Political Musings February 9, 2014: Obama signs and lauds bipartisan farm bill that cuts food stamps program funding





Obama signs and lauds bipartisan farm bill that cuts food stamps program funding

By Bonnie K. Goodman

After Congress was unable to come to an agreement in 2013, President Barack Obama was able to finally sign a new 5-year farm bill, the Agricultural Act of 2014 on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014 in East Lansing, Michigan at…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency February 7, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Signing of the Farm Bill



This is “Not Your Father’s Farm Bill”

Source: WH, 2-7-14
President Barack Obama signs the Farm Bill at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MichiganPresident Barack Obama signs the Farm Bill at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, Feb. 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, in East Lansing Michigan, on the campus of one of our nation’s first land grant colleges, President Obama signed into law the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill, or as Secretary Vilsack likes to call it – the Jobs Bill, the Research Bill, the Food Bill, etc….READ MORE


Remarks by the President at Signing of the Farm Bill — MI

Source: WH, 2-7-14 

Watch the Video

President Obama Speaks on the Farm Bill and the Economy
February 07, 2014 6:53 PM

President Obama Speaks on the Farm Bill and the Economy

Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan

2:16 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Spartans!  (Applause.)  Go, Green!

AUDIENCE:  Go, White!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  Everybody have a seat here.

It’s good to be at Michigan State.  Thank you, Ben, for that wonderful introduction.  Give Ben a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  He’s got his beautiful family right here.  How did dad do?  Was he pretty good?  Yes, there he is.  He did good?  I thought he did great.

It is good to be in East Lansing.  It’s good to be with all of you here today.  I’m here because I’ve heard about all the great things that you’re doing.  And I want to thank Mayor Triplett and President Simon for hosting us.

I am also here to do some scouting on my brackets.  (Laughter and applause.)  I just talked to Coach Izzo — Spartans are looking pretty good.  I know things were a little wild for a while, had some injuries.  But the truth is that Coach Izzo, he always paces so that you peak right at the tournament.  (Applause.)  That’s a fact.  Then I got a chance to meet Mark Dantonio.  (Applause.)  So you’ve already got a Rose Bowl victory.  (Applause.)  You guys, you’re greedy.  (Laughter.)  You want to win everything.

But it’s wonderful to be here.  I love coming to Michigan.  Mainly I love coming to Michigan because of the people.  But I also love coming here because there are few places in the country that better symbolize what we’ve been through together over these last four, five years.

The American auto industry has always been the heartbeat of the Michigan economy and the heart of American manufacturing.  So when that heartbeat was flat-lining, we all pulled together, all of us — autoworkers who punched in on the line, management who made tough decisions to restructure, elected officials like Gary Peters and Mark Schauer who believed that — (applause) — folks who believed that rescuing America’s most iconic industry was the right thing to do.

And today, thanks to your grit and your ingenuity and dogged determination, the American auto industry’s engines are roaring again and we are building the best cars in the world again.  And some plants are running three shifts around the clock — something that nobody would have imagined just a few years ago.  (Applause.)

I just had lunch with Detroit’s new Mayor, Mike Duggan.  (Applause.)  He told me if there’s one thing that he wants everybody to know, it’s that Detroit is open for business.  And I have great confidence that he’s going to provide the leadership that we need.  (Applause.)  Really proud of him.  The point is we’ve all had to buckle down.  We’ve all had to work hard.  We’ve had to fight our way back these past five years.  And in a lot of ways, we are now better positioned for the 21st century than any other country on Earth.

This morning, we learned that our businesses in the private sector created more than 140,000 jobs last month, adding up to about 8.5 million new jobs over the past four years.  (Applause.)  Our unemployment rate is now the lowest it’s been since before I was first elected.  Companies across the country are saying they intend to hire even more folks in the months ahead.  And that’s why I believe this can be a breakthrough year for America.

And I’ve come here today to sign a bill that hopefully means folks in Washington feel the same way — that instead of wasting time creating crises that impede the economy, we’re going to have a Congress that’s ready to spend some time creating new jobs and new opportunities, and positioning us for the future and making sure our young people can take advantage of that future.

And that’s important, because even though our economy has been growing for four years now, even though we’ve been adding jobs for four years now, what’s still true — something that was true before the financial crisis, it’s still true today — is that those at the very top of the economic pyramid are doing better than ever, but the average American’s wages, salaries, incomes haven’t risen in a very long time.  A lot of Americans are working harder and harder just to get by — much less get ahead — and that’s been true since long before the financial crisis and the Great Recession.

And so we’ve got to reverse those trends.  We’ve got to build an economy that works for everybody, not just a few.  We’ve got to restore the idea of opportunity for all people — the idea that no matter who you are, what you look like, where you came from, how you started out, what your last name is, you can make it if you’re willing to work hard and take responsibility.  That’s the idea at the heart of this country. That’s what’s at stake right now.  That’s what we’ve got to work on.  (Applause.)

Now, the opportunity agenda I laid out in my State of the Union address is going to help us do that.  It’s an agenda built around four parts.  Number one:  More new jobs in American manufacturing, American energy, American innovation, American technology.  A lot of what you’re doing here at Michigan State helps to spur on that innovation in all sorts of areas that can then be commercialized into new industries and to create new jobs.

Number two:  Training folks with the skills to fill those jobs — something this institution does very well.

Number three:  Guaranteeing access to a world-class education for every child, not just some.  That has to be a priority.  (Applause.)  That means before they even start school, we’re working on pre-K that’s high quality and gets our young people prepared, and then takes them all the way through college so that they can afford it, and beyond.

Number four:  Making sure our economy rewards honest work with wages you can live on, and savings you can retire on, and, yes, health insurance that is there for you when you need it.  (Applause.)

Now, some of this opportunity agenda that I put forward will require congressional action, it’s true.  But as I said at the State of the Union, America does not stand still; neither will I.  And that’s why, over the past two weeks, I’ve taken steps without legislation, without congressional action, to expand opportunity for more families.  We’ve created a new way for workers to start their own retirement savings.  We’ve helped to make sure all of our students have high-speed broadband and high-tech learning tools that they need for this new economy.

But I’ve also said I’m eager to work with Congress wherever I can — because the truth of the matter is, is that America works better when we’re working together.  And Congress controls the purse strings at the federal level and a lot of the things that we need to do require congressional action.

And that is why I could not be prouder of our leaders who are here today.  Debbie in particular, I could not be prouder of your own Debbie Stabenow, who has done just extraordinary work.  (Applause.)  We all love Debbie for a lot of reasons.  She’s been a huge champion of American manufacturing but really shepherded through this farm bill, which was a very challenging piece of business.  She worked with Republican Senator Thad Cochran, who I think was very constructive in this process.  We had Representatives Frank Lucas, a Republican, working with Collin Peterson, a Democrat.  We had a terrific contribution from our own Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, who deserves a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

And so Congress passed a bipartisan farm bill that is going to make a big difference in communities all across this country.  And just so they don’t feel left out, I want to recognize one of your congressmen, who’s doing an outstanding job — Dan Kildee.  (Applause.)  And somebody who was just a wonderful mentor to me when I was in the Senate and has been just a great public servant, not just for your state, but for the entire country — Carl Levin.  (Applause.)  He’s always out there, especially when it comes to our men and women in uniform.  We’re very proud of him.  (Applause.)

And while we’re at it, we got a couple of out-of-towners — Pat Leahy from Vermont — there are a lot of dairy farms up there, so he had something to do with it.  (Applause.)  Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota.  (Applause.)  All that cold air is blowing from Minnesota down into — (laughter).

Now, despite its name, the farm bill is not just about helping farmers.  Secretary Vilsack calls it a jobs bill, an innovation bill, an infrastructure bill, a research bill, a conservation bill.  It’s like a Swiss Army knife.  (Laughter.)  It’s like Mike Trout — for those of you who know baseball.  (Laughter.)  It’s somebody who’s got a lot of tools.  It multitasks.  It’s creating more good jobs, gives more Americans a shot at opportunity.  And there are two big ways in which it does so.

First, the farm bill lifts up our rural communities.  Over the past five years, thanks to the hard work and know-how of America’s farmers, the best in the world, we’ve had the strongest stretch of farm exports in our history.  And when I’m traveling around the world, I’m promoting American agriculture.  And as a consequence, we are selling more stuff to more people than ever before.  Supports about 1 million American jobs; what we grow here and that we sell is a huge boost to the entire economy, but particularly the rural economy.

Here at Michigan State, by the way, you are helping us to do even more.  So I just got a tour of a facility where you’re working with local businesses to produce renewable fuels.  You’re helping farmers grow crops that are healthier and more resistant to disease.  Some students are even raising their own piglets on an organic farm.  When I was in college, I lived in a pig sty — (laughter) — but I didn’t work in one.  So I’m impressed by that.  (Laughter.)  That’s no joke, by the way.  (Laughter and applause.)  Your hygiene improves as you get older.  (Laughter.)

So we’re seeing some big advances in American agriculture.  And today, by the way, I’m directing my administration to launch a new “Made in Rural America” initiative to help more rural businesses expand and hire and sell more products stamped “Made in the USA” to the rest of the world — because we’ve got great products here that need to be sold and we can do even more to sell around the world.  (Applause.)

But even with all this progress, too many rural Americans are still struggling.  Right now, 85 percent of counties experience what’s called “persistent poverty.”  Those are in rural areas.  Before I was elected President, I represented Illinois, home of a couple of your Big Ten rivals, but also a big farming state.  And over the years, I’ve seen how hard it can be to be a farmer.  There are a lot of big producers who are doing really well, but there are even more small farms, family farms, where folks are just scratching out a living and increasingly vulnerable to difficulties in financing and all the inputs involved — farmers sometimes having to work off the farm, they’ve got a couple of jobs outside the farm just to get health care, just to pay the bills, trying to keep it in the family, and it’s very hard for young farmers to get started.

And in these rural communities, a lot of young people talk about how jobs are so scarce, even before the recession hit, that they feel like they’ve got to leave in order to have opportunity.  They can’t stay at home, they’ve got to leave.

So that’s why this farm bill includes things like crop insurance, so that when a disaster like the record drought that we’re seeing across much of the West hits our farmers, they don’t lose everything they’ve worked so hard to build.  This bill helps rural communities by investing in hospitals and schools, affordable housing, broadband infrastructure — all the things that help attract more businesses and make life easier for working families.

This bill supports businesses working to develop cutting-edge biofuels — like some of the work that’s being done here at Michigan State.  That has the potential to create jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  It boosts conservation efforts so that our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy places like the Mississippi River Valley and Chesapeake Bay.

It supports local food by investing in things like farmers markets and organic agriculture — which is making my wife very happy.  And when Michelle is happy, I don’t know about everybody being happy, but I know I’m happy.  (Laughter and applause.)  And so it’s giving smaller producers, local producers, folks like Ben, the opportunity to sell more of their products directly, without a bunch of processing and distributors and middlemen that make it harder for them to achieve.  And it means that people are going to have healthier diets, which is, in turn, going to reduce incidents of childhood obesity and keep us healthier, which saves us all money.

It does all this while reforming our agricultural programs, so this bill helps to clamp down on loopholes that allowed people to receive benefits year after year, whether they were planting crops or not.  And it saves taxpayers hard-earned dollars by making sure that we only support farmers when disaster strikes or prices drop.  It’s not just automatic.

So that’s the first thing this farm bill does — it helps rural communities grow; it gives farmers some certainty; it puts in place important reforms.

The second thing this farm bill does — that is huge — is help make sure America’s children don’t go hungry.  (Applause.)   And this is where Debbie’s work was really important.  One study shows that more than half of all Americans will experience poverty at some point during their adult lives.  Now, for most folks that’s when you’re young and you’re eating ramen all the time.  But for a lot of families, a crisis hits, you lose your job, somebody gets sick, strains on your budget — you have a strong work ethic, but it might take you six months, nine months, a year to find a job.  And in the meantime, you’ve got families to feed.

That’s why, for more than half a century, this country has helped Americans put food on the table when they hit a rough patch, or when they’re working hard but aren’t making enough money to feed their kids.  They’re not looking for a handout, these folks, they’re looking for a hand up — (applause) — a bridge to help get them through some tough times.  (Applause.)

And we sure don’t believe that children should be punished when parents are having a tough time.  As a country, we’re stronger when we help hardworking Americans get back on their feet, make sure that children are getting the nutrition that they need so that they can learn what they need in order to be contributing members of our society.

That’s the idea behind what’s known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.  A large majority of SNAP recipients are children, or the elderly, or Americans with disabilities.  A lot of others are hardworking Americans who need just a little help feeding their families while they look for a job or they’re trying to find a better one.  And in 2012, the SNAP program kept nearly 5 million people — including more than 2 million children — out of poverty.  (Applause.)  Think about that — 5 million people.

That’s why my position has always been that any farm bill I sign must include protections for vulnerable Americans, and thanks to the good work of Debbie and others, this bill does that.  (Applause.)  And by giving Americans more bang for their buck at places like farmers markets, we’re making it easier for working families to eat healthy foods and we’re supporting farmers like Ben who make their living growing it.  So it’s creating new markets for produce farmers, and it means that people have a chance to directly buy from their farmers the kind of food that’s going to keep them healthy.

And the truth is a lot of folks go through tough times at some points in their lives.  That doesn’t mean they should go hungry.  Not in a country like America.  So investing in the communities that grow our food, helping hardworking Americans put that food on the table — that’s what this farm bill does, all while reducing our deficits through smart reforms.

It doesn’t include everything that I’d like to see.  And I know leaders on both sides of the aisle feel the same way.  But it’s a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come through with this bill, break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven partisan decision-making, and actually get this stuff done.  (Applause.)  That’s a good sign.

And that’s the way you should expect Washington to work.  That’s the way Washington should continue to work.  Because we’ve got more work to do.  We’ve got more work to do to potentially make sure that unemployment insurance is put in place for a lot of folks out there who need it.  (Applause.)  We’ve got more work to do to pass a minimum wage.  We’ve got more work to do to do immigration reform, which will help farmers like Ben.  (Applause.)

So let’s keep the momentum going here.  And in the weeks ahead, while Congress is deciding what’s next, I’m going to keep doing everything I can to strengthen the middle class, build ladders of opportunity in the middle class.  And I sure hope Congress will join me because I know that’s what you’re looking for out of your elected officials at every level.  (Applause.)

So thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  I’m now going to sign this farm bill.  (Applause.)

Hold on a second, I forgot to mention Marcia Fudge is here.  I wasn’t sure whether she came to the event.  I knew she flew in with me.  She does great work — (applause) — out of the great state of Ohio.

(The bill is signed.)  (Applause.)

2:39 P.M. EST

Political Musings July 12, 2013: House passes farm spending bill without food stamps, White House promises veto





House passes farm spending bill without food stamps, White House promises veto

By Bonnie K. Goodman

On Thursday, July 11, 2013, the House of Representatives passed the farm spending bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 by a vote 216-208. The new bill however, has quickly become a contentious issue since…READ MORE

Political Headlines July 11, 2013: House Passes Farm Bill Without Food Stamp Provision with a Vote of 216-208





House Passes Farm Bill Without Food Stamp Provision

Source: ABC News Radio, 7-11-13

The House of Representatives voted Thursday along partisan lines to approve a farm bill which had been separated from a comprehensive version of the legislation that initially included hundreds of billions of dollars for food stamps.

The bill narrowly passed 216-208, with no Democrats supporting passage. Twelve Republicans also opposed the bill….READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz August 13, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event at McIntosh Family Farm, Missouri Valley, Iowa




Remarks by the President at McIntosh Family Farms, Missouri Valley, Iowa

Source: WH, 8-13-12

McIntosh Family Farm
Missouri Valley, Iowa

1:10 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Today we are here at the McIntosh Family Farms, here in Missouri Valley, Iowa, and we just got a tour from Dean, Don, Richard and Roger.  And like a lot of families in this area and across America, the McIntoshes are suffering under one of the worst droughts in 50 years.

We’ve just been through the warmest 12-month period ever recorded, and right now more than 60 percent of the country is under drought conditions.  It’s hot, it’s dry, and the summer is not over yet.

Things are especially tough for farmers and ranchers, like the McIntoshes, who depend on a good growing season to pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads.  The McIntosh family has been farming in the Missouri Valley for 96 years, so they’ve seen just about everything, but this is the worst drought they can remember in decades.  As a result, their corn yield is off by about a third, and some of their neighbors in surrounding areas are struggling even worse.

Here in Iowa, almost half of the corn crop and more than a third of the soybean crop is in poor or very poor condition.  Livestock producers are having trouble feeding their herds.  Crops and livestock are a $30 billion business in Iowa, and that’s a huge chunk of the economy that’s being put at risk.  And states all across the heartland have it just as bad.

Now, the best way to help these states is for Congress to act.  They need to pass a farm bill that not only helps farmers and ranchers respond to natural disasters, but also makes necessary reforms and gives them some long-term certainty.  But the folks suffering from this drought can’t wait for Congress to do its job.  So in the meantime, I’ve made sure that my administration, under the leadership of Secretary Tom Vilsack, is doing everything we can to provide relief to those who need it.

I’ve directed the Department of Agriculture and the Small Business Administration to help give farmers and small businesses across 32 states access to low-interest emergency loans.  We’ve opened up federal land for grazing.  We’re working with insurance companies to give farmers a short grace period on their premiums, since money will be tight for a lot of families at the end of the crop year.  And last week, we announced another $30 million to help get more water to livestock and restore land affected by the drought.

Today we’re going to go even further, and we’re focusing on helping people who make their living by bringing cattle, pigs, sheep, and other animals to market.  The way things work right now, farmers who raise crops are eligible for subsidized insurance to help cushion the blow if disaster strikes.  But livestock producers don’t have that option.  So when grasslands dry up and they’ve got to sell their animals early, it’s a huge financial blow and can affect markets all across the country.  We can make a difference, though, and here’s what we’re going to do.

It turns out that the federal government buys a lot of meat for military bases, hospitals, colleges, food banks and cafeterias.  And because of the drought, there are a lot of folks out there that are trying to sell meat right now.  So just like you might buy more chicken when it’s on sale and freeze it, we are going to stock up.  Prizes are low; farmers and ranchers need help; so it makes sense.  It makes sense for farmers who get to sell more of their product, and it makes sense for taxpayers who will save money because we’re getting food we would have bought anyway at a better price.

And we’re not just talking about a few strips of bacon here. Today the Department of Agriculture announced that it will buy up to $100 million worth of pork products, $50 million worth of chicken, and $20 million worth of lamb and farm-raised catfish.  And the Department of Defense, which bought about 94 million pounds of beef and 64 million pounds of pork last year, will encourage their vendors to buy more now and freeze if for later.

Understand this won’t solve the problem.  We can’t make it rain.  But this will help families like the McIntoshes in states across the country, including here in Iowa.  And we’re going to keep doing what we can to help because that’s what we do.  We are Americans.  We take care of each other.  And when our neighbors hit a rough patch, we step up and help out.

So my message to the McIntoshes and everybody who is suffering through the drought, we understand that we depend on you, America depends on you to put food on the table and feed our families, and as a consequence, we’re going to make sure that we’re there for you — not just today, but every day until this drought passes.  That is a promise.  And as President, I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that you get the relief that you deserve.

So, thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you, and God bless America.  (Applause.)

1:16 P.M. CDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz August 13, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event Council Bluffs, Iowa — Blasts Paul Ryan in Iowa for Blocking Farm Bill




Obama Blasts Ryan in Iowa for Blocking Farm Bill

Source: ABC News Radio, 8-13-12


Kicking off his campaign tour through Iowa, President Obama today wasted no time attacking Mitt Romney’s new running mate, accusing Rep. Paul Ryan of blocking aid to ranchers and farmers who have been hurt by the severe drought….READ MORE


Remarks by the President at Campaign Event — Council Bluffs, IA

Source: WH, 8-13-12

Bayliss Park
Council Bluffs, IA

11:32 A.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Iowa!  (Applause.)  It’s good to be back!  (Applause.)  Well, it is good to be back in Iowa!  (Applause.)  I miss you guys.

AUDIENCE:  Obama!  Obama!  Obama!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!

First of all, can everybody please give Patricia a big round of applause for the great introduction?  (Applause.)  A couple other people I want to acknowledge — your outstanding former governor, now I think the best Secretary of Agriculture we’ve ever had — Tom Vilsack.  (Applause.)  Congressman Leonard Boswell.  (Applause.)  And Mayor Tom Hanafan.  (Applause.)

See, the sun is coming out — (applause.)  I love being back in Iowa.  Now, we’re starting here in Council Bluffs, but we’re going to be heading east and I think I’m going to end at the State Fair.  (Applause.)  Michelle has told me I cannot have a fried Twinkie.  (Laughter.)  But I will be checking out the butter cow and I understand this year there’s a chocolate moose.  (Laughter.)  So I’m going to have to take a look at that if I can.

The last time I went to the State Fair, Secret Service let me do the bumper cars, but they said this year — I wasn’t President yet, so I could do that.  (Laughter.)  But not this time.

Now, before I get started, I just want to say a few words about the drought, because it’s had such an impact on this state and all across the country.  Right now folks here in Iowa and across the heartland, we’re suffering from one of the worst droughts in 50 years.  Farmers, ranchers depend on a good crop season to pay the bills and put a roof over their heads.  And I know things are tough right now.

The best way to help these states is for the folks in Congress to pass a farm bill that not only helps farmers and ranchers respond to natural disasters, but also makes some necessary reforms and gives farmers and ranchers some long-term certainty.

Unfortunately, right now, too many members of Congress are blocking the farm bill from becoming law.


THE PRESIDENT:  I am told that Governor Romney’s new running mate, Paul Ryan, might be around Iowa the next few days — he is one of the leaders of Congress standing in the way.


THE PRESIDENT:  So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities.  We’ve got to put politics aside when it comes to doing the right thing for rural America and for Iowa.  (Applause.)

Now, it’s always a problem waiting for Congress.  So in the meantime, I’ve made sure my administration, led by Tom Vilsack, is doing everything we can to provide relief to those who need it.  So last week, we announced $30 million to help ranchers and farmers get more water to livestock and rehabilitate land affected by drought.
And today, we’re announcing that the federal government will help livestock producers by purchasing over $150 million worth of meat and fish right now, while prices are low — we’ll freeze it for later, but — we’ve got a lot of freezers.  (Laughter.)  And that way, that will help ranchers who are going through tough times right now, and also, over the long term, obviously that food is going to be spent by folks at the Pentagon and other places.
America depends on farmers and ranchers to put food on the table; depends on farmers and ranchers to feed our families.  So we’ve got to be there for them — not just today, but tomorrow, and every day until this drought passes — because we are Americans, that’s what we do.  We take care of each other.  And when tough times strike our neighbors, we give them a hand.  (Applause.)
Now, that speaks to the larger idea of why I’m here, the notion that I’m my brother’s keeper, I’m my sister’s keeper, the idea that we’re in this together, that was at the heart of the journey that began here in Iowa five years ago.  (Applause.)  We spent a lot of time on bus tours like this one — at school gyms and family farms and small businesses across this state – although, I have to say the bus we had wasn’t as nice as this one.  (Laughter.)  We used to get some buses.  (Laughter.)
And that campaign back in 2007-2008, it had plenty of ups and downs, but no matter what, you, the people of Iowa, had my back.  (Applause.)  You had my back.  When the pundits had written us off, when we were down in the polls, you believed in me, and I believed in you.  And it was on your front porches and in your backyards where the movement for change in this country began.

But our journey is not finished.  Not yet.  I’m going to spend the next three days driving all across this state just like I did in 2007 — from Council Bluffs to the Quad Cities — because once more, you face a choice in November.  And that choice could not be bigger.  It is not just a choice between two candidates or two political parties.  More than any other election in recent memory, this is a choice between two fundamentally different visions of this country and the path that we have to take.

And the direction that you choose when you walk into that voting booth in November is going to have an impact not just on your lives but on your children’s lives, your grandchildren’s lives for decades to come.  This one counts.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  Think about this, Council Bluffs.  Four years ago, we came together — and it wasn’t just Democrats, it was independents and some Republicans — because we understood that we needed to restore the basic bargain that made this country great, the basic deal that created the greatest middle class and the most prosperous economy the world has ever known.

And it’s a simple bargain.  It says if you work hard, your work should be rewarded.  If you act responsibly, and you put in enough effort, you should be able to find a job that pays the bills, have a home you can call your own, count on health care when you get sick — (applause) — put away enough to retire with dignity and respect — (applause) — and most of all, give your kids an education that allows them to dream even bigger than you did, and do even better than you did.  That’s the American promise.  (Applause.)  That’s the American Dream.

And the reason we came together was because we had seen a decade in which that dream was being betrayed.  We had gone through a decade where jobs were being shipped overseas, where you were working harder but making less while the cost of everything from health care to a college education kept on going up.  And it all culminated in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

And so we knew that restoring the basic bargain that made this country was not going to be easy.  We knew it would take more than one year, or one term, or even one President.  And that was before the crisis hit and we saw friends and neighbors lose their job, or lose their home, lose their savings, pushing the American Dream even further out of reach for too many working people.

But over the last three and a half years, we’ve seen America’s grit.  You folks are tougher than any tough time.  (Applause.)  When we get knocked down we stand back up.  (Applause.)  Some workers lost their jobs — they went back to community college, got retrained and now have got a new job.  Small businesses kept their doors open by hook or by crook.  And so, slowly, we’ve seen 4.5 million new jobs created, half a million new manufacturing jobs — the most since the great — most since the 1990s.

And what we realized was that no matter how bad the crisis was, one thing did not change, and that is the character of the American people and the resilience of the American people.  (Applause.)  And what hasn’t changed is our determination to do what we came together in 2008 to do — and that is to make sure that in America hard work pays off — so that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, you can make it here in America if you try.  (Applause.)

That’s what this campaign is about, Iowa.  And that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States of America.  (Applause.)

I told you — four years ago I said there aren’t going to be quick fixes, there won’t be easy solutions.  The challenges we face had been building up for decades.  And that’s still true today.  But I want everybody to know that we have the capacity to meet every challenge.  We’ve got the best workers in the world.  We’ve got the best entrepreneurs in the world.  We’ve got the best colleges, the best universities, the best researchers in the world, the best scientists in the world.  We’re still a young nation.  We’ve got the greatest diversity of talent and ingenuity — people come here from every corner of the globe.  They want to be here.  So whatever the naysayers may say, or folks who try to make things look dark, listen, there is not another country on Earth that wouldn’t trade places with the United States of America.  (Applause.)

What’s holding us back right now is Washington politics.


THE PRESIDENT:  You’ve got folks on the other side who think “compromise” is a dirty word, and whose main idea is to go back to the same old top-down economics that got us into this mess in the first place.

This weekend, my opponent, Mr. Romney, chose as his running mate the ideological leader of the Republicans in Congress.  And I’ve got to tell you, I know Congressman Ryan.  He’s a good man, he’s a family man.  He is an articulate spokesman for Governor Romney’s vision.  But the problem is that vision is one that I fundamentally disagree with. (Applause.)

Governor Romney and his allies in Congress, they think that if we just get rid of more regulations on big corporations and give more tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, if we end Medicare as we know it, make it a voucher system, then somehow this is all going to lead to jobs and prosperity for everybody.


THE PRESIDENT:  The centerpiece of Mr. Romney’s entire economic plan is a new $5 trillion tax cut, a lot of it going to the very wealthiest Americans.


THE PRESIDENT:  Last week, an independent study — not by me, but by independent economists — said that Governor Romney’s plan would actually raise taxes on middle-class families with children by an average of $2,000 apiece.


THE PRESIDENT:  Now, this wouldn’t be done — not to reduce the deficit.  It’s not going to be done to create jobs or put folks back to work rebuilding our roads or bridges or schools.  This is you guys paying an extra $2,000 to give another $250,000 tax cut to folks who are making more than $3 million a year.


THE PRESIDENT:  Does this sound familiar to you?  They have tried to sell us this trickle-down theory before.  And guess what — every time it’s been tried it has not worked.  It did not work then; it won’t work now.  It won’t create jobs.  It won’t lower our deficit.  It is not a plan to move our economy forward.  We do not need more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans — we need tax relief for working families.  (Applause.)

You need tax relief — folks who are trying to raise kids and keep them healthy and put a roof over their heads and send them to college.  And that’s the choice in this election.  That’s the reason I’m running again.

Four years ago, I promised to cut middle-class taxes — and by the way, that’s exactly what I’ve done.  (Applause.)  The average working family here in Iowa and across the country has seen their tax rates go down about $3,600.  So when you see — when you hear the other side talking about Democrats raising your taxes — your taxes are lower since I’ve been President.  (Applause.)  That’s the truth.

Now, I want to keep your taxes right where they are for the first $250,000 of everybody’s income.  So if your family makes under $250,000 — which, by the way, is 98 percent of Americans — you won’t see your income taxes go up by a single dime next year.  (Applause.)  Ninety-seven percent of small businesses will not see their taxes go up.  (Applause.)

But here’s the thing, Council Bluffs.  This is important. If —


THE PRESIDENT:  And Omaha.  We love you.  (Applause.)  Didn’t want to leave our Nebraska folks left out here. (Applause.)

But here’s the thing.  If you’re lucky enough and fortunate enough and been blessed enough to be in the other 2 percent, the top 2 percent, you still get a tax cut for your first $250,000 of income.  All we’re saying is, after that, maybe you can do a little bit more to help pay down this deficit and invest in things like education that help our economy grow.  (Applause.)

And listen, government is going to do its part.  We’ve already cut a trillion dollars of savings — of spending.  We’re going to cut more.  We’ve got to streamline government and make it work efficiently and effectively.  But what we also can do is just ask folks like me to do a little bit more.  And all we’re asking is for folks like me to go back to the rates that we paid under Bill Clinton — and by the way, that was a time when we created nearly 23 million new jobs, and we created the biggest budget surplus in history.  (Applause.)  And here’s the kicker  — folks at the top actually did well because, guess what, when a factory worker or a construction worker or a receptionist or a teacher or a firefighter or a cop — when they’ve got a little more money in their pockets, what do they do?

AUDIENCE:  Spend it!

THE PRESIDENT:  Maybe they go out and buy a new car, after having been driving that old beater around for the last 15 years.  Maybe they finally get the new dishwasher because the old one has been broke for a long time.  Maybe they go buy a computer for their kid for the new school year, or they go to a restaurant, or heaven forbid, they take a vacation.  And that means businesses suddenly have more customers.  And then businesses start hiring more workers because they’re making more profit.  And everybody does better.  That’s how we grow the economy — not from the top down, but from the middle out, and from the bottom out.  (Applause.)

That’s the choice in this election.  And that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.  (Applause.)

You know, across the board, there is a sharp contrast between me and Mr. Romney.  When the auto industry was on the brink of collapse, more than a million jobs at stake, Governor Romney said, “let Detroit go bankrupt.”  I bet on American workers.  I bet on American manufacturing.  And three years later, the American auto industry has come roaring back.  (Applause.)  So now I want to make sure that high-tech manufacturing jobs are taking root here, not in China.  I want them to take root here in Council Bluffs.

Governor Romney, he likes to brag about his private sector experience.  A bunch of that private sector experience was investing in companies that have been called “pioneers” of outsourcing.  Let me tell you something — I want insourcing, not outsourcing.  (Applause.)  I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas.  Let’s give tax breaks to companies that are investing here in the United States of America — (applause) — hiring American workers to make American products to sell around the world, stamped with those words:  Made in America.  That’s what I believe in.  (Applause.)

Here’s another difference.  Right now, homegrown energy, things like wind energy — creating new jobs all across the states like Iowa — and Governor Romney wants to end tax credits for wind energy producers.  America now produces twice as much electricity from wind as we did before I took office.  (Applause.)  We’ve doubled the amount of electricity we’re producing with wind.  The wind industry supports about 7,000 jobs in Iowa.  Without these wind energy tax credits, a whole lot of these jobs would be at risk — 37,000 jobs across this country would be at risk.

So I think we should stop spending billions on taxpayer subsidies for an oil industry that is making all kinds of profit, and let’s keep investing in the clean energy that’s never been more promising.  (Applause.)  That’s a disagreement I’ve got with Governor Romney.  That’s a choice in this election.

Back in 2008, I said it was time to end the war in Iraq — we ended it.  (Applause.)  I said it was time for us to go after bin Laden and al Qaeda — and we did.  (Applause.)  We’ve set a timeline to start bringing our troops out of Afghanistan, and so after a decade of war, I think it’s time to do some nation-building here at home.  (Applause.)

Now, we could not have accomplished any of this without the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform.  (Applause.)  And I promise you this — as long as I am Commander-in-Chief, this country will care for our veterans and serve our veterans as well as they’ve served us.  (Applause.)  Nobody who has fought for this country should have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads when they come home.  That’s why we’ve invested so heavily in making sure that the VA is working the way it’s supposed to.  That’s why we’ve put more money into treatment of PTSD and traumatic brain injury; ending homelessness* among veterans.  But those are investments that we’ve got to make.

And my plan says let’s take half the money that we’re no longer spending on war and let’s also use it to put people back to work building our roads and our runways and our ports and our wireless networks — (applause) — and creating a Veterans Job Corps so local communities can hire our veterans to be firefighters and police officers in communities that need it. That’s the America that we want to build.  That’s the choice in this election.  That’s why I’m running for a second term.  (Applause.)

I want to make sure that America once again leads the world in educating our kids and training our workers.  I want to help our schools hire and reward the best teachers, especially in math and science.  I want to give two million more Americans the chance to go to community college and learn the skills that businesses are hiring for right now.  (Applause.)  And I want to get colleges and universities to bring down the cost of tuition once and for all — (applause) — because higher education is not a luxury; it’s an economic necessity in the 21st century.  Everybody should be able to afford it.  (Applause.)

I’ve got a plan to help homeowners refinance their homes at historically low rates — save an average of $3,000.  My opponent’s solution is to let the market bottom out.  That’s what he said.  That’s not a solution — that’s part of the problem.  That’s the difference in this election.

My opponent says one of the first things he’d do is repeal Obamacare.


THE PRESIDENT:  I think that part of being middle class in America is making sure you don’t go bankrupt when you get sick.  (Applause.)  That’s why, because of this law, if you’ve got a preexisting condition, you’ll be able to get health insurance.  (Applause.)  That’s why 6.5 million young people can now stay on their parent’s plan.  That’s why seniors are now getting discounts on their prescription drugs.  That’s why insurance companies can’t drop your coverage or impose lifetime limits when you need it most.  (Applause.)

It’s true — Obama does care.  That’s why we passed this bill.  (Applause.)  The Supreme Court has spoken.  We’re not going backward, we are going forward.  (Applause.)

All these things, whether it’s bringing back manufacturing, creating more construction jobs, protecting people’s health care, making sure your kids get the best education, making sure our veterans have the same kind of opportunity my grandfather had when he came back from World War II and was able to go to college on the GI Bill.  All these things are part of what makes up a middle-class life.  And they’re all bound together in that idea that made this country great — that basic promise that if you work hard, you can get ahead.

It’s not always going to be smooth.  There are going to be times where times are tough.  But the basic idea that if you work hard and look after your family, that work is going to be rewarded.  That’s the promise that our parents and grandparents passed down to us.  And now it’s the promise we’ve got to pass on to our kids and our grandkids.  That’s what’s at stake in this election.

And so, over the next three months, you are going to see the other side spend more money on negative ads than we’ve ever seen in history; and these folks, they’ve got some really rich people writing $10 million checks.  And basically, they’re going to say the same thing over and over again.  They know their economic theories aren’t going to sell, because folks remember when we tried them.  So all they’re going to say is the economy is not as good as it should and it’s Obama’s fault.  And they expect you to have amnesia and not remember who it is that got us into this mess.  (Applause.)  But they figure, if we run these ads often enough, maybe folks will start kind of thinking about it.  That is true.  (Laughter.)

So they may have a plan to win the election, but they can’t hide the fact that they don’t have a plan to create jobs or revive the middle class or grow the economy.  And I do have that plan.  (Applause.)  I’ve got a plan that puts you first.  (Applause.)  I’ve got a plan that puts middle-class families and folks striving to get into the middle class first.  (Applause.)

But I’m going to need your help.  I’m going to need your help.  I’ve got to make sure you’re registered.  I’ve got to make sure your friends are registered to vote.  In Iowa, you can get registered online.  All you have to do is go GottaRegister.com.  That’s g-o-t-t-a — gotta.  (Laughter.)  GottaRegister.com.

The thing is, we’ve been outspent before and we’ve been counted out before.  But what you taught me in 2007, 2008 was that when the American people cut through all the nonsense, when you focus your attention and you remember the story of your own families and all the struggles your parents and grandparents went through, and how maybe because you got a student loan somewhere, or maybe because your dad was able to get that job at the factory, you guys were able to build a good life together — just like Michelle and I were able to get opportunities that our parents could have never imagined.  When you focus on that thing that is best in America, the way we pull together and give everybody a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules, and everybody is taking responsibility — when you come together and reaffirm those core values that make this the greatest country on Earth, you can’t be stopped.  All the money those folks are spending doesn’t matter.  You are our democracy.  You make decisions about the direction of this country.

And, Iowa, I’ve got to tell you, we’ve come too far to go back now.  (Applause.)  We’ve got too many good jobs we still have to create.  We’ve got too many teachers we’ve still got to hire.  We’ve got too many schools we still have to rebuild.  We’ve got too many students who still need help getting an affordable education.  We’ve got more homegrown energy we’ve got to generate.  We’ve got more troops we’ve got to bring home.  Most of all, we’ve got more doors of opportunity that we’ve got to open for everybody who’s willing to work hard enough to walk through those doors.

That is what is at stake in this election.  That is why I am running for President of the United States.  (Applause.)  That is why I’m asking for your vote — not just for me, but for this country that we believe in.  (Applause.)  And if you’re willing to work with me and stand with me, and knock on doors with me, and make phone calls with me — if you vote for me in November, we will win Iowa, we will win this election.  We’ll finish what we started in 2008.  And we’ll remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

12:04 P.M. CDT

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