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'America still a nation at war'

Economy

"Our job is to make life better for our fellow Americans, and help them to build a future of hope and opportunity - and this is the business before us tonight. A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy - and that is what we have. We are now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth - in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs ... so far. Unemployment is low, inflation is low, and wages are rising. This economy is on the move - and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government but with more enterprise."

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Earmarks

"These special interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour - when not even C-SPAN is watching. ... You did not vote them into law. I did not sign them into law. Yet they are treated as if they have the force of law. The time has come to end this practice. So let us work together to reform the budget process, expose every earmark to the light of day and to a vote in Congress and cut the number and cost of earmarks at least in half by the end of this session."

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Health care

"A future of hope and opportunity requires that all our citizens have affordable and available health care. When it comes to health care, government has an obligation to care for the elderly, the disabled and poor children. We will meet those responsibilities. For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs. But many Americans cannot afford a health insurance policy.

"So tonight, I propose two new initiatives to help more Americans afford their own insurance. First, I propose a standard tax deduction for health insurance that will be like the standard tax deduction for dependents. ... With this reform, more than 100 million men, women and children who are now covered by employer-provided insurance will benefit from lower tax bills.

" ... And for the millions of other Americans who have no health insurance at all, this deduction would help put a basic private health insurance plan within their reach.

" ... In all we do, we must remember that the best health care decisions are made not by government and insurance companies, but by patients and their doctors."

Immigration

"We will enforce our immigration laws at the work site and give employers the tools to verify the legal status of their workers - so there is no excuse left for violating the law. We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals. And we need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country - without animosity and without amnesty."

" ... Let us have a serious, civil, and conclusive debate - so that you can pass, and I can sign, comprehensive immigration reform into law."

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Energy

"It is in our vital interest to diversify America's energy supply - and the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power - by even greater use of clean coal technology, solar and wind energy, and clean, safe nuclear power.

" ... Tonight, I ask Congress to join me in pursuing a great goal. Let us build on the work we have done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next 10 years - thereby cutting our total imports by the equivalent of three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East.

"America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. And these technologies will help us be better stewards of the environment - and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change."

Terrorism

"With the distance of time, we find ourselves debating the causes of conflict and the course we have followed. Such debates are essential when a great democracy faces great questions. Yet one question has surely been settled - that to win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy.

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" ... Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shore-less ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world. And so long as that is the case, America is still a nation at war.

"In the minds of the terrorists, this war began well before Sept. 11 and will not end until their radical vision is fulfilled. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty.

" ... In the sixth year since our nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers have ended. They have not. And so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies, and to protect the American people.

" ... So we advance our own security interests by helping moderates, reformers and brave voices for democracy. The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity. And I say, for the sake of our own security ... we must."

Iraq

"Every one of us wishes that this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned and our own security at risk. Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. So let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory.

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" ... If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. ... For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources and an even greater determination to harm America.

"To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of Sept. 11 and invite tragedy. And, ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger.

"This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you have made. We went into this largely united - in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq - and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field - and those on their way."


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