OTD in History… July 15, 1979, President Jimmy Carter delivers the Malaise Speech

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OTD in History… July 15, 1979, President Jimmy Carter delivers the Malaise Speech

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

On this day in history July 15, 1979, President Jimmy Carter delivered an address from the White House to the nation on “Energy and National Goals” focusing on the energy and oil crisis, Carter, however, indicated Americans are suffering a “crisis of confidence,” and the speech later became known as “The Malaise Speech.” In 1973, OPEC’s (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) in the Middle East cut oil production creating a shortage of oil and gasoline in the United States, the country was also suffering from a recession and rising inflation. Carter believed the problem was bigger than the economy and emphasized America’s “crisis in confidence” in his address before discussing energy policy and possible solutions including alternative energy sources.

After a Camp David meeting with “business, labor, educational, political and religious leaders,” Carter concluded the real problem was Americans’ lack of “moral and spiritual confidence,” and materialism and the country were no longer the “world’s leaders” in “progress.” Carter also believed that politics was “fundamental threat to American democracy.” One particular line in the speech stands out, President Carter expressed, “The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.” Although Carter never mentioned the word malaise, that line led the speech to be known as the “Malaise Speech.” Carter concluded in the nation finds their “common purpose” and restores “American values” then “Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this Nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy, we can win for our Nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.”

The public responded positively to Carter’s speech but within a few days, he fired a number of members of his cabinet including his Secretary of Energy, the crisis of confidence turned into a lack of confidence in Carter’s administration by the American public. Historian Kevin Mattson argues in his book “What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?”: Jimmy Carter, America’s “malaise,” and the Speech That Should Have Changed the Country, “Jimmy Carter had grown increasingly convinced that Americans had to face up to the energy crisis, but they only could do this if they faced up to the crisis in their own values. He tried to push the energy crisis on to a kind of moral and civic plane, and the speech was used to unify around a sense of civic sacrifice.”

To solve the energy crisis, Carter looked to “deregulate the price of domestic oil” adding a windfall profits tax, and creating “synthetic fuels.” In less than a year later, Congress passed “The Energy Security Act” and created the Synthetic Fuels Corporation. Historians Diane and Scott Kaufman call the bill, the “most sweeping energy legislation in the nation’s history.” Carter’s policies cut American energy consumption by 10 percent and the use of foreign oil by half by 1983. In an election year, Carter’s success was not enough to save his presidency, Republican Ronald Reagan capitalized on Carter’s negativity, and his conservative ideology appealed to the voters in its plan to reduce the “bloated government bureaucracy” Carter found central to the nation’s crisis.

SOURCES AND READ MORE

Kaufman, Diane, and Scott Kaufman. Historical Dictionary of the Carter Era. Lanham : The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2013.

Mattson, Kevin. “What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?”: Jimmy Carter, America’s “malaise,” and the Speech That Should Have Changed the Country.Bloomsbury: New York, 2009.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

Address to the Nation on Energy and National Goals: “The Malaise Speech”

July 15, 1979

Good evening.

This is a special night for me. Exactly 3 years ago, on July 15, 1976, I accepted the nomination of my party to run for President of the United States. I promised you a President who is not isolated from the people, who feels your pain, and who shares your dreams and who draws his strength and his wisdom from you.

During the past 3 years I’ve spoken to you on many occasions about national concerns, the energy crisis, reorganizing the Government, our Nation’s economy, and issues of war and especially peace. But over those years the subjects of the speeches, the talks, and the press conferences have become increasingly narrow, focused more and more on what the isolated world of Washington thinks is important. Gradually, you’ve heard more and more about what the Government thinks or what the Government should be doing and less and less about our Nation’s hopes, our dreams, and our vision of the future.

Ten days ago I had planned to speak to you again about a very important subject–energy. For the fifth time I would have described the urgency of the problem and laid out a series of legislative recommendations to the Congress. But as I was preparing to speak, I began to ask myself the same question that I now know has been troubling many of you. Why have we not been able to get together as a nation to resolve our serious energy problem?

It’s clear that the true problems of our Nation are much deeper—deeper than gasoline lines or energy shortages, deeper even than inflation or recession. And I realize more than ever that as President I need your help. So, I decided to reach out and listen to the voices of America.

I invited to Camp David people from almost every segment of our society–business and labor, teachers and preachers, Governors, mayors, and private citizens. And then I left Camp David to listen to other Americans, men and women like you. It has been an extraordinary 10 days, and I want to share with you what I’ve heard.

First of all, I got a lot of personal advice. Let me quote a few of the typical comments that I wrote down.

This from a southern Governor: “Mr. President, you are not leading this NationпїЅ you’re just managing the Government.”

“You don’t see the people enough any more.”

“Some of your Cabinet members don’t seem loyal. There is not enough discipline among your disciples.”

“Don’t talk to us about politics or the mechanics of government, but about an understanding of our common good.”

“Mr. President, we’re in trouble. Talk to us about blood and sweat and tears.”

“If you lead, Mr. President, we will follow.”

Many people talked about themselves and about the condition of our Nation. This from a young woman in Pennsylvania: “I feel so far from government. I feel like ordinary people are excluded from political power.”

And this from a young Chicano: “Some of us have suffered from recession all our lives.”

“Some people have wasted energy, but others haven’t had anything to waste.”

And this from a religious leader: “No material shortage can touch the important things like God’s love for us or our love for one another.”

And I like this one particularly from a black woman who happens to be the mayor of a small Mississippi town: “The big-shots are not the only ones who are important. Remember, you can’t sell anything on Wall Street unless someone digs it up somewhere else first.”

This kind of summarized a lot of other statements: “Mr. President, we are confronted with a moral and a spiritual crisis.”

Several of our discussions were on energy, and I have a notebook full of comments and advice. I’ll read just a few.

“We can’t go on consuming 40 percent more energy than we produce. When we import oil we are also importing inflation plus unemployment.”

“We’ve got to use what we have. The Middle East has only 5 percent of the world’s energy, but the United States has 24 percent.”

And this is one of the most vivid statements: “Our neck is stretched over the fence and OPEC has a knife.”

“There will be other cartels and other shortages. American wisdom and courage right now can set a path to follow in the future.”

This was a good one: “Be bold, Mr. President. We may make mistakes, but we are ready to experiment.”

And this one from a labor leader got to the heart of it: “The real issue is freedom. We must deal with the energy problem on a war footing.”

And the last that I’ll read: “When we enter the moral equivalent of war, Mr. President, don’t issue us BB guns.”

These 10 days confirmed my belief in the decency and the strength and the wisdom of the American people, but it also bore out some of my longstanding concerns about our Nation’s underlying problems.

I know, of course, being President, that government actions and legislation can be very important. That’s why I’ve worked hard to put my campaign promises into law–and I have to admit, with just mixed success. But after listening to the American people I have been reminded again that all the legislation in the world can’t fix what’s wrong with America. So, I want to speak to you first tonight about a subject even more serious than energy or inflation. I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.

I do not mean our political and civil liberties. They will endure. And I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with unmatched economic power and military might.

The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our Nation.

The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.

The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July. It is the idea which founded our Nation and has guided our development as a people. Confidence in the future has supported everything else–public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States. Confidence has defined our course and has served as a link between generations. We’ve always believed in something called progress. We’ve always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own.

Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy. As a people we know our past and we are proud of it. Our progress has been part of the living history of America, even the world. We always believed that we were part of a great movement of humanity itself called democracy, involved in the search for freedom, and that belief has always strengthened us in our purpose. But just as we are losing our confidence in the future, we are also beginning to close the door on our past.

In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.

The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next 5 years will be worse than the past 5 years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.

As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning.

These changes did not happen overnight. They’ve come upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy.

We were sure that ours was a nation of the ballot, not the bullet, until the murders of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. We were taught that our armies were always invincible and our causes were always just, only to suffer the agony of Vietnam. We respected the Presidency as a place of honor until the shock of Watergate.

We remember when the phrase “sound as a dollar” was an expression of absolute dependability, until 10 years of inflation began to shrink our dollar and our savings. We believed that our Nation’s resources were limitless until 1973, when we had to face a growing dependence on foreign oil.

These wounds are still very deep. They have never been healed.

Looking for a way out of this crisis, our people have turned to the Federal Government and found it isolated from the mainstream of our Nation’s life. Washington, D.C., has become an island. The gap between our citizens and our Government has never been so wide. The people are looking for honest answers, not easy answers; clear leadership, not false claims and evasiveness and politics as usual.

What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.

Often you see paralysis and stagnation and drift. You don’t like it, and neither do I. What can we do?

First of all, we must face the truth, and then we can change our course. We simply must have faith in each other, faith in our ability to govern ourselves, and faith in the future of this Nation. Restoring that faith and that confidence to America is now the most important task we face. It is a true challenge of this generation of Americans.

One of the visitors to Camp David last week put it this way: “We’ve got to stop crying and start sweating, stop talking and start walking, stop cursing and start praying. The strength we need will not come from the White House, but from every house in America.”

We know the strength of America. We are strong. We can regain our unity. We can regain our confidence. We are the heirs of generations who survived threats much more powerful and awesome than those that challenge us now. Our fathers and mothers were strong men and women who shaped a new society during the Great Depression, who fought world wars, and who carved out a new charter of peace for the world.

We ourselves are the same Americans who just 10 years ago put a man on the Moon. We are the generation that dedicated our society to the pursuit of human rights and equality. And we are the generation that will win the war on the energy problem and in that process rebuild the unity and confidence of America.

We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I’ve warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.

All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our Nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem.

Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this Nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our Nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.

In little more than two decades we’ve gone from a position of energy independence to one in which almost half the oil we use comes from foreign countries, at prices that are going through the roof. Our excessive dependence on OPEC has already taken a tremendous toll on our economy and our people. This is the direct cause of the long lines which have made millions of you spend aggravating hours waiting for gasoline. It’s a cause of the increased inflation and unemployment that we now face. This intolerable dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic independence and the very security of our Nation.

The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them:

What I have to say to you now about energy is simple and vitally important.

Point one: I am tonight setting a clear goal for the energy policy of the United States. Beginning this moment, this Nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977–never. From now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation. The generation-long growth in our dependence on foreign oil will be stopped dead in its tracks right now and then reversed as we move through the 1980’s, for I am tonight setting the further goal of cutting our dependence on foreign oil by one-half by the end of the next decade–a saving of over 4 1/2 million barrels of imported oil per day.

Point two: To ensure that we meet these targets, I will use my Presidential authority to set import quotas. I’m announcing tonight that for 1979 and 1980, I will forbid the entry into this country of one drop of foreign oil more than these goals allow. These quotas will ensure a reduction in imports even below the ambitious levels we set at the recent Tokyo summit.

Point three: To give us energy security, I am asking for the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our Nation’s history to develop America’s own alternative sources of fuel–from coal, from oil shale, from plant products for gasohol, from unconventional gas, from the Sun.

I propose the creation of an energy security corporation to lead this effort to replace 2 1/2 million barrels of imported oil per day by 1990. The corporation will issue up to $5 billion in energy bonds, and I especially want them to be in small denominations so that average Americans can invest directly in America’s energy security.

Just as a similar synthetic rubber corporation helped us win World War II, so will we mobilize American determination and ability to win the energy war. Moreover, I will soon submit legislation to Congress calling for the creation of this Nation’s first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20 percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000.

These efforts will cost money, a lot of money, and that is why Congress must enact the windfall profits tax without delay. It will be money well spent. Unlike the billions of dollars that we ship to foreign countries to pay for foreign oil, these funds will be paid by Americans to Americans. These funds will go to fight, not to increase, inflation and unemployment.

Point four: I’m asking Congress to mandate, to require as a matter of law, that our Nation’s utility companies cut their massive use of oil by 50 percent within the next decade and switch to other fuels, especially coal, our most abundant energy source.

Point five: To make absolutely certain that nothing stands in the way of achieving these goals, I will urge Congress to create an energy mobilization board which, like the War Production Board in World War II, will have the responsibility and authority to cut through the red tape, the delays, and the endless roadblocks to completing key energy projects.

We will protect our environment. But when this Nation critically needs a refinery or a pipeline, we will build it.

Point six: I’m proposing a bold conservation program to involve every State, county, and city and every average American in our energy battle. This effort will permit you to build conservation into your homes and your lives at a cost you can afford.

I ask Congress to give me authority for mandatory conservation and for standby gasoline rationing. To further conserve energy, I’m proposing tonight an extra $10 billion over the next decade to strengthen our public transportation systems. And I’m asking you for your good and for your Nation’s security to take no unnecessary trips, to use carpools or public transportation whenever you can, to park your car one extra day per week, to obey the speed limit, and to set your thermostats to save fuel. Every act of energy conservation like this is more than just common sense–I tell you it is an act of patriotism.

Our Nation must be fair to the poorest among us, so we will increase aid to needy Americans to cope with rising energy prices. We often think of conservation only in terms of sacrifice. In fact, it is the most painless and immediate way of rebuilding our Nation’s strength. Every gallon of oil each one of us saves is a new form of production. It gives us more freedom, more confidence, that much more control over our own lives.

So, the solution of our energy crisis can also help us to conquer the crisis of the spirit in our country. It can rekindle our sense of unity, our confidence in the future, and give our Nation and all of us individually a new sense of purpose.

You know we can do it. We have the natural resources. We have more oil in our shale alone than several Saudi Arabias. We have more coal than any nation on Earth. We have the world’s highest level of technology. We have the most skilled work force, with innovative genius, and I firmly believe that we have the national will to win this war.

I do not promise you that this struggle for freedom will be easy. I do not promise a quick way out of our Nation’s problems, when the truth is that the only way out is an all-out effort. What I do promise you is that I will lead our fight, and I will enforce fairness in our struggle, and I will ensure honesty. And above all, I will act.

We can manage the short-term shortages more effectively and we will, but there are no short-term solutions to our long-range problems. There is simply no way to avoid sacrifice.

Twelve hours from now I will speak again in Kansas City, to expand and to explain further our energy program. Just as the search for solutions to our energy shortages has now led us to a new awareness of our Nation’s deeper problems, so our willingness to work for those solutions in energy can strengthen us to attack those deeper problems.

I will continue to travel this country, to hear the people of America. You can help me to develop a national agenda for the 1980’s. I will listen and I will act. We will act together. These were the promises I made 3 years ago, and I intend to keep them.

Little by little we can and we must rebuild our confidence. We can spend until we empty our treasuries, and we may summon all the wonders of science. But we can succeed only if we tap our greatest resources–America’s people, America’s values, and America’s confidence.

I have seen the strength of America in the inexhaustible resources of our people. In the days to come, let us renew that strength in the struggle for an energy secure nation.

In closing, let me say this: I will do my best, but I will not do it alone. Let your voice be heard. Whenever you have a chance, say something good about our country. With God’s help and for the sake of our Nation, it is time for us to join hands in America. Let us commit ourselves together to a rebirth of the American spirit. Working together with our common faith we cannot fail.

Thank you and good night.

Citation: Jimmy Carter: “Address to the Nation on Energy and National Goals: “The Malaise Speech”,” July 15, 1979. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=32596.

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Full Text Obama Presidency March 10, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Discusses Rising Gas Prices & Investing in a Clean Energy Future

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama talks about how companies are creating more jobs in the United States, making better products than ever before, and how many are developing new technologies that are reducing our dependence on foreign oil and saving families money at the pump.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address

Weekly Address: Investing in a Clean Energy Future

Source: WH, 3-10-12

Speaking from a factory in Virginia, President Obama talks about how companies are creating more jobs in the United States, making better products than ever before, and how many are developing new technologies that are reducing our dependence on foreign oil and saving families money at the pump.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Investing in a Clean Energy Future

In his weekly address, President Obama spoke to the American people from a factory in Petersburg, Virginia about the growing trend of companies creating more jobs in the United States, and also making better products than ever before.  The new technologies they are developing are playing an important role in reducing our dependence on foreign oil and saving families money at the pump. Under the Obama Administration, domestic oil and gas production is up, and we are currently producing more oil at home than any time in the last eight years, but with only 2% of the world’s oil reserves, we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.  We need an all-of-the-above strategy that focuses on American-made energy, as well as increasing the fuel efficiency of the cars we drive, saving families money and dramatically reducing our reliance on foreign oil. The President also called on Congress to end the $4 billion in subsidies to oil companies each year so that we can invest in clean energy technologies.  There is no silver bullet to solve high gas prices, but together we can work to overcome our energy challenges as we create new American jobs.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Petersburg, Virginia
March 10, 2012

Hi, everybody. I’m speaking to you this week from a factory in Petersburg, Virginia, where they’re bringing on more than 100 new workers to build parts for the next generation of jet engines.

It’s a story that’s happening more frequently across the country. Our businesses just added 233,000 jobs last month – for a total of nearly four million new jobs over the last two years. More companies are choosing to bring jobs back and invest in America. Manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s, and we’re building more things to sell to the rest of the world stamped with three proud words: Made in America.

And it’s not just that we’re building stuff. We’re building better stuff. The engine parts manufactured here in Petersburg will go into next-generation planes that are lighter, faster, and more fuel-efficient.

That last part is important. Because whether you’re paying for a plane ticket, or filling up your gas tank, technology that helps us get more miles to the gallon is one of the easiest ways to save money and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

The recent spike in gas prices has been another painful reminder of why we have to invest in this technology.   As usual, politicians have been rolling out their three-point plans for two-dollar gas: drill, drill, and drill some more.  Well, my response is, we have been drilling.  Under my Administration, oil production in America is at an eight-year high.  We’ve quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs, and opened up millions of acres for drilling.

But you and I both know that with only 2% of the world’s oil reserves, we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices – not when consume 20 percent of the world’s oil. We need an all-of-the-above strategy that relies less on foreign oil and more on American-made energy – solar, wind, natural gas, biofuels, and more.

That’s the strategy we’re pursuing.  It’s why I went to a plant in North Carolina earlier this week, where they’re making trucks that run on natural gas, and hybrid trucks that go further on a single tank.

And it’s why I’ve been focused on fuel efficient cars since the day I took office. Over the last few years, the annual number of miles driven by Americans has stayed roughly the same, but the total amount of gas we use has been going down. In other words, we’re getting more bang for our buck.

If we accelerate that trend, we can help drivers save a significant amount of money. That’s why, after 30 years of inaction, we finally put in place new standards that will make sure our cars average nearly 55 miles per gallon by the middle of the next decade – nearly double what they get today. This wasn’t easy: we had to bring together auto companies, and unions, and folks who don’t ordinarily see eye to eye. But it was worth it.

Because these cars aren’t some pie in the sky solution that’s years away. They’re being built right now – by American workers, in factories right here in the U.S.A. Every year, our cars and trucks will be able to go further and use less fuel, and pretty soon, you’ll be able to fill up every two weeks instead of every week – something that, over time, will save the typical family more than $8,000 at the pump.  We’ll reduce our oil consumption by more than 12 billion barrels. That’s a future worth investing in.

So we have a choice.  Right now, some folks in Washington would rather spend another $4 billion on subsidies to oil companies each year. Well you know what?  We’ve been handing out these kinds of taxpayer giveaways for nearly a century.  And outside of Congress, does anyone really think that’s still a good idea?  I want this Congress to stop the giveaways to an oil industry that’s never been more profitable, and invest in a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising.  We should be investing in the technology that’s building the cars and trucks and jets that will prevent us from dealing with these high gas prices year after year after year.

Ending this cycle of rising gas prices won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. But that’s why you sent us to Washington – to solve tough problems like this one. So I’m going to keep doing everything I can to help you save money on gas, both right now and in the future. I hope politicians from both sides of the aisle join me. Let’s put aside the bumper-sticker slogans, remember why we’re here, and get things done for the American people.

Thank you, God bless you, and have a great weekend.

Full Text Obama Presidency March 3, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Discusses the Resurgence of the American Auto Industry, the Creation of Fuel Efficient Cars that Take Control of Our Energy Future & and Ending Oil & Gas Subsidies

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama talks about how the American auto industry is back and creating cars that are better than ever — and says we need to fight for a clean energy future that is within our reach.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 3/2/12

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Weekly Address: Taking Control of Our Energy Future

Source: WH, 3-3-12

President Obama talks about how the American auto industry is back and creating cars that are better than ever — and says we need to fight for a clean energy future that is within our reach.

 

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Taking Control of Our Energy Future

In this week’s address, President Obama told the American people that three years after helping the auto industry save more than one million jobs, the American auto industry is back and creating cars that are even better than before.  The entire industry has added more than 200,000 jobs in the past two and a half years, and thanks to the Administration’s new fuel efficiency standards, these companies are making cars that will save families money at the pump and help reduce our reliance on foreign oil.  While this will help, there is no silver bullet for solving the problem of higher gas prices, and Americans understand that with only 2% of the world’s oil reserves, we cannot simply drill our way to lower gas prices.  Under President Obama, our use of clean, renewable energy has nearly doubled, but we must also end the $4 billion in tax breaks that oil companies receive each year while collecting record profits.  The President asks everyone to tell their elected officials to stop this corporate welfare and fight for a clean energy future that is within our reach.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hi, everybody.  Earlier this week, I spent some time with the hardworking men and women of the American auto industry, who are busy writing a new chapter in America’s story.

Just a few years ago, their industry was shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs.  Two of the Big Three – GM and Chrysler – were on the brink of failure.  If we had let this great American industry collapse – if we had let Detroit go bankrupt – more than one million Americans would have lost their jobs in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

I refused to let that happen.  These jobs are worth more than just a paycheck – they’re a source of pride and a ticket to the middle class.  These companies are worth more than just the cars they build – they’re a symbol of American innovation and a source of our manufacturing might.

So in exchange for help, we demanded responsibility.  We got the companies to retool and restructure.  Everyone sacrificed.  And three years later, the American auto industry is back.

Today, GM is the number one automaker in the world.  Chrysler is growing faster in America than any other car company.  Ford is investing billions in American plants and factories, and plans to bring thousands of jobs back home.  All told, the entire industry has added more than 200,000 new jobs over the past two and a half years.

And they’re not just building cars again – they’re building better cars.  Thanks to new fuel efficiency standards we put in place, they’re building cars that will average nearly 55 miles per gallon by the middle of the next decade.  That’s almost double what they get today.  That means folks will be able to fill up every two weeks instead of every week, saving the typical family more than $8,000 at the pump over time.  That’s a big deal, especially as families are yet again feeling the pinch from rising gas prices.

So what’s happening in Detroit will make a difference.  But it won’t solve everything.  There’s no silver bullet for avoiding spikes in gas prices every year.  There’s no shortcut to taking control of our energy future.  We have to pursue an all-of-the-above strategy that helps develop every source of American energy.  And we have to do it now.

The good news is, we’ve been making progress.  Take a look at this chart.  Six years ago, 60% of the oil we used was imported.  Since I took office, America’s dependence on foreign oil has decreased every single year.  In fact, in 2010, for the first time in thirteen years, less than half the petroleum we consumed was imported.  Part of that is because we’re producing more oil here at home than at any time in the last eight years.

But we can’t just drill our way out of this problem.   While we consume 20 percent of the world’s oil, we only have 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves.  We’ve got to develop new technology that will help us use new forms of energy.  That’s been a priority of mine as President.  And because of the investments we’ve made, our use of clean, renewable energy has nearly doubled – and thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.

Now we need to keep at it.  And to do that, we need to make the right choices.

Here’s one we can make right now.  Every year, $4 billion of your tax dollars go to subsidizing the oil industry.  These are the same companies making record profits – tens of billions of dollars a year.  I don’t think oil companies need more corporate welfare.  Congress should end this taxpayer giveaway.  If you agree with me, I’m asking you to e-mail, call, or Tweet your representative.  Tell them to stop fighting for oil companies.  Tell them to start fighting for working families.  Tell them to fight for the clean energy future that’s within our reach.  Because the sooner we all get started, the sooner we’ll get there together.  Thanks and have a great weekend.

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