State of the Union Highlights and Responses

English: President Barack Obama speaks to a jo...

English: President Barack Obama speaks to a joint session of Congress regarding his jobs plan, the American Jobs Act (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night, President Obama and Florida Senator Marco Rubio offered their respective visions for the country.  As expected, both speeches largely focused on the economy, deficit reduction and efforts to revive the middle class.

In his fourth State of the Union address, President Obama made the case for growing the economy from the middle out.

Debt/Deficit

  • “Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion – mostly through spending cuts, but also by raising tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. As a result, we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances.”

Economy/Jobs

  • “A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs – that must be the North Star that guides our efforts.  Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do those jobs?  And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?”

Energy

  • “The natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. That’s why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits. But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and water."

Immigration

  • “Real reform means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods, reduce bureaucracy, and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy.”

Spending/Taxes

  • “The American people deserve a tax code that helps small businesses spend less time filling out complicated forms, and more time expanding and hiring; a tax code that ensures billionaires with high-powered accountants can’t pay a lower rate than their hard-working secretaries; a tax code that lowers incentives to move jobs overseas, and lowers tax rates for businesses and manufacturers that create jobs right here in America.”

In the Republican response, Senator Rubio, widely considered to be among the front runners for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination, offered a contrasting view of the role government plays in reviving the American economy.

Debt/Deficit

  • “The real cause of our debt is that our government has been spending 1 trillion dollars more than it takes in every year. That’s why we need a balanced budget amendment.”

Economy/Jobs

  •  “A 21st century workforce should not be forced to accept 20th century education solutions. Today’s students aren’t only 18 year olds. They’re returning veterans. They’re single parents who decide to get the education they need to earn a decent wage. And they’re workers who have lost jobs that are never coming back and need to be retrained.

Energy

  • “And let’s reform our energy regulations so that they’re reasonable and based on common sense. If we can grow our energy industry, it will make us energy independent, it will create middle class jobs and it will help bring manufacturing back from places like China."

Immigration

  • “We can also help our economy grow if we have a legal immigration system that allows us to attract and assimilate the world’s best and brightest. We need a responsible, permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally.”

Spending/Taxes

  • “Simplifying our tax code will also help the middle class, because it will make it easier for small businesses to hire and grow.”