Full Text Political Transcripts October 20, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Speech Defending the Affordable Care Act Obamacare



Remarks by the President on the Affordable Care Act

Source: WH, 10-20-16

Miami Dade College
Miami, Florida

1:51 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Miami!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Well, everybody have a seat.  Have a seat.  It is good to see all of you!  It’s good to be back at Miami-Dade!  (Applause.) One of my favorite institutions!  (Applause.)  Love this school.

I want to thank your longtime president and great friend, Eduardo J. Padrón.  (Applause.)  And to all the faculty and staff, and of course, most importantly, the students, for hosting me — I want to say how grateful I am.  I want to thank the wonderful elected officials who are here today.  I’m going to just point out two outstanding members of Congress — Debbie Wasserman Schultz — (applause) — and Ted Deutch.  (Applause.)

So this is one of my last visits here as President.  Now, once I’m not President —


THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, the good news is, once I’m no longer President I can come more often.  (Applause.)  Right now, usually I can only come to Florida when I’m working.  But when I’m out of office, I can come here for fun.  (Laughter.)

But the first thing I want to say is thank you for your support, and thank you for the opportunity and the privilege you’ve given me to serve these past eight years.  I remember standing just a few blocks north of here in the closing days of the 2008 campaign.  And at that point, we were already realizing that we were in the midst of the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes.  We didn’t know where the bottom would be.  We were still in the middle of two wars.  Over 150,000 of our troops were overseas.  But thanks to the hard work and the determination of the American people, when I come here today the story is different.

Working together, we’ve cut the unemployment rate in Florida by more than half.  Across the country, we turned years of job losses into the longest streak of job creation on record.  We slashed our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our production of renewable energy.  Incomes are rising again — they rose more last year than any time ever recorded.  Poverty is falling — fell more last year than any time since 1968.  Our graduation rates from high school are at record highs.  College enrollment is significantly higher than it was when we came into office.  Marriage equality is a reality in all 50 states.  (Applause.)

So we’ve been busy.  This is why I’ve got gray hair.  (Laughter.)  But we did one other thing.  We fought to make sure that in America, health care is not just a privilege, but a right for every single American.  And that’s what I want to talk about today.  (Applause.)  That’s what I want to talk about here today.

You’ve heard a lot about Obamacare, as it’s come to be known.  You heard a lot about it in the six and a half years since I signed it into law.  And some of the things you heard might even be true.  But one thing I want to start with is just reminding people why it is that we fought for health reform in the first place.  Because it was one of the key motivators in my campaign.

And it wasn’t just because rising health costs were eating into workers’ paychecks and straining budgets for businesses and for governments.  It wasn’t just because, before the law was passed, insurance companies could just drop your coverage because you got sick, right at the time you needed insurance most.

It was because of you.  It was because of the stories that I was hearing all around the country, and right here in Florida — hearing from people who had been forced to fight a broken health care system at the same time as they were fighting to get well.

It was about children like Zoe Lihn, who needed heart surgery when she was just 15 hours old — just a baby, just a infant.  And she was halfway to hitting her lifetime insurance cap before she was old enough to walk.  Her parents had no idea how they could possibly make sure that she continued to make progress.  And today, because of the Affordable Care Act, Zoe is in first grade and she’s loving martial arts.  And she’s got a bright future ahead of her.  (Applause.)

We fought so hard for health reform because of women like Amanda Heidel, who lives here in South Florida.  As a girl, she was diagnosed with diabetes — and that’s a disease with costs that can add up quickly if you don’t have insurance, can eat away at your dreams.  But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Amanda got to stay on her parents’ plan after college.  When she turned 26, Amanda went online, she shopped for an affordable health insurance plan that covered her medications.  Today, she’s pursuing a doctorate in psychology.  And Amanda said that the Affordable Care Act “has given me the security and freedom to choose how I live my life.”  The freedom and security to choose how I live my life.  That’s what this was all about.

Zoe and Amanda, the people who I get letters from every single day describing what it meant not to fear that if they got sick, or a member of their family got sick, if they, heaven forbid, were in an accident, that somehow they could lose everything.

So because of this law, because of Obamacare, another 20 million Americans now know the financial security of health insurance.  So do another 3 million children, thanks in large part to the Affordable Care Act and the improvements, the enhancements that we made to the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  And the net result is that never in American history has the uninsured rate been lower than it is today.  Never.  (Applause.)  And that’s true across the board.  It’s dropped among women.  It’s dropped among Latinos and African Americans, every other demographic group.  It’s worked.

Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect.  No law is.  And it’s true that a lot of the noise around the health care debate, ever since we tried to pass this law, has been nothing more than politics.  But we’ve also always known — and I have always said — that for all the good that the Affordable Care Act is doing right now — for as big a step forward as it was — it’s still just a first step.  It’s like building a starter home — or buying a starter home.  It’s a lot better than not having a home, but you hope that over time you make some improvements.

And in fact, since we first signed the law, we’ve already taken a number of steps to improve it.  And we can do even more  — but only if we put aside all the politics rhetoric, all the partisanship, and just be honest about what’s working, what needs fixing and how we fix it.

So that’s what I want to do today.  This isn’t kind of a rah-rah speech.  I might get into the details.  I hope you don’t mind.  (Laughter.)

So let’s start with a basic fact.  The majority of Americans do not — let me repeat — do not get health care through the Affordable Care Act.  Eighty percent or so of Americans get health care on the job, through their employer, or they get health care through Medicaid, or they get health care through Medicare.  And so for most Americans, the Affordable Care Act, Obama, has not affected your coverage — except to make it stronger.

Because of the law, you now have free preventive care.  Insurance companies have to offer that in whatever policy they sell.  Because of the law, you now have free checkups for women. Because of the law, you get free mammograms.  (Applause.)  Because of the law, it is harder for insurance companies to discriminate against you because you’re a woman when you get health insurance.  (Applause.)  Because of the law, doctors are finding better ways to perform heart surgeries and delivering healthier babies, and treating chronic disease, and reducing the number of people that, once they’re in the hospital, end up having to return to the hospital.

So you’re getting better quality even though you don’t know that Obamacare is doing it.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thanks, Obama.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thanks, Obama.  (Laughter and applause.)

Because of the law, your annual out-of-pocket spending is capped.  Seniors get discounts on their prescription drugs because of the law.  Young people can stay on their parents’ plan — just like Amanda did — because of the law.  (Applause.)  And Amanda was able to stay on her parents’ plan and then get insurance after she aged out, even though she has what used to be called a preexisting condition — because we made it illegal to discriminate against people with preexisting conditions.  (Applause.)

By the way, before this law, before Obamacare, health insurance rates for everybody — whether you got your insurance on the job, or you were buying it on your own — health insurance rates generally were going up really fast.  This law has actually slowed down the pace of health care inflation.  So, every year premiums have gone up, but they’ve gone up the slowest in 50 years since Obamacare was passed.  In fact, if your family gets insurance through your job, your family is paying, on average, about $3,600 less per year than you would be if the cost trends that had existed before the law were passed had continued.  Think about that.  That’s money in your pocket.

Now, some people may say, well, I’ve seen my copays go up, or my networks have changed.  But these are decisions that are made by your employers.  It’s not because of Obamacare.  They’re not determined by the Affordable Care Act.

So if the Affordable Care Act, if Obamacare hasn’t changed the coverage of the 80 percent of Americans who already had insurance, except to make it a better value, except to make it more reliable, how has the law impacted the other 15 or 20 percent of Americans who didn’t have health insurance through their job, or didn’t qualify for Medicaid, or didn’t qualify for Medicare?

Well, before the Affordable Care Act, frankly, you were probably out of luck.  Either you had to buy health insurance on your own, because you weren’t getting it through the job, and it was wildly expensive, and your premiums were going up all the time, and if you happened to get sick and use the insurance, the insurer the next year could drop you.  And if you had had an illness like cancer or diabetes, or some other chronic disease, you couldn’t buy new insurance because the insurance company’s attitude was, you know what, this is just going to cost us money, we don’t want to insure you.

So if you were trying to buy health insurance on your own, it was either hugely expensive or didn’t provide very effective coverage.  You might buy a policy thinking that it was going to cover you.  It was sort of like when I was young and I bought my first car, I had to buy car insurance.  And I won’t name the insurance company, but I bought the insurance because it was the law, and I got the cheapest one I could get, because I didn’t have any money — and it was a really beat-up car.  (Laughter.)  And I remember somebody rear-ends me, and I call up the insurance company, thinking maybe I can get some help, and they laughed at me.  They’re all like, what, are you kidding?  (Laughter.)  It didn’t provide any coverage other than essentially allowing me to drive.  (Laughter.)

Well, that’s what it was like for a lot of people who didn’t have health insurance on the job.  So that meant that a lot of people just didn’t bother getting health insurance at all.  And when they got sick, they’d have to go to the emergency room.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, that’s true, too.

And so you’re relying on the emergency room, but the emergency room is the most expensive place to get care.  And because you weren’t insured, the hospital would have to give you the care for free, and they would have to then make up for those costs by charging everybody else more money.  So it wasn’t good for anybody.

So what the Affordable Care Act is designed to do is to help those people who were previously either uninsured or underinsured.  And it worked to help those people in two ways.

First, we gave states funding to expand Medicaid to cover more people.  In D.C. and the 31 states that took us up on that, more than 4 million people have coverage who didn’t have it before.  They now have health insurance.

Second, for people who made too much to qualify for Medicaid even after we expanded it, we set up what we call marketplaces on HealthCare.gov, so you could shop for a plan that fits your needs, and then we would give you tax credits to help you buy it.  And most people today can find a plan for less than $75 a month at the HealthCare.gov marketplace when you include the tax credits that government is giving you.  That means it’s less than your cellphone bill — because I know you guys are tweeting a lot — (laughter) — and texting and selfies.  (Laughter.)  And the good news is, is that most people who end up buying their coverage through the marketplaces, using these tax credits, are satisfied with their plans.

So not only did Obamacare do a lot of good for the 80-plus percent of Americans who already had health care, but now it gave a new affordable option to a lot of folks who never had options before.  All told, about another 10 percent of the country now have coverage.

The Affordable Care Act has done what it was designed to do: It gave us affordable health care.

So what’s the problem?  Why is there still such a fuss?  Well, part of the problem is the fact that a Democratic President named Barack Obama passed the law.  (Applause.)  And that’s just the truth.  (Laughter.)  I mean, I worked really, really hard to engage Republicans; took Republican ideas that originally they had praised; said, let’s work together to get this done.  And when they just refused to do anything, we said, all right, we’re going to have to do it with Democrats.  And that’s what we did.

And early on, Republicans just decided to oppose it.  And then they tried to scare people with all kinds of predictions — that it would be a job-killer; that it would force everyone into government-run insurance; that it would lead to rationing; that it would lead to death panels; that it would bankrupt the federal government.  You remember all this.  And despite the fact that all the bad things they predicted have not actually happened — despite the fact that we’ve created more jobs since the bill passed in consecutive months than any time on record — (applause) — despite the fact that the uninsured rate has gone down to its lowest levels ever, despite that fact that it’s actually cost less than anybody anticipated and has shown to be much less disruptive on existing plans that people get through their employers, despite the fact that it saved Medicare over $150 billion — which makes that program more secure — despite all this, it’s been hard, if not impossible, for any Republican to admit it.

They just can’t admit that a lot of good things have happened and the bad things they predicted didn’t happen.  So they just keep on repeating, we’re going to repeal it.  We’re going to repeal it, and we’re going to replace it with something better — even though, six and a half years later, they haven’t  — they still haven’t shown us what it is that they would do that would be better.

But — and this is actually the main reason I’m here — just because a lot of the Republican criticism has proven to be false and politically motivated doesn’t mean that there aren’t some legitimate concerns about how the law is working now.  And the main issue has to do with the folks who still aren’t getting enough help.  Remember, I said 80 percent of people, even before the law passed, already had health insurance.  And then we expanded Medicaid, and we set up the marketplaces, and another 10 percent of people got health insurance.  Well, but that still leaves that last 10 percent.  And the fact that that last 10 percent still has difficulties is something that we’ve got to do something about.

Now, part of the reason for this is, as I already mentioned to you, not every state expanded Medicaid to its citizens, which means that some of the most vulnerable working families that the law was designed to help still haven’t gotten insurance.  As you may have heard, Florida is one of those states.  If your governor could put politics aside —


THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t boo — vote.  (Applause.)

If your governor would just put politics aside and do what’s right, then more than 700,000 Floridians would suddenly have access to coverage.  And, by the way, that would hold down costs for the rest of you, because there would be less uncompensated care in hospitals.  And it means that people who did sign up for the marketplace, who oftentimes may be sicker, qualify for Medicaid and so they’re not raising costs in the marketplace.

In fact, if the 19 states who so far have not expanded Medicaid would just do so, another 4 million people would have coverage right now all across the country.

So that’s step number one.  And that’s, by the way, just completely in the control of these governors.  They could be doing it — right now.  They could do it tomorrow.

Now, the second issue has to do with the marketplaces.  Although the marketplaces are working well in most of the states, there are some states where there’s still not enough competition between insurers.  So if you only have one insurer, they may decide we’re going to jack up rates because we can, because nobody else is offering a better price.

In those states where the governor or legislature is hostile to the ACA, it makes it harder to enroll people because the state is not actively participating in outreach.  And so, as a consequence, in those states enrollment in the plan — especially enrollment of young people — has lagged.

And what that means is that the insurance pool is smaller and it gets a higher percentage of older and sicker people who are signing up — because if you’re sick or you’re old, you’re more likely to say, well, I’m going to sign up, no matter what, because I know I’m going to need it; if you’re young and healthy like you guys, you say, eh, I’m fine, life is good — so you have more older and sicker people signing up, fewer younger and healthier people signing up, and that drives rates up, because the people who use health care most end up being in the insurance pool; people who use it least are not.

And then, in some cases, insurers just set their prices too low at the outset because they didn’t know what the insurance pool was going to look like, and then they started losing money.  And so now they’ve decided to significantly increase premiums in some states.

Now, it’s these premium increases in some of the states in the marketplace that sometimes attracts negative headlines.  Remember, these premium increases won’t impact most of the people who are buying insurance through the marketplace, because even when premiums go up, the tax credits go up to offset the increases.  So people who qualify for tax credits, they may not even notice their premiums went up because the tax credit is covered.

And keep in mind that these premium increases that some of you may have read about have no effect at all if you’re getting health insurance on the job, or through Medicaid or Medicare.  So for the 80 [percent]-plus people who already had health insurance, if your premium is going up, it’s not because of Obamacare.  It’s because of your employer or your insurer — even though sometimes they try to blame Obamacare for why the rates go up.  It’s not because of any policy of the Affordable Care Act that the rates are going up.

But if you are one of the people who doesn’t get health care on the job, doesn’t qualify for Medicaid, doesn’t qualify for Medicare — doesn’t qualify for a tax credit to help you buy insurance,  because maybe you made just a little bit too much money under the law — these premium increases do make insurance less affordable.  And in some states, the premium increases are manageable.  Some are 2 percent or 8 percent, some 20 percent.  But we know there are some states that may see premiums go up by 50 percent or more.

And an extreme example is Arizona, where we expect benchmark premiums will more than double.  Part of this is because Arizona is one of those states that had really low average premiums — among the lowest in the country — so now insurance companies basically are trying to catch up, and they also don’t have a lot of competition there.  And meanwhile, in states like Florida, the failure to expand Medicaid contributes to higher marketplace premiums.  And then there are some other states that just because of the nature of their health care systems, or the fact that they’re rural and people are dispersed, so it’s harder to provide health care, more expensive — they have a tougher time controlling costs generally.

Again, the tax credits in the ACA will protect most consumers from the brunt of these premium increases.  And with the ability to shop around on HealthCare.gov — which works really well now — most people can find plans for prices even lower than this year’s prices.  But there are going to be people who are hurt by premium increases or a lack of competition and choice.  And I don’t want to see anybody left out without health insurance.  I don’t want to see any family having to choose between health insurance now or saving for retirement, or saving for their kids’ college education, or just paying their own bills.

So the question we should be asking is, what do we do about these growing pains in the Affordable Care Act, and how do we get the last 9 percent of Americans covered?  How do we reach those last 9 percent?  And how do we make sure that premiums are more stable going forward, and the marketplace insurance pools are more stable going forward?

Well, I can tell you what will not work.  Repealing the Affordable Care Act will not work.  (Applause.)  That’s a bad idea.  That will not solve the problem.  Because right off the bat, repeal would take away health care from 20 million people.  We’d go back where 80 percent of people had health insurance instead of 90 percent — right off the bat.  And all the reforms that everybody benefits from that I talked about — like young Americans being able to stay on their parents’ plans, or the rules that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against people because of a preexisting condition like diabetes or cancer, or the rule now that you can’t charge somebody more just because they’re a woman — all those reforms would go away for everybody, because that’s part of Obamacare.

All the progress that we’ve made in controlling costs and improving how health care is delivered, progress that’s helped hold growth in the price of health care to the slowest rate in 50 years — all that goes away.  That’s what repeal means.  It would be bad for everybody.  And the majority of Americans, even if they don’t know that they’re benefitting from Obamacare, don’t want to see these benefits and protections taken away from their families now that they have them.  I guarantee you there are people who right now think they hate Obamacare.  And if somebody told them, all right, we’re repealing it, but now your kid who is on your plan is no longer on your plan, or now you’ve got a preexisting condition and you can’t buy health insurance — they’d be shocked.  They’d be — what do you mean?

So repeal is not the answer.  Here is what we can do instead to actually make the Affordable Care Act work even better than it’s working right now.  And I’ve already mentioned one.

Florida and every state should expand Medicaid.  (Applause.)  Cover more people.  It’s easy to do, and it could be done right now.  You’d cover 4 million more Americans, help drive down premiums for folks who buy insurance through the marketplace.  And, by the way, because the federal government pays for almost all of this expansion, you can’t use as an excuse that, well, the state can’t afford it — because the federal government is paying it.  States like Louisiana that just expanded Medicaid — you had a Republican governor replaced by a Democratic governor.  He said, I want that money.  Expanded Medicaid, and found not only does it insure more people, but it’s actually saved the state big money and makes people less dependent on expensive emergency room care.  So that’s step number one.

Step number two.  Since overall health care costs have turned out to be significantly lower than everyone expected since we passed Obamacare, since that’s saved the federal government billions of dollars, we should use some of that money, some of those savings to now provide more tax credits for more middle-income families, for more young adults to help them buy insurance.  It will make their premiums more affordable.  And that’s not just good for them — it’s good for everybody.  Because when more people are in the marketplace, everybody will benefit from lower premiums.  Healthier people, younger people start joining the pool; premiums generally go down.  That would be number two.

The third thing we should do is add what’s called a public plan fallback — (applause) — to give folks more options in those places where there are just not enough insurers to compete.  And that’s especially important in some rural communities and rural states and counties.  If you live in L.A. right now, then it’s working fine.  There are a lot of insurers because it’s a big market, there are a lot of providers.  But if you’re in some remote areas, or you’re near some small towns, it may be that the economics of it just don’t work unless the government is providing an option to make it affordable.  And, by the way, this is not complicated.  Basically, you would just wait and see — if the private insurers are competing for business, then you don’t have to trigger a public option.  But if no private insurers are providing affordable insurance in an area, then the government would step in with a quality plan that people can afford.

And, by the way, this is not a radical idea.  This idea is modeled on something that Republicans championed under George Bush for the Medicare Part D drug benefit program.  It was fine when it was their idea.  The fact that they’re now opposed to it as some socialist scheme is not being consistent, it’s being partisan.

And finally, we should continue to encourage innovation by the states.  What the Affordable Care Act says is, here’s how we propose you insure your populations, but you, the state, can figure out a different way to accomplish the same goal — providing affordable, comprehensive coverage for the same number of residents at the same cost — then go right ahead.  There may be more than one way to skin a cat.  Maybe you’ve got an idea we haven’t thought of.  Just show us, don’t talk about it.  Show us what the plan looks like.

Republicans who claim to care about your health insurance choices and your premiums, but then offer nothing and block common-sense solutions like the ones that I propose to improve them — that’s not right.  And my message to them has been and will continue to be:  Work with us.  Make the system better.  Help the people you serve.  We’re open to good ideas, but they’ve got to be real ideas — not just slogans, not just votes to repeal.  And they’ve got to pass basic muster.  You can’t say, well, if we just do — if we just plant some magic beans — (laughter) — then everybody will have health insurance.  No, we’ve got to have health care economists and experts look at it and see if the thing would actually work.

So that’s where we are.  Number one, Obamacare is helping millions of people right now.  The uninsured rate has never been lower.  It’s helping everybody who already has health insurance, because it makes their policies better.  Number two, there are still too many hardworking people who are not being reached by the law.  Number three, if we tweak the program to reach those people who are not currently benefitting from the law, it will be good for them and it will be good for the country.  Number four, if we repeal this law wholesale that will hurt the people who don’t have coverage right now.  It will hurt the 20 million who are already getting help through the law.  And it will hurt the country as a whole.

So this should be an easy choice.  All it does — all it requires is putting aside ideology, and in good faith trying to implement the law of the land.  And what we’ve learned, by the way, is that when governors and state legislators expand Medicaid for their citizens and they hold insurance companies accountable, and they’re honest with uninsured people about their options, and they’re working with us on outreach, then the marketplace works the way it’s supposed to.  And when they don’t, the marketplaces tend to have more problems.  And that shouldn’t be surprising.  If state leaders purposely try to make something not work, then it’s not going to run as smoothly as if they were trying to make it work.  Common sense.  You don’t even have to go to Miami Dade to figure that out.  (Laughter.)

The point is, now is not the time to move backwards on health care reform.  Now is the time to move forward.  The problems that may have arisen from the Affordable Care Act is not because government is too involved in the process.  The problem is, is that we have not reached everybody and pulled them in.  And think about it.  When one of these companies comes out with a new smartphone and it had a few bugs, what do they do?  They fix it.  They upgrade — unless it catches fire, and they just — (laughter) — then they pull it off the market.  But you don’t go back to using a rotary phone.  (Laughter.)  You don’t say, well, we’re repealing smartphones — we’re just going to do the dial-up thing.  (Laughter.)  That’s not what you do.

Well, the same basic principle applies here.  We’re not going to go back to discriminating against Americans with preexisting conditions.  We’re not going to go back to a time when people’s coverage was dropped when they got sick.  We’re not going to go back to a situation where we’re reinstating lifetime limits in the fine print so that you think you have insurance, and then you get really sick or you kid gets really sick, and you hit the limit that the insurance company set, and next thing you know they’re not covering you anymore, and you got to figure out how you come up with another $100,000 or $200,000 to make sure that your child lives.  We’re not going to go back to that.

I hear Republicans in Congress object, and they’ll say, no, no, no, no, we’ll keep those parts of Obamacare that are popular; we’ll just repeal everything else.  Well, it turns out that the sum of those parts that are popular in Obamacare is Obamacare.  (Applause.)  It’s just people don’t always know it.  And repealing it would make the majority of Americans worse off when it comes to health care.

And as I said, part of this is just — you know, health care is complicated.  Think about this speech — it’s been pretty long, and you’re just — you’re thinking, wow, I just want to take a picture with the President or something.  (Laughter.)  So it’s hard to get people focused on the facts.  And even reporters who have covered this stuff — and they do a good job; they’re trying to follow all the debate.  But a lot of times they just report, “Premium increases.”  And everybody thinks, wow, my insurance rates are going up, it must be Obama’s fault — even though you don’t get health insurance through Obamacare, you get it through your job, and even though your increases have gone up a lot slower.  Or suddenly you’re paying a bigger copay, and, ah, thanks Obama.  (Laughter.)  Well, no, I had nothing to do with that.

So part of it is this is complicated, the way it gets reported.  There’s a lot of hysteria around anything that happens.  And what we need to do is just focus on this very specific problem — how do we make sure that more people are getting coverage, and folks right now who are not getting tax credits, aren’t getting Medicaid, how do we help them, how do we reach them.  And we can do it.

Instead of repealing the law, I believe the next President and the next Congress should take what we’ve learned over the past six years and in a serious way analyze it, figure out what it is that needs to get done, and make the Affordable Care Act better and cover even more people.  But understand, no President can do it alone.  We will need Republicans in Congress and in state governments to act responsibly and put politics aside.  Because I want to remind you, a lot of the Affordable Care Act is built on Republican ideas.

In fact, Bernie Sanders is still mad at me because we didn’t get single-payer passed.  Now, we couldn’t get single-payer passed, and I wanted to make sure that we helped as many people as possible, given the political constraints.  And so we adopted a system that Republicans should like; it’s based on a competitive, market-based system in which people have to a responsibility for themselves by buy insurance.

And maybe now that I’m leaving office, maybe Republicans can stop with the 60-something repeal votes they’ve taken, and stop pretending that they have a serious alternative, and stop pretending that all the terrible things they said would happen have actually happened, when they have not, and just work with the next President to smooth out the kinks.

Because it turns out, no major social innovation in America has ever worked perfectly at the start.  Social Security didn’t. Its benefits were stingy at first.  It left out a whole lot of Americans.  The same was true for Medicare.  The same was true for Medicaid.  The same was true for the prescription drug law.  But what happened was, every year, people of goodwill from both parties tried to make it better.  And that’s what we need to do right now.

And I promise, if Republicans have good ideas to provide more coverage for folks like Amanda, I will be all for it.  I don’t care whose idea it is, I just want it to work.  They can even change the name of the law to ReaganCare.  (Laughter.) Or they can call it Paul Ryan Care.  I don’t care — (laughter) — about credit, I just want it to work because I care about the American people and making sure they’ve got health insurance.

But that brings me to my final point, and that is change does not typically come from the top down, it always comes from the bottom up.  The Affordable Care Act was passed because the American people mobilized, not just to get me elected, but to keep the pressure on me to actually do something about health care and to put pressure on members of Congress to do something about it.  And that’s how change happens in America.  It doesn’t happen on its own.  It doesn’t happen from on high.  It happens from the bottom up.  And breaking gridlock will come only when the American people demand it.

So that’s why I’m here.  Only you can break this stalemate, but educating the public on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, and then pressing your elected officials to do the right this and supporting elected officials who are doing the right things.

And this is one of the reasons why I’m so proud of what Miami-Dade College is doing, because it’s making sure that students and faculty, and people throughout this community know about the law, know about how to sign up for health care, and then actually helps people sign up.  And I’m incredibly proud of the leadership Joe Peña and the entire team in encouraging people to sign up.

Thanks to them, Miami-Dade has been hosting enrollment office hours and workshops, even on nights and weekends.  Right here on the Wolfson campus, and on all the Miami-Dade campuses, you can go for a free one-on-one session where a trained expert can walk you through the process and answer any questions you have — and then help you sign up for health care right there and then.  Joe says he doesn’t have a conversation without making sure people know how to get covered.  The more young and healthy people like you who do the smart thing and sign up, then the better it’s going to work for everybody.

And the good news is, in a few days, you can do just that because Open enrollment, the time when you can start signing up, begins on November 1.  And you just need to go to HealthCare.gov, which works really well now.  (Laughter.)

And campuses will be competing to come up with the most creative ways to reach people and get them signed up — and I’m pretty sure that Miami-Dade can set the standard for the rest of the country.  ‘Cause that’s how you do.  (Applause.)  That’s how you do.

So much has changed since I campaigned here in Miami eight Octobers ago.  But one thing has not: this is more than just about health care.  It’s about the character of our country.  It’s about whether we look out for one another.  It’s about whether the wealthiest nation on earth is going to make sure that nobody suffers.  Nobody loses everything they have saved, everything they have worked for because they’re sick.  You stood up for the idea that no American should have to go without the health care they need.

And it’s still true today.  And we’ve proven together that people who love this country can change it — 20 million people out there will testify.  I get letters every day, just saying thank you because it’s made a difference in their lives.  And what true then is true now.  We still need you.  Our work to expand opportunity to all and make our union more perfect is never finished — but the more we work, and organize, and advocate, and fight, the closer we get.

So I hope you are going to be busy this November signing folks up.  But more importantly, I hope, for all the young people here, you never stop working for a better America.  And even though I won’t be President, I’ll keep working right alongside you.

Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

2:40 P.M. EDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 11, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event in Miami, Florida




Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event in Miami, FL

Source: WH, 10-11-12 

JW Marriott Marquis
Miami, Florida

7:17 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  It’s good to be in Florida.  (Applause.)  It’s good to be in Miami.  Thank you so much, everybody.  Thank you.


THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Applause.)  I do.

Can everybody please give Lidia a big round of applause for the wonderful introduction.  (Applause.)  Give it up for Sheila E.  (Applause.)  I was backstage.  I want to thank an extraordinary Congresswoman and somebody who is just fighting on behalf of families not just here in Florida but all across the country every single day — my friend, Debbie Wasserman Schultz — give her a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

To one of my campaign co-chairs who is — she’s putting in a lot of miles, and could not be a more passionate advocate on behalf of the things that we work for — Eva Longoria.  (Applause.)  We’re thrilled to have her here.

I want to thank Kirk Wagar for all the great work here in Florida — Kirk.  (Applause.)  And finally, I want to thank your former governor, somebody who’s been a great friend, Charlie Crist in the house.  (Applause.)  Charlie reminds all of us that the values we’re fighting for, they’re not Democratic values or Republican values — they are American values.  And that’s why we’re here.

I want to thank everybody for the incredible support.  It is going to make a difference.  But I want everybody to understand we’ve got some work to do.  We’ve got an election to win.  In just over two weeks, on October 27th, Florida gets to start voting early.  And I assume everybody is registered here.  (Applause.)  If you’re not, we’ll sign you up right now.  (Laughter.)  Or actually, I think the registration deadline was yesterday, so you better have gotten it done.  (Laughter.)  But I’m assuming they wouldn’t have let you in if you hadn’t registered.  (Laughter.)

Everything that we fought for in 2008 is on the line in 2012.  So we are going to have to be fired up, and we’re going to have to be ready to go.  And I’m going to need your help to finish what we started.  (Applause.)

And it’s useful to remember what we’ve done.  Four years ago, I told you we’d end the war in Iraq — and we did.  (Applause.)  I said that we’d end the war in Afghanistan — and we are.  I said that we’d refocus on the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 — and today, al Qaeda is on its heels and Osama bin Laden is dead.  (Applause.)

Four years ago, I promised to cut taxes for middle-class families — and we have, by $3,600.  I promised to cut taxes for small business owners — and we have, 18 times.  We got back every dime we used to rescue the financial system, but we also passed a historic law to end taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts for good.

We passed health care reform so that your insurance companies can’t jerk you around anymore, or tell you that being a woman is somehow a preexisting condition.  (Applause.)

We repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell,” so that nobody is ever kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love.  (Applause.)

And when Governor Romney said let’s “let Detroit go bankrupt,” we declined his business advice and we reinvented a dying auto industry that is now back on top of the world.  (Applause.)  And that’s not just critical to economies in the Midwest, it’s vital to our economy — something every American should be proud of.

Today, four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, we’re moving forward again.  People don’t remember the month I was sworn into office, we lost 800,000 jobs.  Our businesses have now added more than 5 million new jobs over the last two and a half years.  (Applause.)  Unemployment has fallen from a peak of 10 percent down to 7.8 percent — the lowest level since I took office.  More Americans are getting jobs.  Manufacturing is coming back to America.  We signed three trade deals that’s helping to open up markets all over the world, including the Latin American market, which is absolutely vital to the economy and Florida and southern Florida.

Even in the most hard-pressed states like Florida, we’re starting to see home values finally start picking up again.  (Applause.)  So, look, we are not yet where we need to be.  We’ve got a lot more work to do.  And obviously, in a state like Florida that was so hard hit when the housing bubble burst, we’ve got too many friends and neighbors who are looking for work.  We’ve got too many families who are still struggling to pay the bills.  Too many homes are still underwater.  Too many young people are burdened by debt after they graduate from college.

But if there’s one thing I know, it is this — and that is we have come too far to turn back now.  (Applause.)  The American people have worked too hard to get to this point.  And after all that we have been through together, after all that we have fought for together, why would we go backwards?  Why would we go back to the very same policies that led us to this mess in the first place?

That is not an option.  I won’t allow that to happen.  You can’t allow it to happen.  And that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States — because we will not let it happen.  We’re moving forward.  We’re not going backwards.  (Applause.)

I have seen too much pain and too much struggle to let this country go back to the economic policies that don’t work, and that are at the heart of what Governor Romney is offering.  The centerpiece of his economic plan — a $5 trillion tax cut that favors those of us who’ve been extraordinarily successful in this country.  And he’s been pitching this plan for a whole year now; stood up on stage in primary debates and proudly promised that his new tax cut would reduce the tax burden for everybody, including the top 1 percent.

Now, of course, you wouldn’t know that from listening to the latest version of Mitt Romney.  (Laughter.)  I was telling folks — I spoke at Miami University, and I was saying that after a year in which he was calling himself “severely conservative,” he’s now trying to convince us that he was severely kidding about everything.  (Laughter and applause.) These days, whatever you’re for, he’s for.  (Laughter.)  Loves the middle class; loves Medicare; loves teachers.  (Laughter.)  He even said that he loves the most important parts of Obamacare — loves them.  (Laughter and applause.)

And when it comes to all the things that he’s actually promised to do as President, suddenly he’s got a case of amnesia.  (Laughter.)  Tax breaks for outsourcers?  I’ve never heard of it.  Saying we should cut back on teachers?  Doesn’t ring your bell.  (Laughter.)  Kicking 200,000 young Floridians off their parent’s insurance plan?  Who, me?  (Laughter.)

When he’s asked about the cost of his tax plan, he pretends just it doesn’t exist.  What $5 trillion?  I don’t know anything about a $5 trillion tax cut.  Don’t pay any attention to the $5 trillion tax cut on my website.  (Laughter.)  It’s still there.  (Laughter and applause.)

But this has been — this is not unique to him.  This has been the strategy of the other side for the entire four years that I’ve been in office.  They expect that you’ve forgotten what happened — that we lost 9 million jobs in the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes as a consequence of misguided policies.  And they think that we haven’t been paying attention now to Governor Romney for the last year and a half.  And he will say whatever it takes to try to close the deal.  He’s counting on the fact that you won’t remember that what he’s selling is exactly what led us to this crisis in the first place.

And so, Florida, part of our task over the next four weeks is to let him know we remember.  We know full well that if he gets a chance, Governor Romney will rubber-stamp the top-down economic policies that have been promoted by his congressional allies, including his running mate — who will be debating tonight.  And we can’t afford that kind of future.  His plan will not create jobs.  It will not help the middle class.  It will not speed up the recovery — in fact, it will slow down the recovery.

And we can’t afford that.  We cannot go back to what we were doing.  Not now.  Not when we’ve come so far.  We’ve got to keep moving forward.  And that’s why I’m running for a second term — because I see a vision for the future in which everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same rules.

I know that jobs and prosperity don’t trickle down from the top.  They grow from a strong, thriving middle class and creating ladders of opportunity into that middle class for everybody who is willing to work hard.

I know that more tax breaks for people who are shipping jobs overseas won’t create jobs.  What does is supporting small businesses, manufacturers who are making products right here in Florida, products stamped with those proud words:  “Made in America.”  Instead of providing tax breaks for outsourcing, we have to reward those companies that are investing in creating jobs right here.  And we can do it.  That’s the choice that you face in this election.

We can create more jobs by controlling our own energy.  There are thousands of Floridians right now who are making a great living promoting solar energy and wind energy and clean energy, all across this state.  (Applause.)  We doubled our investment in clean energy, which is creating jobs and is good for our environment.  And we also raised fuel standards so that by the next — middle of the next decade, your cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas.  (Applause.)

And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the past two decades.  (Applause.)  So we need to build on that progress, not go backwards.  My plan would continue to cut our oil imports in half by investing in the clean energy that’s creating jobs right here — wind and solar, fuel-efficient cars, long-lasting batteries.

And we can do so by — and we can pay for it by no longer giving $4 billion a year in taxpayer subsidies to oil companies that are doing just fine.  We’ll help produce more oil, but we don’t need to give them $4 billion to do it.  Let’s make sure that we don’t lose the race for clean energy to China or other countries.  We need to develop that technology right here in the United States.  (Applause.)

And it will be good for our environment.  It will do something about carbon in our atmosphere — and that is not a joke.  That is not a hoax.  That’s our children’s future.  And folks here in Miami understand that better than anybody, because the impact of climate change will be significant on our kids and our grandkids unless we take those steps.  We can’t just deny our way out of these things.  It’s a threat to our children’s future.

I believe that we’ve got to have the best education system in the world.  That is economic development.  That’s not something separate and apart.  (Applause.)  If our kids have the skills they need to compete, then our economy will grow.  And I’m only here because of the education that I got.  I wasn’t born into wealth or fame.  You hadn’t heard of the Obama name before I ran.  (Laughter.)  Had you?  No.  (Laughter.)  Let’s face it.  First time you heard it, you probably thought the guy might be Japanese — I don’t know.  (Laughter.)  Italian?  Who knows?


THE PRESIDENT:  Latino.  (Laughter and applause.)  Right.  The Obama family from Jalisco.  (Laughter.)

But education is what gave me opportunity.  It’s what gave so many of you opportunity.  It’s the gateway into a middle-class life.  (Applause.)  So when I hear Governor Romney say hiring more teachers won’t grow the economy over the next four years, I have to say, no, actually it will.  But more importantly, what about our kids over the next 40 years?  What about our economy over the next 40 years?

We can get education to pay for tax breaks we don’t need, or we can recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers.  We can provide better early childhood education.  We can train 2 million more workers at community colleges.  (Applause.)  We can lower the cost of tuition for our young people.  That’s an agenda for growth.  That’s what creates opportunity.  That’s what we can do together.  And that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.  (Applause.)  Four more.

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  I mentioned that we ended the war in Iraq, that we’re ending the war in Afghanistan.  I want to use that money to pay down our deficit, put our people back to work rebuilding roads and bridges and schools all across America.  Right here in Florida, we’ve got huge projects that are going up all over the state that will build the infrastructure to facilitate more trade, move more goods more efficiently, help businesses grow.  And we have the resources to do it if we make good decisions.

But Governor Romney said it was “tragic” to end the war in Iraq.  He repeated this last week, said we should still have troops on the ground in Iraq.  And I fundamentally disagree with that.  I think bringing troops home was the right thing to do.  (Applause.)

And every brave American who wears our country’s uniform should know we will make sure as long as I’m Commander-in-Chief we’ve got the strongest military in the world.  And when our troops come home and take off their uniform, we will serve them as well as they’ve served us — because if you fought for this country, you shouldn’t have to fight for a job or a roof over your heard when you come home.  (Applause.)

And finally, we’ll cut the deficit by $4 trillion, but we’re going to do it in a sensible way.  We’ve already cut a trillion, working with Democrats and Republicans.  So we can cut more spending.  But we’re not going to be able to reduce our deficit in a serious way unless the wealthiest households are willing to go back, for incomes over $250,000, to the same rate that we were paying under Bill Clinton — when the economy created nearly 23 million new jobs, we went from deficit to surplus, and businesses and investors did very well — because the economy grows best that way, when it’s broad-based and everybody has a stake in how the economy grows.

And I understand Governor Romney disagrees with this.  He did an interview and he says he thinks it’s fair that he pays a lower tax rate making $20 million a year than the teacher who’s makes $50,000.  I just think that’s wrong.  And if we’re going to be serious — (applause) — if we’re going to be serious about reducing the deficit then we’ve got to make choices.

And the choice I make is not asking middle-class families to give up their home mortgage deduction or tax credits they get for raising their kids just to pay for a tax cut for me.  I’m not going to ask students to pay more for college, or kick kids off of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor or elderly or disabled just so I can get a tax break.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re welcome.  (Applause.)

And by the way, the math still doesn’t add up in terms of their plan, because when Governor Romney says he can cut taxes, increase military spending, close the deficit — all by getting rid of Planned Parenthood and Big Bird — (laughter) — he needs a calculator because there’s something wrong with his math.  He says, don’t worry, new tax cuts will pay for themselves.  That is what we heard exactly from President Bush back in 2000, 2001.  And it didn’t work.  And we know our plan does.

So this is the choice that we face.  This is what the election comes down to.  And I said at the convention, over and over again, we’re told by our opponents that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing.  It’s sort of a “you’re on your own” philosophy.  If you don’t have health insurance, hope you don’t get sick.  (Laughter.)  If you can’t afford to start a business or go to college, borrow money from your parents.  (Laughter.)

That is not who we are.  That’s not how America became great.  We believe in individual initiative and we don’t believe in helping people who aren’t willing to help themselves, but we also understand there are some things we do better together.  We understand that in America it’s not just about what can be done for us, but what is done by us, together as one nation, as one people.

And that’s what 2008 was about.  We fought some fierce battles over the last four years, but everything we’ve gotten done, it happened, ultimately, because the American people came together — black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, able, disabled — people came together.  (Applause.)

You’re the reason Florida seniors are paying $600 less on their prescription drugs because of Obamacare.  You did that.  You’re the reason that a working family in this state was able to save their home from foreclosure.

There was somebody in the audience today, while we were taking a picture, who talked about their mom — 90 years old, because of the mortgage modification program we put into place, saved her home, lives with her sister — 90 and 95.  You did that, though.  You did that.  (Applause.)

That’s what’s at stake.  You made that happen.  The kids at Gainesville, or Tallahassee, or here in Miami who are getting an education — maybe the first in their family, the veterans who are going to college on the New GI Bill — that’s what we were fighting for.  (Applause.)

You’re the reason that there are young immigrants all across this state who grew up here and went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag, and they don’t have to fear now that they’re going to be deported from the only country they call home.  (Applause.)  You made that happen.

You ended “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  You allowed us to bring our troops home so their families could greet them and say” “Welcome home.”  (Applause.)  You did that.

And so you can’t afford to turn away now.  You can’t.  I know that sometimes in politics folks are excited and they have fun, you have nice events like this and everybody gets dressed up — and you guys are looking very good.  (Laughter.)  But then sometimes when it gets tougher, people get discouraged and they’re wondering, well, I don’t know, is change really possible?  And we get cynical and we get doubtful.  It happens to everybody; there’s nothing wrong with that.  It happens in our lives; it happens in our politics.  It happens in everything that we do.  But you can’t succumb to that.

And the reason is that when we don’t get involved, when we don’t insert ourselves into the process, when your voices aren’t heard, then somebody else fills the void — the folks who are writing $10 million checks to try to buy this election; the folks who are trying to make it harder for Floridians to vote; the politicians in Washington who are trying to tell women that they shouldn’t make their own decisions when it comes to their health care.  (Applause.)  So you’re the ones who have to make sure that doesn’t happen.

That sign there, “Forward,” that’s a message to me, but it’s also a message to you.  You’ve got that power, that capacity.  And so when you think about the next 26 days, I would implore you to ask yourselves, is there something else I can do?  Is there some little bit of difference that I can make?

Here in Florida, last time in 2008, if you go precinct by precinct, it’s a difference of a couple of hundred votes.  It may be just that little bit of extra effort is what makes a difference.  And you will see me working harder than I’ve ever worked in my life, because every time I meet somebody who tells me that their mom was on the verge of losing their home, or their mom was on the verge of not being able to get treatment for a potentially deadly disease; every time I meet a young person who says I can go to college now because that change you made in the student loan program made it possible; every time I meet one of these Dreamer kids who explains how they feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off their shoulders; every time I think about all the people who are working so hard in this country and aren’t asking for much, just asking for a shot — every time I think of them and knowing that they’ve got to have somebody in Washington who’s fighting for them and who’s thinking about them every single day — (applause) — that’s going to make me work as hard as I know how over the next 26 days and over the next four years.  And I hope you have that same feeling.  (Applause.)

We cannot let up now.  We cannot let up.  I need you focused.  I need you ready to fight.  And if we do, we’re going to win Florida.  And when we win Florida, we’re going to win this election.  We’re going to finish what we started, and remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  Let’s go get this done.  (Applause.)

7:46 P.M. EDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz September 20, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Univision Town Hall with Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas




Remarks by the President at Univision Town Hall with Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas

Source: WH, 9-20-12 

University of Miami
Miami, Florida

2:15 P.M. EDT

Q Please welcome the President of the United States. (Applause.)


Q Welcome. Thank you for being here with us.

THE PRESIDENT: Muchas gracias.

Q Before we start, before talking about education and its future, we would like to talk about something that is happening right now in recent news. As we know, at the present time, 1,000 people are trying to get into the embassy in Pakistan, and we have seen protests, anti-American protests in thousands of countries.

We know in Libya, four Americans were killed. We know now that Ambassador Chris Stevens warned about security days before he was killed. Many people want to know whether — if you expected so much anti-American sentiment in the Islamic world. And why wasn’t your administration better prepared with more security at our embassies on September 11?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, obviously we mourn the loss of the Americans who were killed in Benghazi. But I think it’s important to understand that that’s not representative of the attitudes of the Libyan people towards America, because they understand because of the incredible work that our diplomats did as well as our men and women in uniform, we liberated that country from a dictator who had terrorized them for 40 years. And Chris Stevens, the ambassador there, was one of the leaders of that process. So when he was killed, there were vigils in Libya but also in front of the White House expressing the deep sorrow that the Libyan people felt towards them.

What we’ve seen over the last week, week and a half, is something that actually we’ve seen in the past, where there is an offensive video or cartoon directed at the prophet Muhammad. And this is obviously something that then is used as an excuse by some to carry out inexcusable violent acts directed at Westerners or Americans.

And my number-one priority is always to keep our diplomats safe and to keep our embassies safe. And so when the initial events happened in Cairo and all across the region, we worked with Secretary Clinton to redouble our security and to send a message to the leaders of these countries, essentially saying, although we had nothing to do with the video, we find it offensive, it’s not representative of America’s views, how we treat each other with respect when it comes to their religious beliefs, but we will not tolerate violence.

And our goal now is not only to make sure that our embassies and our diplomats are safe, but also to make sure that we bring those who carried out these events to justice.

There is a larger issue, and that is what’s going to be happening in the Arab Spring as these countries transition from dictatorship to democracy. And we cannot replace the tyranny of a dictator with the tyranny of a mob. And so my message to the Presidents of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and these other countries is, we want to be a partner with you, we will work with you, and we stand on the side of democracy, but democracy is not just an election; it’s also, are you looking out for minority rights, are you respecting freedom of speech, are you treating women fairly.

All these issues are ones that the region is going to wrestle with. The one thing we can’t do is withdraw from the region, because the United States continues to be the one indispensable nation. And even countries where the United States is criticized, they still want our leadership and they still look to us to make sure that we’re providing opportunity and peace. And so we’re going to continue to work in these regions.

Q We have reports that the White House said today that the attacks in Libya were a terrorist attack. Do you have information indicating that it was Iran, or al Qaeda was behind organizing the protests?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re still doing an investigation, and there are going to be different circumstances in different countries. And so I don’t want to speak to something until we have all the information. What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests —

Q Al Qaeda?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we don’t know yet. And so we’re going to continue to investigate this. We’ve insisted on and have received so far full cooperation from countries like Egypt and Libya and Tunisia in not only protecting our diplomatic posts, but also to make sure that we discover who, in fact, is trying to take advantage of this.

But this is part of the reason why we have to remain vigilant. Look, when I came into office I said I would end the war in Iraq — and I did. I said that we would begin transitioning in Afghanistan so that over time Afghans can take responsibility for their own security. But what I also said was we’re going to have to focus narrowly and forcefully on groups like al Qaeda, the ones that carried out the 9/11 attacks and the ones that still threaten U.S. interests.

And those forces have not gone away. We’ve decimated al Qaeda’s top leadership in the border regions around Pakistan, but in Yemen, in Libya, in other of these places — increasingly in places like Syria — what you see is these elements that don’t have the same capacity that a bin Laden or core al Qaeda had, but can still cause a lot of damage, and we’ve got to make sure that we remain vigilant and are focused on preventing them from doing us any harm.

Q Mr. President, I want to ask you something that is known as the “Obama promise,” and you knew that I was going to ask you about that. On May 28th, 2008, we had a conversation in Denver, Colorado, and you told me the following — and I’m going to quote you: “But I can guarantee that we will have, in the first year, an immigration bill that I strongly support.”

I want to emphasize “the first year.” At the beginning of your governing, you had control of both chambers of Congress, and yet you did not introduce immigration reform. And before I continue, I want for you to acknowledge that you did not keep your promise.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me first of all, Jorge, make a point that when we talked about immigration reform in the first year, that’s before the economy was on the verge of collapse — Lehman Brothers had collapsed, the stock market was collapsing. And so my first priority was making sure that we prevented us from going into a Great Depression.

And I think everybody here remembers where we were four years ago. We lost 800,000 jobs the month that I took office. Small businesses and big businesses couldn’t get financing. People had seen their 401(k)s evaporate. People were losing homes left and right.

And so we had to take a whole series of emergency actions to make sure that we put people back to work, cutting taxes for middle-class families and small businesses so that they could stay open or pay the bills, making sure that states got assistance so they didn’t have to lay off teachers and firefighters and police officers, saving an auto industry that was on the brink of collapse.

And so that took up a huge amount of time in the first year. But even in that first year, one of my first acts was to invite every single member of Congress who had previously been supportive of comprehensive immigration reform, and to say to them, we need to get this done. This is something I believe in deeply because we are a nation of laws and we’re a nation of immigrants. And I am willing to work with anybody to strengthen our border security and to crack down on employers who are taking advantage of undocumented workers, but what we also have to do is provide a pathway for all those millions of hardworking people who are simply here looking after their families, and oftentimes they’ve put deep roots in this country.

And what I confess I did not expect — and so I’m happy to take responsibility for being naive here — is that Republicans who had previously supported comprehensive immigration reform — my opponent in 2008, who had been a champion of it and who attended these meetings — suddenly would walk away. That’s what I did not anticipate.

And as you know, Jorge, even though we controlled the House of Representatives, even though we had a majority in the Senate, the way the Senate operates was if you couldn’t get 60 votes you couldn’t get something moving. So we initiated the meetings, had a series of meetings. And what we could not get was a single Republican, including the 20 who had previously voted for comprehensive immigration reform, to step up and say, we will work with you to make this happen.

Q It was a promise, Mr. President. And I don’t want to — because this is very important, I don’t want to get you off the explanation. You promised that. And a promise is a promise. And with all due respect, you didn’t keep that promise.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, here is what I would say, Jorge, is that — and we’ve had this conversation before. There’s the thinking that the President is somebody who is all powerful and can get everything done. In our branch of — in our system of government, I am the head of the executive branch. I’m not the head of the legislature; I’m not the head of the judiciary. We have to have cooperation from all these sources in order to get something done. And so I am happy to take responsibility for the fact that we didn’t get it done, but I did not make a promise that I would get everything done, 100 percent, when I was elected as President.

What I promised was that I would work every single day as hard as I can to make sure that everybody in this country, regardless of who they are, what they look like, where they come from, that they would have a fair shot at the American Dream. And I have — that promise I’ve kept.

And what I’ve also — I think is relevant for today’s session is the fact that I have never wavered in my support of comprehensive immigration reform. We did put forward a DREAM Act that was passed in the House, got the overwhelming majority of support from Democrats in the Senate, and was blocked by the Republican Party.

We now are confronted with a choice between two candidates in which the candidate sitting here with you today is committed to comprehensive immigration reform, is committed to the DREAM Act, has taken administrative actions to prevent young people from being deported. And that stands in contrast with the other candidate who has said he would veto the DREAM Act, that he is uncertain about what his plan for immigration reform would be, and who considers the Arizona law a model for the nation and has suggested that the main solution for immigration is self-deportation.

So the issue here for voters — whose vision best represents the aspirations not just of the Latino community but of all Americans who believe that we are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants? And that candidate, I believe, is talking to you right now. (Applause.)

Q I’m going to ask you some questions — you promised that on Facebook — and we have received this question: If you are reelected, do you think you’ll be able to have immigration reform even though there’s a majority of Republican representatives? How can you promise the same thing if you’re not going to be able to do that?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I’m not going to concede that Republicans necessarily are controlling the Congress. That’s why we have elections. (Applause.)

But let’s assume that the Republicans do retain the House, let’s say. What I can — what I’m absolutely certain of is if the Latino community and the American community that cares about this issue turns out to vote, they can send a message that this is not something to use as a political football, that people’s lives are at stake, that this is a problem that we can solve and historically has had bipartisan support.

And I actually think the mindset within the Republican Party can change — because when you think about it, not only was it fairly recently that we had some Republican support, but even now you have voices like the former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, who has said that the Republican Party has taken an extreme view, a wrong approach when it comes to immigration reform.

So my hope is, is that after the election — when the number-one goal is no longer beating me, but hopefully the number-one goal is solving the country’s problems — if they have seen that people who care about this issue have turned out in strong numbers, that they will rethink it, if not because it’s the right thing to do, at least because it’s in their political interest to do so.

Q Mr. President, you have been the President who has made the largest number of deportations in history — more than 1.5 million so far. You’ve separated many families. There are more than 5,000 children who are American citizens in foster care and in the adoption process. Would you just — since you’ve granted deferred action, would you like to do something — consider doing something similar to other groups of non-criminal illegal immigrants such as the parents of U.S.-born children?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me describe sort of how we’ve tried to approach this given that we haven’t gotten comprehensive immigration reform done yet. My instructions to the Department of Homeland Security has been that we have to focus our attention, our enforcement, on people who genuinely pose a threat to our communities, not to hardworking families who are minding their own business and oftentimes have members of their family who are U.S. citizens — because that’s a — that’s a priority in terms of limited enforcement resources. We don’t have the capacity to enforce across the board when you’re talking about millions of people. And we’ve done that.

So more than half of our enforcement now is directed at people with criminal records. Of the remaining half, about two-thirds are actually people who are typically apprehended close to the border, so these are not people who have longstanding roots in our community. And what we’ve tried to do then is focus our attention on real threats, and make sure that families of the sort that you describe are not the targets of DHS resources.

Now, what I’ve always said is, as the head of the executive branch, there’s a limit to what I can do. Part of the reason that deportations went up was Congress put a whole lot of money into it, and when you have a lot of resources and a lot more agents involved, then there are going to be higher numbers. What we’ve said is, let’s make sure that you’re not misdirecting those resources. But we’re still going to, ultimately, have to change the laws in order to avoid some of the heartbreaking stories that you see coming up occasionally. And that’s why this continues to be a top priority of mine.

The steps we’ve taken with the DREAM Act kids, one of the great things about it is to see that the country as a whole has actually agreed with us on this. There are voices in the Republican Party have been very critical, but the good news is, is that the majority of Americans have said, you know what, if somebody lives here, has gone to school here, pledges allegiance to our flag, this is the only country they’ve known, they shouldn’t be sent away. We should embrace them and say we want you to help build this country.

So we’ve got public opinion on our side on that issue. And we will continue to make sure that how we enforce is done as fairly and justly as possible. But until we have a law in place that provides a pathway for legalization and/or citizenship for the folks in question, we’re going to be — continue to be bound by the law. And that’s a challenge.

Q Mr. President, the fact that you mentioned deferred action was granted months before the election has led some of your critics to say that it was just only to win the Hispanic vote. Why didn’t you do that earlier during your presidency?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think if you take a look at the polls, I was winning the Latino vote before we took that action — partly because the other side had completely abandoned their commitment to things like comprehensive immigration reform.

But I did this because I met young people all across the country — wonderful kids who sometimes were valedictorians, would participate in the community, has aspirations to go to college, some who were serving in our military — and if you heard their stories, there’s no way that you would think it was fair or just for us to have them suffering under a cloud of deportation.

And so part of the challenge as President is constantly saying, what authorities do I have. What we wanted to do was first make sure that we were directing our enforcement resources towards criminals and we’ve done that. And after we put that system in place we said, you know what, we’re still hearing stories of young people being scared about being deported; it’s time to see if we can take even further action. And that’s what we’ve done.

Q Thank you. Mr. President, now we are going to talk about education.

Q One out of 10 Hispanics — only one out of 10 graduates from college. And you know that one out of three, not even 25 percent, finishes high school.

And this is the question: First of all, I want to say, Mr. President, it’s an honor for me to be here. I’m a candidate for a doctorate in special education studies at the university level. So I would like to know, what do you attribute the dropout rate among Hispanics in the United States — 15 percent — and what plans do you have to change that?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, one of my most important plans is to make sure that people like you can continue your studies and help solve the problem. And that’s why we’ve put such a big emphasis on making sure that college is affordable.

And some of the work that we’ve done over the last four years to make sure that the student loan interest rate stays low, expanding Pell grants for millions of students, including millions of Latino students, so that we are seeing the highest college enrollment rate among Latino students in history — all that is going to help to contribute to us being able to deal with the problem of secondary and high school educations because you’re going to be inspiring a whole lot of students to say, I can do that, too; I can achieve that dream.

Now, one of the things we know is going to make a big difference is early childhood education. So we’ve put enormous effort not only in providing additional funding for early childhood education, but also to improve the quality of early childhood education — because not all programs work perfectly.

We’ve also been very proud to be able to initiate reform in 46 states around the country — almost every state has initiated reforms — because what we’ve said is we’ll give you more money if you initiate reforms that focus on dropout rates, that focus on some of the hardest-to-reach students, that focus on getting great teachers in the classroom and holding yourself to high standards and accountability.

So we’ve seen already gains in math and science in many of these schools. We’ve given additional dollars to some schools, predominantly Latino and African American, where the dropout rate is sky-high. And we’ve said, in some cases, you may just have to rework the school entirely. Get a great principal in there, hire wonderful teachers, and we will provide you additional help.

Now, for those of you who care deeply about education — because education was a gateway of opportunity for me, for Michelle, and for many of the people sitting here — this should be a vital decision that guides you in this upcoming election. Because even as we’ve done all this work to make sure that college is more affordable, that we’re reforming our schools, what you’ve seen on the other side and what’s been proposed by my opponent is a budget that would cut 20 percent of education funding, that would roll back tax credits that we’re providing middle-class families to help them send their kids to college, that would put billions of dollars back into the hands of banks as middlemen for the student loan program, which would then eliminate or reduce funding for Pell grants for millions of students around the country.

So, across the board, what you’ll hear from my opponent and from some of his allies in Congress is, we care deeply about education, but they don’t put their money where their mouth is. Their budget doesn’t reflect those values.

And I’m a firm believer that money alone can’t solve the problem. Parents, we have to make sure that we’re turning off the TV and providing a quiet space for our kids to do their homework. Teachers have to inspire. Principals have to lead. But ultimately, along with reform efforts, we also have to make sure that we don’t have overcrowded classrooms and textbooks that are outdated.

I was in Las Vegas talking to some wonderful teachers in a predominantly Latino district, and the teachers were telling me, at the start of school we’ve got 42 kids in the classroom. Some kids are sitting on the floor until they eventually get reassigned. They lose two weeks of instruction time just because the classrooms are so overcrowded. There are schools, particular in Latino communities, all across this country where kids are still studying in trailers. They don’t have regular classrooms, textbooks that are decades old.

Now, if we truly believe that education is the key not only for opportunity but also for making sure we can compete in this 21st century economy that is not a tolerable situation. And I put forward specific plans, with the budget behind it, to deal with these issues. And my opponent would actually roll back the process that we’ve already made.

Q Mr. President, we have time, but we have many more questions. We’re going to take a break and then we’ll be right back with many of those most important questions that Hispanics want to ask of the President, Barack Obama. (Applause.)

* * *

Q We’ll continue with this special program right here because the debate commission didn’t want to have any Hispanic or African American journalists. So we decided to have our own meeting.

THE PRESIDENT: We’re thrilled to be here. (Applause.)

Q We have an education question. I think that it’s something that reminded problems our country has was the recent strike of 29,000 teachers who left 350,000 students out of school, and we have a question about that. This is a Facebook question: What is your plan to solve the present education crisis? What happened in Chicago could also happen in California and other states very soon. Are you concerned about that?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, obviously what happened in Chicago was of concern, and we’re glad that it finally got resolved. But you’re going to see school districts all across the country dealing with this issue because part of what has happened over the last four years is a lot of teacher layoffs.

Now, when I first came into office, one of the most important things that we had to do was to help states and local communities not lay off teachers. And that was part of what the Recovery Act was all about — was providing states with help. Because we can’t afford to be laying off teachers when other countries are hiring teachers.

Unfortunately, though, we’ve still seen a lot of school districts lay off teachers. That has an impact on the students themselves because when you have larger classes, it’s harder to provide the individualized attention on those kids, especially at the younger grades.

This is, again, why the difference between the two candidates in this election is so important. If Governor Romney’s and Congressman Ryan’s budgets were introduced, you would see even less — by a magnitude of 20 percent — even less resources from the federal government to the states, and you could see potentially even more teachers being laid off, working conditions for teachers becoming worse, potentially more strikes.

And what we say to school districts all across the country is, we will provide you more help as long as you’re being held accountable. And as far as teachers go, I think they work as hard as anybody, but we also want to make sure that they are having high standards of performance, especially in math and science. So one of the plans that I presented at the convention was I want to hire 100,000 new math and science teachers, because that’s how teachers do better, students do better, the likelihood of strikes become lower.

Q Mr. President, I had the opportunity to watch our conversation with Mitt Romney yesterday, but previously in a video he has said that he was not concerned about the 47 percent of the population in the United States. But yesterday he said that he wanted to be the President of 100 percent of Americans. For you, which is the two is the true Mitt Romney? (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, here’s what I would say. First of all, I’ve been President now for almost four years. But the day I was elected, that night in Grant Park where I spoke to the country, I said, 47 percent of the people didn’t vote for me, but I’ve heard your voices and I’m going to work just as hard for you as I did for those who did vote for me. That’s how you have to operate as a President. I truly believe that. (Applause.)

I think your question, Jorge, about what’s the real Mitt Romney is better directed to Mr. Romney. But I will say this. When you express an attitude that half the country considers itself victims, that somehow they want to be dependent on government, my thinking is maybe you haven’t gotten around a lot, because I travel around the country all the time and the American people are the hardest working there are. (Applause.)

And their problem is not that they’re not working hard enough, or they don’t want to work, or they’re being taxed too little, or they just want to loaf around and gather government checks. We’ve gone through a challenging time. People want a hand up, not a handout.

Are there people who abuse the system? Yes, both at the bottom and at the top — because there are a whole bunch of millionaires who aren’t paying taxes at all either. (Applause.) But when you look — last point I’d make — when you look statistically, it turns out that even if people aren’t paying income taxes, they’re paying payroll taxes. They’re paying gas taxes. They’re paying sales taxes. They’re paying state and local taxes.

So the fact of the matter is that the few people who are not paying — the people who are not paying income taxes are either paying a lot of taxes because they’re working every day but they just don’t make enough money overall to pay income tax; or alternatively, they’re senior citizens; or they’re students who — I know these guys aren’t making a lot of money, even with some work-study program. (Laughter.) Or they’re disabled; or, in some cases, they’re veterans or soldiers who are fighting for us right now overseas — they don’t pay an income tax.

And so I just think it’s very important for us to understand Americans work hard, and if they’re not working right now, I promise you they want to get to work. And that’s what my economic plan is designed to do, to get more people back to work, and to lift up the middle class and people who want to work to get into the middle class. (Applause.)

Q Mr. President, I am a student at the journalism school at UM. This is my question to you. What would you recommend to Latina women such as me in order to be successful in my search for employment in the United States?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, you’ve got great role models here in journalism, particularly Maria Elena Salinas. (Laughter.)

Q Thank you. Because I ask you the tough questions.

THE PRESIDENT: But, look, the economy has been very tough for the last four years, and so there are a lot of young people out there who’ve graduated, have a great education, but have still had trouble getting work. The good news is over the last 30 months we’ve seen job growth every single month — 4.5 million new jobs.

The most important thing you can do, the best investment you can make to make sure you have a good job is to get a college education. So what you’re doing now cuts in half the likelihood that you end up unemployed.

The most important message, I guess I would tell you, though, is what I tell my daughters, which is that America remains a country where if you work hard and you don’t give up and you are persistent, you can succeed. And the good news is that because of some of the battles that were fought before you were born and, in some cases, before I was born, opportunity is opening up for more and more people — for women, for Latinas, Latinos, for African Americans. So you can go as far as your dreams will take you.

The big concern that I have is making sure that as you’re paying for your education, you don’t get burdened with tons of debt. And that’s why we focus so much on taking billions of dollars that were going to banks and making sure that we cut out the middlemen, provide some of these loans directly to students, or grants directly to students. And now we’re working with colleges and universities to keep tuition lower in order to make sure that when you get that first job, it may not pay everything you want — my first job, by the way, I made $10,000 a year.

So there’s nothing wrong with taking a job that doesn’t pay a lot if it’s what you’re interested in, as long as you don’t have these huge debt burdens that so many young people have now. And that’s a big contrast in this election. (Applause.)

Q Mr. President, we have a question that is very important for us and also our neighbors in Mexico. You have supported the President Calderón policy against drug trafficking. Now, there’s a new President who will be taking office at the same time if you were to win. So do you think that after 65,000 deaths it’s time to change the strategy? Can you consider the 65,000 a failure and the policy should change?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, obviously, there has been an extraordinary battle within Mexico to try to gain control over territories that, in some cases, have been just terrorized by these drug cartels. And I commend President Calderón for his courage in standing up to these cartels, and we have worked very closely and cooperatively with them in dealing with this issue.

Now, what I will be saying to the new President of Mexico when he takes office is that we want to continue that cooperation, and we recognize this is a threat on both sides of the border. We make a mistake if we just say this is Mexico’s problem because we obviously generate a lot of demand for drugs in this country, and guns and cash flow south at the same time as drugs flow north. That’s why —

Q How many more people have to die before this issue —

THE PRESIDENT: Well, what we need to do is to weaken the grip of these drug cartels, and there are a couple of things we can do. Number one, the United States can focus on drug treatment and prevention, and helping people deal with addiction, making sure that young people are not getting hooked on drugs. If we can reduce demand, that means less cash flowing into these drug cartels. And we have actually beefed up our investment and support of prevention, because we have to treat this as a public health problem here in the United States, not just a law enforcement problem.

The other thing that we try to do is to work much more aggressively in preventing the flow of guns and cash down into Mexico. And so interdiction has to work both ways.

But ultimately, Mexico is also going to have to come to terms with the fact that in some communities and in some cities, law enforcement has been outgunned or compromised by the strength of these drug cartels. And we want to help them, but they’re going to also have to take action to continue to keep pressure on these drugs cartels. And that includes not just police, by the way, it also means the judiciary, their prosecutors — that if they capture drug kingpins that they actually stay in jail.

There’s a whole series of issues involved in law enforcement, and we’re proving them advice, but ultimately they’re a sovereign country and they’re going to have to take some of those steps as well. But we want to be partners with them throughout this process.

Q Mr. President, you told me during an interview that you — Eric Holder or you did not authorize the Fast and Furious operation that allowed 2,000 weapons from the United States to Mexico, and they were in drug-trafficking hands. I think that up to 100 Mexicans might have died, and also American agent, Brian Terry. There’s a report that 14 agents were responsible for the operation. But shouldn’t Attorney General Eric Holder — he should have known about that. And if he didn’t, should you fire him?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I think it’s important for us to understand that the Fast and Furious program was a field-initiated program begun under the previous administration. When Eric Holder found out about it, he discontinued it. We assigned an inspector general to do a thorough report that was just issued, confirming that, in fact, Eric Holder did not know about this, that he took prompt action and the people who did initiate this were held accountable.

But what I think is most important is recognizing that we’ve got a challenge in terms of weapons flowing south. And the strategy that was pursued, obviously, out of Arizona, was completely wrongheaded. Those folks who were responsible have been held accountable. The question now is how do we move forward with a strategy that will actually work.

And we are going to have to work with Mexican law enforcement to accomplish this. But I will tell you that Eric Holder has my complete confidence because he has shown himself to be willing to hold accountable those who took these actions and is passionate about making sure that we’re preventing guns from getting into the wrong hands.

Q But if you have nothing to hide then why are you not releasing papers to this?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, actually, the truth is we’ve released thousands of papers —

Q But not all of them.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’ve released almost all of them. The ones that we don’t release typically relate to internal communications that were not related to the actual Fast and Furious operation.

And so the challenge that we have is that at any given moment in the federal government, there may be people who do dumb things. And I’ve seen it, I promise. (Laughter.) And ultimately, I’m responsible, and my key managers, including the Attorney General, are responsible, for holding those people accountable, for making sure that they are fired if they do dumb things, and then fixing the system to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. And I’m very confident that you will not see any kind of actions like this in the future.

But what I don’t like to see is these kinds of issues becoming political circuses or ways to score political points in Congress — partly because it becomes a distraction from us doing the business that we need to do for the American people.

Q Very briefly, talking about the same question — you know we have just one minute left. Why don’t just have an independent investigation? Because at the end of the day, it was just the Justice Department investigating its boss and saying that he’s not at fault. Why don’t we have — very briefly — independent investigation that is not from the Justice Department?

THE PRESIDENT: Maria Elena, understand that not only have we had multiple hearings in Congress, but the inspector general is put in place specifically to be independent from the Attorney General. And this Attorney General’s report was not a whitewash in any way. I mean, it was tough on the Justice Department. And it indicated that potentially more supervision was needed; people should have known in some cases, even if they didn’t actually know. So it was, I think, independent, honest. It was a clear assessment of what had gone wrong in that situation.

And we are happy to continue to provide the information that is relevant to this. But one of the things that happens in Washington is, very quickly these issues become political distractions as opposed to us actually solving the problems that we need to solve. And this issue of guns flowing south is a hard issue to solve. Because this country respects the Second Amendment; we want to protect the rights of gun owners and those who are seeking to purchase firearms. But oftentimes that’s exploited as well. And so we’ve got to make sure that we’re properly balancing the rights of U.S. citizens, but making sure that we’re also interdicting those arms that would get into the hands of criminals.

Q Mr. President, thank you so much. We’re going to have a last break and then we’re going to continue with a President Barack Obama. Thank you so much. (Applause.)

* * *

Q Something different, something personal. I don’t know what you’re reading before going to sleep right now. I don’t know if you have already read the book “No Easy Day,” in which a Navy SEAL tells the story of how Osama bin Laden was killed. According to many, his death was your biggest achievement. What is your biggest failure?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Jorge, as you remind me, my biggest failure so far is we haven’t gotten comprehensive immigration reform done. (Laughter.) So we’re going to be continuing to work on that. (Applause.) But it’s not for lack of trying or desire, and I’m confident we’re going to accomplish that.

Obviously the fact that we haven’t been able to change the tone in Washington is disappointing. We know now that as soon as I came into office you already had meetings among some of our Republican colleagues saying, how do we figure out how to beat the President. And I think that I’ve learned some lessons over the last four years, and the most important lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside. That’s how I got elected, and that’s how the big accomplishments like health care got done, was because we mobilized the American people to speak out. That’s how we were able to cut taxes for middle-class families.

So something that I’d really like to concentrate on in my second term is being in a much more constant conversation with the American people so that they can put pressure on Congress to help move some of these issues forward. (Applause.)

Q Yes, as you said, that’s your biggest failure and Jorge asked you do you consider that you broke your promise. So I think the answer is, yes, with many excuses, but you actually broke your promise.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, what I will say this — what I’ll say is that — that I haven’t gotten everything done that I wanted to get done. And that’s why I’m running for a second term — because we’ve still got more work to do. (Applause.)

The good news is I think that we can build on the progress that we’ve made. The actions we took in terms of deferred action give us the basis now to get something done for the DREAMers, to get comprehensive immigration reform done.

The progress that we’ve made in helping young people finance their college educations serves as a basis for us to continue to try to bring tuition down and college graduation rates up. The 4.5 million jobs that we’ve already created gives us the basis for us now doubling down on manufacturing, and making sure that community colleges are training people for the jobs that are out there right now. The opportunities that we have in implementing health care — which is going to be providing millions of Americans, including millions of Latinos, for the first time, who’ve worked so hard, the peace of mind of knowing that they have affordable health care.

All those issues are ones that we’re very proud of, but we know we’re not done yet. And that’s exactly why this election is going to be so important.

Q Mr. President, thank you so much for spending this hour with us. And as we said yesterday, we did the same with Mitt Romney, and we want to give you the opportunity for you to talk to our audience on camera. So you can talk to Hispanics to try to convince them, for them to vote for you.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it is my pleasure. Thank you so much for the time that you’ve given me and for this audience. And the U of Miami, thank you. We appreciate you. (Applause.)

I truly believe this is the most important election of our lifetimes. We’ve gone through some very tough times together over these last four years. But now we’ve got a choice about how we move forward.

My opponents, they think that if we provide tax cuts to folks at the very top, that somehow that’s going to result in jobs and opportunity for everybody. I’ve got a different philosophy. What I believe is, is that our economy grows best when it grows from the middle out and the bottom up; when everybody has got a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same rules.

And so the plan that I put forward in terms of making sure that we are creating a million manufacturing jobs, that we’re providing tax breaks to companies that are investing and hiring here in the United States as opposed to shipping jobs overseas, the plan to make sure that we continue to expand opportunities for young people, making college affordable, hiring 100,000 new math and science teachers, an energy strategy that says, yes, we’re going to increase production of oil and gas and continue to cut our oil imports but also we’re developing wind power and solar power that will create new jobs and help to clean our environment, and the plan to reduce our deficit in a way that’s balanced so that we’re not providing tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires that result in massive cuts in education or that would somehow turn Medicare into a voucher — those plans that I’ve put forward I’m confident can work, but they can only work with you.

So one thing that I saw in 2008 is that when the American people come together and decide that they are going to fight for the values and ideals that made this country great, we can’t be stopped. And I would urge everybody who is watching to look at my plan, look at Mr. Romney’s plan — compare who has got a better answer for middle-class families and everybody who is striving to get into the middle class.

And for the Latino community, I would say that the work that we’ve done on education, on immigration, on housing, on putting people back to work, on making sure that small businesses have access to financing — those are all issues that are representative of what you care about, your values. But you’ve got to get out there and you’ve got to make sure that you express that with your ballot.

So I would urge you to vote and I would ask you to vote for me and Democrats up and down the ticket. I think it will deliver for you in the future.

Thank you so much. (Applause.)

2:11 P.M. EDT

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