オバマ大統領、一般教書演説


オバマ大統領が苦境にあるという。しかし、それは今に始まったことではない。1年前の1月20日。大統領就任演説の表情を思い浮かべたい。それは伸び盛りの大国を背負う気負いと誇りというよりも、100年に1度ともいえる不況と困難に直面した現実への危機感に満ちていなかっただろうか。
7割以上の支持率が5割を切ったという。失業率10%という現状に国民の不満が高まっているという。選挙で民主党が連敗している事実がそれを示しているという。しかし、もしオバマ大統領でなければ、現状はもっと悲惨だったかもしれない。
ましてやノーベル平和賞など有り得なかったことは確かかもしれない。人は先ず気持ちから始まる。尊敬できるリーダーがいればこそ、未来も明るく感じ、その将来展望に向けて仕事も生活もモチベーションが上がっていくのではないだろうか。それこそ前政権に一番欠けていたものかもしれない。
今回の一般教書演説は、大半が米国経済の復興策について割かれた。外交・安全保障については全体の2割以下で、それも従来方針の確認にとどまったとされている。しかし、先ずアメリカ経済を安定に導かない限り、世界経済の安定は存在し得ないのではないだろうか。
殆ど全てオバマ大統領の方針を肯定する私だが、景気刺激策については少々疑問に感じるところもある。例えば全米13路線で高速鉄道を整備するという計画だ。約7000億円を投じ、数万人の雇用創出につながるという。短期的には効果は間違いない…が、長期的ビジョンが見えない。それがなぜ長期の雇用「維持」につながると言えるだろうか。日本の箱物行政と同じにならないだろうか。アメリカに高速鉄道が馴染むのか?旅客・貨物の需要はあるのか?
クリーンエネルギーに投資し、新しい産業を産み出すという素晴らしい方針とは全く逆の方向性に思えてならない。
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話は変わって…実はアメリカのことを心配している場合などではない。経済不況と財政赤字は、まさに日本の問題だ。資源の無い日本がこれから何で勝負していくのか。智恵で勝負する以外にないのは火を見るよりも明らかではないか。目先の対策ではなく国家としての長期的ビジョンだ。10年先、いや20年先を見据えて、今の日本の若者・子供達が世界をリードしていく人材になるよう、何よりも教育に投資をする。それが我々世代の責任に思えてならない。
過去の世代の勤労努力のおかげで(下降線にあるとはいえ)日本の経済復興が成し遂げられた。しかし次の世代に我々は誇りをもってバトンを渡せるだろうか・・・

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Madam Speaker, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:
Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the President shall give to Congress information about the state of our union. For 220 years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty. They’ve done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. And they’ve done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggle.
It’s tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitable -窶骭€ that America was always destined to succeed. But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run, and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday, and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. These were the times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people.
Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer history’s call.
One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by a severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt. Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression. So we acted -窶骭€ immediately and aggressively. And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed.
But the devastation remains. One in 10 Americans still cannot find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. And for those who’d already known poverty, life has become that much harder.
This recession has also compounded the burdens that America’s families have been dealing with for decades 窶骭€- the burden of working harder and longer for less; of being unable to save enough to retire or help kids with college.
So I know the anxieties that are out there right now. They’re not new. These struggles are the reason I ran for President. These struggles are what I’ve witnessed for years in places like Elkhart, Indiana; Galesburg, Illinois. I hear about them in the letters that I read each night. The toughest to read are those written by children -窶骭€ asking why they have to move from their home, asking when their mom or dad will be able to go back to work.
For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fast enough. Some are frustrated; some are angry. They don’t understand why it seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded, but hard work on Main Street isn’t; or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems. They’re tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we can’t afford it. Not now.
So we face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope -窶骭€ what they deserve -窶骭€ is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics. For while the people who sent us here have different backgrounds, different stories, different beliefs, the anxieties they face are the same. The aspirations they hold are shared: a job that pays the bills; a chance to get ahead; most of all, the ability to give their children a better life.
You know what else they share? They share a stubborn resilience in the face of adversity. After one of the most difficult years in our history, they remain busy building cars and teaching kids, starting businesses and going back to school. They’re coaching Little League and helping their neighbors. One woman wrote to me and said, “We are strained but hopeful, struggling but encouraged.”
It’s because of this spirit -窶骭€ this great decency and great strength -窶骭€ that I have never been more hopeful about America’s future than I am tonight. (Applause.) Despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit. We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit. In this new decade, it’s time the American people get a government that matches their decency; that embodies their strength. (Applause.)
And tonight, tonight I’d like to talk about how together we can deliver on that promise.
It begins with our economy.
Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there’s one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, and everybody in between, it’s that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it — (applause.) I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal. (Laughter.)
But when I ran for President, I promised I wouldn’t just do what was popular -窶骭€ 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. More businesses would certainly have closed. More homes would have surely been lost.
So I supported the last administration’s efforts to create the financial rescue program. And when we took that program over, we made it more transparent and more accountable. And as a result, the markets are now stabilized, and we’ve recovered most of the money we spent on the banks. (Applause.) Most but not all.
To recover the rest, I’ve proposed a fee on the biggest banks. (Applause.) Now, I know Wall Street isn’t keen on this idea. But if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need. (Applause.)
Now, as we stabilized the financial system, we also took steps to get our economy growing again, save as many jobs as possible, and help Americans who had become unemployed.
That’s why we extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 18 million Americans; made health insurance 65 percent cheaper for families who get their coverage through COBRA; and passed 25 different tax cuts.
Now, let me repeat: We cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95 percent of working families. (Applause.) We cut taxes for small businesses. We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college. (Applause.)
I thought I’d get some applause on that one. (Laughter and applause.)
As a result, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas and food and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keep more workers. And we haven’t raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person. Not a single dime. (Applause.)
Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. (Applause.) Two hundred thousand work in construction and clean energy; 300,000 are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, first responders. (Applause.) And we’re on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year.
The plan that has made all of this possible, from the tax cuts to the jobs, is the Recovery Act. (Applause.) That’s right -窶骭€ the Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus bill. (Applause.) Economists on the left and the right say this bill has helped save jobs and avert disaster. But you don’t have to take their word for it. Talk to the small business in Phoenix that will triple its workforce because of the Recovery Act. Talk to the window manufacturer in Philadelphia who said he used to be skeptical about the Recovery Act, until he had to add two more work shifts just because of the business it created. Talk to the single teacher raising two kids who was told by her principal in the last week of school that because of the Recovery Act, she wouldn’t be laid off after all.
There are stories like this all across America. And after two years of recession, the economy is growing again. Retirement funds have started to gain back some of their value. Businesses are beginning to invest again, and slowly some are starting to hire again.
But I realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response. That is why jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010, and that’s why I’m calling for a new jobs bill tonight. (Applause.)
Now, the true engine of job creation in this country will always be America’s businesses. (Applause.) But government can create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand and hire more workers.
We should start where most new jobs do 窶骭€- in small businesses, companies that begin when — (applause) — companies that begin when an entrepreneur — when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides it’s time she became her own boss. Through sheer grit and determination, these companies have weathered the recession and they’re ready to grow. But when you talk to small businessowners in places like Allentown, Pennsylvania, or Elyria, Ohio, you find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again, they’re mostly lending to bigger companies. Financing remains difficult for small businessowners across the country, even those that are making a profit.
So tonight, I’m proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. (Applause.) I’m also proposing a new small business tax credit
-窶骭€ one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages. (Applause.) While we’re at it, let’s also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment, and provide a tax incentive for all large businesses and all small businesses to invest in new plants and equipment. (Applause.)
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