President Barack Obama laid out a vision for strengthening the U.S. economy on Tuesday in an election-year State of the Union address focusing on tax inequality and making the case for his economic leadership.
Here are some key quotes from the speech:
Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million (640,000 pounds) a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. And my Republican friend Tom Coburn is right: Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. In fact, if you're earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn't get special tax subsidies or deductions. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn't go up.
While government can't fix the problem on its own, responsible homeowners shouldn't have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief. That's why I'm sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low interest rates. No more red tape. No more runaround from the banks. A small fee on the largest financial institutions will ensure that it won't add to the deficit, and will give banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust.
Clean energy development
There's no reason why Congress shouldn't at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. So far, you haven't acted. Well tonight, I will. I'm directing my administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes.
We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let's at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.
Insider trading rules
Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow. Let's limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact. Let's make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can't lobby Congress, and vice versa - an idea that has bipartisan support, at least outside of Washington.
Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.
At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. Extend the tuition tax credit we started that saves middle-class families thousands of dollars. And give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years.
We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules.
The state of our union is getting stronger. And we've come too far to turn back now. As long as I'm president, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.
Auto industry turnaround
We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back.
We have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back. But we have to seize it. Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.
We should start with our tax code. Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and everyone knows it. So let's change it.
No American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here.
(Reporting By JoAnne Allen in Washington; Editing by Eric Beech)