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Obama's agenda

The President conjures Lincoln, says he's ending the wars, and promises to tinker with taxes, Medicare and Social Security

Obama's agenda

President Barack Obama speaks at his ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama speaks at his ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

From Obama's Second Inaugural speech, highlights:

WHAT'S DIFFERENT ABOUT AMERICA: "What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.'...

 "History tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth...

"Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free...

GOVERNMENT'S ROLE: "Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

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"Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

"Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

GOVERNMENT'S LIMITS: "Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.

"Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

"But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action...

RECOVERY: "A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention...

THE MIDDLE CLASS: "We, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. 

"We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.

"We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship...

A HINT OF REFORM: "We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time.

"We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher...

"We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.

"For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few...

"The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great...

CLIMATE CHANGE: "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms...

"We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands ...

SECURITY: "We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war...

"We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law...

GAYS: "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law...

IMMIGRANTS: "Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity...

GUNS: " Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm...

IMPERFECT AND PARTIAL: "Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.

"For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial...

"Let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom. Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America."

Joseph N. DiStefano
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

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