny the government’s motion and allow these Missouri citizens’ constitutional claims to be determined on their merit.”

GateHouse Media looks at eliminating another pressroom

GateHouse Media, owner of The Carthage Press, Neosho Daily News, and more than 300 newspapers nationwide, is continuing its tradition of devastating its newspapers to add to its bottom line.

You certainly cannot blame a company for wanting to make money, but GateHouse's shortsightedness has resulted in distancing its product from the local communities which it is supposed to serve.

I have written numerous times about the decisions that the company, then Liberty Group Publishing, made to decimate The Carthage Press, selling its press and eliminating the crew, and getting rid of the composing department and other employees to move those functions to Neosho. The company made its deadlines earlier and earlier until it was almost impossible to put out anything resembling a timely publication.

Finally, it moved from its downtown location to an antiseptic building on Central Avenue.

The same story has repeated itself at GateHouse's newspapers across the U.S.A. and is happening now in Springfield, Ill.:

The State Journal-Register announced Monday it is considering a move to print the Springfield newspaper in Peoria.

SJ-R Publisher Walt T. Lafferty said if the change is made, the Springfield newspaper would be able to take advantage of a more modern printing plant at the Journal Star in Peoria. Both newspapers are owned by Fairport, N.Y.-based GateHouse Media Inc.

The change in print location could occur within the first quarter of 2011, but any move is subject to bargaining with certain unions, Lafferty said.

It is unclear how many jobs would be lost as part of the proposed change. There are currently 32 full-time and 32 part-time positions in the departments that would be affected.

The Peoria newspaper's printing plant began production in 2004. It already prints several other Illinois GateHouse newspapers.

Nixon: We're tackling the issue of college affordability head on

In a letter to supporters, Gov. Jay Nixon outlined what is being done in the state to make college affordable:

Earlier this week, I visited a St. Louis Community College center located next to Vashon High School. It was a cold and snowy day when I stopped by. But that didn’t matter. The center was packed. Students – of all ages, races and backgrounds – were there, working hard to learn new skills and earn a degree.

They were there because they knew that a college degree isn’t just a requirement for many jobs these days. A college degree is a ticket to a whole world of opportunity.

Unfortunately, too many families these days simply can’t afford a college education. In some states, tuition has spiked by double digits. Families can’t keep up with those skyrocketing prices.

Here in Missouri, we’re tackling the issue of college affordability head on. During my State of the State address last week, I announced a proposal to expand our successful A+ Scholarship program to cover tuition and fees at public community colleges for students from low-income families – regardless of what part of our state they call home.

Since 1997, A+ has helped more than 50,000 kids attend college. But thousands of Missouri students are ineligible – through no fault of their own – simply because they attend high schools that haven’t earned the A+ designation. That isn’t fair. And it must change.

Our proposal would allow every student who meets the demanding A+ achievement criteria and comes from a low-income family to apply for an A+ Scholarship – even if their school hasn’t earned the A+ designation. Across our state, ministers, educators, business leaders and others are stepping forward to endorse this plan because of the new opportunities it will provide to Missouri children.
Every high-achieving, hard-working Missouri student deserves the opportunity to earn a college degree -- no matter what zip code they grow up in, or what their parents do for a living. It’s our responsibility to make that opportunity possible.

Together, we’ll make it happen.

Hartzler votes to end campaign finance checkoff

Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler was one of 239 representatives who voted today to eliminate the campaign finance checkoff system which has allowed taxpayers to contribute $3 to be used for public financing for presidential candidates. From the news release:

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-4) has said “no” to continued taxpayer funding of presidential election campaigns by voting to eliminate the Presidential Election Campaign Fund – a move which also terminates public financing of political party conventions. The bill would bring an end to the diversion of much needed revenues from vital federal programs. Taxpayers could continue to spend their own dollars on political campaigns and conventions, but government would no longer be in the business of funding them. The legislation would reduce direct spending by $617 million over the next decade.

“My Republican colleagues and I are once again putting our words into action on behalf of the American people,” said Hartzler. “Through Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s YouCut program, in which the people told us what they wanted to see cut, we are eliminating programs and expenditures the people of this country do not think should be supported by taxpayer dollars. With the federal budget running unprecedented deficits the American taxpayer should not be subsidizing political campaigns. Saddling our children and grandchildren with additional debt for partisan political campaigns and conventions is simply wrong. We can and must find better uses for that money.”

The amount of funding for the public financing system is determined by checkoffs on income tax returns. Taxpayer participation has declined from 28.7 percent in 1980 to 7.3 percent in 2009. Eliminating the program would require candidates and political parties to rely on private donations rather than tax dollars.

Blunt: I want my earmarks

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo, is unhappy with President Barack Obama's statement during last night's State of the Union message that he would veto any bills with earmarks.

The president doesn't understand the constitution, Blunt said. Congress is responsible for spending.

Blunt said today that he agreed with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that congressional spending should be the domain of Congress and that the ban on earmarks would "give the president too much power."

"I think that any real student of the Constitution in this country would come to the conclusion that the Constitution believed that the legislative branch would decide how to spend the money and the president would execute that faithfully and efficiently," Blunt said in a telephone news conference with reporters.
Isn't the presidential veto a part of the Constitution?

BIlly Long: If government spending solved every problem, Obama would have spent us to Utopia by now

More thoughts from Seventh District Congressman Billy Long on President Barack Obama's State of the Union message:

"If government spending solved every problem the Obama administration should have spent us into utopia by now," says Missouri Congressman Billy Long (R-MO) on federal spending. "Last week, our government debt has passed $14 trillion, over $45,000 for every person. It is time to stop pushing catastrophic debt on our children and grandchildren. We need to eliminate wasteful government spending and focus on common sense reforms. Our government needs to balance its budget just like the families and businesses back in Missouri.

Jane Cunningham: It's unconscionable that Koster won't get involved in federal health care lawsuit

Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, sponsor of a bill demanding that Attorney General Chris Koster join in with 20 other attorneys general in a lawsuit against the federal health care program, can't seem to understand why Koster is do adamant about not wasting the taxpayers' time and (yes) money:

Jetton trial delayed until June

The assault trial of former Speaker of the House Rod Jetton has been moved from February to June at the request of the prosecution.

Jetton allegedy assaulted a Sikeston woman during a bout of rough sex.

Former Guantanamo detainee gets life sentence for embassy bombing that killed Lamar soldier

A former Guantanamo detainee has received a life sentence for his role in the 1998 embassy bombings that resulted in numerous deaths, including that of Staff Sgt. Kenneth Hobson of Lamar.

The nearly simultaneous attacks in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killed 224 people and wounded thousands.
The defense had asked the judge for a lesser sentence, citing the extraordinary circumstances of Mr. Ghailani’s case, like the years he spent in detention in a so-called black site run by the C.I.A., where his lawyers say he was tortured.
But the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan, said that no matter how Mr. Ghailani was treated while in detention, “the impact on him pales in comparison to the suffering and the horror that he and his confederates caused.”
“It was a cold-blooded killing and maiming of innocent people on an enormous scale,” Judge Kaplan said. “The very purpose of the crime was to create terror by causing death and destruction.”

Billy Long critiques State of the Union address

Seventh District Congressman Billy Long offered the following thoughts on President Barack Obama's State of the Union address:

"The content, to me, was lacking," Long said in a post-speech interview.

"We're in serious, serious problems in this country and we need to cut spending immediately. And he was talking about electric cars," he said.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

No round two for Jim Talent and Claire McCaskill

The doors are open for another Republican to challenge former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman for the U. S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Claire McCaskill.
The man Ms. McCaskill beat five years ago, Jim Talent will not seek a rematch, according to a Kansas City Star article:

Talent, who lost to McCaskill in 2006, has not talked to reporters or issued a statement about his decision, but a formal announcement is expected any day.

The news comes as little surprise, given the interest of a Talent ally, former Missouri GOP Chairwoman Ann Wagner, in the 2012 race. Wagner has said she would not run against Talent for the Republican nomination.

Video provided for Michele Bachmann Tea Party State of the Union response

Blunt: More about President Obama and his "investments"

Add Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. to those hitting the "investments" talking points. Following is Blunt's response to the State of the Union message:

“The President said a lot of the right things tonight. But Americans expect action in addition to words.

“Just like one year ago, the President said private sector jobs should be the number one goal for the next year, and then I didn’t hear much about private sector jobs after that. Clearly, we’ve proven that the government can create more government jobs, but we don’t need more government jobs – we need more private sector jobs.

“We also heard a lot about the new buzz word for spending, which is ‘investments.’ In the stimulus message two years ago, the President mentioned investments 14 times. I don’t think those ‘investments’ really did for the economy what it did for people’s debt.

“This speech should have been about jobs and too much government spending. Instead it was about ‘investment,’ which is just another word for more government spending.”

Hartzler: Obama's "investments" are more borrowing and spending

Add Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler to those criticizing President Obama over his use of the word investment:

A tale of two directions in which to take our country. On the same day Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-4) voted for a resolution to reduce non-security spending to Fiscal Year 2008 levels or less President Obama used his State of the Union Address to call for additional spending.

“It’s a stark contrast,” said Hartzler. “We are trying to roll back government funding to the days before the unsuccessful taxpayer-funded bailouts and wasteful stimulus programs while President Obama lays the groundwork for the continuation of the liberal spending spree. He has made his case for more ‘investments,’ which is code for more ‘borrowing and spending.’”

“We did hear the President finally start talking about job creation,” continued Hartzler. “What is not clear is if he has any plans to put forward solid ideas that will deliver for Americans. His words might sound appealing but his deeds fall short of promises. As our Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling says, ‘I like 80 percent of what President Obama says, but I dislike 80 percent of what he actually does.’ Over the last two years he has put forth proposal after proposal to destroy jobs from ObamaCare to Cap and Tax to government regulations run amok. Citizens of the 4th District want action on job creation – not empty rhetoric. President Obama gives a great speech but needs to embrace the Republicans’ solid, pro-business policies to put Americans back to work.”

“The policies of the President and Congressional liberals have failed,” added Hartzler. “Our debt has climbed to its highest level in U.S. history as unemployment levels remain at historic highs. More of the same liberal spending is not the solution to our problems. It is time to say ‘no’ to more binge spending, ‘yes’ to fiscal responsibility, and ‘yes’ to American jobs.”

Text provided for Michele Bachmann, Tea Party response to State of the Union

Good evening, my name is Congresswoman Michele Bachmann from Minnesota's 6th District.

Two years ago, when Barack Obama became our President, unemployment was 7.8 percent and our national debt stood at what seemed like a staggering $10.6 trillion dollars.

We wondered whether the President would cut spending, reduce the deficit and implement real job-creating policies.

Unfortunately, the President's strategy for recovery was to spend a trillion dollars on a failed stimulus program, fueled by borrowed money.

The White House promised us that all the spending would keep unemployment under 8 percent.

Not only did that plan fail to deliver, but within three months the national jobless rate spiked to 9.4 percent. And sadly, it hasn't been lower for 20 straight months. While the government grew, we lost more than 2 million jobs.

Let me show you a chart.

Here are unemployment rates over the past ten years. In October 2001, our national unemployment rate was at 5.3 percent. In 2008 it was at 6.6 percent. But, just eight months after President Obama promised lower unemployment, that rate spiked to a staggering 10.1 percent

Today, unemployment is at 9.4 percent with about 400,000 new claims every week.

After the $700 billion bailout, the trillion-dollar stimulus, and the $410 billion spending bill with over 9,000 earmarks, many of you implored Washington to please stop spending money we don't have.

But, instead of cutting, we saw an unprecedented explosion of government spending and debt, unlike anything we have seen in the history of our country.

Deficits were unacceptably high under President Bush, but they exploded under President Obama's direction, growing the national debt by an astounding $3.1 trillion-dollars.

What did we buy?

Instead of a leaner, smarter government, we bought a bureaucracy that tells us which light bulbs to buy, and which will put 16,500 IRS agents in charge of policing President Obama's healthcare bill.

ObamaCare mandates and penalties will force many job creators to stop offering health insurance altogether, unless yours is one of the more-than-222 privileged companies or unions that has received a government waiver.

In the end, unless we fully repeal ObamaCare, a nation that currently enjoys the world's best healthcare may be forced to rely on government-run coverage that will have a devastating impact on our national debt for generations to come.

For two years President Obama made promises just like the ones we heard him make tonight. Yet still we have high unemployment, devalued housing prices and the cost of gasoline is skyrocketing.

Here are a few suggestions for fixing our economy:

The President could stop the EPA from imposing a job-destroying cap-and-trade system.

The President could support a Balanced Budget Amendment.

The President could agree to an energy policy that increases American energy production and reduces our dependence on foreign oil.

The President could also turn back some of the 132 regulations put in place in the last two years, many of which will cost our economy $100 million or more.

And, the President should repeal ObamaCare and support free market solutions like medical malpractice reform and allow all Americans to buy any healthcare policy they like anywhere in the United States.

We need to start making things again in this country, and we can do that by reducing the tax and regulatory burdens on job creators.

America will have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Look no further to see why jobs are moving overseas.

But, thanks to you, there's reason to hope that real spending cuts are coming. Last November you went to the polls and voted out big-spending politicians and you put in their place men and women with a commitment to follow the Constitution and cut the size of government.

I believe that we are in the early days of a history-making turn.

Please know how important your calls, visits, and letters are to the maintenance of our liberties. Because of you, Congress responded and we are starting to undo the damage that's been done.

We believe in lower taxes, a limited view of government and the exceptionalism of America. And I believe America is the indispensible nation.

Just the creation of this nation was a miracle. Who's to say that we can't see a miracle again?

The perilous battle that was fought in the pacific, at Iwo Jima, was a battle against all odds, and yet the image of the young G.I.s in the incursion against the Japanese immortalizes their victory. These six young men raising the flag came to symbolize all of America coming together to beat back a totalitarian aggressor.

Our current debt crisis we face today is different, but we still need all of us to pull together. We can do this.

And that's the hope we hold tonight as Americans. We will push forward to reclaim the greatness of our country and to proclaim the liberty upon which we were founded. And we will do so because we the people will never give up on this great nation.

God bless you, and God bless America.

Text provided for Paul Ryan, GOP response to State of the Union

Good evening. I'm Congressman Paul Ryan from Janesville, Wisconsin — and Chairman here at the House Budget Committee.

President Obama just addressed a Congressional chamber filled with many new faces. One face we did not see tonight was that of our friend and colleague, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. We all miss Gabby and her cheerful spirit; and we are praying for her return to the House Chamber.

Earlier this month, President Obama spoke movingly at a memorial event for the six people who died on that violent morning in Tucson. Still, there are no words that can lift the sorrow that now engulfs the families and friends of the fallen.

What we can do is assure them that the nation is praying for them; that, in the words of the Psalmist, the Lord heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds; and that over time grace will replace grief.

As Gabby continues to make encouraging progress, we must keep her and the others in our thoughts as we attend to the work now before us.

Tonight, the President focused a lot of attention on our economy in general — and on our deficit and debt in particular.

He was right to do so, and some of his words were reassuring. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, I assure you that we want to work with the President to restrain federal spending.

In one of our first acts in the new majority, House Republicans voted to cut Congress's own budget. And just today, the House voted to restore the spending discipline that Washington sorely needs.

The reason is simple.

A few years ago, reducing spending was important. Today, it's imperative. Here's why.

We face a crushing burden of debt. The debt will soon eclipse our entire economy, and grow to catastrophic levels in the years ahead.

On this current path, when my three children — who are now 6, 7, and 8 years old — are raising their own children, the federal government will double in size, and so will the taxes they pay.

No economy can sustain such high levels of debt and taxation. The next generation will inherit a stagnant economy and a diminished country.

Frankly, it's one of my greatest concerns as a parent — and I know many of you feel the same way.

Our debt is the product of acts by many presidents and many Congresses over many years. No one person or party is responsible for it.

There is no doubt the President came into office facing a severe fiscal and economic situation.

Unfortunately, instead of restoring the fundamentals of economic growth, he engaged in a stimulus spending spree that not only failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs, but also plunged us even deeper into debt.

The facts are clear: Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25 percent for domestic government agencies — an 84 percent increase when you include the failed stimulus.

All of this new government spending was sold as "investment." Yet after two years, the unemployment rate remains above 9% and government has added over $3 trillion to our debt.

Then the President and his party made matters even worse, by creating a new open-ended health care entitlement.

What we already know about the President's health care law is this: Costs are going up, premiums are rising, and millions of people will lose the coverage they currently have. Job creation is being stifled by all of its taxes, penalties, mandates and fees.

Businesses and unions from around the country are asking the Obama Administration for waivers from the mandates. Washington should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. The President mentioned the need for regulatory reform to ease the burden on American businesses. We agree — and we think his health care law would be a great place to start.

Last week, House Republicans voted for a full repeal of this law, as we pledged to do, and we will work to replace it with fiscally responsible, patient-centered reforms that actually reduce costs and expand coverage.

Health care spending is driving the explosive growth of our debt. And the President's law is accelerating our country toward bankruptcy.

Our debt is out of control. What was a fiscal challenge is now a fiscal crisis.

We cannot deny it; instead we must, as Americans, confront it responsibly.

And that is exactly what Republicans pledge to do.

Americans are skeptical of both political parties, and that skepticism is justified — especially when it comes to spending. So hold all of us accountable.

In this very room, the House will produce, debate, and advance a budget. Last year — in an unprecedented failure — Congress chose not to pass, or even propose a budget. The spending spree continued unchecked.

We owe you a better choice and a different vision.

Our forthcoming budget is our obligation to you — to show you how we intend to do things differently … how we will cut spending to get the debt down… help create jobs and prosperity … and reform government programs. If we act soon, and if we act responsibly, people in and near retirement will be protected.

These budget debates are not just about the programs of government; they're also about the purpose of government.

So I'd like to share with you the principles that guide us. They are anchored in the wisdom of the founders; in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence; and in the words of the American Constitution.

They have to do with the importance of limited government; and with the blessing of self-government.

We believe government's role is both vital and limited — to defend the nation from attack and provide for the common defense ... to secure our borders ... to protect innocent life ... to uphold our laws and Constitutional rights ... to ensure domestic tranquility and equal opportunity ... and to help provide a safety net for those who cannot provide for themselves.

We believe that the government has an important role to create the conditions that promote entrepreneurship, upward mobility, and individual responsibility.

We believe, as our founders did, that "the pursuit of happiness" depends upon individual liberty; and individual liberty requires limited government.

Limited government also means effective government. When government takes on too many tasks, it usually doesn't do any of them very well. It's no coincidence that trust in government is at an all-time low now that the size of government is at an all-time high.

The President and the Democratic Leadership have shown, by their actions, that they believe government needs to increase its size and its reach, its price tag and its power.

Whether sold as "stimulus" or repackaged as "investment," their actions show they want a federal government that controls too much; taxes too much; and spends too much in order to do too much.

And during the last two years, that is exactly what we have gotten — along with record deficits and debt — to the point where the President is now urging Congress to increase the debt limit.

We believe the days of business as usual must come to an end. We hold to a couple of simple convictions: Endless borrowing is not a strategy; spending cuts have to come first.

Our nation is approaching a tipping point.

We are at a moment, where if government's growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America's best century will be considered our past century. This is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency.

Depending on bureaucracy to foster innovation, competitiveness, and wise consumer choices has never worked — and it won't work now.

We need to chart a new course.

Speaking candidly, as one citizen to another: We still have time ... but not much time. If we continue down our current path, we know what our future will be.

Just take a look at what's happening to Greece, Ireland, the United Kingdom and other nations in Europe. They didn't act soon enough; and now their governments have been forced to impose painful austerity measures: large benefit cuts to seniors and huge tax increases on everybody.

Their day of reckoning has arrived. Ours is around the corner. That is why we must act now.

Some people will back away from this challenge. But I see this challenge as an opportunity to rebuild what Lincoln called the "central ideas" of the Republic.

We believe a renewed commitment to limited government will unshackle our economy and create millions of new jobs and opportunities for all people, of every background, to succeed and prosper. Under this approach, the spirit of initiative — not political clout — determines who succeeds.

Millions of families have fallen on hard times not because of our ideals of free enterprise — but because our leaders failed to live up to those ideals; because of poor decisions made in Washington and Wall Street that caused a financial crisis, squandered our savings, broke our trust, and crippled our economy.

Today, a similar kind of irresponsibility threatens not only our livelihoods but our way of life.

We need to reclaim our American system of limited government, low taxes, reasonable regulations, and sound money, which has blessed us with unprecedented prosperity. And it has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed. That's the real secret to job creation — not borrowing and spending more money in Washington.

Limited government and free enterprise have helped make America the greatest nation on earth.

These are not easy times, but America is an exceptional nation. In all the chapters of human history, there has never been anything quite like America. The American story has been cherished, advanced, and defended over the centuries.

And it now falls to this generation to pass on to our children a nation that is stronger, more vibrant, more decent, and better than the one we inherited.

Thank you and good night.

Video provided for Paul Ryan, GOP response to State of the Union

Steelman: More about Obama and that misleading "investment" term

Apparently, the word has gone around in GOP circles to attack President Barack Obama's use of the word "investment." Billy Long did it in a comment I noted in an earlier blogspot and now so has U. S. Senate candidate and former state treasurer Sarah Steelman, judging from a tweet a few moments ago:

SOTU more expansion of government spending calling it "investment " - little on reducing the debt and shrinking government

Video provided for President Obama's State of the Union message

Kinder in lawsuit: Federal health care plan limits options available to me, other politicians

Anyone who thinks Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder filed his seemingly quixotic lawsuit against the federal health care plan just to score political brownie points can just push that thought right out of their minds.

It's a far more personal matter to the lieutenant governor, as his lawyer Thor Hearne spelled out in documents filed today in federal court.

If something isn't done to get that federal health care plan under control, Hearne wrote, it could have a devastating effect to the health care of Kinder and other Missouri politicians:

(The law) increases the cost to Missouri taxpayers of providing health-care coverage to Missouri state employees and elected State officials and limits the options and choices of health-care coverage available to Lieutenant Governor Kinder and other Missouri state employees and its elected officials.

The federal government has insisted that Kinder and other plaintiffs do not have any standing to sue. In today's filing, Hearne tried to show that they did.

Hearne also claims the federal health care plan will have a damaging effect on the doctor-patient relationship.

Obama defends healthcare plan in State of the Union message

Anyone who expected President Barack Obama to back off the controversial federal health care plan, is certainly feeling disappointment.

In his State of the Union message, Obama delivered these thoughts on health care:

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 two years, let's fix what needs fixing and move forward.

Billy Long: Watch out when Obama uses that code word "investment"

Prior to attending his first State of the Union message, Seventh District Congressman Billy Long warned about President Obama using code words like "investment:"

"He'll talk about creating jobs and I think the way to create jobs is get the government out of the way," says Long. "I don't think we'll hear much about that. I think they might try and do more stimulus. They might have code words for it such as investment. President Obama, I like about 80 percent of what he says, but dislike about 80 percent of what he does."

Prepared text of State of the Union provided

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 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.

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 preference.

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 tomorrow.

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 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.

That's the project the American people want us to work on. Together.

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 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. 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 living.

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 GPS.

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 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.

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 ourselves."

That's what Americans have done for over two hundred 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 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% 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.

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 kids.

Think about it. Over the next ten 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 discipline.
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 fifty 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% 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 ten 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 math.

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 Congress to go further, and make permanent our tuition tax credit ¿ worth $10,000 for four 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 two 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 our 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 two 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% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you 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 underway.

Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% 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 success.

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 deficit.

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 possible.

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 two 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 five 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 president.

This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we have frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two 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% 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 loopholes.

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% 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 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.

Now, we have made great strides over the last two 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 Congress for a vote -- and we will push to get it passed.

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 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 restored.

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 free."

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 them.

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 three or four 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.