In his last State of the Union address before the 2012 election, President Obama called upon Congress to work together to rebuild the coveted American Dream.
Our 44th President promised, in a memorable phrase, “no bail-outs, no hand-outs, no cop-outs” to financial institutions that helped derail the U.S. economy.
Obama spoke about “fair” tax reform with a thinly-veiled reference to phrases Republican presidential candidates have used against him repeatedly in debates.
“You can call this ‘class warfare’ all you want,” he said, calling it pure fairness. Without a doubt, the 2012 State of the Union address was a campaign speech:
He said Americans must get past personal ambition and partisan obsession to "focus on the mission at hand" and keep the dream alive by restoring the economy.
"No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important," he said.
"We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number 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 rules."
"Do we want to keep tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Or do we want invest in everything else? If we're serious about paying down our debt, we can't do both."
Rebuttals came quickly and predictably from political opponents.Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who delivered the "official" GOP response, said that the president's rigid adherence to ideology was suffocating innovation:
"Extremism that stifles development of homegrown energy, or cancels a perfectly safe pipeline that would employ tens of thousands, or jacks up consumer utility bills for no improvement in either human health or world temperature, is a pro-poverty policy."
"We do not accept that ours will ever be a nation of haves and have nots; we must always be a nation of haves and soon to haves," Daniels said.
On Fox News, Sean Hannity interviewed GOP candidate Mitt Romney, who asserted that, on the basis of this night, the President is “disconnected from reality.”
The bipartisan high point of the evening occurred just before the speech, as Obama, in making his way to the podium, paused to hug Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Giffords is resigning from Congress this week to recover from her brain injury. A chant of “Gabby, Gabby, Gabby” could be heard throughout the House floor.
Obama in 2012?