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A PASSAGE TO INDIA - CHUYẾN ĐI TỚI ẤN ĐỘ



Sunday, January 30, 2011

ARAB NIGHTS 1– NGÀN LẼ MỘT ĐÊM



ARAB NIGHTS 1– NGÀN LẼ MỘT ĐÊM

Introduction

Sheherezade stopped.

'Well?' said the sultan. 'What happened next? What was behind the door?'

'Sir, there's light in the sky,' said Sheherezade. 'You're going to kill me now!

'But you can't stop there.You have to finish the story.'

Sheherezade is beautiful and clever. She also knows many wonderful stories. Night after night, she tells them to Sultan Shahriar. She always stops in an exciting place, so he wants to hear the end of the story. She knows stories for a thousand and one nights. The Arabic name for these stories (Alf Leila wa Leila) means The Thousand and One Nights.

The stories in this book are very different. Some are sad and some are funny. Some are exciting. We meet many interesting people — an unhappy young man, a clever servant girl, a boy judge, a stupid barber and forty bad thieves. The stories aren't new, but you can find the same people in the world today — a young man in love, a good friend or a clever young boy.

Everybody enjoys a good story, and before the days of television and cinema stories were very important. The stories in Tales from the Arabian Nights are very old. People in Europe first read them in French between 1704 and 1717. They don't come from one place, but from many different countries — the Middle East, India and Pakistan. At that time Europeans didn't know much about the countries in the Middle East. So these stories were very strange and exciting, and they opened a wonderful new world.

Chapter 1 The Sultan and Sheherezade

Sultan Shahriar had a beautiful wife. She was his only wife and he loved her more than anything in the world.

But the sultan's wife took other men as lovers. One day, the sultan found her with another man. He was very angry and cut off the man's head. Then he cut off his wife's head too.

From that time the sultan began to hate all women.

' From today,' he said to his vizir*,' I'll marry a new wife every day. She'll stay with me for one night.Then the next morning, I'll cut off her head. So no woman will hurt me again.'

The vizir had to find a new wife for the sultan every day. But this was a very difficult job. Every family was afraid. No girl wanted to be the sultan's wife for one night and then die. Fathers began to send their daughters away.

The vizir too was afraid. 'What will happen to me?' he thought.' I can't find any more girls. Perhaps the sultan will kill me too.'

The vizir had two daughters. One of them, Sheherezade, was beautiful and very clever. One day she said,' Dear Father, please do something for me. It will make me, the sultan and the people very happy.'

' I would like to make everybody happy,' said the vizir.' What is it, my daughter ? Ask, and I will do it for you.'

' Give me to the sultan. I will be his wife,' answered Sheherezade.

The vizir's face turned white. ' Never!' he said. ' The sultan will kill you. I can't do that. Please don't ask me.'

'Please do it,' answered Sheherezade. 'Everything will be all right, you'll see. I want to be the sultan's wife.'

The vizir put his head in his hands. He was very unhappy. He loved Sheherezade very much and he didn't want to do this thing. But Sheherezade asked again and again, and in the end the vizir said sadly, 'All right, my daughter. But I don't understand. Why do you want to throw your life away ?'

Sheherezade went to her sister, Dunyazade, and told her everything. Dunyazade began to cry, but Sheherezade said,' Don't cry, dear sister. I don't want to die. Everything will be all right, you'll see. But you have to help me. I want you to sleep in the room with the sultan and me. Wake me up one hour before morning. Say to me,"Please tell me a story."That's all.'

The next day, Sheherezade went with her father to see the sultan. The sultan was very surprised. Why did the vizir want his daughter to be the sultan's wife? But Sheherezade was beautiful and the sultan was very happy with her. So he married her.

That night, Sheherezade said to the sultan,' Sir, please can my sister stay with me tonight — my last night ?'

' All right,' said the sultan.

Nobody slept that night. The sultan always slept badly. Sheherezade was excited and Dunyazade was afraid.

One hour before morning, Dunyazade spoke.

' Dear sister,' she said,' please tell me a story.'

So Sheherezade began.


Top 10 Worlds Most Dangerous Cities - 10 thành phố nguy hiểm nhất thế giới

Top 10 Worlds Most Dangerous Cities - 10 thành phố nguy hiểm nhất thế giới
if you are travelling alone or decide to backpack to a faraway place with your friends, there are some locations you should be weary of. These cities have been mentioned by top news and crime sites with some pretty shocking statistics

10 - Bangkok, Thailand

bangkok-thailand

Thailand is the #1 producer of opium and heroin in the world. A major transit for those drugs is the capital Bangkok. Therefore making it unsafe. Last year they had, 20,000 assaults, 13,500 burglaries, and 5,000 murders. That ranks top in south East Asia. The violence and crime due to social unrest makes Bangkok top 10 for sure.

9 - Guatemala City, Guatemala

guatemala-city-guatemala

The government is very corrupt, they get paid off every day by the drug lords. Guatemala City is a hot spot in South America for drug smugglers, and foreign mobs. There is a high crime rate in this capital city, and many tourists are victims of armed robbery, rape and even murder. Do not walk the streets at night, and forget about your wallet and jewelry.

8 - Baghdad, Iraq

baghdad-iraq

It doesn't matter who you are, you're not safe in Iraq. It is a ruined nation that is rattled with crime and violence. A lot of despair in Baghdad. Since the war started in 2003, the US has been in Iraq which has led to a civil war. More than 650,000 civilians have died. Hussein has destroyed this countries reputation. Al-Qaeda and Kurdish rebels and criminals are involved in violence that goes on every day. Explosives and mines are a constant threat, as are suicide bombers who have killed thousands. Kidnappings and random killings happen every day. Since the US got there in 2003, millions of Iraqis have fled to other countries and millions more in Iraq remains displaced. Nuclear devices to poison the people there and the inherent gunfire killing civilians everyday makes Baghdad truly hell on earth.

7 - Grozny, Chechnya, Russia

grozny-chechnya-russia

There is more Russian Mafia in this place than police. This city is not run by government officials, but by gangsters. A Russian is murdered here every 20 minutes. That's almost 85 murders a day. Sure there is 100's of millions of people in Russia, but that's an astonishing stat. Prostitution and drug trafficking run by the Russian crime syndicate or definitely real in this place. Kidnappings and rapes, just to name a handful of tests you will face when you visit here. Chechnya is absolutely a third world city. Foreigners should think twice before visiting here.

6 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

rio-de-janeiro-brazil

If you're planning on travelling to Brazil, think twice. It is not a matter of where your mugged it is when. When you get off the plane in Rio, they hand you a pamphlet that tells people they should have no jewelry any wallet policy when they walk around. Crime rates have soared over the past 2 yrs. A drug cartel, called the Piranhas, resides in Rio, and they are responsible for many murders and abductions. There were 8000 murders in Rio last year, that is close to 20 murders a day. Most of the murders happen in the poverty stricken areas, but the city as a whole is growing in severe poverty problems.

5 - Bogota, Colombia

Bogota-Colombia

Bogota is the main port for drugs and guns coming up from Colombia to panama. People get murdered in plain daylight every day. Forget going out at night. You need to be packing heat. It beats most South American cities by far. I think that carrying a machete around on your back, is a very good way to avoid a mugging. It's also easily explained to immigration, as long as there's some jungle around. Speaking the local language and knowing a little about fighting is a good idea, just in case. I would avoid Bogota if traveling to South America.

4 - Cape Town, South Africa

CapeTown-South-Africa

Murder and robbery stats have been very high for many years in Cape Town. In one year they had 71,500 sexual offenses, 18,400 burglaries and 13,900 business robberies. There are approximately 50 murders a day in South Africa and more than 1/2 of those murders are in Cape Town. The city is in a huge recession making robberies very common. Cape Town is in a great state of poverty, making crime a part of the peoples everyday life. Going out at night is not advised.

3 - Mogadishu, Somalia

Mogadishu-Somalia

It is really hard to find statistical information on this city, but I know I've seen it on the top of many lists. Even with no data to report on this city, the governments warning to travel here is extremely high. Mogadishu has one of the highest terrorist populations in the world. There is an ongoing civil war going on in Somalia's capital, which poses a huge risk to anyone travelling there. Hundreds of people are wounded every day in Mogadishu's empty streets. No one knows how many people are actually killed there, but the numbers would be outrageous. Looting, Prowling, kidnapping, gunfire, etc... makes Mogadishu one of the top 3 most dangerous cities.

2 - Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

ciudad-juarez-mexico

This place has a serious problem with robbery, kidnapping, sexual assault and drug-related crimes. 120 killings per 100,000 residents. Ciudad Juarez is located just across the USA border. It has 1.5 million people and a really bad reputation. Recently drug Cartels have started a war against one another, making it very dangerous for travellers. This place is Violent. They are the number two city in the world for murders, most of them drug-related. 50% of all murders in Mexico come from Ciudad Juarez.

1 - Caracas, Venezuela

Caracas-Venezuela

America is by far the most dangerous place in the world. If you searched dangerous places on the internet, you would find at least 20 South American countries on the list. With drug cartels, and poverty, Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, ranks the highest for murder and crime in the world. Per 100,000 people this city has the highest rate of murders, kidnappings, and rapes in 2009. 130 murders and 537 reported kidnappings. They have nicknamed the city the murder capital of the world. Not to mention Venezuela is the world leader in drug trafficking mainly cocaine. The country has increased its poverty level since the 1970's 300%. In In the last 5 yrs. Caracas has topped the list for homicides by population. You better be a mobster if you plan on visiting Caracas.

Sand And Ice – Awesome Combination - Cát và băng - Kết hợp kỳ lạ


Sand And Ice – Awesome Combination - Cát và băng - Kết hợp kỳ lạ


In January 2011 there opened an interesting exhibition in Moscow. It is devoted to the art of sculpture but in an unusual way: the pieces of art are made of both sand and ice. The two elements merge to create a new harmony.




It is separated into two parts: the left one, called The Sacred Russia is made of sand and the right one, the so-called Street Festivities is created with the help of ice. The length of every side is about 25 meters and its height reaches 7 meters.














44 FACTS ABOUT OUR 44 PRESIDENTS - 44 sự kiện về 44 Tổng Thồng Mỹ

44 FACTS ABOUT OUR 44 PRESIDENTS - 44 sự kiện về 44 Tổng Thồng Mỹ

From Washington to Obama - Từ Washington đến Obama

From Washington to Obama

President Barack Obama presidential oath of office as the 44th President of USA - Obama tuyên thệ nhậm chức



President Barack Obama presidential oath of office as the 44th President of USA - Obama tuyên thệ nhậm chức
Chief Justice John Roberts messed up the presidential oath of office by saying:
"I do solemnly swear that I will execute the office of President of the United States faithfully"
when it is:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States"
Obama knew Roberts messed up and almost started giggling!!!
Here s the full oath
'I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States (so help me God).'
Chánh án John Roberts lầm lẫn lời tuyên thệ nhậm chức tổng thống khi nói:
"Tôi trân trọng thề rằng tôi sẽ thực hiện nhiệm vụ của Tổng thống Hoa Kỳ một cách tận tụy"
Trong khi nó là:
"Tôi trân trọng tuyên thệ (hoặc khẳng định) rằng tôi sẽ tận tụy thực hiện nhiệm vụ của Tổng thống Hoa Kỳ"
Obama biết Roberts sai và gần như bắt đầu cười khúc khích!
Lời thề đầy đủ như sau:
"Tôi trân trọng tuyên thệ (hoặc khẳng định) rằng tôi sẽ tận tụy thực hiện nhiệm vụ của Tổng thống Hoa Kỳ, và với khả năng tốt nhất của mình, sẽ giữ gin, bảo toàn và bảo vệ Hiến pháp của Hoa Kỳ (Cầu Chúa giúp sức). '

President Barack Obama 2009 Inauguration and Address - Diễn văn nhậm chức của Tổng Thống Obama



President Barack Obama 2009 Inauguration and Address - Diễn văn nhậm chưc của Tổng Thống Obama

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Thưa quốc dân,

Tôi đứng đây ngày hôm nay, cảm thấy thật khiêm nhường trước trách nhiệm trước mắt chúng ta, tôi biết ơn sự tin cậy của quốc dân, và nhớ lại những hy sinh của tiền nhân. Tôi xin cảm ơn Tổng Thống Bush về những cống hiến của Ngài cho đất nước, về sự hào phóng và tinh thần cộng tác của Ngài trong quá trình chuyển giao này.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

Cho đến nay bốn mươi tư công dân Mỹ đã tuyên thệ nhận chức tổng thống. Những lời này đã vang lên trên những đợt sóng của thời thịnh vượng cũng như từ mặt nước bình yên của thời thanh bình. Tuy nhiên, những lời tuyên thệ cũng thường vang lên trong những cơn dông bão. Vào những thời khắc đó, nước Mỹ đã vượt qua, không chỉ đơn giản nhờ vào kỹ năng hay tầm nhìn của những người lãnh đạo, mà bởi Chúng Ta, Nhân Dân Mỹ vẫn trung thành với lý tưởng của tiền nhân, theo đúng tinh thần của các văn bản lập quốc của chúng ta.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.



Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

Niềm tin đó đúng trong quá khứ. Niềm tin đó phải đồng hành với thế hệ người Mỹ hiện nay.
Chúng ta hiện đang trong giữa cuộc khủng hoảng mà ai ai cũng biết. Đất nước chúng ta đang trong thời chiến, chống lại một mạng lưới bạo lực và thù hận rộng khắp. Nền kinh tế của chúng ta đang bị suy yếu nghiêm trọng, một phần là hậu quả của thái độ tham lam, vô trách nhiệm của một số người, nhưng cũng là hậu quả của việc chúng ta đã thất bại, không có những lựa chọn khó khăn, chuẩn bị sẵn sàng cho đất nước trong kỷ nguyên mới.

Nhà mất, việc không, kinh doanh đình đốn. Chi phí y tế thì quá tốn kém; chất lượng trường học khiến nhiều người thất vọng. Càng ngày càng có thêm bằng chứng cho thấy cách chúng ta sử dụng năng lượng càng khiến kẻ thù của chúng ta mạnh thêm trong lúc trái đất càng bị đe doạ thêm.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Đó là các chỉ dấu về cuộc khủng hoảng, tính theo dữ liệu và số liệu thống kê. Không đo đếm được cụ thể đến vậy, nhưng cũng không kém phần sâu sắc, đó là tâm trạng mất niềm tin trên toàn đất nước - một tâm trạng sợ hãi đeo đẳng rằng sự đi xuống của nước Mỹ là không thể tránh khỏi, và rằng thế hệ kế tiếp sẽ phải hạ bớt tầm nhìn.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

Hôm nay, tôi xin nói với quý vị rằng các thách thức mà chúng ta đang đối diện là rất thật. Các thách thức đó rất nghiêm trọng và có nhiều. Các thách thức đó không thể xử lý được một cách dễ dàng hay trong một thời gian ngắn. Nhưng xin quý vị hãy biết rằng chúng sẽ được xử lý.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

Ngày hôm nay, chúng ta tụ hội về đây bởi chúng ta đã lựa chọn hy vọng thay vì sợ hãi, cùng hướng tới một mục tiêu chung thay vì có xung đột và bất hòa.

Ngày hôm nay, chúng ta tới để tuyên bố chấm dứt những lời than vãn vụn vặt cùng những lời hứa hẹn dối trá, những lời tố cáo lẫn nhau cùng những lời nói giáo điều nhàm chán, những thứ đã bóp nghẹt nền chính trị của chúng ta quá nhiều.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

Chúng ta vẫn là một quốc gia non trẻ, nhưng như kinh thánh nói, đã tới lúc bỏ sang một bên những điều nông nổi. Đã đến lúc tái xác nhận tinh thần kiên nhẫn của chúng ta, nhằm chọn lựa một lịch sử tốt đẹp hơn, nhằm hướng tới món quà quý giá, ý tưởng cao đẹp vốn được truyền từ thế hệ này sang thế hệ khác: Chúa trao cho mọi người quyền được bình đẳng, quyền được tự do, mọi người đều có quyền mưu cầu hạnh phúc.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom.

Trong khi tái khẳng định sự vĩ đại của dân tộc chúng ta, chúng ta hiểu rằng sự vĩ đại đó không bao giờ là thứ được cho không. Chúng ta đã phải giành lấy nó. Hành trình của chúng ta đi cho tới nay chưa bao giờ là một trong những con đường đi tắt hoặc một cái gì đó dễ dàng hơn. Đó không phải là con đường cho những người nhút nhát, cho những người hay ưa thích sự nhàn tản hơn là lao động, hay cho những người chỉ tìm kiếm những thú vui của sự giàu sang và nổi tiếng. Thay vào đó, chính những người dám chấp nhận hiểm nguy, những người lao động, những người làm ra các sản vật – mà một vài trong số họ là những người nổi tiếng nhưng thông thường hơn là những người đàn ông và đàn bà vô danh trong những lao động của họ - là những người đã đưa chúng ta vượt qua con đường dài đầy khó khăn gập ghềnh và dẫn chúng ta tới sự thịnh vượng và tự do.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

Vì chúng ta, họ đã phải bươn chải khắp các đại dương mà trong tay chỉ có chút ít tư trang, của cải để mưu cầu một cuộc đời mới.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

Vì chúng ta, họ đã phải vất vả lao động ở những công xưởng hà khắc và phải cất công định cư ở miền Tây; đã phải chịu đựng những trận đòn roi da và cấy cầy trên nền đất cứng.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Vì chúng ta, họ đã chiến đấu và hy sinh ở những nơi như Concord và Gettysburg, Normandy và Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

Hết lần này đến lần khác, những người nam và nữ giới này đã tranh đấu, hy sinh và làm việc tới tận khi đôi bàn tay của họ trai sạm để chúng ta có thể có một cuộc sống tốt đẹp hơn, Họ đã nhìn thấy nước Mỹ lớn hơn tất cả những tham vọng cá nhân, lớn hơn tất cả những khác biệt về sự sinh thành, của cải và phe phái của chúng ta gộp lại.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed.

Đây là hành trình chúng ta tiếp tục ngày hôm nay. Chúng ta vẫn là quốc gia thịnh vượng nhất, mạnh nhất trên trái đất. Các công nhân của chúng ta không hề làm việc kém hiệu quả hơn thời điểm cuộc khủng hoảng này bắt đầu. Trí óc của chúng ta không hề kém sáng tạo, hàng hoá và dịch vụ của chúng ta không hề kém cần thiết hơn tuần trước, tháng trước hay năm ngoái. Năng lực của chúng ta vẫn không hề bị sút giảm. Nhưng thời của sự bảo vệ những lợi ích hẹp hòi và lảng tránh những quyết định không mấy thú vị của chúng ta - thời đó chắc chắn đã trôi qua.

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America. For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Bắt đầu ngày hôm nay, chúng ta phải tự mình đứng dậy, tự phủi bụi và bắt đầu trở lại công việc tái lập nước Mỹ. Bởi vì ở bất cứ nơi đâu chúng ta nhìn vào, chúng ta sẽ thấy có việc phải làm. Tình trạng kinh tế hiện nay đang kêu gọi chúng ta hành động, can đảm và mau lẹ, và chúng ta sẽ hành động – không chỉ để tạo ra những việc làm mới, mà còn để đặt một nền móng mới cho sự tăng trưởng. Chúng ta sẽ xây dựng cầu, đường, các lưới điện và đường dây kỹ thuật số để cung cấp cho thương mại và kết nối chúng ta lại với nhau. Chúng ta sẽ khôi phục khoa học ở vị trí đúng đắn của nó, sẽ sử dụng các điều kỳ diệu của công nghệ để nâng cao chất lượng chăm sóc y tế và hạ giá thành của nó. Chúng ta sẽ khai thác năng lượng từ mặt trời, từ gió và đất để cung cấp nhiên liệu cho xe hơi và vận hành các nhà máy của chúng ta. Và chúng ta sẽ chuyển các trường học, trường học phổ thông và đại học để đáp ứng các nhu cầu của một thời đại mới. Tất cả điều này chúng ta có thể làm. Tất cả những điều này, chúng ta sẽ làm.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

Vào lúc này, đang có những người đặt ra các câu hỏi trước các tham vọng của chúng ta - những người này cho rằng hệ thống của chúng ta không thể kham nổi quá nhiều các kế hoạch. Trí nhớ của họ quá ngắn. Bởi vì họ đã quên rằng đất nước này đã làm được điều đó; điều mà những con người tự do, nam cũng như nữ, có thể đạt được khi trí tưởng tượng của mọi người được hòa trong một mục đích chung, điều cần thiết cho sự can đảm.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Điều mà những người hoài nghi không thể hiểu là mặt đất đang chuyển dịch dưới chân họ - là những luận điểm chính trị cũ kỹ vốn làm héo mòn chúng ta lâu nay, không còn có thể áp dụng được nữa. Câu hỏi chúng ta đặt ra hôm nay không phải là liệu chính phủ của chúng ta quá lớn hay quá nhỏ, nhưng mà là liệu nó có vận hành được hay không - liệu nó có thể giúp cho các gia đình tìm kiếm được việc làm với một đồng lương tử tế, một sự chăm sóc y tế mà họ có thể chi trả được hay tìm kiếm được một hưu bổng xứng đáng. Ở đâu mà câu trả lời là được, chúng ta dự kiến sẽ tiến tới. Ở đâu mà câu trả lời là không, các chương trình sẽ dừng lại.

Và ai trong số chúng ta đang quản lý những đồng đô-la công cộng sẽ phải thận trọng tính toán - để chi tiêu một cách khôn ngoan, phải thay đổi những thói quen xấu và phải làm công việc của chúng ta dưới thanh thiên bạch nhật – vì chỉ khi đó chúng ta mới có thể khôi phục được lòng tin hết sức quan trọng giữa người dân và chính phủ của họ.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

Cũng không phải đó là câu hỏi đặt ra trước chúng ta rằng liệu thị trường là một lực lượng lành mạnh hay không. Sức mạnh của thị trường nhằm sản xuất ra của cải và mở rộng tự do là không gì sánh nổi, nhưng cuộc khủng hoảng này nhắc nhở chúng ta rằng nếu không có một con mắt thận trọng, thị trường có thể xoay chuyển và đi ra khỏi vòng kiểm soát - một quốc gia không thể thịnh vượng lâu dài khi nó chỉ tạo thuận lợi cho những người giàu có. Thành công của nền kinh tế của chúng ta đã luôn luôn dựa trên không chỉ quy mô của tổng sản phẩm quốc nội của chúng ta, mà còn dựa trên tầm vóc của sự thịnh vượng của chúng ta; dựa trên khả năng mở rộng cơ hội cho tất cả những người thiện ý, sẵn lòng – không xuất phát từ lòng từ thiện ban phát, mà còn bởi vì đó là con đường chắc chắn nhất đưa tới lợi ích chung của chúng ta.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Đối với công cuộc quốc phòng, chúng ta bác bỏ sự lựa chọn giữa an toàn và các lý tưởng của chúng ta. Những bậc cha ông khai quốc của chúng ta, vốn đã từng phải đương đầu với những hiểm nguy mà chúng ta hiếm khi có thể hình dung được, đã soạn thảo ra một bản hiến chương đảm bảo pháp trị và các quyền con người, một bản hiến chương đóng góp bằng máu của nhiều thế hệ. Những lý tưởng này vẫn tiếp tục thắp sáng trên thế giới, và chúng ta sẽ không từ bỏ chúng vì những điều không thích hợp. Và do đó đối với tất cả các dân tộc và chính phủ khác đang theo dõi chúng ta hôm nay, từ các thủ đô lớn nhất tới ngôi làng nhỏ nơi cha tôi ra đời: quý vị biết rằng nước Mỹ là bạn bè với từng quốc gia, từng cá nhân dù là nam hay nữ, từng đứa trẻ, đang tìm kiếm tương lai hoà bình và phẩm giá, và chúng ta sẵn sàng để đi đầu một lần nữa.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

Hãy nhớ rằng thế hệ cha anh chúng ta đã hạ gục chủ nghĩa phát xít và chủ nghĩa cộng sản, không chỉ bằng tên lửa và xe tăng mà bằng những liên minh vững chắc và bằng niềm tin bền bỉ. Lớp cha anh hiểu rằng chỉ sức mạnh không thôi sẽ không thể bảo vệ nổi chúng ta, và nó cũng không cho phép chúng ta làm những gì mình muốn. Các thế hệ trước hiểu rằng sức mạnh của chúng ta lớn mạnh dần là nhờ chúng ta đã sử dụng nó một cách cẩn trọng. Nền an ninh của chúng ta được xây dựng từ sự chính danh, từ sự gương mẫu, từ sự khiêm nhường và sự biết kiềm chế của chúng ta.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

Chúng ta là những người gìn giữ di sản này. Được dẫn dắt bởi những nguyên tắc cơ bản này, một lần nữa chúng ta sẽ đương đầu được với các đe doạ mới, là các đe doạ cần được đối phó bằng những nỗ lực to lớn hơn - thậm chí là cả sự hợp tác to lớn hơn cùng và sự thông hiểu hơn giữa các quốc gia. Chúng ta sẽ bắt đầu chuyển giao một cách có trách nhiệm đất nước Iraq cho người dân Iraq, và sẽ vượt lên giành giật hòa bình vốn khó giữ tại Afghanistan. Cùng với bạn cũ thù xưa, chúng ta sẽ làm việc không ngừng nhằm giảm bớt đe dọa hạt nhân và đảo ngược tiến trình ấm nóng toàn cầu. Chúng ta sẽ không xin lỗi vì cách sống của chúng ta và không do dự khi bảo vệ lối sống này. Đối với những kẻ muốn đạt mục tiêu bằng cách khủng bố và giết người vô tội, thì các người hãy nghe đây: tinh thần của chúng ta mạnh hơn của các người, các người không thể bẻ gãy ý chí của chúng ta, các người không thể tồn tại lâu chúng ta, và chúng ta sẽ đánh bại các người.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

Chúng ta biết rằng di sản của chúng ta là sức mạnh chứ không phải là sự yếu đuối. Chúng ta là một quốc gia của người Thiên Chúa Giáo và người Hồi Giáo, người Do Thái giáo và người Ấn giáo, và của cả những người không tôn giáo. Chúng ta được hình thành bởi các ngôn ngữ và văn hóa hội về từ khắp nơi trên trái đất. Từng đã trải qua vị đắng của nội chiến và tệ phân biệt màu da, từng trỗi dậy từ thời kỳ đen tối đó để trở nên mạnh mẽ hơn, đoàn kết hơn, chúng ta tin rằng rồi sẽ đến ngày nỗi thù nghịch cũng qua đi, làn phân ranh giữa các bộ tộc sẽ không còn; khi thế giới này trở nên nhỏ bé hơn, lòng nhân hậu sẽ ngự trị và Hoa Kỳ sẽ đóng vai trò mở ra một kỷ nguyên mới, hoà bình.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

Đối với thế giới Hồi giáo, chúng ta tìm hướng đi tới mới, dựa trên lợi ích chung và sự tôn trọng lẫn nhau. Đối với các nhà lãnh đạo đang muốn gieo rắc xung đột hay đổ lỗi cho phương Tây gây ra những tệ nạn trong xã hội của họ - quý vị hãy hiểu rằng người dân sẽ đánh giá dựa trên những gì quý vị xây chứ không phải những gì quý vị phá. Đối với những người bám lấy quyền lực nhờ tham nhũng, dối trá và bịt miệng tiếng nói đối lập, hãy biết rằng quý vị đang đi ngược lịch sử, nhưng chúng tôi sẽ chìa tay ra nếu quý vị biết từ bỏ nắm đấm.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

Đối với các quốc gia nghèo khó, chúng tôi cam kết sẽ sánh vai cùng quý vị để giúp các trang trại xanh tươi, để dòng nước sạch được tuôn trào, để nuôi dưỡng những sinh linh đói khát. Và đối với những quốc gia được hưởng sự đầy đủ như chúng ta, chúng ta nói với họ rằng chúng ta không thể tiếp tục thờ ơ với những nỗi thống khổ phía bên ngoài biên giới, cũng không thể tiếp tục sử dụng tài nguyên thế giới mà không quan tâm gì tới những ảnh hưởng kéo theo. Thế giới đã thay đổi và chúng ta phải thay đổi theo.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

Khi chúng ta cân nhắc con đường phía trước, chúng ta tưởng nhớ với lòng biết ơn khiêm nhường trước những người Mỹ dũng cảm, vào chính lúc này đây, đang tuần tra các sa mạc, rặng núi xa xôi. Họ có cái để nói với chúng ta, giống như những anh hùng gục ngã tại Arlington đã thì thầm từ bao thời đại. Chúng ta vinh danh họ không chỉ vì họ là những người bảo vệ tự do của chúng ta, mà còn vì họ hiện thân cho tinh thần phục vụ; sẵn sàng tìm ý nghĩa trong những điều lớn hơn bản thân họ. Và chính trong khoảnh khắc này - một khoảnh khắc sẽ định hình cả một thế hệ, chính tinh thần này phải hiện hữu trong tất cả chúng ta.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Vì cho dù chính phủ có thể làm gì và phải làm gì, quốc gia này chung cuộc là nhờ vào niềm tin và quyết tâm của nhân dân Mỹ. Đó là sự tử tế đùm bọc người xa lạ khi những con đê bị vỡ, là sự vị tha của những công nhân thà làm bớt giờ chứ không để bạn mình mất việc, chính chúng sẽ đưa ta qua những giờ đen tối nhất. Chính là sự dũng cảm của nhân viên chữa cháy băng qua cầu thang đầy khói, chính là bậc cha mẹ sẵn lòng chăm sóc con, mà quyết định số phận của chúng ta.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

Các thách thức của chúng ta có thể là mới mẻ. Các công cụ mà chúng ta dùng để đối phó có thể là mới mẻ. Nhưng các giá trị đã dẫn đến thành công của chúng ta - sự trung thực và chăm chỉ, dũng cảm và công bằng, khoan dung và tò mò, trung thành và lòng yêu nước - những điều này là cũ. Những điều này là có thật. Chúng đã là lực đẩy âm thầm cho tiến bộ xuyên suốt lịch sử của chúng ta. Điều đang đòi hỏi chúng ta là quay về với những sự thật đó.

Điều đòi hỏi chúng ta lúc này đây là một kỷ nguyên mới của trách nhiệm, một sự thừa nhận của từng người Mỹ rằng chúng ta có nghĩa vụ với chính bản thân, quốc gia, và thế giới; những nghĩa vụ mà chúng ta không phải miễn cưỡng chấp nhận mà sẵn sàng nắm lấy, với hiểu biết chắc chắn rằng không có điều gì làm tinh thần thỏa mãn, phản ảnh tư cách của chúng ta cho bằng cống hiến trọn vẹn cho một sự nghiệp khó khăn.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

Đây là giá và sự hứa hẹn của quyền công dân.

Đây là nguồn gốc của niềm tự tin, sự hiểu biết rằng Thượng Đế trông cậy vào chúng ta để định hình một định mệnh chưa chắc chắn.

Đây là ý nghĩa của tự do và tôn giáo của chúng ta - là vì sao mọi người, nam, nữ, trẻ em thuộc mọi chủng tộc và tín ngưỡng có thể cùng nhau chào đón tại quảng trường quốc gia vĩ đại này và vì sao một người có cha cách đây gần 60 năm có thể không được phục vụ tại một nhà hàng địa phương mà nay đứng trước mặt quý vị để đọc lời thề thiêng liêng nhất.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

Vậy chúng ta hãy đánh dấu ngày này bằng cách nhớ lại chúng ta là ai và chúng ta đã đi xa thế nào.

Vào năm Hoa Kỳ ra đời, trong những tháng lạnh nhất, một nhóm nhỏ những người yêu nước chụm lại bên nhau bên cạnh đống lửa gần tàn trên bờ dòng sông băng giá. Thủ đô đã bị bỏ lại. Kẻ thù đang tiến tới. Tuyết loang lỗ vết máu. Vào thời điểm khi kết quả cuộc cách mạng rơi vào hồ nghi, vị cha già của quốc gia ra lệnh đọc cho mọi người những lời này:

"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive ... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."
America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

“Hãy nói cho thế giới tương lai... rằng trong mùa đông giá lạnh nhất, khi chỉ còn lại hy vọng và nghị lực... thì thành phố và đất nước, lo lắng trước mối nguy hiểm chung, đã tiến lên để đối đầu.”

Nước Mỹ ơi. Giữa những nguy hiểm chung, trong mùa đông gian khó của chúng ta, hãy nhớ những lời bất tử này. Với hy vọng và nghị lực, chúng ta hãy một lần nữa can đảm vượt qua dòng nước băng giá và chịu đựng bất cứ cơn bão nào sẽ đến. Hãy để con cháu chúng ta nhắc lại rằng khi chúng ta bị thử thách, chúng ta đã chối từ không để cuộc hành trình phải ngừng lại, rằng chúng ta không quay lui hay ngập ngừng, và với con mắt chăm chú nhìn vào chân trời và với ân phước của Thượng Đế ban cho, chúng ta mang theo món quà của tự do và chuyền lại bình an cho các thế hệ sau.

Cảm ơn quý vị. Thượng đế ban phước lành cho quý vị. Và Thượng đế ban phước lành cho nước Mỹ.

Pres. Obama's First State of the Union Address - Thông điệp Liên Bang đầu tiên của Tổng Thống Obama



Pres. Obama's First State of the Union Address - Thông điệp Liên Bang đầu tiên của Tổng Thống Obama


President Obama delivered his State of the Union address to Congress on Wednesday night. Here is a transcript of the speech.

Tổng Thống Obama đã đọc diễn văn trước Quốc Hội đêm thứ Tư. Sau đây là toàn văn của diễn từ

Madam Speaker, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans, our Constitution declares that from time to time the president shall give to Congress information about the state of our union. For 220 years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty. They've done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility, and they've done so in the midst of war and depression, at moments of great strife and great struggle.

It's tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitable, that America was always destined to succeed.

But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain.

These were the times that tested the courage of our convictions and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people.

Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer history's call.

One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by a severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt. Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression.

So we acted, immediately and aggressively. And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed.

But the devastation remains: One in 10 Americans still can't find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. And for those who'd already known poverty, life has become that much harder.

This recession has also compounded the burdens that America's families have been dealing with for decades, the burden of working harder and longer for less, of being unable to save enough to retire or help kids with college.

So I know the anxieties that are out there right now. They're not new. These struggles are the reason I ran for president. These struggles are what I've witnessed for years in places like Elkhart, Indiana, Galesburg, Illinois.

I hear about them in the letters that I read each night. The toughest to read are those written by children, asking why they have to move from their home, asking when their mom or dad will be able to go back to work.

For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fast enough. Some are frustrated; some are angry. They don't understand why it seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded, but hard work on Main Street isn't, or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems.

They're tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we can't afford it, not now.

So we face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope -- what they deserve -- is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences, to overcome the numbing weight of our politics, for while the people who sent us here have different backgrounds, different stories, different beliefs, the anxieties they face are the same, the aspirations they hold are shared: a job that pays the bills, a chance to get ahead, most of all, the ability to give their children a better life.

You know what else they share? They share a stubborn resilience in the face of adversity. After one of the most difficult years in our history, they remain busy building cars and teaching kids, starting businesses and going back to school. They're coaching Little League and helping their neighbors.

One woman wrote to me and said, "We are strained but hopeful, struggling but encouraged."

It's because of this spirit -- this great decency and great strength -- that I have never been more hopeful about America's future than I am tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

Despite -- despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit. We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit. In this new decade, it's time the American people get a government that matches their decency, that embodies their strength.

(APPLAUSE)

And tonight -- tonight, I'd like to talk about how together we can deliver on that promise.

It begins with our economy.

Our most urgent -- our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans -- and everybody in between -- it's that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it.

(APPLAUSE)

I hated it. I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal.

(LAUGHTER)

But when I ran for president, I promised I wouldn't just do what was popular, I would do what was necessary. And if we had allowed the meltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what it is today. More businesses would certainly have closed; more homes would have surely been lost.

So I supported the last administration's efforts to create the financial rescue program. And when we took that program over, we made it more transparent and more accountable. And as a result, the markets are now stabilized, and we've recovered most of the money we spent on the banks.

(APPLAUSE)

Most, but not all. To recover the rest, I've proposed a fee on the biggest banks. Now...

(APPLAUSE)

Now, I know Wall Street isn't keen on this idea, but if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, as we stabilized the financial system, we also took steps to get our economy growing again, save as many jobs as possible, and help Americans who'd become unemployed.

That's why we extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 18 million Americans, made health insurance 65 percent cheaper for families who get their coverage through COBRA, and passed 25 different tax cuts.

Now, let me repeat: We cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95 percent of working families. We cut taxes for small businesses.

(APPLAUSE)

We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college.

(APPLAUSE)

I thought I'd get some applause on that one.

(LAUGHTER)

As a result...

(APPLAUSE)

As a result, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas and food and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keep more workers. And we haven't raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person, not a single dime.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, because of the steps we took, there are about 2 million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed.

(APPLAUSE)

Two-hundred-thousand work in construction and clean energy. Three-hundred-thousand are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, first responders.

(APPLAUSE)

And we're on track to add another 1.5 million jobs to this total by the end of the year.

The plan that has made all of this possible, from the tax cuts to the jobs, is the Recovery Act.

(APPLAUSE)

(Page 4 of 18)

That's right, the Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus bill.

(APPLAUSE)

Economists on the left and the right say this bill has helped saved jobs and avert disaster, but you don't have to take their word for it.

Talk to the small business in Phoenix that will triple its workforce because of the Recovery Act.

Talk to the window manufacturer in Philadelphia who said he used to be skeptical about the Recovery Act, until he had to add two more work shifts just because of the business it created.

Talk to the single teacher raising two kids who was told by her principal in the last week of school that, because of the Recovery Act, she wouldn't be laid off after all.

There are stories like this all across America. And after two years of recession, the economy is growing again. Retirement funds have started to gain back some of their value. Businesses are beginning to invest again, and slowly, some are starting to hire again.

But I realize that, for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from, who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response.

That is why jobs must be our No. 1 focus in 2010, and that's why I'm calling for a new jobs bill tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, the true engine of job creation in this country will always be America's businesses...

(APPLAUSE)

... but government can create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand and hire more workers.

We should start where most new jobs do, in small businesses, companies that begin when...

(APPLAUSE)

... companies that begin when an entrepreneur -- when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream or a worker decides it's time she became her own boss.

Through sheer grit and determination, these companies have weathered the recession and are ready to grow. But when you talk to small-business owners in places like Allentown, Pennsylvania, or Elyria, Ohio, you find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again, they're mostly lending to bigger companies. Financing remains difficult for small-business owners across the country, even though they're making a profit.

So tonight, I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat.

(APPLAUSE)

(Page 5 of 18)

I'm also proposing a new small-business tax credit, one that will go to over 1 million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages.

(APPLAUSE)

While we're at it, let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small-business investment and provide a tax incentive for all large businesses and all small businesses to invest in new plants and equipment.

(APPLAUSE)

Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow.

(APPLAUSE)

From -- from the first railroads to the Interstate Highway System, our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains or the new factories that manufacture clean-energy products.

Tomorrow, I'll visit Tampa, Florida, where workers will soon break ground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act. There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help move our nation's goods, services and information.

(APPLAUSE)

We should put more Americans to work building clean-energy facilities and give...

(APPLAUSE)

... and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy efficient, which supports clean-energy jobs.

(APPLAUSE)

And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America.

Now, the House has passed a jobs bill that includes some of these steps.

(APPLAUSE)

As the first order of business this year, I urge the Senate to do the same, and I know they will. They will.

(APPLAUSE)

People are out of work. They're hurting. They need our help. And I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay.

(APPLAUSE)

But -- but the truth is, these steps won't make up for the 7 million jobs that we've lost over the last two years. The only way to move to full employment is to lay a new foundation for long- term economic growth and finally address the problems that America's families have confronted for years.

We can't afford another so-called economic "expansion" like the one from last decade, what some call the "lost decade," where jobs grew more slowly than during any prior expansion, where the income of the average American household declined while the cost of health care and tuition reached record highs, where prosperity was built on a housing bubble and financial speculation.

From the day I took office, I've been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious, such effort would be too contentious. I've been told that our political system is too gridlocked and that we should just put things on hold for a while.

For those who make these claims, I have one simple question: How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold? You see...

(APPLAUSE)

You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China's not waiting to revamp its economy; Germany's not waiting; India's not waiting.

These nations, they're not standing still. These nations aren't playing for second place. They're putting more emphasis on math and science. They're rebuilding their infrastructure. They're making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.

Well, I do not accept second place for the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may become, it's time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.

Now, one place to start is serious financial reform. Look, I'm not interested in punishing banks. I'm interested in protecting our economy. A strong, healthy financial market makes it possible for businesses to access credit and create new jobs. It channels the savings of families into investments that raise incomes. But that can only happen if we guard against the same recklessness that nearly brought down our entire economy.

We need to make sure consumers and middle-class families have the information they need to make financial decisions. We can't allow financial institutions, including those that take your deposits, to take risks that threaten the whole economy.

Now, the House has already passed financial reform with many of these changes. And -- and the lobbyists are trying to kill it. Well, we cannot let them win this fight. And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back until we get it right. We've got to get it right.

(APPLAUSE)

Next, we need to encourage American innovation. Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history, an investment -- an investment that could lead to the world's cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched.

And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last year's investments in clean energy in the North Carolina company that will create 1,200 jobs nationwide, helping to make advanced batteries, or in the California business that will put 1,000 people to work making solar panels.

But to create more of these clean-energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives, and that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.

(APPLAUSE)

It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean-coal technologies.

(APPLAUSE)

And, yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year.

(APPLAUSE)

And this year -- this year, I'm eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate.

I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy. I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.

But -- but here's the thing. Even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future, because the nation that leads the clean-energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy, and America must be that nation.

(APPLAUSE)

Third, we need to export more of our goods.

(APPLAUSE)

Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America. So...

(APPLAUSE)

So tonight, we set a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support 2 million jobs in America.

(APPLAUSE)

To help meet this goal, we're launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports and reform export controls consistent with national security.

We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores.

(APPLAUSE)

But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules.

(APPLAUSE)

(Page 8 of 18)

And that's why we'll continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea, and Panama, and Colombia.

(APPLAUSE)

Fourth, we need to invest in the skills and education of our people. Now, this year -- this year, we've broken through the stalemate between left and right by launching a national competition to improve our schools.

And the idea here is simple: Instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform, reform that raises student achievement, inspires students to excel in math and science, and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans, from rural communities to the inner city.

In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education.

(APPLAUSE)

And in this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than on their potential. When we renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we will work with Congress to expand these reforms to all 50 states.

Still, in this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job. That's why I urge the Senate to follow the House and pass a bill that will revitalize our community colleges, which are a career pathway to the children of so many working families.

(APPLAUSE)

To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans. Instead, let's take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell Grants.

(APPLAUSE)

And let's tell another 1 million students that, when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years, and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.

(APPLAUSE)

And, by the way, it's time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costs, because they, too, have a responsibility to help solve this problem.

Now, the price of college tuition is just one of the burdens facing the middle class. That's why last year I asked Vice President Biden to chair a task force on middle-class families.

(Page 9 of 18)

That's why we're nearly doubling the childcare tax credit and making it easier to save for retirement by giving access to every worker a retirement account and expanding the tax credit for those who start a nest egg. That's why we're working to lift the value of a family's single largest investment, their home.

The steps we took last year to shore up the housing market have allowed millions of Americans to take out new loans and save an average of $1,500 on mortgage payments. This year, we will step up refinancing so that homeowners can move into more affordable mortgages. And...

(APPLAUSE)

And it is precisely to relieve the burden on middle-class families that we still need health insurance reform.

(APPLAUSE)

We do.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, let's clear a few things up.

(LAUGHTER)

I didn't choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now, it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics.

(LAUGHTER)

I took on health care because of the stories I've heard, from Americans with pre-existing conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage, patients who've been denied coverage, families, even those with insurance, who are just one illness away from financial ruin.

After nearly a century of trying -- Democratic administrations, Republican administrations -- we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the lives of so many Americans.

The approach we've taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market.

It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care. And by the way, I want to acknowledge our first lady, Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make kids healthier.

Thank you, honey.

(APPLAUSE)

She gets embarrassed.

(LAUGHTER)

Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan. It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses.

And according to the Congressional Budget Office, the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress, our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.

(APPLAUSE)

(Page 10 of 18)

Still, this is a complex issue. And the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americans wondering, "What's in it for me?"

But I also know this problem is not going away. By the time I'm finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small-business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether.

I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber.

(APPLAUSE)

As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we've proposed. There's a reason why many doctors, nurses and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo.

But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know.

(APPLAUSE)

Let me know. Let me know.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm eager to see it.

Here's what I ask Congress, though: Don't walk away from reform, not now, not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. Let's get it done.

(APPLAUSE)

Let's get it done.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, even as health care reform would reduce our deficit, it's not enough to dig us out of a massive fiscal hole in which we find ourselves. It's a challenge that makes all others that much harder to solve and one that's been subject to a lot of political posturing.

So let me start the discussion of government spending by setting the record straight. At the beginning of the last decade, the year 2000, America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion.

By -- by the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program.

On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door.

(LAUGHTER)

Now...

(APPLAUSE)

(Page 11 of 18)

Now -- just stating the facts. Now, if we had taken office in ordinary times, I would have liked nothing more than to start bringing down the deficit. But we took office amid a crisis, and our efforts to prevent a second depression have added another $1 trillion to our national debt. That, too, is a fact.

I'm absolutely convinced that was the right thing to do, but families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same.

(APPLAUSE)

So tonight, I'm proposing specific steps to pay for the $1 trillion that it took to rescue the economy last year.

Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will not be affected, but all other discretionary government programs will.

Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don't. And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will.

(APPLAUSE)

We will continue to go through the budget line by line, page by page, to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work. We've already identified $20 billion in savings for next year.

To help working families, we'll extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, for investment fund managers, and for those making over $250,000 a year. We just can't afford it.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we'll still face the massive deficit we had when I took office. More importantly, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket.

That's why I've called for a bipartisan Fiscal Commission, modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad.

(APPLAUSE)

This can't be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem. The commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline.

Now, yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this commission. So I'll issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward, because I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans.

(APPLAUSE)

And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s.

(APPLAUSE)

(Page 12 of 18)

Now, I know that some in my own party will argue that we can't address the deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting. And I agree, which is why this freeze won't take effect until next year, when the economy is stronger. That's how budgeting works.

(LAUGHTER)

But understand -- understand, if we don't take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery, all of which would have an even worse effect on our job growth and family incomes.

From some on the right, I expect we'll hear a different argument, that if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cuts, including those for the wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, maintain the status quo on health care, our deficits will go away.

The problem is, that's what we did for eight years.

(APPLAUSE)

That's what helped us into this crisis. It's what helped lead to these deficits. We can't do it again.

Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it's time to try something new. Let's invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Let's meet our responsibility to the citizens who sent us here. Let's try common sense, a novel concept.

Now, to do that, we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trust, deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years.

To close that credibility gap, we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, to end the outsized influence of lobbyists, to do our work openly, to give our people the government they deserve.

(APPLAUSE)

That's what I came to Washington to do. That's why, for the first time in history, my administration posts our White House visitors online. That's why we've excluded lobbyists from policy-making jobs or seats on federal boards and commissions.

But we can't stop there. It's time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or with Congress. It's time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office.

With all due deference to separation of powers, 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.

(APPLAUSE)

(Page 13 of 18)

I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems.

I'm also calling on Congress to continue down the path of earmark reform, Democrats and Republicans.

(APPLAUSE)

Democrats and Republicans, you've trimmed some of this spending. You've embraced some meaningful change, but restoring the public trust demands more. For example, some members of Congress post some earmark requests online.

(APPLAUSE)

Tonight, I'm calling on Congress to publish all earmark requests on a single Web site before there's a vote so that the American people can see how their money is being spent.

(APPLAUSE)

Of course, none of these reforms will even happen if we don't also reform how we work with one another. Now, I'm not naive. I never thought that the mere fact of my election would usher in peace and harmony and some post-partisan era.

I knew that both parties have fed divisions that are deeply entrenched. And on some issues, there are simply philosophical differences that will always cause us to part ways. These disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security, they've been taking place for over 200 years. They're the very essence of our democracy.

But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. We can't wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about the other side, a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can.

The confirmation of...

(APPLAUSE)

I'm speaking of both parties now. The confirmation of well-qualified public servants shouldn't be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual senators.

(APPLAUSE)

Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, no matter how malicious, is just part of the game. But it's precisely such politics that has stopped either party from helping the American people. Worse yet -- worse yet, it's sowing further division among our citizens, further distrust in our government.

(Page 14 of 18)

So, no, I will not give up on trying to change the tone of our politics. I know it's an election year. And after last week, it's clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual. But we still need to govern.

To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades and the people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills.

(APPLAUSE)

And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, a supermajority, then the responsibility to govern is now yours, as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions.

(APPLAUSE)

So let's show the American people that we can do it together.

(APPLAUSE)

This week -- this week, I'll be addressing a meeting of the House Republicans. I'd like to begin monthly meetings with both Democratic and Republican leadership. I know you can't wait.

(LAUGHTER)

Now, throughout our history, no issue has united this country more than our security. Sadly, some of the unity we felt after 9/11 has dissipated. And we can argue all we want about who's to blame for this, but I'm not interested in re-litigating the past.

I know that all of us love this country. All of us are committed to its defense. So let's put aside the schoolyard taunts about who's tough. Let's reject the false choice between protecting our people and upholding our values. Let's leave behind the fear and division and do what it takes to defend our nation and forge a more hopeful future, for America and for the world.

(APPLAUSE)

That's the work we began last year. Since the day I took office, we renewed our focus on the terrorists who threaten our nation. We've made substantial investments in our homeland security and disrupted plots that threatened to take American lives.

We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack with better airline security and swifter action on our intelligence. We've prohibited torture and strengthened partnerships from the Pacific to South Asia to the Arabian Peninsula.

And in the last year, hundreds of Al Qaeda's fighters and affiliates, including many senior leaders, have been captured or killed, far more than in 2008.

And in Afghanistan, we're increasing our troops and training Afghan security forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011 and our troops can begin to come home.

(APPLAUSE)

(Page 15 of 18)

We will reward good governance, work to reduce corruption, and support the rights of all Afghans, men and women alike. We're joined by allies and partners who have increased their own commitment and who'll come together tomorrow in London to reaffirm our common purpose. There will be difficult days ahead, but I am absolutely confident we will succeed.

As we take the fight to Al Qaeda, we are responsibly leaving Iraq to its people. As a candidate, I promised that I would end this war, and that is what I am doing as president.

We will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this August.

(APPLAUSE)

We will support -- we will support the Iraqi government -- we will support the Iraqi government as they hold elections, and we will continue to partner with the Iraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity.

But make no mistake: This war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home.

(APPLAUSE)

Tonight, all of our men and women in uniform -- in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and around the world -- they have to know that we -- that they have our respect, our gratitude, our full support. And just as they must have the resources they need in war, we all have a responsibility to support them when they come home.

(APPLAUSE)

That's why we made the largest increase in investments for veterans in decades last year.

(APPLAUSE)

That's why we're building a 21st-century [Veterans Affairs]. And that's why Michelle has joined with Jill Biden to forge a national commitment to support military families.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, even as we prosecute two wars, we're also confronting perhaps the greatest danger to the American people, the threat of nuclear weapons. I've embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan through a strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons and seeks a world without them.

To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuring our deterrent, the United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades.

(APPLAUSE)

And at April's Nuclear Security Summit, we will bring 44 nations together here in Washington, D.C., behind a clear goal: securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists.

(APPLAUSE)

(Page 16 of 18)

Now, these diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of nuclear weapons. That's why North Korea now faces increased isolation and stronger sanctions, sanctions that are being vigorously enforced.

That's why the international community is more united and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran's leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: They, too, will face growing consequences. That is a promise.

(APPLAUSE)

That's the leadership we are providing: engagement that advances the common security and prosperity of all people. We're working through the G-20 to sustain a lasting global recovery. We're working with Muslim communities around the world to promote science and education and innovation.

We have gone from a bystander to a leader in the fight against climate change. We're helping developing countries to feed themselves and continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS.

And we are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to bioterrorism or an infectious disease, a plan that will counter threats at home and strengthen public health abroad.

As we have for over 60 years, America takes these actions because our destiny is connected to those beyond our shores. But we also do it because it is right.

That's why, as we meet here tonight, over 10,000 Americans are working with many nations to help the people of Haiti recover and rebuild.

(APPLAUSE)

That's why we stand with the girl who yearns to go to school in Afghanistan, why we support the human rights of the women marching through the streets of Iran, why we advocate for the young man denied a job by corruption in Guinea, for America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity, always.

(APPLAUSE)

Abroad, America's greatest source of strength has always been our ideals. The same is true at home. We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution, the notion that we're all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law, you should be protected by it, if you adhere to our common values, you should be treated no different than anyone else.

(Page 17 of 18)

We must continually renew this promise. My administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened...

(APPLAUSE)

We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate.

(APPLAUSE)

This year -- this year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do.

(APPLAUSE)

We're going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws, so that women get equal pay for an equal day's work.

(APPLAUSE)

And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system, to secure our borders, and enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nations.

(APPLAUSE)

In the end, it's our ideals, our values that built America, values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants from every corner of the globe, values that drive our citizens still.

Every day, Americans meet their responsibilities to their families and their employers. Time and again, they lend a hand to their neighbors and give back to their country. They take pride in their labor and are generous in spirit.

These aren't Republican values or Democratic values that they're living by, business values or labor values. They're American values.

Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions -- our corporations, our media, and, yes, our government -- still reflect these same values.

Each of these institutions are full of honorable men and women doing important work that helps our country prosper. But each time a CEO rewards himself for failure or a banker puts the rest of us at risk for his own selfish gain, people's doubts grow. Each time lobbyists game the system or politicians tear each other down instead of lifting this country up, we lose faith.

The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates to silly arguments, big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away.

No wonder there's so much cynicism out there. No wonder there's so much disappointment.

I campaigned on the promise of change, change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren't sure if they still believe we can change, or that I can deliver it.

(Page 18 of 18)

But remember this: I never suggested that change would be easy or that I could do it alone. Democracy in a nation of 300 million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That's just how it is.

Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths and pointing fingers. We can do what's necessary to keep our poll numbers high and get through the next election instead of doing what's best for the next generation.

But I also know this: If people had made that decision 50 years ago or 100 years ago or 200 years ago, we wouldn't be here tonight. The only reason we are here is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard, to do what was needed even when success was uncertain, to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and their grandchildren.

Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved. But I wake up every day knowing that they are nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across this country have faced this year.

And what keeps me going, what keeps me fighting, is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism, that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American people, that lives on.

It lives on in the struggling small-business owner who wrote to me of his company, "None of us," he said, "are willing to consider, even slightly, that we might fail."

It lives on in the woman who said that, even though she and her neighbors have felt the pain of recession, "We are strong, we are resilient, we are American."

It lives on in the 8-year-old boy in Louisiana who just sent me his allowance and asked if I would give it to the people of Haiti.

And it lives on in all the Americans who've dropped everything to go someplace they've never been and pull people they've never known from the rubble, prompting chants of "USA! USA! USA!" when another life was saved.

The spirit that has sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you, its people.

We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us.

We don't quit. I don't quit. Let's seize this moment, to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

Madam Speaker, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans, our Constitution declares that from time to time the president shall give to Congress information about the state of our union. For 220 years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty. They've done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility, and they've done so in the midst of war and depression, at moments of great strife and great struggle.

It's tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitable, that America was always destined to succeed.

But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain.

These were the times that tested the courage of our convictions and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people.

Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer history's call.

One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by a severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt. Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression.

So we acted, immediately and aggressively. And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed.

But the devastation remains: One in 10 Americans still can't find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. And for those who'd already known poverty, life has become that much harder.

This recession has also compounded the burdens that America's families have been dealing with for decades, the burden of working harder and longer for less, of being unable to save enough to retire or help kids with college.

So I know the anxieties that are out there right now. They're not new. These struggles are the reason I ran for president. These struggles are what I've witnessed for years in places like Elkhart, Indiana, Galesburg, Illinois.

I hear about them in the letters that I read each night. The toughest to read are those written by children, asking why they have to move from their home, asking when their mom or dad will be able to go back to work.

For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fast enough. Some are frustrated; some are angry. They don't understand why it seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded, but hard work on Main Street isn't, or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems.

They're tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we can't afford it, not now.

So we face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope -- what they deserve -- is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences, to overcome the numbing weight of our politics, for while the people who sent us here have different backgrounds, different stories, different beliefs, the anxieties they face are the same, the aspirations they hold are shared: a job that pays the bills, a chance to get ahead, most of all, the ability to give their children a better life.

You know what else they share? They share a stubborn resilience in the face of adversity. After one of the most difficult years in our history, they remain busy building cars and teaching kids, starting businesses and going back to school. They're coaching Little League and helping their neighbors.

One woman wrote to me and said, "We are strained but hopeful, struggling but encouraged."

It's because of this spirit -- this great decency and great strength -- that I have never been more hopeful about America's future than I am tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

Despite -- despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit. We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit. In this new decade, it's time the American people get a government that matches their decency, that embodies their strength.

(APPLAUSE)

And tonight -- tonight, I'd like to talk about how together we can deliver on that promise.

It begins with our economy.

Our most urgent -- our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans -- and everybody in between -- it's that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it.

(APPLAUSE)

I hated it. I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal.

(LAUGHTER)

But when I ran for president, I promised I wouldn't just do what was popular, I would do what was necessary. And if we had allowed the meltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what it is today. More businesses would certainly have closed; more homes would have surely been lost.

So I supported the last administration's efforts to create the financial rescue program. And when we took that program over, we made it more transparent and more accountable. And as a result, the markets are now stabilized, and we've recovered most of the money we spent on the banks.

(APPLAUSE)

Most, but not all. To recover the rest, I've proposed a fee on the biggest banks. Now...

(APPLAUSE)

Now, I know Wall Street isn't keen on this idea, but if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, as we stabilized the financial system, we also took steps to get our economy growing again, save as many jobs as possible, and help Americans who'd become unemployed.

That's why we extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 18 million Americans, made health insurance 65 percent cheaper for families who get their coverage through COBRA, and passed 25 different tax cuts.

Now, let me repeat: We cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95 percent of working families. We cut taxes for small businesses.

(APPLAUSE)

We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college.

(APPLAUSE)

I thought I'd get some applause on that one.

(LAUGHTER)

As a result...

(APPLAUSE)

As a result, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas and food and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keep more workers. And we haven't raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person, not a single dime.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, because of the steps we took, there are about 2 million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed.

(APPLAUSE)

Two-hundred-thousand work in construction and clean energy. Three-hundred-thousand are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, first responders.

(APPLAUSE)

And we're on track to add another 1.5 million jobs to this total by the end of the year.

The plan that has made all of this possible, from the tax cuts to the jobs, is the Recovery Act.

(APPLAUSE)

(Page 4 of 18)

That's right, the Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus bill.

(APPLAUSE)

Economists on the left and the right say this bill has helped saved jobs and avert disaster, but you don't have to take their word for it.

Talk to the small business in Phoenix that will triple its workforce because of the Recovery Act.

Talk to the window manufacturer in Philadelphia who said he used to be skeptical about the Recovery Act, until he had to add two more work shifts just because of the business it created.

Talk to the single teacher raising two kids who was told by her principal in the last week of school that, because of the Recovery Act, she wouldn't be laid off after all.

There are stories like this all across America. And after two years of recession, the economy is growing again. Retirement funds have started to gain back some of their value. Businesses are beginning to invest again, and slowly, some are starting to hire again.

But I realize that, for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from, who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response.

That is why jobs must be our No. 1 focus in 2010, and that's why I'm calling for a new jobs bill tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, the true engine of job creation in this country will always be America's businesses...

(APPLAUSE)

... but government can create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand and hire more workers.

We should start where most new jobs do, in small businesses, companies that begin when...

(APPLAUSE)

... companies that begin when an entrepreneur -- when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream or a worker decides it's time she became her own boss.

Through sheer grit and determination, these companies have weathered the recession and are ready to grow. But when you talk to small-business owners in places like Allentown, Pennsylvania, or Elyria, Ohio, you find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again, they're mostly lending to bigger companies. Financing remains difficult for small-business owners across the country, even though they're making a profit.

So tonight, I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat.

(APPLAUSE)

(Page 5 of 18)

I'm also proposing a new small-business tax credit, one that will go to over 1 million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages.

(APPLAUSE)

While we're at it, let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small-business investment and provide a tax incentive for all large businesses and all small businesses to invest in new plants and equipment.

(APPLAUSE)

Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow.

(APPLAUSE)

From -- from the first railroads to the Interstate Highway System, our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains or the new factories that manufacture clean-energy products.

Tomorrow, I'll visit Tampa, Florida, where workers will soon break ground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act. There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help move our nation's goods, services and information.

(APPLAUSE)

We should put more Americans to work building clean-energy facilities and give...

(APPLAUSE)

... and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy efficient, which supports clean-energy jobs.

(APPLAUSE)

And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America.

Now, the House has passed a jobs bill that includes some of these steps.

(APPLAUSE)

As the first order of business this year, I urge the Senate to do the same, and I know they will. They will.

(APPLAUSE)

People are out of work. They're hurting. They need our help. And I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay.

(APPLAUSE)

But -- but the truth is, these steps won't make up for the 7 million jobs that we've lost over the last two years. The only way to move to full employment is to lay a new foundation for long- term economic growth and finally address the problems that America's families have confronted for years.

We can't afford another so-called economic "expansion" like the one from last decade, what some call the "lost decade," where jobs grew more slowly than during any prior expansion, where the income of the average American household declined while the cost of health care and tuition reached record highs, where prosperity was built on a housing bubble and financial speculation.

From the day I took office, I've been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious, such effort would be too contentious. I've been told that our political system is too gridlocked and that we should just put things on hold for a while.

For those who make these claims, I have one simple question: How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold? You see...

(APPLAUSE)

You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China's not waiting to revamp its economy; Germany's not waiting; India's not waiting.

These nations, they're not standing still. These nations aren't playing for second place. They're putting more emphasis on math and science. They're rebuilding their infrastructure. They're making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.

Well, I do not accept second place for the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may become, it's time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.

Now, one place to start is serious financial reform. Look, I'm not interested in punishing banks. I'm interested in protecting our economy. A strong, healthy financial market makes it possible for businesses to access credit and create new jobs. It channels the savings of families into investments that raise incomes. But that can only happen if we guard against the same recklessness that nearly brought down our entire economy.

We need to make sure consumers and middle-class families have the information they need to make financial decisions. We can't allow financial institutions, including those that take your deposits, to take risks that threaten the whole economy.

Now, the House has already passed financial reform with many of these changes. And -- and the lobbyists are trying to kill it. Well, we cannot let them win this fight. And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back until we get it right. We've got to get it right.

(APPLAUSE)

Next, we need to encourage American innovation. Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history, an investment -- an investment that could lead to the world's cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched.

And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last year's investments in clean energy in the North Carolina company that will create 1,200 jobs nationwide, helping to make advanced batteries, or in the California business that will put 1,000 people to work making solar panels.

But to create more of these clean-energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives, and that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.

(APPLAUSE)

It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean-coal technologies.

(APPLAUSE)

And, yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year.

(APPLAUSE)

And this year -- this year, I'm eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate.

I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy. I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.

But -- but here's the thing. Even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future, because the nation that leads the clean-energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy, and America must be that nation.

(APPLAUSE)

Third, we need to export more of our goods.

(APPLAUSE)

Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America. So...

(APPLAUSE)

So tonight, we set a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support 2 million jobs in America.

(APPLAUSE)

To help meet this goal, we're launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports and reform export controls consistent with national security.

We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores.

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But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules.

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And that's why we'll continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea, and Panama, and Colombia.

(APPLAUSE)

Fourth, we need to invest in the skills and education of our people. Now, this year -- this year, we've broken through the stalemate between left and right by launching a national competition to improve our schools.

And the idea here is simple: Instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform, reform that raises student achievement, inspires students to excel in math and science, and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans, from rural communities to the inner city.

In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education.

(APPLAUSE)

And in this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than on their potential. When we renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we will work with Congress to expand these reforms to all 50 states.

Still, in this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job. That's why I urge the Senate to follow the House and pass a bill that will revitalize our community colleges, which are a career pathway to the children of so many working families.

(APPLAUSE)

To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans. Instead, let's take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell Grants.

(APPLAUSE)

And let's tell another 1 million students that, when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years, and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.

(APPLAUSE)

And, by the way, it's time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costs, because they, too, have a responsibility to help solve this problem.

Now, the price of college tuition is just one of the burdens facing the middle class. That's why last year I asked Vice President Biden to chair a task force on middle-class families.

(Page 9 of 18)

That's why we're nearly doubling the childcare tax credit and making it easier to save for retirement by giving access to every worker a retirement account and expanding the tax credit for those who start a nest egg. That's why we're working to lift the value of a family's single largest investment, their home.

The steps we took last year to shore up the housing market have allowed millions of Americans to take out new loans and save an average of $1,500 on mortgage payments. This year, we will step up refinancing so that homeowners can move into more affordable mortgages. And...

(APPLAUSE)

And it is precisely to relieve the burden on middle-class families that we still need health insurance reform.

(APPLAUSE)

We do.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, let's clear a few things up.

(LAUGHTER)

I didn't choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now, it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics.

(LAUGHTER)

I took on health care because of the stories I've heard, from Americans with pre-existing conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage, patients who've been denied coverage, families, even those with insurance, who are just one illness away from financial ruin.

After nearly a century of trying -- Democratic administrations, Republican administrations -- we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the lives of so many Americans.

The approach we've taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market.

It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care. And by the way, I want to acknowledge our first lady, Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make kids healthier.

Thank you, honey.

(APPLAUSE)

She gets embarrassed.

(LAUGHTER)

Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan. It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses.

And according to the Congressional Budget Office, the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress, our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.

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Still, this is a complex issue. And the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americans wondering, "What's in it for me?"

But I also know this problem is not going away. By the time I'm finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small-business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether.

I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber.

(APPLAUSE)

As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we've proposed. There's a reason why many doctors, nurses and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo.

But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know.

(APPLAUSE)

Let me know. Let me know.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm eager to see it.

Here's what I ask Congress, though: Don't walk away from reform, not now, not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. Let's get it done.

(APPLAUSE)

Let's get it done.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, even as health care reform would reduce our deficit, it's not enough to dig us out of a massive fiscal hole in which we find ourselves. It's a challenge that makes all others that much harder to solve and one that's been subject to a lot of political posturing.

So let me start the discussion of government spending by setting the record straight. At the beginning of the last decade, the year 2000, America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion.

By -- by the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program.

On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door.

(LAUGHTER)

Now...

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(Page 11 of 18)

Now -- just stating the facts. Now, if we had taken office in ordinary times, I would have liked nothing more than to start bringing down the deficit. But we took office amid a crisis, and our efforts to prevent a second depression have added another $1 trillion to our national debt. That, too, is a fact.

I'm absolutely convinced that was the right thing to do, but families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same.

(APPLAUSE)

So tonight, I'm proposing specific steps to pay for the $1 trillion that it took to rescue the economy last year.

Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will not be affected, but all other discretionary government programs will.

Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don't. And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will.

(APPLAUSE)

We will continue to go through the budget line by line, page by page, to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work. We've already identified $20 billion in savings for next year.

To help working families, we'll extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, for investment fund managers, and for those making over $250,000 a year. We just can't afford it.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we'll still face the massive deficit we had when I took office. More importantly, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket.

That's why I've called for a bipartisan Fiscal Commission, modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad.

(APPLAUSE)

This can't be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem. The commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline.

Now, yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this commission. So I'll issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward, because I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans.

(APPLAUSE)

And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s.

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Now, I know that some in my own party will argue that we can't address the deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting. And I agree, which is why this freeze won't take effect until next year, when the economy is stronger. That's how budgeting works.

(LAUGHTER)

But understand -- understand, if we don't take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery, all of which would have an even worse effect on our job growth and family incomes.

From some on the right, I expect we'll hear a different argument, that if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cuts, including those for the wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, maintain the status quo on health care, our deficits will go away.

The problem is, that's what we did for eight years.

(APPLAUSE)

That's what helped us into this crisis. It's what helped lead to these deficits. We can't do it again.

Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it's time to try something new. Let's invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Let's meet our responsibility to the citizens who sent us here. Let's try common sense, a novel concept.

Now, to do that, we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trust, deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years.

To close that credibility gap, we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, to end the outsized influence of lobbyists, to do our work openly, to give our people the government they deserve.

(APPLAUSE)

That's what I came to Washington to do. That's why, for the first time in history, my administration posts our White House visitors online. That's why we've excluded lobbyists from policy-making jobs or seats on federal boards and commissions.

But we can't stop there. It's time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or with Congress. It's time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office.

With all due deference to separation of powers, 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.

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I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems.

I'm also calling on Congress to continue down the path of earmark reform, Democrats and Republicans.

(APPLAUSE)

Democrats and Republicans, you've trimmed some of this spending. You've embraced some meaningful change, but restoring the public trust demands more. For example, some members of Congress post some earmark requests online.

(APPLAUSE)

Tonight, I'm calling on Congress to publish all earmark requests on a single Web site before there's a vote so that the American people can see how their money is being spent.

(APPLAUSE)

Of course, none of these reforms will even happen if we don't also reform how we work with one another. Now, I'm not naive. I never thought that the mere fact of my election would usher in peace and harmony and some post-partisan era.

I knew that both parties have fed divisions that are deeply entrenched. And on some issues, there are simply philosophical differences that will always cause us to part ways. These disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security, they've been taking place for over 200 years. They're the very essence of our democracy.

But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. We can't wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about the other side, a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can.

The confirmation of...

(APPLAUSE)

I'm speaking of both parties now. The confirmation of well-qualified public servants shouldn't be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual senators.

(APPLAUSE)

Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, no matter how malicious, is just part of the game. But it's precisely such politics that has stopped either party from helping the American people. Worse yet -- worse yet, it's sowing further division among our citizens, further distrust in our government.

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So, no, I will not give up on trying to change the tone of our politics. I know it's an election year. And after last week, it's clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual. But we still need to govern.

To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades and the people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills.

(APPLAUSE)

And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, a supermajority, then the responsibility to govern is now yours, as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions.

(APPLAUSE)

So let's show the American people that we can do it together.

(APPLAUSE)

This week -- this week, I'll be addressing a meeting of the House Republicans. I'd like to begin monthly meetings with both Democratic and Republican leadership. I know you can't wait.

(LAUGHTER)

Now, throughout our history, no issue has united this country more than our security. Sadly, some of the unity we felt after 9/11 has dissipated. And we can argue all we want about who's to blame for this, but I'm not interested in re-litigating the past.

I know that all of us love this country. All of us are committed to its defense. So let's put aside the schoolyard taunts about who's tough. Let's reject the false choice between protecting our people and upholding our values. Let's leave behind the fear and division and do what it takes to defend our nation and forge a more hopeful future, for America and for the world.

(APPLAUSE)

That's the work we began last year. Since the day I took office, we renewed our focus on the terrorists who threaten our nation. We've made substantial investments in our homeland security and disrupted plots that threatened to take American lives.

We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack with better airline security and swifter action on our intelligence. We've prohibited torture and strengthened partnerships from the Pacific to South Asia to the Arabian Peninsula.

And in the last year, hundreds of Al Qaeda's fighters and affiliates, including many senior leaders, have been captured or killed, far more than in 2008.

And in Afghanistan, we're increasing our troops and training Afghan security forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011 and our troops can begin to come home.

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We will reward good governance, work to reduce corruption, and support the rights of all Afghans, men and women alike. We're joined by allies and partners who have increased their own commitment and who'll come together tomorrow in London to reaffirm our common purpose. There will be difficult days ahead, but I am absolutely confident we will succeed.

As we take the fight to Al Qaeda, we are responsibly leaving Iraq to its people. As a candidate, I promised that I would end this war, and that is what I am doing as president.

We will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this August.

(APPLAUSE)

We will support -- we will support the Iraqi government -- we will support the Iraqi government as they hold elections, and we will continue to partner with the Iraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity.

But make no mistake: This war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home.

(APPLAUSE)

Tonight, all of our men and women in uniform -- in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and around the world -- they have to know that we -- that they have our respect, our gratitude, our full support. And just as they must have the resources they need in war, we all have a responsibility to support them when they come home.

(APPLAUSE)

That's why we made the largest increase in investments for veterans in decades last year.

(APPLAUSE)

That's why we're building a 21st-century [Veterans Affairs]. And that's why Michelle has joined with Jill Biden to forge a national commitment to support military families.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, even as we prosecute two wars, we're also confronting perhaps the greatest danger to the American people, the threat of nuclear weapons. I've embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan through a strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons and seeks a world without them.

To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuring our deterrent, the United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades.

(APPLAUSE)

And at April's Nuclear Security Summit, we will bring 44 nations together here in Washington, D.C., behind a clear goal: securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists.

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Now, these diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of nuclear weapons. That's why North Korea now faces increased isolation and stronger sanctions, sanctions that are being vigorously enforced.

That's why the international community is more united and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran's leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: They, too, will face growing consequences. That is a promise.

(APPLAUSE)

That's the leadership we are providing: engagement that advances the common security and prosperity of all people. We're working through the G-20 to sustain a lasting global recovery. We're working with Muslim communities around the world to promote science and education and innovation.

We have gone from a bystander to a leader in the fight against climate change. We're helping developing countries to feed themselves and continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS.

And we are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to bioterrorism or an infectious disease, a plan that will counter threats at home and strengthen public health abroad.

As we have for over 60 years, America takes these actions because our destiny is connected to those beyond our shores. But we also do it because it is right.

That's why, as we meet here tonight, over 10,000 Americans are working with many nations to help the people of Haiti recover and rebuild.

(APPLAUSE)

That's why we stand with the girl who yearns to go to school in Afghanistan, why we support the human rights of the women marching through the streets of Iran, why we advocate for the young man denied a job by corruption in Guinea, for America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity, always.

(APPLAUSE)

Abroad, America's greatest source of strength has always been our ideals. The same is true at home. We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution, the notion that we're all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law, you should be protected by it, if you adhere to our common values, you should be treated no different than anyone else.

(Page 17 of 18)

We must continually renew this promise. My administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened...

(APPLAUSE)

We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate.

(APPLAUSE)

This year -- this year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do.

(APPLAUSE)

We're going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws, so that women get equal pay for an equal day's work.

(APPLAUSE)

And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system, to secure our borders, and enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nations.

(APPLAUSE)

In the end, it's our ideals, our values that built America, values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants from every corner of the globe, values that drive our citizens still.

Every day, Americans meet their responsibilities to their families and their employers. Time and again, they lend a hand to their neighbors and give back to their country. They take pride in their labor and are generous in spirit.

These aren't Republican values or Democratic values that they're living by, business values or labor values. They're American values.

Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions -- our corporations, our media, and, yes, our government -- still reflect these same values.

Each of these institutions are full of honorable men and women doing important work that helps our country prosper. But each time a CEO rewards himself for failure or a banker puts the rest of us at risk for his own selfish gain, people's doubts grow. Each time lobbyists game the system or politicians tear each other down instead of lifting this country up, we lose faith.

The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates to silly arguments, big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away.

No wonder there's so much cynicism out there. No wonder there's so much disappointment.

I campaigned on the promise of change, change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren't sure if they still believe we can change, or that I can deliver it.

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But remember this: I never suggested that change would be easy or that I could do it alone. Democracy in a nation of 300 million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That's just how it is.

Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths and pointing fingers. We can do what's necessary to keep our poll numbers high and get through the next election instead of doing what's best for the next generation.

But I also know this: If people had made that decision 50 years ago or 100 years ago or 200 years ago, we wouldn't be here tonight. The only reason we are here is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard, to do what was needed even when success was uncertain, to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and their grandchildren.

Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved. But I wake up every day knowing that they are nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across this country have faced this year.

And what keeps me going, what keeps me fighting, is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism, that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American people, that lives on.

It lives on in the struggling small-business owner who wrote to me of his company, "None of us," he said, "are willing to consider, even slightly, that we might fail."

It lives on in the woman who said that, even though she and her neighbors have felt the pain of recession, "We are strong, we are resilient, we are American."

It lives on in the 8-year-old boy in Louisiana who just sent me his allowance and asked if I would give it to the people of Haiti.

And it lives on in all the Americans who've dropped everything to go someplace they've never been and pull people they've never known from the rubble, prompting chants of "USA! USA! USA!" when another life was saved.

The spirit that has sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you, its people.

We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us.

We don't quit. I don't quit. Let's seize this moment, to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.