2010 State of the Union Address
The 2010 State of the Union Address was given by United States President Barack Obama on January 27, 2010, to a joint session of Congress. It was aired on all the major networks starting at 9 pm ET. It was Obama's first State of the Union Address, though the president did give a non-State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress a month after taking office in 2009.
The speech was delivered in the United States House of Representatives in the United States Capitol. The presiding officers of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Vice President Joe Biden (as Senate President) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat behind the president.
The theme for President Obama’s speech was “Rescue, Rebuild, Restore – a New Foundation for Prosperity”. Among the topics that Obama covered in his speech were proposals for job creation and federal deficit reduction.
Newly inaugurated Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell delivered the Republican response following the speech from the floor of the House of Delegates at the Virginia State Capitol in front of over 300 people.
Legislative initiatives and policies
audio only version
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The following items were mentioned by the President as potential policy changes, legislative initiatives, or goals coming out of the address:
- Fees on the country's largest banks (to follow up on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP))
- Giving $30 billion from recovered TARP money to community banks to extend credit to small businesses
- Job creation
- Building clean energy facilities
- Giving rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy-efficient
- Slash tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas (giving those breaks to companies that create jobs in the U.S.)
- Encourage American innovation (focus on clean energy)
- Building nuclear power plants
- Exploring off-shore areas for oil and gas
- Investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies
- Comprehensive energy and climate bill to make clean energy profitable
- More exports of goods (goal: double exports in 5 years)
- Launch of a National Export Initiative
- Invest in the skills and education of our people
- Renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
- Revitalize community colleges
- Ending taxpayer subsidies to banks for student loans
- $10,000 tax credit for families for four years of college
- Increase Pell Grants
- Only 10% of income to student loans
- All student loan debt forgiven after 20 years, or after 10 years if they choose a career in public service
- Cost cutting at colleges and universities
- Middle Class
- Nearly double the child tax credit
- Giving access to a retirement account for every worker
- Expanding the tax credit for those who start a nest egg (retirement fund)
- Refinancing to make more mortgages affordable
- Tackling childhood obesity (headed by the First Lady, Michelle Obama)
- Health care reform
- Deficit reduction
- Starting in 2011, freeze government spending for 3 years on discretionary programs (excluding national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security)
- Eliminate programs that are unaffordable or don't work
- Extend middle-class tax cuts
- Bipartisan fiscal commission to provide solutions (created by Executive Order, if necessary)
- Restoring pay-as-you-go law
- Require lobbyists to disclose every contact they make
- Limits on contributions that lobbyists give to candidates
- Reform for earmarks, publish them in a single location on the web
- Crack down on violations of equal pay laws
- Immigration reform
- Repealing Don't ask, don't tell policy within the year to allow homosexuals to serve in the military openly
- Treating the nation of Israel with respect
Justice Alito's response
During the address, Obama condemned the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, stating, "Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections." Justice Samuel Alito was seen frowning and mouthing the words "not true" when Obama criticized the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice John Roberts later commented on the subject at the University of Alabama, saying, "The image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering while the court – according the requirements of protocol – has to sit there expressionless, I think is very troubling."
Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan was chosen as the designated survivor and did not attend the address, in order to keep a presidential line of succession should a catastrophic event have wiped out the administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also out of the country at the time of the address for a conference in London regarding the country of Yemen and the upsurge in terrorist activity in that country.
The television networks elected to broadcast a response to the State of the Union Address by Bob McDonnell who had been sworn in as the Governor of Virginia 11 days before. McDonnell sought to replicate the trappings State of the Union Address by giving a speech in the chamber of the Virginia House of Delegates with the audience filled with his supporters and included shots of McDonnell entering the chamber while shaking hands as he walking down the aisle. He also selected ten guests to stand behind him as he delivered the speech, including a member of the armed forces wearing his uniform that critics alleged to be a violation of military regulations. In addition, the use of House chamber for McDonnell's speech did not comply with House Rule 82. In his prepared text, McDonnell stated, "Today, the federal government is simply trying to do too much." McDonnell's efforts to mimic the context of the State of the Union Address drew parodies by the Daily Show and the Colbert Report.
Originally, the White House was considering two dates for the State of the Union Address: January 26 and February 2. Were the latter date selected, ABC would have then preempted the already scheduled premiere of the sixth and final season of the TV series Lost, sabotaging months of promotion for "The Final Season" and forcing some awkward rescheduling of the season, which had no leeway for interruptions. This prompted an online protest among fans and the story was picked up by dozens of media outlets. On January 8, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announced "I don't foresee a scenario in which millions of people who hope to finally get some conclusion with Lost are preempted by the president", to which the show's co-creator Damon Lindelof responded via his Twitter account with "OBAMA BACKED DOWN!!!! Groundhog Day is OURS!!!!!!! (God Bless America)".
Ben East of the United Arab Emirates The National newspaper summed up the story with "confirmation of just how important [Lost] is came with an almost unbelievable communiqué from the White House last week … That's right. Obama might have had vital information to impart upon the American people about health care, the war in Afghanistan, the financial crisis—things that, you know, might affect real lives. But the most important thing was that his address didn't clash with a series in which a polar bear appears on a tropical island. After extensive lobbying by the ABC network, the White House surrendered."
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- "Military Directive 1344.10: Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces". February 19, 2008. Retrieved April 10, 2010. "Use or allow the use of photographs, drawings, and other similar media formats of themselves in uniform as the primary graphic representation in any campaign media, such as a billboard, brochure, flyer, Web site, or television commercial."
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