President Obama wants to do a lot of things in his second term, and he took care during his State of the Union address Tuesday to offer some proposals on the cheap.
“Tonight, I’ll lay out additional proposals that are fully paid for and fully consistent with the budget framework both parties agreed to just 18 months ago,” Obama said. “Let me repeat — nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.”
This State of the Union was different from addresses and speeches past. Where Obama usually issues big calls for stimulus spending and investment in infrastructure and green energy, on Tuesday he reined it in.
Many of his 2013 proposals would fit within existing spending guidelines — the United States already spends on veterans’ health care and foreign aid — while his other proposals seem to require little or no cost, such as talking to foreign countries about investment partnerships. Some others, such as the more widespread background checks for gun owners, could cost money down the line if the federal government instead of the states picks up the tab.
Aside from tax and entitlement reform, here’s every call to action Obama issued in his State of the Union address — the measures he says “won’t add a dime”:
1. Manufacturing Hubs. Obama: “I’m announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Departments of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs. And I ask this Congress to help create a network of 15 of these hubs and guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is made in America.”
2. Cap-and-Trade. Obama: “I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
3. Energy Security Trust. Obama: “I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good.”
4. Make Infrastructure a Priority. Obama: “I propose a Fix-It-First program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children.”
5. Let Homeowners Save by Refinancing. Obama: “Right now, there’s a bill in this Congress that would give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s rates. Democrats and Republicans have supported it before. What are we waiting for?”
6. Improve Preschool Education. Obama: “I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America.”
7. Pathway to Citizenship. Obama: “Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship — a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally.”
8. Cut Wait Times for Immigrants. Obama: “And real reform means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods, reduce bureaucracy and attract the highly skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy.”
9. $9 Minimum Wage. Obama: “Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.”
10. Incentives to Hire the Unemployed. Obama: Let’s offer incentives to companies that hire Americans who’ve got what it takes to fill that job opening but have been out of work so long that no one will give them a chance.”
11. Rebuild Vacant Houses. Obama: “Let’s put people back to work rebuilding vacant homes in rundown neighborhoods. And this year, my administration will begin to partner with 20 of the hardest-hit towns in America to get these communities back on their feet.”
12. Make Marriage More Affordable. Obama: “And we’ll work to strengthen families by removing the financial deterrents to marriage for low-income couples, and doing more to encourage fatherhood – because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child, it’s having the courage to raise one.”
13. More Information Sharing for Cyberdefense. Obama: “Earlier today, I signed a new Executive Order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs and our privacy.”
14. A Cyberbill. Obama: “Now, Congress must act as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks.”
15. Trade and Investment Partnerships With Asia and the European Union. Obama: ‘To boost American exports, support American jobs and level the playing field in the growing markets of Asia, we intend to complete negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership. And tonight, I am announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union, because trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.”
16. Reduce Extreme Poverty and AIDS in Other Countries. Obama: “The United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades — by connecting more people to the global economy and empowering women; by giving our young and brightest minds new opportunities to serve and helping communities to feed, power and educate themselves; by saving the world’s children from preventable deaths; and by realizing the promise of an AIDS-free generation.”
17. Invest in Veterans’ Health Care and Benefits. Obama: “We will keep faith with our veterans — investing in world-class care, including mental health care, for our wounded warriors; supporting our military families; and giving our veterans the benefits, education, and job opportunities they have earned.”
18. Commission to Lessen Voting Lines. Obama: “When any Americans –no matter where they live or what their party — are denied that right simply because they can’t wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals. That’s why, tonight, I’m announcing a nonpartisan commission to improve the voting experience in America. And I’m asking two long-time experts in the field, who’ve recently served as the top attorneys for my campaign and for Gov. Romney’s campaign, to lead it.”
19. More Background Checks and a Straw-Purchasers Law for Guns. Obama: “Overwhelming majorities of Americans — Americans who believe in the Second Amendment — have come together around commonsense reform, like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals.”