SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — A KPIX-TV CBS 5 poll released Tuesday to coincide with President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address found a majority of Californians approved of Mr. Obama’s overall job performance.
The poll – conducted for CBS 5 by the firm SurveyUSA – showed 57% of California registered voters approved of the job he’s currently doing as president, with 37% disapproving and 6% unsure. The poll of 528 voters, conducted from Jan.19-22, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3%
RELATED CONTENT: Download The Complete CBS 5 Poll Results (.pdf)
In his speech Tuesday evening, President Obama made a strong pitch for economic fairness in America, outlining a plan that painted a stark contrast between his vision for the nation’s future and those of many Republicans — both sitting before him and running for president.
Speaking before a joint session of the bitterly divided Congress, Mr. Obama described America as he hopes to see it become. “Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. 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,” he said.
“We can do this,” Mr. Obama said. “I know we can, because we’ve done it before.”
Keeping America’s “promise alive,” Mr. Obama said, is “the defining issue of our time.”
According to the president, however, that question is about making sure that in the economic sector, “everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”
“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,” he said. “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. What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them.”
KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:
Mr. Obama pledged his commitment to working with Republicans and Democrats alike to “build on” the strengthening U.S. economy. But, he pledged, “I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.”
“No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out 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,” he said.
He reiterated his call for Congress to impose the so-called “Buffett rule,” which would implement a tax overhaul requiring that capital gains and dividends be taxed at the same rate as income earned from work. To underscore his point, Buffett’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, sat with First Lady Michelle Obama during the speech.
“Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households,” Mr. Obama said. “Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.”
“Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans?” he continued. “Or do we want to keep our investments in everything else – like education and medical research; a strong military and care for our veterans? Because if we’re serious about paying down our debt, we can’t do both.”
Mr. Obama said he was willing to “rein in” the costs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, “so long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors.”
In return, however, he reiterated a familiar demand: “Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. And my Republican friend Tom Coburn is right: Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. In fact, if you’re earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn’t get special tax subsidies or deductions.”
The plan is one that has previously gained no traction with congressional Republicans, most of whom oppose tax hikes of any nature – but it drew a particularly sharp contrast on Tuesday between the president and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who earlier in the day released tax returns showing that he paid a 14.5 percent tax rate on $42 million in earnings in the past two years. (Most of those earnings came from profits, dividends or interest from investments, which is why he was able to benefit from the low tax rate.)
Mr. Obama seemed undeterred by the prospect of continued Republican opposition.
“The American people know what the right choice is,” he said. “So do I.”
He pointed to growing industries like high-tech manufacturing, science, technology and energy as those which could provide a wealth of jobs for Americans in the future. But he acknowledged that “our commitment to skills and education has to start earlier” in order to achieve those goals.
He called on Congress to stop “bashing” teachers, and instead to “give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones.”
“Grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn,” he said.
Mr. Obama also urged all 50 states to require students to stay in high school until graduation or until they turn 18. (Currently, students may legally drop out of school at age 16.)
“When students aren’t allowed to walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma,” he said.
Pivoting to immigration, an issue which will undoubtedly play a crucial role in the 2012 election, Mr. Obama reiterated his call for an overhaul of the American immigration system, and urged Congress to send him a bill addressing the issue.
“The opponents of action are out of excuses,” he said. “We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.”
Mr. Obama circled back to the importance of innovation in paving the way to America’s economic future, calling for legislation easing regulations for Americans who want to start small businesses, and urging Congress not to “gut” funding for research and development.
“After all, innovation is what America has always been about,” he said.
He cited the particular importance of investing in the development of alternative energy resources.
“Nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy,” he said. “Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my Administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right – eight years. Not only that – last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past sixteen years.”
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved. CBS News contributed to this report.)