A State of the Union 30-year rewind: The speech hasn't changed much

U.S. President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden (L) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill Jan. 24, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

Kai Ryssdal: It says right there in Article 2 of the Constitution that the president shall, from time to time, give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union. What it doesn't tell you is that they're going to say the same thing. Especially when they're talking about the economy, and in particular, in years of presidential re-election campaigns.

Here's Ronald Reagan in the election year of 1984.

Ronald Reagan: It would be immoral to make those who are paying taxes pay more, to compensate for those who aren't paying their share.

President Barack Obama last night, the election year of this year.

Barack Obama: Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

Candidate and incumbent Bill Clinton, 1996.

Bill Clinton: Do you believe we can expand the economy without hurting the enviroment? I do.

Candidate and incumbent Obama, last night.

Obama: We don't have to choose between our environment and our economy.

Finally, George H.W. Bush, 1992.

George H.W. Bush: We must encourage investment. We must make it easier for people to invest money and create new products, new industries and new jobs.

And finally, Mr. Obama last night.

Obama: Support the same kind of research and innovation that led to the computer chip and the Internet; to new American jobs and new American industries.

Almost 30 years worth of Democrats and Republicans, talking about the economy.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, the most widely heard program on business and the economy in the country.


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