tv PBS News Hour PBS January 20, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: welcome to this pbs special coverage of the president's annual state of the union address. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. it's president obama's sixth such speech. but tonight there is one big difference-- for the first time since his 2008 election, he will address a joint session of congress where the republicans hold a majority of seats in both chambers. >> ifill: iowa's freshman senator joni ernst will deliver the republican response to the president, which we will also carry in its entirety. >> woodruff: here with us now, as they will be all evening, is our own team of shields and brooks. syndicated columnist mark
shields and "new york times" columnist david brooks. so, gentlemen, as we wait for the president to come into the house chamber, what are you expecting tonight, mark? >> i'm expecting high drama great theater. (laughter) >> why are we laughing? i expect pride and the question will be how enthusiastic the democrats are and how much the president offers an olive branch across the aisle. >> ifill: david the white house has been signaling what they will be talking about the words middle class have been coming up. >> yeah, those people get too much attention. it's very much we get you. so they want to talk about community colleges, tax increases for the rich to pay for the stuff, they want to show we understand, we're with you and you can trust us. so they're going heavy on the middle class and picking a lot of issues, more to frame debates
than past legislation. >> woodruff: they have been trickling out, mark, what the president will talk about. we know he'll talk about taxes and some of the things david just mentioned. >> there was a time we all waited till noon the day of the inteemp we knew anything but they have been letting it out piece by piece, section by section, and i think it's an acknowledgment of the media world in which we live to try to get it as many places as we can. >> woodruff: as we look at the floor of the house where everybody is gathering waiting for first lady, michelle obama, and second lady jill biden. is it important the president speak to foreign policy in a speech like this? >> i think so. upper most in their mind is i.s.i.s., and they feel things in syria are falling out of their tbrips that the islamic state has strengthened their tbrip, progress has been made in
different parts of iraq, but they're reasonably committed to the u.s. presence in iraq and i'm struck as they talked today about what they wanted. they want congress to give authorization, but they're pretty aggressive in saying the u.s. has a reasonably strong role there. i think that position has evolved over the months. >> woodruff: it comes at a time when the white house is also trying to celebrate the successes in the economy, the fact the jobless rate has improved. >> absolutely, jobless rate is down, dependence on foreign oil down, american prosperity up the economy growing. but i think david's point is a valid one judy. there is a growing concern in the country about terrorism more deeply than it's been felt in quite a while obviously because of the reality of events and, for the first time, we're seeing it move from single digits in the polls up to a fifth of americans expressing
their prime concern is a matter of safety, as they see it. so i think -- there was going to be a debate about the question of authorization of force. i don't think there is by any means a consensus on authorizing force, just exactly what the objective is. >> ifill: i'm sorry mark. we're looking at the floor of the house, including a lot of members of the president's cabinet, six members of the supreme court are in the hall tonight as well as, of course, for the first time since the president has been in office, a mostly republican member components of congress. david, one of the things we've heard as the president's polls have rebounded is 6 in 10 americans think we're headed in the wrong direction. >> it's interesting how the economy is now objectively in good shape. it's growing at quite a strong rate and the unemployment is down, wages are beginning to pick up compared to the rest of the world, the economy is really impressive, yet that wrong track
is till high and it points to the structure of the economy, a new era where the wealth is not shared and the speech, more than any state of the union address, on that issue why productivity goes up, the wages do not go up and what can the government do about it, and we'll see a lot of little policies but they're organized around that. >> woodruff: the gloominess about the direction of the country mark, seems now to be embedded in the way we think about politics in this country. can any president overcome that? >> well, we're now into a dozen years of wrong direction, so it is almost set, if not in concrete, at least in wood. there is an increasing optimism that the sense of america declined is at the lowest point it's been 20 years. so that's an encouraging sign.
still, the income inequality. >> ifill: sorry. we now have the sergeant at arms introducing the president of the united states. (applause) >> ifill: you can nairnt -- you can finish the thawrkts mark. >> i think barack obama has never been the populous -- >> ifill: you mean the fact he's walking down the aisle and shaking hands and hugging both republicans and democrats? >> no, i think it's the policy he's talking about tonight, if-- >> ifill: the people on the aisles are not necessarily representatives of members of congress, it's place holders earlier in the day, so they're
more than likely fans of the president that greets him as he walks in. today mr. mcconnell called this speech his final act. is there that much riding on this? >> no, it's not his final act. there's a lot happening in the world, whether putin, executive orders, whether syria it may be the beginning of the final act. certainly domestically, i think his administration has cohered and have cohered both on policies we talked about and income inequality. the conversations today with people in the white house, they take it a as a matter of course that we're going to hit the republicans where all we've got. we're going to take the issues where we have a 70% approval and they have a 30% approval and we'll hit them. you could have picked policies where they had agreement but i think the culture of washington is let's find the policies where we have the advantage, that's where the mind gravitates to,
and it's almost like an assumption. you don't even think of going to the policies where you find common ground just because the habits of confrontation are so built in. >> woodruff: but it's coming from the both sides as the question suggested. when you have the majority leader of the senate saying this is the president's final act and he still has two years in office, the republicans are wishing it would be the final act. >> they are obviously, but the president's acknowledged it in the fourth quarter, and i think that we look at the president's record for the democratic party since he's been in power and we've seen the democrats lose 69 seats in the house of representatives, we're in a position where the position's only hope of restoring the democratic party is to restore himself because george bush lost
the republican majority. people now don't separate their votes between president and members of congress. i mean, the number of members of congress in districts that barack obama carried that are republicans are now down in single digits. there was a time when there would be moderate republicans democrat president carried conservatives -- people now vote consistently by party. so barack obama's resurging popularity is with democrats. they're sailing on his ship at this point. >> ifill: final thought, david. >> well, you know, it will be curious to see how much rank there is, especially in the initial reaction on both sides. >> woodruff: the president shaking final hands as mrs. obama and the multiplicity of guests in the balcony look
on. i think we can now say the president of the united states. (cheers and applause) >> thank you. thank you. (gavel pounding) >> members of congress, i have the privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the president of the united states. (cheers and applause) >> thank you so much! thank you. thank you so much. mr. speaker, mr. vice president.
members of congress, my fellow americans: we are fifteen years into this new century. fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. it has been and still is a hard time for many. but tonight we turn the page. tonight after a break through year for america our economy is
growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. (applause) our unemployment rate is now lower than before the financial crisis. more of our kids are graduating than ever before. more of our people are insured before ever before. (applause) we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we've been in almost 30 years. (applause) tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission
in afghanistan is over. (applause) six years ago, nearly 180,000 american troops served in iraq and afghanistan. today, fewer than 15,000 remain. and we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 generation who have served to keep us safe! we are humbled and grateful for your service! (applause) america, for all that we've
endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back, for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this: the shadow of crisis has passed and the state of the union is strong. (applause) at this moment - with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production - we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on earth. it's now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come. will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well?
or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort? (applause) will we approach the world fearful and reactive, dragged into costly conflicts that strain our military and set back our standing? or will we lead wisely using all elements of our power to defeat new threats and protect our planet? will we allow ourselves to be sorted into factions and turn against one another or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled america forward? in two weeks i will send this congress a budget filled with ideas that are practical not partisan and in the months ahead i'll criss-cross the country making a case for those ideas. so tonight i want to focus less
on a checklist of proposals and focus more on the values at stake and the choices before us. it begins with our economy. seven years ago rebekah and ben erler of minneapolis were newlyweds. (laughter) she waited tables. he worked construction. their first child, jack, was on the way. they were young and in love in america, and it doesn't get much better than that. "if only we had known," rebekah wrote to me last spring "what was about to happen in the housing and construction market.
the crisis worsened, ben's business dried up so he took what jobs he could even if they kept him on the road for long stretches of time. rebekah took out student loans, enrolled in community college and retrained for a new career. they sacrificed for each other and slowly it paid off. they bought their second home had a second son henry, rebekah got a better job, then a raise. ben's back in construction and home for dinner every night. it is amazing, rebecca wroteg what you can bounce back from when you have to. we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very very hard times. we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times. america rebekah and ben's story is our story.
they represent the millions who have worked hard scrimped sacrificed and retooled. you are the reason that i ran for this office. you are the people i was thinking of six years ago today in the darkest months of the crisis when i stood on the steps of this capitol and promised we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation. and it has been your resilience your effort that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger. we believed we could we verse the tide of outsourcing and draw new businesses to our shores and in the past five years our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs. (applause)
we believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. and today, america is number one in oil and gas. america is number one in wind power. riff three weeks we bring on line as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. (applause) and thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save about $750 at the pump. (applause) we believed we could prepare our kids for a more competitive world, and today our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record. our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high. more americans finished college than ever before. (applause)
we believed that sensible regulations could prevent another crisis, shield families from ruin and encourage fair competition. today we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices. in the past year alone, about 10 million uninsured americans finally gained the security of health coverage. (applause) at every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious, that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. instead, we've seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by
two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled and healthcare inflation alt its lowest rate in 50 years. (applause) this is good news, people. (laughter) (applause) so the verdict is clear middle-class economics works expanding opportunity works, and these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don't get in the way. we can't slow down businesses or put our economy at risk with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns. we can't put the security of families at risk by taking away
their health insurance or unraveling the new rules on wall street or refighting past battles on immigration when we've got to fix a broken system. and if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things i will veto it. it will will have earned my veto. (applause) today, thanks to a growing economy the recovery is touching more and more lives. wages are finally starting to rise again. we know small business owners, more are raising employees' pay than in any time since 2007. but here's the thing, those of us here tonight, we need to set our sights higher than just making sure government doesn't screw things up that government doesn'tle halt the progress
we're making. we kneed to do more than just do no harm. tonight together, let's do more to restore the link between hard work and growing opportunity for every american. (applause) because families like rebekah's still need our help. she and ben are working as hard as ever, but they've had to forgo vacations and a new car so they can pay off student loans and save for retirement. friday night pisa, that's a big splurge. basic childcare for jack and henry costs more than their mortgage and almost as much as a year at the university of
minnesota. like millions of hard-working americans, rebekah isn't asking for a handout but she is asking we look for more ways to help families get ahead. in fact at every moment of economic change throughout our history, this country has taken bold action to adapt to new circumstances and to make sure everyone gets a fair shot. we set up worker protections, social security, medicare, medicaid to protect ourselves from the hashest adversity. we gave our citizens schools, colleges, infrastructure and the internet, tools they needed to go as far as their efforts and their dreams will take them. that's what middle class economics is. the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot. everyone does their fair share. everyone plays bay by the same set
of rules. (applause) we don't just want everyone to share in america's success, we want everyone to contribute to our success. (applause) so what does middle class require in our time? first, middle class means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change, helping folks afford childcare college, healthcare a home, retirement, and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year. (applause) here's one example. during world war ii when men
like my grandfather went out to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was a national security priority. so this country provided universal childcare. in today's economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable high-quality childcare more than ever. (applause) it's not a nice-to-have. it's' a must-have. so it's time we stop treating childcare as a side issue or as a women's issue and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. (applause)
that's why my plan will make quality childcare more available and affordable for every middle class and low-income family with children in america by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child per year. (applause) here's another example. today, we are the only advanced country on earth that doesn't guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. 43 million workers have no paid sick leave. 43 million. think about that. and that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between app paycheck and a sick kid at home. so i will be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own, and let's put
paid sick leave to a vote in washington. send me a bill that gives every worker in america the. opportunity to earn seven days. of paid sick leave. it's the right thing to do. (applause) of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. that's why this congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. (applause) it's 2015. it's time. we still need to make sure employees get the overtime they've earned. (applause)
and to everyone in this congress who still refuses to raise the minimum-wage, i say if you truly believe you can work full time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, try it. if not vote to give millions of the hardest working people in america a raise! (cheers and applause) these ideas won't make everybody rich, or relieve every hardship because that's not the job of government. to give working families a fair shot we still need more employers to see beyond next quart's earnings and recognizing investing in the workforce is in their company's long-term interest. we still need laws that strengthen rather than weaken
unions and give american workers a voice. (applause) but, you know -- (applause) -- things like childcare and sick leave and equal pay, things like lower mortgage premiums and higher minimum-wage, these ideas will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of families. that's a fact. and that's what all of us, republicans and democrats alike were sent here to do. second, to make sure folks keep earning higher wages down the road, we have to do more to help americans upgrade their skills. applause(applause) america thrived in the 20th 20th century because we made high school free, saint
generation of g.i.s to college, trained the best workforce in the world. we were ahead of the curve. but other countries caught on and in a 21st century economy that rewards knowledge like never before we need to up our game. we need to do more. by the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education. two in three. yet we still live in a country where too many bright striving americans are priced out of the education they need. it's not fair to them, and it's sure not smart for our future. that's why i'm sending this congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college. to zero. (applause)
keep in mind, 40% of our college students choose community college. some are young and starting out. some are older and looking for a better job. some are veterans and single parents trying to transition back into the job market. whoever you are this plan is your chance to graduate ready for the new economy without a load of debt. understand you have to earn it. you've got to keep your grades up and graduate on time. tennessee, a state with republican leadership and chicago a city with democratic leadership are showing that free community college is possible. i want to spread that idea all across america, that two years of college becomes as free and universal in america as high school is today. (applause) let's stay ahead of the curve.
(applause) and i want to work with this congress to make sure those already burdened with student loans can reduce monthly payments so student debt doesn't derail anyone's dreams. (applause) thanks to vice president biden's great work to upgrade our job strange system we're connecting community college with local employers to fill high paying jobs like coding and nursing and robotics. i'm asking more companies to follow the lead of companies companies like cvs and ups, and. offer more educational benefits. and paid apprenticeships - opportunities that give workers. the chance to earn higher-paying. jobs even if they don't have a. higher education. and as a new generation of.
veterans comes home, we owe them every opportunity to live the american dream they helped. already we've made trades towards ensuring that every veteran has the access to the highest quality care. we're slashing the backlog that had too many veterans waiting. years to get the benefits they. need, and we're making it easier. for vets to translate their. training and experience into. civilian jobs. joining forces, the national. campaign launched by michelle. and jill biden, has helped. nearly 700,000 veterans and. military spouses get new jobs. (applause) so to every c.e.o. in america, let me repeat, if you want somebody who's going to get the job done and done right, hire a veteran. (applause)
finally, as we better train our workers, we need the new economy to keep churning out high-wage jobs for our workers to fill. since 2010, america has put more people back to work than europe japan, and all advanced economies combined. (applause) our manufacturers have added almost 800,000 new jobs. some of our bedrock sectors like our auto industry, are booming. but twhrr also millions of americans working jobs that didn't even exist 10 or twenty years ago, like google, ebay tesla. so no one knows for certain which industries will generate the jobs of the future, but we do know we want them here in america. (applause) we know that.
that's why the third part of middle-class economics is about building the most competitive economy anywhere, the place where businesses want to locate and hire. 21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure, modern ports and stronger bridges faster trains and the fastest internet. democrats and republicans used to agree on this. so let's set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline. let's pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year and make this country stronger for decades to come (applause) let's do it!
let's get it done. (applause) 21st century businesses including small businesses need to sell more american products overseas. today, our businesses export more than ever and exporters tend to pay workers higher wages. but as we speak, china wants to write the rules for the world's fastest growing region. that would put our workers and our businesses at a disadvantage. why would we let that happen? we should write those rules. we should level the playing field. that's why i'm asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect american workers with strong new trade deals from asia to europe that aren't just free but fair. that's the right thing to do. (applause)
look, i'm the first one to admit that past trade deals haven't always lived up to the hype, and that's why we've gone after countries that break the rules at our expense. but 95% of the world's customers live outside our borders. we can't close ourselves off from those opportunities. more than half the manufacturing executives have said they're actively looking to bring jobs back from china, so let's give them one more reason to get it done. 21st century businesses will rely on american science technology, research and development. i want the country to eliminated polio to lead a new era of medicine, one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. (applause)
in some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable. so tonight i'm launching a new precision medicine initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier. we can do this. (applause) i intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the geeks generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs will have the platform to keep shaping our world. i want america to win the race for the kind of discoveries that
unleash new jobs. sunlight into liquid fuel. creating prosthetics so the veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kids again. (applause) pushing out into the solar system not just to visit but to statement last month we launched a new spacecraft as part of a new reenergized space program that will send american astronauts to mars and in two months to prepare us for those missions scott kelly will begin a year-long stay in space. so good luck captain! make sure to instagram it! (applause) we're proud of you! (applause)
now, the truth is, when it comes to issues like infrastructure and basic research, i know there's bipartisan support in this chamber. members of both parties have told me so. where we too often run onto the rocks is how to pay for these investments. as americans, we don't mind paying our fair share of taxes as long as everybody else does too. but for far too long lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that some corporation pace nothing while others pay full fright. they've riddled it with gaveaways the super rich don't need while denying a break to middle class families who do. this year we have an opportunity to change that. let's close loopholes so we stop rewarding companies who keep profits abroad and reward those who invest here in america. (applause)
let's use those savings to rebuild our infrastructure and make it more attractive for companies to bring jobs home. let's simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual bank statement instead of the number of accountants she can afford. (applause) and let's close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top 1% to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth. we can use that money to help more families pay for childcare and send their kids to college. we need a tax code that truly helps working americans trying to get a leg up in the new economy and we can achieve that together. (applause) helping hard-working families
make ends meet. giving them the cools they need for good-paying jobs in this new economy. maintaining the conditions of growth and competitiveness. this is where america needs to go. i believe it's where the american people want to go. it will make our economy stronger a year from now, 15 years from now, and deep into the century ahead. of course, if there's one thing this new century has taught us is we cannot separate our work at home from cal leks beyond shores. my first duty as commander-in-chief is to defend the united states of america. in doing so, the question is not whether america leads in the world but how. when we make rash decisions, reacting to the headlines inshed of using our heads, when the first response to a challenge is
to send in our military then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts and negligent the broader strategy we need for a safer more prosperous world. that's what our enemies want us to do. i believe in a smarter kind of american leadership. we lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy when we leverage power with coalition building, when we don't let our fears blind us to the opportunities this new century presents. that's exactly what we're doing right now and around the globe it is making a difference. first, we stand united with people around the world who have been targeted by terrorists, from a school in pakistan to the streets of paris. (applause) we will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks and we reserve the right to act unilaterally as
we've done relentlessly since i have taken office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies. (applause) at the same time we've learned some costly lessons over the last 13 years. instead of americans patrolling the valleys of afghanistan, we've trained their security forces who have now taken the lead and we've honored our troop sacrifice by supporting that country's first democratic transition, instead of sending large ground forces overseas we're partnering with nations from south asia to north africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten america. in iraq and syria, american leadership including our military power is stopping i.s.i.l's advance. instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the middle east, we are leading a broad
coalition including arab nations to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group. (applause) we're also supporting the moderate opposition in syria that can help us in this effort and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremists. now, this effort will take time. it will require focus, but we will succeed. tonight i call on this congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against i.s.i.s. we need that authority. (applause) second we're demonstrating the power of america's strength and diplomacy. we're upholding the principle that bigger nations can't bully the small bioposing russian aggression and supporting
ukraine's democracy and reassuring our nate open -- our n.a.t.o. allies. (applause) last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies as we were reinforcing our presence with the front line states, mr. putin's aggression, it was suggested, was a masterful display of strategy and strength. that's what i heard from some folks. well, today it is america that stands strong and united with our allies while russia is isolated with its economy in tatters. that's how america leads. not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve. (applause)
and in cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. (applause) when what you're doing doesn't work for fifty years, it's time to try something new. (applause) our shift in cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere it removes a phony excuse for restrictions in cuba stands up for democratic values and extends the hand of friendship to the cuban people. this year congress should begin the work of ending the embargo. (applause) as his holiness pope francis has said, diplomacy is the work of
small steps. these small steps have added up to new hope for the future in cuba, and after years in prison, we are overjoyed that alan gross is back where he belongs. (applause) welcome home, alan. we're glad you're here. (applause) our diplomacy is at work with respect to iran, where for the first time in a decade we've halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear armed iran, secures america and her allies including israel, while avoiding
yet another middle east conflict. there are no guarantees negotiations will succeed, and i keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear iran. but new sanctions passed by this congress at this moment in time will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails, alienating america from its allies making it harder to maintain sanctions and ensuring that iran starts up its nuclear program again. it doesn't make sense. that's why i will veto any new sanctions that threatens to undo this progress. (applause) the american people expect us only to go to war as a last resort, and i intend to stay true to that wisdom. third we're looking beyond the issues that have consumed us in
the past to shape the coming century. no foreign nation, no hacker should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets or invade the privacy of american families especially our kids. (applause) we're making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyberthreats just as we've done to combat terrorism. tonight i urge this congress to pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyberattacks combined identity theft and protect our children's information. that should be a bipartisan effort. (applause) if we don't act, we leave our nation and our economy
vulnerable. if we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe. in west africa, our troops, our scientists, our doctors, our nurses, our healthcare workers are rolling back ebola saving countless lives and stopping the spread of the disease. (applause) i could not be prouder of them, and i thank this congress for your bipartisan support of their efforts. but the job is not yet done and the world needs to use this lesson to build a more effective global effort to prevent the spread of future pandemics invest in smart development and eradicate extreme poverty. in the asia-pacific we reason modernizing alliances while making sure that other nations play by the rules in how they trade, how they resolve maritime disputes, how they participate
in meeting common international challenges like nonproliferation and disaster relief and no challenge no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. (applause) 2014 was the planet's warmest year on record. now, one year doesn't make a trend, but this does - 14 of the 15 warm estyears on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century. now, i've heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they're not scientists and we don't have enough information to act. well, i'm not a scientist
either, but you know what? i know a lot of really good scientists at n.a.s.a. and n.o.a.a. and our major universities and the best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate and if we don't act forcefully we'll continue to see rising oceans, longer hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration and conflict and hunger around the globe. the pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. we should act like it. (applause) and that's why, over the past six years, we've done more than ever to combat climate change from the way we produce energy to the way we use it. that's why we've set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history and
why i will not let this congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts. i am determined to make sure american leadership drives international action. (applause) in beijing, we made an historic announcement -- the united states will double the pace at which we cut carbon pollution and china committed for the first time to limiting their emissions. and because the world's two largest economies came together other nations are now stepping up and offering hope that this year the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we've got. and there's one last pillar of our leadership, and that's the example of our values. as americans, we respect human dignity, even when we're
threatened, which is why i have prohibited torture and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained. (applause) it's why we speak out against the deplorable antisemitism that's resurfaced in certain parts of the world. (applause) it's why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of muslims, the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace. that's why we defend free speech and advocate for political prisoners and condemn the persecution of women or religious minorities or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. we do these things not only because they're the right thing to do but because, ultimately they will make us safer. (applause)
as americans, we have a profound commitment to justice - so it makes no sense to spend $3 million per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit. (applause) since i have been president, we've worked responsibly to cut the population of gitmo in half. now it is time to finish the job and i will not relent in my determination to shut it down. it is not who we are. it's time to close gitmo. (applause) as americans, we cherish our civil liberties, and we need to uphold that commitment, if we want maximum cooperation from other countries and industry in our fight against terrorist networks. while some have moved on from
the debates of our surveillance programs, i have not. as promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard with the recommendations of privacy advocates to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse. in the next month we'll issue a report on how we're keeping our country safer while strengthening privaciy. looking to the future instead of the past. making sure we match our power with diplomacy and use force wisely. building cogs to meet new challenges and opportunities. leading always with the example of our values. that's what makes us exceptional. that's what keeps us strong. that's why we have to keep striving to hold ourselves to the highest of standards. our own. you know just over a decade
ago, i gave a speech in boston where i said there was no liberal america or conservative america, black america nor white america, but a united states of america. assayed this because i had -- i said this because i had seen it in my own life. in a nation that gave someone like me a chance because i grew up in hawaii, a melting pot of races and customers, because i made illinois my home, the state of small towns, rich farmland, one of the world's great cities, a microcosm of countries where democrats, republicans, independents, good people of every ethnicity and every faith share certain bedrock values. over the past six years the pundits have pointed out more than once that my presidency hasn't delivered on this vision.
how ironic, they say, our politics seems more divided than ever. it's held up as proof not just of my own flaws of which there are many but also as proof that division itself is misguided naive. that there are too many people in this town who actually benefit from partisanship and gridlock for us to ever do anything about it. i know how tempting such cynicism may b but i still think the cynics are wrong. i still believe that we are one people. (applause) i still believe that together we can do great things even when the odds are long. (applause) i believe this because over and over in my six years in office i have seen america