With the back of the recession broken – at least technically — and the Affordable Care Act signed into law, President Obama nevertheless had to contend with criticism that he’d wasted too much political capital on health care reform and not enough on getting Americans back to work. He also had to deal with the fallout of the 2010 midterm elections, which had seen Republicans recapture control of the House of Representatives – and ushering in an era of bipartisan gridlock.
The focus of the President’s second state of the union address was a new theme: win the future. Education, STEM, and infrastructure were key components in that vision. About his goals, President Obama said, “We want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science and technology, and engineering and math.”
Notable Quote of 2011:
We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time. We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business. We need to take responsibility for our deficit and reform our government. That’s how our people will prosper. That’s how we’ll win the future.
2010: “I Promised I Wouldn’t Just Do What Was Popular.”
When President Obama took the podium for his first official State of the Union address (as the second address of a President’s term is traditionally considered), he did so at a time when the nation was still reeling from the Great Recession (which, in hindsight, had only ended in June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research). The government had undergone a massive – and massively unpopular – taxpayer bailout of banks and the auto industry, one which as of December 2013 had finally turned a profit and by some accounts saved close to 2 million automotive industry jobs, alone. But on January 27, 2010, the President was still on the defensive over his actions to turn around the economy.
Three months ahead of him was the historic signing of the Affordable Care Act, making good on his promise the year before of comprehensive health reform. That night, he repeated a promise that would come back to haunt him: His approach to health care reform “would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan”; we now know it’s not that simple. On the other hand, President Obama acknowledged that night that the First Lady was “creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make kids healthier.” The following month, “Let’s Move,” her signature — and highly popular – effort as First Lady, was born.
Notable Quote of 2010:
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.
2009: “A Historic Commitment To Comprehensive Health Care Reform.”
Fresh from his historic win of the presidency, but already battling an imploding economy, President Obama laid out a vision focused on getting the American economic engine healthy again.
The centerpiece of his vision was “a historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform,” buttressed by the goal to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 and a push to double the nation’s supply of renewable energy over the subsequent three years.
Healthcare reform became law the following year, and in his 2013 address, the President said the nation had doubled “the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar.” However, as of 2012, the nation ranked 16th in the world in its proportion of college graduates.
He also said he had “ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay” in Cuba, the naval base where suspects in the War on Terror have been held since the aftermath of 9/11. However, Guantanamo Bay still houses detainees to this day, and the President’s attempt to find an alternative location on American soil was blocked by Congress.
Notable Quote of 2009:
We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again. That is why, even as it cuts back on programs we don’t need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.
The 2014 State of the Union address begins Tuesday, January 28, at 9 p.m. EST.