All posts tagged Economy
Full Text Political Transcripts December 1, 2016: President-elect Donald Trump, VP-elect Mike Pence Speeches at Indianapolis Carrier Plant
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 1, 2016
Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 August 8, 2016: Donald Trump’s speech outlining his economic plan in Detroit transcript
2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:
Donald Trump’s speech outlining his economic plan in Detroit
Source: Politico, 8-8-16
Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today. It’s wonderful to be in Detroit. We now begin a great national conversation about economic renewal for America. It’s a conversation about how to Make American Great Again for everyone, and especially those who have the very least.
The City of Detroit Is Where Our Story Begins.
Detroit was once the economic envy of the world. The people of Detroit helped power America to its position of global dominance in the 20th century. When we were governed by an America First policy, Detroit was booming. Engineers, builders, laborers, shippers and countless others went to work each day, provided for their families, and lived out the American Dream. But for many living in this city, that dream has long ago vanished. When we abandoned the policy of America First, we started rebuilding other countries instead of our own. The skyscrapers went up in Beijing, and in many other cities around the world, while the factories and neighborhoods crumbled in Detroit. Our roads and bridges fell into disrepair, yet we found the money to resettle millions of refugees at taxpayer expense.
Today, Detroit has a per capita income of under $15,000 dollars, about half of the national average. 40 percent of the city’s residents live in poverty, over two and half times the national average. The unemployment rate is more than twice the national average. Half of all Detroit residents do not work.
Detroit tops the list of Most Dangerous Cities in terms of violent crime – these are the silenced victims whose stories are never told by Hillary Clinton, but victims whose suffering is no less real or permanent.
In short, the city of Detroit is the living, breathing example of my opponent’s failed economic agenda. Every policy that has failed this city, and so many others, is a policy supported by Hillary Clinton. She supports the high taxes and radical regulation that forced jobs out of your community…and the crime policies that have made you less safe…and the immigration policies that have strained local budgets…and the trade deals like NAFTA, signed by her husband, that have shipped your jobs to Mexico and other countries… and she supports the education policies that deny your students choice, freedom and opportunity. She is the candidate of the past. Ours is the campaign of the future.
As part of this new future, we will also be rolling out Proposals to increase choice and reduce cost in childcare, offering much needed relief to American families. I will unveil my plan on this in the coming weeks that I have been working on with my daughter Ivanka and an incredible team of experts. Likewise, our education reforms will help parents send their kids to a school of their choice. We will also give our police and law enforcement the funds and support they need to restore law and order to this country. Without security, there can be no prosperity.We must have law and order. In the coming days, we will be rolling out plans on all of these items. One of my first acts as President will be to repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare, saving another 2 million American jobs.
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We will also rebuild our military, and get our allies to pay their fair share for the protection we provide saving us countless more billions to invest in our own country. We also have a plan, on our website, for a complete reform of the Veterans Health Administration. This is something so desperately needed to make sure our vets are fully supported and get the care they deserve.
Detroit – the Motor City -will come roaring back. We will offer a new future, not the same old failed Policies of the past. Our party has chosen to make new history by selecting a nominee from outside the rigged and corrupt system. The other party has reached backwards into the past to choose a nominee from yesterday – who offers only the rhetoric of yesterday, and the policies of yesterday. There will be no change under Hillary Clinton– only four more years of Obama.
But we are going to look boldly into the future. We will build the next generation of roads, bridges, railways, tunnels, sea ports and airports that our country deserves. American cars will travel the roads, American planes will connect our cities, and American ships will patrol the seas. American steel will send new skyscrapers soaring. We will put new American metal into the spine of this nation. It will be American hands that rebuild this country, and it will be American energy -mined from American sources – that powers this country. It will be American workers who are hired to do the job. Americanism, not globalism, will be our new credo. Our country will reach amazing new heights. All we have to do is stop relying on the tired voices of the past. We can’t fix a rigged system by relying on the people who rigged it in the first place.
We can’t solve our problems by relying on the politicians who created them. Only by changing to new leadership, and new solutions, will we get new results. We need to stop believing in politicians, and start believing in America. Before everything great that has ever happened, the doubters have always said it couldn’t be done.America is ready to prove the doubters wrong.
They want you to think small. I am asking you to think big. We are ready to dream great things for our country once again. We are ready to show the world that America is Back — Bigger, and Better and Stronger Than Ever Before.
Thank you, and God Bless You.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on August 8, 2016
2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:
Donald Trump’s trade and jobs plan speech
Source: Politico, 6-28-16
Declaring America’s Economic Independence
It is great to be here. I’d like to thank Alumisource and all the amazing workers here for hosting us.
Today, I am going to talk about how to Make America Wealthy Again.
We are thirty miles from Steel City. Pittsburgh played a central role in building our nation.
The legacy of Pennsylvania steelworkers lives in the bridges, railways and skyscrapers that make up our great American landscape.
But our workers’ loyalty was repaid with betrayal.
Our politicians have aggressively pursued a policy of globalization – moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas.
Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache.
When subsidized foreign steel is dumped into our markets, threatening our factories, the politicians do nothing.
For years, they watched on the sidelines as our jobs vanished and our communities were plunged into depression-level unemployment.
Many of these areas have still never recovered.
Our politicians took away from the people their means of making a living and supporting their families.
Skilled craftsmen and tradespeople and factory workers have seen the jobs they loved shipped thousands of miles away.
Many Pennsylvania towns once thriving and humming are now in a state despair.
This wave of globalization has wiped out our middle class.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can turn it all around – and we can turn it around fast.
But if we’re going to deliver real change, we’re going to have to reject the campaign of fear and intimidation being pushed by powerful corporations, media elites, and political dynasties.
The people who rigged the system for their benefit will do anything – and say anything – to keep things exactly as they are.
The people who rigged the system are supporting Hillary Clinton because they know as long as she is in charge nothing will ever change.
The inner cities will remain poor.
The factories will remain closed.
The borders will remain open.
The special interests will remain firmly in control.
Hillary Clinton and her friends in global finance want to scare America into thinking small – and they want to scare the American people out of voting for a better future.
My campaign has the opposite message.
I want you to imagine how much better your life can be if we start believing in America again.
I want you to imagine how much better our future can be if we declare independence from the elites who’ve led us to one financial and foreign policy disaster after another.
Our friends in Britain recently voted to take back control of their economy, politics and borders.
I was on the right side of that issue – with the people – while Hillary, as always, stood with the elites, and both she and president Obama predicted that one wrong.
Now it’s time for the American people to take back their future.
That’s the choice we face. We can either give in to Hillary Clinton’s campaign of fear, or we can choose to Believe In America.
We lost our way when we stopped believing in our country.
America became the world’s dominant economy by becoming the world’s dominant producer.
The wealth this created was shared broadly, creating the biggest middle class the world had ever known.
But then America changed its policy from promoting development in America, to promoting development in other nations.
We allowed foreign countries to subsidize their goods, devalue their currencies, violate their agreements, and cheat in every way imaginable.
Trillions of our dollars and millions of our jobs flowed overseas as a result.
I have visited cities and towns across this country where a third or even half of manufacturing jobs have been wiped out in the last 20 years.
Today, we import nearly $800 billion more in goods than we export.
This is not some natural disaster. It is politician-made disaster.
It is the consequence of a leadership class that worships globalism over Americanism.
This is a direct affront to our Founding Fathers, who wanted America to be strong, independent and free.
Our Founding Fathers Understood Trade
George Washington said that “the promotion of domestic manufactur[ing] will be among the first consequences to flow from an energetic government.”
Alexander Hamilton spoke frequently of the “expediency of encouraging manufactur[ing] in the United States.” The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that: “The abandonment of the protective policy by the American government… must produce want and ruin among our people.”
Our original Constitution did not even have an income tax. Instead, it had tariffs – emphasizing taxation of foreign, not domestic, production.
Yet today, 240 years after the Revolution, we have turned things completely upside-down.
We tax and regulate and restrict our companies to death, then we allow foreign countries that cheat to export their goods to us tax-free.
As a result, we have become more dependent on foreign countries than ever before.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time to declare our economic independence once again.
That means reversing two of the worst legacies of the Clinton years.
America has lost nearly one-third of its manufacturing jobs since 1997 – even as the country has increased its population by 50 million people.
At the center of this catastrophe are two trade deals pushed by Bill and Hillary Clinton.
First, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. Second, China’s entry into the World Trade Organization.
NAFTA was the worst trade deal in history, and China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization has enabled the greatest jobs theft in history.
It was Bill Clinton who signed NAFTA in 1993, and Hillary Clinton who supported it.
It was also Bill Clinton who lobbied for China’s disastrous entry into the World Trade Organization, and Hillary Clinton who backed that terrible agreement.
Then, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton stood by idly while China cheated on its currency, added another trillion dollars to our trade deficits, and stole hundreds of billions of dollars in our intellectual property.
The city of Pittsburgh, and the State of Pennsylvania, have lost one-third of their manufacturing jobs since the Clintons put China into the WTO.
Fifty thousand factories across America have shut their doors in that time.
Almost half of our entire manufacturing trade deficit in goods with the world is the result of trade with China.
It was also Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, who shoved us into a job-killing deal with South Korea in 2012.
As reported by the Economic Policy Institute in May, this deal doubled our trade deficit with South Korea and destroyed nearly 100,000 American jobs.
As Bernie Sanders said, Hillary Clinton “Voted for virtually every trade agreement that has cost the workers of this country millions of jobs.”
Trade reform, and the negotiation of great trade deals, is the quickest way to bring our jobs back.
To understand why trade reform creates jobs, we need to understand how all nations grow and prosper.
Massive trade deficits subtract directly from our Gross Domestic Product.
From 1947 to 2001 – a span of over five decades – our inflation-adjusted gross domestic product grew at a rate of 3.5%.
However, since 2002 – the year after we fully opened our markets to Chinese imports – that GDP growth rate has been cut almost in half.
What does this mean for Americans? For every one percent of GDP growth we fail to generate in any given year, we also fail to create over one million jobs.
America’s “job creation deficit” due to slower growth since 2002 is well over 20 million jobs – and that’s just about the number of jobs our country needs right now to put America back to work at decent wages.
The Transpacific-Partnership is the greatest danger yet.
The TPP would be the death blow for American manufacturing.
It would give up all of our economic leverage to an international commission that would put the interests of foreign countries above our own.
It would further open our markets to aggressive currency cheaters. It would make it easier for our trading competitors to ship cheap subsidized goods into U.S. markets – while allowing foreign countries to continue putting barriers in front of our exports.
The TPP would lower tariffs on foreign cars, while leaving in place the foreign practices that keep American cars from being sold overseas. The TPP even created a backdoor for China to supply car parts for automobiles made in Mexico.
The agreement would also force American workers to compete directly against workers from Vietnam, one of the lowest wage countries on Earth.
Not only will the TPP undermine our economy, but it will undermine our independence.
The TPP creates a new international commission that makes decisions the American people can’t veto.
These commissions are great Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street funders who can spend vast amounts of money to influence the outcomes.
It should be no surprise then that Hillary Clinton, according to Bloomberg, took a “leading part in drafting the Trans-Pacific Partnership”.
She praised or pushed the TPP on 45 separate occasions, and even called it the “gold standard”.
Hillary Clinton was totally for the TPP just a short while ago, but when she saw my stance, which is totally against, she was shamed into saying she would be against it too – but have no doubt, she will immediately approve it if it is put before her, guaranteed.
She will do this just as she has betrayed American workers for Wall Street throughout her career.
Here’s how it would go: she would make a small token change, declare the pact fixed, and ram it through.
That’s why Hillary is now only saying she has problems with the TPP “in its current form,” – ensuring that she can rush to embrace it again at her earliest opportunity.
If the media doesn’t believe me, I have a challenge for you. Ask Hillary Clinton if she is willing to withdraw from the TPP her first day in office and unconditionally rule out its passage in any form.
There is no way to “fix” the TPP. We need bilateral trade deals. We do not need to enter into another massive international agreement that ties us up and binds us down.
A Trump Administration will change our failed trade policy – quickly
Here are 7 steps I would pursue right away to bring back our jobs.
One: I am going to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has not yet been ratified.
Two: I’m going to appoint the toughest and smartest trade negotiators to fight on behalf of American workers.
Three: I’m going to direct the Secretary of Commerce to identify every violation of trade agreements a foreign country is currently using to harm our workers. I will then direct all appropriate agencies to use every tool under American and international law to end these abuses.
Four: I’m going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers. And I don’t mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better. If they do not agree to a renegotiation, then I will submit notice under Article 2205 of the NAFTA agreement that America intends to withdraw from the deal.
Five: I am going to instruct my Treasury Secretary to label China a currency manipulator. Any country that devalues their currency in order to take advantage of the United States will be met with sharply
Six: I am going to instruct the U.S. Trade Representative to bring trade cases against China, both in this country and at the WTO. China’s unfair subsidy behavior is prohibited by the terms of its entrance to the WTO, and I intend to enforce those rules.
Seven: If China does not stop its illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets, I will use every lawful presidential power to remedy trade disputes, including the application of tariffs consistent with Section 201 and 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 and Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
President Reagan deployed similar trade measures when motorcycle and semiconductor imports threatened U.S. industry. His tariff on Japanese motorcycles was 45% and his tariff to shield America’s semiconductor industry was 100%.
Hillary Clinton, and her campaign of fear, will try to spread the lie that these actions will start a trade war. She has it completely backwards.
Hillary Clinton unleashed a trade war against the American worker when she supported one terrible trade deal after another – from NAFTA to China to South Korea.
A Trump Administration will end that war by getting a fair deal for the American people.
The era of economic surrender will finally be over.
A new era of prosperity will finally begin.
America will be independent once more.
Under a Trump Presidency, the American worker will finally have a President who will protect them and fight for them.
We will stand up to trade cheating anywhere and everywhere it threatens an American job.
We will make America the best place in the world to start a business, hire workers, and open a factory.
This includes massive tax reform to lift the crushing burdens on American workers and businesses.
We will also get rid of wasteful rules and regulations which are destroying our job creation capacity.
Many people think that these regulations are an even greater impediment than the fact that we are one of the highest taxed nations in the world.
We are also going to fully capture America’s tremendous energy capacity. This will create vast profits for our workers and begin reducing our deficit. Hillary Clinton wants to shut down energy production and shut down the mines.
A Trump Administration will also ensure that we start using American steel for American infrastructure.
Just like the American steel from Pennsylvania that built the Empire State building.
It will be American steel that will fortify American’s crumbling bridges.
It will be American steel that sends our skyscrapers soaring into the sky.
It will be American steel that rebuilds our inner cities.
It will be American hands that remake this country, and it will be American energy – mined from American resources – that powers this country.
It will be American workers who are hired to do the job.
We are going to put American-produced steel back into the backbone of our country. This alone will create massive numbers of jobs.
On trade, on immigration, on foreign policy, we are going to put America First again.
We are going to make America wealthy again.
We are going to reject Hillary Clinton’s politics of fear, futility, and incompetence.
We are going to embrace the possibilities of change.
It is time to believe in the future.
It is time to believe in each other.
It is time to Believe In America.
This Is How We Are Going To Make America Great Again – For All Americans.
We Are Going To Make America Great Again For Everyone – Greater Than Ever Before.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/06/full-transcript-trump-job-plan-speech-224891#ixzz4D4zDJWJu
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Posted by bonniekgoodman on June 28, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts June 1, 2016: President Barack Obama’s remarks on the Economy in Elkhart, Indiana
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President on the Economy
Concord Community High School
3:30 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Hello, hello! (Applause.) Can everybody please give Kelly a round of applause for the great introduction? (Applause.)
It is good to be back in Elkhart. (Applause.) Great to be back at Concord High School. (Applause.) Go Minutemen! I brought a couple friends of with me — your Senator, Joe Donnelly, is here. (Applause.) Your Mayor, Tim Neese, is here. (Applause.) I wanted to congratulate everyone graduating tomorrow. (Applause.) I just met a couple of the valedictorians, who seem like outstanding young ladies. My older daughter, Malia, graduates next week. (Applause.) So if there are any parents here, I hope you can give me some pointers on how not to cry too much at the ceremony and embarrass her. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Carry some tissues!
THE PRESIDENT: That’s what I’m going to do! (Applause.) If you’ve got a chair, sit down. Relax. I’m going to — I’ve got some stuff to say here. (Applause.)
So I’m not going to talk about the fact that my daughter leaving me is just breaking my heart. I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about the economy.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this is an election year. (Laughter.) And it’s a more colorful election season than most. It’s been a little unusual.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: One more term!
THE PRESIDENT: No, I can’t do that. (Laughter.) The Constitution prohibits it, but, more importantly, Michelle prohibits it. (Laughter.)
Now, one of the reasons we’re told this has been an unusual election year is because people are anxious and uncertain about the economy. And our politics are a natural place to channel that frustration. So I wanted to come to the heartland, to the Midwest, back to close to my hometown to talk about that anxiety, that economic anxiety, and what I think it means. And what I’ve got to say really boils down to two points — although I’m going to take a long time making these two points. (Laughter.)
Number one: America’s economy is not just better than it was eight years ago — it is the strongest, most durable economy in the world. That’s point number one. (Applause.)
Point number two: We can make it even stronger, and expand opportunity for even more people. But to do that, we have to be honest about what our real challenges are, and we’ve got to make some smart decisions going forward.
Now, Elkhart is a good place to have this conversation, because some of you remember this was the first city I visited as President. (Applause.) I had been in office just three weeks when I came here. We were just a few months into what turned out to be the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. Our businesses were losing 800,000 jobs a month. Our auto industry was about to go under. Our families were losing their savings and their health insurance, and, as Kelly pointed out, they were in danger of losing their homes. And Elkhart was hit harder than most. Unemployment here would peak at 19.6 percent. That means nearly one in five people here were out of work. And I told you then that I was going to have your back, and we were going to work hard to bring this economy back. (Applause.)
So what’s happened since then? Unemployment in Elkhart has fallen to around 4 percent. (Applause.) At the peak of the crisis, nearly one in 10 homeowners in the state of Indiana were either behind on their mortgages or in foreclosure; today, it’s one in 30. Back then, only 75 percent of your kids graduated from high school; tomorrow, 90 percent of them will. (Applause.) The auto industry just had its best year ever. And the “RV Capital of the World” is doing its part — the industry is set to ship nearly 400,000 RVs this year, which will be an all-time record. (Applause.)
So that’s progress. And it’s thanks to you — to the hard work you put in and the sacrifices you made for your families, and the way that you looked out for each other. But we also wouldn’t have come this far — Elkhart would not have come this far — if we hadn’t made a series of smart decisions, my administration, a cooperative Congress — decisions we made together early on in my administration.
We decided to help the auto industry restructure, and we helped families refinance their homes.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, you did! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: We decided to invest in job training so that folks who lost their jobs could retool. We decided to invest in things like high-tech manufacturing and clean energy and infrastructure, so that entrepreneurs wouldn’t just bring back the jobs that we had lost, but create new and better jobs, and folks who had lost work from the construction industry because the housing market had collapsed could go back to work rebuilding America.
And we can see the results not just here in Elkhart, but across the nation. By almost every economic measure, America is better off than when I came here at the beginning of my presidency. That’s the truth. That’s true. (Applause.) It’s true. (Applause.) Over the past six years, our businesses have created more than 14 million new jobs — that’s the longest stretch of consecutive private sector job growth in our history. We’ve seen the first sustained manufacturing growth since the 1990s. We cut unemployment in half, years before a lot of economists thought we would. We’ve cut the oil that we buy from foreign countries by more than half, doubled the clean energy that we produce. For the first time ever, more than 90 percent of the country has health insurance. (Applause.)
In fact, a poll that was out just last week says that two out of three Americans think their own family’s financial situation is in pretty good shape. But we know a lot of people are still feeling stressed about their economic future. The pundits, they say one of the reasons the Republican Party has picked the candidate that it has —
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: No booing. We’re voting, we’re not booing.
(Applause.) But if you watch the talking heads on TV, they all say, the reason that folks are angry is because nobody has paid enough attention to the plight of working Americans in communities like these. That’s what they say.
Now, look, I’m the first to admit my presidency hasn’t fixed everything. We’ve had setbacks. We’ve had false starts. We’ve, frankly, been stuck with a Congress recently that’s opposed pretty much everything that we’ve tried to do. But I also know that I’ve spent every single day of my presidency focused on what I can do to grow the middle class and increase jobs, and boost wages, and make sure every kid in America gets the same kind of opportunities Michelle and I did. (Applause.) I know that. I know that communities like Elkhart haven’t been forgotten in my White House. And the results prove that our focus has paid off. Elkhart proves it.
Now, where we haven’t finished the job, where folks have good reason to feel anxious, is addressing some of the longer-term trends in the economy — that started long before I was elected — that make working families feel less secure. These are trends that have been happening for decades now and that we’ve got to do more to reverse. Let me be clear about what those are.
Despite the drop in unemployment, wages are still growing too slowly, and that makes it harder to pay for college or save for retirement. (Applause.) Inequality is still too high. The gap between rich and poor is bigger now than it’s been just about any time since the 1920s. The rise of global competition and automation of more and more jobs; the race of technology — all these trends have left many workers behind, and they’ve let a few at the top collect extraordinary wealth and influence like never before. And that kind of changes our politics. So all these trends make it easy for people to feel that somehow the system is rigged and that the American Dream is increasingly hard to reach for ordinary folks. And there are plenty of politicians that are preying on that frustration for headlines and for votes.
Now, I am a politician for another six months or so — (applause) — but I’m not running again.
AUDIENCE: Aww —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. (Laughter.) Besides, while I may have won the state of Indiana just barely in 2008 — (applause) — I know I lost the vote in Elkhart. (Laughter.) I definitely got whooped here in 2012. I know I don’t poll all that well in this county. So I’m not here looking for votes.
I am here because I care deeply, as a citizen, about making sure we sustain and build on all the work that communities like yours have done to bring America back over these last seven and a half years. And I came here precisely because this county votes Republican. That’s one of the reasons I came here. Because if the economy is really what’s driving this election, then it’s going to be voters like you that have to decide between two very different visions of what’s going to help strengthen our middle class. (Applause.) And you’re going to have to make that decision.
So let me be as straight as I can be about the choice of economic policies that you are going to face. And I’m going to start with the story that not every Republican but most Republican candidates up and down the ticket are telling. And it goes something like this — and I think this is pretty fair, and if you don’t, then you can look it up. So their basic story is: America’s working class, America’s middle class — families like yours — have been victimized by a big, bloated federal government run by a bunch of left-wing elitists like me. And the government is taking your hard-earned tax dollars and it’s giving them to freeloaders and welfare cheats. And we’re strangling business with endless regulations. And this federal government is letting immigrants and foreigners steal whatever jobs Obamacare hasn’t killed yet. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, look, I’m being serious here. I mean, that’s the story that’s been told. And I haven’t turned on Fox News or listened to conservative talk radio yet today, but I’ve turned them on enough over these past seven and a half years to know I’m not exaggerating in terms of their story. That’s the story they tell. You can hear it from just about every member of Congress on the other side of the aisle. And instead of telling you what they’re for, they’ve defined their economic agenda by what they’re against — and that’s mainly being against me. And their basic message is anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-trade, and, let’s face it, it’s anti-change.
And look, a lot of people believe it. And if what they were saying were true, I suppose it would make sense to run on a platform of just rolling back everything we’ve done over these past seven and a half years, and happy days would be here again. If what they were saying was true, then just being against whatever it is that we’ve done might make sense. But what they’re saying isn’t true. And if we’re going to fix what’s really wrong with the economy, we’ve got to understand that.
So let me just do some quick myth-busting. And I’m going to start with the biggest myth, which is that the federal government keeps growing and growing and growing, and wasting your money and giving your tax dollars to people who don’t deserve it.
Now, here’s the truth — you can look it up. These journalists here, they can do some fact-checking. As a share of the economy, we spend less on domestic priorities outside of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — we spend less than we did when Ronald Reagan was President. (Applause.) When President Reagan or George W. Bush held this job, our deficits got bigger. When Bill Clinton and I have held this job, deficits have gotten smaller. (Applause.) Our deficits have not grown these past seven and a half years; we’ve actually cut the deficit by almost 75 percent. (Applause.)
Moreover, there are fewer families on welfare than in the 1990s. Funding has been frozen for two decades. There’s not a whole bunch of giveaways going on right now. Aside from our obligation to care for the elderly and Americans with disabilities, the vast majority of people who get help from the federal government are families of all backgrounds who are working, striving to get back on their feet, striving to get back into the middle class. And sometimes, yes, their kids need temporary help from food stamps when mom and dad are between jobs. But look, these kids didn’t cause the financial crisis. These kids aren’t spending us into bankruptcy. They’re not what’s holding back the middle class. And, by the way, neither is Obamacare. (Applause.)
Let’s look at the numbers. Again, I just want to — I’m just giving facts here. I will have some opinions later, but right now I’m just giving facts. I signed the Affordable Care Act into law over six years ago. Since then, our businesses have created jobs every single month. We did this while covering 20 million Americans who didn’t have health insurance; ending discrimination against preexisting conditions for everybody, including those who had health insurance — (applause) — and dramatically slowing the rate in which health care costs were going up.
In the decade before Obamacare, employer-based premiums grew by an average of 8 percent a year. That meant you were paying that much more every year for health insurance. Last year, they grew by 4 percent — half as fast as they were growing. That doesn’t mean you’re happy about the 4 percent, but it wasn’t 8. Today, the average family’s health insurance premium is $2,600 less than it would have been if premiums had kept on going up at the pace before Obamacare. (Applause.) And, by the way, just for folks here in Indiana, last year, most Hoosiers who shopped around for Obamacare on HealthCare.gov found plans that cost 75 bucks a month or less. For the millions of Americans who buy on HealthCare.gov, they get tax credits to help them pay for it. The average price increase this year has been four bucks a month. There hasn’t been a double-digit percentage hike — four bucks a month.
But my bigger point is to bust this myth of crazy liberal government spending. Government spending is not what is squeezing the middle class.
Myth number two is the notion that my administration has killed jobs through overregulation. Back in the ‘60s and the ‘70s, government was adding all kinds of regulations — rules protecting workers’ rights, rules protecting the environment. And these regulations to improve public health and safety, they didn’t crush economic growth that took place back in the ‘60s and the ‘70s, and they’re not crushing economic growth now.
I’ve issued fewer regulations than my predecessor. I’ve issued fewer executive orders than any two-term President since Ulysses S. Grant — that’s a long time ago. (Applause.) The regulations that we have issued — rules to protect our air and our water, rules to keep families from getting cheated when buying a house or investing their savings — those rules have benefited our economy a lot more than they’ve cost. They’ve helped families, they’ve helped the middle class — they haven’t hurt them.
Here’s myth number three: Other countries are killing us on trade. Now, it is true that a lot of supporters of trade deals in the past sometimes oversold all the good that it was going to do for the economy. The truth is, the benefits of trade are usually widely spread — it’s one of the reasons why you can buy that big, flat-screen TV for a couple hundred bucks, and why the cost of a lot of basic necessities have gone down. Some parts of the economy, like the agricultural sector or the tech sector have really done well with trade. Some sectors and communities have been hurt by foreign competition.
And what’s also true is sometimes the pain of a plant closing here in America is magnified when you know that other countries are cheating. They’re keeping American goods out of their markets, they’re unfairly subsidizing their businesses to undercut our businesses. And a lot of the worst violators, they don’t even have trade deals with us at all.
So here’s what we’ve done. Over the past seven years, we’ve brought more trade cases against other countries for cheating than anybody else. Every case that’s been decided, America has won. That’s what we’ve done. (Applause.) Making sure that we’ve got a level playing field.
But the truth is, trade has helped our country a lot more than it’s hurt us. Exports helped lead us out of the recession. Companies that export pay workers higher wages than folks who don’t export. And anybody who says that somehow shutting ourselves off from trade is going to bring jobs back, they’re just not telling the truth.
In fact, most of the manufacturing jobs that we lost over the past decade, they weren’t the result of trade deals — they were the result of technology and automation that lets businesses make more stuff with fewer workers. If you go into an auto plant these days — used to need several thousand workers, now they need a thousand workers to produce the same number of cars just because there are robots and there are machines that have replaced a lot of the work. That’s true in offices, too, by the way — think about bank tellers, the last time you dealt with one of those, because now you’ve got ATM machines.
So we can’t put technology back in a box any more than we can cut ourselves off from the global supply chain. All the RVs that are manufactured right here, I guarantee you, some of those parts came from someplace else. And then we sell them back to other parts of the world.
And no matter how many tariffs we’re threatening to slap on other countries’ goods, no matter how many trade wars we start saying we’re going to put in place, that’s not going to help middle-class families here. In fact, independent economists say a trade war would trigger another recession and cost millions of jobs. So when you hear somebody threatening to cut off trade and saying that that’s standing up for American workers, that’s just not true.
Here’s the fourth myth: That immigrants are taking all of our jobs. Now I want to look — let’s look at the numbers. Right now, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is near its lowest level in 40 years. (Applause.) It’s near its lowest level in 40 years. It’s lower than when it was before I came into office, it’s lower than during Ronald Reagan’s time. It’s true that new immigrants sometimes compete for service and construction jobs. But they also start about 30 percent of all new businesses in America. (Applause.) Everybody thinks that immigrants come here and then they’re getting all this stuff from the government. Immigrants pay a lot more in taxes than they receive in services. (Applause.)
But most important, immigrants are not the main reason wages haven’t gone up for middle-class families. Those decisions are made in the boardrooms of companies where top CEOs are getting paid more than 300 times the income of the average worker. (Applause.) So deporting 11 million immigrants — not only is that a fantasy that would cost taxpayers billions of dollars and tear families apart and just, logistically, would be impossible. Even if it were possible, it wouldn’t do anything to seriously help the middle class. Now, what would help is if we fixed our immigration system the way I’ve proposed, so that everybody plays by the rules, so that we’ve got strong border security. But we also are making sure that families who have been here, like, 10 years, 20 years, that they’re out of the shadows, they’re paying taxes, they’re going through a background check. That would grow our economy faster. That would shrink our deficits further. We just need a Congress that’s willing to make it happen. We need a Congress that’s willing to make it happen.
So, look, here’s my main point: The primary story that Republicans have been telling about the economy is not supported by the facts. It’s just not. They repeat it a lot — (laughter) — but it’s not supported by the facts. But they say it anyway. Now, why is that? It’s because it has worked to get them votes, at least at the congressional level.
Because — and here, look, I’m just being blunt with you — by telling hardworking, middle-class families that the reason they’re getting squeezed is because of some moochers at the bottom of the income ladder, because of minorities, or because of immigrants, or because of public employees, or because of feminists — (laughter) — because of poor folks who aren’t willing to work, they’ve been able to promote policies that protect powerful special interests and those who are at the very top of the economic pyramid. That’s just the truth. (Applause.)
I hope you don’t mind me being blunt about this, but I’ve been listening to this stuff for a while now. (Laughter.) And I’m concerned when I watch the direction of our politics. I mean, we have been hearing this story for decades. Tales about welfare queens, talking about takers, talking about the “47 percent.” It’s the story that is broadcast every day on some cable news stations, on right-wing radio, it’s pumped into cars, and bars, and VFW halls all across America, and right here in Elkhart.
And if you’re hearing that story all the time, you start believing it. It’s no wonder people think big government is the problem. No wonder public support for unions is so low. (Applause.) No wonder that people think that the deficit has gone up under my presidency when it’s actually gone down. (Applause.) No wonder that — they did a survey, a lot of white Americans think reverse discrimination is as big a problem as discrimination against minorities, even though black unemployment is twice as high as white unemployment. And the typical Hispanic woman makes 55 cents for every dollar a white man earns, and there are only a handful of women running Fortune 500 companies.
But that’s the story that’s been told. And I’m here to say, Elkhart, seven and a half years since I first came here, we’ve got to challenge the assumptions behind this economic story. (Applause.) And the reason is it has ended up dividing Americans who actually have common economic interests and should be working together for a better deal from the people who serve them. And it’s made people cynical about government, and it’s kept working families from pushing our political system to actually address our economic challenges in a realistic way. Families of all races, and all backgrounds, deserve higher wages. Families of all races, and all backgrounds, deserve quality health care and decent retirement savings. (Applause.) Every child in this country deserves an education that lets them dream bigger than the circumstances in which they’re born. (Applause.)
You know, look, in today’s economy, we can’t put up walls around America. We’re not going to round up 11 million people. We’re not going to put technology back in the box. We’re not going to rip away hard-earned rights of women and minorities and Americans with disabilities so that they’re able to more fairly and fully participate in the workplace. These are permanent fixtures in our economy. And rolling them back will not help folks in Elkhart or anyplace else.
And if we’re going to transform our politics so that they’re actually responsive to working families and are actually growing the middle class, then we’ve got to stop pitting working Americans against one another. We’re going to have to come together and choose a vision of America where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules. (Applause.) And that’s the vision that made progress possible over these last seven years. And that’s what’s going to lead us forward now.
Now, this isn’t a State of the Union Address — I already gave my last one. (Laughter.) But in the time remaining, I do want to offer some suggestions that I think would actually help give everybody who works hard a fair shot at opportunity and security in today’s economy. And you’ve heard some of these things before, but it’s worth repeating because they’re true.
Number one: Let’s get wages rising faster. (Applause.) Now, here’s the good news: Wages are actually growing at a rate of about 3 percent so far this year. That’s the good news. Working Americans are finally getting a little bigger piece of the pie. But we’ve got to accelerate that. That’s why, for example, my administration recently took new action to help millions of workers finally collect the overtime pay that they have earned. That’s going to help. (Applause.) But we should also raise the minimum wage high enough so that if somebody is working full time, they’re not living in poverty. (Applause.) Some states, some cities have done it, but we need a national law. We should make sure women get equal pay for equal work. That’s something we should all agree on. (Applause.) That shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Republicans have got daughters too. They shouldn’t want them to get paid less than somebody’s boy for doing the same job. If you care about working families getting a bigger paycheck, then that’s a clear choice for you right there.
We also need to give workers a bigger voice in the economy. Now, one of the reasons that wages have not grown faster over the last couple of decades is because some politicians, some businesses, some laws have undermined the ability of workers to bargain for a better deal, and that needs to change. (Applause.) We always talk about — folks taking about the good old days. Well, let me tell you something, in the good old days, 50 years ago, more than one in four American workers belonged to a union — one in four. (Applause.)
The reason all those manufacturing jobs that everybody wants to get back, the reason they paid well was because folks were unionized in those plants. (Applause.) And they not only negotiated for good wages, but also good benefits, and they had a pension plan that they could count on. So it used to be one in four were members of unions; today it’s about one in 10. And it’s not a coincidence that as union membership shrank, inequality grew and wages stagnated, and workers got a smaller share of the economic pie.
So I just want everybody to remember this — a lot of those good jobs people miss, a lot of those good manufacturing jobs that everybody is always talking about, those were union jobs. (Applause.) And when I — it’s great to get all riled up about low wages and lousy workers standards in other countries, but let’s get riled up about that stuff here, too. (Applause.) America should not be changing our laws to make it harder for workers to organize, we should be changing our laws to make it easier and encourage new forms of worker organizations that can give them more of a voice and more of a say in the economy.
And by the way, I want to be clear: There are a lot of terrific business leaders who have figured out that doing right by their workers isn’t just good for their workers, it’s good for their bottom line, because that means they’ve got more customers. It means their communities are doing better. (Applause.) There are plenty of business owners right here in Elkhart who exhibited that spirit throughout the recession. So we should lift up good corporate citizens like that so that more businesses across America follow their lead. But that’s priority number one — getting wages to grow faster.
Priority number two: We need to better prepare our children and our workers for the high-tech, high-wage jobs of tomorrow. (Applause.) Now, we actually know what works here, we just don’t do it. We know early childhood education works. (Applause.) And we should invest in smart ways of doing it across the country, especially because child care costs take up a huge share of a family budget. We know that we have to make college more affordable and job training more available. (Applause.) And one way to do that is to provide two years of community college for free for every responsible student. (Applause.) There are mayors and there are governors who are already doing good work on these issues across party lines. They’ve shown the way. Now we need Congress to do the same.
Number three: One of the reasons wages grew so quickly in the ‘50s and the ‘60s and the ‘70s is because we had a government that put people to work building highways, and building bridges, and building airports, and exploring new frontiers in space and science, and investing in research and development. And it led to countless new discoveries and innovations, and it educated a new generation of workers with public colleges where tuition was low, and a GI Bill.
And I just have to say, too often, Republicans in Congress are blocking investments like these for no other reason than this cult of small government that they keep repeating. But you know what, it’s been a drag on the economy. It made us recover slower than we should have. It’s been a drag on jobs. It’s been a drag on wages. And it’s pennywise and pound foolish because if the economy is growing slower, you take in less tax dollars. You’d be better off putting people back to work — then they’re paying taxes, the economy is getting stronger, and deficits can actually go down. We should be making smart investments that help us all succeed. (Applause.)
Fourth, in the new economy, we’ve got to make it easier for working Americans to save for retirement or bounce back from a lost job. Because let’s be honest — most Americans don’t have the same benefits package or job security as their member of Congress. I’m just saying. They’ve got a pretty good deal.
That was part of what Obamacare is all about, right? What it did was fill in the gaps so that if you lost your job, or you went back to school, or you decided to start a new business, you could go and compare and buy quality, affordable coverage and get a tax credit for it. And despite the predictions, it’s working. And, by the way, it would work ever better if we had more governors and legislators willing to do what Mike Pence did, to his credit, and expand Medicaid. That was a decision that helped more than 300,000 Hoosiers. (Applause.)
So we need fewer folks in Congress who side with the special interests. We need more who are willing to work with us to lower health care costs, give us the funding we need to fight public health challenges like Zika and the opioid epidemic — Joe Donnelly is working on that diligently. (Applause.) So those are things we could get done that would relieve a lot of worry for a lot of families.
And then we have to tackle retirement security. That’s something that keeps a lot of people up at night. That’s why we’ve taken actions already to make it easier for more workers to save through their jobs, to make sure that when you do save, you’re getting advice that’s not in Wall Street’s best interest, but in your best interest.
But look, let’s face it — a lot of Americans don’t have retirement savings. Even if they’ve got an account set up, they just don’t have enough money at the end of the month to save as much as they’d like because they’re just barely paying the bills. Fewer and fewer people have pensions they can really count on, which is why Social Security is more important than ever. (Applause.) We can’t afford to weaken Social Security. We should be strengthening Social Security. And not only do we need to strengthen its long-term health, it’s time we finally made Social Security more generous, and increased its benefits so that today’s retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they’ve earned. (Applause.) And we could start paying for it by asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute a little bit more. They can afford it. I can afford it. (Applause.)
A fifth way to make the new economy work for everybody is actually to make sure trade works for us and not against us. Again, walling ourselves off from other countries, that’s not going to do it. A lot of tough talk that doesn’t mean anything is not going to do it. Here’s what will make a difference: Making sure other countries raise their labor standards, raise their environmental standards to levels that we set. And that’s what we did with this trade deal we call Trans-Pacific Partnership. We negotiated with 11 other countries. If you don’t like NAFTA, this TPP trade deal overhauls NAFTA with enforceable, much stronger labor and environmental standards, which means that they won’t undercut us as easily.
If you don’t want China to set the rules for the 21st century — and they’re trying — then TPP makes sure that we set the rules. So the choice is simple: If you want to help China, then you shouldn’t pass this trade deal that we negotiated. If you want to help America, you need to pass it. Because it’s going to cut taxes that other countries put on our products. It raises other countries’ standards to ours. That’s how we’re going to help middle-class families. That’s how we secure better wages for our workers. And that’s how we compete on a level playing field, and when we’re on a level playing field, America wins every time — every time. (Applause.)
One last suggestion, and that is making sure the economy works for everybody by strengthening, and not weakening, the rules that keep Wall Street in check and goes after folks who avoid paying their fair share of taxes. (Applause.)
After the financial crisis, we passed the toughest Wall Street reforms in history. We passed the toughest Wall Street reforms in history, and by the way, the bank bailout that everybody was mad about? They had to pay back every dime, and they did — with interest. (Applause.) And then we passed laws to make sure we didn’t have something like that happen again. And they’re making a difference. The biggest banks have to carry twice the amount of capital that they did before the crisis — that makes another crisis less likely. We’ve got new tools to guard against another “too big to fail” situation. We’ve put in place a new consumer watchdog that has already secured more than $10 billion for families who were cheated by irresponsible lending or irresponsible credit card practices.
And guess what? Ever since we passed this thing, the big banks — working with a lot of members of Congress on the other side of the aisle — they have teamed up to try to roll back these rules every single year. Every year, they’ve been trying to roll them back. And the Republican nominee for President has already said he’d dismantle all these rules that we passed. That is crazy. (Applause.) Have we — no, look, I mean, sometimes — I’ll be honest with you. Sometimes I just don’t get it. (Laughter.) How it is that somebody could propose that we weaken regulations on Wall Street? Have we really forgotten what just happened eight years ago? (Applause.) It hasn’t been that long ago. And because of their reckless behavior, you got hurt. And the notion that you would vote for anybody who would now allow them to go back to doing the same stuff that almost broke our economy’s back makes no sense. (Applause.)
I don’t care whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or an independent — why would you do that? (Applause.) Less oversight on Wall Street would only make another crisis more likely. Letting credit card companies write their own rules — that’s only going to hurt working families. It sure as heck wouldn’t make the middle class more secure. How can you say you’re for the middle class and then you want to tear down these rules?
We’ve also been cracking down on tax loopholes, like the ones that allow corporations to change their addresses — they say they’re an overseas company, even though they’re all located here, so that they don’t have to pay taxes in America. We’ve cracked down on tax cheats who are trying to hide their wealth in offshore accounts. You don’t get to avoid paying your taxes. Why should they? (Applause.)
But I’ve got to say, the folks on the other side of the aisle have opposed our efforts to close these loopholes. How do they explain it? When big corporations and wealthy individuals don’t pay their fair share of taxes — and by the way, a lot of people do, so I’m not painting with a broad brush here, but there are a lot of folks who don’t — when they don’t pay their fair share of taxes, it means either you’re paying more or it means we don’t have enough revenue to support things like rebuilding our roads or funding our public universities, which means tuition goes up and then you’re trying to figure out how to pay for your kid’s college education.
We should have closed these loopholes a long time ago, and Lord knows I have tried every year in my budget. We should have used some of the savings that we get from them paying their fair share to give tax breaks that would actually help working families pay for child care, or would help you send your kids to college, or would help you save for retirement.
The point is, if we want a strong middle class, our tax code should reflect that. My first term, we cut taxes by $3,600 for the typical middle-class family. Middle-class families have paid lower federal income tax rates during my presidency than during any other time since the 1950s — that’s this big-spending, liberal, tax-and-spend Democrat. That’s the truth. Look it up. (Applause.)
But the wealthiest Americans are still paying far lower rates than they used to. When I ran for office, I said we’d reverse the tax cuts that had been put in place by the previous President and Congress for wealthy individuals, and we did that. We asked them to pay the top rate they did under Bill Clinton, when the economy, by the way, was booming and we ran a surplus. They all said, this is going to be a disaster and we’re going to go into a recession, and we didn’t.
But today, even as the top 1 percent is doing better than ever for all the reasons I talked about earlier, the Republican nominee for President’s tax plan would give the top one-tenth of 1 percent — not the top 1 percent, the top one-tenth of 1 percent — a bigger tax cut than the 120 million American households at the bottom. It would explode our deficits by nearly $10 trillion. I’m not making this up. (Laughter.) You can look at the math. (Applause.) That will not bring jobs back. That is not fighting for the American middle class. That will not help us win. That is not going to make your lives better. That will help people like him. That’s the truth. (Applause.)
So you have a choice to make, Elkhart. You do — between more or less inequality. Between stacking the deck for the folks who are already doing great or making sure everybody has a chance to succeed. That’s the economic choice you face. That’s what’s at stake in this election — two very different vision for our economy. I hope I’ve broken it down for you.
Now, let me say this: I understand that not everybody votes based on their economic interests. Not everybody votes just based on the economy. We’re more than just a matter of dollars and cents. Some folks care deeply about our Second Amendment rights. Some folks care about marriage equality. Some folks care about abortion. Some folks are going to vote based on national security, or their worries about terrorism. They may think that we haven’t done the right thing on any of those issues, and that the Republicans have a better answer. We can have that debate. That’s fine. Those are all issues very worthy of debate.
But if what you care about in this election is your pocketbook, if what you’re concerned about is who will look out for the interests of working people and grow the middle class, if that’s what you’re concerned about, then the debate — then if that’s that you’re concerned about — the economy — the debate is not even close. One path would lead to lower wages. It would eliminate worker protections. It would cut investments in things like education. It would weaken the safety net. It would kick people off health insurance. It would let China write the rules for the global economy. It would let Big Oil weaken rules that protect our air and water. It would let big banks weaken rules that protect families from getting cheated. It would cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans to historic lows. Those are the facts.
And I know it sounds like a strange agenda for politicians who are claiming to care about you and working families. But those are their plans. You can find it on their websites. And when I hear working families thinking about voting for those plans, then I want to have an intervention. (Laughter and applause.) I want you to just take a look at what you’re talking about here. (Applause.)
And if you tell me, you know what, Mr. President, you may be right, but I just disapprove of what Democrats stand for on gay rights, or on going after ISIL — then I’m fine. Okay, I hear you. The economy is not everything. If you tell me, you know what, you may be right, but I just believe as a matter of principle that government should be small and the wealthy, they work harder than everybody else and they should be able to keep what they got — all right, well, you’re making a philosophical argument. I got you.
But don’t think that actually — that this agenda is going to help you. It’s not designed to help you. And the evidence of the last 30 years, not to mention common sense, should tell you that their answers to our challenges are no answers at all. (Applause.)
Fortunately, there’s another path that leads to more jobs, and higher wages, and better benefits, and a stronger safety net, and a fairer tax code, and a bigger voice for workers, and trade on our terms. And it will make a real difference for the prospects of working families. And we’ll grow the middle class.
So that’s the choice you face, Elkhart. The ideas I’ve laid out today, I want to be clear: They’re not going to solve every problem. They’re not going to make everybody financially secure overnight. We’re still going to be facing global competition. Trying to make sure that all our kids are prepared for the 21st century workforce, that’s a 20-year project, that’s not a two-year project. We’re still going to have to make sure that we’re paying for Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare as our populations get older. There are still going to be a bunch of issues out there.
But the agenda I’m putting forward will point us in the right direction. And the one thing I can promise you is if we turn against each other based on divisions of race or religion, if we fall for a bunch of okie-doke just because it sounds funny or the tweets are provocative, then we’re not going to build on the progress that we’ve started. If we get cynical and just vote our fears, or if we don’t vote at all, we won’t build on the progress that we started.
We’ve got to come together around our common values — our faith in hard work. Our faith in responsibility. Our belief in opportunity for everybody. We’ve got to assume the best in each other, not the worst. We’ve got to remember that sometimes, we all fall on hard times, and it’s part of our jobs as a community of Americans to help folks up when they fall. (Applause.) Because whatever our differences, we all love this country. We all care about our children’s futures. That’s what makes us great. That’s what makes us progress and become better versions of ourselves — because we believe in each other. (Applause.)
That’s what’s going to get us through our toughest moments. That’s how we know something better is around the bend. There’s going to be some setbacks along the way, but we know that our journey is not finished, and we know that with steady, persistent, collective effort, we’re going to deliver a brighter day for our children and our children’s children. That’s what you proved, Elkhart, over these last seven years. That’s what you’ve shown America. Let’s keep on showing it.
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.)
4:28 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on June 1, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts April 5, 2016: President Barack Obama Remarks at Press Briefing on Economy, Tax Inversion, Mocks Trump and Cruz Immigration Plans
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President on the Economy
Source: WH, 4-5-16
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:15 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. I’m horning in on Josh’s time just for a hot second. As we learned last week, America’s economy added 215,000 jobs in March. That means that our businesses extended the longest streak of private sector job creation on record — 73 straight months, 14.4 million new jobs, unemployment about half of what it was six years ago.
This progress is due directly to the grit and determination and hard work and the fundamental optimism of the American people. As I travel around the country, what always stands out is the fact that the overwhelming majority of folks work hard and they play by the rules, and they deserve to see their hard work rewarded. They also deserve to know that big corporations aren’t playing by a different set of rules; that the wealthiest among us aren’t able to game the system.
That’s why I’ve been pushing for years to eliminate some of the injustices in our tax system. So I am very pleased that the Treasury Department has taken new action to prevent more corporations from taking advantage of one of the most insidious tax loopholes out there, and fleeing the country just to get out of paying their taxes. This got some attention in the business press yesterday, but I wanted to make sure that we highlighted the importance of Treasury’s action and why it did what it did.
This directly goes at what’s called corporate inversions. They are not new. Simply put, in layman’s terms, it’s when big corporations acquire small companies, and then change their address to another country on paper in order to get out of paying their fair share of taxes here at home. As a practical matter, they keep most of their actual business here in the United States because they benefit from American infrastructure and technology and rule of law. They benefit from our research and our development and our patents. They benefit from American workers, who are the best in the world. But they effectively renounce their citizenship. They declare that they’re based somewhere else, thereby getting all the rewards of being an American company without fulfilling the responsibilities to pay their taxes the way everybody else is supposed to pay them.
When companies exploit loopholes like this, it makes it harder to invest in the things that are going to keep America’s economy going strong for future generations. It sticks the rest of us with the tab. And it makes hardworking Americans feel like the deck is stacked against them.
So this is something that I’ve been pushing for a long time. Since I became President, we’ve made our tax code fairer, and we’ve taken steps to make sure our tax laws are actually enforced, including leading efforts to crack down on offshore evasion. I will say that it gets tougher sometimes when the IRS is starved for resources and squeezed by the congressional appropriation process so that there are not enough people to actually pay attention to what all the lawyers and accountants are doing all the time. But we have continued to emphasize the importance of basic tax enforcement.
In the news over the last couple of days, we’ve had another reminder in this big dump of data coming out of Panama that tax avoidance is a big, global problem. It’s not unique to other countries because, frankly, there are folks here in America who are taking advantage of the same stuff. A lot of it is legal, but that’s exactly the problem. It’s not that they’re breaking the laws, it’s that the laws are so poorly designed that they allow people, if they’ve got enough lawyers and enough accountants, to wiggle out of responsibilities that ordinary citizens are having to abide by.
Here in the United States, there are loopholes that only wealthy individuals and powerful corporations have access to. They have access to offshore accounts, and they are gaming the system. Middle-class families are not in the same position to do this. In fact, a lot of these loopholes come at the expense of middle-class families, because that lost revenue has to be made up somewhere. Alternatively, it means that we’re not investing as much as we should in schools, in making college more affordable, in putting people back to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our infrastructure, creating more opportunities for our children.
So this is important stuff. And these new actions by the Treasury Department build on steps that we’ve already taken to make the system fairer. But I want to be clear: While the Treasury Department actions will make it more difficult and less lucrative for companies to exploit this particular corporate inversions loophole, only Congress can close it for good, and only Congress can make sure that all the other loopholes that are being taken advantage of are closed.
I’ve often said the best way to end this kind of irresponsible behavior is with tax reform that lowers the corporate tax rate, closes wasteful loopholes, simplifies the tax code for everybody. And in recent years, I’ve put forward plans — repeatedly — that would make our tax system more competitive for all businesses, including small businesses. So far, Republicans in Congress have yet to act.
My hope is that they start getting serious about it. When politicians perpetuate a system that favors the wealthy at the expense of the middle class, it’s not surprising that people feel like they can’t get ahead. It’s not surprising that oftentimes it may produce a politics that is directed at that frustration. Rather than doubling down on policies that let a few big corporations or the wealthiest among us play by their own rules, we should keep building an economy where everybody has a fair shot and everybody plays by the same rules.
Rather than protect wasteful tax loopholes for the few at the top, we should be investing more in things like education and job creation and job training that we know grow the economy for everybody. And rather than lock in tax breaks for millionaires, or make it harder to actually enforce existing laws, let’s give tax breaks to help working families pay for child care or for college. And let’s stop rewarding companies that are shipping jobs overseas and profit overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here at home and are good corporate citizens.
That’s how we’re going to build America together. That’s how we battled back from this Great Recession. That’s the story of these past seven years. That can be the story for the next several decades if we make the right decisions right now. And so I hope this topic ends up being introduced into the broader political debate that we’re going to be having leading up to election season.
And with that, I turn it over to Mr. Josh Earnest.
Q A question about the Panama Papers, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q Given the release of these millions of pages of financial information, are you concerned that that reflects on the ability of the Treasury Department to sort of be able to see all the financial transactions across the globe — they clearly didn’t see these — and whether that suggests that the sanctions regime that you’ve put in place in a bunch of places around the world might not be as strong as you think it is?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we know the sanctions regime is strong because Iran wouldn’t have, for example, cut a deal to end their nuclear program in the absence of strong sanctions enforcement.
But there is no doubt that the problem of global tax avoidance, generally, is a huge problem. It’s been brought up in G7 meetings. It’s been brought up in G20 meetings. There has been some progress made in coordinating between tax authorities of different countries so that we can make sure that we’re catching some of the most egregious examples.
But as I said before, one of the big problems that we have, Michael, is that a lot of this stuff is legal — not illegal. And unless the United States and other countries lead by example in closing some of these loopholes and provisions, then in many cases you can trace what’s taking place, but you can’t stop it. And there is always going to be some illicit movement of funds around the world. But we shouldn’t make it easy. We shouldn’t make it legal to engage in transactions just to avoid taxes.
And that’s why I think it is important that the Treasury acted on something that’s different from what happened in Panama. The corporate inversions issue is a financial transaction that is brokered among major Fortune 500 companies to avoid paying taxes. But the basic principle of us making sure that everybody is paying their fair share, and that we don’t just have a few people who are able to take advantage of tax provisions, that’s something that we really have to pay attention to.
Because as I said, this is all net outflows of money that could be spent on the pressing needs here in the United States. And the volume that you start seeing when you combine legal tax avoidance with illicit tax avoidance, or some of the activities that we’re seeing, this is not just billions of dollars. It’s not even just hundreds of billions of dollars. Estimates are this may be trillions of dollars worldwide, and it could make a big difference in terms of what we can do here.
I’m going to take one more question and then I’m going to turn it over to Josh. One last one, go ahead.
Q Mr. President, the Republican frontrunner today outlined his plan to —
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, no. (Laughter.)
Q — pay for a wall along the border —
Q Climate change?
Q — barring undocumented immigrants in the U.S. from sending money back home. What would be the real implication of this plan? And are his foreign policy proposals already doing damage to U.S. relations abroad?
THE PRESIDENT: The answer to the latter question is yes. I think that I’ve been very clear earlier that I am getting questions constantly from foreign leaders about some of the wackier suggestions that are being made. I do have to emphasize that it’s not just Mr. Trump’s proposals. You’re also hearing concerns about Mr. Cruz’s proposals, which in some ways are just as draconian when it comes to immigration, for example.
The implications with respect to ending remittances — many of which, by the way, are from legal immigrants and from individuals who are sending money back to their families — are enormous. First of all, they’re impractical. We just talked about the difficulties of trying to enforce huge outflows of capital. The notion that we’re going to track every Western Union bit of money that’s being sent to Mexico, good luck with that.
Then we’ve got the issue of the implications for the Mexican economy, which in turn, if it’s collapsing, actually sends more immigrants north because they can’t find jobs back in Mexico. But this is just one more example of something that is not thought through and is primarily put forward for political consumption.
And as I’ve tried to emphasize throughout, we’ve got serious problems here. We’ve got big issues around the world. People expect the President of the United States and the elected officials in this country to treat these problems seriously, to put forward policies that have been examined, analyzed, are effective, where unintended consequences are taken into account. They don’t expect half-baked notions coming out of the White House. We can’t afford that.
All right? I’m turning it over to Josh. Thank you, guys.
12:29 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 5, 2016
Full Text Obama Presidency September 20, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Congressional Black Caucus 45th Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President at the Congressional Black Caucus 45th Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner
Source: WH, 9-20-15
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
9:40 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, CBC! (Applause.) I guess I get the fancier lectern here. Everybody please have a seat. Have a seat. I know it’s late. You’re ready for the after parties. I should have ditched the speech and brought my playlist. (Laughter.) Everybody looks beautiful, handsome, wonderful. Thank you, Don, for that introduction. Thank you to the CBC Foundation. And thank you to the members of the CBC. (Applause.)
On the challenges of our times, from giving workers a raise to getting families health coverage; on the threats of our time, from climate change to nuclear proliferation — members of the CBC have been leaders moving America forward. With your help, our businesses have created over 13 million new jobs. (Applause.) With your help, we’ve covered more than 16 million Americans with health insurance — many for the first time. (Applause.) Three years ago, Republicans said they’d get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent by 2017. It’s down to 5.1 right now. (Applause.) You didn’t hear much about that at the debate on Monday — on Wednesday night.
The point is, though, none of this progress would have been possible without the CBC taking tough votes when it mattered most. Whatever I’ve accomplished, the CBC has been there. (Applause.) I was proud to be a CBC member when I was in the Senate, and I’m proud to be your partner today. But we’re not here just to celebrate — we’re here to keep going. Because with the unemployment rate for African Americans still more than double than whites, with millions of families still working hard and still waiting to feel the recovery in their own lives, we know that the promise of this nation — where every single American, regardless of the circumstances in which they were born, regardless of what they look like, where they come from, has the chance to succeed — that promise is not yet fulfilled.
The good thing about America — the great project of America is that perfecting our union is never finished. We’ve always got more work to do. And tonight’s honorees remind us of that. They remind us of the courage and sacrifices, the work that they’ve done — and not just at the national level, but in local communities all across the country. We couldn’t be prouder of them. The heroes of the Civil Rights Movement whom we lost last month remind us of the work that remains to be done. American heroes like Louis Stokes, and Julian Bond, and Amelia Boynton Robinson. (Applause.)
Ms. Robinson — as some of you know, earlier this year, my family and I joined many in Selma for the 50th anniversary of that march. And as we crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, I held Ms. Amelia’s hand. And I thought about her and all the extraordinary women like her who were really the life force of the movement. (Applause.) Women were the foot soldiers. Women strategized boycotts. Women organized marches. Even if they weren’t allowed to run the civil rights organizations on paper, behind the scenes they were the thinkers and the doers making things happen each and every day — (applause) — doing the work that nobody else wanted to do. They couldn’t prophesize from the pulpits, but they led the charge from the pews. They were no strangers to violence. They were on the front lines. So often they were subject to abuse, dehumanized, but kept on going, holding families together. Mothers were beaten and gassed on Bloody Sunday. Four little girls were murdered in a Birmingham church. Women made the movement happen.
Of course, black women have been a part of every great movement in American history — (applause) — even if they weren’t always given a voice. They helped plan the March on Washington, but were almost entirely absent from the program. And when pressed, male organizers added a tribute highlighting six women — none of them who were asked to make a speech. Daisy Bates introduced her fellow honorees in just 142 words, written by a man. Of course, Marian Anderson and Mahalia Jackson sang. But in a three-hour program, the men gave women just 142 words. That may sound familiar to some of the women in the room here tonight. The organizers even insisted on two separate parades — male leaders marching along the main route on Pennsylvania Avenue, and leaders like Dorothy Height and Rosa Parks relegated to Independence Avenue. America’s most important march against segregation had its own version of separation.
Black women were central in the fight for women’s rights, from suffrage to the feminist movement — (applause) — and yet despite their leadership, too often they were also marginalized. But they didn’t give up, they didn’t let up. They were too fierce for that. Black women have always understood the words of Pauli Murray — that “Hope is a song in a weary throat.”
It’s thanks to black women that we’ve come a long way since the days when a girl like Ruby Bridges couldn’t go to school. When a woman like Amelia couldn’t cast her vote. When we didn’t have a Congressional Black Caucus — and its 20 women members. (Applause.)
So I’m focusing on women tonight because I want them to know how much we appreciate them, how much we admire them, how much we love them. (Applause.) And I want to talk about what more we have to do to provide full opportunity and equality for our black women and girls in America today. (Applause.)
Because all of us are beneficiaries of a long line of strong black women who helped carry this country forward. Their work to expand civil rights opened the doors of opportunity, not just for African Americans but for all women, for all of us — black and white, Latino and Asian, LGBT and straight, for our First Americans and our newest Americans. And their contributions in every field — as scientists and entrepreneurs, educators, explorers — all made us stronger. Of course, they’re also a majority of my household. (Laughter and applause.) So I care deeply about how they’re doing.
The good news is, despite structural barriers of race and gender, women and girls of color have made real progress in recent years. The number of black women-owned businesses has skyrocketed. (Applause.) Black women have ascended the ranks of every industry. Teen pregnancy rates among girls of color are down, while high school and four-year college graduation rates are up. (Applause.) That’s good news.
But there’s no denying that black women and girls still face real and persistent challenges. The unemployment rate is over 8 percent for black women. And they’re overrepresented in low-paying jobs; underrepresented in management. They often lack access to economic necessities like paid leave and quality, affordable child care. They often don’t get the same quality health care that they need, and have higher rates of certain chronic diseases — although that’s starting to change with Obamacare. (Applause.) It’s working, by the way, people. Just in case — (laughter) — just in case you needed to know.
And then there are some of the challenges that are harder to see and harder to talk about — although Michelle, our outstanding, beautiful First Lady talks about these struggles. (Applause.) Michelle will tell stories about when she was younger, people telling her she shouldn’t aspire to go to the very best universities. And she found herself thinking sometimes, “Well, maybe they’re right.” Even after she earned two degrees from some of the best universities in America, she still faced the doubts that were rooted in deep social prejudice and stereotypes, worrying whether she was being too assertive, or too angry, or too tall. (Applause.) I like tall women. (Laughter and applause.)
And those stereotypes and social pressures, they still affect our girls. So we all have to be louder than the voices that are telling our girls they’re not good enough — (applause) — that they’ve got to look a certain way, or they’ve got to act a certain way, or set their goals at a certain level. We’ve got to affirm their sense of self-worth, and make them feel visible and beautiful, and understood and loved. (Applause.) And I say this as a father who strives to do this at home, but I also say this as a citizen. This is not just about my family or yours; it’s about who we are as a people, who we want to be, and how we can make sure that America is fulfilling its promise — because everybody is getting a chance, and everybody is told they’re important, and everybody is given opportunity. And we got to do more than just say we care, or say we put a woman on ten-dollar bill, although that’s a good idea. We’ve got to make sure they’re getting some ten-dollar bills; that they’re getting paid properly. (Applause.) We’ve got to let our actions do the talking.
It is an affront to the very idea of America when certain segments of our population don’t have access to the same opportunities as everybody else. It makes a mockery of our economy when black women make 30 fewer cents for every dollar a white man earns. (Applause.) That adds up to thousands of dollars in missed income that determines whether a family can pay for a home, or pay for college for their kids, or save for retirement, or give their kids a better life. And that’s not just a woman’s issue, that’s everybody’s issue. I want Michelle getting paid at some point. (Laughter and applause.) We’ve got an outstanding former Secretary of State here who is also former First Lady, and I know she can relate to Michelle when she says, how come you get paid and I don’t? (Laughter and applause.) How did that work? (Laughter.)
When women of color aren’t given the opportunity to live up to their God-given potential, we all lose out on their talents; we’re not as good a country as we can be. We might miss out on the next Mae Jemison or Ursula Burns or Serena Williams or Michelle Obama. (Applause.) We want everybody to be on the field. We can’t afford to leave some folks off the field.
So we’re going to have to close those economic gaps so that hardworking women of all races, and black women in particular can support families, and strengthen communities, and contribute to our country’s success. So that’s why my administration is investing in job training and apprenticeships, to help everybody, but particularly help more women earn better-paying jobs, and particularly in non-traditional careers. It’s why we’re investing in getting more girls, and particularly girls of color interested in STEM fields — math and science and engineering — (applause) — and help more of them stay on track in school.
It’s why we’re going to continue to fight to eliminate the pay gap. (Applause.) Equal pay for equal work. It’s an all-American idea. It’s very simple. And that’s why we’re going to keep working to raise the minimum wage — because women disproportionately are the ones who are not getting paid what they’re worth. That’s why we’re fighting to expand tax credits that help working parents make ends meet, closing tax loopholes for folks who don’t need tax loopholes to pay for. It’s why we’re expanding paid leave to employees of federal contractors. And that’s why Congress needs to expand paid leave for more hardworking Americans. It’s good for our economy. It’s the right thing to do. No family should have to choose between taking care of a sick child or losing their job. (Applause.)
And just as an aside, what’s not the right thing to do, what makes no sense at all, is Congress threatening to shut down the entire federal government if they can’t shut down women’s access to Planned Parenthood. (Applause.) That’s not a good idea. Congress should be working on investing things that grow our economy and expand opportunity, and not get distracted and inflict the kind of self-inflicted wounds that we’ve seen before on our economy. So that’s some of the things we need to do to help improve the economic standing of all women; to help all families feel more secure in a changing economy.
And before I go tonight, I also want to say something about a topic that’s been on my mind for a while, another profound barrier to opportunity in too many communities — and that is our criminal justice system. (Applause.)
I spoke about this at length earlier this year at the NAACP, and I explained the long history of inequity in our criminal justice system. We all know the statistics. And this summer, because I wanted to highlight that there were human beings behind these statistics, I visited a prison in Oklahoma — the first President to ever visit a federal prison. (Applause.) And I sat down with the inmates, and I listened to their stories. And one of the things that struck me was the crushing burden their incarceration has placed not just on their prospects for the future, but also for their families, the women in their lives, children being raised without a father in the home; the crushing regret these men felt over the children that they left behind.
Mass incarceration rips apart families. It hollows out neighborhoods. It perpetuates poverty. We understand that in many of our communities, they’re under-policed. The problem is not that we don’t want active, effective police work. We want, and admire, and appreciate law enforcement. We want them in our communities. Crime hurts the African American community more than anybody. But we want to make sure that it’s done well and it’s done right, and it’s done fairly and it’s done smart. (Applause.) And that’s why, in the coming months, I’m going to be working with many in Congress and many in the CBC to try to make progress on reform legislation that addresses unjust sentencing laws, and encourages diversion and prevention programs, catches our young people early and tries to put them on a better path, and then helps ex-offenders, after they’ve done their time, get on the right track. It’s the right thing to do for America. (Applause.)
And although in these discussions a lot of my focus has been on African American men and the work we’re doing with My Brother’s Keeper, we can’t forget the impact that the system has on women, as well. The incarceration rate for black women is twice as high as the rate for white women. Many women in prison, you come to discover, have been victims of homelessness and domestic violence, and in some cases human trafficking. They’ve got high rates of mental illness and substance abuse. And many have been sexually assaulted, both before they got to prison and then after they go to prison. And we don’t often talk about how society treats black women and girls before they end up in prison. They’re suspended at higher rates than white boys and all other girls. And while boys face the school-to-prison pipeline, a lot of girls are facing a more sinister sexual abuse-to-prison pipeline. (Applause.) Victims of early sexual abuse are more likely to fail in school, which can lead to sexual exploitation, which can lead to prison. So we’re focusing on boys, but we’re also investing in ways to change the odds for at-risk girls — to make sure that they are loved and valued, to give them a chance.
And that’s why we have to make a collective effort to address violence and abuse against women in all of our communities. In every community, on every campus, we’ve got to be very clear: Women who have been victims of rape or domestic abuse, who need help, should know that they can count on society and on law enforcement to treat them with love and care and sensitivity, and not skepticism. (Applause.)
I want to repeat — because somehow this never shows up on Fox News. (Laughter.) I want to repeat — because I’ve said it a lot, unwaveringly, all the time: Our law enforcement officers do outstanding work in an incredibly difficult and dangerous job. They put their lives on the line for our safety. (Applause.) We appreciate them and we love them. That’s why my Task Force on 21st Century Policing made a set of recommendations that I want to see implemented to improve their safety, as well as to make sure that our criminal justice system is being applied fairly. Officers show uncommon bravery in our communities every single day. They deserve our respect. That includes women in law enforcement. We need more of you, by the way. We’ve got an outstanding chief law enforcement officer in our Attorney General, Loretta Lynch. (Applause.) We want all our young ladies to see what a great role model she is.
So I just want to repeat, because somehow this never gets on the TV: There is no contradiction between us caring about our law enforcement officers and also making sure that our laws are applied fairly. Do not make this as an either/or proposition. This is a both/and proposition. (Applause.) We want to protect our police officers. We’ll do a better job doing it if our communities can feel confident that they are being treated fairly. I hope I’m making that clear. (Applause.) I hope I’m making that clear.
We need to make sure the laws are applied evenly. This is not a new problem. It’s just that in recent months, in recent years, suddenly folks have videos and body cameras, and social media, and so it’s opened our eyes to these incidents. And many of these incidents are subject to ongoing investigation, so I can’t comment on every specific one. But we can’t avoid these tough conversations altogether. That’s not going to help our police officers, the vast majority who do the right thing every day, by just pretending that these things aren’t happening. That’s not going to help build trust between them and the communities in which they serve.
So these are hard issues, but I’m confident we’re going to move forward together for a system that is fairer and more just. We’ve got good people on both sides of the aisle that are working with law enforcement and local communities to find a better way forward. And as always, change will not happen overnight. It won’t be easy. But if our history has taught us anything, it’s taught us that when we come together, when we’re working with a sense of purpose, when we are listening to one another, when we assume the best in each other rather than the worst, then change happens.
Like every parent, I can’t help to see the world increasingly through my daughters’ eyes. And on that day, when we were celebrating that incredible march in Selma, I had Ms. Amelia’s hand in one of my hands, but Michelle had Sasha’s hand, and my mother-in-law had Malia’s hand — and it was a chain across generations. And I thought about all those women who came before us, who risked everything for life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, so often without notice, so often without fanfare. Their names never made the history books. All those women who cleaned somebody else’s house, or looked after somebody else’s children, did somebody else’s laundry, and then got home and did it again, and then went to church and cooked — and then they were marching. (Applause.)
And because of them, Michelle could cross that bridge. And because of them, they brought them along, and Malia and Sasha can cross that bridge. And that tells me that if we follow their example, we’re going to cross more bridges in the future. If we keep moving forward, hand in hand, God willing, my daughters’ children will be able to cross that bridge in an America that’s more free, and more just, and more prosperous than the one that we inherited. Your children will, too.
Thank you CBC. God bless you. God bless this country we love. (Applause.) Thank you.
10:06 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 20, 2015
Full Text Obama Presidency September 16, 2015: President Barack Obama’s remarks to the business roundtable urging against a government shutdown transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President to the Business Roundtable
Source: WH, 9-16-15
Business Roundtable Headquarters
11:24 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Randall, and thank you to everybody here at the Business Roundtable for having me today. I’m just going to say a few words and then hopefully spend a lot of time taking your questions.
Seven years ago today was one of the worst days in the history of our economy. If you picked up the Wall Street Journal that morning, you read that the shocks from AIG and Lehman were spreading worldwide. The day before, stocks had suffered their worst loss since 9/11. In the months after, businesses would go bankrupt, millions of Americans would lose their jobs and their homes, and our economy would reach the brink of collapse.
That’s where we were when I became chief executive. Here’s where we are today: Businesses like yours have created more than 13 million new jobs over the past 66 months -– the longest streak of job growth on record. The unemployment rate is lower than it’s been in over seven years. There are more job openings right now than at any time in our history. Housing has bounced back. Household wealth is higher than it was before the recession. We have made enormous strides in both traditional energy sources and clean energy sources while reducing our carbon emissions. And our education system is actually making significant progress with significant gains in reducing the dropout rate, reading scores increasing, math scores increasing. And, by the way, more than 16 million people have health insurance that didn’t have it before.
So this progress is a testament to American business and innovation. It’s a testament to the workers that you employ. But I’m going to take a little credit, too. It’s a testament to some good policy decisions. Soon after we took office, we passed the Recovery Act, rescued our auto industry, worked to rebuild our economy on a stronger foundation for growth. Other countries in some cases embraced austerity as an ideology without looking at the data and the facts, tried to cut their way out of recession. The results speak for themselves. America has come back from crisis faster than almost every other advanced nation on Earth. And at a time of significant global volatility, we remain the world’s safest, smartest investment.
Of course, I will not be satisfied — and we as a country shouldn’t be satisfied — until more working families are feeling the recovery in their own lives. But the fact is that what I’ve called middle-class economics has been good for business. Corporate profits have hit an all-time high. Slowing health care prices and plummeting energy costs have helped your bottom lines. Manufacturing is growing at the fastest clip in about two decades. Our workforce is more educated than ever before. The stock market has more than doubled since 2009, and 2015 is on pace to be the year with the highest consumer confidence since 2004. And America’s technological entrepreneurs have continued to make incredible products that are changing our lives rapidly.
Now, you wouldn’t know any of this if you were listening to the folks who are seeking this office that I occupy. (Laughter.) In the echo chamber that is presidential politics, everything is dark and everything is terrible. They don’t seem to offer many solutions for the disasters that they perceive -– but they’re quick to tell you who to blame.
I’m here to say that there’s nothing particularly patriotic or American about talking down America, especially when we stand as one of the few sources of economic strength in the world.
Right now, we’ve got the chance to build on progress that we have made and that is acknowledged worldwide. We have a chance to grow the economy even faster, create jobs even faster, lift people’s incomes and prospects even faster. We just have to make some sensible choices. And I’m going to focus on one particular example. America’s next fiscal year is almost upon us, which means that Congress has about two weeks to pass a budget. If they don’t, they will shut down America’s government for the second time in two years.
Democrats are ready to sit down and negotiate with Republicans right now, today, as we speak. But it should be over legitimate questions of spending and revenue –- not unrelated ideological issues. You’ll recall that two years ago Republicans shut down the government because they didn’t like Obamacare. Today, some are suggesting the government should be shut down because they don’t like Planned Parenthood. That’s not good sense and it’s not good business. The notion that we’d play chicken with an $18 trillion economy and global markets that are already skittish all because of an issue around a women’s health provider that receives less than 20 cents out of every thousand dollars in the federal budget, that’s not good policymaking.
The last time Republicans shut down the government, it cost our economy billions of dollars; consumer confidence plummeted. I don’t think anybody here thinks that’s going to be good for your business.
I’ve always believed what our first Republican President, a guy from my home state named Abraham Lincoln, believed –- that through government we should do together those things that we can’t do as well by ourselves. Funding infrastructure projects. Educating the best workforce in the world. Investing in cutting-edge research and development so that businesses can take that research and take some risks to create new products and new services. Setting basic rules for the marketplace that encourage innovation and fair competition that help a market-based economy thrive. Creating a safety net that not only helps the most vulnerable in our society but also frees all of us to take risks and protect against life’s uncertainties. And welcoming, rather than disparaging, the striving immigrants that have always been the source of continued renewal, economic vibrancy and dynamism in our economy.
So my hope is that Congress aims a little higher than just not shutting the government down. That’s a good start, we’d like them to achieve that, but I think we can do better. We can actually do some things to help the economy grow. After the last shutdown, both parties came together and unwound some of the irrational cuts to our economy and military readiness that’s known as sequester. That agreement expires in two weeks as well. And for those of you who are not steeped in federal budget terminology, sequester basically are automatic topline cuts that don’t discriminate, don’t think through what are good investments and what is waste. And if we don’t reverse the cuts that are currently in place, a lot of the drivers of growth that your companies depends on — research, job training, infrastructure, education for our workforce — they are going to be reduced effectively at a time when other countries around the world are racing to get ahead of us. On the other hand, if Congress does reverse dome of these cuts, then our own budget office estimates it would add about half a million jobs to our economy next year alone, about 0.4 percent to GDP.
And keep in mind that we can afford it right now — all the things I said at the front in terms of the recovery that we’ve made. We’ve also reduced the deficit by two-thirds. Right now it’s about 2.8 percent of GDP. We’ve reduced our deficit faster than some of those countries that pursued strict austerity policies and weren’t thinking about how to grow the economy.
And so we are well positioned without adding to the deficit. I want to repeat — since I took office, we’ve cut the deficit by more than two-thirds. And the good news is we might actually be moving beyond some of the stale debates we’ve been having about spending and revenue over the past several years if what economists and people who are knowledgeable about the federal budget are listened to as opposed by this being driven by short-term politics.
People in both parties, including some of the leading Republican candidates for President, have been putting out proposals. Some I agree with, some I don’t. I’ll give you one example, though. You’ve got two leading candidates on the Republican side who have said that we should eliminate the carried interest loophole. Now, there’s disagreement in this room around that. But I will tell you that keeping this tax loophole, which leads to folks who are doing very well paying lower rates than their secretaries, is not in any demonstrable way improving our economy.
On the other hand, if we close the tax loophole, we could double the number of workers in America’s job training programs. We could help another 4 million students afford college. These are sensible choices that if you were running your business and you took a look at it, you’d make that decision. Well, America should too.
And this is an example of how we can maintain fiscal responsibility while at the same time making the investments that we need to grow.
So the bottom line is this: Seven years ago, if we had listened to some politicians who said we could only cut our way to prosperity, the fact is we’d be worse off today. If we listen to them now, then we’re going to be worse off tomorrow.
I hope that you will talk to your friends in Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike. As Congress flirts with another shutdown, remind them of what is at stake. We will have some disagreements sometimes. I do not expect to get 100 percent of what I want in any conversation, including with my wife. But I do expect us to stay focused on why we’re here, which is to help the American people and businesses like yours and your workers do better. That’s our job. We’re not supposed to be impeding progress. We’re supposed to be advancing progress, accelerating it.
And if our leaders can put common sense over ideology and the good of the country before the good of the party, then we’ll do just fine. Despite the perennial doom and gloom that I guess is inevitably part of a presidential campaign, America is winning right now. America is great right now. We can do even better. But the reason that I’m so confident about our future is not because of our government or the size of our GDP or our military, but because everybody in this country that I meet — regardless of their station in life, their race, their religion, the region they live in — they do believe in a common creed that if people work hard in this country, they should be able to get ahead. And I know that’s what you believe. That’s the values that you try to instill in our companies, as well. My hope is, is that that decency, that hard work, that common sense is going to be reflected here in Washington.
So with that, let me take some questions. And I’m going to start with Randall, because since he volunteered for what I’m sure is a thankless job of being head of the — (laughter).
Q I’ll get it going here. I know there are a lot of other questions for you. But Leader McConnell was just here a little earlier, and he gave us all a cause to exhale, talking about the budget and seemed confident that we would get a place where we would have a budget. And in the context of that he spoke about how split government can actually provide opportunities for getting big things done that might be hard to get done otherwise. And he caused a head-snapper with all of us when he gave you a very strong compliment over —
THE PRESIDENT: My head is snapping. (Laughter.) What did I do?
Q Trade Promotion Authority, and how you worked that and you worked it very aggressively. And, by the way, all of us in here — Mike Froman, I don’t know if he’s here, and Jeff Zients are very complimentary of the work that was done there.
So now you have the authority to get a trade deal done. It’s going to have to come back to Congress, and so forth. Talk to us a little bit about your view of the opportunity to get the Trans-Pacific deal done.
THE PRESIDENT: I am confident that we can get it done, and I believe we can get it done this year. The trade ministers should be meeting again sometime in the next several weeks. They have the opportunity to close the deal. Most chapters have been completed at this point. And I’m confident that it will, in fact, accomplish our central goal, which is to make sure that we’ve got a level playing field for American businesses and American workers in the fastest-growing region of the world.
There are going to be unprecedented protections for labor standards and environmental standards, but also for IP protection, also for making sure that when any company here makes an investment, that they’re not being disadvantaged but are instead being treated like domestic companies for commercial purposes.
And so the notion here is, is that we’ve got 11 nations who represent the fastest-growing, most populous part of the world buying into a high-standards trade deal that allows us and your companies on a consistent basis to compete. And the good news is, is that with a lot of tough negotiating and a lot of pushing and pulling — mainly by Mr. Froman, but occasionally I get called in to lob a call into one of my counterparts — I think that we’re going to get this done.
Now, the key then, once we close the negotiations and we have an agreement, is to get TPP through Congress. We got it through. I will return the compliment of Mitch McConnell worked very hard and very creatively to get it done. We should not assume, though, that because the authority was done, that we automatically are going to be able to get TPP done.
And I’ll be honest with you, the reason is that the politics around trade are tough. And I said this even in the run-up to getting TPA authority. A lot of Americans, when they think of trade, think of plants in their hometown or nearby shutting down and moving to Mexico or China, and American manufacturing and good-paying jobs being lost. That’s the image of trade.
And the argument that I have made consistently to Democrats has been that there may have been some mistakes made in past trade agreements in not, for example, having enforceable labor and environmental provisions that put American companies that are doing the right thing at a disadvantage; that there weren’t enough safeguards for intellectual property and the abuses of state-owned enterprises and subsidies that companies may have been involved with.
But that’s the status quo now. And if you want to correct those things, we’ve got to raise the bar. I didn’t fully persuade all my Democratic colleagues, because the politics are tough. And I was willing to take my case to the Democratic caucus and to talk to my friends in organized labor and say that we can’t look backwards, we’ve got to look forward. We’re going to have to compete in these areas.
Here’s the concern politically, is that I think within the Republican Party some of the same impulses that are anti-immigration reform, some of the same impulses that see the entire world as a threat and we’ve got to wall ourselves off, some of those same impulses also start creeping into the trade debate. And a party that traditionally was pro free trade now has a substantial element that may feel differently.
And so the BRT, I think — you know, you got to put Engler to work over there. To their credit, both Mitch McConnell and John Boehner I think are on the right program here, but they’re going to need some help potentially with their membership, because the closer we get to political season, the tighter some of these votes get. I will tell you this, though: I am confident that if I’m presenting an agreement to Congress, that it will meet the commitment that I made that this would be the highest standard, most progressive trade deal in American history. It will be good for American business and American workers.
Q Hi, Mr. President. Thank you for being with us. I wanted to ask you about cybersecurity. You put an executive order in place earlier this week because of the issues we have with information-sharing and with liabilities. And we at the BRT are very supportive of the legislation that has passed the House and is now in progress in the Senate. And I wanted to just get your thoughts on how you’re thinking about this, and also with the upcoming visit of the President of China about cybersecurity and our relationship with China.
THE PRESIDENT: This is an issue that is not going away. It is going to be more and more important, and it is going to be very challenging. It’s challenging in part because the Internet itself, the architecture of it was not intended to carry trillions of dollars of transactions and everybody’s personal information. It was designed for a couple of professors to trade academic papers. And so the kind of security that we were looking for was not embedded into the DNA of the Internet.
And the vulnerabilities are significant and they are being exploited by not just state actors, but also non-state actors and criminal gangs at an accelerating pace. So this is something that from a national security perspective and from a business perspective we’re going to have to continue to concentrate on.
One of the big issues that you mentioned, Maggie, that we’re focused on, is this encryption issue. And there is a legitimate tension around this issue. On the one hand, the stronger the encryption, the better we can potentially protect our data. And so there’s an argument that says we want to turbocharge our encryption so that nobody can crack it. On the other hand, if you have encryption that doesn’t have any way to get in there, we are now empowering ISIL, child pornographers, others to essentially be able to operate within a black box in ways that we’ve never experienced before during the telecommunications age. And I’m not talking, by the way, about some of the controversies around NSA; I’m talking about the traditional FBI going to a judge, getting a warrant, showing probable cause, but still can’t get in.
So we’ve created a process around which to see if we can square the circle here and reconcile the need for greater and greater encryption and the legitimate needs of national security and law enforcement.
And I won’t say that we’ve cracked the code yet, but we’ve got some of the smartest folks not just in government but also in the private sector working together to try to resolve it. And what’s interesting is even in the private sector, even in the tech community, people are on different sides of this thing.
With respect to China, this will probably be one of the biggest topics that I discuss with President Xi. We have repeatedly said to the Chinese government that we understand traditional intelligence-gathering functions that all states, including us, engage in. And we will do everything we can to stop you from getting state secrets or transcripts of a meeting that I’ve had, but we understand you’re going to be trying to do that. That is fundamentally different from your government or its proxies engaging directly in industrial espionage and stealing trade secrets, stealing proprietary information from companies. That we consider an act of aggression that has to stop.
And we are preparing a number of measures that will indicate to the Chinese that this is not just a matter of us being mildly upset, but is something that will put significant strains on the bilateral relationship if not resolved, and that we are prepared to some countervailing actions in order to get their attention.
My hope is, is that it gets resolved short of that, and ultimately the goal should be to have some basic international framework that won’t be perfect because there’s still going to be a lot of non-state actors and hackers who are very good, and we’re still going to have to have good defense and still have to be able to find the fingerprints of those and apprehend them, and stop networks that are engaged in cybercrime.
But among states, there has to be a framework that is analogous to what we’ve done with nuclear power because nobody stands to gain. And, frankly, although the Chinese and Russians are close, we’re still the best at this. And if we wanted to go on offense, a whole bunch of countries would have some significant problems. And we don’t want to see the Internet weaponized in that way. That requires I think some tough negotiations. That won’t be a one-year process, but we’d like to see if we can — if we and the Chinese are able to coalesce around a process for negotiations, then I think we can bring a lot of other countries along.
Q And we will work with you on that too.
THE PRESIDENT: Good.
Q Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Ursula.
Q Thank you for being here. It’s also good to be reminded occasionally of some of the progress that we’ve made in like a complete sentence. So I think thank you for that, as well. And some recent ones — TPA is good; even the Iran deal, really good. Health care standing up. All good. The place that we haven’t made a lot of progress but that’s really important for business and business progress is on tax and tax reform.
And what we’re getting to now is I think almost kind of like being backed in the corner. So since you can’t get a grand deal, we’re starting to talk about sub-deals. And the sub-deals in and of themselves are destructive, in the Business Roundtable’s view, to the grand deal, which is total tax reform or comprehensive tax reform. So can you help us think about how we should negotiate this duality that we’re in right now? And where do you think we’re going to end up?
THE PRESIDENT: We put forward a proposal early on that I’m confident I could sell to this group. Not everybody would be thrilled but I think I could argue that over time would be good for business, because essentially what we proposed was the traditional framework for tax reform: close loopholes, lower rates. We’d address international taxation in ways that currently put American businesses at a disadvantage and would allow for a repatriation, but would not simply empty out the Treasury and would generate enough revenue that we could actually also pay for some infrastructure.
And our hope was that we’d get some nibbles on the other side. To his credit, Paul Ryan expressed real interest in discussions and negotiations. But your previous speaker, Mitch McConnell, has said that he is not interested in getting tax reform — comprehensive tax reform of that sort done.
So there’s still work being done. We’re still in conversations with Mr. Ryan. And I know that Senator Schumer and others have still been working on the possibilities of a fairly robust package. But ultimately you’re going to have to have the leader of the Senate majority party bought in to try to get this done.
I understand why tax reform is elusive — because those of us who believe in a simpler, fairer, more competitive tax framework in the abstract sometimes look at our bottom lines and say, I don’t know, that deduction is helping us pretty good here. And even if this organization has been supportive, there are other business organizations in town that have some pretty strong influence over the Republican Party that haven’t been as wild on it, partly because their view is, is that the only kind of tax reform that’s acceptable is one that would also lower all rates, regardless of its effect on the deficit. That’s just not something that is viable.
So we’re going to keep on working on it. My suggestion would be that the BRT continue to encourage Speaker Boehner, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell to come up with an ambitious package. And what I can assure you is, is that the White House will take it seriously. We don’t expect that everything in our original package would go forward.
But the one thing that we couldn’t do — and I get concerned sometimes that what is labeled as tax reform ends up just being cuts, you’re not closing the loopholes, and as a consequence it’s a huge drain on the Treasury. We then suddenly are accused of running up the deficit to help your tax rates, and we’re not doing enough to help grow the economy and help ordinary workers. So that’s the one direction we can’t go in.
Q Thank you for being here. I’d love to hear your thoughts on energy policy. I know we talk a lot about all of the above, but I think what’s really changing kind of in an unprecedented way here recently are technology revolutions that are occurring either in the production of energy, or perhaps, more importantly, in the use of energy, that gives Americans I think a way to play offense in what has been a set of unprecedented challenges. What’s your thoughts on that?
THE PRESIDENT: Tom, I think you described it well. I am much more optimistic about our ability to get a handle around energy that is good for our economy, good for business, good for consumers, good for job creation, and maybe saves the planet in the process. I’m much more optimistic about that now than I was when I started as President.
And a good example is just when you look at what’s happened with solar. I mean, we’re not quite at Moore’s law yet, but the pace at which the unit costs for solar energy have gone down is stunning. We’ve seen not quite the same pace, but similar progress around wind. Our natural gas production is unprecedented. And I have been very supportive of our natural gas production as being not only important to our economy but also geopolitically. It’s a huge recipe for energy independence as long as we get it — the methane discharge issues — right. And I think there are ways of doing that with sound science. So that’s on the production side.
And, as you said, on the utilization side, all of you are — there’s not a company here that is not producing significantly more product with less energy than you were just 10 years ago, and certainly than you were 20 years ago. Everybody here has seen the power of tracking utilization, identifying waste, and timing issues around when is energy expensive, when is energy cheap. So there’s enormous progress on the commercial side. And then individual households now with things like Nest or the equivalence, we’re able to fine-tune our energy usage in ways that we just haven’t seen before.
And then you’ve got the whole transportation sector in which we’ve continued to make significant progress in Detroit as well as upstarts like Tesla. There are still some distribution network issues around the transportation revolution, although companies like UPS are doing a great job I think already experimenting with their fleets. So that’s all good news.
I would say that the big challenge now, if we’re going to realize all the potential here, is to work with utilities so that they have a business model in which they’re making money while seeing this change in distribution patterns and grid, because I think that there’s still some legitimate economic issues there that have to be sorted through. And it’s tricky because it’s a patchwork system; we don’t have one national grid, obviously.
The second thing is, investment in basic research needs to continue. Battery technology is greatly improved, but we still haven’t seen all the breakthroughs that I think that we can make with battery technology that would make a huge difference in storage. And that’s an exciting area for development.
And then I would urge the BRT and some of you individually, as companies have already done this, view the issue of climate change and the Paris Conference that’s going to be coming up at the end of this year as an opportunity rather than as a problem. Because this is coming; it’s coming generationally. If you talk to your kids or my kids, they are much more attuned to this issue. Consumers are going to be caring about it more and more. The environmental effects that we’re seeing — I’m going to be calling Jerry Brown later today just to talk about California wildfires. Some of you may have read the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada — lowest it’s been in 200 years. The flooding problems that we’re already seeing in places like South Florida; it’s just during high tide. Suddenly billions of dollars of property is under water.
So this is coming. And for us to be out ahead of it and to think about how our ingenuity and our science can solve these problems is going to give us a jump on everybody else. So there is a pledge that some members of the BRT have organized around supporting a strong Paris agreement. I would encourage you to sign up on that and look for opportunities on this. And that includes companies that have been in the traditional fossil fuel area. Because if you know how to do oil and gas well, you can figure out how to do solar well, you can figure out to make money doing it. You can figure out how to create efficiencies that help your bottom line.
And what we’ve tried to do with the Clean Power Plan is to give states flexibility, understanding everybody has got a different energy mix. So, down south, we approved the first nuclear plant in a generation, basically, because we think nuclear needs to be part of that package. I’m a big believer that there are going to be different ways to skin the cat on this thing. We just have to set a baseline in which all of us understand the direction we need to go. Instead of us spending a lot of time fighting science, let’s go with science. We usually do better when we’re on the side of facts and evidence and science. Just as a general rule, that’s proved to be our strength as Americans.
Q If I could just turn back to China for a second. There are a lot of issues we’ve got to sort out, and you mentioned a couple of them — cybersecurity, their feelings about TPP, their own economy. Their inward turn in the name of creating a consumer economy has had some protectionist elements that we don’t like. I think, though — I think many in this room would like to see some kind of positive outcome from this summit, as well, that underlines our mutual benefit if we can figure out some of these things and find a way for the world’s two biggest economies to see a path forward as well as all the issues we’ve got.
Do you have a comment on the tone you’re going to try to set with the President, and roles that we could play in supporting both the — managing our relationship as well as finding a future for it?
THE PRESIDENT: My tone with respect to China has been pretty consistent. It doesn’t jump up and down depending on where the polls are. My view is that China should be and will continue to be an economic competitor; that we need to make sure that we are reaching an understanding with them about our presence as a Pacific power, but that it is in our interest for China to continue what has been dubbed a “peaceful, orderly rise.” I think that’s good for the world.
China is a big place with a lot of people. And we’re better off if those people are eating and have shelter and are buying consumer goods, rather than starving and writhing on the streets.
And so what I’ve consistently communicated, first to President Hu when I came into office, now President Xi, is our goal is to have them as a partner in helping to maintain a set of international rules and norms that benefit everybody; that in fact, we’re what facilitated China’s rise. They were essentially riding on our backs for the last 30 years because we were underwriting peace, security, the free flow of commerce, international rules in the financial sector.
And as they have matured, what we’ve said to them is, with power comes responsibility, so now you’ve got to step up. You can’t act as if you are a third-world country and pursue protectionist policies, or engage in dumping, or not protect intellectual property at a time when we’re now — when you’re now the second and, eventually, probably the first-largest economy in the world.
You can’t simply pursue an export-driven strategy, because you’re too big. You’re not going to be able to grow your economy at the same pace over the next 20 years that you did in the last 20 years. Once your economy reaches a certain size, there’s not enough global market to absorb that, which means that you’ve got to start thinking about transparency within your own economy, and how are you setting up a safety net so that workers have some cushion, and in turn, are willing to spend money as opposed to stuffing it in a mattress.
You’ve got to be concerned about environmental issues, because you can’t breathe in Beijing. And that spills over for all of us. And as a large country with a powerful military, you can’t go around pushing your little neighbors around just because you’re bigger, but you have to start abiding by a basic code of conduct and a set of rules, because ultimately, you will be advantaged by everybody following the rules.
And I think in some areas, the Chinese understand this; I think in other areas, they don’t. I think in other areas, they still see themselves as the poor country that shouldn’t have any obligations internationally. And in some cases, they still feel that when we call them on issues like their behavior in the South China Sea, or on intellectual property theft, that we are trying to contain them as opposed to us just wanting them to abide by the same rules that helped create an environment in which they can rise.
The good news is that our fates are sufficiently intertwined, that — and in many ways, they still need us a lot more than we need them; that I think that there are going to be continuing areas in which they move, as long as we don’t resort to the kind of loose talk and name-calling that I notice some of our presidential candidates engage in — people you know. (Laughter.) It tends not to be constructive.
So bottom line, though, is, Jim, I think this summit will be useful. I think there are going to be a lot of outcomes around things like energy and climate change, around improvements in how they deal with investors that will show constructive progress. I think our military-to-military conversations have been much better than they were when I began office.
The one thing I would suggest that the BRT can do — two things. Number one — and I think I’ve said this to some of you in the past — when your companies have a problem in China and you want us to help, you have to let us help. Don’t tell us on the side, we’ve got this problem, you need to look into it, but then — but leave our names out of it because we want to be punished kind of thing.
Typically, we are not effective with the Chinese unless we are able to present facts and evidence of a problem. Otherwise, they’ll just stonewall and slow-walk issues. So if we’re seeing problems in terms of the competitive environment there, in terms of protecting your IP, in terms of unfair competition that runs afoul of understanding the principles that have already been established, you’ve got to let us know and let us be your advocates. That’s important.
The second thing I think everybody here should do is not fall into the same trap that we fell into around Japan in the 1980s, which is somehow China is taking over just like Japan was taking over, and we’re in inevitable decline. This whole argument — I’m just going to go on a quick rant here for a second — (laughter) — this whole notion that somehow we’re getting out-competed, out-dealt, out-this, out-that, we’re losing, we’re in — nobody outside the United States understands what we’re talking about. (Laughter.)
I mean we’ve got problems. We’ve got issues. Our biggest problem is gridlock in Washington and that’s just not making some sensible policies. But overall, our cards are so much better than everybody else’s. Our pool of quality businesses and talent, and our institutions, and our rule of law, and how we manage and adapt to new and changing circumstances, and our dominance in knowledge-based industries — nobody matches us. And we attract — the best talent around the world still wants to come here if we’d just let them come.
So I think it’s important for business voices to point out every once in a while America is in the driver’s seat if we make some smart decisions. And that’s not a partisan comment, that is just the facts. There is not a country out there, including China, that wouldn’t look at us with envy right now.
And so our problem is not that China is going to out-negotiate us, or that Mr. Putin is sort of out-strategizing us. Anybody taken a look at the Russian economy lately? That’s not our problem. Our problem is us, typically. We engage in — and I’m being generous when I say “we,” — (laughter) — but we engage in self-inflicted wounds like this potential government shutdown. It’s unnecessary.
I’ve got time for a couple more questions. Good to see you. How you doing? How you doing, Ed? How is everybody back home?
Q Very good.
THE PRESIDENT: Good.
Q Along that, in that same vein, looking earlier this summer, the expiration of the Ex-Im Bank authorization.
THE PRESIDENT: Speaking of self-inflicted wounds.
Q Understand. And part of the ongoing discussion, debate here in Washington, the Senate has attached a reauthorization, as you know, to the transportation bill, which is now down at the House. And on Monday the Roundtable sent a letter to the leadership on both sides in Congress pointing out really the benefits of reauthorization, that some of those get lost in this debate. Because really, it’s been characterized as only benefitting a few companies, which ignores the thousands of people who are basically employed by our suppliers across the country, and the impact — positive impact that has, as well as it’s a net generator revenue for the governor — for the government. And we have plans to have further discussions later today and this week with leadership in the House.
Do you have any — we had a good discussion with your team this morning. Do you have any insights that you could share with us that would help us in getting that reauthorization?
THE PRESIDENT: It is mind-boggling that this wasn’t reauthorized a year ago. And it is this weird reversal in which the principle opponents are the tea party caucus in the Republican Party.
Somehow, Ex-Im Bank has become this cause célèbre of what some of the presidential candidates called “crony capitalism.” And what’s ironic is obvious — I think some of you know the backstory. There was I think a member of this organization that kind of started this whole thing because they were upset about some planes being sold to a competitor on a route, and suddenly this caught fire in the right wing Internet. And it’s just hard to explain.
Look, Ed, I had a group of small businesses, ranging from, what, four people to a couple of hundred people, talking about how they use Ex-Im. This is the only way that they can get into these markets. And as you said, Ex-Im doesn’t cost the government. This is not a money loser for us. And I don’t have to tell Emil (ph) or Jim how important it is. I keep on telling them I expect a gold watch from them because it seems like every time I take a foreign trip I’ve got to sell some turbine or plane. (Laughter.)
And I was concerned about Jeff’s announcement that jobs that were here in the United States are now going to be overseas because we don’t get this done. But that’s true for the supply chain; it’s also true for some smaller companies that use Ex-Im directly. It’s not just that they’re part of the GE or Boeing supply chain, it’s that they’re selling tea to a country and this is the only mechanism they have to be able to make those sales.
The good news is McConnell and Boehner both say they want to get it done. As you said, we’ve already shown there are sufficient votes for it in the Senate, and we actually think there are sufficient votes for it in the House. I would concentrate your attention on House Republican caucus members. And I think you have to flood the zone and let them know this is important. And that includes, by the way, talking to individual members who, in their districts, potentially have companies that are being adversely affected as long as Ex-Im is frozen.
But my expectation is it gets done during the course of these budget negotiations. And we’re going to push as hard as we can to get it, though.
Q Mr. President, thank you for being here today. One of the issues that we deal with and we talked about last time you were here was regulations. And one of the areas that the Business Roundtable is very focused on these days is the ozone rule, which October 1, your administration will be coming out with a recommendation associated with that.
The Business Roundtable position is that we need to maintain the 75 parts-per-billion. To lower that standard when technology doesn’t exist and when communities are already advancing toward the 75 goal — if you lower it to 70, it’s going to introduce another 200 counties in this country into non-attainment, which basically is a “we’re not open for business.” And that’s our concern. Do you have any thoughts on that, or what the administration’s plans are in that regard?
THE PRESIDENT: There’s a lot of complicated technical issues involved in this, but I’ll try to simplify it as much as possible.
Number one, we’re under a court order to do this. So I think there may be a misperception that the EPA can do whatever it wants here. There were lawsuits brought under the previous administration that continued into my administration. We went before a judge. We actually, I think properly, got some additional time, because there was the notion that we were going to lower standards a few years ago, and then immediately get new data and force everybody to lower them all over again. And we said, let’s just do this one time in a sensible way so that people can plan.
But we’ve got some legal constraints. This is not something that just popped out of my head full blown. And so I always enjoy seeing the advertising for “Obama’s ozone plan.” The ozone rules date back to when I was I think still in law school, before I had any gray hair. And there are some fairly stringent statutory guidelines by which the EPA is supposed to evaluate the standards. So the EPA is following the science and the statutes as best as it can.
We are mindful that in some cases, because of the nature of where pollutants are generated, where they blow, that this can create a really complicated situation for certain local jurisdictions and local communities, and some states and counties end up being hit worse than others. And we’re trying to work with those states and those communities as best we can taking in their concerns into account.
So I guess the bottom line is this is — you can legitimately go after me on the clean power plant rule because we — that was hatched by us, and I believe that we need to deal with climate change and — so we can have a lengthy debate about that.
And on ozone, this is an existing statute and an existing mechanism, and we are charged with implementing it based on the science that’s presented to us. And that’s what we’re trying to do, but we’re taking this input into account. I recognize some of the concerns.
I will say this — last point I’ll make on this. Even with the costs associated with implementing the ozone rule, when you do a cost-benefit, the amount of lives saved, asthma averted and so forth is still substantially higher than the costs. Now, that doesn’t necessarily resolve all the concerns that people may have about local costs being borne, whereas the savings are spread out more broadly. And those are legitimate economic issues that have to be considered. And the EPA has been listening to I think every stakeholder there.
But I think what you’ll see in the analysis overall is — we don’t issue a regulation where the costs are not lower than the benefits. And if you look at the regulations we’ve generally put forward, the costs are substantially lower than the benefits that are generated.
Q Yes, thank you, Mr. President. Many of us are interested in Cuba. And the opening there has been positive. There is a lot of issues to get to full normal relations. Just how do you see that path happening? And what’s the future of that in your opinion? Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t think it’s going to be an overnight transformation, but I am convinced that by re-engaging Cuba, re-engaging the Cuban people, that we are creating the environment in which a generational change and transition will take place in that country. And already you’re seeing conversations taking place about how is Cuba going to accommodate an influx of tourists, and how do they think about the Internet and open communications in order to be able to participate in the modern economy?
And that inevitably then leads to questions about can you hire — can a company hire a Cuban directly, a foreign investor, as opposed to going through the government? And over time, that creates space for personal freedom and I think a long-term political transition.
For now, what we’ve said is that we will step by step look for areas and opportunities within our authorities. As long as Congress still has the embargo in place, there are certain things we can’t do. But there are certain things we can do, for example, on telecommunications, and we’re looking for opportunities there.
And we will also continue to press the Cuban government around issues of political freedom. And when His Holiness the Pope comes, he’s going to be visiting Cuba. That I think is going to be an opportunity for more interesting conversations inside of Cuba.
My biggest suggestion would be for the BRT just to start having a conversation on a bipartisan basis about lifting the embargo. It doesn’t necessarily have to happen — or even should happen all in one fell swoop. But I think if you look at the economic opportunities that are presented, they’re significant. And it doesn’t make much sense that a country 90 miles off the shore of Florida that is not at this point a significant threat to us, and that has shown itself willing to at least look beyond its borders for the first time — even if it’s still scared of what it might bring — it doesn’t make sense for us to keep sticking to the old ways of doing business.
I’ll actually take one more question, and then I’ll come around and say hi to everybody. So anybody else? Yes, go ahead.
Q Mr. President, again, thank you. And I know a topic near to your heart has been education for young folks, and you’ve spent a lot of time on this. And many of us have done things private-public partnerships. And you recently made a comment about computer science for all high school kids, which I think is an important point, because technology is such a broad topic. It will infiltrate all jobs in the future.
So maybe a chance to make some comments about how you envision something like that actually taking root over the long term that we could make some progress with it — on scale.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I want to commend Ginni and IBM because you guys have done some terrific work. Anybody who wants some inspiration, go to the high school that IBM is participating in in Brooklyn where kids — a collaboration between the public school system, the city colleges of New York, the CUNY system and IBM.
And you’ve got kids from — most of them, parents never went to college. A lot of them immigrant kids. And they are marching through STEM education, pre-engineering education. They’re getting essentially college credits by the time they’re sophomore or juniors in high school. They’re able to save money because in five years in high school, they come out with an associate’s degree. They then either are transferring to a four-year university with those credits, or they’re starting to work with IBM because they’ve been apprenticing and the curriculum design has given them confidence that if they do well, they’re going to be able to get a job.
That model is something that we’re actually looking to try to duplicate all across the country. And the good news, as I mentioned at the top, is because of the strong work that Arne Duncan has done, the strong work that a lot of governors and local communities have done to increase accountability, creativity, have high expectations for kids, bust through some of the old bureaucratic obstacles.
We are seeing highest reading scores, highest math scores, highest graduation rates. And part of our goal here is to improve STEM education generally. A critical element of that is understanding this computer age that these kids are immersed. And I don’t want them just to know how to use their phone to play video games; I want them to know how that phone works, and potentially code it and program it.
And what’s remarkable — I’m about the age where — I think my high school just had, like, the first coding class when I was maybe in seventh or eighth grade. But this is what — you had, like, those cards, and it was — and the punch cards. And now, the way these — the tools and resources that are available for kids starting in first, second grade — we have these science fairs and these little Girl Scout troops come in and they’ve coded, they’ve designed their own games, and — or simulations of entire towns with people and all kinds of scenarios that they’ve figured out.
And so it’s actually something that they naturally gravitate to. We just have to start early. It’s almost like a foreign language, where rather than try to catch kids when they’re in tenth, eleventh, twelfth grade, they get part of the broader curriculum and incorporate it into how you’re teaching math and how you’re teaching science and how you’re teaching social studies. That seems to be the way in which kids get most engaged.
So we’re doing a lot of work with many of you individually as companies on this STEM education issue. We hope that you will continue to participate. You’ve been great partners on that front.
I’ll just say in closing, it’s always a pleasure to be here. I want to just reiterate, as we enter into the silly season of politics, that the primary thing that is holding back a lot of potential growth, jobs, improved bottom lines, greater stability is well within our control right now, and are things that traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support — Ex-Im Bank, getting TPP done, financing and executing on an infrastructure policy. I’ve had conversations with folks like Larry Fink and others about if we’re open to looking at new, creative ways of financing it, but the notion that we’re not doing that right now makes absolutely no sense — investing in research and development.
These are not partisan issues. There are some areas where there have traditionally been legitimate arguments between Democrats and Republicans. There are some issues — like on environmental regulations, or financial regulations, where Jamie and I may disagree, or Nick and I may disagree. And we can have those arguments, and we probably won’t convince each other on some of these things.
But what I’m looking at is the low-hanging fruit that are no-brainers and that nobody here would argue with. And the notion that we’re not doing them right now because — primarily because a faction within one of our parties has gone off the rails and sees a conspiracy around everything, or simply is opposed to anything I propose even if they used to propose it, that’s a problem.
And I think it’s very important for all of you to just step back and take a look at it, because you still have influence on at least some of those folks. And challenge them. Why wouldn’t we do things that everybody knows make sense?
Thank you, everybody. (Applause.)
12:34 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 16, 2015
CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2016
Transcript of Hillary Clinton’s Speech On Economic Policy
You know, over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to Americans’ concerns about an economy that still isn’t delivering for them. It’s not delivering the way it should – it still seems to most Americans that I have spoken with that it is stacked for those at the top.
But I’ve also heard their hopes for the future: going to college without drowning in debt… starting that small business they’ve always dreamed about… getting a job that pays well enough to support a family and provide for a secure retirement.
Previous generations of Americans built the greatest economy and strongest middle class the world has ever known on the promise of a basic bargain:
If you work hard and do your part, you should be able to get ahead. And when you get ahead, America gets ahead.
But over several decades, that bargain has eroded. Our job is to make it strong again.
For 35 years, Republicans have argued that if we give more wealth to those at the top – by cutting their taxes and letting big corporations write their own rules – it will trickle down, it will trickle down to everyone else.
Yet every time they have a chance to try that approach, it explodes the national debt, concentrates wealth even more, and does practically nothing to help hard-working Americans.
Twice now in the past 20 years, a Democratic president has had to come in and clean up the mess. I think the results speak for themselves.
Under President Clinton – I like the sound of that – America saw the longest peacetime expansion in history … nearly 23 million jobs… a balanced budget and a surplus for the future. And most importantly, incomes rose across the board, not just for those already at the top.
Eight years later, President Obama and the American people’s hard work pulled us back from the brink of Depression. President Obama saved the auto industry, imposed new rules on Wall Street, and provided health care to 16 million Americans.
Now today, today as the shadow of crisis recedes and longer-term challenges come into focus, I believe we have to build a “growth and fairness” economy. You can’t have one without the other.
We can’t create enough jobs and new businesses without more growth, and we can’t build strong families and support our consumer economy without more fairness.
We need both, because while America is standing again, we’re not yet running the way we should.
Corporate profits are at near-record highs and Americans are working as hard as ever – but paychecks have barely budged in real terms.
Families today are stretched in so many directions, and so are their budgets. Out-of-pocket costs of health care, childcare, caring for aging parents are rising a lot faster than wages.
I hear this everywhere I go.
The single mom who talked to me about juggling a job and classes at community college, while raising three kids. She doesn’t expect anything to come easy, but if she got a raise, everything wouldn’t be quite so hard.
The grandmother who works around the clock providing childcare to other people’s kids. She’s proud of her work but the pay is barely enough to live on, especially with the soaring price of her prescription drugs.
The young entrepreneur whose dream of buying the bowling alley where he worked as a teenager was nearly derailed by his student debt. If he can grow his business, he’ll be able to pay off his debt and pay his employees, including himself, more too.
Millions of hard-working Americans tell similar stories.
Wages need to rise to keep up with costs.
Paychecks need to grow.
Families who work hard and do their part deserve to get ahead and stay ahead.
The defining economic challenge of our time is clear:
We must raise incomes for hard-working Americans so they can afford a middle-class life. We must drive strong and steady income growth that lifts up families and lifts up our country.
And that will be my mission from the first day I’m President to the last. I will get up everyday thinking about the families of America, like the family that I came from with a hard working dad who started a small business and scrimped and saved and gave us a good middle class life. I’ll be thinking about all the people that I represented here in New York and the stories that they told me and that I worked with them to improve. And I will as your President take on this challenge against the backdrop of major changes in our economy and the global economy that didn’t start with the recession and won’t end with the recovery.
You know advances in technology and expanding global trade have created whole new areas of commercial activity and opened new markets for our exports, but too often they’re also polarizing our economy – benefiting high-skilled workers but displacing or downgrading blue collar jobs and other midlevel jobs that used to provide solid incomes for millions of Americans.
Today’s marketplace focuses too much on the short term – like second-to-second financial trading and quarterly earnings reports – and too little on long-term investments.
Meanwhile, many Americans are making extra money renting out a spare room, designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home, or even driving their own car. This “on demand” or so-called “gig economy” is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation but it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.
So all of these trends are real, and none, none is going away. But they don’t determine our destiny. The choices we make as a nation matter. And the choices we make in the years ahead will set the stage for what American life in the middle class in our economy will be like in this century.
As President, I will work with every possible partner to turn the tide. To make these currents of change start working for us more than against us. To strengthen –not hollow out – the American middle class.
Because I think at our best, that’s what Americans do. We’re problem solvers, not deniers. We don’t hide from change – we harness it.
The measure of our success must be how much incomes rise for hard-working families, not just for successful CEOs and money managers. And not just some arbitrary growth target untethered to people’s lives and livelihoods.
I want to see our economy work for the struggling, the striving, and the successful.
We’re not going to find all the answers we need today in the playbooks of the past. We can’t go back to the old policies that failed us before. Nor can we just replay previous successes. Today is not 1993 or 2009. We need solutions for the big challenges we face now.
So today I am proposing an agenda to raise incomes for hard-working Americans. An agenda for strong growth, fair growth, and long-term growth.
Let me begin with strong growth.
More growth means more jobs and more new businesses. More jobs give people choices about where to work. And employers have to offer higher wages and better benefits in order to compete with each other to hire new workers and keep the productive ones. That’s why economists tell us that getting closer to full employment is crucial for raising incomes.
Small businesses create more than 60 percent of new American jobs on net. So they have to be a top priority. I’ve said I want to be the small business President, and I mean it. And throughout this campaign I’m going to be talking about how we empower entrepreneurs with less red tape, easier access to capital, tax relief and simplification.
I’ll also push for broader business tax reform to spur investment in America, closing those loopholes that reward companies for sending jobs and profits overseas.
And I know it’s not always how we think about this, but another engine of strong growth should be comprehensive immigration reform.
I want you to hear this: Bringing millions of hard-working people into the formal economy would increase our gross domestic product by an estimated $700 billion over 10 years.
Then there are the new public investments that will help established businesses and entrepreneurs create the next generation of high-paying jobs.
You know when we get Americans moving, we get our country moving.
So let’s establish an infrastructure bank that can channel more public and private funds, channel those funds to finance world-class airports, railways, roads, bridges and ports.
And let’s build those faster broadband networks – and make sure there’s a greater diversity of providers so consumers have more choice.
And really there’s no excuse not to make greater investments in cleaner, renewable energy right now. Our economy obviously runs on energy. And the time has come to make America the world’s clean energy superpower. I advocate that because these investments will create millions of jobs, save us money in the long run, and help us meet the threats of climate change.
And let’s fund the scientific and medical research that spawns innovative companies and creates entire new industries, just as the project to sequence the human genome did in the 1990s, and President Obama’s initiatives on precision medicine and brain research will do in the coming years.
I will set ambitious goals in all of these areas in the months ahead.
But today let me emphasize another key ingredient of strong growth that often goes overlooked and undervalued: breaking down barriers so more Americans participate more fully in the workforce – especially women.
We are in a global competition, as I’m sure you have noticed, and we can’t afford to leave talent on the sidelines, but that’s exactly what we’re doing today. When we leave people out, or write them off, we not only shortchange them and their dreams — we shortchange our country and our future.
The movement of women into the workforce over the past forty years was responsible for more than three and a half trillion dollars in economic growth.
But that progress has stalled. The United States used to rank 7th out of 24 advanced countries in women’s labor force participation. By 2013, we had dropped to 19th. That represents a lot of unused potential for our economy and for American families.
Studies show that nearly a third of this decline relative to other countries is because they’re expanding family-friendly policies like paid leave and we are not.
We should be making it easier for Americans to be both good workers and good parents and caregivers. Women who want to work should be able to do so without worrying every day about how they’re going to take care of their children or what will happen if a family member gets sick.
You know last year while I was at the hospital here in Manhattan waiting for little Charlotte to make her grand entrance, one of the nurses said, “Thank you for fighting for paid leave.” And we began to talk about it. She sees first-hand what it means for herself and her colleagues as well as for the working parents that she helps take care of.
It’s time to recognize that quality, affordable childcare is not a luxury – it’s a growth strategy. And it’s way past time to end the outrage of so many women still earning less than men on the job — and women of color making even less.
All this lost money adds up and for some women, it’s thousands of dollars every year.
Now I am well aware that for far too long, these challenges have been dismissed by some as “women’s issues.”
Well those days are over.
Fair pay and fair scheduling, paid family leave and earned sick days, child care are essential to our competitiveness and growth.
And we can do this in a way that doesn’t impose unfair burdens on businesses – especially small businesses.
As President, I’ll fight to put families first – just like I have my entire career.
Now, beyond strong growth, we also need fair growth. And that will be the second key driver of rising incomes.
The evidence is in: Inequality is a drag on our entire economy, so this is the problem we need to tackle.
You may have heard Governor Bush say last week that Americans just need to work longer hours. Well, he must not have met very many American workers.
“Let him tell that to the nurse who stands on her feet all day or the trucker who drives all night. Let him tell that to the fast food workers marching in the streets for better pay. They don’t need a lecture – they need a raise.
The truth is, the current rules for our economy reward some work – like financial trading – much more than other work, like actually building and selling things the work that’s always been the backbone of our economy.
To get all incomes rising again, we need to strike a better balance. If you work hard, you ought to be paid fairly. So we have to raise the minimum wage and implement President Obama’s new rules on overtime. And then we have to go further.
I’ll crack down on bosses who exploit employees by misclassifying them as contractors or even steal their wages.
To make paychecks stretch, we need to take on the major strains on family budgets. I’ll protect the Affordable Care Act – and build on it to lower out-of-pocket health care costs and to make prescription drugs more affordable.
We’ll help families look forward to retirement by defending and enhancing Social Security and making it easier to save for the future.
Now many of these proposals are time-tested and more than a little battle-scarred. We need new ideas as well. And one that I believe in and will fight for is profit sharing.
Hard working Americans deserve to benefit from the record corporate earnings they help produce. So I will propose ways to encourage companies to share profits with their employees.
That’s good for workers and good for business.
Studies show profit-sharing that gives everyone a stake in a company’s success can boost productivity and put money directly into employees’ pockets. It’s a win-win.
Later this week in New Hampshire, I’ll have more to say about how we do this.
Another priority must be reforming our tax code.
Now we hear Republican candidates talk a lot about tax reform. But take a good look at their plans. Senator Rubio’s would cut taxes for households making around $3 million a year by almost $240,000 – which is way more than three times the earnings of a typical family. Well that’s a sure budget-busting give-away to the super-wealthy. And that’s the kind of bad economics you’re likely to get from any of the candidates on the other side.
I have a different take, guided by some simple principles.
First, hard-working families need and deserve tax relief and simplification.
Second, those at the top have to pay their fair share. That’s why I support the Buffett Rule, which makes sure that millionaires don’t pay lower rates than their secretaries.
I have also called for closing the carried interest loophole, which lets wealthy financiers pay an artificially low rate.
And let’s agree that hugely successful companies that benefit from everything America has to offer should not be able to game the system and avoid paying their fair share… especially while companies who can’t afford high-price lawyers and lobbyists end up paying more.
Alongside tax reform, it’s time to stand up to efforts across our country to undermine worker bargaining power, which has been proven again and again to drive up wages.
Republicans governors like Scott Walker have made their names stomping on workers’ rights. And practically all the Republican candidates hope to do the same as President.
I will fight back against these mean-spirited, misguided attacks.
Evidence shows that the decline of unions may be responsible for a third of the increase of inequality among men. So if we want to get serious about raising incomes, we have to get serious about supporting workers.
And let me just say a word here about trade. The Greek crisis as well as the Chinese stock market have reminded us that growth here at home and growth an ocean away are linked in a common global economy. Trade has been a major driver of the economy over recent decades but it has also contributed to hollowing out our manufacturing base and many hard-working communities. So we do need to set a high bar for trade agreements.
We should support them if they create jobs, raise wages, and advance our national security. And we should be prepared to walk away if they don’t.
To create fair growth, we need to create opportunity for more Americans.
I love the saying by Abraham Lincoln, who in many ways was not only the President who saved our union, but the president who understood profoundly the importance of the middle class, and the importance of the government playing its role in providing opportunities. He talked about giving Americans a fair chance in the race of life. I believe that with all my heart. But I also believe it has to start really early at birth. High quality early learning, especially in the first five years, can set children on the course for future success and raise lifetime incomes by 25 percent.
I’m committed to seeing every 4-year old in America have access to high-quality preschool in the next ten years. But I want to do more. I want to call for a great outpouring of support from our faith community, our business community, our academic institutions, from philanthropy and civic groups and concerned citizens to really help parents, particularly parents who are facing a lot of obstacles. To really help prepare their own children in that zero to four age group.
80% of your brain is physically formed by age of three. That’s why families like mine read, talk, and sing endlessly to our granddaughter. I’ve said that her first words are going to be enough with the reading, and the talking, and the singing. But we do it not only because we love doing it, even though I’ll admit it’s a little embarrassing to be reading a book to a two-week old, or a six-week old, a ten-week old. But we do it because we understand that it’s building her capacity for learning. And the research shows that by the time she enters kindergarten she will have heard 30 million more words than I child from a less privileged background.
Think of what we are losing because we are not doing everything we can to reach out to those families and we know again from so much research here in the United States and around the world that the early help, that mentoring, that intervention to help those often-stressed out young moms understand more about what they can do and avoid the difficulties that stand in the way of their being able to get their child off to the best start.
We also have to invest in our students and teachers at every level.
And in the coming weeks and months, I’ll lay out specific steps to improve our schools, make college truly affordable, and help Americans refinance their student debt.
Let’s embrace the idea of lifelong learning. In an age of technological change, we need to provide pathways to get skills and credentials for new occupations, and create online platforms to connect workers to jobs. There are exciting efforts underway and I want to support and scale the ones that show results.
As we pursue all these policies, we can’t forget our fellow Americans hit so hard and left behind by this changing economy— from the inner cities to coal country to Indian country. Talent is universal – you find it everywhere – but opportunity is not.
There are nearly 6 million young people aged 16 to 24 in America today who are not in school or at work. The numbers for young people of color are particularly staggering. A quarter of young black men and nearly 15 percent of all Latino youth cannot find a job.
We’ve got to do a better way of coming up to match the growing middle class incomes we want to generate with more pathways into the middle class. I firmly believe that the best anti-poverty program is a job, but that’s hard to say if there are not enough jobs for people that we are trying to help lift themselves out of poverty.
That’s why I’ve called for reviving the New Markets Tax Credit and Empowerment Zones to create greater incentives to invest in poor and remote areas.
When all Americans have the chance to study hard, work hard, and share in our country’s prosperity – that’s fair growth. It’s what I’ve always believed in and it’s what I will fight for as President.
Now, the third key driver of income alongside strong growth and fair growth must be long-term growth.
Too many pressures in our economy today push us toward short-termism. Many business leaders see this. They’ve talked to me about. One has called it the problem of “quarterly capitalism.” They say everything’s focused on the next earnings report or the short-term share price. The result is too little attention on the sources of long-term growth: research and development, physical capital, and talent.
Net business investment – which includes things like factories, machines, and research labs – has declined as a share of the economy. In recent years, some of our biggest companies have spent more than half their earnings to buy back their own stock, and another third or more to pay dividends. That doesn’t leave a lot left to raise pay or invest in the workers who made those profits possible or to make the new investments necessary to insure a company’s future success. These trends need to change. And I believe that many business leaders are eager to embrace their responsibilities, not just to today’s share price but also to workers, communities, and ultimately to our country and indeed our planet.
I’m not talking about charity – I’m talking about clear-eyed capitalism. Many companies have prospered by improving wages and training their workers that then yield higher productivity, better service, and larger profits.
Now it’s easy to try to cut costs by holding down or decreasing pay and other investments to inflate quarterly stock prices, but I would argue that’s bad for business in the long run.
And, it’s really bad for our country.
Workers are assets. Investing in them pays off. Higher wages pay off. And training pays off.
To help more companies do that, I’ve proposed a new $1,500 apprenticeship tax credit for every worker they train and hire.
And I will soon be proposing a new plan to reform capital gains taxes to reward longer-term investments that create jobs more than just quick trades.
I will also propose reforms to help CEOs and shareholders alike focus on the next decade rather than just the next day. Making sure stock buybacks aren’t being used only for an immediate boost in share prices. Empowering outside investors who want to build companies but discouraging “cut and run” shareholders who act more like old-school corporate raiders. And nowhere will the shift from short-term to long-term be more important than on Wall Street.
As a former Senator from New York, I know first-hand the role that Wall Street can and should play in our economy – helping Main Street grow and prosper and boosting new companies that make America more competitive globally.
But, as we all know, in the years before the crash, financial firms piled risk upon risk. And regulators in Washington either couldn’t or wouldn’t keep up.
I was alarmed by this gathering storm, and called for addressing the risks of derivatives, cracking down on subprime mortgages, and improving financial oversight.
Under President Obama’s leadership, we’ve imposed tough new rules that deal with some of the challenges on Wall Street. But those rules have been under assault by Republicans in Congress and those running for President.
I will fight back against these attacks and protect the reforms we’ve made. We can do that and still ease burdens on community banks to encourage responsible loans to local people and businesses they know and trust.
We also have to go beyond Dodd-Frank.
Too many of our major financial institutions are still too complex and too risky. And the problems are not limited to the big banks that get all the headlines. Serious risks are emerging from institutions in the so-called “shadow banking” system – including hedge funds, high frequency traders, non-bank finance companies – so many new kinds of entities which receive little oversight at all.
Stories of misconduct by individuals and institutions in the financial industry are shocking. HSBC allowing drug cartels to launder money. Five major banks pleading guilty to felony charges for conspiring to manipulate currency exchange and interest rates. There can be no justification or tolerance for this kind of criminal behavior.
And while institutions have paid large fines and in some cases admitted guilt, too often it has seemed that the human beings responsible get off with limited consequences – or none at all, even when they’ve already pocketed the gains.
This is wrong and, on my watch, it will change.
Over the course of this campaign, I will offer plans to rein in excessive risks on Wall Street and ensure that stock markets work for everyday investors, not just high frequency traders and those with the best – or fastest – connections.
I will appoint and empower regulators who understand that Too Big To Fail is still too big a problem.
We’ll ensure that no firm is too complex to manage or oversee.
And we will prosecute individuals as well as firms when they commit fraud or other criminal wrongdoing.
And when the government recovers money from corporations or individuals for harming the public, it should go into a separate trust fund to benefit the public. It, could for example, help modernize infrastructure or even be returned directly to taxpayers.
Now reform is never easy. But we have done it before in our country. But we have to get this right. And we need leadership from the financial industry and across the private sector to join with us.
Two years ago, the head of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Terry Duffy, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that really caught my attention. He wrote, and I quote: “I’m concerned that those of us in financial services have forgotten who we serve—and that the public knows it… Some Wall Streeters can too easily slip into regarding their work as a kind of money-making game divorced from the concerns of Main Street.”
I think we should listen to Terry Duffy.
Of course, long-term growth is only possible if the public sector steps up as well.
So it’s time to end the era of budget brinksmanship and stop careening from one self-inflicted crisis to another. It’s time to stop having debates over the small stuff and focus on how we’re going to tackle the big stuff together:
How do we respond to technological change in a way that creates more good jobs than it displaces or destroys?
Can we sustain a boom in advanced manufacturing?
What are the best ways to nurture start-ups outside the successful corridors like Silicon Valley?
Questions like these demand thoughtful and mature debate from our policy makers in government, from our leaders in the private sector, and our economists, our academics, and others who can come to the table on behalf of America and perform their patriotic duty to ensure that our economy keeps working and our middle class keeps growing.
So government has to be smarter, simpler, more focused itself on long-term investments than short-term politics – and be a better partner to cities, states, and the private sector. Washington has to be a better steward of America’ tax-dollars and Americans’ trust. And please let’s get back to making decisions that rely on evidence more than ideology.
That’s what I’ll do as President. I will seek out and welcome any good idea that is actually based on reality. I want to have principled and pragmatic and progressive policies that really move us forward together and I will propose ways to ensure that our fiscal outlook is sustainable — including by continuing to restrain healthcare costs, which remain one of the key drivers of long-term deficits. I will make sure Washington learns from how well local governments, business, and non-profits are working together in successful cities and towns across America.
You know passing legislation is not the only way to drive progress. As President, I’ll use the power to convene, connect, and collaborate to build partnerships that actually get things done.
Because above all, we have to break out of the poisonous partisan gridlock and focus on the long-term needs of our country.
I confess maybe it’s the grandmother in me, but I believe that part of public service is planting trees under whose shade you’ll never sit.
And the vision I’ve laid our here today – for strong growth, fair growth, and long term growth, all working together — will get incomes rising again, will help working families get ahead and stay ahead.
That is the test of our time. And I’m inviting everyone to please join me, to do your part, that’s what great countries do. That’s what our country always has done. We rise to challenges.
It’s not about left, right, or center – it’s about the future versus the past.
I’m running for President to build an America for tomorrow, not yesterday.
An America built on growth and fairness.
An America where if you do your part, you will reap the rewards.
Where we don’t leave anyone out, or anyone behind.
Thank you all. Thank you. I just want to leave you with one more thought.
I want every child, every child in our country, not just the granddaughter of a former President or a former secretary of state, but every child to have the chance to live up to his or her God-given potential.
Please join me in that mission. Let’s do it all together.
Thank you so much.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 13, 2015
Full Text Obama Presidency June 30, 2015: Middle Class Economics Rewarding Hard Work by Restoring Overtime Pay
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
FACT SHEET: Middle Class Economics Rewarding Hard Work by Restoring Overtime Pay
Source: WH, 6-30-15
“Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages…We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned.”
– President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, January 20, 2015
Middle class economics means that a hard day’s work should lead to a fair day’s pay. For much of the past century, a cornerstone of that promise has been the 40-hour workweek. But for decades, industry lobbyists have bottled up efforts to keep these rules up to date, leaving millions of Americans working long hours, and taking them away from their families without the overtime pay that they have earned. Business owners who treat their employees fairly are being undercut by competitors who don’t.
Today, President Obama announced that the Department of Labor will propose extending overtime pay to nearly 5 million workers. The proposal would guarantee overtime pay to most salaried workers earning less than an estimated $50,440 next year. The number of workers in each state who would be affected by this proposal can be found here.
The salary threshold guarantees overtime for most salaried workers who fall below it, but it is eroded by inflation every year. It has only been updated once since the 1970s, when the Bush Administration published a weak rule with the strong support of industry. Today, the salary threshold remains at $23,660 ($455 per week), which is below the poverty threshold for a family of four, and only 8 percent of full-time salaried workers fall below it.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on June 30, 2015
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President on Trade
Source: WH, 5-8-15
9:44 A.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Oregon! (Applause.) Well, who arranged this day? (Applause.) Every time I come to Oregon this is what it looks like. (Laughter.) Yeah! It never rains in Oregon, does it?
THE PRESIDENT: Never.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Don’t come to California. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: All right. Well, listen, it is wonderful to see all of you. First of all, please give Mark another round of applause for his hospitality. (Applause.) And thanks to everyone at Nike for hosting us today, here in “Federer Platz.” (Laughter.) You know, the White House is cool. (Laughter.) We’ve got a basketball court — actually, it’s a tennis court that we repainted some lines — (laughter) — when I came into office. So it’s a combination basketball-tennis court. There is a putting green that President Eisenhower put in. Can you imagine, by the way, if I had put in a putting green? (Laughter.) Things have changed. (Laughter.)
But you’ve got all that and the 18th tee box from Pebble Beach. (Applause.) Come on. I’m sure some of my staff is running around right now in the Michael Jordan and Mia Hamm buildings — (laughter) — they want to be lab rats for your new gear. (Laughter.)
But it is wonderful to be here. Please give it up for two people who fight every single day for Oregon workers — your Representatives in Congress — they do a great job — Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici. They are both here. Give them a big round of applause. (Applause.) Yay! And there are two people who couldn’t make it here today, but they’re doing a great job and you should give them a round of applause as well, and that’s Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Kurt Schrader. (Applause.)
So it is great to be at the world headquarters of such an iconic company — a company that helps athletes succeed from the individual to the world stage. And as you’ve heard, I’ve come to Oregon to talk a little bit about trade — which initially may have had some people thinking, what, is Mariota going someplace that we didn’t know about? (Laughter.) He’s going to be great. He’s an outstanding young man. He’s going to be terrific — and from Hawaii, by the way. (Applause.) Local boy.
But this is important, and I want to tell you why I think trade deals and our willingness to go out there and compete on the global stage is so important.
Before I came out here, I had a chance to meet with some small business owners from across Oregon, whose workers make everything from bikes to tea to stationery to wine. And they know how important this is to them. Sometimes when we talk about trade, we think of Nike, or we think of Boeing, or we think of G.E. — we think about these big multinational companies. But those small business leaders came here today because they understood that these markets outside the United States will help them grow, and will help them hire more folks — just as all the suppliers to Nike or Boeing or G.E. or any of these other companies understand this is going to be critical to their growth and their ability to create new jobs.
In fact, that’s why Ron Wyden is not here — because he’s in Washington, D.C. as we speak quarterbacking this effort on behalf of Oregon’s small business owners and workers.
Now, small businesses are the backbone of our economy. Eventually, like Nike, they grow sometimes into really, really big companies. They employ millions of people; 98 percent of exporters are small businesses. They’re the ones who make Made in Oregon and Made in the USA mean something. And they represent something essential about this country — the notion that if you’ve got a good idea and you’re willing to work at it, you can turn that idea into a business, you can growth that business, and eventually, who knows what might happen. You can give other people a chance to earn a living even as you do well. That’s America’s promise. And it’s up to us to keep that promise alive.
Now, that promise was threatened for almost everybody just about seven years ago, when the economy nearly collapsed, and millions of Americans lost their jobs and their homes and their life savings. But thanks to the hard work of the American people and entrepreneurs like the ones who are here today — and some pretty good policies from my administration — (laughter) — we’re in a different place today. (Applause.) We’re in a different place today.
This morning, we learned that our economy created 223,000 new jobs last month. (Applause.) The unemployment rate ticked down again to 5.4 percent — which is the lowest it’s been in almost seven years. (Applause.) That’s 3 million new jobs over the past 12 months — nearly the fastest pace in over a decade. And all told, over the past 62 months in a row, America’s businesses have created 12.3 million new jobs.
I should add, by the way, 62 months ago is when I signed the Affordable Care Act. So, obviously, it hasn’t done too bad in terms of employment in this country. (Applause.) I just thought I’d mention that. (Applause.) Since there were a lot of predictions of doom and gloom, I would just suggest those who were making those predictions go back and check the statistics. (Laughter.) Just saying. (Laughter.)
So small businesses deserve a lot of credit for that. In fact, over the past several years, small businesses have created nearly two out of every three new American jobs. And the question is, how do we build on that success? We’ve got to be relentless in our efforts to support small businesses who are creating jobs and helping to grow the economy.
And that’s been the purpose behind many of the policies I’ve fought for as President. I’ve cut taxes for small businesses more than a dozen times. I’ve pushed for investments in infrastructure and faster Internet. It’s why we’ve made health care more accessible, affordable, portable — to give people the freedom to change jobs or launch that startup without worrying about losing their health insurance.
And passing trade agreements is part of that agenda if those trade agreements are the right kinds of trade agreements; if they make sure that they’re growing our businesses, and helping American workers by selling goods Made in America across the rest of the world.
And I’ve been talking a lot about this lately, because I view smart trade agreements as a vital piece of middle-class economics. Not a contradiction to middle-class economics, it’s a part and parcel of it.
I believe that our country does best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, everybody plays by the same set of rules. And that means making sure everybody has got a good education. It means making sure that women are getting paid the same as men for doing the same work. (Applause.) It means making sure that folks have to have sick leave and family leave and that they can balance work and family in a fair way. It means, working to increase the minimum wage all across this country — because folks who have some of the toughest jobs oftentimes get the lowest pay.
That’s all part of middle-class economics, but, you know what, so is trade. We strive to make sure our own economy lives up to high standards, but in a lot of parts of the world, the rules are unfair. The playing field is uneven. That puts American businesses and American workers at a disadvantage. So the question is, what should we do about it?
Some folks think we should just withdraw and not even try to engage in trade with these countries. I disagree. We have to make sure America writes the rules of the global economy. And we should do it today, while our economy is in the position of global strength. (Applause.) Because if we don’t write the rules for trade around the world — guess what — China will. And they’ll write those rules in a way that gives Chinese workers and Chinese businesses the upper hand, and locks American-made goods out.
That’s the choice we face. We’re not going to be able to isolate ourselves from world markets. We got to be in there and compete. And the question is, are we going to make sure that the rules are fair so that our businesses and our workers are on a level playing field. Because when they are, we win every time. When the rules are fair, we win every time. (Applause.)
So this is why I’m such a strong supporter of new trade agreements. They’re going to help our workers compete and our businesses compete. This is not a left issue or a right issue, or a business or a labor issue. It is about fairness and equity and access. And like other issues that we’ve waged slow, steady fights on over the last seven years, this is also a question of the past versus the future.
So the Trans-Pacific Partnership that we’re working on, it’s the biggest trade deal that we’re working on right now — has to do with the Asia Pacific region. And it reflects our values in ways that, frankly, some previous trade agreements did not. It’s the highest-standard, most progressive trade deal in history. It’s got strong, enforceable provisions for workers, preventing things like child labor. It’s got strong, enforceable provisions on the environment, helping us to do things that haven’t been done before, to prevent wildlife trafficking, or deforestation, or dealing with our oceans. And these are enforceable in the agreement.
And Nike operates in the Pacific region, so they understand the competitive pressures they’re under. Nike has factories all around the world. And let’s face it, Mark I think doesn’t mind me saying it that some of these countries, they don’t have the standards for wages and labor conditions that we have here.
So when you look at a country like Vietnam, under this agreement, Vietnam would actually, for the first time, have to raise its labor standards. It would have to set a minimum wage. It would have to pass safe workplace laws to protect its workers. It would even have to protect workers’ freedom to form unions — for the very first time. That would make a difference. That helps to level the playing field — (applause) — and it would be good for the workers in Vietnam, even as it helps make sure that they’re not undercutting competition here in the United States.
So that’s progress. It doesn’t mean that suddenly working conditions in Vietnam will be like they are here at Nike. (Laughter.) Or here in Portland right away. But it moves us in the right direction.
And if Vietnam, or any of the other countries in this trade agreement don’t meet these requirements, they’ll face meaningful consequences. If you’re a country that wants in to this agreement, you have to meet higher standards. If you don’t, you’re out. If you break the rules, there are actual repercussions. And that’s good for American businesses and American workers, because we already meet higher standards than most of the rest of the world, and that helps level the playing field.
And this deal would strengthen our hand overseas by giving us the tools to open other markets to our goods and services and make sure they play by the fair rules we help write. The truth is, we have one of the most open markets in the world. Folks are already selling stuff here. We got to be able to sell there. That requires us to enter into trade agreements to open up their markets.
I hear Oregon wine is actually pretty good. (Applause.) Somebody told me that the pinot noir in Oregon is top-notch, right? I’ve got some winemakers right here. (Applause.) Well, I want to make sure Japanese wine consumers have the opportunity to partake — (laughter) — in our excellent Oregon wine.
We got some Oregon beef producers and ranchers around here. (Applause.) Beef is really expensive in Japan. Let’s make sure they try some Oregon steaks. (Applause.) It’s good stuff.
And that’s one of the best things that can happen for our businesses and our workers — opening up markets that have previously been closed, particularly markets where they’re already selling stuff here. There’s a lack of reciprocity. It’s not a fair deal right now. We want to make it fair.
Now, I want to acknowledge — because this looks like a very well-read and informed crowd — (laughter) — that there have been a bunch of critics about trade deals generally and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And what’s interesting is typically they’re my friends, coming from my party, and they’re my fellow travelers on minimum wage and on job training and on clean energy. On every progressive issue, they’re right there with me. And then on this one, they’re like whooping on me. (Laughter.)
But I tell you what. I’ve run my last election, and the only reason I do something is because I think it’s good for American workers and the American people and the American economy. (Applause.) I don’t have any other rationale for doing what I do than I think it’s the best thing for the American people. And on this issue, on trade, I actually think some of my dearest friends are wrong. They’re just wrong. And here’s why.
First of all, they say that this trade agreement will cost American jobs. And they’re really basing this on some past experience, looking at what happened in the ‘90s, over the last 20 years, as there was a lot of outsourcing going on. And you know what, past trade agreements, it’s true, didn’t always reflect our values or didn’t always do enough to protect American workers. But that’s why we’re designing a different kind of trade deal
And the truth is that companies that only care about low wages, they’ve already moved. They don’t need new trade deals to move. They’ve already outsourced. They’ve already located in search of low wages.
What this trade agreement would do is open the doors to the higher-skill, higher-wage jobs of the future — jobs that we excel at. It would make sure our manufacturers who are operating at the higher end of the value chain are able to access these growing markets. And the fact is, over the past few years, our manufacturers have been steadily creating jobs for the first time since the 1990s — under my administration. After more than a decade away from the top spot, business leaders around the world have declared the United States is the world’s number one place to invest for a third year in a row. (Applause.) Third year in a row.
So the point is, outsourcing is already giving way to insourcing. Companies are starting to move back here to do more advanced manufacturing, and this is a trend we expect to continue. This trade deal would help that.
Just this morning, as Mark may have mentioned, Nike announced that, with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it will make new investments in advanced manufacturing — not overseas, but right here in the United States. And far more Nike products would be made in the U.S.A. (Applause.) And that means thousands of new jobs in manufacturing and engineering and design at Nike facilities across the country, and potentially tens of thousands of new jobs along Nike’s supply chain here at home. That’s what trade can do. (Applause.)
Look, I’ve spent six and a half years trying to rescue this economy — six and a half years of trying to revitalize American manufacturing, including rescuing an American auto industry that was on its back and is now fully recovered. So I would not risk any of that if I thought the trade deals were going to undermine it. The reason I’m for this is because I think it will enhance it and advance it. So that’s point number one.
Point number two — when you ask folks specifically, what do you oppose about this trade deal, they just say “NAFTA.” NAFTA was passed 20 years ago. That was a different agreement. And in fact, this agreement fixes some of what was wrong with NAFTA by making labor and environmental provisions actually enforceable. (Applause.) I was just getting out of law school when NAFTA got passed. (Laughter.)
Number three — you’ve got some critics saying that any deal would be rushed through; it’s a secret deal, people don’t know what’s in it. This is not true. Any agreement that we finalize with the other 11 countries will have to be posted online for at least 60 days before I even sign it. Then it would go to Congress — and you know they’re not going to do anything fast. (Laughter.) So there will be months of review. Every T crossed, every I dotted. Everybody is going to be able to see exactly what’s in it.
There’s nothing fast-track about this. This is a very deliberate track — (laughter) — which will be fully subject to scrutiny. And I’m confident when people read the agreement for themselves, they’ll see that this is the most progressive trade deal in history.
Number four — critics warn that parts of this deal would undermine American regulation — food safety, worker safety, even financial regulations. They’re making this stuff up. (Applause.) This is just not true. No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws. This agreement would make sure our companies aren’t discriminated against in other countries.
We already treat companies from other countries fairly here. But our companies don’t always get treated fairly there. So sometimes they need to have some way to settle disputes where it’s not subject to the whims of some government bureaucrat in that country. That’s important. We want our businesses to succeed in selling over there because that’s how our workers will get more jobs here in the United States.
And then finally, some critics talk about currency manipulation. Now, this has been a problem in the past. Some countries, they try to lower their currency so that it makes their goods cheaper, makes our more expensive. There was a time when China was pretty egregious about this. When I came into office, I started pounding on them. Every time I meet with them, I’d be talking about currency. And we pushed back hard, and China moved. In real terms, their currency has appreciated about 30 percent since I came into office. And we’re going to keep on going after it. But that’s not an argument against this trade agreement. If we give up the chance to help our businesses sell their stuff in the world’s fastest-growing markets, that doesn’t do anything to stop currency manipulation.
So the fact is, some folks are just opposed to trade deals out of principle, a reflexive principle. And what I tell them is, you know what, if you’re opposed to these smart, progressive trade deals, then that means you must be satisfied with the status quo. And the status quo hasn’t been working for our workers. It hasn’t been working for our businesses. And there are people here who will tell you why.
I’m going to just give you a couple of examples of small businesses who I had a chance to meet with today. Egg Press is a Portland-based greeting card company. (Applause.) Really nice. They sell their cards in Australia, which is a member of this Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Their CEO, Tess Darrow — where’s Tess? Raise your hand. I saw her. There she is. (Applause.) So Tess says that if they could more easily reach customers in Japan, as well, they’d sell half the volume that they do here in America. That’s a lot.
Right now, the logistics of exporting to Japan are too complicated. Products end up being held up for months at the border. This agreement would help solve some of those problems so Tess can sell more greeting cards in Japan — presumably in Japanese. (Laughter.) Is there going to be — there will be a translation process, I assume. Yes, absolutely. I’m teasing. (Laughter.)
So the trade deal would help eliminate barriers, and simplify customs, and hold countries accountable for getting products delivered swiftly. The more Tess sells, the more she can grow, the more she can hire here in Oregon, here in the United States.
Oregon Fruit Products — makes canned fruits, berries, other products — depends on exports for 20 percent of its annual sales. Right now, it exports to four members of this partnership that we’re putting together: Japan, Australia, Singapore, and Canada. Unfortunately, selling in these countries right now can mean dealing with unfair rules designed to prevent our products from being offered in their markets. Under this agreement, that would change. Exporting becomes simpler, more consistent. That means more people around the world eating Oregon berries all year long. Berry tasty. (Applause.)
Sokol Blosser Winery — (applause) — we got a lot of drinkers here. (Laughter.) It’s a winery, family-run in Dayton, Oregon. One of its top export markets is Japan. Right now, there are high tariffs on American wine in that country. Under this trade partnership, those tariffs would be eliminated, and wineries across America could see their sales grow overseas. The brother–and-sister team that runs this vineyard — wave, guys — (applause) — they say, “If we can make it easier to do business with countries that are already our trading partners, countries that are allies, that’s a good thing.”
They’re right. This deal would be a good thing. So let’s “just do it.” (Laughter and applause.) It took a while for you to catch that, didn’t it? (Laughter.) I thought that was pretty obvious. (Laughter.)
So, listen, I know a lot of folks who are skeptical about trade. Past trade deals didn’t always live up to the hype. Labor and environmental protections weren’t always strong enough. I saw for years, in Chicago and towns across Illinois, manufacturing collapsing, jobs drying up. Outsourcing is real. Folks didn’t just make that up. Some of our manufacturing base shifted over the last 25 years, and it wasn’t good for manufacturing and it wasn’t good for those communities, and it wasn’t good for workers. That’s the truth. It had benefits — other jobs were created, we got cheaper goods. But there was real displacement and real pain. And so, for many Americans, this is not an abstraction; this is real.
But we’ve got to learn the right lessons from that. The lesson is not that we pull up the drawbridge and build a moat around ourselves. The lesson is, is that we’ve got to make sure that the trade deals that we do shape are ones that allow us to compete fairly.
So when I took office, I decided we could rethink the way we do trade in a way that actually works for working Americans. I didn’t think this was the right thing to do just for companies. If I didn’t think this was the right thing to do for working families, I would not be fighting for it. If any agreement undercuts working families, I won’t sign it. I ran for office to expand opportunity for everybody — the all-American idea that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or how you started out, or who you love, in America you can make it if you try. (Applause.)
So, yes, we should be mindful of the past, but we can’t ignore the realities of the new economy. We can’t stand on the beaches and stop the global economy at our shores. We’ve got to harness it on our terms. This century is built for us. It’s about innovation. It’s about dynamism and flexibility and entrepreneurship, and information and knowledge and science and research. That’s us. So we can’t be afraid of it; we’ve got to seize it. We’ve got to give every single American who wakes up, sends their kids to school, rolls up their sleeves, punches in every day the chance to do what they do best: dream up, innovate, build, sell the best products and ideas in the world to every corner of the world. (Applause.)
Because, Nike, we do not just have the best athletes in the world. We also have the best workers in the world. (Applause.) We also have the best businesses in the world. And when the playing field is level, nobody beats the United States of America. (Applause.) Nobody beats the United States of America.
Just do it, everybody. Thank you. God bless you. Thank you, Oregon. Thank you. God bless America. (Applause.)
10:14 A.M. PDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 8, 2015
Political Musings January 21, 2015: Obama defiant in least viewed State of the Union Address in recent history
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
- January 21, 2015
Posted by bonniekgoodman on January 21, 2015
Full Text Political Transcripts January 20, 2015: Iowa Senator Joni Ernst Delivers Official GOP Republican State of the Union Response
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
“I’m Joni Ernst. As a mother, a soldier, and a newly elected senator from the great State of Iowa, I am proud to speak with you tonight.
“A few moments ago, we heard the President lay out his vision for the year to come. Even if we may not always agree, it’s important to hear different points of view in this great country. We appreciate the President sharing his.
“Tonight though, rather than respond to a speech, I’d like to talk about your priorities. I’d like to have a conversation about the new Republican Congress you just elected, and how we plan to make Washington focus on your concerns again.
“We heard the message you sent in November — loud and clear. And now we’re getting to work to change the direction Washington has been taking our country.
“The new Republican Congress also understands how difficult these past six years have been. For many of us, the sting of the economy and the frustration with Washington’s dysfunction weren’t things we had to read about. We felt them every day.
“We felt them in Red Oak — the little town in southwestern Iowa where I grew up, and am still proud to call home today.
“As a young girl, I plowed the fields of our family farm. I worked construction with my dad. To save for college, I worked the morning biscuit line at Hardees.
“We were raised to live simply, not to waste. It was a lesson my mother taught me every rainy morning.
“You see, growing up, I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry.
“But I was never embarrassed. Because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet.
“Our parents may not have had much, but they worked hard for what they did have.
“These days though, many families feel like they’re working harder and harder, with less and less to show for it.
“Not just in Red Oak, but across the country.
“We see our neighbors agonize over stagnant wages and lost jobs. We see the hurt caused by canceled healthcare plans and higher monthly insurance bills. We see too many moms and dads put their own dreams on hold while growing more fearful about the kind of future they’ll be able to leave to their children.
“Americans have been hurting, but when we demanded solutions, too often Washington responded with the same stale mindset that led to failed policies like Obamacare. It’s a mindset that gave us political talking points, not serious solutions.
“That’s why the new Republican majority you elected started by reforming Congress to make it function again. And now, we’re working hard to pass the kind of serious job-creation ideas you deserve.
“One you’ve probably heard about is the Keystone jobs bill. President Obama has been delaying this bipartisan infrastructure project for years, even though many members of his party, unions, and a strong majority of Americans support it. The President’s own State Department has said Keystone’s construction could support thousands of jobs and pump billions into our economy, and do it with minimal environmental impact.
“We worked with Democrats to pass this bill through the House. We’re doing the same now in the Senate.
“President Obama will soon have a decision to make: will he sign the bill, or block good American jobs?
“There’s a lot we can achieve if we work together.
“Let’s tear down trade barriers in places like Europe and the Pacific. Let’s sell more of what we make and grow in America over there so we can boost manufacturing, wages, and jobs right here, at home.
“Let’s simplify America’s outdated and loophole-ridden tax code. Republicans think tax filing should be easier for you, not just the well-connected. So let’s iron out loopholes to lower rates — and create jobs, not pay for more government spending.
“The President has already expressed some support for these kinds of ideas. We’re calling on him now to cooperate to pass them.
“You’ll see a lot of serious work in this new Congress.
“Some of it will occur where I stand tonight, in the Armed Services Committee room. This is where I’ll join committee colleagues — Republicans and Democrats — to discuss ways to support our exceptional military and its mission. This is where we’ll debate strategies to confront terrorism and the threats posed by Al Qaeda, ISIL, and those radicalized by them.
“We know threats like these can’t just be wished away. We’ve been reminded of terrorism’s reach both at home and abroad; most recently in France and Nigeria, but also in places like Canada and Australia. Our hearts go out to all the innocent victims of terrorism and their loved ones. We can only imagine the depth of their grief.
“For two decades, I’ve proudly worn our nation’s uniform: today, as a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard. While deployed overseas with some of America’s finest men and women, I’ve seen just how dangerous these kinds of threats can be.
“The forces of violence and oppression don’t care about the innocent. We need a comprehensive plan to defeat them.
“We must also honor America’s veterans. These men and women have sacrificed so much in defense of our freedoms, and our way of life. They deserve nothing less than the benefits they were promised and a quality of care we can be all be proud of.
“These are important issues the new Congress plans to address.
“We’ll also keep fighting to repeal and replace a health care law that’s hurt so many hardworking families.
“We’ll work to correct executive overreach.
“We’ll propose ideas that aim to cut wasteful spending and balance the budget — with meaningful reforms, not higher taxes like the President has proposed.
“We’ll advance solutions to prevent the kind of cyberattacks we’ve seen recently.
“We’ll work to confront Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“And we’ll defend life, because protecting our most vulnerable is an important measure of any society.
“Congress is back to work on your behalf, ready to make Washington focus on your concerns again.
“We know America faces big challenges. But history has shown there’s nothing our nation, and our people, can’t accomplish.
“Just look at my parents and grandparents.
“They had very little to call their own except the sweat on their brow and the dirt on their hands. But they worked, they sacrificed, and they dreamed big dreams for their children and grandchildren.
“And because they did, an ordinary Iowan like me has had some truly extraordinary opportunities — because they showed me that you don’t need to come from wealth or privilege to make a difference. You just need the freedom to dream big, and a whole lot of hard work.
“The new Republican Congress you elected is working to make Washington understand that too. And with a little cooperation from the President, we can get Washington working again.
“Thank you for allowing me to speak with you tonight.
“May God bless this great country of ours, the brave Americans serving in uniform on our behalf, and you, the hardworking men and women who make the United States of America the greatest nation the world has ever known.”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on January 20, 2015
Full Text Obama Presidency January 20, 2015: President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address — Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery State of the Union Address
Source: WH, 1-20-15
The White House is making the full text of the State of the Union widely available on its Medium page. The text, as prepared for delivery, is now online HERE, along with tools that allow people to follow along with the speech as they watch in real time, to view charts and infographics on key areas, to tweet their favorite lines, and to leave notes to provide feedback.
The full text of the State of the Union Address, as prepared for delivery, is posted now on Medium and can be viewed here: http://go.wh.gov/SOTUMedium
There is a ritual on State of the Union night in Washington. A little before the address, the White House sends out an embargoed copy of the President’s speech to the press (embargoed means that the press can see the speech, but they can’t report on it until a designated time). The reporters then start sending it around town to folks on Capitol Hill to get their reaction, then those people send it to all their friends, and eventually everyone in Washington can read along, but the public remains in the dark.
This year we change that.
For the first time, the White House is making the full text of the speech available to citizens around the country online. On Medium, you can follow along with the speech as you watch in real time, view charts and infographics on key areas, tweet favorite lines, and leave notes. By making the text available to the public in advance, the White House is continuing efforts to reach a wide online audience and give people a range of ways to consume the speech.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:
We are fifteen years into this new century. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. It has been, and still is, a hard time for many.
But tonight, we turn the page.
Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years.
Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over. Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain. And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 Generation who has served to keep us safe. We are humbled and grateful for your service.
America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this:
The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.
At this moment – with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production – we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.
Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?
Will we approach the world fearful and reactive, dragged into costly conflicts that strain our military and set back our standing? Or will we lead wisely, using all elements of our power to defeat new threats and protect our planet?
Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into factions and turned against one another – or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward?
In two weeks, I will send this Congress a budget filled with ideas that are practical, not partisan. And in the months ahead, I’ll crisscross the country making a case for those ideas.
So tonight, I want to focus less on a checklist of proposals, and focus more on the values at stake in the choices before us.
It begins with our economy.
Seven years ago, Rebekah and Ben Erler of Minneapolis were newlyweds. She waited tables. He worked construction. Their first child, Jack, was on the way.
They were young and in love in America, and it doesn’t get much better than that.
“If only we had known,” Rebekah wrote to me last spring, “what was about to happen to the housing and construction market.”
As the crisis worsened, Ben’s business dried up, so he took what jobs he could find, even if they kept him on the road for long stretches of time. Rebekah took out student loans, enrolled in community college, and retrained for a new career. They sacrificed for each other. And slowly, it paid off. They bought their first home. They had a second son, Henry. Rebekah got a better job, and then a raise. Ben is back in construction – and home for dinner every night.
“It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”
We are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.
America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story. They represent the millions who have worked hard, and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled. You are the reason I ran for this office. You’re the people I was thinking of six years ago today, in the darkest months of the crisis, when I stood on the steps of this Capitol and promised we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation. And it’s been your effort and resilience that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger.
We believed we could reverse the tide of outsourcing, and draw new jobs to our shores. And over the past five years, our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.
We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. And today, America is number one in oil and gas. America is number one in wind power. Every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save $750 at the pump.
We believed we could prepare our kids for a more competitive world. And today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record. Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high. And more Americans finish college than ever before.
We believed that sensible regulations could prevent another crisis, shield families from ruin, and encourage fair competition. Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices. And in the past year alone, about ten million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.
At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years.
So the verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way. We can’t slow down businesses or put our economy at risk with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns. We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix. And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, it will earn my veto.
Today, thanks to a growing economy, the recovery is touching more and more lives. Wages are finally starting to rise again. We know that more small business owners plan to raise their employees’ pay than at any time since 2007. But here’s the thing – those of us here tonight, we need to set our sights higher than just making sure government doesn’t halt the progress we’re making. We need to do more than just do no harm. Tonight, together, let’s do more to restore the link between hard work and growing opportunity for every American.
Because families like Rebekah’s still need our help. She and Ben are working as hard as ever, but have to forego vacations and a new car so they can pay off student loans and save for retirement. Basic childcare for Jack and Henry costs more than their mortgage, and almost as much as a year at the University of Minnesota. Like millions of hardworking Americans, Rebekah isn’t asking for a handout, but she is asking that we look for more ways to help families get ahead.
In fact, at every moment of economic change throughout our history, this country has taken bold action to adapt to new circumstances, and to make sure everyone gets a fair shot. We set up worker protections, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to protect ourselves from the harshest adversity. We gave our citizens schools and colleges, infrastructure and the internet – tools they needed to go as far as their effort will take them.
That’s what middle-class economics is – the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. We don’t just want everyone to share in America’s success – we want everyone to contribute to our success.
So what does middle-class economics require in our time?
First – middle-class economics means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change. That means helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement – and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.
Here’s one example. During World War II, when men like my grandfather went off to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was a national security priority – so this country provided universal childcare. In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have – it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America – by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.
Here’s another example. Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave. Forty-three million. Think about that. And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. So I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own. And since paid sick leave won where it was on the ballot last November, let’s put it to a vote right here in Washington. Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It’s the right thing to do.
Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. That’s why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It’s 2015. It’s time. We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned. And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.
These ideas won’t make everybody rich, or relieve every hardship. That’s not the job of government. To give working families a fair shot, we’ll still need more employers to see beyond next quarter’s earnings and recognize that investing in their workforce is in their company’s long-term interest. We still need laws that strengthen rather than weaken unions, and give American workers a voice. But things like child care and sick leave and equal pay; things like lower mortgage premiums and a higher minimum wage – these ideas will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of families. That is a fact. And that’s what all of us – Republicans and Democrats alike – were sent here to do.
Second, to make sure folks keep earning higher wages down the road, we have to do more to help Americans upgrade their skills.
America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free, sent a generation of GIs to college, and trained the best workforce in the world. But in a 21st century economy that rewards knowledge like never before, we need to do more.
By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education. Two in three. And yet, we still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not smart for our future.
That’s why I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college – to zero.
Forty percent of our college students choose community college. Some are young and starting out. Some are older and looking for a better job. Some are veterans and single parents trying to transition back into the job market. Whoever you are, this plan is your chance to graduate ready for the new economy, without a load of debt. Understand, you’ve got to earn it – you’ve got to keep your grades up and graduate on time. Tennessee, a state with Republican leadership, and Chicago, a city with Democratic leadership, are showing that free community college is possible. I want to spread that idea all across America, so that two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today. And I want to work with this Congress, to make sure Americans already burdened with student loans can reduce their monthly payments, so that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams.
Thanks to Vice President Biden’s great work to update our job training system, we’re connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics. Tonight, I’m also asking more businesses to follow the lead of companies like CVS and UPS, and offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships – opportunities that give workers the chance to earn higher-paying jobs even if they don’t have a higher education.
And as a new generation of veterans comes home, we owe them every opportunity to live the American Dream they helped defend. Already, we’ve made strides towards ensuring that every veteran has access to the highest quality care. We’re slashing the backlog that had too many veterans waiting years to get the benefits they need, and we’re making it easier for vets to translate their training and experience into civilian jobs. Joining Forces, the national campaign launched by Michelle and Jill Biden, has helped nearly 700,000 veterans and military spouses get new jobs. So to every CEO in America, let me repeat: If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, hire a veteran.
Finally, as we better train our workers, we need the new economy to keep churning out high-wage jobs for our workers to fill.
Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and all advanced economies combined. Our manufacturers have added almost 800,000 new jobs. Some of our bedrock sectors, like our auto industry, are booming. But there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago – jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla.
So no one knows for certain which industries will generate the jobs of the future. But we do know we want them here in America. That’s why the third part of middle-class economics is about building the most competitive economy anywhere, the place where businesses want to locate and hire.
21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure – modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet. Democrats and Republicans used to agree on this. So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline. Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than thirty times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come.
21st century businesses, including small businesses, need to sell more American products overseas. Today, our businesses export more than ever, and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages. But as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region. That would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage. Why would we let that happen? We should write those rules. We should level the playing field. That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.
Look, I’m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype, and that’s why we’ve gone after countries that break the rules at our expense. But ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders, and we can’t close ourselves off from those opportunities. More than half of manufacturing executives have said they’re actively looking at bringing jobs back from China. Let’s give them one more reason to get it done.
21st century businesses will rely on American science, technology, research and development. I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine – one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. In some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable. Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes – and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.
I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.
I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs – converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay. Last month, we launched a new spacecraft as part of a re-energized space program that will send American astronauts to Mars. In two months, to prepare us for those missions, Scott Kelly will begin a year-long stay in space. Good luck, Captain – and make sure to Instagram it.
Now, the truth is, when it comes to issues like infrastructure and basic research, I know there’s bipartisan support in this chamber. Members of both parties have told me so. Where we too often run onto the rocks is how to pay for these investments. As Americans, we don’t mind paying our fair share of taxes, as long as everybody else does, too. But for far too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing while others pay full freight. They’ve riddled it with giveaways the superrich don’t need, denying a break to middle class families who do.
This year, we have an opportunity to change that. Let’s close loopholes so we stop rewarding companies that keep profits abroad, and reward those that invest in America. Let’s use those savings to rebuild our infrastructure and make it more attractive for companies to bring jobs home. Let’s simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual bank statement, instead of the number of accountants she can afford. And let’s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top one percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth. We can use that money to help more families pay for childcare and send their kids to college. We need a tax code that truly helps working Americans trying to get a leg up in the new economy, and we can achieve that together.
Helping hardworking families make ends meet. Giving them the tools they need for good-paying jobs in this new economy. Maintaining the conditions for growth and competitiveness. This is where America needs to go. I believe it’s where the American people want to go. It will make our economy stronger a year from now, fifteen years from now, and deep into the century ahead.
Of course, if there’s one thing this new century has taught us, it’s that we cannot separate our work at home from challenges beyond our shores.
My first duty as Commander-in-Chief is to defend the United States of America. In doing so, the question is not whether America leads in the world, but how. When we make rash decisions, reacting to the headlines instead of using our heads; when the first response to a challenge is to send in our military – then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts, and neglect the broader strategy we need for a safer, more prosperous world. That’s what our enemies want us to do.
I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now – and around the globe, it is making a difference.
First, we stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists – from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris. We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.
At the same time, we’ve learned some costly lessons over the last thirteen years.
Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice by supporting that country’s first democratic transition. Instead of sending large ground forces overseas, we’re partnering with nations from South Asia to North Africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America. In Iraq and Syria, American leadership – including our military power – is stopping ISIL’s advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. We’re also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism. This effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed. And tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL.
Second, we are demonstrating the power of American strength and diplomacy. We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small – by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin’s aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.
That’s how America leads – not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.
In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new. Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. And this year, Congress should begin the work of ending the embargo. As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of “small steps.” These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba. And after years in prison, we’re overjoyed that Alan Gross is back where he belongs. Welcome home, Alan.
Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material. Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies – including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict. There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran. But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails – alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.
Third, we’re looking beyond the issues that have consumed us in the past to shape the coming century.
No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information. If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.
In West Africa, our troops, our scientists, our doctors, our nurses and healthcare workers are rolling back Ebola – saving countless lives and stopping the spread of disease. I couldn’t be prouder of them, and I thank this Congress for your bipartisan support of their efforts. But the job is not yet done – and the world needs to use this lesson to build a more effective global effort to prevent the spread of future pandemics, invest in smart development, and eradicate extreme poverty.
In the Asia Pacific, we are modernizing alliances while making sure that other nations play by the rules – in how they trade, how they resolve maritime disputes, and how they participate in meeting common international challenges like nonproliferation and disaster relief. And no challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.
2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does – 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.
I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what – I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.
That’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it. That’s why we’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history. And that’s why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts. I am determined to make sure American leadership drives international action. In Beijing, we made an historic announcement – the United States will double the pace at which we cut carbon pollution, and China committed, for the first time, to limiting their emissions. And because the world’s two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got.
There’s one last pillar to our leadership – and that’s the example of our values.
As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims – the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.
As Americans, we have a profound commitment to justice – so it makes no sense to spend three million dollars per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit. Since I’ve been President, we’ve worked responsibly to cut the population of GTMO in half. Now it’s time to finish the job. And I will not relent in my determination to shut it down. It’s not who we are.
As Americans, we cherish our civil liberties – and we need to uphold that commitment if we want maximum cooperation from other countries and industry in our fight against terrorist networks. So while some have moved on from the debates over our surveillance programs, I haven’t. As promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse. And next month, we’ll issue a report on how we’re keeping our promise to keep our country safe while strengthening privacy.
Looking to the future instead of the past. Making sure we match our power with diplomacy, and use force wisely. Building coalitions to meet new challenges and opportunities. Leading – always – with the example of our values. That’s what makes us exceptional. That’s what keeps us strong. And that’s why we must keep striving to hold ourselves to the highest of standards – our own.
You know, just over a decade ago, I gave a speech in Boston where I said there wasn’t a liberal America, or a conservative America; a black America or a white America – but a United States of America. I said this because I had seen it in my own life, in a nation that gave someone like me a chance; because I grew up in Hawaii, a melting pot of races and customs; because I made Illinois my home – a state of small towns, rich farmland, and one of the world’s great cities; a microcosm of the country where Democrats and Republicans and Independents, good people of every ethnicity and every faith, share certain bedrock values.
Over the past six years, the pundits have pointed out more than once that my presidency hasn’t delivered on this vision. How ironic, they say, that our politics seems more divided than ever. It’s held up as proof not just of my own flaws – of which there are many – but also as proof that the vision itself is misguided, and naïve, and that there are too many people in this town who actually benefit from partisanship and gridlock for us to ever do anything about it.
I know how tempting such cynicism may be. But I still think the cynics are wrong.
I still believe that we are one people. I still believe that together, we can do great things, even when the odds are long. I believe this because over and over in my six years in office, I have seen America at its best. I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates from New York to California; and our newest officers at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, and New London. I’ve mourned with grieving families in Tucson and Newtown; in Boston, West, Texas, and West Virginia. I’ve watched Americans beat back adversity from the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains; from Midwest assembly lines to the Mid-Atlantic seaboard. I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home.
So I know the good, and optimistic, and big-hearted generosity of the American people who, every day, live the idea that we are our brother’s keeper, and our sister’s keeper. And I know they expect those of us who serve here to set a better example.
So the question for those of us here tonight is how we, all of us, can better reflect America’s hopes. I’ve served in Congress with many of you. I know many of you well. There are a lot of good people here, on both sides of the aisle. And many of you have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for – arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising, always looking over your shoulder at how the base will react to every decision.
Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns. Imagine if we did something different.
Understand – a better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine.
A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.
A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives.
A better politics is one where we spend less time drowning in dark money for ads that pull us into the gutter, and spend more time lifting young people up, with a sense of purpose and possibility, and asking them to join in the great mission of building America.
If we’re going to have arguments, let’s have arguments – but let’s make them debates worthy of this body and worthy of this country.
We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.
Yes, passions still fly on immigration, but surely we can all see something of ourselves in the striving young student, and agree that no one benefits when a hardworking mom is taken from her child, and that it’s possible to shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.
We may go at it in campaign season, but surely we can agree that the right to vote is sacred; that it’s being denied to too many; and that, on this 50th anniversary of the great march from Selma to Montgomery and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we can come together, Democrats and Republicans, to make voting easier for every single American.
We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York. But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can’t walk home without being harassed. Surely we can understand the wife who won’t rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift. Surely we can agree it’s a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all.
That’s a better politics. That’s how we start rebuilding trust. That’s how we move this country forward. That’s what the American people want. That’s what they deserve.
I have no more campaigns to run. My only agenda for the next two years is the same as the one I’ve had since the day I swore an oath on the steps of this Capitol – to do what I believe is best for America. If you share the broad vision I outlined tonight, join me in the work at hand. If you disagree with parts of it, I hope you’ll at least work with me where you do agree. And I commit to every Republican here tonight that I will not only seek out your ideas, I will seek to work with you to make this country stronger.
Because I want this chamber, this city, to reflect the truth – that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort, and help our neighbors, whether down the street or on the other side of the world.
I want our actions to tell every child, in every neighborhood: your life matters, and we are as committed to improving your life chances as we are for our own kids.
I want future generations to know that we are a people who see our differences as a great gift, that we are a people who value the dignity and worth of every citizen – man and woman, young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, immigrant and Native American, gay and straight, Americans with mental illness or physical disability.
I want them to grow up in a country that shows the world what we still know to be true: that we are still more than a collection of red states and blue states; that we are the United States of America.
I want them to grow up in a country where a young mom like Rebekah can sit down and write a letter to her President with a story to sum up these past six years:
“It is amazing what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”
My fellow Americans, we too are a strong, tight-knit family. We, too, have made it through some hard times. Fifteen years into this new century, we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking America. We’ve laid a new foundation. A brighter future is ours to write. Let’s begin this new chapter – together – and let’s start the work right now.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless this country we love.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on January 20, 2015
Full Text Obama Presidency December 20, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address America’s Resurgence Is Real
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Weekly Address: America’s Resurgence Is Real
Source: WH, 12-20-14
Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
December 20, 2014
Hi, everybody. As 2014 comes to an end, we can enter the New Year with new confidence that America is making significant strides where it counts.
The steps we took nearly six years ago to rescue our economy and rebuild it on a new foundation helped make 2014 the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s. Over the past 57 months, our businesses have created nearly 11 million new jobs. And in a hopeful sign for middle-class families, wages are on the rise again.
Our investments in American manufacturing have helped fuel its best stretch of job growth since the ‘90s. America is now the number one producer of oil and gas, saving drivers about 70 cents a gallon at the pump over last Christmas. The auto industry we rescued is on track for its strongest year since 2005. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, about 10 million Americans have gained health insurance in the past year alone. And since I took office, we have cut our deficits by about two-thirds.
Meanwhile, around the world, America is leading. We’re leading the coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL. We’re leading the global fight to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. We’re leading global efforts to address climate change, including last month’s joint announcement with China. We’re turning a new page in our relationship with the Cuban people.
And in less than two weeks, after more than 13 years, our combat mission in Afghanistan will be over, and our war there will come to a responsible end. Today, more of our troops are home for the holidays than at any time in over a decade. Still, many of our men and women in uniform will spend this Christmas in harm’s way. And as Commander-in-Chief, I want our troops to know: your country is united in our support and gratitude for you and your families.
The six years since the financial crisis have demanded hard work and sacrifice on everyone’s part. But as a country, we have every right to be proud of what we’ve got to show for it. More jobs. More insured. A growing economy. Shrinking deficits. Bustling industry. Booming energy.
Pick any metric you want – America’s resurgence is real. And we now have the chance to reverse the decades-long erosion of middle-class jobs and incomes. We just have to invest in the things that we know will secure even faster growth in higher-paying jobs for more Americans. We have to make sure our economy, our justice system, and our government work not only for a few, but for all of us. And I look forward to working together with the new Congress next year on these priorities.
Sure, we’ll disagree on some things. We’ll have to compromise on others. I’ll act on my own when it’s necessary. But I will never stop trying to make life better for people like you.
Because thanks to your efforts, a new foundation is laid. A new future is ready to be written. We have set the stage for a new American moment, and I’m going to spend every minute of my last two years making sure we seize it.
On behalf of the Obama family, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.
Thanks, and have a wonderful holiday season.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 20, 2014
Political Musings December 20, 2014: Obama invokes Reagan in reflective and optimistic American resurgence declaration
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 20, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency December 19, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at his Year-End Press ConferenceFull Text Obama Presidency December 15, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at “Christmas in Washington” — Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President in Year-End Press Conference
Source: WH, 12-19-14
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:53 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. We’ve really got a full house today, huh? Well, all I want for Christmas is to take your questions. (Laughter.) But first let me say a little bit about this year.
In last year’s final press conference, I said that 2014 would be a year of action and would be a breakthrough year for America. And it has been. Yes, there were crises that we had to tackle around the world, many that were unanticipated. We have more work to do to make sure our economy, our justice system, and our government work not just for the few, but for the many. But there is no doubt that we can enter into the New Year with renewed confidence that America is making significant strides where it counts.
The steps that we took early on to rescue our economy and rebuild it on a new foundation helped make 2014 the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s. All told, over a 57-month streak, our businesses have created nearly 11 million new jobs. Almost all the job growth that we’ve seen have been in full-time positions. Much of the recent pickup in job growth has been in higher-paying industries. And in a hopeful sign for middle-class families, wages are on the rise again.
Our investments in American manufacturing have helped fuel its best stretch of job growth also since the 1990s. America is now the number-one producer of oil, the number-one producer of natural gas. We’re saving drivers about 70 cents a gallon at the pump over last Christmas. And effectively today, our rescue of the auto industry is officially over. We’ve now repaid taxpayers every dime and more of what my administration committed, and the American auto industry is on track for its strongest year since 2005. And we’ve created about half a million new jobs in the auto industry alone.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, about 10 million Americans have gained health insurance just this past year. Enrollment is beginning to pick up again during the open enrollment period. The uninsured rate is at a near record low. Since the law passed, the price of health care has risen at its slowest rate in about 50 years. And we’ve cut our deficits by about two-thirds since I took office, bringing them to below their 40-year average.
Meanwhile, around the world, America is leading. We’re leading the coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL — a coalition that includes Arab partners. We’re leading the international community to check Russian aggression in Ukraine. We are leading the global fight to combat Ebola in West Africa, and we are preventing an outbreak from taking place here at home. We’re leading efforts to address climate change, including last month’s joint announcement with China that’s already jumpstarting new progress in other countries. We’re writing a new chapter in our leadership here in the Americas by turning a new page on our relationship with the Cuban people.
And in less than two weeks, after more than 13 years, our combat mission in Afghanistan will be over. Today, more of our troops are home for the holidays than any time in over a decade. Still, many of our men and women in uniform will spend Christmas in harm’s way. And they should know that the country is united in support of you and grateful not only to you but also to your families.
The six years since the crisis have demanded hard work and sacrifice on everybody’s part. But as a country, we have every right to be proud of what we’ve accomplished — more jobs; more people insured; a growing economy; shrinking deficits; bustling industry; booming energy. Pick any metric that you want — America’s resurgence is real. We are better off.
I’ve always said that recovering from the crisis of 2008 was our first order of business, and on that business, America has outperformed all of our other competitors. Over the past four years, we’ve put more people back to work than all other advanced economies combined. We’ve now come to a point where we have the chance to reverse an even deeper problem, the decades-long erosion of middle-class jobs and incomes, and to make sure that the middle class is the engine that powers our prosperity for decades to come.
To do that, we’re going to have to make some smart choices; we’ve got to make the right choices. We’re going to have to invest in the things that secure even faster growth in higher-paying jobs for more Americans. And I’m being absolutely sincere when I say I want to work with this new Congress to get things done, to make those investments, to make sure the government is working better and smarter. We’re going to disagree on some things, but there are going to be areas of agreement and we’ve got to be able to make that happen. And that’s going to involve compromise every once in a while, and we saw during this lame duck period that perhaps that spirit of compromise may be coming to the fore.
In terms of my own job, I’m energized, I’m excited about the prospects for the next couple of years, and I’m certainly not going to be stopping for a minute in the effort to make life better for ordinary Americans. Because, thanks to their efforts, we really do have a new foundation that’s been laid. We are better positioned than we have been in a very long time. A new future is ready to be written. We’ve set the stage for this American moment. And I’m going to spend every minute of my last two years making sure that we seize it.
My presidency is entering the fourth quarter; interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter. And I’m looking forward to it. But going into the fourth quarter, you usually get a timeout. I’m now looking forward to a quiet timeout — Christmas with my family. So I want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy New Year. I hope that all of you get some time to spend with your families as well, because one thing that we share is that we’re away too much from them.
And now, Josh has given me the “who’s been naughty and who’s been nice” list — (laughter) — and I’m going to use it to take some questions. And we’re going to start with Carrie Budoff Brown of Politico. There you go, Carrie.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I’ll start on North Korea — that seems to be the biggest topic today. What does a proportional response look like to the Sony hack? And did Sony make the right decision in pulling the movie? Or does that set a dangerous precedent when faced with this kind of situation?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me address the second question first. Sony is a corporation. It suffered significant damage. There were threats against its employees. I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced. Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake.
In this interconnected, digital world, there are going to be opportunities for hackers to engage in cyber assaults both in the private sector and the public sector. Now, our first order of business is making sure that we do everything to harden sites and prevent those kinds of attacks from taking place. When I came into office, I stood up a cybersecurity interagency team to look at everything that we could at the government level to prevent these kinds of attacks. We’ve been coordinating with the private sector, but a lot more needs to be done. We’re not even close to where we need to be.
And one of the things in the New Year that I hope Congress is prepared to work with us on is strong cybersecurity laws that allow for information-sharing across private sector platforms, as well as the public sector, so that we are incorporating best practices and preventing these attacks from happening in the first place.
But even as we get better, the hackers are going to get better, too. Some of them are going to be state actors; some of them are going to be non-state actors. All of them are going to be sophisticated and many of them can do some damage.
We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States. Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don’t like, or news reports that they don’t like. Or even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended.
So that’s not who we are. That’s not what America is about.
Again, I’m sympathetic that Sony as a private company was worried about liabilities, and this and that and the other. I wish they had spoken to me first. I would have told them, do not get into a pattern in which you’re intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks. Imagine if, instead of it being a cyber-threat, somebody had broken into their offices and destroyed a bunch of computers and stolen disks. Is that what it takes for suddenly you to pull the plug on something?
So we’ll engage with not just the film industry, but the news industry and the private sector around these issues. We already have. We will continue to do so. But I think all of us have to anticipate occasionally there are going to be breaches like this. They’re going to be costly. They’re going to be serious. We take them with the utmost seriousness. But we can’t start changing our patterns of behavior any more than we stop going to a football game because there might be the possibility of a terrorist attack; any more than Boston didn’t run its marathon this year because of the possibility that somebody might try to cause harm. So let’s not get into that way of doing business.
Q Can you just say what the response would be to this attack? Wwould you consider taking some sort of symbolic step like watching the movie yourself or doing some sort of screening here that —
THE PRESIDENT: I’ve got a long list of movies I’m going to be watching. (Laughter.)
Q Will this be one of them?
THE PRESIDENT: I never release my full movie list.
But let’s talk of the specifics of what we now know. The FBI announced today and we can confirm that North Korea engaged in this attack. I think it says something interesting about North Korea that they decided to have the state mount an all-out assault on a movie studio because of a satirical movie starring Seth Rogen and James Flacco [Franco]. (Laughter.) I love Seth and I love James, but the notion that that was a threat to them I think gives you some sense of the kind of regime we’re talking about here.
They caused a lot of damage, and we will respond. We will respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose. It’s not something that I will announce here today at a press conference.
More broadly, though, this points to the need for us to work with the international community to start setting up some very clear rules of the road in terms of how the Internet and cyber operates. Right now, it’s sort of the Wild West. And part of the problem is, is you’ve got weak states that can engage in these kinds of attacks, you’ve got non-state actors that can do enormous damage. That’s part of what makes this issue of cybersecurity so urgent.
Again, this is part of the reason why it’s going to be so important for Congress to work with us and get a actual bill passed that allows for the kind of information-sharing we need. Because if we don’t put in place the kind of architecture that can prevent these attacks from taking place, this is not just going to be affecting movies, this is going to be affecting our entire economy in ways that are extraordinarily significant.
And, by the way, I hear you’re moving to Europe. Where you going to be?
THE PRESIDENT: Brussels.
Q Yes. Helping Politico start a new publication.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, congratulations.
Q I’ve been covering you since the beginning.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think —
Q It’s been a long road for the both of us.
THE PRESIDENT: I think there’s no doubt that what Belgium needs is a version of Politico. (Laughter.)
Q I’ll take that as an endorsement.
THE PRESIDENT: The waffles are delicious there, by the way.
Cheryl Bolen. You’ve been naughty. (Laughter.) Cheryl, go ahead.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Looking ahead to your work with Congress next year, you’ve mentioned as an area of possible compromise tax reform. And so I am wondering, do you see a Republican Congress as presenting a better opportunity for actually getting tax reform next year? Will you be putting out a new proposal? Are you willing to consider both individual and corporate side of the tax ledger there? And also, are you still concerned about corporate inversions?
THE PRESIDENT: I think an all-Democratic Congress would have provided an even better opportunity for tax reform. But I think, talking to Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell that they are serious about wanting to get some things done. The tax area is one area where we can get things done. And I think in the coming weeks leading up to the State of Union, there will be some conversations at the staff levels about what principles each side are looking at.
I can tell you broadly what I’d like to see. I’d like to see more simplicity in the system. I’d like to see more fairness in the system. With respect to the corporate tax reform issue, we know that there are companies that are paying the full freight — 35 percent — higher than just about any other company on Earth, if you’re paying 35 percent, and then there are other companies that are paying zero because they’ve got better accountants or lawyers. That’s not fair.
There are companies that are parking money outside the country because of tax avoidance. We think that it’s important that everybody pays something if, in fact, they are effectively headquartered in the United States. In terms of corporate inversion, those are situations where companies really are headquartered here but, on paper, switch their headquarters to see if they can avoid paying their fair share of taxes. I think that needs to be fixed.
So, fairness, everybody paying their fair share, everybody taking responsibility I think is going to be very important.
Some of those principles I’ve heard Republicans say they share. How we do that — the devil is in the details. And I’ll be interested in seeing what they want to move forward. I’m going to make sure that we put forward some pretty specific proposals building on what we’ve already put forward.
One other element of this that I think is important is — and I’ve been on this hobby horse now for six years. (Audience member sneezes.) Bless you. We’ve got a lot of infrastructure we’ve got to rebuild in this country if we’re going to be competitive — roads, bridges, ports, airports, electrical grids, water systems, sewage systems. We are way behind.
And early on we indicated that there is a way of us potentially doing corporate tax reform, lowering rates, eliminating loopholes so everybody is paying their fair share, and during that transition also providing a mechanism where we can get some infrastructure built. I’d like to see us work on that issue as well. Historically, obviously, infrastructure has not been a Democratic or a Republican issue, and I’d like to see if we can return to that tradition.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I wanted to ask about Cuba. What would you say to dissidents or democracy advocates inside Cuba who fear that the policy changes you announced this week could give the Castro regime economic benefits without having to address human rights or their political system? When your administration was lifting sanctions on Myanmar you sought commitments of reform. Why not do the same with Cuba?
And if I could just follow up on North Korea. Do you have any indication that North Korea was acting in conjunction with another country, perhaps China?
THE PRESIDENT: We’ve got no indication that North Korea was acting in conjunction with another country.
With respect to Cuba, we are glad that the Cuban government have released slightly over 50 dissidents; that they are going to be allowing the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations human rights agencies to operate more freely inside of Cuba and monitor what is taking place.
I share the concerns of dissidents there and human rights activists that this is still a regime that represses its people. And as I said when I made the announcement, I don’t anticipate overnight changes, but what I know deep in my bones is that if you’ve done the same thing for 50 years and nothing has changed, you should try something different if you want a different outcome.
And this gives us an opportunity for a different outcome, because suddenly Cuba is open to the world in ways that it has not been before. It’s open to Americans traveling there in ways that it hasn’t been before. It’s open to church groups visiting their fellow believers inside of Cuba in ways they haven’t been before. It offers the prospect of telecommunications and the Internet being more widely available in Cuba in ways that it hasn’t been before.
And over time, that chips away at this hermetically sealed society, and I believe offers the best prospect then of leading to greater freedom, greater self-determination on the part of the Cuban people.
I think it will happen in fits and starts. But through engagement, we have a better chance of bringing about change then we would have otherwise.
Q Do you have a goal for where you see Cuba being at the end of your presidency?
THE PRESIDENT: I think it would be unrealistic for me to map out exactly where Cuba will be. But change is going to come to Cuba. It has to. They’ve got an economy that doesn’t work. They’ve been reliant for years first on subsidies from the Soviet Union, then on subsidies from Venezuela. Those can’t be sustained. And the more the Cuban people see what’s possible, the more interested they are going to be in change.
But how societies change is country-specific, it’s culturally specific. It could happen fast; it could happen slower than I’d like; but it’s going to happen. And I think this change in policy is going to advance that.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I had a number of questions on Cuba as well. Appreciate that. I wanted to —
THE PRESIDENT: Do I have to write all these down? How many are there? (Laughter.) “A number” sounded intimidating.
Q As quick as I can. As quick as I can. I wanted to see if you got an assurances from the Cuban government that it would not revert to the same sort of — sabotage the deal, as it has in the past when past Presidents had made similar overtures to the government.
THE PRESIDENT: Meaning? Be specific. What do you mean?
Q When the Clinton administration made some overtures, they shot down planes. They sort of had this pattern of doing provocative — provocative events.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, so just general provocative activity.
Q Provocative activities any time the U.S. has sort of reached out a hand to them. I wanted to see what is your knowledge of whether Fidel Castro — did he have any role in the talks? When you talked to President Raul Castro, did Fidel Castro’s name come up? Or did you ask about him? How he’s doing? People haven’t seen him in a while. Given the deep opposition from some Republicans in Congress to lifting the embargo, to an embassy, to any of the changes that you’re doing, are you going to personally get involved in terms of talking to them about efforts that they want to do to block money on a new embassy?
THE PRESIDENT: All right, Lesley, I think I’m going to cut you off here. (Laughter.) This is taking up a lot of time.
Q Okay, all right.
THE PRESIDENT: All right. So, with respect to sabotage, I mean, my understanding of the history, for example, of the plane being shot down, it’s not clear that that was the Cuban government purposely trying to undermine overtures by the Clinton administration. It was a tragic circumstance that ended up collapsing talks that had begun to take place. I haven’t seen a historical record that suggests that they shot the plane down specifically in order to undermine overtures by the Clinton government.
I think it is not precedented for the President of the United States and the President of Cuba to make an announcement at the same time that they are moving towards normalizing relations. So there hasn’t been anything like this in the past. That doesn’t meant that over the next two years we can anticipate them taking certain actions that we may end up finding deeply troubling either inside of Cuba or with respect to their foreign policy. And that could put significant strains on the relationship. But that’s true of a lot of countries out there where we have an embassy. And the whole point of normalizing relations is that it gives us a greater opportunity to have influence with that government than not.
So I would be surprised if the Cuban government purposely tries to undermine what is now effectively its own policy. I wouldn’t be surprised if they take at any given time actions that we think are a problem. And we will be in a position to respond to whatever actions they take the same way we do with a whole range of countries around the world when they do things we think are wrong. But the point is, is that we will be in a better position I think to actually have some influence, and there may be carrots as well as sticks that we can then apply.
The only way that Fidel’s name came up — I think I may have mentioned this in the Davie Muir article — interview that I did — was I delivered a fairly lengthy statement at the front end about how we’re looking forward to a new future in the relationship between our two countries, but that we are going to continue to press on issues of democracy and human rights, which we think are important.
My opening remarks probably took about 15 minutes, which on the phone is a pretty long time. And at the end of that, he said, Mr. President, you’re still a young man. Perhaps you have the — at the end of my remarks I apologized for taking such a long time, but I wanted to make sure that before we engaged in the conversation he was very clear about where I stood. He said, oh, don’t worry about it, Mr. President, you’re still a young man and you have still the chance to break Fidel’s record — he once spoke seven hours straight. (Laughter.)
And then, President Castro proceeded to deliver his own preliminary remarks that last at least twice as long as mine. (Laughter.) And then I was able to say, obviously it runs in the family. But that was the only discussion of Fidel Castro that we had.
I sort of forgot all the other questions. (Laughter.)
Q I have a few more if you’re — how personally involved are you going to get in —
THE PRESIDENT: With respect to Congress? We cannot unilaterally bring down the embargo. That’s codified in the Libertad Act. And what I do think is going to happen, though, is there’s going to be a process where Congress digests it. There are bipartisan supporters of our new approach, there are bipartisan detractors of this new approach. People will see how the actions we take unfold. And I think there’s going to be a healthy debate inside of Congress.
And I will certainly weigh in. I think that ultimately we need to go ahead and pull down the embargo, which I think has been self-defeating in advancing the aims that we’re interested in. But I don’t anticipate that that happens right away. I think people are going to want to see how does this move forward before there’s any serious debate about whether or not we would make major shifts in the embargo.
Q I want to follow on that by asking, under what conditions would you meet with President Castro in Havana? Would you have certain preconditions that you would want to see met before doing that? And on the hack, I know that you said that you’re not going to announce your response, but can you say whether you’re considering additional economic or financial sanctions on North Korea? Can you rule out the use of military force or some kind of cyber hit of your own?
THE PRESIDENT: I think I’m going to leave it where I left it, which is we just confirmed that it was North Korea; we have been working up a range of options. They will be presented to me. I will make a decision on those based on what I believe is proportional and appropriate to the nature of this crime.
With respect to Cuba, we’re not at a stage here where me visiting Cuba or President Castro coming to the United States is in the cards. I don’t know how this relationship will develop over the next several years. I’m a fairly young man so I imagine that at some point in my life I will have the opportunity to visit Cuba and enjoy interacting with the Cuban people. But there’s nothing specific where we’re trying to target some sort of visit on my part.
Colleen McCain Nelson.
Q Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: There you are.
Q You spoke earlier about 2014 being a breakthrough year, and you ended the year with executive actions on Cuba and immigration and climate change. But you didn’t make much progress this year on your legislative agenda. And some Republican lawmakers have said they’re less inclined to work with you if you pursue executive actions so aggressively. Are you going to continue to pursue executive actions if that creates more roadblocks for your legislative agenda? Or have you concluded that it’s not possible to break the fever in Washington and the partisan gridlock here?
THE PRESIDENT: I think there are real opportunities to get things done in Congress. As I said before, I take Speaker Boehner and Mitch McConnell at their words that they want to get things done. I think the American people would like to see us get some things done. The question is going to be are we able to separate out those areas where we disagree and those areas where we agree. I think there are going to be some tough fights on areas where we disagree.
If Republicans seek to take health care away from people who just got it, they will meet stiff resistance from me. If they try to water down consumer protections that we put in place in the aftermath of the financial crisis, I will say no. And I’m confident that I’ll be able to uphold vetoes of those types of provisions. But on increasing American exports, on simplifying our tax system, on rebuilding our infrastructure, my hope is that we can get some things done.
I’ve never been persuaded by this argument that if it weren’t for the executive actions they would have been more productive. There’s no evidence of that. So I intend to continue to do what I’ve been doing, which is where I see a big problem and the opportunity to help the American people, and it is within my lawful authority to provide that help, I’m going to do it. And I will then, side-by-side, reach out to members of Congress, reach out to Republicans, and say, let’s work together; I’d rather do it with you.
Immigration is the classic example. I was really happy when the Senate passed a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill. And I did everything I could for a year and a half to provide Republicans the space to act, and showed not only great patience, but flexibility, saying to them, look, if there are specific changes you’d like to see, we’re willing to compromise, we’re willing to be patient, we’re willing to work with you. Ultimately it wasn’t forthcoming.
And so the question is going to be I think if executive actions on areas like minimum wage, or equal pay, or having a more sensible immigration system are important to Republicans, if they care about those issues, and the executive actions are bothering them, there is a very simple solution, and that is: Pass bills. And work with me to make sure I’m willing to sign those bills.
Because both sides are going to have to compromise. On most issues, in order for their initiatives to become law, I’m going to have sign off. And that means they have to take into account the issues that I care about, just as I’m going to have to take into account the issues that they care about.
All right. I think this is going to be our last question. Juliet Eilperin. There you go.
Q Thanks so much. So one of the first bills that Mitch McConnell said he will send to you is one that would authorize the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. When you talked about this in the past, you’ve minimized the benefits and you highlighted some of the risks associated with that project. I’m wondering if you could tell us both what you would do when faced with that bill, given the Republican majority that we’ll have in both chambers. And also, what do you see as the benefits? And given the precipitous drop we’ve seen in oil prices recently, does that change the calculus in terms of how it will contribute to climate change, and whether you think it makes sense to go ahead with that project?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don’t think I’ve minimized the benefits, I think I’ve described the benefits. At issue in Keystone is not American oil. It is Canadian oil that is drawn out of tar sands in Canada. That oil currently is being shipped out through rail or trucks, and it would save Canadian oil companies and the Canadian oil industry an enormous amount of money if they could simply pipe it all the way through the United States down to the Gulf. Once that oil gets to the Gulf, it is then entering into the world market, and it would be sold all around the world.
So there’s no — I won’t say “no” — there is very little impact, nominal impact, on U.S. gas prices — what the average American consumer cares about — by having this pipeline come through. And sometimes the way this gets sold is, let’s get this oil and it’s going to come here. And the implication is, is that’s going to lower gas prices here in the United States. It’s not. There’s a global oil market. It’s very good for Canadian oil companies and it’s good for the Canadian oil industry, but it’s not going to be a huge benefit to U.S. consumers. It’s not even going to be a nominal benefit to U.S. consumers.
Now, the construction of the pipeline itself will create probably a couple thousand jobs. Those are temporary jobs until the construction actually happens. There’s probably some additional jobs that can be created in the refining process down in the Gulf. Those aren’t completely insignificant — it’s just like any other project. But when you consider what we could be doing if we were rebuilding our roads and bridges around the country — something that Congress could authorize — we could probably create hundreds of thousands of jobs, or a million jobs. So if that’s the argument, there are a lot more direct ways to create well-paying Americans construction jobs.
And then, with respect to the cost, all I’ve said is that I want to make sure that if, in fact, this project goes forward, that it’s not adding to the problem of climate change, which I think is very serious and does impose serious costs on the American people — some of them long term, but significant costs nonetheless. If we’ve got more flooding, more wildfires, more drought, there are direct economic impacts on that.
And as we’re now rebuilding after Sandy, for example, we’re having to consider how do we increase preparedness in how we structure infrastructure and housing, and so forth, along the Jersey Shore. That’s an example of the kind of costs that are imposed, and you can put a dollar figure on it.
So, in terms of process, you’ve got a Nebraska judge that’s still determining whether or not the new path for this pipeline is appropriate. Once that is resolved, then the State Department will have all the information it needs to make its decision.
But I’ve just tried to give this perspective, because I think that there’s been this tendency to really hype this thing as some magic formula to what ails the U.S. economy, and it’s hard to see on paper where exactly they’re getting that information from.
In terms of oil prices and how it impacts the decision, I think that it won’t have a significant impact except perhaps in the minds of folks — when gas prices are lower, maybe they’re less susceptible to the argument that this is the answer to lowering gas prices. But it was never going to be the answer to lowering gas prices, because the oil that would be piped through the Keystone pipeline would go into the world market. And that’s what determines oil prices, ultimately.
Q And in terms of Congress forcing your hand on this, is this something where you clearly say you’re not going to let Congress force your hand on whether to approve or disapprove of this?
THE PRESIDENT: I’ll see what they do. We’ll take that up in the New Year.
Q Any New Year’s resolutions?
THE PRESIDENT: I’ll ask — April, go ahead.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Last question, I guess. (Laughter.) Six years ago this month, I asked you what was the state of black America in the Oval Office, and you said it was the “the best of times and the worst of times.” You said it was the best of times in the sense that there was — has never been more opportunity for African Americans to receive a good education, and the worst of times for unemployment and the lack of opportunity. We’re ending 2014. What is the state of black America as we talk about those issues as well as racial issues in this country?
THE PRESIDENT: Like the rest of America, black America in the aggregate is better off now than it was when I came into office. The jobs that have been created, the people who’ve gotten health insurance, the housing equity that’s been recovered, the 401 pensions that have been recovered — a lot of those folks are African American. They’re better off than they were.
The gap between income and wealth of white and black America persists. And we’ve got more work to do on that front. I’ve been consistent in saying that this is a legacy of a troubled racial past of Jim Crow and slavery. That’s not an excuse for black folks. And I think the overwhelming majority of black people understand it’s not an excuse. They’re working hard. They’re out there hustling and trying to get an education, trying to send their kids to college. But they’re starting behind, oftentimes, in the race.
And what’s true for all Americans is we should be willing to provide people a hand up — not a handout, but help folks get that good early childhood education, help them graduate from high school, help them afford college. If they do, they’re going to be able to succeed, and that’s going to be good for all of us.
And we’ve seen some progress. The education reforms that we’ve initiated are showing measurable results. We have the highest high school graduation that we’ve seen in a very long time. We are seeing record numbers of young people attending college. In many states that have initiated reforms, you’re seeing progress in math scores and reading scores for African American and Latino students as well as the broader population. But we’ve still got more work to go.
Now, obviously, how we’re thinking about race relations right now has been colored by Ferguson, the Garner case in New York, a growing awareness in the broader population of what I think many communities of color have understood for some time, and that is that there are specific instances at least where law enforcement doesn’t feel as if it’s being applied in a colorblind fashion.
The task force that I formed is supposed to report back to me in 90 days — not with a bunch of abstract musings about race relations, but some really concrete, practical things that police departments and law enforcement agencies can begin implementing right now to rebuild trust between communities of color and the police department.
And my intention is to, as soon as I get those recommendations, to start implementing them. Some of them we’ll be able to do through executive action. Some of them will require congressional action. Some of them will require action on the part of states and local jurisdictions.
But I actually think it’s been a healthy conversation that we’ve had. These are not new phenomenon. The fact that they’re now surfacing, in part because people are able to film what have just been, in the past, stories passed on around a kitchen table, allows people to make their own assessments and evaluations. And you’re not going to solve a problem if it’s not being talked about.
In the meantime, we’ve been moving forward on criminal justice reform issues more broadly. One of the things I didn’t talk about in my opening statement is the fact that last year was the first time in 40 years where we had the federal prison population go down and the crime rate go down at the same time, which indicates the degree to which it’s possible for us to think smarter about who we’re incarcerating, how long we’re incarcerating, how are we dealing with nonviolent offenders, how are we dealing with drug offenses, diversion programs, drug courts. We can do a better job of — and save money in the process by initiating some of these reforms. And I’ve been really pleased to see that we’ve had Republicans and Democrats in Congress who are interested in these issues as well.
The one thing I will say — and this is going to be the last thing I say — is that one of the great things about this job is you get to know the American people. I mean, you meet folks from every walk of life and every region of the country, and every race and every faith. And what I don’t think is always captured in our political debates is the vast majority of people are just trying to do the right thing, and people are basically good and have good intentions. Sometimes our institutions and our systems don’t work as well as they should. Sometimes you’ve got a police department that has gotten into bad habits over a period of time and hasn’t maybe surfaced some hidden biases that we all carry around. But if you offer practical solutions, I think people want to fix these problems. It’s not — this isn’t a situation where people feel good seeing somebody choked and dying. I think that troubles everybody. So there’s an opportunity of all of us to come together and to take a practical approach to these problems.
And I guess that’s my general theme for the end of the year — which is we’ve gone through difficult times. It is your job, press corps, to report on all the mistakes that are made and all the bad things that happen and the crises that look like they’re popping. And I understand that. But through persistent effort and faith in the American people, things get better. The economy has gotten better. Our ability to generate clean energy has gotten better. We know more about how to educate our kids. We solved problems. Ebola is a real crisis; you get a mistake in the first case because it’s not something that’s been seen before — we fix it. You have some unaccompanied children who spike at a border, and it may not get fixed in the time frame of the news cycle, but it gets fixed.
And part of what I hope as we reflect on the New Year this should generate is some confidence. America knows how to solve problems. And when we work together, we can’t be stopped.
And now I’m going to go on vacation. Mele Kalikimaka, everybody. (Laughter.) Mahalo. Thank you, everybody.
2:45 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 19, 2014
Political Musings October 31, 2014: Obama celebrates Halloween with devilish cake, White House trick-or-treat party
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 31, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency October 4, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: We Do Better When the Middle Class Does Better — Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Weekly Address: We Do Better When the Middle Class Does Better
Source: WH, 10-4-14
WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, the President highlighted that six years after the Great Recession, thanks to the hard work of the American people and the President’s policies, our economy has come back further and faster than any other nation on Earth. With 10.3 million private sector jobs added over 55 straight months, America’s businesses have extended the longest streak of private-sector job gains on record. But even with this progress, too many Americans have yet to feel the benefits. The President reiterated the vision he set out earlier this week for steps that can lay a new foundation for stronger growth, rising wages, and expanded economic opportunity for middle class families.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
October 4, 2014
Hi, everybody. I’m at Millennium Steel in Princeton, Indiana, to have a town hall with workers on National Manufacturing Day. Because in many ways, manufacturing is the quintessential middle-class job. And after a decade of losing jobs, American manufacturing is once again adding them – more than 700,000 over the past four and a half years.
In fact, it’s been a bright spot as we keep fighting to recover from the great recession. Last month, our businesses added 236,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate fell to under six percent for the first time in more than six years. Over the past 55 months, our businesses have added 10.3 million new jobs. That’s the longest uninterrupted stretch of private sector job creation in our history. And we’re on pace to make 2014 the strongest year of job growth since the 1990s.
This progress has been hard, but it has been steady, and it is real. It is a direct result of the American people’s drive and determination, and decisions made by my administration.
During the last decade, people thought the decline in American manufacturing was inevitable. But we chose to invest in American auto industry and American workers. And today, an auto industry that was flatlining six years ago is building and selling new cars at the fastest pace in eight years. American manufacturing is growing almost twice as fast as the rest of the economy, with new factories opening their doors at the fastest pace in decades. That’s progress we can be proud of.
What’s also true is that too many families still work too many hours with too little to show for it. And the much longer and profound erosion of middle-class jobs and incomes isn’t something we’re going to reverse overnight. But there are ideas we should be putting into place that would grow jobs and wages faster right now. And one of the best would be to raise the minimum wage.
We’ve actually begun to see some modest wage growth in recent months. But most folks still haven’t seen a raise in over a decade. It’s time to stop punishing some of the hardest-working Americans. It’s time to raise the minimum wage. It would put more money in workers’ pockets. It would help 28 million Americans. Recent surveys show that a majority of small business owners support a gradual increase to ten dollars and ten cents an hour. The folks who keep blocking a minimum wage increase are running out of excuses. Let’s give America a raise.
Let’s do this – because it would make our economy stronger, and make sure that growth is shared. Rather than just reading about our recovery in a headline, more people will feel it in their own lives. And that’s when America does best. We do better when the middle class does better, and when more Americans have their way to climb into the middle class.
And that’s what drives me every single day. Thanks, and have a great weekend.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 5, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency October 3, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Town Hall on Manufacturing at Millennium Steel — Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President at a Town Hall on Manufacturing
Source: WH, 10-3-14
2:17 P.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! Hello, Indiana! It’s good to be back close to home. Everybody have a seat, have a seat.
Well, first of all, let me thank Henry and everybody for extending such a warm welcome. It’s good to be back in Indiana. A couple people I just want to acknowledge very quickly: Your Mayor, Bob Hurst. Where did Mayor Hurst go? (Applause.) He was here just a second — there he is right there. Give him a big round of applause. (Applause.) We’ve got your former Congressman, Brad Ellsworth, in the house. Say hi to Brad. (Applause.)
It is great to be back in Indiana. It’s great to be in Princeton. And I want to thank Millennium Steel for hosting us here today. I’m here because you might have heard that today is National Manufacturing Day. You don’t get the day off on National Manufacturing Day. (Laughter.) But factories like this one, all over the country, are opening their doors to give young people a chance to understand what opportunities exist in manufacturing in 21st century in the United States of America. So I figured, what better place to celebrate Manufacturing Day than with a manufacturer?
And instead of giving a long speech, what I want to do today is just have a conversation with folks about what’s happening in the American economy, what’s happening in your lives, what’s happening in manufacturing, and to talk a little bit about how we can continue to build an economy that works for everybody, that gives everybody who’s willing to work hard a chance.
And I wanted to do that here because, in some ways, American manufacturing is powering the American recovery. This morning, we learned that last month, our businesses added more than 236,000 jobs. (Applause.) The unemployment rate fell from 6.1 percent to 5.9 percent. (Applause.) What that means is that the unemployment rate is below 6 percent for the first time in six years. (Applause.) And we’re on pace for the strongest job growth since the 1990s — strongest job growth since the 1990s. Over the past 55 months, our businesses have now created 10.3 million new jobs. (Applause.)
Now, that happens to be the longest uninterrupted stretch of job growth in the private sector in American history. And all told, the United States has put more folks back to work than Europe, Japan, and all other advanced economies combined. All combined, we put more folks back to work right here in the United States of America. (Applause.)
So this progress that we’ve been making, it’s been hard, it goes in fits and starts, it’s not always been perfectly smooth or as fast as we want, but it is real and it is steady and it is happening. And it’s making a difference in economies all across the country. And it’s the direct result of the best workers in the world, the drive and determination of the American people, the resilience of the American people bouncing back from what was the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression — and it’s also got a little bit to do with some decisions we made pretty early on in my administration.
So, just to take an example, many of you know that the auto industry was really in a bad spot when I came into office. And we decided to help our automakers to rebuild, to retool, and they’re now selling new cars at the fastest rate in about eight years. And they’re great cars, too. (Applause.) And that’s helped a lot of communities all across the Midwest. And that’s just one example of what’s been happening to American manufacturing generally.
About 10, 15 years ago, everybody said American manufacturing is going downhill, everything is moving to China or other countries. And the Midwest got hit a lot harder than a lot of places because we were the backbone of American manufacturing. But because folks invested in new plants and new technologies, and there were hubs that were created between businesses and universities and community colleges so that workers could master and get trained in some of these new technologies, what we’ve now seen is manufacturing driving economic growth in a way we haven’t seen in about 20-25 years.
Because of the efforts that we’ve made, manufacturing as a whole has added about 700,000 new jobs. It’s growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy. New factories are opening their doors. More than half of manufacturing executives have said they’re actively looking to bring jobs back from China. Our businesses are selling more goods overseas than any time in our history. And the reason this is important is not just because of some abstract statistic. Manufacturing jobs have good pay and good benefits.
And they create a ripple effect to the whole economy because everybody who’s working here at Millennium Steel, because you’re getting paid well, because you’ve got decent benefits, that means that the restaurants in the neighborhood are doing better. It means you can afford to make your mortgage payments and buy a new car yourself, and buy some new appliances. And you get a virtuous cycle in which all businesses are doing better.
To most middle-class folks, the last decade was defined by those jobs going overseas. But if we keep up these investments, then we can define this decade as a period, instead of outsourcing, insourcing — bringing jobs back to America. And when you ask business executives around the world, what’s the number-one place to invest their money right now, for a long time it was China. Today they say, the best place to invest money is here in the United States of America. Here in the United States of America. (Applause.)
So there is a lot of good stuff happening in the economy right now. But what we all know is, is that there’s still some challenges — there’s still some challenges — because there are still a lot of families where somebody in the family is out of work, or isn’t getting as many hours as they want. There are still a lot of folks who, at the end of the month, are having trouble paying the bills. And wages and incomes have not moved up as fast as all the gains we’re making in jobs and productivity. Too much of the growth in income and wealth is going to the very top; not enough of it is being spread to the ordinary worker.
And that means that we’ve still got some more work to do to put in place policies that make sure that the economy works not just for the few, but it works for everybody; and that if you work hard you’re going to be able to pay the bills, you’re going to be able to retire with some dignity and some respect, you can send your kids to school without having to worry about it. That’s what we’ve got to be working on — making sure that no matter who you are, where you started, you can make it here in America. That’s what the American Dream is all about. (Applause.)
Now, let me just close by saying a couple of things that I know would make a difference if we were doing them right now to make the economy grow even faster, to bring the unemployment rate down even faster, and if employers are hiring more workers and the labor market gets a little bit tighter, then employers end up paying a little bit more and wages go up a little bit more, and that means people have a little more money in their pockets, and then they’re spending more of it on businesses’ products and services, which means that even more workers get hired. There are some things we could do right now that would make a difference.
We should be investing in roads and bridges and ports and infrastructure all across the country. We’ve got a lot of stuff that was built back in the ‘40s and the ‘50s that needs to be updated. And if we’re putting construction workers back to work, that means they also need some steel. They also need some concrete. It means you need engineers doing the work, and you need suppliers. And all that would give a huge boost to the economy and make it easier for businesses to deliver their products and services around the world. It would be good for our economy. That’s something that we should be doing right now.
And I’ve been putting proposals forward in front of Congress to say let’s go ahead and just start rebuilding all kinds of parts of America that need rebuilding. And nobody disagrees that they need to be rebuilt. The only thing that’s holding us up right now is politics.
We should be raising the minimum wage to make sure that more workers — (applause) — who have been working full-time shouldn’t be living in poverty. And we’ve got legislation going on right now that would call for a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, which would mean that if you work full-time you’re not living in poverty, you can raise a family. And the good news is, is about 13 states and a bunch of cities around the country have gone ahead and done it without Congress. But it would sure help if Congress went ahead and did it as well. Because right now, since I, two years ago, called for a hike in the minimum wage, about 7 million people have seen their incomes go up, but there are still about 21 million people who would stand to benefit if we had a national minimum wage.
And by the way, when you hear folks saying, well, if you raise the minimum wage that’s going to be fewer jobs — it turns out the states that have raised the minimum wage have had faster job growth than the states that haven’t raised the minimum wage. So this is something that would benefit families, but again, if folks have more money in their pockets, they’re working hard, they go out and spend it. And that ends up being good for business, not just for the workers involved.
We should be making sure that women are getting paid the same as men for doing the same work. (Applause.) That’s something, by the way, that should be a no-brainer for men, too, because — (laughter) — I remember when Michelle and I were both working, I was always happy if she got a raise. I wanted to make sure that she was getting paid fairly because it’s all one household, and the more women that get into the workforce, the more families are reliant on two incomes in order to make ends meet. Plus it’s just fair and it’s the right thing to do. (Applause.)
So there are a number of steps that we can take to make unemployment go down faster, to make sure that wages are rising faster, and that would benefit everybody. And I’ll just close with this comment. If you look at American history, the times we grow fastest and do best is when we’re growing the economy from the middle out. When middle-class families are growing, when working folks can get their way into the middle class, that’s when the whole economy does well. When you have an economy where just a few are doing well, and a lot of other folks are left, no matter how hard they work, still just scraping to get by, the economy doesn’t get the same kind of momentum.
And if you think about what America is about, what the American Dream is about, it’s always been that everybody should have opportunity. It shouldn’t matter how you started out if you’re willing to work hard, if you have good values, if you take responsibility. And that’s the kind of economy that we want to build. And we can build it, and manufacturing is going to be right smack dab in the middle of that effort, we’ve got to continue to build on the success we have. We’re not going to rest on our laurels. We’re going to keep on going until every single person who wants to find a good job out there can get a good job, and that America is competing against everybody else, so that 21st century is the American Century, just like the 20th century was.
All right? (Applause.)
Here is how we’re going to do this. I’m going to just grab this mic. Anybody who wants to ask a question or make a comment just raise your hand. There are probably some folks with mics in the audience. Wait for the mic so everybody can hear you. Stand up, introduce yourself. Try to make your questions kind of short, and I’ll try to make my answers kind of short. That way we can get more folks in. All right? All right. Who wants to go first? Oh, and I’ll go boy, girl, boy, girl — to make sure everybody — (laughter) — it’s kind of fair, kind of even. All right.
This young man right here.
Q Thank you for coming out today, President Obama. I’m with the University of Southern Indiana Manufacturing Club out here —
THE PRESIDENT: Excellent.
Q And my question for you is, can you share some specifics about the Rebuild America Act? I know you talked a little bit about that.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we have about $2 trillion in deferred maintenance. I don’t have to tell you because some of you have probably hit some potholes and tried to figure out what the heck is going on, why aren’t we fixing that road? But it’s not just the traditional roads and bridges. It’s also the infrastructure we don’t see — sewer systems, water systems. A lot of them are breaking down. Gas lines that we’ve been seeing in some big cities — those things start wearing out, suddenly they actually pose a threat if they explode because they’re just not in good shape.
There’s a whole bunch of new infrastructure that we should be building. So I’ll give you a good example is our electricity grid. The way we transmit power — if we’ve got old electricity grids, what happens is a lot of the electricity leaks, a lot of the power leaks in the transmission from the power plant to, let’s say, a factory like this one. And the more it leaks, the more that’s driving up prices, because it’s not as efficient as it should be and it’s more vulnerable to blackouts.
And in fact, if we built a smarter power grid — that’s called a smart grid — means that not only is it not leaking power, but it’s also sending power in efficient ways during peak times, so that we end up using less energy, which drives down consumer prices and is good for the environment.
I’ll give you one other example that I know everybody here will appreciate. We have an old, archaic air traffic control system. Some of you heard about what happened in Chicago — some guy got mad he was being transferred to Hawaii. Now, let me tell you, I’ve been to Hawaii. I don’t know why he was mad about that. (Laughter.) He sets fire to some of the facilities there, and suddenly folks couldn’t get in and out of Chicago for a couple of days. In fact, I was in Chicago yesterday — day before yesterday. I had to land in Gary because O’Hare was still somewhat restricted.
But even setting aside that, it turns out that if we revamped our whole air traffic control system, we could reduce the number of delayed flights by about 30 percent. We could reduce the amount of fuel that airlines use by about 30 percent, which means we could lower ticket prices by a whole bunch. It means that you wouldn’t have two-hour waits in the airport. And if you’re flying for business, that’s going to save you time and money. If you’re just trying to get home to see your family, it means time spent with family instead of sitting in an airport, buying stuff that’s really expensive. (Laughter.)
The whole economy would be more efficient if we do it. So the good news is it’s the best time for us to rebuild our infrastructure because there are still a lot of construction workers out of work, a lot of contractors — it’s not like they’ve got so much business, which means they can do the work on time, under budget. Interest rates are low. If we spent, let’s say, the next 10 years just saying we’re just going to rebuild all across America, old infrastructure and new infrastructure, then not only would we give the economy a boost right now, but what we’d also do is lay the foundation for even more economic growth in the future.
It’s a smart investment, and we should be doing it. So what I’ve proposed is let’s close some tax loopholes that exist right now that in some cases are incentivizing companies to send money overseas and profits overseas instead of investing here in the United States of America. Let’s close those loopholes that aren’t good for creating jobs here. Let’s take some of that money, let’s use that to rebuild our infrastructure. Makes good sense.
But Congress hasn’t done it yet — not because it’s not a good idea. Infrastructure is not partisan. That’s not Democratic or Republican, that’s just a common-sense thing. Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System. Lincoln — first Republican President — helped build the Transcontinental Railroad. Traditionally, everybody has been in favor of infrastructure because it powers our economy. It’s part of what made us an economic superpower. We’ve got to get back to that kind of mentality.
All right. Young lady right here.
Q Mr. President, you mentioned an increase to the minimum wage. How do you counter an opinion that increasing employee wages would ultimately increase the selling price of goods and services, thus negating any increase to the employee’s standard of living?
THE PRESIDENT: No, it’s a good question. It’s interesting that if you look at the studies that have been done — first of all, most employers pay more than the minimum wage already. Typically, minimum wage are in certain sectors of the economy. They’re disproportionately women who are getting paid the minimum wage. But unlike what people think, the majority of folks getting paid the minimum wage are adults, many of them supporting families. The average age of somebody getting paid the minimum wage is 35 years old. They’re not 16.
So in those states or where you’ve had one state pass a hike in the minimum wage and the state right next door doesn’t, and you kind of look at what’s happening along the border where you think that people would be kind of influenced — maybe they shop where the prices are cheaper, or businesses would move over to the place where there isn’t a minimum wage — it turns out that actually it doesn’t have that much of an impact. It has an impact on the families. It generally does not have a huge impact in terms of prices, and it doesn’t have — another argument that’s made is folks will hire fewer people because salaries are higher. Well, it turns out actually that’s not generally what happens. It’s just that if everybody has to raise the minimum wage, then everybody adjusts. And in some cases, because of competition, they’re not going to be able to raise their prices.
But you’re getting to a larger point that I think has plagued the American economy for some time, and that is that business has learned how to be really profitable and produce a lot of goods with fewer and fewer workers, partly through automation. And sometimes that does drive down prices. The problem is it also drives down wages. And it’s driven wages down faster, in many cases, than prices.
I mean, if what you’re worried about most is low prices, then presumably we could have everything made in low-wage countries overseas. They’d get shipped back here, but it doesn’t do you any good if a pair of sneakers is really cheap and you don’t have a job. So I think the goal here should be prioritizing — number one, making sure people have work, number two, making sure that that work pays well.
And if people have good jobs and they’re getting paid a decent wage, then businesses are the ones who have to compete for your business. They’re still going to have to keep prices down relatively low because they’re going to have to compete against other businesses. If they raise their prices too much, somebody is going to come in and offer a better deal. And consumers have gotten better, partly because of the Internet. They know what prices are there.
So there’s never been greater competition out there. The problem is right now that all that competition is on the back of workers. Businesses’ profits are through the roof. There was a report this week that showed that corporate balance sheets in America are as strong as they’ve been in history. It’s part of the reason why the stock market is doing great. So it’s not as if companies don’t have some room to pay their workers more. They’re just not doing it. And a greater and greater share has been going to the corporate balance sheet, and less and less of a share is going to workers.
So don’t let folks tell you that companies right now can’t afford to provide their workers a raise. The reason they’re not giving their workers a raise is because, frankly, they don’t have to — because the labor market is still somewhat soft, and people are afraid that if I leave this job I may not find something.
The good news is, as the unemployment rate comes down, there are fewer workers looking for jobs, and that means companies have to start bidding up wages a little bit. The market will take care of some of this. But having a minimum wage that is a little bit higher, that’s also going to help.
Last example I’ll give, by the way, Costco –I assume some folks here shopped at Costco before. Costco has the best prices around, right? Starting salary for a cash register operator — $11.50, maybe it’s $11.35. Starting wage. And by the way, even before the Affordable Care Act, Costco gave everybody health care. But they’ve been growing just as fast as folks who don’t pay the minimum wage and don’t provide health care benefits. Their stock has done great. The difference is they’re spreading more of the profits to their workers, which is good for the economy as a whole. And by the way, when you walk into Costco, everybody is pretty cheerful because they’re feeling like they’re getting a fair deal and that the company cares about them.
All right? Yes.
Q I’m the general manager at Millennium Steel. We’re very honored to have you. One of the questions I had is about the health care costs. We are seeing almost a double-digit increase in health care costs every year. So do you think that trend is going to go down? And what can we do to control that trend?
THE PRESIDENT: I think that’s really interesting. You’re going to have to talk to Henry because — (laughter) — no, no, no, this is serious. The question is whether you guys are shopping effectively enough. Because it turns out that this year, and in fact over the course of the last four years, premiums have gone up at the slowest rate in 50 years. So health care premiums have actually slowed down significantly. And it is having an effect both on businesses and families and the federal debt. Because most of the federal deficit and the federal debt, when folks talk about we’ve got to drive down the debt, we’ve got to do something about the debt — it turns out that most of the federal deficit and the federal debt over the last decade has come from health care costs going up so high, which means Medicare and Medicaid costs start going up. And that’s gobbled up a bigger and bigger share of the federal budget.
Because health care costs are going up much more slowly than expected, so far we anticipate we’re going to save about $188 billion over the next 10 years and reduce health care costs.
So the issue now is what can we do to make sure that you at Millennium are shopping and seeing more competition. Because the only problem with the health care market is sometimes it’s different in different pockets of the country, depending on how many carriers there are. And what we’re trying to do is to make sure that there’s more competition driving down cost when it comes to both the businesses who are trying to buy health care for their employees, but also folks who don’t get health care on the job and are just having to buy it on their own.
That’s part of what the Affordable Care Act is all about. Now, some of you — Affordable Care Act, by the way, is also known as Obamacare. (Applause.) For a while, everybody was saying — sort of using that as kind of an insult. I’m feeling pretty good about it being called Obamacare. I suspect that about five years from now when everybody agrees that it’s working, then they won’t call it Obamacare anymore. (Laughter.) That’s okay.
But part of what we did there is we set up what’s called these marketplaces, these exchanges, where individuals can go online and shop. And as you know, the website was really bad for the first three months. It’s now in really good shape. We’ve signed up 10 million people to get health coverage many times for the first time. And we’re giving them tax credits to help lower the cost even more. But we’re also setting up a network for businesses to be able to shop for health insurance.
And what’s happened — I talked about this yesterday — right now on average across America — so it may not be true in every single market, but across America, on average, premiums have — if it had not been for this drop in health care inflation, premiums would probably be about $1,800 higher per family than they actually have turned out to be. Now, you think about that — $1,800, that’s money that’s in your pocket that otherwise would be going to you paying for your health care premiums. That’s like an $1,800 tax cut for every family that’s got health insurance. And that’s good news. But we’ve got to make sure everybody takes advantage of it.
So I’m going to make sure — are you in charge of buying health care? You are? All right, so what I’m going to do is I’m going to make sure that you talk to some of our health care market folks. I bet we can get you a better deal. All right? We’ll see if we can save you a little money. (Applause.)
All right. Young lady right here in the jacket.
Q Good afternoon. My name is Conner Perry (ph). I’m in the 8th grade at the Lexington School in Lexington, Kentucky.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s so nice to meet you.
Q Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: How old are you — you’re in 8th grade, so you’re just tall and pretty, just like Malia and Sasha. There you go.
Q I was wondering, what are some actions we could take to put people in rural America to work?
THE PRESIDENT: That’s a great question. You know, the rural economy has actually done extremely well compared to the rest of the economy over the last couple of years. The main reason for it — first of all, we’ve got the best farmers in the world and we’re the most productive agricultural system in the world. So we just — our crops are really good and we produce a lot. And the weather has been pretty decent. I just talked to my friend — where is Scates? There he is. Good buddy of mine — the Scates farm over on Illinois side. He said best crops he’s seen in a while — right? Ever. So that’s the good news.
But what’s also helped is that we have increased our agricultural exports, sending our outstanding products overseas at a record pace. And I should introduce, by the way, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is right here. That’s Penny. (Applause.) And one of Penny’s most important jobs is going around the world and trying to open up new markets for agricultural goods. One of our biggest exports.
And so we’ve got to keep on making sure that if we have the best crops, the best products at the lowest price that we can get into these markets. A lot of countries protect their markets and their farmers from competition by closing their markets — even though they’re selling stuff to us. And my general attitude about trade, I’m a big believer in trade, but my attitude is it’s got to be two-way. If we’re going to buy your cars, or we’re going to buy your TV sets, or whatever else you’re selling, then you’ve got to be able to buy American wheat and corn and beans. And Penny has done a terrific job. And that’s part of the reason why we’ve seen record exports. And that helps the agricultural economy.
That’s number one. But number two, we’ve also got to diversify the rural economy so it’s not just dependent on agriculture. And that means, for example, investing in things like biofuels and clean energy. We are at the threshold of being able to create new energy sources out of not just crops that we grow — corn and ethanol — but also stuff that we usually throw away, like the corn stalks instead of the corn. And the more we invest in biofuels, clean energy, that can make a big difference in the rural economy.
So that’s another area where we can make progress. And then the rural economy should — just like here in Princeton, we’ve got to make sure that we are offering up opportunities for manufacturers to come back in to look at some of these rural sites, where you know the people there work hard and quality of life is high, but oftentimes international investors don’t know about some of these rural communities. And so Penny has been helping to advertise. We’ve got a whole program called SelectUSA where we go around and we help towns, mayors, county chairmen, local chambers of commerce invite investors from Japan and Singapore and Germany — come invest here in the United States of America.
Because what you want is an economy that isn’t just relying on one thing, but it has a bunch of different components to it, so that if, say, you have a bad crop one year the whole economy of that area doesn’t just collapse. And that can make a big difference.
But if we’re going to be able to attract investment into rural America, there are at least two things that have to happen. Number one, we’ve got to invest in education to make sure that the young people in rural America have the skills for today’s jobs. And that includes not just K through 12, but also community colleges — which are really a crown jewel — community colleges can be so powerful in just training folks — they may not go to a four-year college, but if they can get some technical training they’re suddenly ready for that job. And that is really attractive to investors. If they know they’ve got good workers in a site, that’s one of the most important things they’re looking for.
And the second thing is the thing I talked about earlier, which is infrastructure. Part of the problem with rural communities is they’re a little more isolated. All the more important, then, that our rail, our roads, our airports, that they all work, and that they’ve got broadband connections and Internet connections in order to make sure that they can access international markets.
All right? Great question. All right, it’s a gentleman’s turn. Right here. Right here in front.
Q Hello, Mr. President. Thank you for coming. I hope I’ve got this right — it is your wedding anniversary today?
THE PRESIDENT: That is correct.
Q So happy anniversary to you and Michelle.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, sir. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Twenty-two years she’s been putting up with me. (Laughter.) I had a young man, a friend of mine just got married. And I told the bride — wonderful young lady — I said it takes about 10 years to train a man properly. (Laughter.) So you’ve got to be patient with him. Because he’ll screw up a bunch, but eventually we learn. It’s just it takes us a little longer. We’re not as smart. So Michelle has been very patient with me.
Thank you very much. That’s very kind of you. (Applause.) Young lady right here.
Q Hi, President Obama. I’m from Indiana State University. Right here. (Applause.) Representing.
THE PRESIDENT: Yay, Indiana State!
Q I just had a question. Recently on the media, we have been hearing a lot about the EPA system and the war on coal. What are your feelings on that?
THE PRESIDENT: Some of that is — some of it’s hype and politics. And that’s sort of the nature of our politics these days. But there’s a real issue involved. Less and less of our power is coming from coal.
Now, a lot of people think that’s because of environmental regulations. And the truth of the matter is, is that there’s some environmental regulations that have had an impact mainly because what it’s said to the power plant operators is you’ve got to be more efficient and you can’t send as much pollution into the air. So if you’re using coal, you’ve got to figure out how can we get smart coal — smart coal technologies that capture some of the pollution that’s being sent up, put it underground, store it. Some of that technology is developing, but it’s not quite there yet.
But actually the main reason that power plants in America are using less coal is because natural gas is so cheap. So the real war on coal is natural gas, which, because of new technologies, we are now extracting at a rate that is unbelievable. There’s about a hundred years’ supply of natural gas underground here in America. We are now the number-one natural gas producer in the world. And by the way, we’re also producing more oil than we import for the first time in almost two decades. (Applause.)
Some people don’t realize — you know who the number-one oil producer in the world is? It’s us, the United States of America. So we’re producing more oil than ever. We’re producing more natural gas than ever. And natural gas, we’re producing so much that when new power plants get built, it’s cheaper for them to run on natural gas than it is on coal. So that obviously causes some hardship in communities that traditionally relied on coal.
There are two things we need to do. Number one is — and my administration has been hugely supportive — we’ve put a lot of money into developing these new technologies to make sure we can burn coal cleaner than we have. And the second thing that we need to do is make sure that some of the new opportunities in clean energy and in natural gas and other energy-related industries that they locate in places that used to have coal, or used to be primarily coal country.
Because the trend lines are going to be inevitable. Because if you burn coal in a dirty way, that’s going to cause more and more pollution, including pollution that causes climate change. You’re going to see more and more restrictions on the use of coal not just here in the United States, but around the world, which means that we’ve got to get out in front of that and make sure that we’ve got the technologies to use coal cheaply. And we’ve got to be able to send those technologies to other counties that are still burning coal.
Because there are going to be counties like China and India and others that still use coal for years to come. They’re poor, and they’re building a lot of power plants quickly. They don’t have as much natural gas as us, so they’re going to be interested in figuring how can they use their coal supplies and how can they import our coal. But if we’re doing a good job giving them technologies that allow them to burn it cleanly, then it’s a win-win for us. Not only are we able to then sell coal to them, but we’re also selling the technology to help them burn it in the cleanest way possible.
We’ve been making those investments, and we’ve got to keep on making those investments in order for us to get ahead of the curve.
Gentleman back there in the tie. There aren’t that many ties in here, so there you go.
Q Hi, Mr. President. I’m with the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association. We’re one of the founding partners of Manufacturing Day, so thank you for your support. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Q I’d like to ask you about R&D. U.S. manufacturers do more R&D than any county in the world. It makes us productive. It makes us innovative. Could you talk about policies and ideas to continue to support R&D activities to promote and accelerate manufacturing? Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: When we think about manufacturing, we always think about the traditional guy with the hard hat and the glasses, and there are sparks flying and it’s noisy. These days you go into a manufacturing plant like this one, first of all, it’s clean, it’s quiet, and so much of it is running on computers and automation and new systems. So if we’re going to stay competitive in manufacturing, we’ve got some terrific advantages.
Energy, by the way, is one of our biggest advantages because we have some of the cheapest energy in the world. That’s part of why a lot of companies want to relocate here in the United States. But we’ve also got to stay ahead of the curve in the new technologies for the new kinds of manufacturing. Every budget I’ve submitted has called for an increase in our R&D budget — our research and development budget. And we’ve specifically been interested in putting more money into research and development in manufacturing.
So, in fact, today I announced the fifth — the proposal for the fifth manufacturing hub that we’re creating. We want to actually create about 15 more of them after this. And what it’s doing is it’s linking manufacturers with universities and researchers to start developing some of the new technologies that we know are going to be key to the future.
So, for example, we already created a manufacturing hub around 3D printing. Everybody know what 3D printing is? It’s actually pretty interesting. So basically the idea is, is that using software you can manufacture just about anything from a remote location just by you send the program to some site and then the machine builds whatever it is that you designed on the computer from scratch. And we know that over time this is going to be more and more incorporated in the manufacturing process. But we want to make sure that all that stuff is done right here in the United States of America. So we created a hub for that.
Today, I’m announcing a $100 million competition to create a new hub around photonics — I had to ask Penny to make sure I pronounced it right. But this is basically the science, the technology around light which is used to transmit data and information, and also is used in the manufacturing process for everything from lasers to some of the stuff that the Department of Defense is doing.
And what these hubs allow us to do is instead of having a slower process where somebody in some lab coat somewhere figures something out and then writes a report on it, and then maybe five years later, some manufacturer says, huh, I wonder if I could tinker around with that and use that in my manufacturing process, you have a system where the businesses and the researchers are working on it at the same time, which speeds up the discovery process and means we’re moving from discovery to application a lot faster.
Now, Germany has about 60 of these manufacturing hubs, and so far I’ve been able to create five of them — or four of them. This is going to be the fifth. And as I said, I want us to make sure we’re doing a lot more than that.
So that’s just one example of why our investment in manufacturing research and development is going to be so critically important. It allows us to keep our lead because America has always been the top innovator in the world. That’s the reason why our economy historically has done so well, is because we invent stuff faster and better than anybody else. And if we lose that lead, we’re going to be in trouble.
Can I just say one last thing about — because I appreciate you working on this National Manufacturers Day. For the young people here, and anybody who is listening, the reason we set up this National Manufacturing Day is because too many young people do not understand the opportunities that exist in manufacturing. Because so many plants were shut down, and so much offshoring was taking place, I think a lot of people just kind of gave up on the idea of working in manufacturing. The problem is that for a lot of young people, manufacturing offers great opportunities.
I was in Wisconsin, somebody told me an amazing statistic, which is the average age of a skilled tool and die operator in Wisconsin is 59 years old. Now, these folks are making 25, 30 bucks an hour, benefits. You are solidly middle class if you have one of these jobs. And the workforce is getting older and older in that area, and the young people aren’t coming to replace them.
So the idea behind National Manufacturing Day, we got 50,000 young people going into factories all across the county and learning about — look at all the jobs that you can get in manufacturing. Engineering jobs, but also jobs on the line, technical jobs. All of them require some skills. All of them require some higher level learning. But not all of them require a four-year degree. You could make a good living. So that’s part of what we’re trying to encourage getting young people to reorient.
And we’re actually also talking to high schools, saying to them, try to encourage young people to think about manufacturing as a career option. Because not everybody wants to sit behind a desk, pushing paper all day long. And different people have different aptitudes and different talents and different interests. And if we can set up a situation where high schools are starting to connect to manufacturing, then a lot of young people can start getting apprenticeships early — realize how interesting some of that work is. Then they have a better idea, if they do end up going to college, it’s a little more focused around the things that they’re actually going to need in order to succeed in manufacturing.
So thank you for participating in that. It’s really important.
We’ve got — how much more time do we have? I just want to make sure. We’ll make it two. We’ll make it two. All right, young lady right there. Yes, right — you, yes. All right, hold on, let’s make sure we got the microphone here.
Q Hi. I am a secondary English education student at USI. And I just want to say thank you for coming here today. It’s such an honor to hear you speak.
Being in the job force in the next couple of years, I am worried about equal pay as a woman. So you’ve talked a little bit about that. How can we get there? What can we do to get equal pay for women?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s a great question. Here are the statistics, first of all. Women on average make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Now, what folks will tell you sometimes is you can’t really compare the situation because a lot of women by choice end up working less when they have kids, and decide to stay home, and so it’s not the same thing. But here’s the problem. It turns out that actually in a lot of companies sometimes it’s still the case that women are getting paid less than men for doing the exact same job.
And so one of the first bills I signed was called the Lilly Ledbetter bill. And Lilly, who is a friend of mine, she was doing a job for 25 years and about 20 years into it just happened to find out that for that whole time she had been getting paid less for doing the exact same job that a man had been doing. And when she tried to sue to get her back pay, the court said, well, it’s too late now because the statute of limitations had run out. She said, well, I just found out. That doesn’t matter.
So we changed that law, and that was the first thing that we did. And what we’ve also done is through executive action what I’ve said is any federal contractor who does business with the federal government, you’ve got to allow people to compare their salaries so that they can get information about whether they’re getting paid fairly or not.
There is a fair pay bill that is before Congress, but so far it’s been blocked by the House Republicans. It hasn’t come up for a vote. We need to keep putting pressure on them to get this done. This is just a matter of basic fairness. I don’t think my daughters should be treated any different than somebody else’s sons if they’re doing a good job. They should get paid the same.
But it’s also a matter of economics, as I said before. More and more women are the key breadwinner in their family, and if they’re getting paid less, that whole family suffers. So this is something that we have to take care.
I do want to mention, though, going back to the first argument, people saying that women make different choices when they have children — well, part of the reason they have to make different choices is because we don’t have a good child care system. (Applause.) It’s because we don’t have a good family leave policy. A child gets sick; you need to take care of a sick child. You can get unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. But what if you can’t afford to give up that paycheck that day? Or you’ve got an ailing parent — they have to go to the doctor one day. They don’t drive. You need to drive them. You need a day off. But if you take the day off, now you can’t pay your rent.
So there are family-friendly policies that we could put in place — and some states are doing so — improving child care, especially early childhood education, by the way, which we know every dollar we invest in that makes our kids do better in school the whole way. (Applause.) So it’s good for our education system, but it’s also just good for parents.
Somebody mentioned my wedding anniversary. I can tell you the toughest time when we were married was when our kids were still small and I was working and Michelle was working. And sometimes I’d be out of town, and the babysitter doesn’t show up, and suddenly Michelle is having scramble. And I promise you when I get home, it’s rough. (Laughter.)
But we were actually — we were professionals. We were both lawyers. We were in a better position to get help than most families, but it was still hard. So the more we do on early childhood education, high quality day care, making it affordable for families, family leave, those family-friendly policies that will help make sure that women are able to take care of their families and pursue their professional careers and bring home the kind of paycheck that they deserve — we need to do both. It’s not a choice between one or the other. We have to do all those things.
I got time for one more question. Gentleman, right here in the blue.
Q Mr. President, I would like to thank you also for visiting. My name is Randy Perry, this young lady’s father. I do have a small manufacturing company in rural America. But how do you speak to us small manufacturers that want to raise the minimum wage but we have to compete?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I said before, the first thing we need to do is to make sure that the economy as a whole is strong because, remember what I said, when the economy is strong as a whole, there is more demand for workers. That gives workers more leverage to get pay raises. The same is true for businesses. When demand is high for whatever product you’re producing, then you can afford to charge a little bit more.
And the truth of the matter is, is that for a lot of small businesses, there’s going to be more pressure than large businesses when it comes to wages because you just don’t have as much margin for error. But overall, our economy is going to do better, and small businesses do better when there is greater demand out there for products and services. And there’s greater demand for products and services if people have money in their pockets.
And one of the biggest problems we have in our economy right now — and this includes one of the biggest problems for small businesses — is that when a bigger and bigger share goes to folks at the top, a lot of that money, they just don’t spend.
I had lunch with Bill Gates the other day. Now, Bill Gates has ot a lot of money. (Laughter.) And he’s doing great things with it, by the way, doing great charitable work. But the truth of the matter is, is that if Bill Gates gets an extra million dollars, it’s not like he’s going to spend more money on food or go and buy an extra car, or buy a new refrigerator, because he’s already got everything he needs.
But if somebody who is a low-wage worker gets a raise, first thing they’re going to do is they’re going to spend it — maybe on a new backpack for the kids, or finally trade in that old beater, or a new car. And that drives the economy. It picks it up. It boosts it. And when that happens, then more demand exists for services and goods. And that means that all businesses are going to do better, including small businesses. And that, then, gives you the higher profits, which then allows you to pay your workers a little bit more. You get in this virtuous cycle.
And this is part of the argument that I’ve been having with my good friends in the Republican Party for quite some time. If you look at the policies we’ve been pursuing and proposing — investing in research and development, rebuilding our infrastructure, making sure that college is more affordable, improving child care, fair pay legislation, increase the minimum wage — I can point to evidence that shows that that’s going to put more money in the pockets of middle-class families. That’s going to increase growth at a faster pace, and the economy, as a whole is going to do better.
And their main response to me typically is two things. One is they’ll say we got to get rid of regulations. Except the problem is, for example, the last big crisis we had was precisely because we didn’t have enough regulations on Wall Street, and folks were selling a bunch of junk on the market and doing reckless things that ended up costing everybody something.
And then the second argument that they make is we need more tax cuts for folks like me who make a pretty good living, folks at the top. And I’ve got to tell you, there’s no evidence that that’s going to help middle-class families. There’s no evidence for this trickle-down theory that somehow another tax cut for folks who are already making out like bandits over the last 20 years is going to somehow improve the prospects for ordinary families. It just doesn’t exist. They keep on repeating it, but they don’t show that that’s actually going to help the economy. That’s not going to help you. It’s not going to help you. And it’s not going to help Millennium. And it’s not going to help your business.
I made a speech yesterday at Northwestern, and what I just said is just look at the facts. Since I’ve been President, unemployment has gone from — is down from 10 percent down to now 5.9. The deficit has been cut by more than half. Our energy production is higher than it’s ever been. Our health care costs are slowing. More people have insurance. High school dropout rate has gone down. Graduation rate has gone up. College attendance rate has gone up. Our production of clean energy has doubled. Solar energy has gone up tenfold. Wind energy has gone up threefold. Exports — we export more than we ever have in history. Corporate balance sheets are doing great. Stock market, all-time highs. Housing market beginning to recover. There’s almost no economic measure by which the economy as a whole isn’t doing significantly better than it was when I came into office. (Applause.)
Now, those are just facts. You can look them up. I’m not making it up. That’s one thing about being President — if I stand here and say it, all these folks are filming me so they’ll go and check. (Laughter.) So that’s the truth. But what is also true is that wages and incomes have continued to be flat even though the economy is growing and businesses are making more money. So what that tells me is the one thing that’s holding things back, the one thing that people are still concerned about and the one thing that if we could change would really give more confidence to the economy and boost it is if wages and incomes start going up a little bit.
If all the productivity and profits, if we start sharing that a little bit more with more folks, and ordinary families start feeling like they got a little bit of a cushion, that will be good for everybody. Because that’s the one thing that really we haven’t seen as much improvement on as we need. And so what everybody should be asking is how do we increase wages, how do we increase incomes. Because if we do that, things are going to better.
And there are pretty much just a handful of ways to do it. Number one, you make the economy grow even faster so the labor market gets tighter. Number two, you pursue policies like a higher minimum wage, or making sure that families are able to get child care, you’re driving down health care costs, the kinds of things that affect people’s pocketbooks directly. Those are the things that I’ve been pursuing since I’ve been President. And those are the things I’ll continue to pursue as long as I have this great privilege of bring President.
Thank you so much, everybody. God bless you. Appreciate you. (Applause.)
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 3, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency October 2, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Economy at Northwestern University — Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President on the Economy — Northwestern University
Source: WH, 10-2-14
Watch the Video
1:11 P.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Evanston! (Applause.) Hello, Northwestern! (Applause.) Thank you so much. Everybody, have a seat. Have a seat. It is so good to be here. Go ‘Cats! (Applause.) I want to thank your president, Morty Schapiro, and the dean of the Kellogg Business School, Sally Blount, for having me. I brought along some guests. Your Governor, Pat Quinn, is here. (Applause.) Your Senator, Dick Durbin, is here. (Applause.) Your Congresswoman, Jan Schakowsky, is here. (Applause.) We’ve got some who represent the Chicagoland area in Congress and do a great job every day — Danny Davis, Robin Kelly, Mike Quigley, Brad Schneider. (Applause.) We’ve got your mayor, Elizabeth Tisdahl. (Applause.) Where’s Elizabeth? There she is. One of my great friends and former chief of staff — the mild-mannered Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, is here. (Laughter and applause.)
It is great to be back home. (Applause.) It’s great to be back at Northwestern. Back when I was a senator, I had the honor of delivering the commencement address for the class of 2006. And as it turns out, I’ve got a bunch of staff who graduated from here, and so they’re constantly lobbying me about stuff. And so earlier this year, I popped in via video to help kick off the dance marathon. I figured this time I’d come in person — not only because it’s nice to be so close to home, but it’s also just nice to see old friends, people who helped to form how I think about public service; people who helped me along the way. Toni Preckwinkle was my alderwoman and was a great supporter. (Applause.) Lisa Madigan, your attorney general, was my seatmate. State Senator Terry Link was my golf buddy. So you’ve got people here who I’ve just known for years and really not only helped me be where I am today, but helped develop how I think about public service.
And I’m also happy to be here because this is a university that is brimming with the possibilities of a new economy — your research and technology; the ideas and the innovation; the training of doctors and educators, and scientists and entrepreneurs. But you can’t help but visit a campus like this and feel the promise of the future.
And that’s why I’m here — because it’s going to be young people like you, and universities like this, that will shape the American economy and set the conditions for middle-class growth well into the 21st century.
And obviously, recent months have seen their fair share of turmoil around the globe. But one thing should be crystal clear: American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It’s America — our troops, our diplomats — that lead the fight to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.
It’s America — our doctors, our scientists, our know-how — that leads the fight to contain and combat the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
It’s America — our colleges, our graduate schools, our unrivaled private sector — that attracts so many people to our shores to study and start businesses and tackle some of the most challenging problems in the world.
When alarms go off somewhere in the world, whether it’s a disaster that is natural or man-made; when there’s an idea or an invention that can make a difference, this is where things start. This is who the world calls — America. They don’t call Moscow. They don’t call Beijing. They call us. And we welcome that responsibility of leadership, because that’s who we are. That’s what we expect of ourselves.
But what supports our leadership role in the world is ultimately the strength of our economy here at home. And today, I want to step back from the rush of global events to take a clear-eyed look at our economy, its successes and its shortcomings, and determine what we still need to build for your generation — what you can help us build.
As Americans, we can and should be proud of the progress that our country has made over these past six years. And here are the facts — because sometimes the noise clutters and I think confuses the nature of the reality out there. Here are the facts: When I took office, businesses were laying off 800,000 Americans a month. Today, our businesses are hiring 200,000 Americans a month. (Applause.) The unemployment rate has come down from a high of 10 percent in 2009, to 6.1 percent today. (Applause.) Over the past four and a half years, our businesses have created 10 million new jobs; this is the longest uninterrupted stretch of private sector job creation in our history. Think about that. And you don’t have to applaud at — because I’m going to be giving you a lot of good statistics. (Laughter.) Right now, there are more job openings than at any time since 2001. All told, the United States has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and every other advanced economy combined. I want you to think about that. We have put more people back to work, here in America, than Europe, Japan, and every other advanced economy combined.
This progress has been hard, but it has been steady and it has been real. And it’s the direct result of the American people’s drive and their determination and their resilience, and it’s also the result of sound decisions made by my administration.
So it is indisputable that our economy is stronger today than when I took office. By every economic measure, we are better off now than we were when I took office. At the same time, it’s also indisputable that millions of Americans don’t yet feel enough of the benefits of a growing economy where it matters most — and that’s in their own lives.
And these truths aren’t incompatible. Our broader economy in the aggregate has come a long way, but the gains of recovery are not yet broadly shared — or at least not broadly shared enough. We can see that homes in our communities are selling for more money, and that the stock market has doubled, and maybe the neighbors have new health care or a car fresh off an American assembly line. And these are all good things. But the stress that families feel — that’s real, too. It’s still harder than it should be to pay the bills and to put away some money. Even when you’re working your tail off, it’s harder than it should be to get ahead.
And this isn’t just a hangover from the Great Recession. I’ve always said that recovering from the crisis of 2008 was our first order of business, but I also said that our economy wouldn’t be truly healthy until we reverse the much longer and profound erosion of middle-class jobs and incomes.
So here’s our challenge. We’re creating more jobs at a steady pace. We’ve got a recovering housing market, a revitalized manufacturing sector — two things that are critical to middle-class success. We’ve also begun to see some modest wage growth in recent months. All of that has gotten the economy rolling again, despite the fact that the economies of many other countries around the world are softening. But as Americans, we measure our success by something more than our GDP, or a jobs report. We measure it by whether our jobs provide meaningful work that give people a sense of purpose, and whether it allows folks to take care of their families. And too many families still work too many hours with too little to show for it. Job growth could be so much faster and wages could be going up faster if we made some better decisions going forward with the help of Congress. So our task now is to harness the momentum that is real, that does exist, and make sure that we accelerate that momentum, that the economy grows and jobs grow and wages grow. That’s our challenge.
When the typical family isn’t bringing home any more than it did in 1997, then that means it’s harder for middle-class Americans to climb the ladder of success. It means that it’s harder for poor Americans to grab hold of the ladder into the middle class. That’s not what America is supposed to be about. It offends the very essence of who we are. Because if being an American means anything, it means we believe that even if we’re born with nothing — regardless of our circumstances, a last name, whether we were wealthy, whether our parents were advantaged — no matter what our circumstances, with hard work we can change our lives, and then our kids can too.
And that’s about more than just fairness. It’s more than just the idea of what America is about. When middle-class families can’t afford to buy the goods or services our businesses sell, it actually makes it harder for our economy to grow. Our economy cannot truly succeed if we’re stuck in a winner-take-all system where a shrinking few do very well while a growing many are struggling to get by. Historically, our economic greatness rests on a simple principle: When the middle class thrives, and when people can work hard to get into the middle class, then America thrives. And when it doesn’t, America doesn’t.
This is going to be a central challenge of our times. We have to make our economy work for every working American. And every policy I pursue as President is aimed at answering that challenge.
Over the last decade, we learned the hard way that it wasn’t sustainable to have an economy where too much of the growth was based on inflated home prices and bubbles that burst and a casino mentality on Wall Street; where the recklessness of a few could threaten all of us; where incomes at the top skyrocketed, while working families saw theirs decline. That was not a formula for sustained growth. We need an economy that’s built on a rock, and that — a rock that is durable and competitive, and that’s a steady source of good, middle-class jobs. When that’s happening, everybody does well.
So that’s why on day one, when I took office, with Rahm and Dick Durbin and others who were working with us, I said we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation for growth and prosperity. And with dedicated, persistent effort, we’ve actually been laying the cornerstones of this foundation every single day since.
So I mentioned earlier that there is not an economic measure by which we’re not better off than when we took official. But let me break down what we’ve also been doing structurally to make sure that we have a strong foundation for growth going forward.
The first cornerstone is new investments in the energy and technologies that make America a magnet for good, middle-class jobs.
So right off the bat, as soon as I came into office, we upped our investments in American energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and strengthen our own energy security. And today, the number-one oil and gas producer in the world is no longer Russia or Saudi Arabia. It’s America. (Applause.)
For the first time in nearly two decades, we now produce more oil than we buy from other countries. We’re advancing so fast in this area that two years ago I set a goal to cut our oil imports by half by — in half by 2020, and we’ve actually — we will meet that goal this year, six years ahead of schedule. (Applause.)
So that’s in the traditional fossil fuel area. But at the same time, we’ve helped put tens of thousands of people to work manufacturing wind turbines, and installing solar panels on homes and businesses. We have tripled the electricity that we harness from the wind. We have increased tenfold what we generate from the sun. We have brought enough clean energy online to power every home and business in Illinois and Wisconsin, 24/7. And that’s the kind of progress that we can be proud of and in part accounts for the progress we have also made in reducing carbon emissions that cause climate change. And I know that here at Northwestern, your researchers are working to convert sunlight into liquid fuel — which sounds impossible, or at least really hard. (Laughter.) But the good news is, if you need to get the hard or the impossible done, America and American universities are a pretty good place to start.
Meanwhile, our 100-year supply of natural gas is a big factor in drawing jobs back to our shores. Many are in manufacturing — which produce the quintessential middle-class job. During the last decade, it was widely accepted that American manufacturing was in irreversible decline. And just six years ago, its crown jewel, the American auto industry, could not survive on its own. With the help of folks like Jan and Dick and Mike Quigley and others, we helped our automakers restructure and retool. Today, they’re building and selling new cars at the fastest rate in eight years. We invested in new plants, new technologies, new high-tech hubs like the Digital Manufacturing and Design Institute that Northwestern has partnered with in Chicago.
Today, American manufacturing has added more than 700,000 new jobs. It’s growing almost twice as fast as the rest of the economy. And more than half of all manufacturing executives have said they are actively looking at bringing jobs back from China. To many in the middle class, the last decade was defined by outsourcing good jobs overseas. If we keep up these investments, we can define this decade by what’s known as “insourcing” — with new factories now opening their doors here in America at the fastest pace in decades. And in the process, we’ve also worked to grow American exports and open new markets, knock down barriers to trade, because businesses that export tend to have better-paying jobs. So today, our businesses sell more goods and services made in America to the rest of the world than ever before. Ever.
And that’s progress we can be proud of. Now, we also know that many of these manufacturing jobs have changed. You’re not just punching in and pounding rivets anymore; you’re coding computers and you’re guiding robots. You’re mastering 3D printing. And these jobs require some higher education or technical training. And that’s why the second cornerstone of the new foundation we’ve been building is making sure our children are prepared and our workers are prepared to fill the jobs of the future.
America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free. We sent a generation to college. We cultivated the most educated workforce in the world. But it didn’t take long for other countries to look at our policies and caught on to the secret of our success. So they set out to educate their kids too, so they could out-compete our kids. We have to lead the world in education once again. (Applause.)
That’s why we launched a Race to the Top in our schools, trained thousands of math and science teachers, supported states that raised standards for learning. Today, teachers in 48 states and D.C. are teaching our kids the knowledge and skills they need to compete and win in the global economy. Working with parents and educators, we’ve turned around some of the country’s lowest-performing schools. We’re on our way to connecting 99 percent of students to high-speed Internet, and making sure every child, at every seat, has the best technology for learning.
Look, let’s face it: Some of these changes are hard. Sometimes they cause controversy. And we have a long way to go. But public education in America is actually improving. Last year, our elementary and middle school students had the highest math and reading scores on record. The dropout rates for Latinos and African Americans are down. (Applause.) The high school graduation rate — the high school graduation rate is up. It’s now above 80 percent for the first time in history. We’ve invested in more than 700 community colleges — which are so often gateways to the middle class — and we’re connecting them with employers to train high school graduates for good jobs in fast-growing fields like high-tech manufacturing and energy and IT and cybersecurity.
Here in Chicago, Rahm just announced that the city will pay community college tuition for more striving high school graduates. We’ve helped more students afford college with grants and tax credits and loans. And today, more young people are graduating than ever before. We’ve sent more veterans to college on the Post-9/11 GI Bill — including several veterans here at Northwestern — and a few of them are in this hall today, and we thank them for their service. (Applause.)
So we’ve made progress on manufacturing and creating good jobs. We’ve made progress on education. Of course, even if you have the right education, for decades, one of the things that made it harder for families to make ends meet and businesses to grow was the high cost of health care. And so the third cornerstone had to be health care reform.
In the decade before the Affordable Care Act, aka, Obamacare — (laughter and applause) — in the decade before the Affordable Care Act, double-digit premium increases were common. CEOs called them one of the biggest challenges to their competitiveness. And if your employer didn’t drop your coverage to avoid these costs, they might pass them on to you and take them out of your wages.
Today, we have seen a dramatic slowdown in the rising cost of health care. When we passed the Affordable Care Act, the critics were saying, what are you doing about cost. Well, let me tell you what we’ve done about cost. If your family gets your health care through your employer, premiums are rising at a rate tied for the lowest on record. And what this means for the economy is staggering. If we hadn’t taken this on, and premiums had kept growing at the rate they did in the last decade, the average premium for family coverage today would be $1,800 higher than they are. Now, most people don’t notice it, but that’s $1,800 you don’t have to pay out of your pocket or see vanish from your paycheck. That’s like a $1,800 tax cut. That’s not for folks who signed up for Obamacare. That’s the consequences of some of the reforms that we’ve made.
And because the insurance marketplaces we created encourage insurers to compete for your business, in many of cities they’ve announced that next year’s premiums — well, something important is happening here — next year’s premiums are actually falling in some of these markets. One expert said this is “defying the law of physics.” But we’re getting it done. And it is progress we can be proud of.
So we’re slowing the cost of health care, and we’re covering more people at the same time. In just the last year, we reduced the share of uninsured Americans by 26 percent. That means one in four uninsured Americans — about 10 million people — have gained the financial security of health insurance in less than one year. And for young entrepreneurs, like many of you here today, the fact that you can compare and buy affordable plans in the marketplace frees you up to strike out on your own, chase that new idea — something I hope will unleash new services and products and enterprises all across the country. So the job lock that used to exist because you needed health insurance, you’re free from that now. You can go out and do something on your own and get affordable health care.
And meanwhile, partly because health care prices have been growing at the slowest rate in nearly 50 years, the growth in what health care costs the government is down, also. I want everybody to listen carefully here, because when we were debating the Affordable Care Act there was a lot of complaining about how we couldn’t afford this. The independent, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently reported that in 2020, Medicare and Medicaid will cost us $188 billion less than projected just four years ago. And here’s what that means in layman’s terms: Health care has long been the single biggest driver of America’s future deficits. It’s been the single biggest driver of our debt. Health care is now the single biggest factor driving down those deficits.
And this is a game-changer for the fourth cornerstone of this new foundation — getting our fiscal house in order for the long run, so we can afford to make investments that grow the middle class.
Between a growing economy, some prudent spending cuts, health care reform, and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more on their taxes, over the past five years we’ve cut our deficits by more than half. When I took office, the deficit was nearly 10 percent of our economy. Today, it’s approaching 3 percent. (Applause.) In other words, we can shore up America’s long-term finances without falling back into the mindless austerity or manufactured crises or trying to find excuses to slash benefits to seniors that dominated Washington budget debates for so long.
And finally, we’ve put in place financial reform to protect consumers and prevent a crisis on Wall Street from hammering Main Street ever again. We have new tools to prevent “too big to fail,” to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts. We made it illegal for big banks to gamble with your money. We established the first-ever consumer watchdog to protect consumers from irresponsible lending or credit card practices. We secured billions of dollars in relief for consumers who get taken advantage of. And working with states attorneys general like Lisa Madigan, we’ve seen industry practices changing.
Now, an argument you’ll hear oftentimes from critics is that the way to grow the economy is to just get rid of regulations; free folks up from the oppressive hand of the government. And you know, it turns out, truth be told, there are still some kind of dopey regulations on the books. (Laughter.) There are regulations that are outdated or are no longer serving a useful purpose. And we have scrubbed the laws out there and identified hundreds that are outdated, that don’t help our economy, that don’t make sense, and we’re saving businesses billions of dollars by gradually eliminating those unnecessary regulations. But you have to contrast that with rules that discourage a casino-style mentality on Wall Street, or rules that protect the basic safety of workers on the job, or rules that safeguard the air our children breathe and keep mercury or arsenic out of our water supply. These don’t just have economic benefits, these are rules that save lives and protect families. And I’ll always stand up for those — and they’re good for our economy.
So here’s the bottom line: For all the work that remains, for all the citizens that we still need to reach, what I want people to know is that there are some really good things happening in America. Unemployment down. Jobs up. Manufacturing growing. Deficits cut by more than half. High school graduation is up. College enrollment up. Energy production up. Clean energy production up. Financial system more stable. Health care costs rising at a slower rate. Across the board, the trend lines have moved in the right direction.
That’s because this new foundation is now in place. New investments in energy and technologies that create new jobs and new industries. New investments in education that will make our workforce more skilled and competitive. New reforms to health care that cut costs for families and businesses. New reforms to our federal budget that will promote smart investments and a stronger economy for future generations. New rules for our financial system to protect consumers and prevent the kinds of crises that we endured from happening again.
You add it all up, and it’s no surprise that for the first time in more than a decade, business leaders from around the world — these are business surveys. Kellogg, you’re familiar with these. (Laughter.) Business leaders from around the world have said the world’s most attractive place to invest is not India or China, it’s the United States of America. And that’s because the financial sector is healthier; because manufacturing is healthier; because the housing market is healthier; because health care inflation is at a 50-year low; because our energy boom is at new highs. Because of all these things, our economy isn’t just primed for steadier, more sustained growth; America is better poised to lead and succeed in the 21st century than any other nation on Earth. We’ve got the best cards.
And I will not allow anyone to dismantle this foundation. Because for the first time, we can see real, tangible evidence of what the contours of the new economy will look like. It’s an economy teeming with new industry and commerce, and humming with new energy and new technologies, and bustling with highly skilled, higher-wage workers.
It’s an America where a student graduating from college has the chance to advance through a vibrant job market, and where an entrepreneur can start a new business and succeed, and where an older worker can retool for that new job. And to fully realize this vision requires steady, relentless investment in these areas. We cannot let up and we cannot be complacent. We have to be hungry as a nation. We have to compete. When we do — if we take the necessary steps to build on the foundation that through some really hard work we have laid over the last several years — I promise you, over the next 10 years we’ll build an economy where wage growth is stronger than it was in the past three decades. It is achievable.
So let me just talk a little more specifically about what we should be doing right now.
First of all, we’ve got to realize that the trends that have battered the middle class for so long aren’t ones that we’re going to reverse overnight. The facts that I just laid out don’t mean that there aren’t a lot of folks out there who are underpaid, they’re underemployed, they’re working long hours, they’re having trouble making ends meet. I hear from them every day, I meet with them. And it’s heartbreaking — because they’re struggling hard. And there are no silver bullets for job creation or faster wage growth. Anybody who tells you otherwise is not telling the truth. But there are policies that would grow jobs and wages faster than we’re doing right now.
If we rebuild roads and bridges — because we’ve got $2 trillion of deferred maintenance on our infrastructure — we won’t just put construction workers and engineers on the job; we will revitalize entire communities, and connect people to jobs, and make it easier for businesses to ship goods around the world. And we can pay for it with tax reform that actually cuts rates on businesses, but closes wasteful loopholes, making it even more attractive for companies to invest and create jobs here in the United States. Let’s do this and make our economy stronger.
If we make it easier for first-time homebuyers to get a loan, we won’t just create even more construction jobs and speed up recovery in the housing market; we’ll speed up your efforts to grow a nest egg and start a new company, and send your own kids to college and graduate school someday. So let’s help more young families buy that first home, make our economy stronger.
If we keep investing in clean energy technology, we won’t just put people to work on the assembly lines, pounding into place the zero-carbon components of a clean energy age; we’ll reduce our carbon emissions and prevent the worst costs of climate change down the road. Let’s do this — invest in new American energy and make our economy stronger.
If we make high-quality preschool available to every child, not only will we give our kids a safe place to learn and grow while their parents go to work; we’ll give them the start that they need to succeed in school, and earn higher wages, and form more stable families of their own. In fact, today, I’m setting a new goal: By the end of this decade, let’s enroll 6 million children in high-quality preschool. That is an achievable goal that we know will make our workforce stronger. (Applause.)
If we redesign our high schools, we’ll graduate more kids with the real-world skills that lead directly to a good job in the new economy. If we invest more in job training and apprenticeships, we’ll help more workers fill more good jobs that are coming back to this country. If we make it easier for students to pay off their college loans, we’ll help a whole lot of young people breathe easier and feel freer to take the jobs they really want. (Applause.) So look, let’s do this — let’s keep reforming our education system to make sure young people at every level have a shot at success, just like folks at Northwestern do.
If we fix our broken immigration system, we won’t just prevent some of the challenges like the ones that we saw at the border this summer; we’ll encourage the best and brightest from around the world to study here and stay here, and create jobs here. Independent economists say that a big bipartisan reform bill that the House has now blocked for over a year would grow our economy, shrink our deficits, secure our borders. Let’s pass that bill. Let’s make America stronger. (Applause.)
If we want to make and sell the best products, we have to invest in the best ideas, like you do here at Northwestern. Your nanotechnology institute doesn’t just conduct groundbreaking research; that research has spun off 20 startups and more than 1,800 products — that means jobs. (Applause.)
Here’s another example. Over a decade ago, America led the international effort to sequence the human genome. One study found that every dollar we invested returned $140 to our economy. Now, I don’t have an MBA, but that’s sounds like a good return on investment. (Laughter and applause.)
Today, though, the world’s largest genomics center is in China. That doesn’t mean America is slipping. It does mean America isn’t investing. We can’t let other countries discover the products and businesses that will shape the next century and the century after that. So we’ve got to invest more in the kinds of basic research that led to Google and GPS, and makes our economy stronger.
If we raise the minimum wage, we won’t just put — (applause) — we won’t just put more money in workers’ pockets; they’ll spend that money at local businesses, who in turn will hire more people.
In the two years since I first asked Congress to raise the national minimum wage, 13 states and D.C. went and raised theirs. And more business owners are joining them on their own. It’s on the ballot in five states this November, including Illinois. (Applause.) And here’s the thing — recent surveys show that a majority of small business owners support a gradual increase to $10.10 an hour. A survey just last week showed that nearly two-thirds of employers thought the minimum wage should go up in their state — and more than half of them think it should be at least $10. So what’s stopping us? Let’s agree that nobody who works full-time in America should ever have to raise a family in poverty. Let’s give America a raise. It will make the economy stronger. (Applause.)
If we make sure a woman is paid equal to a man for her efforts — (applause) — that is not just giving women a boost. Gentlemen, you want your wife making that money that she has earned. (Laughter.) It gives the entire family a boost and it gives the entire economy a boost. Women now outpace men in college degrees and graduate degrees, but they often start their careers with lower pay. And that gap grows over time, and that affects their families. It’s stupid. (Laughter and applause.) Let’s inspire and support more women, especially in fields like science and technology and engineering and math. (Applause.) Let’s catch up to 2014, pass a fair pay law, make our economy stronger.
And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of the barriers that keep more moms who want to work from entering the workforce. Let’s do what Dean Blount did here at Kellogg. She’s been working with us at the White House, helping business and political leaders who recognize that flexibility in the workplace and paid maternity leave are actually good for business. And let’s offer those deals to dads, too. (Applause.) Because we want to make sure that they can participate in child-rearing. And let’s make sure work pays for parents who are raising young kids. It’s a good investment.
California adopted paid leave, which boosted work and earnings for moms with young kids. Let’s follow their lead. Let’s make our economy stronger.
Now, none of these policies I just mentioned on their own will entirely get us to where we want to be. But if we do these things systematically, the cumulative impact will be huge. Unemployment will drop a little faster, which means workers will gain a little more leverage when it comes to wages and salaries, which means consumer confidence will go up, which means families will be able to spend a little more and save a little more, which means our economy grows stronger, and growth will be shared. More people will feel this recovery, rather than just reading about it in the newspapers. That’s the truth.
And I’m going to keep making the argument for these policies, because they are right for America. They are supported by the facts. And I’m always willing to work with anyone, Democrat or Republican, to get things done. And every once in a while, we actually see a bill land on my desk from Congress. (Laughter.) And we do a bill signing and I look at the members, and I say — I tell them, look how much fun this is. Let’s do this again. Let’s do it again. (Laughter and applause.)
But if gridlock prevails, if cooperation and compromise are no longer valued, but vilified, then I’ll keep doing everything I can on my own if it will make a difference for working Americans. (Applause.)
I will keep teaming up with governors and mayors and CEOs and philanthropists who want to help. Here’s an example. There are 28 million Americans who would benefit from a minimum wage increase — 28 million. Over the past two years, because we’ve teamed up with cities and states and businesses, and went around Congress, 7 million of them have gotten a raise. So until Congress chooses to step up and help all of them, I’ll keep fighting to get an extra million here and an extra million there with a raise. We’ll keep fighting for this.
And let me just say one other thing about the economy — because oftentimes you hear this from the critics: The notion is that the agenda I’ve just outlined is somehow contrary to pro-business, capitalist, free-market values. And since we’re here at a business school, I thought it might be useful to point out that Bloomberg, for example, I think came out with an article today saying that corporate balance sheets are the strongest just about that they’ve ever been. Corporate debt is down. Profits are up. Businesses are doing good.
So this idea that somehow any of these policies — like the minimum wage or fair pay or clean energy — are somehow bad for business is simply belied by the facts. It’s not true. And if you talk to business leaders, even the ones who really don’t like to admit it because they don’t like me that much — (laughter) — they’ll admit that actually their balance sheets look really strong, and that this economy is doing better than our competitors around the world. So don’t buy this notion that somehow this is an anti-business agenda. This is a pro-business agenda. This is a pro-economic growth agenda.
Now, I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle is pretty happy about that. (Laughter.) But make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot — every single one of them. This isn’t some official campaign speech, or political speech, and I’m not going to tell you who to vote for — although I suppose it is kind of implied. (Laughter and applause.) But what I have done is laid out my ideas to create more jobs and to grow more wages. And I’ve also tried to correct the record — because, as I said, there’s a lot of noise out there. Every item I ticked off, those are the facts. It’s not conjecture. It’s not opinion. It’s not partisan rhetoric. I laid out facts.
So I laid out what I know has happened over the six years of my presidency so far, and I’ve laid out an agenda for what I think should happen to make us grow even better, grow even faster. A true opposition party should now have the courage to lay out their agenda, hopefully also grounded in facts.
There’s a reason fewer Republicans are preaching doom on deficits — it’s because the deficits have come down at almost a record pace, and they’re now manageable. There’s a reason fewer Republicans you hear them running about Obamacare — because while good, affordable health care might seem like a fanged threat to the freedom of the American people on Fox News — (laughter) — it’s turns out it’s working pretty well in the real world. (Applause.)
Now, when push came to shove this year, and Republicans in Congress actually had to take a stand on policies that would help the middle class and working Americans — like raising the minimum wage, or enacting fair pay, or refinancing student loans, or extending insurance for the unemployed — the answer was “no.” But one thing they did vote “yes” on was another massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. In fact, just last month, at least one top Republican in Congress said that tax cuts for those at the top are — and I’m quoting here — “even more pressing now” than they were 30 years ago. More pressing. When nearly all the gains of the recovery have gone to the top 1 percent, when income inequality is at as high a rate as we’ve seen in decades, I find that a little hard to swallow that they really desperately need a tax cut right now, it’s urgent. ]
Why? (Laughter.) What are the facts? What is the empirical data that would justify that position? Kellogg Business School, you guys are all smart. You do all this analysis. You run the numbers. Has anybody here seen a credible argument that that is what our economy needs right now? Seriously. (Laughter.)
But this is the — if you watch the debate, including on some of the business newscasts — (laughter) — and folks are just pontificating about how important this is. Based on what? What’s the data? What’s the proof? If there were any credible argument that says when those at the top do well and eventually everybody else will do well, it would have borne itself out by now. We’d see data that that was true. It’s not.
American economic greatness has never trickled down from the top. It grows from a rising, thriving middle class and opportunity for working people. That’s what makes us different. (Applause.)
So I just want to be clear here — because you guys are going to be business leaders of the future, and you’re going to be making decisions based on logic and reason and facts and data. And right now you’ve got two starkly different visions for this country. And I believe, with every bone in my body, that there’s one clear choice here because it’s supported by facts.
And this is our moment to define what the next decade and beyond will look like. This is our chance to set the conditions for middle-class growth in the 21st century. The decisions we make this year, and over the next few years, will determine whether or not we set the stage for America’s greatness in this century just like we did in the last one — whether or not we restore the link between hard work and higher wages; whether or not we continue to invest in a skilled, educated citizenry; whether or not we rebuild an economy where everyone who works hard can get ahead.
And some of that depends on you. There is a reason why I came to a business school instead of a school of government. I actually believe that capitalism is the greatest force for prosperity and opportunity the world has ever known. And I believe in private enterprise — not government, but innovators and risk-takers and makers and doers — driving job creation.
But I also believe in a higher principle, which is we’re all in this together. (Applause.) That’s the spirit that made the American economy work. That’s what made the American economy not just the world’s greatest wealth creator, but the world’s greatest opportunity generator. And because you’re America’s future business leaders and civic leaders, that makes you the stewards of America’s greatest singlet asset — and that’s our people.
So as you engage in the pursuit of profits, I challenge you to do so with a sense of purpose. As you chase your own success, I challenge you to cultivate more ways to help more Americans chase their success.
It is the American people who’ve made the progress of the last six years possible. It is the American people who will make our future progress possible. It is the American people that make American business successful. And they should share in that success. It’s not just for you. It’s for us. Because it’s the American people that made the investments over the course of generations to allow you and me to be here and experience this success. That’s the story of America. America is a story of progress — sometimes halting, sometimes incomplete, sometimes harshly challenged. But the story of America is a story of progress.
And it has now been six long years since our economy nearly collapsed. Despite that shock, through the pain that so many fellow Americans felt; for all the gritty, grueling work required to come back, all the work that’s left to be done — a new foundation is laid. A new future is yet to be written. And I am as confident as ever that that future will be led by the United States of America.
Thank you, everybody. God bless you. God bless America.
2:06 P.M. CDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 2, 2014
Political Musings September 5, 2014: August jobs report shows unemployment benefits extension still necessary
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
OP-EDS & ARTICLES
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 5, 2014
Political Musings September 3, 2014: Obama’s Labor Day campaign to raise the minimum wage in Democrats midterm push
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
OP-EDS & ARTICLES
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 3, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency August 28, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Statement and Press Conference updating on Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and the Economy
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Statement by the President
Source: WH, 8-28-14
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
4:09 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. I want to say a few words on a number of topics and take a few questions before the long Labor Day weekend.
First, beginning with the number one thing most Americans care about — the economy. This morning, we found out that our economy actually grew at a stronger clip in the 2nd quarter than we originally thought. Companies are investing. Consumers are spending. Over the past four and a half years, our businesses have now created nearly 10 million new jobs. So there are reasons to feel good about the direction we’re headed.
But as everybody knows, there’s a lot more that we should be doing to make sure that all Americans benefit from the progress that we’ve made. And I’m going to be pushing Congress hard on this when they return next week.
Second, in Iraq, our dedicated pilots and crews continue to carry out the targeted strikes that I authorized to protect Americans there and to address the humanitarian situation on the ground.
As Commander-in-Chief, I will always do what is necessary to protect the American people and defend against evolving threats to our homeland. Because of our strikes, the terrorists of ISIL are losing arms and equipment. In some areas, Iraqi government and Kurdish forces have begun to push them back.
And we continue to be proud and grateful to our extraordinary personnel serving in this mission.
Now, ISIL poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and to people throughout the region. And that’s why our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader, comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIL. And that starts with Iraq’s leaders building on the progress that they’ve made so far and forming an inclusive government that will unite their country and strengthen their security forces to confront ISIL.
Any successful strategy, though, also needs strong regional partners. I’m encouraged so far that countries in the region — countries that don’t always agree on many things — increasingly recognize the primacy of the threat that ISIL poses to all of them. And I’ve asked Secretary Kerry to travel to the region to continue to build the coalition that’s needed to meet this threat. As I’ve said, rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy, but I’m confident that we can — and we will — working closely with our allies and our partners.
For our part, I’ve directed Secretary Hagel and our Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options. I’ll be meeting with my National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop that strategy. And I’ve been consulting with members of Congress and I’ll continue to do so in the days ahead.
Finally, I just spoke with Chancellor Merkel of Germany on the situation in Ukraine. We agree — if there was ever any doubt — that Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine. The violence is encouraged by Russia. The separatists are trained by Russia. They are armed by Russia. They are funded by Russia. Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. And the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see. This comes as Ukrainian forces are making progress against the separatists.
As a result of the actions Russia has already taken, and the major sanctions we’ve imposed with our European and international partners, Russia is already more isolated than at any time since the end of the Cold War. Capital is fleeing. Investors are increasingly staying out. Its economy is in decline. And this ongoing Russian incursion into Ukraine will only bring more costs and consequences for Russia.
Next week, I’ll be in Europe to coordinate with our closest allies and partners. In Estonia, I will reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the defense of our NATO allies.
At the NATO Summit in the United Kingdom, we’ll focus on the additional steps we can take to ensure the Alliance remains prepared for any challenge. Our meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission will be another opportunity for our alliance to continue our partnership with Ukraine. And I look forward to reaffirming the unwavering commitment of the United States to Ukraine and its people when I welcome President Poroshenko to the White House next month.
So with that, I’m going to take a few questions. And I’m going to start with somebody who I guess is now a big cheese — he’s moved on. But I understand this is going to be his last chance to ask me a question in the press room. So I want to congratulate Chuck Todd and give him first dibs.
Q I’m glad you said “in the press room.” Let me start with Syria. The decision that you have to make between — first of all, is it a “if” or “when” situation about going after ISIL in Syria? Can you defeat ISIL or ISIS without going after them in Syria? And then how do you prioritize? You have said that Assad has lost legitimacy to lead. Defeating ISIS could help Assad keep power. Talk about how you prioritize those two pieces of your foreign policy.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I want to make sure everybody is clear on what we’re doing now, because it is limited. Our focus right now is to protect American personnel on the ground in Iraq; to protect our embassy, to protect our consulates, to make sure that critical infrastructure that could adversely affect our personnel is protected.
Where we see an opportunity that allows us with very modest risk to help the humanitarian situation there as we did in Sinjar Mountain, we will take those opportunities after having consulted with Congress. But our core priority right now is just to make sure that our folks are safe and to do an effective assessment of Iraqi and Kurdish capabilities.
As I said I think in the last press conference, in order for us to be successful, we’ve got to have an Iraqi government that is unified and inclusive. So we are continuing to push them to get that job done. As soon as we have an Iraqi government in place, the likelihood of the Iraqi security forces being more effective in taking the fight to ISIL significantly increases. And the options that I’m asking for from the Joint Chiefs focuses primarily on making sure that ISIL is not overrunning Iraq.
What is true, though, is that the violence that’s been taking place in Syria has obviously given ISIL a safe haven there in ungoverned spaces. And in order for us to degrade ISIL over the long term, we’re going to have to build a regional strategy. Now, we’re not going to do that alone. We’re going to have to do that with other partners, and particularly Sunni partners, because part of the goal here is to make sure that Sunnis both in Syria and in Iraq feel as if they’ve got an investment in a government that actually functions, a government that can protect them, a government that makes sure that their families are safe from the barbaric acts that we’ve seen in ISIL. And right now, those structures are not in place.
And that’s why the issue with respect to Syria is not simply a military issue, it’s also a political issue. It’s also an issue that involves all the Sunni states in the region and Sunni leadership recognizing that this cancer that has developed is one that they have to be just as invested in defeating as we are.
And so to cut to the chase in terms of what may be your specific concerns, Chuck, my priority at this point is to make sure that the gains that ISIL made in Iraq are rolled back, and that Iraq has the opportunity to govern itself effectively and secure itself.
But when we look at a broader strategy that is consistent with what I said at West Point, that’s consistent with what I said at the National Defense College, clearly ISIL has come to represent the very worst elements in the region that we have to deal with collectively. And that’s going to be a long-term project. It’s going to require us to stabilize Syria in some fashion, and stabilizing Syria in some fashion means that we’ve got to get moderate Sunnis who are able to govern and offer a real alternative and competition to what ISIL has been doing in some of these spaces.
Now, the last point with respect to Assad, it’s not just my opinion — I think it would be international opinion — that Assad has lost legitimacy in terms of dropping barrel bombs on innocent families and killing tens of thousands of people. And right now, what we’re seeing is the areas that ISIL is occupying are not controlled by Assad anyway. And, frankly, Assad doesn’t seem to have the capability or reach to get into those areas. So I don’t think this is a situation where we have to choose between Assad or the kinds of people who carry on the incredible violence that we’ve been seeing there. We will continue to support a moderate opposition inside of Syria, in part because we have to give people inside of Syria a choice other than ISIL or Assad.
And I don’t see any scenario in which Assad somehow is able to bring peace and stability to a region that is majority Sunni and has not so far shown any willingness to share power with them or in any kind of significant way deal with the longstanding grievances that they have there.
Q Do you need Congress’s approval to go into Syria?
THE PRESIDENT: I have consulted with Congress throughout this process. I am confident that as Commander-in-Chief I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently. As our strategy develops, we will continue to consult with Congress. And I do think that it will be important for Congress to weigh in, or that our consultations with Congress continue to develop so that the American people are part of the debate.
But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet. I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are. And I think that’s not just my assessment, but the assessment of our military as well. We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard. But there’s no point in me asking for action on the part of Congress before I know exactly what it is that is going to be required for us to get the job done.
Colleen McCain Nelson.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Do you consider today’s escalation in Ukraine an invasion? And when you talk about additional costs to Russia, are you ready at this point to impose broader economic sanctions? Or are you considering other responses that go beyond sanctions?
THE PRESIDENT: I consider the actions that we’ve seen in the last week a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now. As I said in my opening statement, there is no doubt that this is not a homegrown, indigenous uprising in eastern Ukraine. The separatists are backed, trained, armed, financed by Russia. Throughout this process, we’ve seen deep Russian involvement in everything that they’ve done.
I think in part because of the progress that you had seen by the Ukrainians around Donetsk and Luhansk, Russia determined that it had to be a little more overt in what it had already been doing. But it’s not really a shift.
What we have seen, though, is that President Putin and Russia have repeatedly passed by potential off-ramps to resolve this diplomatically. And so in our consultations with our European allies and partners, my expectation is, is that we will take additional steps primarily because we have not seen any meaningful action on the part of Russia to actually try to resolve this in diplomatic fashion.
And I think that the sanctions that we’ve already applied have been effective. Our intelligence shows that the Russians know they’ve been effective, even though it may not appear on Russian television. And I think there are ways for us to deepen or expand the scope of some of that work.
But ultimately, I think what’s important to recognize is the degree to which Russian decision-making is isolating Russia. They’re doing this to themselves. And what I’ve been encouraged by is the degree to which our European partners recognize even though they are bearing a cost in implementing these sanctions, they understand that a broader principle is at stake. And so I look forward to the consultations that we’ll have when I see them next week.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Last year, you said that you believe our democracy is stronger when the President acts with the support of Congress. In response to Chuck’s question you said you don’t have a strategy yet, but you’ll reconsider that going forward. But why didn’t you go to Congress before this current round of strikes in Iraq? Do you not believe that that’s the case anymore, what you said last year? And throughout your career you’ve also said that — you raised concerns with the expansion of powers of the executive. Are you concerned that your recent actions, unilaterally, had maybe — have cut against that?
THE PRESIDENT: No. And here’s why: It is not just part of my responsibility, but it is a sacred duty for me as Commander-in-Chief to protect the American people. And that requires me to act fast, based on information I receive, if an embassy of ours or a consulate of ours is being threatened. The decisions I made were based on very concrete assessments about the possibility that Erbil might be overrun in the Kurdish region and that our consulate could be in danger. And I can’t afford to wait in order to make sure that those folks are protected.
But throughout this process, we’ve consulted closely with Congress, and the feedback I’ve gotten from Congress is, is that we’re doing the right thing. Now, as we go forward — as I’ve described to Chuck — and look at a broader regional strategy with an international coalition and partners to systematically degrade ISIL’s capacity to engage in the terrible violence and disruptions that they’ve been engaging in not just in Syria, not just in Iraq, but potentially elsewhere if we don’t nip this at the bud, then those consultations with Congress for something that is longer term I think become more relevant.
And it is my intention that Congress has to have some buy-in as representatives of the American people. And, by the way, the American people need to hear what that strategy is. But as I said to Chuck, I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. And in some of the media reports the suggestion seems to have been that we’re about to go full scale on an elaborate strategy for defeating ISIL, and the suggestion, I guess, has been that we’ll start moving forward imminently and somehow Congress — still out of town — is going to be left in the dark. That’s not what’s going to happen.
We are going to continue to focus on protecting the American people. We’re going to continue, where we can, to engage in the sort of humanitarian acts that saved so many folks who were trapped on a mountain. We are going to work politically and diplomatically with folks in the region. And we’re going to cobble together the kind of coalition that we need for a long-term strategy as soon as we are able to fit together the military, political and economic components of that strategy. There will be a military aspect to that, and it’s going to be important for Congress to know what that is, in part because it may cost some money.
I’ll just take a couple more. Yes.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Do you regret not moving on ISIS earlier? There are some reports indicating that most of the weapons, the U.S. weapons that they have, they got it or they acquired it after the fall of Mosul. And also, the Iraqi President said today that the Iraqi forces are in no position to stand up to ISIS. What makes you think that forming a new government will change the situation?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, once ISIL got into Mosul that posed a big problem, because there’s no doubt that they were able to capture some weapons and resources that they then used to finance additional operations.
And at that stage, we immediately contacted the Iraqi government. Keep in mind we had been in communications with the Iraqi government for more than a year indicating that we saw significant problems in the Sunni areas. Prime Minister Maliki was not as responsive perhaps as we would have liked to some of the underlying political grievances that existed at the time.
There is no doubt that in order for Iraq security forces to be successful, they’re going to need help. They’re going to need help from us. They’re going to need help from our international partners. They’re going to need additional training. They’re going to need additional equipment. And we are going to be prepared to offer that support.
There may be a role for an international coalition providing additional air support for their operations. But the reason it’s so important that an Iraqi government be in place is this is not simply a military problem. The problem we have had consistently is a Sunni population that feels alienated from Baghdad and does not feel invested in what’s happening, and does not feel as if anybody is looking out for them.
If we can get a government in place that provides Sunnis some hope that a national government serves their interest, if they can regain some confidence and trust that it will follow through on commitments that were made way back in 2006 and 2007 and 2008 and earlier about how you arrive at, for example, de-Baathification laws and give people opportunities so they’re not locked out of government positions — if those things are followed through on, and we are able to combine it with a sound military strategy, then I think we can be successful. If we can’t, then the idea that the United States or any outside power would perpetually defeat ISIS I think is unrealistic.
As I’ve said before — I think I said in the previous press conference — our military is the best in the world. We can route ISIS on the ground and keep a lid on things temporarily. But then as soon as we leave, the same problems come back again. So we’ve got to make sure that Iraqis understand in the end they’re going to be responsible for their own security. And part of that is going to be the capacity for them to make compromises.
It also means that states in the region stop being ambivalent about these extremist groups. The truth is that we’ve had state actors who at times have thought that the way to advance their interests is, well, financing some of these groups as proxies is not such a bad strategy. And part of our message to the entire region is this should be a wake-up call to Sunni,to Shia — to everybody — that a group like ISIS is beyond the pale; that they have no vision or ideology beyond violence and chaos and the slaughter of innocent people. And as a consequence, we’ve got to all join together — even if we have differences on a range of political issues — to make sure that they’re rooted out.
Q Mr. President, despite all of the actions the West has taken to get Russia to pull back from Ukraine, Russia seems intent on taking one step after another — convoys, transports of arms. At what point do sanctions no longer work? Would you envisage the possibility of a necessity of military action to get Russia to pull back from Ukraine?
THE PRESIDENT: We are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem. What we’re doing is to mobilize the international community to apply pressure on Russia. But I think it is very important to recognize that a military solution to this problem is not going to be forthcoming. Now, the fact that Russia has taken these actions in violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukrainians has resulted, I believe, in a weakening of Russia, not a strengthening of Russia. That may not be apparent immediately, but I think it will become increasingly apparent.
What it’s also done is isolated Russia from its trading partners, its commercial partners, international business in ways that I think are going to be very difficult to recover from. And we will continue to stand firm with our allies and partners that what is happening is wrong, that there is a solution that allows Ukraine and Russia to live peacefully. But it is not in the cards for us to see a military confrontation between Russia and the United States in this region.
Keep in mind, however, that I’m about to go to a NATO conference. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but a number of those states that are close by are. And we take our Article 5 commitments to defend each other very seriously, and that includes the smallest NATO member, as well as the largest NATO member. And so part of the reason I think this NATO meeting is going to be so important is to refocus attention on the critical function that NATO plays to make sure that every country is contributing in order to deliver on the promise of our Article 5 assurances.
Part of the reason I’ll be going to Estonia is to let the Estonians know that we mean what we say with respect to our treaty obligations. We don’t have those treaty obligations with Ukraine. We do, however, stand shoulder to shoulder with them, and we’re doing not just a lot of work diplomatically but also financially in order to make sure that they have the best chance at dealing with what is admittedly a very difficult situation.
Thank you very much, everybody.
Q On immigration?
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, guys. Thank you.
Q Mr. President, how are external events and your executive decision-making going to impact your decision on immigration reform? Some people say you’re going to delay this.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me just say this: I’ve been very clear about the fact that our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. And my preference continues to be that Congress act. I don’t think anybody thinks that Congress is going to act in the short term, but hope springs eternal that after the midterm elections they may act.
In the meantime, what I’ve asked Jeh Johnson to do is to look at what kinds of executive authorities we have in order to make the system work better. And we’ve had a lot of stakeholder discussions; that set of proposals is being worked up.
And the one thing that I think has happened was the issue with unaccompanied children that got so much attention a couple of months back. And part of the reason that was important was not because that represented a huge unprecedented surge in overall immigration at the border, but I do think that it changed the perception of the American people about what’s happening at the borders.
And so one of the things we’ve had — have had to do is to work through systematically to make sure that that specific problem in a fairly defined area of the border, that we’re starting to deal with that in a serious way. And the good news is we’ve started to make some progress. I mean, what we’ve seen so far is that throughout the summer the number of apprehensions have been decreasing — maybe that’s counterintuitive, but that’s a good thing because that means that fewer folks are coming across. The number of apprehensions in August are down from July, and they’re actually lower than they were August of last year. Apprehensions in July were half of what they were in June. So we’re seeing a significant downward trend in terms of these unaccompanied children.
And what that I think allows us to do is to make sure that those kids are being taken care of properly, with due process. At the same time, it’s allowed us to then engage in a broader conversation about what we need to do to get more resources down at the border. It would have been helped along if Congress had voted for the supplemental that I asked for; they did not. That means we’ve got to make some administrative choices and executive choices about, for example, getting more immigration judges down there.
So that has kept us busy, but it has not stopped the process of looking more broadly about how do we get a smarter immigration system in place while we’re waiting for Congress to act. And it continues to be my belief that if I can’t see congressional action, that I need to do at least what I can in order to make the system work better.
But some of these things do affect timelines, and we’re just going to be working through as systematically as possible in order to get this done. But have no doubt, in the absence of congressional action, I’m going to do what I can to make sure the system works better.
Thank you, guys.
END 4:39 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on August 28, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency August 1, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Pre-August Recess Press Conference on the Domestic & Foreign Policy, Slams Republicans
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Press Conference by the President
Source: WH, 8-1-14
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
2:45 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Happy Friday. I thought I’d take some questions, but first, let me say a few words about the economy.
This morning, we learned that our economy created over 200,000 new jobs in July. That’s on top of about 300,000 new jobs in June. So we are now in a six-month streak with at least 200,000 new jobs each month. That’s the first time that has happened since 1997. Over the past year, we’ve added more jobs than any year since 2006. And all told, our businesses have created 9.9 million new jobs over the past 53 months. That’s the longest streak of private sector job creation in our history.
And as we saw on Wednesday, the economy grew at a strong pace in the spring. Companies are investing. Consumers are spending. American manufacturing, energy, technology, autos — all are booming. And thanks to the decisions that we’ve made, and the grit and resilience of the American people, we’ve recovered faster and come farther from the recession than almost any other advanced country on Earth.
So the good news is the economy clearly is getting stronger. Things are getting better. Our engines are revving a little bit louder. And the decisions that we make right now can sustain and keep that growth and momentum going.
Unfortunately, there are a series of steps that we could be taking to maintain momentum, and perhaps even accelerate it; there are steps that we could be taking that would result in more job growth, higher wages, higher incomes, more relief for middle-class families. And so far, at least, in Congress, we have not seen them willing or able to take those steps.
I’ve been pushing for common-sense ideas like rebuilding our infrastructure in ways that are sustained over many years and support millions of good jobs and help businesses compete. I’ve been advocating on behalf of raising the minimum wage, making it easier for working folks to pay off their student loans; fair pay, paid leave. All these policies have two things in common: All of them would help working families feel more stable and secure, and all of them so far have been blocked or ignored by Republicans in Congress. That’s why my administration keeps taking whatever actions we can take on our own to help working families.
Now, it’s good that Congress was able to pass legislation to strengthen the VA. And I want to thank the chairmen and ranking members who were involved in that. It’s good that Congress was able to at least fund transportation projects for a few more months before leaving town — although it falls far short of the kind of infrastructure effort that we need that would actually accelerate the economy. But for the most part, the big-ticket items, the things that would really make a difference in the lives of middle-class families, those things just are not getting done.
Let’s just take a recent example: Immigration. We all agree that there’s a problem that needs to be solved in a portion of our southern border. And we even agree on most of the solutions. But instead of working together — instead of focusing on the 80 percent where there is agreement between Democrats and Republicans, between the administration and Congress — House Republicans, as we speak, are trying to pass the most extreme and unworkable versions of a bill that they already know is going nowhere, that can’t pass the Senate and that if it were to pass the Senate I would veto. They know it.
They’re not even trying to actually solve the problem. This is a message bill that they couldn’t quite pull off yesterday, so they made it a little more extreme so maybe they can pass it today — just so they can check a box before they’re leaving town for a month. And this is on an issue that they all insisted had to be a top priority.
Now, our efforts administratively so far have helped to slow the tide of child migrants trying to come to our country. But without additional resources and help from Congress, we’re just not going to have the resources we need to fully solve the problem. That means while they’re out on vacation I’m going to have to make some tough choices to meet the challenge — with or without Congress.
And yesterday, even though they’ve been sitting on a bipartisan immigration bill for over a year, House Republicans suggested that since they don’t expect to actually pass a bill that I can sign, that I actually should go ahead and act on my own to solve the problem. Keep in mind that just a few days earlier, they voted to sue me for acting on my own. And then when they couldn’t pass a bill yesterday, they put out a statement suggesting I should act on my own because they couldn’t pass a bill.
So immigration has not gotten done. A student loan bill that would help folks who have student loan debt consolidate and refinance at lower rates — that didn’t pass. The transportation bill that they did pass just gets us through the spring, when we should actually be planning years in advance. States and businesses are raising the minimum wage for their workers because this Congress is failing to do so.
Even basic things like approving career diplomats for critical ambassadorial posts aren’t getting done. Last night, for purely political reasons, Senate Republicans, for a certain period of time, blocked our new ambassador to Russia. It raised such an uproar that finally they went ahead and let our Russian ambassador pass — at a time when we are dealing every day with the crisis in Ukraine.
They’re still blocking our ambassador to Sierra Leone, where there’s currently an Ebola outbreak. They’re blocking our ambassador to Guatemala, even as they demand that we do more to stop the flow of unaccompanied children from Guatemala. There are a lot of things that we could be arguing about on policy — that’s what we should be doing as a democracy — but we shouldn’t be having an argument about placing career diplomats with bipartisan support in countries around the world where we have to have a presence.
So the bottom line is this: We have come a long way over the last five and a half years. Our challenges are nowhere near as daunting as they were when I first came into office. But the American people demand and deserve a strong and focused effort on the part of all of us to keep moving the country forward and to focus on their concerns. And the fact is we could be much further along and we could be doing even better, and the economy could be even stronger, and more jobs could be created if Congress would do the job that the people sent them here to do.
And I will not stop trying to work with both parties to get things moving faster for middle-class families and those trying to get into the middle class. When Congress returns next month, my hope is, is that instead of simply trying to pass partisan message bills on party lines that don’t actually solve problems, they’re going to be willing to come together to at least focus on some key areas where there’s broad agreement. After all that we’ve had to overcome, our Congress should stop standing in the way of our country’s success.
So with that, let me take a couple of questions. And I will start with Roberta Rampton of Reuters.
Q Thanks. I want to ask about the situation in the Middle East. And why do you think Israel should embrace a cease-fire in Gaza when one of its soldiers appears to have been abducted and when Hamas continues to use its network of tunnels to launch attacks? And also, have you seen Israel act at all on your call to do more to protect civilians?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I think it’s important to note that we have — and I have — unequivocally condemned Hamas and the Palestinian factions that were responsible for killing two Israeli soldiers and abducting a third almost minutes after a cease-fire had been announced. And the U.N. has condemned them as well.
And I want to make sure that they are listening: If they are serious about trying to resolve this situation, that soldier needs to be unconditionally released as soon as possible.
I have been very clear throughout this crisis that Israel has a right to defend itself. No country can tolerate missiles raining down on its cities and people having to rush to bomb shelters every 20 minutes or half hour. No country can or would tolerate tunnels being dug under their land that can be used to launch terrorist attacks.
And so, not only have we been supportive of Israel in its right to defend itself, but in very concrete terms — for example, in support for the Iron Dome program that has intercepted rockets that are firing down on Israeli cities — we’ve been trying to cooperate as much as we can to make sure that Israel is able to protect its citizens.
Now, at the same time, we’ve also been clear that innocent civilians in Gaza caught in the crossfire have to weigh on our conscience and we have to do more to protect them. A cease-fire was one way in which we could stop the killing, to step back and to try to resolve some of the underlying issues that have been building up over quite some time. Israel committed to that 72-hour cease-fire, and it was violated. And trying to put that back together is going to be challenging, but we will continue to make those efforts.
And let me take this opportunity, by the way, to give Secretary John Kerry credit. He has been persistent. He has worked very hard. He has endured on many occasions really unfair criticism simply to try to get to the point where the killing stops and the underlying issues about Israel’s security but also the concerns of Palestinians in Gaza can be addressed.
We’re going to keep working towards that. It’s going to take some time. I think it’s going to be very hard to put a cease-fire back together again if Israelis and the international community can’t feel confident that Hamas can follow through on a cease-fire commitment.
And it’s not particularly relevant whether a particular leader in Hamas ordered this abduction. The point is, is that when they sign onto a cease-fire they’re claiming to speak for all the Palestinian factions. And if they don’t have control of them, and just moments after a cease-fire is signed you have Israeli soldiers being killed and captured, then it’s hard for the Israelis to feel confident that a cease-fire can actually be honored.
I’m in constant consultation with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Our national security team is in constant communication with the Israel military. I want to see everything possible done to make sure that Palestinian civilians are not being killed. And it is heartbreaking to see what’s happening there, and I think many of us recognize the dilemma we have. On the one hand, Israel has a right to defend itself and it’s got to be able to get at those rockets and those tunnel networks. On the other hand, because of the incredibly irresponsible actions on the part of Hamas to oftentimes house these rocket launchers right in the middle of civilian neighborhoods, we end up seeing people who had nothing to do with these rockets ending up being hurt.
Part of the reason why we’ve been pushing so hard for a cease-fire is precisely because it’s hard to reconcile Israel’s legitimate need to defend itself with our concern with those civilians. And if we can pause the fighting, then it’s possible that we may be able to arrive at a formula that spares lives and also ensures Israel’s security. But it’s difficult. And I don’t think we should pretend otherwise.
Q Mr. President, like that cease-fire, you’ve called for diplomatic solutions not only in Israel and Gaza but also in Ukraine, in Iraq, to very little effect so far. Has the United States of America lost its influence in the world? Have you lost yours?
THE PRESIDENT: Look, this is a common theme that folks bring up. Apparently people have forgotten that America, as the most powerful country on Earth, still does not control everything around the world. And so our diplomatic efforts often take time. They often will see progress and then a step backwards. That’s been true in the Middle East. That’s been true in Europe. That’s been true in Asia. That’s the nature of world affairs. It’s not neat, and it’s not smooth.
But if you look at, for example, Ukraine, we have made progress in delivering on what we said we would do. We can’t control how Mr. Putin thinks. But what we can do is say to Mr. Putin, if you continue on the path of arming separatists with heavy armaments that the evidence suggests may have resulted in 300 innocent people on a jet dying, and that violates international law and undermines the integrity — territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, then you’re going to face consequences that will hurt your country.
And there was a lot of skepticism about our ability to coordinate with Europeans for a strong series of sanctions. And each time we have done what we said we would do, including this week, when we put in place sanctions that have an impact on key sectors of the Russian economy — their energy, their defense, their financial systems.
It hasn’t resolved the problem yet. I spoke to Mr. Putin this morning, and I indicated to him, just as we will do what we say we do in terms of sanctions, we’ll also do what we say we do in terms of wanting to resolve this issue diplomatically if he takes a different position. If he respects and honors the right of Ukrainians to determine their own destiny, then it’s possible to make sure that Russian interests are addressed that are legitimate, and that Ukrainians are able to make their own decisions, and we can resolve this conflict and end some of the bloodshed.
But the point is, though, Bill, that if you look at the 20th century and the early part of this century, there are a lot of conflicts that America doesn’t resolve. That’s always been true. That doesn’t mean we stop trying. And it’s not a measure of American influence on any given day or at any given moment that there are conflicts around the world that are difficult. The conflict in Northern Ireland raged for a very, very long time until finally something broke, where the parties decided that it wasn’t worth killing each other.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been going on even longer than you’ve been reporting. (Laughter.) And I don’t think at any point was there a suggestion somehow that America didn’t have influence just because we weren’t able to finalize an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
You will recall that situations like Kosovo and Bosnia raged on for quite some time, and there was a lot more death and bloodshed than there has been so far in the Ukrainian situation before it ultimately did get resolved.
And so I recognize with so many different issues popping up around the world, sometimes it may seem as if this is an aberration or it’s unusual. But the truth of the matter is, is that there’s a big world out there, and that as indispensable as we are to try to lead it, there’s still going to be tragedies out there and there are going to be conflicts. And our job is to just make sure that we continue to project what’s right, what’s just, and that we’re building coalitions of like-minded countries and partners in order to advance not only our core security interests but also the interests of the world as a whole.
Q Do you think you could have done more?
THE PRESIDENT: On which one?
Q On any of them? Ukraine?
THE PRESIDENT: Well look, I think, Bill, that the nature of being President is that you’re always asking yourself what more can you do. But with respect to, let’s say, the Israeli-Palestinian issue, this administration invested an enormous amount to try to bring the parties together around a framework for peace and a two-state solution. John Kerry invested an enormous amount of time. In the end, it’s up to the two parties to make a decision. We can lead them to resolve some of the technical issues and to show them a path, but they’ve got to want it.
With respect to Ukraine, I think that we have done everything that we can to support the Ukrainian government and to deter Russia from moving further into Ukraine. But short of going to war, there are going to be some constraints in terms of what we can do if President Putin and Russia are ignoring what should be their long-term interests.
Right now, what we’ve done is impose sufficient costs on Russia that, objectively speaking, they should — President Putin should want to resolve this diplomatically, get these sanctions lifted, get their economy growing again, and have good relations with Ukraine. But sometimes people don’t always act rationally, and they don’t always act based on their medium- or long-term interests. That can’t deter us, though. We’ve just got to stay at it.
Q Mr. President, Republicans point to some of your executive orders as reason, they say, that they can’t trust you to implement legislation that they pass. Even if you don’t buy that argument, do you hold yourself totally blameless in the inability it appears to reach agreement with the Republican-led House?
THE PRESIDENT: Wendell, let’s just take the recent example of immigration. A bipartisan bill passed out of the Senate, co-sponsored by not just Democrats but some very conservative Republicans who recognize that the system currently is broken and if, in fact we put more resources on the border, provide a path in which those undocumented workers who’ve been living here for a long time and may have ties here are coming out of the shadows, paying their taxes, paying a fine, learning English — if we fix the legal immigration system so it’s more efficient, if we are attracting young people who may have studied here to stay here and create jobs here, that that all is going to be good for the economy, it’s going to reduce the deficit, it might have forestalled some of the problems that we’re seeing now in the Rio Grande Valley with these unaccompanied children.
And so we have a bipartisan bill, Wendell, bipartisan agreement supported by everybody from labor to the evangelical community to law enforcement. So the argument isn’t between me and the House Republicans. It’s between the House Republicans and Senate Republicans, and House Republicans and the business community, and House Republicans and the evangelical community. I’m just one of the people they seem to disagree with on this issue.
So that’s on the comprehensive bill. So now we have a short-term crisis with respect to the Rio Grande Valley. They say we need more resources, we need tougher border security in this area where these unaccompanied children are showing up. We agree. So we put forward a supplemental to give us the additional resources and funding to do exactly what they say we should be doing, and they can’t pass the bill. They can’t even pass their own version of the bill. So that’s not a disagreement between me and the House Republicans; that’s a disagreement between the House Republicans and the House Republicans.
The point is that on a range of these issues, whether it’s tax reform, whether it’s reducing the deficit, whether it’s rebuilding our infrastructure, we have consistently put forward proposals that in previous years and previous administrations would not have been considered radical or left wing; they would have been considered pretty sensible, mainstream approaches to solving problems.
I include under that, by the way, the Affordable Care Act. That’s a whole other conversation.
And in circumstances where even basic, common-sense, plain, vanilla legislation can’t pass because House Republicans consider it somehow a compromise of their principles, or giving Obama a victory, then we’ve got to take action. Otherwise, we’re not going to be making progress on the things that the American people care about.
Q On the border supplemental — can you act alone?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m going to have to act alone because we don’t have enough resources. We’ve already been very clear — we’ve run out of money. And we are going to have to reallocate resources in order to just make sure that some of the basic functions that have to take place down there — whether it’s making sure that these children are properly housed, or making sure we’ve got enough immigration judges to process their cases — that those things get done. We’re going to have to reallocate some resources.
But the broader point, Wendell, is that if, in fact, House Republicans are concerned about me acting independently of Congress — despite the fact that I’ve taken fewer executive actions than my Republican predecessor or my Democratic predecessor before that, or the Republican predecessor before that — then the easiest way to solve it is passing legislation. Get things done.
On the supplemental, we agreed on 80 percent of the issues. There were 20 percent of the issues that perhaps there were disagreements between Democrats and Republicans. As I said to one Republican colleague who was down here that I was briefing about some national security issues, why wouldn’t we just go ahead and pass the 80 percent that we agree on and we’ll try to work to resolve the differences on the other 20 percent? Why wouldn’t we do that? And he didn’t really have a good answer for it.
So there’s no doubt that I can always do better on everything, including making additional calls to Speaker Boehner, and having more conversations with some of the House Republican leadership. But in the end, the challenge I have right now is that they are not able to act even on what they say their priorities are, and they’re not able to work and compromise even with Senate Republicans on certain issues. And they consider what have been traditionally Republican-supported initiatives, they consider those as somehow a betrayal of the cause.
Take the example of the Export-Import Bank. This is an interesting thing that’s happened. This is a program in which we help to provide financing to sell American goods and products around the world. Every country does this. It’s traditionally been championed by Republicans. For some reason, right now the House Republicans have decided that we shouldn’t do this — which means that when American companies go overseas and they’re trying to close a sale on selling Boeing planes, for example, or a GE turbine, or some other American product, that has all kinds of subcontractors behind it and is creating all kinds of jobs, and all sorts of small businesses depend on that sale, and that American company is going up against a German company or a Chinese company, and the Chinese and the German company are providing financing and the American company isn’t, we may lose that sale.
When did that become something that Republicans opposed? It would be like me having a car dealership for Ford, and the Toyota dealership offers somebody financing and I don’t. We will lose business and we’ll lose jobs if we don’t pass it.
So there’s some big issues where I understand why we have differences. On taxes, Republicans want to maintain some corporate loopholes I think need to be closed because I think that we should be giving tax breaks to families that are struggling with child care or trying to save for a college education. On health care, obviously their view is, is that we should not be helping folks get health care, even though it’s through the private marketplace. My view is, is that in a country as wealthy as ours, we can afford to make sure that everybody has access to affordable care.
Those are legitimate policy arguments. But getting our ambassadors confirmed? These are career diplomats, not political types. Making sure that we pass legislation to strengthen our borders and put more folks down there? Those shouldn’t be controversial. And I think you’d be hard-pressed to find an example of where I wouldn’t welcome some reasonable efforts to actually get a bill passed out of Congress that I could sign.
Last question, Michelle Kosinski.
Q You made the point that in certain difficult conflicts in the past, both sides had to reach a point where they were tired of the bloodshed. Do you think that we are actually far from that point right now? And is it realistic to try to broker a cease-fire right now when there are still tunnel operations allowed to continue? Is that going to cause a change of approach from this point forward?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, keep in mind that the cease-fire that had been agreed to would have given Israel the capability to continue to dismantle these tunnel networks, but the Israelis can dismantle these tunnel networks without going into major population centers in Gaza. So I think the Israelis are entirely right that these tunnel networks need to be dismantled. There is a way of doing that while still reducing the bloodshed.
You are right that in past conflicts, sometimes people have to feel deeply the costs. Anybody who has been watching some of these images I’d like to think should recognize the costs. You have children who are getting killed. You have women, defenseless, who are getting killed. You have Israelis whose lives are disrupted constantly and living in fear. And those are costs that are avoidable if we’re able to get a cease-fire that preserves Israel’s ability to defend itself and gives it the capacity to have an assurance that they’re not going to be constantly threatened by rocket fire in the future, and, conversely, an agreement that recognizes the Palestinian need to be able to make a living and the average Palestinian’s capacity to live a decent life.
But it’s hard. It’s going to be hard to get there. I think that there’s a lot of anger and there’s a lot of despair, and that’s a volatile mix. But we have to keep trying.
And it is — Bill asked earlier about American leadership. Part of the reason why America remains indispensable, part of the essential ingredient in American leadership is that we’re willing to plunge in and try, where other countries don’t bother trying. I mean, the fact of the matter is, is that in all these crises that have been mentioned, there may be some tangential risks to the United States. In some cases, as in Iraq and ISIS, those are dangers that have to be addressed right now, and we have to take them very seriously. But for the most part, these are not — the rockets aren’t being fired into the United States. The reason we are concerned is because we recognize we’ve got some special responsibilities.
We have to have some humility about what we can and can’t accomplish. We have to recognize that our resources are finite, and we’re coming out of a decade of war and our military has been stretched very hard, as has our budget. Nevertheless, we try. We go in there and we make an effort.
And when I see John Kerry going out there and trying to broker a cease-fire, we should all be supporting him. There shouldn’t be a bunch of complaints and second-guessing about, well, it hasn’t happened yet, or nitpicking before he’s had a chance to complete his efforts. Because, I tell you what, there isn’t any other country that’s going in there and making those efforts.
And more often than not, as a consequence of our involvement, we get better outcomes — not perfect outcomes, not immediate outcomes, but we get better outcomes. And that’s going to be true with respect to the Middle East. That’s going to be true with respect to Ukraine. That’s going to be certainly true with respect to Iraq.
And I think it’s useful for me to end by just reminding folks that, in my first term, if I had a press conference like this, typically, everybody would want to ask about the economy and how come jobs weren’t being created, and how come the housing market is still bad, and why isn’t it working. Well, you know what, what we did worked. And the economy is better. And when I say that we’ve just had six months of more than 200,000 jobs that hasn’t happened in 17 years that shows you the power of persistence. It shows you that if you stay at it, eventually we make some progress. All right?
Q What about John Brennan?
Q The Africa summit — Ebola?
THE PRESIDENT: I thought that you guys were going to ask me how I was going to spend my birthday. What happened to the happy birthday thing?
Q Happy birthday.
Q What about John Brennan?
Q Africa summit?
THE PRESIDENT: I will address two points. I’ll address —
Q And Flight 17?
THE PRESIDENT: Hold on, guys. Come on. There’s just —
Q And Africa.
THE PRESIDENT: You’re not that pent up. I’ve been giving you questions lately.
On Brennan and the CIA, the RDI report has been transmitted, the declassified version that will be released at the pleasure of the Senate committee.
I have full confidence in John Brennan. I think he has acknowledged and directly apologized to Senator Feinstein that CIA personnel did not properly handle an investigation as to how certain documents that were not authorized to be released to the Senate staff got somehow into the hands of the Senate staff. And it’s clear from the IG report that some very poor judgment was shown in terms of how that was handled. Keep in mind, though, that John Brennan was the person who called for the IG report, and he’s already stood up a task force to make sure that lessons are learned and mistakes are resolved.
With respect to the larger point of the RDI report itself, even before I came into office I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.
I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen, and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent, and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this. And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.
But having said all that, we did some things that were wrong. And that’s what that report reflects. And that’s the reason why, after I took office, one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report.
And my hope is, is that this report reminds us once again that the character of our country has to be measured in part not by what we do when things are easy, but what we do when things are hard. And when we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line. And that needs to be — that needs to be understood and accepted. And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that, hopefully, we don’t do it again in the future.
Q Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: Now, I gave you a question.
Q All right.
Q The summit — the U.S.-Africa —
THE PRESIDENT: We’ve got a U.S.-Africa Summit coming up next week. It is going to be an unprecedented gathering of African leaders. The importance of this for America needs to be understood. Africa is one of the fastest-growing continents in the world. You’ve got six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in Africa. You have all sorts of other countries like China and Brazil and India deeply interested in working with Africa — not to extract natural resources alone, which traditionally has been the relationship between Africa and the rest of the world — but now because Africa is growing and you’ve got thriving markets and you’ve got entrepreneurs and extraordinary talent among the people there.
And Africa also happens to be one of the continents where America is most popular and people feel a real affinity for our way of life. And we’ve made enormous progress over the last several years in not just providing traditional aid to Africa, helping countries that are suffering from malnutrition or helping countries that are suffering from AIDS, but rather partnering and thinking about how can we trade more and how can we do business together. And that’s the kind of relationship that Africa is looking for.
And I’ve had conversations over the last several months with U.S. businesses — some of the biggest U.S. businesses in the world — and they say, Africa, that’s one of our top priorities; we want to do business with those folks, and we think that we can create U.S. jobs and send U.S. exports to Africa. But we’ve got to be engaged, and so this gives us a chance to do that. It also gives us a chance to talk to Africa about security issues — because, as we’ve seen, terrorist networks try to find places where governance is weak and security structures are weak. And if we want to keep ourselves safe over the long term, then one of the things that we can do is make sure that we are partnering with some countries that really have pretty effective security forces and have been deploying themselves in peacekeeping and conflict resolution efforts in Africa. And that, ultimately, can save us and our troops and our military a lot of money if we’ve got strong partners who are able to deal with conflicts in these regions.
So it’s going to be a terrific conference. I won’t lie to you, traffic will be bad here in Washington. (Laughter.) I know that everybody has been warned about that, but we are really looking forward to this and I think it’s going to be a great success.
Now, the last thing I’m going to say about this, because I know that it’s been on people’s minds, is the issue of Ebola. This is something that we take very seriously. As soon as there’s an outbreak anywhere in the world of any disease that could have significant effects, the CDC is in communication with the World Health Organization and other multilateral agencies to try to make sure that we’ve got an appropriate response.
This has been a more aggressive Ebola outbreak than we’ve seen in the past. But keep in mind that it is still affecting parts of three countries, and we’ve got some 50 countries represented at this summit. We are doing two things with respect to the summit itself. We’re taking the appropriate precautions. Folks who are coming from these countries that have even a marginal risk or an infinitesimal risk of having been exposed in some fashion, we’re making sure we’re doing screening on that end — as they leave the country. We’ll do additional screening when they’re here. We feel confident that the procedures that we’ve put in place are appropriate.
More broadly, the CDC and our various health agencies are going to be working very intently with the World Health Organization and some of our partner countries to make sure that we can surge some resources down there and organization to these countries that are pretty poor and don’t have a strong public health infrastructure so that we can start containing the problem.
Keep in mind that Ebola is not something that is easily transmitted. That’s why, generally, outbreaks dissipate. But the key is identifying, quarantining, isolating those who contract it and making sure that practices are in place that avoid transmission. And it can be done, but it’s got to be done in an organized, systematic way, and that means that we’re going to have to help these countries accomplish that.
All right? Okay.
Q Happy Birthday, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: There you go, April. (Laughter.) That’s what I was talking about — somebody finally wished me happy birthday — although it isn’t until Monday, you’re right.
Thank you so much.
END 3:34 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on August 1, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency July 30, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks on the Economy in Kansas, City, Missouri
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President on the Economy — Kansas, City, MO
Source: WH, 7-30-14
Kansas City, Missouri
11:06 A.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Kansas City! (Applause.) Well, it is good to be back in Kansas City, back in the Midwest. (Applause.) And I have to say, I love these old theaters. I mean, they are unbelievable. This is just gorgeous.
It is good to see Governor Jay Nixon here today. (Applause.) Congressman Emanuel Cleaver is here. (Applause.) Congressman Lacy Clay is here. (Applause.) Mayor Sly James is here. (Applause.) And you’re here! All of you are here. (Applause.)
Now, if you have a seat, feel free to sit down, because I don’t want everybody starting to fall out. (Laughter.) If you don’t have a seat, don’t sit down. But bend your knees a little bit.
It’s always good to spend a little time in Kansas City. Last night, I had a chance to get some barbecue at Arthur Bryant’s. (Applause.) Now, they had run out of coleslaw, which I asked — I said, did you save some coleslaw for me? They said, no, they hadn’t saved any.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: I’m sorry, what are you hollering about?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible) to God —
THE PRESIDENT: I believe in God. Thanks for the prayer. Amen. Thank you. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: We love you! We love you!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I just want to be on record, though, because people have been asking me this question. I deal with a lot of tough issues — I am not going to decide who makes the best barbecue in Kansas City. (Laughter.) Bryant’s barbecue was tasty. And Victor is right, I did plow through it pretty good. (Laughter.) But I have not had enough samples to make a definitive judgment, so I’m going to have to try some other barbecue the next time I come in. I have to say, by the way, Victor was not shy about eating either. (Laughter.) So I just want to be clear.
But I had a chance — I went there for the barbecue, but also I went there because I wanted to have a chance to talk to Victor and three other people from the area who took the time to sit down with me and talk, because they had written letters to me. Some of you may know —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I wrote you, too! (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know what, if I had known, I would have had you over for dinner, too. (Laughter.)
But what happens is, every night I read 10 letters that we receive. We get 40,000 correspondence. And then our correspondence office chooses 10, sort of a sample for me to take a look at. And it gives me a chance to hear directly from the people I serve. And folks tell me their stories — they tell me their worries and their hopes and their hardships, their successes. Some say I’m doing a good job. (Applause.) But other people say, “You’re an idiot.”
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, I mean, this is how I know that I’m getting a good sample of letters. (Laughter.)
Last week, a young girl wrote to ask me why aren’t there any women on our currency, and then she gave me like a long list of possible women to put on our dollar bills and quarters and stuff — which I thought was a pretty good idea.
Now, Victor wrote to me to tell me about his life in Butler, and he told me that he has been unemployed for a while after he and his wife had had their first child. But he refused to quit. He earned his degree, found a full-time job. He now helps folks with disabilities live independently. And he’s just a good-hearted man. (Applause.) And you can tell, really, he’s doing great stuff. And Victor described how he got through some tough times because of his Christian faith and his determination — which are things that government programs and policies can’t replace. You got to have that sense of purpose and perseverance. That has to come from inside; you can’t legislate that.
But he also said that he was able to afford health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. (Applause.) And he also said that because of the income-based repayment plan that we had put in place, where you only have to pay 10 percent of your income maximum in repaying your loans each month, that was what allowed him and his family to keep a roof over their heads and support themselves.
And so I’m here because Victor is the sort of person I’m working for every single day — (applause) — somebody who never quits, somebody who is doing everything right, somebody who believes in the American Dream. Somebody who just wants a chance to build a decent life for himself and his family. And that’s the vast majority of Americans. That’s who I’m fighting for right here in Kansas City and all across this country. (Applause.) That’s why I ran for President in the first place, to fight for folks like that. (Applause.)
Now, we all know it hasn’t always been easy. The crisis that hit near the end of my campaign back in 2008, it would end up costing millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, their sense of security. But we have fought back. We have got back off our feet, we have dusted ourselves off. Today, our businesses have added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months. (Applause.) Construction is up. Manufacturing is back. Our energy, our technology, our auto industries, they’re all booming.
The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September of 2008. (Applause.) It’s dropped faster than any time in 30 years. This morning, we found out that in the second quarter of this year our economy grew at a strong pace, and businesses are investing, workers are building new homes, consumers are spending, America is exporting goods around the world.
So the decisions that we made — to rescue our economy, to rescue the auto industry, to rebuild the economy on a new foundation, to invest in research and infrastructure, education — all those things are starting to pay off.
The world’s number-one oil and gas producer — that’s not Saudi Arabia; that’s not Russia — it’s the United States of America. (Applause.) We’ve tripled the amount of electricity we get from wind. (Applause.) We’ve increased by 10 times the amount of electricity we get from the sun. And all that is creating tens of thousands of jobs across the country.
Our high school graduation rate is at a record high. More young people are earning their college degrees than ever before. (Applause.) 401(k)s have recovered their value. Home prices are rising. And, yes, millions of families now have the peace of mind, just like Victor’s family does, of getting quality, affordable health care when you need it. It makes a difference in people’s lives. (Applause.)
And, look, Kansas City, none of this is an accident. It’s thanks to the resilience and resolve of the American people. It’s also thanks to some decisions that we made early on. And now America has recovered faster and come farther than just about any other advanced country on Earth. And for the first time in more than a decade, if you ask business leaders around the world what’s the number-one place to invest, they don’t say China anymore. They say the United States of America. (Applause.) And our lead is growing.
So sometimes you wouldn’t know it if you were watching the news, but there are a lot of good reasons to be optimistic about America. We hold the best cards. Things are getting better. The decisions we make now can make things even better than that. In fact, the decisions we make now will determine whether the economic gains that we’re generating are broad based, whether they just go to a few at the top or whether we got an economy in which the middle class is growing and folks who are trying to get into the middle class have more rungs on the ladder; whether ordinary folks are benefiting from growth.
And that’s what’s at stake right now — making sure our economy works for every American. See, I’m glad that GDP is growing, and I’m glad that corporate profits are high, and I’m glad that the stock market is booming. But what really I want to see is a guy working nine to five, and then working some overtime, I want that guy making more than the minimum wage. (Applause.)
And what I really want is somebody who has worked for 20, 30 years being able to retire with some dignity and some respect. (Applause.) What I really want is a family that they have the capacity to save so that when their child is ready to go to college, they know they can help and that it’s affordable, and that that child is not going to be burdened down with debt. That’s the measure of whether the economy is working; not just how well it’s doing overall, but is it doing well for ordinary folks who are working hard every single day and aren’t always getting a fair shot. That’s what we’re fighting for. That’s why I ran for President. That’s what I’m focused on every day. (Applause.)
And that’s what sometimes Washington forgets. Your lives and what you’re going through day to day — the struggles, but also the opportunities and the hopes and the good things, but sometimes the rough things that happen — that’s more important than some of the phony scandals or the fleeting stories that you see. This is the challenge of our time — how do we make sure we’ve got an economy that is working for everybody?
Now, all of you are doing your part to help bring America back. You’re doing your job. Imagine how much further along we’d be, how much stronger our economy would be, if Congress was doing its job, too. (Applause.) We’d be doing great. Every time I meet some of these folks who have written me letters, we sit down and talk, and they say, what’s going on in Washington? Why —
What they tell me is, if Congress had the same priorities that ordinary families did, if they felt the same sense of urgency about things like the cost of college or the need for increases in the minimum wage, or how we’re making child care more affordable and improving early childhood education — if that’s what they were thinking about, we could help a lot more families. A lot more people would be getting ahead. The economy would be doing better. We could help a lot more families, and we should.
We should be relentlessly focused on what I call an opportunity agenda, one that creates more jobs by investing in what’s always made our economy strong: making sure that we’re on the cutting edge when it comes to clean energy; making sure that we’re rebuilding our infrastructure — our roads, our bridges, our ports, our airports, our locks, our dams. (Applause.) Making sure that advanced manufacturing is happening right here in the United States so we can start bringing manufacturing jobs back to the Midwest and all across the country, jobs that pay a good wage. (Applause.) Investing in research and science that leads to new American industries. Training our workers — really making a job-training program and using our community colleges in ways that allow people to constantly retrain for the new opportunities that are out there and to prepare our kids for the global competition that they’re going to face. Making sure that hard work pays off with higher wages and higher incomes.
If we do all these things, we’re going to strengthen the middle class, we’ll help more people get into the middle class. Businesses, by the way, will do better. If folks have more money in their pocket, then businesses have more customers. (Applause.) If businesses have more customers, they hire more workers. If you hire more workers, they spend more money. You spend more money, businesses have more customers — they hire even more workers. You start moving in the right direction. (Applause.) But it starts not from the top down, it starts from the middle out, the bottom up.
Now, so far this year, Republicans in Congress keep blocking or voting down just about every idea that would have some of the biggest impact on middle-class and working-class families. They’ve said no to raising the minimum wage. They’ve said no to fair pay, making sure that women have the ability to make sure that they’re getting paid the same as men for doing the same job. They’ve said no for fixing our broken immigration system. Rather than investing in education, they actually voted to give another massive tax cut to the wealthiest Americans. And they’ve been pushing to gut the rules that we put in place after the financial crisis to make sure big banks and credit card companies wouldn’t take advantage of consumers or cause another crisis. So they haven’t been that helpful. (Laughter.) They have not been as constructive as I would have hoped. (Laughter.)
And these actions, they come with a cost. When you block policies that would help millions of Americans right now, not only are those families hurt, but the whole economy is hurt. So that’s why this year, my administration, what we’ve said was we want to work with Congress, we want to work with Republicans and Democrats to get things going, but we can’t wait. So if they’re not going to do anything, we’ll do what we can on our own. And we’ve taken more than 40 actions aimed at helping hardworking families like yours. (Applause.) That’s when we act — when your Congress won’t.
So when Congress failed to pass equal pay legislation, I made sure that women got more protection in their fight for fair pay in the workplace, because I think that when women succeed, everybody succeeds. (Applause.) I want my daughters paid the same as your sons for doing the same job. (Applause.)
Congress had the chance to pass a law that would help lower interest rates on student loans. They didn’t pass it. I acted on my own to give millions of Americans a chance to cap their payments, the program that Victor has taken advantage of. I don’t want our young people just saddled with debt before they’ve even gotten started in life. (Applause.)
When it comes to the minimum wage, last week marked five years since the last time the minimum wage went up. Now, you know the cost of living went up. The minimum wage didn’t go up. So I went ahead on my own. When it came to federal contractors, I said, if you want to get a federal contract, you’ve got to pay your workers at least $10.10 an hour. (Applause.) And I’ve been trying to work with governors and mayors, and in some cases with business owners, just calling them up directly. How about giving your folks a raise? And some of them have done it.
And since I had first asked Congress to raise the minimum wage, businesses like the Gap — you’ve got 13 states and D.C. — they’ve gone ahead and raised their minimum wage. It makes a difference in people’s lives. (Applause.) And, by the way, here’s something interesting: The states that have increased their minimum wages this year, they’ve seen higher job growth than the states that didn’t increase their minimum wage. (Applause.) So remember, you give them a little bit more money, businesses have more customers. They got more customers, they make more profit. They make more profit, what do they do? They hire more workers. America deserves a raise, and it’s good for everybody.
So some of the things we’re doing without Congress are making a difference, but we could do so much more if Congress would just come on and help out a little bit. (Applause.) Just come on. Come on and help out a little bit. Stop being mad all the time. (Applause.) Stop just hating all the time. Come on. (Applause.) Let’s get some work done together. (Applause.)
They did pass this workforce training act, and it was bipartisan. There were Republicans and Democrats, and everybody was all pleased. They came, we had a bill signing, and they were all in their suits. I said, doesn’t this feel good? (Laughter.) We’re doing something. It’s like, useful. Nobody is shouting at each other. (Laughter.) It was really nice. I said, let’s do this again. Let’s do it more often. (Applause.)
I know they’re not that happy that I’m President, but that’s okay. (Laughter.) Come on. I’ve only got a couple of years left. Come on, let’s get some work done. Then you can be mad at the next President.
Look, we’ve got just today and tomorrow until Congress leaves town for a month. And we’ve still got some serious work to do. We’ve still got a chance to — we got to put people to work rebuilding roads and bridges. And the Highway Trust Fund is running out of money; we got to get that done. We’ve got to get some resources to fight wildfires out West. That’s a serious situation. We need more resources to deal with the situation in the southern part of the border with some of those kids. We got to be able to deal with that in a proper way. (Applause.)
So there’s a bunch of stuff that needs to get done. Unfortunately, I think the main vote — correct me if I’m wrong here, Congressman — the main vote that they’ve scheduled for today is whether or not they decide to sue me for doing my job.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, no — first of all, here’s something I always say — do not boo, vote. Booing doesn’t help. Voting helps. (Applause.)
But think about this — they have announced that they’re going to sue me for taking executive actions to help people. So they’re mad because I’m doing my job. And, by the way, I’ve told them — I said, I’d be happy to do it with you. So the only reason I’m doing it on my own is because you don’t do anything. (Applause.) But if you want, let’s work together.
I mean, everybody recognizes this is a political stunt, but it’s worse than that, because every vote they’re taking like that means a vote they’re not taking to actually help you. When they have taken 50 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, that was time that could have been spent working constructively to help you on some things. (Applause.) And, by the way, you know who is paying for this suit they’re going to file? You.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: No!
THE PRESIDENT: No, no — you’re paying for it. And it’s estimated that by the time the thing was done, I would have already left office. So it’s not a productive thing to do.
But here’s what I want people to remember. Every single day, as depressing sometimes as what goes on in Washington may be, I see the inherent goodness and generosity of the American people. I see it every day. I see it in all of you. I saw it in the four people that I had dinner with last night.
In addition to Victor, one guy who joined us was a guy named Mark Turner. He works with high schools dropouts to help get them back on track. He used to be a successful corporate executive, decided he wanted to give something back. (Applause.) You got Valerie McCaw. Valerie is a single mom, engineer, owns a small business. She’s doing great things. Even though sometimes it’s a struggle making sure she keeps her business afloat, she’s persevered and is helping her son get his college education. Then you got Becky Forrest. She’s a fireplug. She’s president of the Town Fork Creek Neighborhood Association. She’s got so many things going on — after-school programs and mentoring programs, and basketball leagues, and all kinds of things at a community center — I couldn’t keep track of all of them. (Laughter.)
And to listen to them talk, it made you optimistic. It reminded you there are good people out here. Everybody is out there trying to do their best, trying to look after their families, trying to raise their kids, trying to give something back — working with their church, working with their synagogues, working with their places of faith. Just trying to give something back and give some meaning to their lives. And they’re responsible. And we all make mistakes and we all have regrets, but generally speaking, people are decent.
And so the question is, how can we do a better job at capturing that spirit in Washington, in our government? The American people are working harder than ever to support families, to strengthen communities. And so instead of suing me for doing my job, let’s — I want Congress to do its job and make life a little better for the Americans who sent them there in the first place. (Applause.) Stop posturing.
And, by the way, there’s one place to start. I talked about this last week, but I want to talk about this a little more. Right now, there’s a loophole in the tax code that lets a small but growing group of corporations leave the country; they declare themselves no longer American companies just to get out of paying their fair share of taxes — even though most of their operations are here, they’ve always been American companies, they took advantage of all the benefits of being an American company, but now their accountant has convinced them maybe they can get out of paying some taxes.
They’re renouncing their citizenship even though they’re keeping most of their business here. I mean, it’s just an accounting trick, but it hurts our country’s finances, and it adds to the deficit and sticks you with the tab — because if they’re not paying their share and stashing their money offshore, you don’t have that option. It ain’t right. Not only is it not right, it ain’t right. (Laughter and applause.) It ain’t right. I hope everybody is clear on the distinction. There are some things are not right. And then there’s some things that just ain’t right. (Laughter and applause.) And this ain’t right. (Laughter.)
I mean, you don’t have accountants figuring all this stuff out for you, trying to game the system. These companies shouldn’t either. And they shouldn’t turn their back on the country that made their success possible. And, by the way, this can be fixed. For the last two years I’ve put forward plans to cut corporate taxes, close loopholes, make it more reliable, make it clearer. And to Republicans, I say, join with me. Let’s work to close this unpatriotic tax loophole for good. Let’s use the savings that we get from closing the loophole to invest in things like education that are good for everybody.
Don’t double down on top-down economics. Let’s really fight to make sure that everybody gets a chance and, by the way, that everybody plays by the same rules. (Applause.) We could do so much more if we got that kind of economic patriotism that says we rise or fall as one nation and as one people. And that’s what Victor believes.
When Victor wrote me his letter, he said, “I believe, regardless of political party, we can all do something to help our citizens to have a chance at a job, have food in their stomachs, have access to great education and health care.” That’s what economic patriotism is. (Applause.) That’s what we should all be working on.
Instead of tax breaks for folks who don’t need them, let’s give tax breaks to working families to help them pay for child care and college. Don’t reward companies shipping jobs overseas; let’s give tax breaks to companies investing right here in Missouri, right here in the Midwest. (Applause.) Let’s give every citizen access to preschool and college and affordable health care. And let’s make sure women get a fair wage. (Applause.) Let’s make sure anybody who is working full-time isn’t living in poverty. (Applause.)
These are not un-American ideas; these are patriotic ideas. This is how we built America. (Applause.)
So just remember this: The hardest thing to do is to bring about real change. It’s hard. You’ve got a stubborn status quo. And folks in Washington, sometimes they’re focused on everything but your concerns. And there are special interests and there are lobbyists, and they’re paid to maintain the status quo that’s working for somebody. And they’re counting on you getting cynical, so you don’t vote and you don’t get involved, and people just say, you know what, none of this is going to make a difference. And the more you do that, then the more power the special interests have, and the more entrenched the status quo becomes.
You can’t afford to be cynical. Cynicism is fashionable sometimes. You see it all over our culture, all over TV; everybody likes just putting stuff down and being cynical and being negative, and that shows somehow that you’re sophisticated and you’re cool. You know what — cynicism didn’t put a man on the moon. Cynicism didn’t win women the right to vote. Cynicism did not get a Civil Rights Act signed. Cynicism has never won a war. Cynicism has never cured a disease. Cynicism has never started a business. Cynicism has never fed a young mind. (Applause.)
I do not believe in a cynical America; I believe in an optimistic America that is making progress. (Applause.) And I believe despite unyielding opposition, there are workers right now who have jobs who didn’t have them before because of what we’ve done; and folks who got health care who didn’t have it because of the work that we’ve done; and students who are going to college who couldn’t afford it before; and troops who’ve come home after tour after tour of duty because of what we’ve done. (Applause.)
You don’t have time to be cynical. Hope is a better choice. (Applause.) That’s what I need you for.
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.)
11:39 A.M. CDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 30, 2014