Obama's formula for fairness: 'No bailouts, no
handouts, no cop-outs'

Tax reform for rich is major theme as speech starts re-election bid

Washington

President Barack Obama served notice last night that he plans to seek re-election by drawing a bright line between his commitment to create an America that will give everyone a "fair shot" and the Republican alternative where, he said, "a shrinking number of people do really well".

Buoyed by new stirrings in the economy and the inability of the Republicans to coalesce around a candidate to challenge him in November, Barack Obama used the annual State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress to signal fairness and defence of the middle class as the main themes of his coming campaign. "It's time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts," he said.

The speech, passages of which were released in advance by the White House, was set to lay out a series of broad initiatives on reforming the tax code to strip away some of the breaks currently available to the very rich more fair, tackling the housing slump more aggressively and spurring job creation.

More importantly, the address, which normally draws a primetime television audience of over 40 million, was Mr Obama's opportunity to set the tone of his re-election bid even as the Republicans continue to fumble for a candidate to face him. In cadences both optimistic and populist, he evoked a future "where we're in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren't so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.

"The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important." Jabbing Republicans he said: "We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans 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 set of rules."

This morning, the President begins a five-state tour to sell the main planks of his speech to voters. Going forward he plans to castigate Congress, which is deeply unpopular, and the Republican majority in the lower chamber in particular for taking the path of obstructionism, notably when it comes to altering tax codes for the rich. "I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place," he said in the speech.

"We will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits," he went on, insisting his was a "blueprint for an economy that's built to last, an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values."

That blueprint, much of which will meet resistance in Congress, was to include changes to the tax code and in particular an end to tax cuts for the rich introduced by George Bush. Mr Obama is also looking at tax incentives for US manufacturers to bring back jobs they have shipped overseas.

On the tax issue, Democrats believe they can hold up the case of Mitt Romney, who they still believe is likely to emerge as the Republican candidate this autumn, as Exhibit A as to why tax reform is necessary.

Tax filings released by the Romney camp yesterday showed the former Governor of Massachusetts had paid taxes at a rate of only 13.9 per cent in 2010.

State of the Union: Key ideas

* Tax breaks to reward companies for keeping jobs in the United States while eliminating tax benefits for those that outsource jobs overseas.

* A call to rewrite the tax code to adopt the so-called "Buffett rule," named after billionaire Warren Buffett who says it is unfair that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

* Ideas to help the troubled home mortgage market and incentives for alternative energy development.

* Incentives to encourage lenders to refinance "underwater" mortgages, where the home value has fallen to less than the amount still owed.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
'Prison Architect' players decide the fate of inmates
tech
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor