President Mitt Romney's 2014 State of the Union address, as prepared for delivery and provided by the White House.
Mr. Speaker, Vice President Ryan, members of Congress, distinguished guests, corporate persons and other fellow Americans:
Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the president is tasked with updating Congress on the State of the Union. This has taken place through war and strife, in times of economic prosperity and depression. Today, I stand before you, humbled by the task at hand but never more hopeful about our nation's future.
One year ago, I took office at a moment of peril. Our economy was stagnant. Our politics were divisive. People wondered if they could trust their government. They were scared about what the future had in store. I promised to apply the same lessons I learned from my days as a businessman to our country as a whole. I stand here today, confident that the State of the Union is stronger than it was one year ago. [Pause for dramatic effect.]
On Day One, as I pledged to the American people, I signed an executive order repealing the job-killing Obamacare. But on Day Two, my team of advisers advised me that Obamacare was still the law of the land and that repeal can only happen by an act of Congress. Since then, we have decided that the only responsible thing to do would be to execute the law efficiently and professionally. We continue to ban discrimination by insurance companies against people with preexisting conditions. But we have decided not to enforce the small business mandate or the individual mandate. Going forward, I want Congress to send legislation to my desk, ending the mandate that insurers cover contraception.
But we have also made sure that the newly created exchanges under this law run as smoothly as possible. I thank this Congress for assuring that sufficient funding was available for development of the Affordable Care Act website, which was in disrepair when this administration took office. I brought in my team from Massachusetts and drew on their experience setting up my state's version of the law, and thanks to that expertise, I am proud to report that nearly 10 million Americans have purchased private insurance, driving down costs for the public and giving relief to the business community.
I appreciate that nearly every governor has expanded Medicaid under this law. And I particularly want to thank the distinguished chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the great Congressman Darrell Issa, for giving my administration the room to operate without tying us up in subpoenas and document requests.
When I took office, our nation was still mourning the savage violence that had taken place in Newtown, Conn. I asked my vice president, Paul Ryan, to come up with a set of reforms that could ensure that such a thing never happened again. Cognizant of the emotions surrounding this debate, and fully respecting the lengthy tradition of gun ownership in this country, he presented a modest range of proposals to secure our nation's schools, research mental illness, and enhance but not enlarge our current background check system. The National Rifle Association didn't see the merit of the approach. And after a humbling setback in the Senate there was -- to be completely blunt about it -- little else I could do. [Shrug shoulders.]
We are now a year into my administration, and despite this nation's best efforts, not everyone here illegally has left on their own. So on to Plan B: When I was elected, I asked you to have an immigration bill at my desk by the time I took office. You missed your deadline. [Laugh: ha ha. ha ha ha ha.]
But I am pleased that the Senate has since moved legislation that would put an additional $50 billion toward securing the nation's borders and would allow children of undocumented immigrants a pathway to legal status, provided that they attend college or serve in the armed forces. It is the right thing to do, and I encourage the House to let these children have a vote. THEY [Pause.] DESERVE [Pause.] A VOTE!
Absent that piece of legislation, I have asked my Director of Homeland Security, Rudy Giuliani, to review the record number of deportations that took place under my predecessor and see whether there is a smarter way forward.
Perhaps the greatest challenge facing our nation is the state of our finances. Like any cash-strapped family, we tried to spend only what we had while cutting waste where we found it. But like families who recognize that an investment in the present can pay off in the future, we didn't shy away from supporting those things that make America great. [Look off in the distance, patriotically.]
This past year, we devoted $5 billion toward re-training our country's workers for a modern economy. But training alone wasn't sufficient; the American people need jobs. So we set about creating them. I signed an extension of long-term unemployment insurance. We devoted tens of billions of dollars to a sorely needed infrastructure program that will help reinforce the backbone of the American economy, and we sent $50 billion in much needed aid to cash-strapped states to help keep cops and first responders on the job.
But more is needed. Tonight, I am also unveiling an ambitious round of tax cuts designed to stimulate further growth. Though we lowered the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent last year, we must go further if we want to continue competing with the rest of the world. Corporations, after all, are just like you and me. That is why I am calling on lawmakers tonight to lower the rate 5 percentage points more.
I also call on Congress to further reduce the capital gains tax rate. We must recognize that the investors in the future will come from the investor class of today. I know these people. I was one of these people. We can turn [pause] America [pause] around [pause] if we simply tap into our God-given entrepreneurial spirit.
To the skeptics who say, well, what about our nation's deficit and debt? Let me respond, I hear your concerns. No one is more alarmed by the fiscal path of this country than me. The mess I inherited must be dealt with. But we must deal with it in a way that doesn't move us on a path toward European-style growth.
This means fixing the long-term drivers of the debt while encouraging economic activity in the present. Above all else, it means removing uncertainty from the equation, which is why Treasury Secretary Lloyd Blankfein was so grateful that the House and Senate raised our nation's debt limit quickly and with limited protest.
You, Congress, sent me a budget for the first times in years. Don't hurt your necks patting yourselves on the back. [NAILED IT! Pause for laughter.] And though it increased the deficit, it did so for the right reasons: staving off the harmful sequestration cuts to our nation's defense forces.
Now, however, we must refocus. We must eliminate agencies and programs that have no economic purpose. We can no longer afford to fund the arts or subsidize Amtrak. We must send programs like Medicaid, housing vouchers and food stamps back to the states.
That is why, tonight, I'm creating a bipartisan commission to address our nation's debt and deficit. The commission will be chaired by former Sens. Evan Bayh and Judd Gregg. They will have to report back their recommendations in eight months, by which time I will demand a up-or-down vote.
Speaking of up-or-down votes, I am, tonight, calling on Senate Democrats to drop their needless opposition to my judicial nominees. Our court system is facing a crisis. We have too many unfilled seats and too many backlogged cases. Obstructionism may have taken place in the past, but it has no place in the future.
Our legal system, nevertheless, remains strong. I am pleased to announce that we have made 25,000 arrests in Colorado in an effort to rid the state of the scourge of marijuana.
Finally, after a meticulous legal review of our drone program, I am proud to announce that we are hereby ending strikes on foreign countries without the declaration of war by this Congress. It is also my duty to report that my distinguished attorney general, Mike Lee, has opened an investigation into the previous administration for the killing of innocent civilians under the drone program, including citizens of the United States. One of the founding principles of our nation is that no man or woman is above the law. I intend to uphold that principle throughout my presidency.
While I have spent the past year cleaning up domestic messes at home, I have not taken my eyes off the challenges abroad.
I am announcing tonight a commitment of $5 billion in aid to rebel factions in Syria who are waging a noble fight against that country's government. America must never shy away from supporting those who champion freedom and democracy in oppressed places. Which is why I am also asking Congress to send me legislation further escalating sanctions against Iran. That country's pursuit of a nuclear weapon cannot and will not be tolerated. And while our friends in Europe may think that negotiation can do the trick, I put my chips on American resoluteness and strength.
It has been over a year since our nation's diplomatic corps suffered the horrific attack at the compound in Benghazi. And I'm pleased that under my administration, a commission led by former State Department official Liz Cheney uncovered the root causes of that attack. Our complacency with respect to terrorism is now a thing of the past, as are the vulnerabilities in our embassy security. [CHANNEL YOUR INNER REAGAN.] Moving forward: We Will Not Yield.
Finally, tonight, I can announce to the American people that I have decided we will boycott this year's winter Olympics, to be held in Russia, a nation whose dictator disregards human rights and basic freedoms. It is also a nation that is harboring the fugitive Edward Snowden, a terrorist and enemy of the American people. I have run a winter Olympics before. And let me tell you Mr. Putin, this is no winter Olympics.
Let me finish tonight with a message to the American people. The challenges we face are broad. The times we live in are trying. But our last chapter is far from written. To the 53 percent of you willing to pick up the pen and help write that history, we move onward. To the 47 percent who may be hesitant, I say: join us!