In a confident and forceful inauguration address, President Obama sought to lay out the broad themes of his second-term agenda, and to enlist Americans in the effort.
“My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together,” Obama told a crowd outside the U.S. Capitol Monday, moments after being sworn into office by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
In a riposte to the anti-government ideology associated with his political opponents, Obama forcefully defended the social safety net, which could face cuts as lawmakers and the White House grapple with how to cut to the deficit. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, he said, “do not make us a nation of takers, they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”
Obama signaled that curbing economic inequality will continue to be a focus of his presidency. “We the people understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”
The president also addressed what most observers see as the three biggest legislative items on his second-term agenda.
On immigration: “Our journey’s not complete until we find a way to welcome the striving hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity.”
On reducing gun violence: “Our journey’s 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.”
On 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.”
Obama also invoked the need to make voting easier—some Floridians waited six or eight hours in line last November—to achieve equal pay for women, and to ensure that gays and lesbians “are treated equally under the law.”
The White House announced last week that Obama’s campaign would become a non-profit aimed at rallying support for his second-term goals. And in closing, the president appeared to call on his backers to remain active.
“You and I as citizens have the power to shape this country’s course,” he said. “Not only with the votes we cast but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.”
Read the full text of President Obama’s speech here.