Full Text Obama Presidency May 14, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Building a 21st Century Infrastructure at the Tappan Zee Bridge, Tarrytown, New York

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Building a 21st Century Infrastructure

Source: WH, 5-14-14

Watch the Video

Washington Irving Boat Club
Tarrytown, New York

3:37 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, New York!  (Applause.)  It turned out to be a beautiful day.  Well, it’s wonderful to be here with all of you.  Take a seat, take a seat.  Relax.

First of all, I want to thank Governor Cuomo for that great introduction and the great job he’s doing.  I want to thank Mayor Fixell for having me in Tarrytown.  (Applause.)  Where’s the Mayor?  Where’d he go?  There he is, right there.  This is a gorgeous part of the world and I am lucky to be here, and I’m going to be coming back soon; in two weeks, I’ve got the honor of delivering the commencement at West Point just a little bit further up.

But today, I’m here, along with our Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx — (applause) — to talk about one of the best ways to create new jobs and spur our economy, and that is to rebuild America’s infrastructure.

It’s been about five and a half years since the financial crisis that rocked Wall Street and then ultimately spread to Main Street.  Thanks to the grit, the determination of the American people, we’ve been steadily fighting our way back.  In just four years, our businesses have now created 9.2 million new jobs.  Auto industry that was flatlining is now booming.  A manufacturing sector that had lost a third of its jobs back in the ‘90s is adding jobs for the first time.  Troops that were fighting two wars, they’re either home or coming home.  Rather than creating jobs in other countries, more and more companies are recognizing it makes good business sense to locate right here in the United States of America with outstanding American workers.  (Applause.)

So we’ve made progress, but here’s the thing:  We could be doing a lot more.  We could make the decision easier for businesses to locate here in the United States, here in New York state, if we do a better job rebuilding our roads, rebuilding our bridges, upgrading our ports, unclogging commute times.  The alternative is to do nothing and watch businesses go to places that have outstanding infrastructure.

And behind me is the old Tappan Zee Bridge, the longest bridge in New York and one of the busiest bridges around.  As any commuter will tell you, it is crowded.  (Laughter.)  It carries a lot more traffic than when it was built back in 1955.  At times, you can see the river through the cracks in the pavement.  Now, I’m not an engineer, but I figure that’s not good.  (Laughter.)

But right now, thanks to the efforts of Governor Cuomo, thanks to your outstanding congressional delegation led by Nita Lowey and including Eliot Engel, and Sean Patrick Maloney, and Jerry Nadler, all of whom are here today — stand up, congressional delegation.  We’re proud of you.  (Applause.)  Thanks to their outstanding efforts, workers are building a replacement — the first new bridge in New York in 50 years.  It’s called The “New” New York Bridge — which is fine as a name, but for your next bridge you should come up with something a little more fresh.  (Laughter.)

Now, here’s the thing — this never happens — you are building this bridge ahead of schedule.  Three years ago, after Republicans in Congress refused to pass multiple bills that would have put construction workers back to work, I took action on my own to fast-track the permitting process for major projects like this one.  Normally, it would have taken three to five years to permit this bridge; we did it in a year and a half — in a year and a half.  (Applause.)  That meant we were creating thousands of jobs faster while doing right by workers and tending to the environment.  And the Vice President is in Cleveland today at another project that we fast-tracked — a rapid-transit station that will make life easier for a lot of residents there.

So today, we’re releasing a new plan to apply the same strategy to other major projects all across America.  We’re announcing 11 more projects to accelerate, to get moving faster — from Boston’s South Station, to Pensacola Bay Bridge, to new light-rail projects north and south of Seattle.  We’re cutting bureaucratic red tape that stalls good projects from breaking ground.  We’re launching a new national permitting center to implement these reforms.  We are aiming to put every major infrastructure project on a public dashboard so everybody can go online; track our progress; hold us accountable; make sure things are coming in on time, on budget; make sure your taxpayer money is being used well, but also make sure that we’re putting folks back to work rebuilding America.  That’s our goal.  (Applause.)

Now, all these steps we can do without Congress.  And all these steps mean more good jobs — because nobody was hurt worse than construction workers by the financial crisis.  The housing market plummeted, and a lot of guys in hard hats and a lot of gals in hard hats, suddenly they were off the job.  And that’s why the Recovery Act back in 2009, 2010 included the most important public works jobs program since the New Deal, jumpstarting more than 15,000 construction projects around the country.

Over the past five years, American workers have repaired or replaced more than 20,000 bridges, improved more than 350,000 miles of American roads.  Four years ago, when we were just starting to clear away the damage from the financial crisis, the unemployment rate for construction workers stood at 20 percent — in fact, it was over 20 percent.  Today, we’ve cut it by more than half.

But we can do better.  We can build better — and we have to.  We’ve got ports that aren’t ready for the next generation of cargo ships.  We’ve got more than 100,000 bridges that are old enough to qualify for Medicare.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got leaky pipes that lose billions of gallons of drinking water every single day, even as we’ve got a severe drought in much of the West.  Nearly half our people don’t have access to transit at all.  And I don’t have to tell you what some of our airports look like.

Building a world-class transportation system is one of the reasons America became an economic superpower in the first place.  But over the past 50 years, as a share of our economy, our investment in transportation has shrunk by 50 percent.  Think about that.  Our investment in transportation has been cut by half.

You know what other countries are doing?  European countries now invest twice as much as we do.  China invests four times as much as we do in transportation.  One study recently found that over time, we’ve fallen to 19th place when it comes to the quality of our infrastructure — 19th place.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like America being 19th.  I don’t like America being second.  I want us to be first when it comes to infrastructure around the world, because businesses are going to come where there’s good infrastructure to move businesses, move people, move services.  (Applause.)

We shouldn’t watch the top-rated airports and seaports or the fastest rail lines or fastest Internet networks get built somewhere else — they need to be built right here in New York, right here in the United States.  First-class infrastructure attracts first-class jobs.  Business owners don’t want a crumbling road or a bridge because then they can’t move out their stuff, and their workers aren’t as productive because it’s harder for them to get to work.  They want to set up shop where there’s high-speed rail and high-speed broadband, high-tech schools, self-healing power grids, new ports, tunnels.  That allows them, when they make goods here in America, to move those goods out and sell them all around the world.

Now, unfortunately, helping states and cities fund infrastructure is one of Congress’s chief responsibilities.  And you’ve got some outstanding members here, but let me just talk a little bit about Congress right now.  If they don’t act by the end of the summer, federal funding for transportation projects will run out — will run out.  There will be no money.  The cupboard will be bare.  And all told, nearly 700,000 jobs would be at risk over the next year — that’s like the population of Tampa and St. Louis combined.

Right now, there are more than 100,000 active projects paving roads and rebuilding bridges, modernizing our transit systems.  States might have to choose which ones to put the brake on.  Some states are already starting to slow down work because they’re worried Congress won’t untangle the gridlock on time.  And that’s something you should remember every time you see a story about a construction project stopped, or machines idled, or workers laid off their jobs.

And that’s why, earlier this year, in addition to fast-tracking projects, working with Secretary Foxx, I put forward a plan to rebuild our transportation infrastructure in a more responsible way.  It would support millions of jobs across America.  It would give cities and states and private investors the certainty they need to plan ahead and invest.  And it wouldn’t add to our deficits because we’d pay for it in part by closing wasteful tax loopholes for companies that are shipping jobs overseas that are in the tax code right now and that we could clean out and help pay to put folks back to work rebuilding America.  (Applause.)

Now, so far, at least, Republicans who run this Congress seem to have a different priority.  Not only have they prevented so far efforts to make sure funding is still in place for what we’ve already got, but their proposal would actually cut job-creating grant programs that have funded high-priority transportation projects in all 50 states.  They’d cut them by about 80 percent.  And they can’t say it’s to save money, because at the very same time, they voted for trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, weighted towards folks at the very top.

So think about that for a second.  Instead of putting more workers back on the job, they’d put those workers’ jobs at risk.  Instead of breaking ground on new projects that would improve the quality of life for millions of people, they voted to give a massive tax cut to households making more than $1 million a year.  Instead of making investments that grow our economy by growing the middle class, they’re still convinced that prosperity trickles down from the very top.
If you want to tell them what you think about that, don’t worry, because usually they show up at ribbon-cuttings — (laughter) — for projects that they refused to fund.

And here is the sad part:  Rebuilding America, that shouldn’t be a partisan issue.  My favorite President happens to have been a Republican — a guy named Abraham Lincoln in my home state of Illinois.  And it was Lincoln who committed to a railroad connecting East to West, even while he was struggling mightily to hold together North and South.  It was a Republican, Dwight Eisenhower, who built the Interstate Highway System.  It was Ronald Reagan who said that rebuilding our infrastructure is “an investment in tomorrow that we must make today.”  Since when are the Republicans in Congress against Ronald Reagan?  (Laughter.)

But that’s part of the problem — we’ve gotten so partisan, everything is becoming political.  They’re more interested in saying no because they’re worried that maybe they’d have to be at a bill signing with me than they are at actually doing the job that they know would be good for America.  It’s time for folks to stop running around saying what’s wrong with America; roll up your sleeves and let’s get to work and help America rebuild.  That’s what we should be doing.  (Applause.)

We don’t need a “can’t do” spirit; we need a “can do” spirit.  That’s what Governor Cuomo has, and it sounds like the state legislature was willing to work with him on this.  Well, we need Congress to work with us on these issues.  It doesn’t mean they’re going to agree with us on everything.  I guarantee you they will have more than enough to disagree with me about, but let’s not fight on something we all know makes sense.  After all, we’re the people who, in the depths of the Depression, lifted a great bridge in California, and laid a great dam down in the Southwest, and lifted up rural America.  We shrank a sprawling continent when we pounded in that final railroad spike, connected up this amazing country of ours; stretched a network of highways all across America from coast to coast.  And then we connected the world with our imaginations and the Internet.

A great nation does these things.  A great nation doesn’t say “no, we can’t,” it says “yes, we can.”  (Applause.)

So the bottom line, Tarrytown, is America doesn’t stand still.  There is work to be done.  There are workers ready to do it, and some of them are here and they’re already on the job doing the work.  We’re proud of them.  (Applause.)  There are people all across this country that are ready and eager to move this country forward.

So I’m going to keep on fighting alongside all of you to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to rebuild America — not just rebuild one bridge, but I want us to rebuild every bridge.  I don’t want us to just rebuild one school, I want us to rebuild every school that needs help.  (Applause.)  I want us to most of all, most importantly, rebuild an economy where hard work is valued and responsibility is respected and rewarded, and where opportunity is available not just to some, but to every single hardworking American.  That’s what I’m fighting for, and I know that’s what you care about.

Thank you very much, everybody.  Good job, workers.  I look forward to seeing this bridge.  Thank you very much.  God bless you.  God bless America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
3:54 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency October 25, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Education, Investing in America’s Future, in Brooklyn

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Investing in America’s Future

Source: WH, 10-25-13

President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan talk with students while visiting a classroom at the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH)

President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan talk with students while visiting a classroom at the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn, NY, Oct. 25, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) 

Pathways in Technology Early College High School
Brooklyn, New York

3:55 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Brooklyn!  (Applause.)  How you doing?

AUDIENCE:  Good!

THE PRESIDENT:  It is good to be back in Brooklyn.  Good to be in New York City.  And it is good to see some friends who stick up for students and teachers and education every day.  We’ve got your Governor — Andrew Cuomo is in the house.  Give him a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  We’ve got your Senator, Chuck Schumer.  (Applause.)  Outstanding Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.  (Applause.)  We’ve got — your outstanding congressional delegation is here.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  We’ve got your public advocate and my friend — Bill DeBlasio is here.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the outstanding leader of one of America’s iconic companies, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty.  (Applause.)  And I want to give a special shout-out to a man who’s been an extraordinary mayor for this city; he’s been a leader throughout the country for the past 12 years — Mr. Michael Bloomberg is here.  (Applause.)

And I want to thank your principal here at P-TECH, Rashid Davis, who I am pretty confident is the coolest-looking principal in America.  (Laughter and applause.)  I mean, there just are not that many principals with dreadlocks and yellow kicks.  (Applause.)  There aren’t that many of them.  I mean, there may be some, but there aren’t that many.  (Laughter.)

And I had a wonderful time visiting with one of your teachers, Ms. Seifullah — Seifullah?  Ms. Seifullah.  She was outstanding.  She welcomed me into her classroom.  She showed me around.  I want to thank all of you for letting me spend some time here.  In return, you got out of class a little early on Friday, which I know always gets a little applause — although, in this school maybe not, because you guys are enjoying learning so much.  That’s worth applauding — that you’re enjoying learning so much.  (Applause.)

Now, part of the reason I’m glad to be here is because I used to live in Brooklyn, and I actually landed Marine One in Prospect Park — I used to live across the street from Prospect Park.  (Applause.)  But mainly I’m here because I wanted to come here ever since I talked about you in my State of the Union address this year — because what’s going on here at P-TECH is outstanding, and I’m excited to see it for myself.

I know Brooklyn in general is blowing up right now.  When I was living here, Brooklyn was cool, but not this cool.  (Laughter.)  Barclays Center hadn’t been built yet.  I know the Nets just picked up Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett offseason, which is a lesson to all the young people — old people can still play.  (Laughter.)  We’ve still got some gas in the tank.

But this whole borough is where generations of hopeful, striving immigrants came in search of opportunity — a chance to build better lives for themselves and for their kids.  And that’s been true for decades.  And I’m here today to talk about what we need to do, as a country, to build the same kind of opportunity for your generation, for the next generation, and for your kids, and for future immigrants.

This country should be doing everything in our power to give more kids the chance to go to schools just like this one.  We should be doing everything we can to put college within the reach of more young people.  We should be doing everything we can to keep your streets safe and protect you from gun violence.  We should be doing everything we can to keep families from falling into poverty, and build more ladders of opportunity to help people who are willing to work hard climb out of poverty.  We should be doing everything we can to welcome new generations of hopeful, striving immigrants.

I want us to do everything we can to give every single young person the same kind of opportunity that this country gave me and gave Chuck, and gave Governor Cuomo and gave Mayor Bloomberg and gave your principal.  That’s what I’m focused on.

Yes, by the way, if you have chairs, go ahead and sit down.  (Laughter.)  If you don’t have chairs, then don’t sit down because you’ll fall.  (Laughter.)  I didn’t realize everybody had chairs there.  I would have told you to sit down earlier.  (Laughter.)

So that’s what we can achieve together.  It’s possible.  We know we can do it.  P-TECH is proof of what can be accomplished, but we’ve got to have the courage to do it.  The American people work hard, and they try to do right, day in and day out.  And that resilience and that toughness helped to turn our economy around after one of the hardest periods that we’ve ever faced as a country.  But what we also need is some political courage in Washington.  We don’t always see that.

Right now we need to all pull together.  We need to work together to grow the economy, not shrink it; to create good jobs, not eliminate jobs.  We’ve got to finish building a new foundation for shared and lasting prosperity so that everybody who works hard, everybody who studies hard at a school like this one, or schools all across the country have a chance to get ahead.  That’s what we need to do.  That’s what I’m focused on.

And that all begins with the education that we give young people.  Because all of you are growing up in changing times, especially for the economy.  The world you’re growing up in is different than the one that previous generations here in Brooklyn knew and all across the country knew.

In the old days, a young person, they might have just followed their parents’ footsteps and gotten a job in their parents’ line of work, keep that job for 30, 40 years.  If you were willing to work hard, you didn’t necessarily need a great education.  If you’d just gone to high school, you might get a job at a factory, or in the garment district.  You might be able to just get a job that allowed you to earn your wages, keep pace with people who had a chance to go to college.  But those days are over, and those days are not coming back.

We live in a 21st century global economy.  And in a global economy, jobs can go anywhere.  Companies, they’re looking for the best-educated people, wherever they live, and they’ll reward them with good jobs and good pay.  And if you don’t have a well- educated workforce, you’re going to be left behind.  If you don’t have a good education, then it is going to be hard for you to find a job that pays a living wage.

And, by the way, other countries know this.  In previous generations, America’s standing economically was so much higher than everybody else’s that we didn’t have a lot of competition.  Now you’ve got billions of people from Beijing to Bangalore to Moscow, all of whom are competing with you directly.  And they’re — those countries are working every day to out-educate and out-compete us.

And every year brings more research showing them pulling ahead, especially in some of the subject matter that this school specializes in — math and science and technology.  So we’ve got a choice to make.  We can just kind of shrug our shoulders and settle for something less, or we can do what America has always done, which is adapt.  We pull together, we up our game, we hustle, we fight back, we work hard, and we win.

We have to educate our young people — every single person here, but also all the young people all across Brooklyn, all across New York City, all across New York State and all across this country — so that you’re ready for this global economy.  And schools like P-TECH will help us do that.

Here at P-TECH, you’ve got folks from IBM, City Tech, City University of New York, City Department of Education — everybody is pulling together to make sure a high school education puts young people on a path to a good job.  So you guys have opportunities here that you don’t find in most high schools yet.  You can take college-level courses in math and science.  You can work with mentors from IBM, so you’re learning specific skills that you know leads to a good job.  And most important, you’ll graduate with a high school diploma and an Associate’s Degree in computer systems or electromechanical engineering.  And that means you’ll be in demand.  Companies will want to hire you.  IBM has even said that P-TECH graduates will be first in line when you apply for jobs once you graduate.

And at a moment when the cost of higher education keeps going up — and Arne and I are working hard to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to reduce the burden of student loans on young people — here’s how much two years of college will cost P-TECH students and their families:  Zero.  Nothing.  Nothing.  (Applause.)  I noticed some of the parents were the first to clap.  They’re like, “Yeah.”  (Laughter.)  They like that.

But that’s a huge burden.  I mean, that’s thousands of dollars that you’re saving, and that means when you start working, you’re going to have that much less of a burden in terms of debt, which means you can afford to buy a house sooner, you can afford to start your business sooner.  Radcliffe was saying how he’s thinking about starting his own business.  And that kind of attitude is a lot easier when you’re not burdened with a lot of student loans.

So this is a ticket into the middle class, and it’s available to everybody who’s willing to work for it.  And that’s the way it should be.  That’s what public education is supposed to do.  And the great thing is that what started small is now growing.  So Governor Cuomo, he’s opening up P-TECH model schools in districts throughout the state — throughout the state.  (Applause.)  So all those schools together, they’re going to prepare more than 6,000 high school students for good, high-skilled jobs.

Back in my hometown of Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is opening up schools like this one.  He’s opening up a school, for example, called Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy.  And — you got a little Chicago person here.  Yes, there you go.  (Laughter.)  Across the country, companies like Verizon, and Microsoft, and ConEd, and Cisco, they saw what IBM was doing, and they said, well, this is a good idea; we can do this, too.  So they’re working with educators and states to replicate what you’re already doing here.  And you guys should feel good about that.  You’re starting something all across the country.  (Applause.)

So as a country, we should all want what all of you are receiving right now, the same chance for a great education.  Here’s what I think we should do as a country to make sure they’ve got the same opportunities you do.  First of all, we’ve got to give every child an earlier start at success by making high-quality pre-school available to every 4-year-old in America.  (Applause.)

We should give every student access to the world’s information.  When I went into the classroom today, young people were working off computers, and the problem is a lot of places, even if they’ve got computers, they’re not hooked up to wireless.  So what we’re doing is having the federal agencies moving forward on a plan to connect 99 percent of America’s students to high-speed Internet within five years.  We’re already moving on that front.  (Applause.)

We need to bring down the cost of college and give more young people the chance to go to college.  (Applause.)  So a couple of months ago, I put forward an ambitious new plan to do that, to reduce the cost of college.

We need to redesign more of our high schools so that they teach young people the skills required for a high-tech economy.  So I’ve been meeting with business leaders and innovative educators to spread the best ideas.

And I also want to congratulate Governor Cuomo and all of you in New York for having the courage to raise your standards for teaching and learning to make sure that more students graduate from high school ready for college and a career.  It’s not easy, but it’s the right thing to do.  It’s going to prepare more young people for today’s economy.  We should stay at it.  (Applause.)

And here’s one more thing we should do, and that is just — remember, none of this works unless we’ve got outstanding teachers, which means we’ve got to — (applause) — we’ve got to make sure that we’re funding education so that teachers have the support that they need so that they can support their own families, so that they’re not having to dig into their pockets for school supplies.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got to show them the respect, and provide pathways of excellence for teachers so that they’re treated like the professionals that they are.  It is a hard job, and we’ve got to make sure we’re investing in them.  (Applause.)

Now, some of these ideas I’ve laid out before; some of them I’m just going ahead and doing on my own.  Some of them do require Congress to do something.  (Applause.)  And one way we can start is by Congress passing a budget that reflects our need to invest in our young people.  (Applause.)  I know that budgets aren’t the most interesting topic for a Friday afternoon, even at a school where young people like math.  And, by the way, I just sat in on a lesson called “real-world math,” which got me thinking whether it’s too late to send Congress here — (laughter) — for a remedial course.

But a budget is important, because what a budget does is it sets our priorities.  It tells us what we think is important, what our priorities are.  And the stakes for our middle class could not be higher.  If we don’t set the right priorities now, then many of you will be put at a competitive disadvantage compared to other countries.

If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs.  (Applause.)  So we’ve got to invest.

So we need a budget that is responsible, that is fiscally prudent, but a budget that cuts what we don’t need, closes wasteful tax loopholes that don’t create jobs, freeing up resources to invest in the things that actually do help us grow — things like education and scientific research, and infrastructure, roads, bridges, airports.  This should not be an ideological exercise, we should use some common sense.

What’s going to help us grow; what’s going to create jobs; what is going to expand our middle class; what’s going to give more opportunity to young people — those are the things we should be putting money into.  (Applause.)  That’s what we need to do.

And we’ve got enough resources to do it if we stop spending on things that don’t work and don’t make sense, or if we make sure that people aren’t wiggling out of their taxes through these corporate loopholes that only a few people at the very top can take advantage of.  If we just do everything in a fair, common-sense way, we’ve got the resources to be fiscally responsible and invest in our future.

And this obsession with cutting just for the sake of cutting hasn’t helped our economy grow, it’s held it back.  It won’t help us build a better society for your generation.  And, by the way, it’s important to remember, for those who are following the news, our deficits are getting smaller.  They’ve been cut in half since I took office.  (Applause.)  So that gives us room to fix longer-term debt problems without sticking it to your generation.  We don’t have to choose between growth and fiscal responsibility; we’ve got to do both.  And the question can’t just be how much more we can cut, it’s got to be how many more schools like P-TECH we can create.  That should be our priority.  (Applause.)

And after the manufactured crisis that Congress — actually, a small group in the House of Representatives just put us through, shutting down the government and threatening to potentially default on our debt, I don’t want to hear the same old stuff about how America can’t afford to invest in the things that have always made us strong.  Don’t tell me we can afford to shut down the government, which cost our economy billions of dollars, but we can’t afford to invest in our education system.  Because there’s nothing more important than this.  (Applause.)

In fact, what I’d like to do is have every member of Congress — maybe Chuck can arrange and the congressional delegation can arrange some tours for some of their colleagues.  Come here.  Come to Brooklyn.  Meet some of these young people.  (Applause.)  They ought to meet some of the young people here.  (Applause.)

Meet somebody like Leslieanne John, the young woman who sang the national anthem this afternoon.  (Applause.)  Leslieanne is in the 11th grade, she’s already taken eight college classes, which is about as many as I took when I was in college.  (Laughter.)  She knows she has a great opportunity here, she’s working hard to make the most of it.  Eventually, she plans to become a lawyer.

And Leslieanne is clear-eyed about the challenges that the students here face.  She put it in a way that a lot of people can relate to — she said, “We see a whole bunch of craziness going on in the streets of Crown Heights sometimes.”  That’s what she said.  But she also said that being here at P-TECH taught her something important:  “There’s more for us than just the streets.”  (Applause.)  And she said that, “At the end of the day, we’ve got to make something of ourselves.”  And that’s important — that’s important.

It’s not just what the government or adults can do for you; it’s also what you can do for yourselves.  And that sense of responsibility, that sense that you set the bar high for yourself, that’s what America is all about — that’s been the history of New York:  People working hard but also working together to make sure that everybody has got a fair shot; to make sure you don’t have to be born wealthy, you don’t have to be born famous; that if you’ve got some drive and some energy, then you can go to a school that teaches you what you need to know.  You can go to college even if you don’t have a lot of money.  You can start your own business even if you didn’t inherit a business.

Making something of ourselves, that’s what we do in this country.  That’s a message worth sending to Washington.  No more games, no more gridlock, no more gutting the things that help America grow, and give people the tools to make something of themselves.  That’s what this is about.  That’s what P-TECH represents, that’s what Brooklyn represents.

And as long as I have the privilege to be your President, I’m going to keep fighting to make sure that no matter who you are, where you come from, what you look like, this country will always be the place where you can make it if you try.

So thank you, Brooklyn.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
4:20 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines August 23, 2013: President Barack Obama Fields Questions on Education at Townhall at Binghamton University

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Fields Questions on Education at Townhall

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In a rare townhall on the second day of his bus tour, President Obama fielded questions ranging from how to keep Head Start funding intact to the education and civil rights progress made since the March on Washington 50 years ago.

“We don’t have an urgent deficit crisis. The only crisis we have is one that’s manufactured in Washington, and it’s ideological,” President Obama told students, faculty, and parents at Binghamton University, the State University of New York, Friday….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency August 23, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Remarks in Town Hall Meeting on College Affordability, College Cost Cutting Plan at Binghamton University

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President in Town Hall at Binghamton University

Source: WH, 8-23-13

Binghamton University
Binghamton, New York

12:48 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Binghamton!  (Applause.)  It is good to see all of you.  Thank you so much.  Now, go ahead and have a seat — I’m going to be here a while.  (Laughter.)

Well, first of all, let me thank the university and your president, Harvey Stenger, for having me here today.  Give your president a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  There he is.    A couple other people I want to recognize — Mayor Matt Ryan is here.  (Applause.)  Two wonderful Congressmen — Richard Hanna and Paul Tonko.  (Applause.)  Your former Representative, Maurice Hinchey, is here as well.  (Applause.)

So, first of all, thank you, because it’s really nice outside, so for you to be willing to come inside, I greatly appreciate.  And I’m not going to do a lot of talking at the top because I want to have a conversation with you about a range of issues, but in particular, something that is personal for me.

A lot of you know that I wasn’t born into a lot of wealth or fame, there wasn’t a long Obama dynasty.  And so the only reason I’m here today, the only reason Michelle and I have been able to accomplish what we accomplished is because we got a great education.  And I think the essence of the American Dream is that anybody who’s willing to work hard is able to get that good education and achieve their dreams.

And central to that is the issue that — you’ve got a big sign there — we try to message effectively — (laughter) — College Affordability — making sure that people can afford to go to college.

I’m on a road trip from New York to Pennsylvania.  Yesterday I was at the University of Buffalo.  I visited students at Syracuse.  Later today, I’m going to meet Joe Biden in Scranton, his hometown.  But I decided to stop here for a couple of reasons.  Number one, I’ve been told that it’s very important for me to get a spiedies while I’m here.  (Laughter and applause.)  So we’re going to pick one up and try it on the road.  Number two, I’m excited because of the great work that SUNY campuses like Binghamton are doing to keep costs down for hardworking students like so many of you.

Chancellor Zimpher is making sure that hundreds of thousands of SUNY students all across the state are getting a world-class higher education but without some of the debt and financial burden that is stopping too many young people from going to college.  And that’s what we want for all of our students and all of our families all across the country.

Over the past month, I’ve been visiting towns throughout America, and I’ve talked about how do we secure a better bargain for the middle class and everybody who’s trying to work their way into the middle class.

We’ve fought our way through a very brutal recession, and now we’re at a point where we’re creating jobs, the economy is growing, budget deficits are falling, health care inflation has been reduced.  And yet there are still a lot of working families out there who are having a tough time in this competitive global economy that we live in.

And the fact is even before this last financial crisis, we had increasingly an economy where folks at the top were doing better and better and better, but the average individual or family was seeing their incomes and their wages flat-lining.  And you start getting a tale of two Americas.  And the whole premise of upward mobility in this country, which is central to who we understand ourselves to be, was being diminished for too many people.  So, from my perspective, reversing that trend should be Washington’s highest priority.  It’s certainly my highest priority.

Unfortunately, what we’ve seen in Washington all too often is, instead of focusing on how do we bring good middle-class jobs back to America, how do we make sure the economy is growing robustly and that growth is broad-based, we’ve been spending a lot of time arguing about whether we should be paying our bills that we’ve already accrued.  Or the discussion has been about slashing spending on education and basic research and science — all the things that are going to make sure that we remain competitive for the future.

Most recently, there’s been threats that we would shut down the government unless we agree to roll back the health care reform that’s about to provide millions of Americans with health care coverage for the first time.  And that’s not an economic plan.  That’s not going to grow the economy.  That’s not going to strengthen the middle class and it’s not going to create ladders of opportunity into the middle class.

What we need to do is focus on the pocketbook, bread-and-butter issues that affect all of you — making sure we’ve got good jobs with good wages; a good education; a home of your own; affordable health care; a secure retirement; and a way for people who are currently in poverty to get out of poverty.  That’s what we should be spending our time thinking about when it comes to domestic policy.  That’s what’s always made America great.  And nothing is more important to that process than what we’re doing in terms of K through 12 education and higher education.

Now, here’s the challenge:  At the time when higher education has never been more important — and when I say higher education I mean two-year, four-year, technical colleges — it doesn’t all have to be four-year, traditional bachelor of arts or sciences — at a time when that’s never been more important, college has never been more expensive.

And in fact, what you’ve seen is, is that over the last three decades, the cost of higher education has gone up 260 percent, at a time when family incomes have gone up about 18 percent.  So I’m not a math major — there are probably some here — but if you’ve got one line going up 260 percent and another line going up 16 percent, you start getting a bigger and bigger gap.  And what’s happened as a consequence is that either college has become out of reach for too many people, or young people are being loaded up with more and more debt.

Now, we’ve tried to close that gap.  When I came into office, we reformed our financial aid system, so the student loan programs were being run through banks and banks were making billions of dollars on it, and we said let’s just give the money directly to students, cut out the middleman.  And we then were able to re-funnel billions of dollars to provide more students with more grants and more assistance.  We’ve done our best to keep interest rates on student loans as low as possible.

But even with all the work that we’re doing there, the fact is the average student is still coming out with $26,000 worth of debt when they graduate.  And for a lot of students it’s much more than that.  And particularly, for those young people who are choosing careers where — like teaching, where they may not make a lot of money, if they’re burdened with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, in some cases it’s impossible for them ever to pay it off — or they have to put off buying a home, or starting a business, or starting a family.  And that has a depressive effect on our economy overall.  So it’s not just bad for the students, it’s also bad for the economy as a whole.

The bottom line is this:  We can’t price higher education so prohibitively that ordinary families can’t afford it.  That will ruin our chances to make sure the 21st century is the American Century just like the 20th century was.

So what we’ve done — and I announced this yesterday — is propose three basic reforms to try to shake the system up.

Number one, we want to start rating colleges based on how well they’re doing in providing good value and opportunity for students.  I mean, right now you’ve got a bunch of ranking systems, some of them commercial, and when you look at what’s being rated it’s typically how selective the schools are, how few students they take in, and how expensive they are and what are their facilities like.  And what we want to do is to start looking at factors like how much debt do students leave with, and do they actually graduate, and do they graduate in four years as opposed to six or eight or 10, and do they find a job after they graduate — giving some concrete measures that will allow students and families to gauge if I go to this school, am I going to get a good deal.

And since taxpayers are often providing those families and students assistance, we want to make sure taxpayers are getting a good deal as well.  And that will create an atmosphere in which college presidents and trustees start thinking about affordability and don’t just assume that tuition can keep on going up and up and up.

Now, what we’re also going to be doing is putting pressure on state legislatures to rebalance, because part of the reason so many state universities have had to increase tuition is because state legislative priorities have shifted all across the country — more money into prisons, less money into schools.  That means that costs are passed on to students in the form of higher tuition.  So we’ve got to do something about that.

And we’re also going to ask a little more from students.  What we’re going to say to students is you need to actually finish courses before you take out more loans and more grants.  And we want to say that to students not to be punitive, but instead, to prevent a situation where students end up taking out a lot of debt but never actually getting the degree, which puts them in a deeper financial hole than they otherwise would be.

So that’s point number one.  Second, we want to jumpstart competition among colleges and states to think of more innovative ways to reduce costs.  And there are schools that are doing some terrific work in reducing costs while maintaining high-quality education.  So, for example, there are some schools that are experimenting where you can get credits based on your competency, as opposed to how much time you’re spending in the classroom.

There’s no law that says you have to graduate — that for you to be in school for four years rather than three or three and a half somehow automatically gives you a better education.  And so, schools are experimenting with how can we compress the time and thereby reduce the costs.  Are there ways that we can use online learning to improve the educational quality and, at the same time, make things a little cheaper for students?

So we’re going to work with states, schools, university presidents to see what’s working and what’s not.  And let’s spread best practices all across the country.

And then the third thing we want to do is to is to expand and better advertise a program that we put in place and expanded when I came into office, and that is a program that says for college graduates who do have debt we’re going to cap the monthly payments that you have to make to 10 percent of your income.

And the notion is that that way it’s manageable, and you’re not going to have to make career decisions simply based on how much money can I make to pay off those student loans.  If I want to be a teacher, if I want to be a social worker, if I want to go into public service, then I can do that and I’m still going to be able to act responsibly and pay off my debt.

We already have that program in place, but it’s not as widely known as it needs to be, and not as many young people are eligible for it as we want them to be.  So we’re going to work to improve on that front.

Bottom line is we need to stop taking the same business-as-usual approach when it comes to college education.  Not all the reforms that we’re proposing are going to be popular.  There are some who are benefitting from the status quo.  There will be some resistance.  There’s going to have to be a broad-based conversation, but part of our goal here is to stir a conversation because the current path that we’re on is unsustainable.  And it’s my basic belief and I suspect the belief of most people here, higher education shouldn’t be a luxury.  It’s an economic necessity in this knowledge-based economy.  And we want to make sure that every family in America can afford it.  (Applause.)

So I’m interested if you guys have other ideas — if you have other ideas about things that we should be looking at, we want to hear them.  And that’s part of the purpose of this town hall discussion.  I’m interested in hearing your stories, getting your questions.  And this will be a pretty informal affair — well, as informal as it gets when the President comes — (laughter) — and there are a bunch of cameras everywhere.

So with that, I’d just like to start the discussion.  And what I’m going to do is I’m just going to call on folks.  Just raise your hand.  I would ask you to stand up, introduce yourself.  There are people with mics and they’ll bring the mic to you.  And I’m going to go girl, boy, girl, boy, to make sure that it’s fair.  (Laughter.)  All right?

So we’ll start with this young lady right here in the striped top.

Q    Thank you.  It’s an honor to have you here today.

THE PRESIDENT:  Hold on a second.  I think — here we go.

Q    Thank you.  It’s an honor to have you here today, Mr. President.  I’m from the Decker School of Nursing here, which is an outstanding school of nursing that has excellent outcomes.

My question today is, because advanced practice nurses, primarily nurse practitioners and nurse midwives, have such an outstanding reputation, we have good outcomes.  And the Affordable Care Act is ready to be rolled out soon.  Nurse practitioners and advanced practice nurses are in an excellent position to really serve vulnerable populations and people who don’t have care.  I’m wondering if there’s any provisions within your educational act that would support health care workers and nurse practitioners to create a sustainable workforce that would be able to support caring for people as we roll out the Affordable Care Act.

THE PRESIDENT:  It is a great question.  Now, first of all, let me — without buttering you up — I love nurses.  (Laughter.) Michelle and I have been blessed, we haven’t been sick too much, but — knock on wood.  But every interaction we’ve had at the hospital, the doctors are wonderful and we appreciate them, but I know when Malia and Sasha were being born, we spent 90 percent of the time with the nurses and 10 percent with the OB/GYN.  When my grandmother got sick and was passing away at the end, it was nurses who were caring for her in an incredible compassionate but also professional way.

And you’re absolutely right that one of the keys to reducing our health care costs overall is recognizing the incredible value of advanced practice nurses and giving them more responsibilities because there’s a lot of stuff they can do in a way that, frankly, is cheaper than having a doctor do it, but the outcomes are just as good.

The challenge we have is we still have a nursing shortage in too many parts of the country.  My understanding — you probably know this better than I do — part of the problem is, is that too many professors of nursing or instructors in nursing are getting paid less than actual nurses.  So what ends up happening is we don’t have enough slots in some of the nursing schools.  That may not be true here, but there are parts of the country where that’s true.

So we have to upgrade a little bit the schools of nursing and make sure that they’re properly resourced so that we have enough instructors.  And, in fact, as part of the Affordable Care Act, one of the things that we thought about was how are we going to expand and improve the number of nurses and making sure that they can actually finance their educations.  And so there are some special programs for nurses who are committing themselves — as well as doctors who are committing themselves — to serving in underserved communities.  And we will be happy to get that information to the school of nursing here.

One other element to this that I think is really interesting — we’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about making sure that our veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are getting the opportunities they need.  So we instituted something called the Post-9/11 GI Bill that provides the same kind of support that my grandfather got when he came back from World War II.

And the young people who have served in our armed forces just do extraordinary work.  One of the problems, though, is, is that they don’t always get credit for the skills that they already possess when they come home.  So one — and we’ve got a gentleman here who’s a veteran.  And one great example actually is in the medical profession — when you get medics coming back who served in the worst possible circumstances, out in theater, having to make life-or-death decisions — I met a young man up in Minnesota.  He had come back, wanted to continue to pursue his career and become a professional nurse, and he was having to start from scratch, taking the equivalent of Nursing 101.

And what we’re trying to do is to make sure that states and institutions of higher learning recognize some of the skills, because as we bring more and more of our veterans home — we’ll be ending the war in Afghanistan by the end of next year — we want to make sure that those folks have the opportunity to succeed here in America.  (Applause.)  Great question, though.

All right.  It’s a guy’s turn.  Right here, yes.  Hold on, let’s get a mic all the way to the back.

Q    Hello, Mr. President.  I’m glad for you to come to Binghamton University.  I’m the director of Rainbow Pride Union here, and it’s the largest LGBT organization on campus.  And my main concern is that I know a lot of stories of people who are LGBT who come out to their parents, and their parents are supporting them financially for college, and when they come out their parents cut out that support.  I was wondering if maybe in the future part of your affordability for college would be able to include LGBT people.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, the programs that we have in place don’t discriminate and shouldn’t discriminate.  And the good news is I think the phenomenon that you just described is likely to happen less and less and less with each successive year.  I mean, think about the incredible changes that have been made just over the last decade,  DOMA is gone.  “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is gone.  But more importantly, people’s hearts and minds have changed.  And I think that’s reflective of parents as well.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t still going to be struggles internally, but I think, more and more, what we recognize is, is that just as we judge people on — should judge people on the basis of their character, and not their color or religion or gender, the same is true for their sexual orientation.

So I don’t suspect that we’ll have special laws pertaining to young people who are cut off from support by their parents because their parents hadn’t gotten to the place I think they should be when it comes to loving and supporting their kids regardless of who they are, but we are going to make sure that all young people get the support that they need so that if their parents aren’t willing to provide them support, and they’re functionally independent, that they’re able to still go to college and succeed.  All right?

Right here, in the Obama t-shirt.  (Laughter.)  You know, so if you — here’s a general rule in the presidential town hall:  If you want to get called on, wear the President’s face on your shirt.  (Laughter.)

Q    Good afternoon, President Obama.  I’m a graduate student in the College of Community and Public Affairs.  I study student affairs administration.  With that being said, as we’re all students, we know how vital it is to have a good foundation in our education. How does your administration plan to address the major budget cuts that are happening with Head Start schools around the U.S.?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, this is a great question.  And this will be a major topic over the next several months.  First of all, I want to expand early childhood education so that it’s accessible for every young person in America.  (Applause.)

And I talked about this in my State of the Union address.  It is just common sense.  We know, study after study has shown that the biggest bang for the buck that we get when it comes to education is to invest early.

If we get 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds well prepared when they start school that momentum continues.  If they start behind, too often they stay behind.  Kids are resilient and they can make up for some tough stuff early on in life, but it’s a lot harder for them than if we get them young.

In fact, studies have shown that there’s some very smart programs out there where you identify low-income single moms in the maternity ward, and nurses talk to them immediately not just about the health of their child, but also parenting, and create a little packet with some books and some toys, and talk about engagement and expanding vocabulary.  All that can make a difference.  And high-quality early childhood education can continue that process so that by the time the kid starts school, they know their colors, they know their letters.  They’re ready to go.

Now, unfortunately, right now the federal budget generally has been a political football in Washington.  Partly, this came out of the financial crisis.  We had a terrible crisis.  We had to immediately pump money into the system to prevent a great depression.  So we cut taxes for middle-class families.  We initiated programs to rebuild our roads and our bridges.  We helped states so that they wouldn’t have to lay off as many teachers and firefighters and police officers.  And that’s part of the reason why we avoided a depression, although we still had a terrible recession.

But the combination of increased spending and less revenue meant that the deficit went up.  And by the time the Republicans took over the House in 2011, they had made this a major issue.  And, understandably, a lot of families said, well, we’re having to tighten our belts — the federal government should, too.  Although, part of what you want the federal government to do when everybody else is having a hard time is to make sure that you’re providing additional support.

As the economy has improved, the deficit has gone down.  It’s now dropped at the fastest rate in 60 years.  I want to repeat that, because a lot of people think that — if you ask the average person what’s happening with the deficit, they’d tell you it’s going up.  The deficit has been cut in half since 2009 and is on a downward trajectory.  (Applause.)  And it’s gone down faster than any time since World War II.

So we don’t have a problem in terms of spending on education.  We don’t have a problem when it comes to spending on research and development.  We do have a long-term problem that has to do with our health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid.  The good news is, is that in part because of the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — costs have actually gone down — health care inflation has gone down to the slowest rate that we’ve seen in a long time.

So we’re starting to get health care costs under control.  We’ll still have to make some modifications when it comes to our long-term entitlement program so that they’re there for young people here when they are ready for retirement.

But we don’t have an urgent deficit crisis.  The only crisis we have is one that’s manufactured in Washington, and it’s ideological.  And the basic notion is, is that we shouldn’t be helping people get health care, and we shouldn’t be helping kids who can’t help themselves and whose parents are under-resourced  — we shouldn’t be helping them get a leg up.  And so some of the proposals we’ve seen now are talking about even deeper cuts in programs like Head Start; even deeper cuts in education support; even deeper cuts in basic science and research.

And that’s like eating your corn seed.  It’s like being pennywise and pound-foolish.  Because if young people aren’t succeeding, if we’re not spending on research and maintaining our technological edge, if we’re not upgrading our roads and our bridges and our transportation systems and our infrastructure — all things that we can afford to do right now and should be doing right now, and would put people to work right now — if we don’t do those things, then 20 years from now, 30 years from now we will have fallen further and further behind.

So when we get back to Washington — when Congress gets back to Washington, this is going to be a major debate.  It’s the same debate we’ve been having for the last two years.  The difference is now deficits are already coming down.  And what we should really be thinking about is how do we grow an economy so that we’re creating a growing, thriving middle class, and we’re creating more ladders of opportunity for people who are willing to work hard to get into the middle class.

And my position is going to be that we can have a budget that is sensible, that doesn’t spend on programs that don’t work, but does spend wisely on those things that are going to help ordinary people succeed.  All right?  Good.

Let’s see.  It is a gentleman’s turn.  This gentleman right here.  He’s had his hand up for a while.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Yay!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, that settles it.  You have a little cheering section there.  (Laughter.)

Q    Hello, Mr. President.  I’m a faculty member of the computer science department.  I’m very excited and encouraged by your plan on the affordability reform.  My question is related about the quality of future higher education.  As you know, many universities are trying their best to provide the best value by doing better with less.  But the challenges are real, and they’re getting tougher and tougher as the budget cuts are getting tougher and tougher.  So my question is what your administration will do to ensure the best American universities remain to be the best in the world in the 21st century?  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, what’s really important is to make sure that we’re supporting great teachers.  And since you got an applause line, you must be a pretty good one.  (Laughter.)  And I don’t think that there is a conflict between quality and paying attention to costs as it’s affecting students.

Now, I mentioned earlier, one of the big problems that we’ve seen in public universities is a diminished level of support from states, state legislatures.  And part of what we’re going to try to do is to provide more incentives to states to boost the support that they’re giving to colleges and universities.

Traditionally, when you think of the great state university systems, it was because those states understood if we invest in our people we’ll have a better-trained workforce, which means companies will want to locate here, which creates a virtuous cycle and everybody benefits.

But starting, let’s say, 15 years ago, 20 years ago, you saw a trend in which state legislatures who were trying to balance their budgets kept on cutting support to state education.  What happened was that — and I don’t know whether this is true, Mr. President, for SUNY, but around the country, on average, what you’ve seen is a drop from about 46 percent of the revenues of a public college coming from states down to about 25 percent.  It’s almost been cut in half.  And essentially, the only way these schools have figured to make it up is to charge higher tuition.

So states have to do their jobs.  But what is true also, though, is that universities and faculty need to come up with ways to also cut costs while maintaining quality — because that’s what we’re having to do throughout our economy.  And sometimes when I talk to college professors — and, keep in mind, I taught in a law school for 10 years, so I’m very sympathetic to the spirit of inquiry and the importance of not just looking at X’s and O’s and numbers when it comes to measuring colleges.  But what I also know is, is that there are ways we can save money that would not diminish quality.

This is probably controversial to say, but what the heck, I’m in my second term so I can say it.  (Laughter.)  I believe, for example, that law schools would probably be wise to think about being two years instead of three years — because by the third year — in the first two years young people are learning in the classroom.  The third year they’d be better off clerking or practicing in a firm, even if they weren’t getting paid that much.  But that step alone would reduce the cost for the student.

Now, the question is can law schools maintain quality and keep good professors and sustain themselves without that third year.  My suspicion is, is that if they thought creatively about it, they probably could.  Now, if that’s true at a graduate level, there are probably some things that we could do at the undergraduate level as well.

That’s not to suggest that there aren’t some real problems. Colleges, for example, they’ve got health care costs like everybody else.  Personnel is one of the most important — it’s the biggest cost you’ve got.  And if health care costs to provide insurance for your employees is going up as fast as it’s been going up, that affects folks.

So our idea is not to just have some cookie-cutter approach that doesn’t take quality into account.  The idea is, understanding we’ve got to maintain high quality, are there ways that we can reorganize schools, use technology, think about what works so that, overall, we’re creating a better value for the student.

And one of the best things that we could do for students is to make sure that they graduate in a more timely fashion.  And unfortunately, too many young people go to schools where they’re not getting the kind of support and advice on the front end that they need and they drift, and four years, five years, six years into it, they’ve got a bunch of credits but it all doesn’t result in actual graduation.  And then they get discouraged.  And that’s an area where we know we can be making improvement as well.

Okay?  And if you’ve got any other ideas, let me know.  (Applause.)

Let’s get a young person in here.  Right there, yes.

Q    Welcome to Binghamton, President Obama.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thanks.

Q    I’m a doctoral student here as well as a writing instructor at Syracuse University.  And I’m interested in the giving of federal funds to students who are going to for-profit colleges — or colleges I might even call predatory.  And I’m very conflicted about this issue and so I’d like to hear your insight.  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you probably know more about it than I do since you’ve written about it.  But let me describe for the audience what the challenge is.

For-profit institutions in a lot of sectors of our lives obviously is the cornerstone of our economy.  And we want to encourage entrepreneurship and new ideas and new approaches and new ways of doing things.  So I’m not against for-profit institutions, generally.  But what you’re absolutely right about is, is that there have been some schools that are notorious for getting students in, getting a bunch of grant money, having those students take out a lot of loans, making big profits, but having really low graduation rates.  Students aren’t getting what they need to be prepared for a particular field.  They get out of these for-profit schools loaded down with enormous debt.  They can’t find a job.  They default.  The taxpayer ends up holding the bag.  Their credit is ruined, and the for-profit institution is making out like a bandit.  That’s a problem.

I was mentioning veterans earlier.  Soldiers and sailors and Marines and Coast Guardsmen, they’ve been preyed upon very badly by some of these for-profit institutions.  And we actually created a special task force inside our consumer advocate protection organization that we set up just to look out for members of the armed forces who were being manipulated.  Because what happened was these for-profit schools saw this Post-9/11 GI Bill, that there was a whole bunch of money that the federal government was committed to making sure that our veterans got a good education, and they started advertising to these young people, signing them up, getting them to take a bunch of loans, but they weren’t delivering a good product.

This goes to, then, the point I made earlier about how we can rate schools.  We’re going to spend some time over the course of the next year talking to everybody — talking to university professors, talking to faculty members, talking to students, talking to families — but if we can define some basic parameters of what’s a good value, then it will allow us more effectively to police schools whether they’re for-profit or non-for-profit — because there are some non-for-profit schools, traditional schools that have higher default rates among their graduates than graduation rates — and be able to say to them, look, either you guys step up and improve, or you’re not going to benefit from federal dollars.  (Applause.)

Because there are a bunch of schools like this one that are doing a good job, and we don’t want money being funneled to schools that aren’t doing a good job.  We want to encourage students to be smart shoppers, to be good consumers.

So there are probably more problems in the for-profit sector on this than there are in the traditional non-for-profit colleges, universities and technical schools, but it’s a problem across the board.  And the way to solve it is to make sure that we’ve got ways to measure what’s happening and we can weed out some of the folks that are engaging in bad practices.

Great question.

All right, this corner of the room has been neglected.  So the gentleman right there, right in the corner there.

Q    Thank you for taking the time to visit Binghamton University.  I’m a sophomore student of Binghamton University.  I am from Turkey and I want to ask something about the international students.  Most of my friends’ families have been facing some hardships to support them financially.  For example, when we consider two Turkish lira equals one American dollar, this situation is getting more important for us.  We think that the most reason of this situation is the high level of payment.  What do you think, and do you have any working about the situation?  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, we’re glad you’re here and we hope you’re having a wonderful experience.  One of the great things about American universities is they are magnets for talent from around the world.  And that has enriched us immeasurably.  It enriches us in part because students who come here and study and excel may end up staying here and working and starting businesses, and that’s always been part of the American experience, is smart, striving immigrants coming here and succeeding.  And that makes everybody better off — which is part of the reason why we‘ve got to get immigration reform done so that if we’re taking the time to train a great computer scientist or engineer or entrepreneur, we’re not, then, just sending them back to their country.  Let’s invite them, if they want to stay, to succeed here and start jobs here and create businesses here.  (Applause.)

Now, obviously, when it comes to federal grants, loans, supports, subsidies that we provide, those are for our citizens. And a lot of Americans are having a tough time affording college, as we talked about, so we can’t spread it too thin.  What we can do, though, is to make sure that if tuition is reasonable for all students who enroll, then it makes it easier for international students to come and study here as well.

So all the things that I talked about before apply to foreign students as well as American students.  We need to make sure that college is affordable, that it’s a good value.  The good news is that there are schools out there that are doing a great job already.  And we just need to make sure that we’re duplicating some of those best practices across the country.

All right, who’s next?  Let’s see, it’s a young lady’s turn, isn’t it?  Okay.  Go ahead, right there in the red — or orange.

Q    My name is Anne Bailey, and I am a faculty member in the History and Afrikana Studies department here.  And I teach African American history and African diaspora studies.  And tomorrow, I’m going to the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.  And I’m going — and I’m going with my son — because I’m here, as you said, because of a good education, and that good education became possible because of that faith-inspired movement that really reached such an important milestone 50 years ago.

And I’m so grateful for the fact that I had that opportunity, and that my son and that these young people will have these opportunities.  But I still kind of wonder where we are now in terms of education and civil rights.  Have we — where do you think we are?  What do we need to do to kind of make sure that it is education for all, including under-represented groups? That’s just my question.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, 50 years after the March on Washington and the “I Have a Dream Speech,” obviously we’ve made enormous strides.  I’m a testament to it.  You’re a testament to it.  The diversity of this room and the students who are here is a testimony to it.  And that impulse towards making sure everybody gets a fair shot is one that found expression in the Civil Rights Movement, but then spread to include Latinos and immigrants and gays and lesbians.

And what’s wonderful to watch is that the younger generation seems — each generation seems wiser in terms of wanting to treat people fairly and do the right thing and not discriminate.  And that’s a great victory that we should all be very proud of.

On the other hand, I think what we’ve also seen is that the legacy of discrimination — slavery, Jim Crow — has meant that some of the institutional barriers for success for a lot of groups still exist.  African American poverty in this country is still significantly higher than other groups.  Same is true for Latinos.  Same is true for Native Americans.

And even if there weren’t active discrimination taking place right now — and obviously, we know that some discrimination still exists, although nothing like what existed 50 years ago — but let’s assume that we eliminated all discrimination magically, with a wand, and everybody had goodness in their heart.  You’d still have a situation in which there are a lot of folks who are poor and whose families have become dysfunctional because of a long legacy of poverty, and live in neighborhoods that are run down and schools that are underfunded and don’t have a strong property tax base.  And it would still be harder for young people born into those communities to succeed than those who were born elsewhere.

So if, in fact, that’s the case — and that is what I believe — then it’s in all of our interests to make sure that we are putting in place smart policies to give those communities a lift, and to create ladders so that young people in those communities can succeed.

Well, what works?  We’ve already talked about what works.   Early childhood education works.  We know that can make a difference.  It’s not going to solve every problem, but it can help level the playing field for kids early in life so that — they’re still going to have to work hard.  Not everybody is going to succeed, but they’ll have a better chance if we put those things in place.

Making college affordable — that makes a difference.  Because we know, in part because of the legacy of discrimination, that communities of color have less wealth.  If they have less wealth, it means that mom and dad have a more difficult time financing college.  Well, we should make sure that every young person, regardless of their color, can access a college education.

I think the biggest challenge we have is not that we don’t know what policies work, it’s getting our politics right.  Because part of what’s happened over the last several decades is, because times have been tough, because wages and incomes for everybody have not been going up, everybody is pretty anxious about what’s happening in their lives and what might happen for their kids, and so they get worried that, well, if we’re helping people in poverty, that must be hurting me somehow, it’s taking something away from me.

And part of what I think we have to understand is that America has always been most successful, we’ve always grown fastest, and everybody’s incomes have gone up fastest when our economic growth is broad-based, not just when a few people are doing well at the top, but when everybody is doing well.

And so if working people and folks who are struggling — whether they’re white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, disabled, LGBT — if working folks join together around common principles and policies that will help lift everybody, then everybody will be better off — including, by the way, the folks at the top.  Because when the economy is growing and people have jobs and people are seeing better incomes, they go out and they shop more.  And that means businesses are doing better.  And you buy a new iPod and Apple is happy, and shareholders are pleased.

But unfortunately, we’ve got politics sometimes that divides instead of bringing people together.  And we’ve seen that over the last couple of years, the tendency to suggest somehow that government is taking something from you and giving it to somebody else, and your problems will be solved if we just ignore them or don’t help them.  And, that, I think is something that we have to constantly struggle against — whether we’re black or white or whatever color we are.

All right?  Thank you.  (Applause.)

How much time do we got?  I want to make sure that I get a couple more questions in here.  Two more.  We’ll make it three.  (Laughter.)  We’ll make it three.  This gentleman right here in the front.  Here, we got a mic right here.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  My name is Adam Flint.  I work currently at Cooperative Extension, but I’ve been connected to this institution since 1966.  And I want to tell you about the Broome Energy Conservation Corps where we are educating, training and also employing Binghamton University graduates and current students to really take the vision that, well, Kennedy and others advanced of service to the problems of the community and to the country.

And at Cooperative Extension, our energy corps students are helping people who could not benefit from energy efficiency, they’re helping getting people employed with local home performance contactors.  And we could do so much more if it were possible for programs like ours across the country to be able to know that we’re going to be here in 2014, which we don’t right now.

And so I guess we’ve been in discussions with Harvey and with many of the people in this room, with Matt Ryan, with many of the senior Binghamton University folks, and we’d really like to see coming out of Washington some good news about funding for the green economy for the future and for our ability to give a future to our children that right now I’m doubtful about.

You have two girls.  I’ve got two girls.  And this is the last century of fossil fuels, so we’ve got to make it happen.  With this energy corps, we could move to food corps and on and on and on.  I’ve said enough.  I’m afraid it’s one of the family business of the professoriate to say too much.  And I’m going to shut up and listen to the wisdom that I hope you will bring to my question.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, as you indicated in your remarks, we are going to have to prepare for a different energy future than the one we have right now.

Now, we’re producing traditional energy — fossil fuels — at record levels.  And we’ve actually achieved, or are on the verge of achieving about as close as you can get to energy independence as America is going to see.  I mean, natural gas, oil, all that stuff is going up.

In some cases, what you’ve seen is that, for example, transitional fuels like natural gas have replaced coal, which temporarily are reducing greenhouse gases.  But the bottom line is those are still finite resources.  Climate change is real.  The planet is getting warmer.  And you’ve got several billion Chinese, Indians, Africans and others who also want cars, refrigerators, electricity.  And as they go through their development cycle, the planet cannot sustain the same kinds of energy use as we have right now.  So we’re going to have to make a shift.

That’s why when I came into office, we made record investments in green energy.  And that’s why I think it’s critical for us to invest in research and development around clean energy.  And that’s why it sounds like programs like yours need to take advantage of technologies that already exist.

We’re going to have to invent some new technologies to solve all of our energy problems.  But we know, for example, the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency.  We know that if we design our schools, homes, hospitals more efficiently, that as a country we could probably cut our power usage by 20, 25, 30 percent with existing technologies, and without lowering our standard of living.

And, by the way, we can put a whole bunch of folks to work doing it right now.  We could gather up a whole bunch of young people here in this community, train them for insulation, for energy-efficient construction, and redo a whole bunch of buildings and institutions right here, and eventually it would pay for itself.  So it’s win-win across the board.

Unfortunately, what we’ve seen too often in Congress is that the fossil fuel industries tend to be very influential — let’s put it that way — on the energy committees in Congress.  And they tend not to be particularly sympathetic to alternative energy strategies.  And, in some cases, we’ve actually been criticized that it’s a socialist plot that’s restricting your freedom for us to encourage energy-efficient light bulbs, for example.  I never understood that.  (Laughter.)  But you hear those arguments.  I mean, you can go on the Web, and people will be decrying how simple stuff that we’re doing, like trying to set up regulations to make appliances more energy-efficient — which saves consumers money and is good for our environment — is somehow restricting America’s liberty and violates the Constitution.

So a lot of our job is to educate the public as to why this can be good for them — in a very narrow self-interested way.  This is not pie in the sky.  This is not tree-hugging, sprout-eating university professors.  (Laughter.)  This is a practical, hardheaded, smart, business-savvy approach to how we deal with energy.  And we should be investing it and encouraging it and expanding it.  And so I budgeted for it.  I will fight for it.

But just as I will be advocating and fighting for Head Start or increases in our science and technology funding, the challenge is going to be that my friends in the other party right now in Congress seem less interested in actual governing and taking practical strategies, and seem more interested in trying to placate their base or scoring political points.  Or they’re worried about primaries in the upcoming election.

That can’t be how we run a country.  That’s not responsible leadership.  (Applause.)  And my hope is, is that we’ll see a different attitude when we get back.  But we’ll only see a different attitude if the public pushes folks in a different direction.

Ultimately, what has an impact on politicians is votes.  And that influence is not — it can’t just come from districts that are strongly Democratic.  We need voices in Republican districts to say this is a smart thing to do.  And we can make — and, by the way, businesses can make money doing it, and people can get jobs doing it.  And it’s just sensible.  And it’s good, by the way, for our national security because those countries that control the energy sources of the future, they’re the ones that are going to be in a position to succeed economically.

So, all right.  I’ve got time for a couple more.  Yes, right here.

Q    Good afternoon, Mr. President.  I’m an integrative neuroscience major —

THE PRESIDENT:  That sounds very impressive.  (Laughter.)  What was that again?

Q    Integrative neuroscience.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, so tell me about that.  Explain that to me.  It has something to do with the brain and nerves and —

Q    It’s a mix between psychology and biology.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

Q    So it’s not as impressive as —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, it’s very impressive.  (Laughter.)  Come on.  Absolutely.  Anyway, what’s the question?

Q    Well, my question today is about financial aid.  Currently, financial aid eligibility is based on — or heavily based on students’ parents’ income.  Now, there are many middle-class families that send their students to state schools like Binghamton, who live in high-cost regions such as New York City. Now, do you think it’s possible for the financial aid formula to include the living costs of the region that applicants live in?  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s an interesting question, and sounds like it’s got some sympathy.  What’s absolutely true is that what it means to be middle class in New York is going to be different than what it means to be middle class in Wyoming, just in terms of how far your dollar goes.  And I think it is a relevant question.

It is a challenging problem because if you start getting into calibrating cost of living just in a state like New York, a big state that has such diversity in terms of cost of living, then it might get so complicated that it would be difficult to administer.  But why don’t I just say this:  I think it is a important question, and I’m going to talk to Secretary Arne Duncan about it and find out what kind of research and work we’ve done on that issue to see if we can potentially make a difference.

Now, one way of handling this would not be at the federal level but potentially at the state level.  So you could manage something at the state level, where people may have a better sense of the differences in cost of living in a state, and say, we’ll make some adjustments for students who are coming from higher-cost areas versus lower-cost areas.  That might be easier to do than to try to administer it at the federal level from Washington for all 50 states.

But I’ll check with the Department of Education.  And I’ll make sure my team gets your email so that you get a personal answer from the Secretary.  (Applause.)

I’ve got one last question and I want to make sure it’s a student.  Are you a student?

Q    Maybe.

THE PRESIDENT:  Maybe?  No, that doesn’t count if he said maybe.  (Laughter.)

You are?

Q    I am.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, this young man right here.  (Laughter.)  I just wanted to make sure.  He might have been a young-looking professor.  (Laughter.)

Q    Mr. President, I’m Danny.  I’m from here — I’m a student here.  I’m from the community college.  My question is — you spoke about increasing financial aid for college students.  However, I feel that with the competitive job market, a bachelor’s will not be enough to secure a job.  My question is will any of these funds go towards grad school programs?  Or will it be strictly limited to undergraduate education?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, a good undergraduate education means you are much more employable and you’re much more likely to get a job.  Each additional chunk of education that you get — if done well, if you’re getting good value — is going to enhance your marketability.  And we see that in the statistics.  That’s not just talk.

The fact is that the average American who has more than a college education or greater is a third less likely to be unemployed than somebody who just graduated from high school.  So don’t underestimate the power of an undergraduate education.  It can make a difference.

Now, what’s true is that if you, for example, in computer sciences want to get a master’s in computer science or a Ph.D. in computer science, presumably that will make you even more marketable.  And we want to make sure that financial aid is also available for graduate students.  And the way programs currently exist, that financial aid does exist, although typically you get fewer subsidies and a less favorable interest rate for graduate education.

We’re probably not going to be able to completely solve that, and here’s the reason why.  I got a lot of scholarships and grant money for my undergraduate education, so I didn’t have a lot of debt when I got out.  I then decided to go to law school. And I went to a very good law school that was very expensive.  Most of my debt when I graduated was from law school; I had about $60,000 worth of debt.  But the truth was I was able to — if I wanted to, at least — earn so much money coming out of law school that I really didn’t need a subsidy.  I could pay it back. It took me a little longer to pay it back than some of my friends because I went into public service and I didn’t try to maximize my income.  But if I had been a partner at a law firm pulling down half a million dollars a year, there’s no reason why I should necessarily have gotten a subsidy for that.

The one area where I think we can make a big difference goes back to the very first question that was asked of me when it came to schools of nursing.  Across the board in graduate school, what we want to do is to provide incentives for folks who need specialized education but are willing to give back something to the community, to the country — doctors who are willing to serve in underserved communities, nurses who are willing to serve in underserved communities, lawyers who are willing to work in the State’s Attorney’s Office or as a public defender.

So the more we can do around programs for graduate studies where we say to you, if you’re willing to commit to five years working in a place that doesn’t have a doctor and you’re studying to be a doctor, we’re going to forgive you a bunch of those loans — I’d like to see more programs like that.  And I’ve asked the Secretary of Education to see how we can make those more accessible to more students.

Well, listen, everybody, this has been a great conversation. (Applause.)  And let me just say that you will be hearing more about this debate over the course of the next year.  We will be talking to your university president.  We’ll be talking to the chancellor of the entire system.  We’ll be talking to faculty.  We’ll be talking to students.  If you have ideas or questions that were not somehow addressed, then we’d like to hear from you. And go to whitehouse.gov.  There’s a whole section where we can get comments, ideas.  And I promise you we actually pay attention when you guys raise questions.

And for those of you who are still sorting out student aid  — if you’re still in high school, for example, and you’re thinking about going to college and you don’t know exactly what makes sense for you, we do have a website called studentaid.gov that can be very helpful to you in identifying what you should be thinking about when it comes to financing your college education.

But we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that not only are you able to succeed without being loaded up with debt, but hopefully, you’re going to be able to afford to send your kids to college as well.

Thank you for your great hospitality.  I appreciate it.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
1:55 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency August 22, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on College Affordability, College Cost Cutting Plan, Syracuse NY

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on College Affordability, Syracuse NY

Source:  WH, 8-22-13

Henninger High School
Syracuse, New York

6:25 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Syracuse!  (Applause.)  It is good to be in Syracuse!  (Applause.)

Can everybody give Emilio a big round of applause for a great introduction?  (Applause.)  I think Emilio’s parents are probably here.  Where are Emilio’s parents?  Wave your hands.  There they are right there.  He did pretty good, didn’t he?  We’re very proud of him.  We might have to run him for something.

In addition to Emilio, I want to mention a couple other people.  You already heard from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who’s doing a great job every day.  (Applause.)  You’ve got Mayor Stephanie Miner here.  (Applause.)  There she is.  Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is here.  (Applause.)  Your Congressman, Dan Maffei, is here.  (Applause.)  The superintendent of the Syracuse City School District, Sharon Contreras, is here.  (Applause.)  Your principal, Robert DiFlorio, is here.  (Applause.)  And most importantly, a bunch of students are here.  (Applause.)

My understanding is there are students from all five Syracuse high schools here.  You got Corcoran in the house.  (Applause.)  You got Fowler in the house.  (Applause.)  Nottingham.  (Applause.)  The Institute of Technology.  (Applause.)  And our host, Henninger, is here.  (Applause.)  We’re all one family.

Now, I especially want to thank the students because I know that you’re still on summer vacation.  You’ve got a few more days.  So taking the time to be here when you’ve still got a little bit, that last little bit of summer break, that’s a big deal, and I’m very honored to be here with you.

I am on a road trip — by the way, if people have seats, feel free to take a seat.  I’m going to be talking for a while.  If you’ve got no seats, then don’t sit down — (laughter) — because you will fall down.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

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

So I’m here on a road trip through New York into  Pennsylvania.  This morning, I was at the University at Buffalo. Tomorrow, I’ll be at Binghamton University and Lackawanna College in Scranton.  But I wanted to come to Syracuse — (applause) — because you’re doing something fantastic here, with programs like “Say Yes” — (applause) — Smart Scholars Early College High School — these are programs that are helping Syracuse kids get ready for college, and making sure that they can afford to go.

And this is a community effort.  All of you are coming together and you have declared that no child in the city of Syracuse should miss out on a college education because they can’t pay for it.  (Applause.)  And so we’re hoping more cities follow your example, because what you’re doing is critical not just to Syracuse’s future, but to America’s future.  And that’s what I want to talk about briefly here today.

Over the past month, I’ve been visiting towns across the country, talking about what we need to do to secure a better bargain for the middle class and everybody who’s working hard to get into the middle class — to make sure everybody who works hard has a chance to succeed in the 21st century economy.

And we all understand that for the past four and a half years, we had to fight our way back from a brutal recession, and millions of Americans lost their jobs and their homes and their  savings.  But what the recession also did was it showed this emerging gap in terms of the life prospects of a lot of Americans.

What used to be taken for granted — middle-class security

— has slipped away from too many people.  So, yes, we saved the auto industry.  We took on a broken health care system.  (Applause.)  We reversed our addiction to foreign oil.  We changed our tax code that was tilted too far in favor of the wealthy at the expense of working families.  And so we’ve made progress.  Our businesses have created 7.3 million new jobs over the last 41 months.  (Applause.)  We’ve got more renewable energy than ever.  We are importing less oil than in a very long time.

We sell more goods made in America to the rest of the world than ever before.  Health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years.  Our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years.

So there’s good news out there.  And thanks to the grit and the resilience of the American people, we’ve been able to clear away the rubble from the financial crisis, and start laying the foundation for a better economy.  But as any middle-class family will tell you, we are not —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I hear you.  I got you.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, no, that’s fine.  Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.  We’re okay.  We’re okay.  That’s okay.  Hold on a second.  Hold on.  Hold on.  Hello, everybody, hello.  Hold on.  Hold on a minute.  Hold on a minute.  Hold on.  So, now — hold on a second.  (Applause.)  Can I just say that as hecklers go, that young lady was very polite.  (Laughter.)  She was.  And she brought up an issue of importance, and that’s part of what America is all about.  (Applause.)

But what America is also all about is making sure that middle-class families succeed, and that people who work hard can get into the middle class.  And what I was saying was is that we’re not where we need to be yet.  We’ve still got more work to do.  Because even before the most recent financial crisis, we had gone through a decade where folks at the top were doing better and better; most families were working harder and harder just to get by.  And we’ve seen growing inequality in our society and less upward mobility in our society.

The idea used to be that here in America anybody could make it.  But part of that was because we put these ladders of opportunity for people.  And, unfortunately, what’s happened is it’s gotten tougher for a lot of folks.  So we’ve got to reverse these trends.  This has to be Washington’s highest priority — how do we make sure everybody gets a fair shake.  That’s got to be our priority.  (Applause.)

Unfortunately, you may have noticed that in Washington, rather than focusing on a growing economy and creating good, middle-class jobs, there’s a certain faction of my good friends in the other party who’ve been talking about not paying the bills that they’ve already run up; who’ve been talking about shutting down the government if they can’t take away health care that we’re putting in place for millions of Americans.

Those are not ideas that will grow our economy.  They’re not going to create good jobs.  They’re not going to strengthen the middle class — they’ll weaken the middle class.  So we can’t afford the usual Washington circus of distractions and political posturing.  We don’t need that.  What we’ve got to do is to build on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class in America — a good job, good wages, a good education, a home, affordable health care, a secure retirement.  That’s what we need to focus on.  (Applause.)

And we’ve got to create as many pathways as possible for people to succeed as long as they’re willing to work hard.  That’s what’s always made America great.  We don’t judge ourselves just by how many billionaires we produce.  We’ve got to focus on our ability to make sure that everybody who works hard has a chance to pursue their own measure of happiness.

And in that project, in that work, there aren’t a lot of things that are more important than making sure people get a good education.  That is key to upward mobility.  That is key to a growing economy.  That is key to a strong middle class.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  Love you back.  (Laughter.)

Now, everybody here knows that.  That’s why you’re here.  That’s why a lot of your families are making big sacrifices to send kids to college.  You understand that in the face of global competition, a great education is more important than ever.  A higher education is the single best investment you can make in your future.  (Applause.)  Single best.  And I’m proud of all of the students who are working toward that goal.

And in case any of you are wondering whether it’s a good investment, think about these statistics:  The unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about a third lower than the national average.  The incomes of people with at least a college degree are more than twice what the incomes are of Americans who don’t have a high school diploma.  So more than ever before, some form of higher education — two year, four year, technical college — that’s the path into the middle class.

But the main reason I’m here is to talk about the fact that we’ve seen a barrier and a burden to too many American families, and that’s the soaring cost of higher education.  (Applause.)  The fact is, college has never been more necessary, but it’s also never been more expensive.

Think about this:  Over the past three decades, the average tuition at a four-year public college has risen by more than 250 percent.  The typical family income has gone up 16 percent.  So I wasn’t a math major, but let’s just think about it — college costs, 250 percent; incomes, 16 percent.  What that means is, is that more and more, it’s getting harder and harder for students to be able to afford that college education.  And families are making bigger and bigger sacrifices — including a lot of parents who are putting off their own retirement, their own savings, because they’re trying to help their kids afford a college education.

In the meantime, over the past few years, you’ve got too many states that have been cutting back on their higher education budgets.  Colleges have not been cutting back on their costs, and so what you end up with is taxpayers putting in more money, students and families picking up the tab, but young people are still ending up with more debt.

The average student who borrows for college now graduates owing more than $26,000.  And a lot of young people owe a lot more than that.  I’ve heard from a lot of these young people, and they’re frustrated because they’re saying to themselves, we’ve done everything our society told us we were supposed to do, but crushing debt is crippling our ability to get started in our lives after we graduate.  It’s crippling our self-reliance and the dreams that we had.

At a time when higher education has never been more important or more expensive, too many students face a choice they should not have to make:  Either they say no to college, or they pay the price of going to college and ending up with debt that they’re not sure will pay off.  And that’s not a choice that we should ask young people to make.  That’s not a choice we should accept.

If you think about what built this country, this is a country that’s always been at the cutting edge of making a good education available to more people.  My grandfather, when he came back from World War II, he went — he had the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.  My mother got through school while raising two kids because she got some help.  (Applause.)

Michelle and I, we didn’t come from rich folks.  We did not come from privileged backgrounds.  So we’re only where we are today because scholarships and student loans gave us a shot at a good education.  And we know a little bit about paying back student loans, because we each graduated from college and law school with a mountain of debt.  And even with good jobs, I didn’t pay it off and she didn’t pay off her loans until I was almost a U.S. senator.  I was in my 40s.

So over the past four years, what we’ve done is to try to take some steps to make college more affordable.  First thing we did — we enacted historic reforms to the student loan system.  What was happening was student loans were going through banks; banks were making billions of dollars.  We said why don’t we just give the loans directly to the students, cut out the banks, then we can help more students.  (Applause.)

Then we set up a consumer watchdog that’s already helping families and students sort through all the financial options so they really understand them and they’re not ripped off by shady lenders.  And we’re providing more tools and resources for students and families trying to finance college.  And, by the way, high school seniors, you guys want to start figuring this stuff out — go to studentaid.gov.  That’s a website — studentaid.gov.  And it will give you a sense of what’s available out there.

We took action to cap loan repayments at 10 percent of monthly income for a lot of borrowers who are trying to pay their debt but do so in a responsible way.  (Applause.)

So, overall, we’ve made college more affordable for millions of students and families through tax credits and grants and student loans.  And just a few weeks ago, Democrats and Republicans worked together to keep student loan rates from doubling, and that saves a typical undergraduate more than $1,500 for this year’s loans.  (Applause.)

So, now, that’s all a good start.  But it’s not enough.  The system we have right now is unsustainable, because if it keeps on going up 250 percent a year, your incomes are only going up 16 percent — not 250 percent a year — over a decade — but your incomes are only going up 16 percent, it’s just at a certain point, it will break the bank.  There won’t be enough federal aid to make up for the difference.  And families, at a certain point, aren’t going to be able to send their kids to school.

And state legislatures, they can’t just keep cutting support for public college and universities.  Colleges can’t just keep raising tuition year after year, and pushing these state cutbacks on to students and families, and federal taxpayers are not going to be able to make up all the difference.

Our economy can’t afford the trillion dollars — $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt.  Because when young people have that much debt, that means they can’t buy a home.  It means they can’t start the business that maybe they’ve got a great idea for. And we can’t price the middle class and everybody working to get into the middle class out of a college education.  (Applause.)    It will put our young generation of workers at a competitive disadvantage for years.

So if a higher education is still the best ticket to upward mobility in America — and it is — then we’ve got to make sure it’s within reach.  We’ve got to make sure that we are improving economic mobility, not making it worse.  Higher education should not be a luxury.  It is a necessity, an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.  (Applause.)

So what are we going to do about it?  Today what I’ve done is propose major new reforms that will shake up the current system.  We want to create better incentives for colleges to do more with less and to deliver better value for our students and their families.

And some of these reforms will require action from Congress, which is always difficult.  (Laughter.)  Some of these changes, though, I can make on my own.  (Applause.)  And we want to work with colleges to keep costs down.  States are going to need to make higher education a higher priority in their budgets.  And by the way, we’re going to ask more from students as well if they’re receiving federal aid.

And some of these reforms won’t be popular for every — with everybody, because some folks are making out just fine under the status quo.   But my concern is not to look out just for the institutions; I want to look out for the students who these institutions exist to serve.  (Applause.)  And I think — I’ve got confidence that our country’s colleges and universities will step up to the plate if they’re given the right incentives.  They, too, should want to do the right thing for students.

So let me be specific.  Here are three things we’re going to do.  Number one, I’m directing my administration to come up with a new ratings system for colleges that will score colleges on opportunity -– whether they’re helping students from all kinds of backgrounds succeed; and on outcomes — whether students are graduating with manageable debt; whether they’re actually graduating in the first place; whether they have strong career potential when they graduate.  That’s the kind of information that will help students and parents figure out how much value a particular college truly offers.

Right now all these ranking systems, they rank you higher if you charge more and you let in fewer students.  But you should have a better sense of who’s actually graduating students and giving you a good deal.  (Applause.)

So down the road we’re going to use these ratings, we hope by working with Congress, to change how we allocate federal aid for colleges.  And we’re going to deliver on a promise that I made last year — colleges that keep their tuition down are the ones that will see their taxpayer funding go up.  We’ve got to stop subsidizing schools that are not getting good results, start rewarding schools that deliver for the students and deliver for America’s future.  That’s our goal.  (Applause.)

Our second goal:  We want to encourage more colleges to embrace innovation, to try new ways of providing a great education without breaking the bank.  A growing number of colleges across the country are testing some new approaches, so they’re finding new ways, for example, to use online education to save time and money.

Some are trying what you’re doing right here in Syracuse -– creating partnerships between high schools and colleges, so students can get an early jump on their degree.  They can graduate faster.  That means they’re paying less in tuition.  I want to see more schools and states get in the game, so more students can get an education that costs less but still maintains high quality.  And we know it can be done.  It’s just we got to get everybody doing it, not just a few schools or a few cities around the country.  That’s the second goal.  (Applause.)

Somebody screamed, and I thought somebody fell, but they were just excited.  (Laughter.)

Number three:  We’re going to make sure that if you’ve taken on debt to earn your degree that you can manage and afford it.  Nobody wants to take on debt, but even if we do a good job controlling tuition costs, some young people are still going to have to take out some loans.  But we think of that as a good investment because it pays off in time -– as long as it stays manageable, as long as you can pay it back.

And remember, again, Michelle and I, we went through this.  It took us a long time to pay off our student loans.  But we could always manage it.  It didn’t get out of hand.  And I don’t want debt to keep young people — some of who are here today — from going into professions like teaching, for example, that may not pay as much money, but are of huge value to the country.  (Applause.)

And I sure don’t want young people not being able to buy a home, or get married, or start a business because they’re so loaded down with debt.  So what we’ve done is two years ago, I capped loan repayments at 10 percent of a student’s income after college.  We called it “pay as you earn.”  And so far this, along with a few other programs, has helped more than 2.5 million students.

But right now, a lot of current and former students aren’t eligible, so we want to work with Congress to fix that so that we got a lot more people who are eligible for this program.  And then the problem is a lot of young people don’t know this program exists.  So we’re going to do a better job advertising this program so that you will never have to pay more than 10 percent of your yearly income in servicing your debt.

And if you’re involved in public service or non-for-profits, then at some point that debt gets forgiven because you’re giving back to society in other ways.  (Applause.)  So we’re going to launch a campaign to help borrowers learn more about their options.  We want every student to have the chance to pay back their loans in a way that doesn’t stop them from pursuing their dreams.

So if we move forward on these three points — increasing value, making sure that young people and their parents know what they’re getting when they go to college; encouraging innovation so that more colleges are giving better value; and then helping people responsibly manage their debt — then we’re going to help more students afford college.  We’re going to help more students graduate from college.  We’ll help more students get rid of their debt so they can get started on their lives.  (Applause.)

And it’s going to take some hard work.  But the people of Syracuse know something about hard work.  (Applause.)  The American people know something about hard work.  (Applause.)

And we’ve come a long way together over these past four years.  I intend to keep us moving forward on this and every other issue.  We’re going to keep pushing to build a better bargain for the middle class and everybody who’s fighting to join the middle class.  And we’re going to keep fighting to make sure that this country remains a country where hard work and studying and responsibility are rewarded.  We’re going to make sure that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or who you love, or what your last name is — (applause) — in the United States you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

Thank you, Syracuse!  God bless you, and God bless America.

END
6:50 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency August 22, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on College Affordability, College Cost Cutting Plan, Buffalo, NY

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on College Affordability — Buffalo, NY

Source: WH, 8-22-13

 

State University of New York Buffalo
Buffalo, New York

11:23 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Buffalo!  (Applause.)  Hello, Bulls! (Applause.)  Well, it is good to be back in Buffalo, good to be back in the north.  (Applause.)

I want to begin by making sure we all thank Silvana for the wonderful introduction.  Give her a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  Her mom and dad are here somewhere.  Where are they? I know they’re pretty proud.  There they are right there.  Give mom and dad a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

A number of other people I want to acknowledge here — first of all, our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, who’s doing a great job.  (Applause.)  One of the finest governors in the country, your Governor, Andrew Cuomo, is here.  (Applause.)  Your outstanding Mayor, Brian Higgins, is here.  Give him a big round of applause.

AUDIENCE:  Congressman!

THE PRESIDENT:  What?

AUDIENCE:  The Mayor is Byron Brown!

THE PRESIDENT:  Byron Brown.  That’s — I’m sorry, Byron.  (Applause.)  What I meant was — your Congressman, Brian Higgins, is here.  (Applause.)  Your Mayor, Byron Brown, is here.  (Applause.)  This is what happens when you get to be 52 years old.  (Laughter.)  When I was 51 everything was smooth.  (Laughter.)  But your Congressman and your Mayor are doing outstanding work.  We just rode on the bus over from the airport, and they were telling me that Buffalo is on the move.  That was the story.  (Applause.)

A couple other people I want to acknowledge — SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, is here, doing a great job.  (Applause.)  University president Satish Tripathi is here.  (Applause.)   And we’ve got all the students in the house.  Thank all the students for being here.  (Applause.)

Now, today is a check-in day at the dorms.  So I want to thank all the students for taking a few minutes from setting up your futons and — (laughter) — your mini-fridges just to come out here.  I hear that the last sitting President to speak here was Millard Fillmore.  (Applause.)  And he was actually chancellor of the university at the same time — which sounds fun, but I’ve got enough on my plate.  (Laughter.)

This is our first stop on a two-day road trip through New York and Pennsylvania.  (Applause.)  And after this I head to Syracuse — (applause) — yay, Syracuse — to speak with some high schoolers.  Tomorrow I’m going to visit SUNY Binghamton and Lackawanna College in Scranton.  But I wanted to start here at University at Buffalo.  (Applause.)

And I wanted to do it for a couple reasons.  First, I know you’re focused on the future.  As I said, talking to the Mayor, he was describing a new medical school — (applause) — and new opportunities for the high-tech jobs of tomorrow.  So there’s great work being done at this institution.  I also know that everybody here must be fearless because the football team kicks off against Number 2, Ohio State, next weekend.  (Applause.)  Good luck, guys.  (Laughter.)  It’s going to be a great experience.  (Laughter.)  It’s going to be a great experience.  It could be an upset.  (Applause.)

And third, and most importantly, I know that the young people here are committed to earning your degree, to helping this university to make sure that every one of you “Finishes in Four” — (applause) — makes sure that you’re prepared for whatever comes next.  And that’s what I want to talk about here today.

Over the last month, I’ve been visiting towns across the country, talking about — yes, feel free to sit down.  Get comfortable.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  I love you, too.  (Applause.)

Over the last month I’ve been out there talking about what we need to do as a country to make sure that we’ve got a better bargain for the middle class and everybody who’s working hard to get into the middle class -– a national strategy to make sure that everybody who works hard has a chance to succeed in this 21st century economy.  (Applause.)

Now, I think all of us here know that for the past four and a half years, we’ve been fighting back from a brutal recession that cost millions of Americans their jobs and their homes and their savings.  But what the recession also did was it showed that for too long we’ve seen an erosion of middle-class security.
So, together, we saved the auto industry.  Together, we took on a broken health care system.  (Applause.)  We invested in new technologies.  We started reversing our addiction to foreign oil. We changed a tax code that was tilted to far in favor of the wealthy at the expense of working families.  (Applause.)

And add it all up, today our businesses have created 7.3 million new jobs over the last 41 months.  (Applause.)  We now generate more renewable energy than ever before.  We sell more goods made in America to the rest of the world than ever.  (Applause.)  Health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years.  Our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years.  (Applause.)

Here in Buffalo, the Governor and the Mayor were describing over a billion dollars in investment, riverfront being changed, construction booming — signs of progress.  (Applause.)

So thanks to the grit and the resilience of the American people, we’ve cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis. We’ve started to lay the foundation for a stronger, more durable economic growth.

But as any middle-class family will tell you, as folks here in Buffalo will tell you, we’re not where we need to be yet.  Because even before the crisis hit — and it sounds like Buffalo knows something about this — we were living through a decade where a few at the top were doing better and better, most families were working harder and harder just to get by.  Manufacturing was leaving, jobs moving overseas, losing our competitive edge.  And it’s a struggle for a lot of folks.

So reversing this trend should be, must be, Washington’s highest priority.  It’s my highest priority.  (Applause.)  I’ve got to say it’s not always Washington’s highest priority.  Because rather than keeping focus on a growing economy that creates good middle-class jobs, we’ve seen a faction of Republicans in Congress suggest that maybe America shouldn’t pay its bills that have already been run up, that we shut down government if they can’t shut down Obamacare.

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  That won’t grow our economy.  That won’t create jobs.  That won’t help our middle class.  We can’t afford in Washington the usual circus of distractions and political posturing.  We can’t afford that right now.

What we need is to build on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class in America, focus on that — a good job with good wages, a good education, a home of your own, affordable health care, a secure retirement.  (Applause.)  Bread-and-butter, pocketbook issues that you care about every single day; that you’re thinking about every single day.  And we’ve got to create more pathways into the middle class for folks who are willing to work for it.  That’s what’s always made America great.  It’s not just how many billionaires we produce, but our ability to give everybody who works hard the chance to pursue their own measure of happiness.  That’s what America is all about.  (Applause.)

Now, there aren’t many things that are more important to that idea of economic mobility -– the idea that you can make it if you try –- than a good education.  All the students here know that.  That’s why you’re here.  (Applause.)  That’s why your families have made big sacrifices -– because we understand that in the face of greater and greater global competition, in a knowledge-based economy, a great education is more important than ever.

A higher education is the single best investment you can make in your future.  And I’m proud of all the students who are making that investment.  (Applause.)  And that’s not just me saying it.  Look, right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about one-third lower than the national average.  The incomes of folks who have at least a college degree are more than twice those of Americans without a high school diploma.  So more than ever before, some form of higher education is the surest path into the middle class.

But what I want to talk about today is what’s become a barrier and a burden for too many American families -– and that is the soaring cost of higher education.  (Applause.)

This is something that everybody knows you need — a college education.  On the other hand, college has never been more expensive.  Over the past three decades, the average tuition at a public four-year college has gone up by more than 250 percent — 250 percent.  Now, a typical family’s income has only gone up 16 percent.  So think about that — tuition has gone up 250 percent; income gone up 16 percent.  That’s a big gap.

Now, it’s true that a lot of universities have tried to provide financial aid and work-study programs.  And so not every student — in fact, most students are probably not paying the sticker price of tuition.  We understand that.  But what we also understand is that if it’s going up 250 [percent] and your incomes are only going up 16 [percent], at some point, families are having to make up some of the difference, or students are having to make up some of the difference with debt.

And meanwhile, over the past few years, states have been cutting back on their higher education budgets.  New York has done better than a lot of states, but the fact is that we’ve been spending more money on prisons, less money on college.  (Applause.)  And meanwhile, not enough colleges have been working to figure out how do we control costs, how do we cut back on costs.  So all this sticks it to students, sticks it to families, but also, taxpayers end up paying a bigger price.

The average student who borrows for college now graduates owing more than $26,000.  Some owe a lot more than that.  And I’ve heard from a lot of these young people who are frustrated that they’ve done everything they’re supposed to do –- got good grades in high school, applied to college, did well in school — but now they come out, they’ve got this crushing debt that’s crippling their sense of self-reliance and their dreams.  It becomes hard to start a family and buy a home if you’re servicing $1,000 worth of debt every month.  It becomes harder to start a business if you are servicing $1,000 worth of debt every month, right?  (Applause.)

And meanwhile, parents, you’re having to make sacrifices, which means you may be dipping into savings that should be going to your retirement to pay for your son or daughter’s — or to help pay for your son or daughter’s education.

So at a time when a higher education has never been more important or more expensive, too many students are facing a choice that they should never have to make:  Either they say no to college and pay the price for not getting a degree — and that’s a price that lasts a lifetime — or you do what it takes to go to college, but then you run the risk that you won’t be able to pay it off because you’ve got so much debt.

Now, that’s a choice we shouldn’t accept.  And, by the way, that’s a choice that previous generations didn’t have to accept. This is a country that early on made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of all who are willing to work for it. And we were ahead of the curve compared to other countries when it came to helping young people go to school.  (Applause.)

The folks in Buffalo understand this.  Mayor Brown was talking about the city of Buffalo and the great work that is being done through the program called “Say Yes,” to make sure that no child in Buffalo has to miss out on a college education because they can’t pay for it.  (Applause.)

But even though there’s a great program in this city, in a lot of places that program doesn’t exist.  But a generation ago, two generations ago, we made a bigger commitment.  This is the country that gave my grandfather the chance to go to college on the GI Bill after he came back from World War II.  (Applause.)  This is the country that helped my mother get through school while raising two kids.  (Applause.)  Michelle and I, we’re only where we are today because scholarships and student loans gave us a shot at a great education.  (Applause.)

And we know a little bit about trying to pay back student loans, too, because we didn’t come from a wealthy family.  So we each graduated from college and law school with a mountain of debt.  And even though we got good jobs, we barely finished paying it off just before I was elected to the U.S. Senate.

AUDIENCE:  Whew!

THE PRESIDENT:  Right?  I mean, I was in my 40s when we finished paying off our debt.  And we should have been saving for Malia and Sasha by that time.  But we were still paying off what we had gotten — and we were luckier because most of the debt was from law school.  Our undergraduate debt was not as great because tuition had not started shooting up as high.

So the bottom line is this — we’ve got a crisis in terms of college affordability and student debt.  And over the past four years, what we’ve tried to do is to take some steps to make college more affordable.  So we enacted historic reforms to the student loan system, so taxpayer dollars stop padding the pockets of big banks and instead help more kids afford college.  (Applause.)

Because what was happening was the old system, the student loan programs were going through banks; they didn’t have any risk because the federal government guaranteed the loans, but they were still taking billions of dollars out of the program.  We said, well, let’s just give the loans directly to the students and we can put more money to helping students.

Then we set up a consumer watchdog.  And that consumer watchdog is already helping students and families navigate the financial options that are out there to pay for college without getting ripped off by shady lenders.  (Applause.)  And we’re providing more tools and resources for students and families to try to finance college.  And if any of you are still trying to figure out how to finance college, check it out at StudentAid.gov.  StudentAid.gov.

Then, we took action to cap loan repayments at 10 percent of monthly income for many borrowers who are trying to responsibly manage their federal student loan debt.  (Applause.)  So overall, we’ve made college more affordable for millions of students and families through tax credits and grants and student loans that go farther than they did before.  And then, just a few weeks ago, Democrats and Republicans worked together to keep student loan rates from doubling.  (Applause.)  And that saves typical undergraduates more than $1,500 for this year’s loans.

So that’s all a good start, but it’s not enough.  The problem is, is that even if the federal government keeps on putting more and more money in the system, if the cost is going up by 250 percent, tax revenues aren’t going up 250 percent — and so some point, the government will run out of money, which means more and more costs are being loaded on to students and their families.

The system’s current trajectory is not sustainable.  And what that means is state legislatures are going to have to step up.  They can’t just keep cutting support for public colleges and universities.  (Applause.)  That’s just the truth.  Colleges are not going to be able to just keep on increasing tuition year after year, and then passing it on to students and families and taxpayers.  (Applause.)   Our economy can’t afford the trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt, much of which may not get repaid because students don’t have the capacity to pay it.  We can’t price the middle class and everybody working to get into the middle class out of a college education.  We’re going to have to do things differently.  We can’t go about business as usual.

Because if we do, that will put our younger generation, our workers, our country at a competitive disadvantage for years.  Higher education is still the best ticket to upward mobility in America, and if we don’t do something about keeping it within reach, it will create problems for economic mobility for generations to come.  And that’s not acceptable.  (Applause.)

So whether we’re talking about a two-year program, a four-year program, a technical certificate, bottom line is higher education cannot be a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative:  Every family in America should be able to afford to get it.  (Applause.)

So that’s the problem.  Now, what are we going to do about it?  Today, I’m proposing major new reforms that will shake up the current system, create better incentives for colleges to do more with less, and deliver better value for students and their families.  (Applause.)

And some of these reforms will require action from Congress, so we’re going to have to work on that.  (Laughter.)  Some of these changes I can make on my own.  (Applause.)  We are going to have to — we’re going to be partnering with colleges to do more to keep costs down, and we’re going to work with states to make higher education a higher priority in their budgets.  (Applause.)

And one last thing — we’re going to have to ask more of students who are receiving federal aid, as well.  And I’ve got to tell you ahead of time, these reforms won’t be popular with everybody, especially those who are making out just fine under the current system.  But my main concern is not with those institutions; my main concern is the students those institutions are there to serve -– because this country is only going to be as strong as our next generation.  (Applause.)

And I have confidence that our country’s colleges and universities will step up — just like Chancellor Zimpher and the folks at SUNY are trying to step up — and lead the way to do the right thing for students.

So let me be specific.  My plan comes down to three main goals.  First, we’re going to start rating colleges not just by which college is the most selective, not just by which college is the most expensive, not just by which college has the nicest facilities — you can get all of that on the existing rating systems.  What we want to do is rate them on who’s offering the best value so students and taxpayers get a bigger bang for their buck.  (Applause.)

Number two, we’re going to jumpstart new competition between colleges –- not just on the field or on the court, but in terms of innovation that encourages affordability, and encourages student success, and doesn’t sacrifice educational quality.  (Applause.)  That’s going to be the second component of it.

And the third is, we’re going to make sure that if you have to take on debt to earn your college degree that you have ways to manage and afford it.  (Applause.)

So let me just talk about each of these briefly.

Our first priority is aimed at providing better value for students — making sure that families and taxpayers are getting what we pay for.  Today, I’m directing Arne Duncan, our Secretary of Education, to lead an effort to develop a new rating system for America’s colleges before the 2015 college year.  Right now, private rankings like U.S. News and World Report puts out each year their rankings, and it encourages a lot of colleges to focus on ways to — how do we game the numbers, and it actually rewards them, in some cases, for raising costs.  I think we should rate colleges based on opportunity.  Are they helping students from all kinds of backgrounds succeed — (applause) — and on outcomes, on their value to students and parents.

So that means metrics like:  How much debt does the average student leave with?  How easy it is to pay off?  How many students graduate on time?  How well do those graduates do in the workforce?  Because the answers will help parents and students figure out how much value a college truly offers.

There are schools out there who are terrific values.  But there are also schools out there that have higher default rates than graduation rates.  And taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing students to go to schools where the kids aren’t graduating.  That doesn’t do anybody any good.  (Applause.)

And our ratings will also measure how successful colleges are at enrolling and graduating students who are on Pell grants. And it will be my firm principle that our ratings have to be carefully designed to increase, not decrease, the opportunities for higher education for students who face economic or other disadvantages.  (Applause.)

So this is going to take a little time, but we think this can empower students and families to make good choices.  And it will give any college the chance to show that it’s making serious and consistent improvement.  So a college may not be where it needs to be right now on value, but they’ll have time to try to get better.

And we want all the stakeholders in higher education — students, parents, businesses, college administrators, professors — to work with Secretary Duncan on this process.  And over the next few months, he’s going to host a series of public forums around the country to make sure we get these measures right.  And then, over the next few years, we’re going to work with Congress to use those ratings to change how we allocate federal aid for colleges.  (Applause.)

We are going to deliver on a promise we made last year, which is colleges that keep their tuition down and are providing high-quality education are the ones that are going to see their taxpayer funding go up.  It is time to stop subsidizing schools that are not producing good results, and reward schools that deliver for American students and our future.  (Applause.)

And we’re also going to encourage states to follow the same principle.  Right now, most states fund colleges based on how many students they enroll, not based on how well those students do or even if they graduate.  Now, some states are trying a better approach.  You got Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio — they’re offering more funding to colleges that do a better job of preparing students for graduation and a job.  Michigan is rewarding schools that keep tuition increases low.  So they’re changing the incentive structure.

And I’m challenging all states to come up with new and innovative ways to fund their colleges in a way that drives better results.  (Applause.)

Now, for the young people here, I just want to say that just as we’re expecting more from our schools that get funding from taxpayers, we’re going to have to expect more from students who get subsidies and grants from taxpayers.  (Applause.)  So we’re going to make sure students who receive federal financial aid complete their courses before receiving grants for the next semester.  (Applause.)

We’ll make sure to build in flexibility so we’re not penalizing disadvantaged students, or students who are holding down jobs to pay for school.  Things happen.  But the bottom line is we need to make sure that if you’re getting financial aid you’re doing your part to make progress towards a degree.  And, by the way, that’s good for you, too, because if you take out debt and you don’t get that degree, you are not going to be able to pay off that debt and you’ll be in a bind.  (Applause.)

All right, second goal:  We want to encourage more –

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you, Obama!

THE PRESIDENT:  (Laughter.)  Thank you.

The second thing we want to do is to encourage more colleges to embrace innovative new ways to prepare our students for a 21st century economy and maintain a high level of quality without breaking the bank.

So let me talk about some alternatives that are already out there.  Southern New Hampshire University gives course credit based on how well students master the material, not just on how many hours they spend in the classroom.  So the idea would be if you’re learning the material faster, you can finish faster, which means you pay less and you save money.  (Applause.)  The University of Wisconsin is getting ready to do the same thing.

You’ve got Central Missouri University — I went there, and they’ve partnered with local high schools and community colleges so that their students can show up at college and graduate in half the time because they’re already starting to get college credits while they’re in high school or while they’re in a two-year college, so by the time they get to a four-year college they’re saving money.  (Applause.)

Universities like Carnegie Mellon, Arizona State, they’re starting to show that online learning can help students master the same material in less time and often at lower cost.  Georgia Tech, which is a national leader in computer science, just announced it will begin offering an online master’s degree in computer science at a fraction of the cost of a traditional class, but it’s just as rigorous and it’s producing engineers who are just as good.

So a lot of other schools are experimenting with these ideas to keep tuition down.  They’ve got other ways to help students graduate in less time, at less cost, while still maintaining high quality.  The point is it’s possible.  And it’s time for more colleges to step up with even better ways to do it.  And we’re going to provide additional assistance to states and universities that are coming up with good ideas.

Third thing, even as we work to bring down costs for current and future students, we’ve got to offer students who already have debt the chance to actually repay it.  (Applause.)  Nobody wants to take on debt — especially after what we’ve seen and families have gone through during this financial crisis.  But taking on debt in order to earn a college education has always been viewed as something that will pay off over time.  We’ve got to make sure, though, that it’s manageable.

As I said before, even with good jobs, it took Michelle and me a long time to pay off our student loans — while we should have been saving for Malia and Sasha’s college educations, we were still paying off our own.  So we know how important it is to make sure debt is manageable, so that it doesn’t keep you from taking a job that you really care about, or getting married, or buying that first home.

There are some folks who have been talking out there recently about whether the federal student loan program should make or cost the government money.  Here’s the bottom line — government shouldn’t see student loans as a way to make money; it should be a way to help students.  (Applause.)

So we need to ask ourselves:  How much does a federal student loan cost students?  How can we help students manage those costs better?  Our national mission is not to profit off student loans; our national mission must be to profit off having the best-educated workforce in the world.  That should be our focus.  (Applause.)

So, as I mentioned a little bit earlier, two years ago, I capped loan repayments at 10 percent of a student’s post-college income.  We called it Pay-As-You-Earn.  And it, along with some other income-driven repayment plans, have helped more than 2.5 million students so far.

But there are two obstacles that are preventing more students from taking advantage of it.  One is that too many current and former students aren’t eligible, which means we’ve got to get Congress to open up the program for more students.  (Applause.)  And we’re going to be pushing them to do that.

The other obstacle is that a lot of students don’t even know they’re eligible for the program.  So starting this year, we’re going to launch a campaign to help more borrowers learn about their repayment options and we’ll help more student borrowers enroll in Pay-As-You-Earn.  So if you went to college, you took out debt, you want to be a teacher, and starting salary for a teacher is, let’s say, $35,000, well, only 10 percent of that amount is what your loan repayment is.  Now, if you’re making more money, you should be paying more back.  But that way, everybody has a chance to go to college; everybody has a chance to pursue their dreams.

And that program is already in place.  We want more students to take advantage of it.  We’re really going to be advertising it heavily.

Now, if we move forward on these three fronts –- increasing value, encouraging innovation, helping people responsibly manage their debt –- I guarantee you we will help more students afford college.  We’ll help more students graduate from college.  We’ll help more students get rid of that debt so they can a good start in their careers.  (Applause.)

But it’s going to take a lot of hard work.  The good news is, from what I hear, folks in Buffalo know something about hard work.  (Applause.)  Folks in America know something about hard work.  And we’ve come a long way together these past four years. We’re going to keep moving forward on this issue and on every other issue that’s going to help make sure that we continue to have the strongest, most thriving middle class in the world.  We’re going to keep pushing to build a better bargain for everybody in this country who works hard, and everybody who’s trying to get into that middle class.  (Applause.)

And we’re going to keep fighting to make sure that this remains a country where, if you work hard and study hard and are responsible, you are rewarded, so that no matter what you look like and where you come from, what your last name is, here in America you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

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

END
11:54 A.M. EDT

Political Headlines May 30, 2013: Threatening Ricin Laced Letter Sent to President Obama Similar to Pair Sent to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Threatening Letter to Obama Similar to Pair Sent to Bloomberg

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-30-13 

Authorities intercepted a letter addressed to President Barack Obama at a White House mail-sorting facility that was similar to the ones targeting Bloomberg, according to The New York Times. The letter was turned over to the FBI task force investigating the letters sent to Bloomberg, at least one of which tested positive for ricin….READ MORE

Political Headlines May 29, 2013: NYC’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gun Control HQ Mailed Ricin Laced Letters

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg, Gun Control HQ Targeted in Ricin Mailings

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-29-13

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York City police say two verbally poisonous letters sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg contained traces of actual poision: ricin. The author of the letters, police say, targeted Bloomberg because of his support for gun control measures….READ MORE

Political Headlines May 13, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Democratic National Committee Event in New York — Blame Game: During Fundraiser, Says “Other Party” Behind Political Gridlock

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Blame Game: During Fundraiser, Obama Says “Other Party” Behind Political Gridlock

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-13-13

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama blamed part of the political gridlock in Washington, D.C., on “hyper-partisanship” while speaking at a fundraiser attended by Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel in New York City Monday afternoon.

“What’s blocking us right now is sort of hyper-partisanship in Washington that, frankly, I was hoping to overcome in 2008.  And in the midst of crisis, I think the other party reacted, rather than saying now is the time for us all to join together, decided to take a different path,” Obama said at the Democratic National Committee fundraiser. “My thinking was after we beat them in 2012, well, that might break the fever, and it’s not quite broken yet.”…READ MORE

Remarks by the President at a DNC Event — New York, NY

Source: WH, 5-13-13

Private Residence
New York, New York

4:24 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Well, first of all, I have to thank Harvey and Georgina for once again extending incredible hospitality to us.  We are so grateful for their friendship and support, and for the amazing movies that they’ve made.  And it is wonderful to see all of you.  I see old friends, new friends and people who when I have time to watch movies or TV, I very much appreciate.  So thank you for the great work that you guys do.

I’m going to spend most of this time in a conversation with everybody, so I’m not going to give a long speech at the front end.  Over the last three weeks, month, the country has gone through some tough times.  Obviously, we had the Boston bombing and the incredible tragedy that marred what is one of the greatest sporting events in the world, and an iconic event here in America.  We went out to West, Texas to a tiny town that had been devastated by an explosion there.

And I remember, I was with Deval Patrick, a wonderful governor — the Governor of Massachusetts — as we were driving to a memorial in Boston shortly after the attack.  And we talked about that in the midst of tragedy, the incredible strength and courage and resolve of the American people just comes out, and the neighborliness, and the sense of willing to support strangers and neighbors and friends during tough times.  And that same spirit, which I would later see when I visited West, Texas — you can’t get two places more different than Boston and West, Texas.  So it’s a pretty good representative sampling of America.

And part of what Deval and I talked about was what do we need to do to make sure that that same spirit is reflected in our politics and our government — because it’s there every day for people to see.  It doesn’t matter whether people are Democrats or Republicans or independents.  If you go into schools, you go to Little League games, you talk to people at the workplace — everybody has the same sense that we live in the greatest country on Earth, that we’ve gone through some tough times, but we’re resilient and we can overcome whatever challenges are thrown at us.  And there’s a desire to get outside of the constant squabbling and bickering and positioning and gamesmanship, and get to the business of figuring out how do we make sure that the next generation does better than this generation.

And as I think about my second term, and people have asked me, what’s different about your second term — well, other than me being grayer — (laughter) — and my girls being taller, the main thing about a second term is, A, I don’t have to run for office again; but, B, you also start just thinking about history, and you start thinking about — in longer sweeps of time, and you start saying to yourself that the three and a half years that I’ve got is not a lot, and so I’ve got to make sure that I use everything I’ve got to make as much of a difference as I can.

And more than anything, what I will be striving for over the next three and a half years is to see if that spirit that I saw in Boston and West, Texas, if we can institutionalize that, if we can create a framework where everybody is working together and moving this country forward.

Now, the good news is that if we do that, we’ve got the best cards of any country on Earth — and that’s the truth.  Look, there’s no American politician, much less American President, who’s not going to say that we’re not the greatest country on Earth.  So that’s a cliché.  On the other hand, objectively, when you look at where we are right now, we are poised for a 21st century that is as much the American century as the 20th century was.

We have recovered from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and yet, the economy is growing; millions of jobs have been created; the stock market has hit record highs; the housing market has begun to recover.  When you look at our companies, innovation, dynamism, inventiveness still take root here in the United States more than anyplace else on Earth.

When it comes to energy, not only have we been able to double our production of clean energy, but even in terms of traditional energy, we will probably be a net exporter of natural gas in somewhere between five and ten years.  And so the idea of the United States being energy independent — which seemed far-fetched as recently as 10 years ago — now is actually a possibility.

When you travel around the world, people still look to the United States for leadership.  I went down to Mexico and then Costa Rica and I met with Central American leaders down there, and each and every one of them, including Daniel Ortega, who was at one of the meetings — and some of you are too young to remember I guess Daniel Ortega, and I’m not — (laughter) — all of them talked about how can we trade, how can we work more effectively together.  And so the possibilities for us to shape a world that is more peaceful, more prosperous, more innovative, more environmentally conscious, more tolerant, more open — that opportunity exists, but there are just a few things that we’re going to have to do to make sure that we realize those opportunities, that potential.

We’ve got to continue to revamp our education system so it’s meeting the demands of the 21st century.  We’ve got to rebuild our infrastructure so we don’t have the worst airports in the world.  We’ve got to make sure — and ports and roads and bridges and broadband lines.  We’ve got to make sure that we continue to focus on putting people back to work, because jobs are not just a matter of income, they’re a matter of dignity and stitching the fabric of a community together.

We’ve got to deal with climate change in an honest, realistic way.  We’re not going to reverse the trends overnight, but we have to start now for the sake of our kids and, in fact, the tools are available to us to make huge strides in the coming years if we make the smart investments.  We’ve got to keep on investing in research and development.  And we’ve got to get our fiscal house in order in a way that is sensible so that everybody is paying their fair share; everybody understands that we have to — if we want a first-class education system, for example, then we’ve got to pay for it.  If we want first-class infrastructure, we’ve got to pay for it.  But we also want a government that is lean and effective and efficient, and not bloated.

And these are all things that we can accomplish.  What’s blocking us right now is sort of hyper-partisanship in Washington that, frankly, I was hoping to overcome in 2008.  And in the midst of crisis, I think the other party reacted; rather than saying now is the time for us all to join together, decided to take a different path.

My thinking was after we beat them in 2012, well, that might break the fever — (laughter) — and it’s not quite broken yet.  (Laughter.)  But I am persistent.  And I am staying at it.  And I genuinely believe that there are actually Republicans out there who would like to work with us but they’re fearful of their base and they’re concerned about what Rush Limbaugh might say about them, and as a consequence, we get the kind of gridlock that makes people cynical about government and inhibits our progress.

So the bottom line is this — everybody is here to support the DNC, and I very much appreciate that.  But I want everybody to understand that my intentions over the next three and a half years are to govern, because I don’t have another race left.  If we’ve got folks on the other side who are prepared to cooperate, that is great and we are ready to go.  On the other hand, if there are folks who are more interested in winning elections than they are thinking about the next generation, then I want to make sure that there are consequences to that.

And what you all are here today to facilitate is our ability to make sure that the values and concerns that we all have for Dash and all the other babies that are out there — Steve has got a new one, and I’m starting to feel like the old man around here because mine are this tall and everybody else has these little babies.  But I want to make sure that that generation is getting everything and more that we can give them.  And that’s going to require us to work hard.  It’s going to require persistence.  There are going to be ups and downs in this whole process.

But one of the benefits of a second term is you start taking the long view.  And what I know is, is that as long as we are pointing towards that true North, that eventually we’ll get there.  That’s what this country has always done.  That’s what I expect will happen this time as well.

So with that, I’m going to stop and I’m just going to open it up for questions.  (Applause.)

END
4:35 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines January 15, 2013: New York Passes Major Gun Control Laws; First Since Newtown Shooting

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

New York Passes Major Gun Control Laws; First Since Newtown Shooting

Taylor Hill/Getty Images

New York Govenor Andrew Cuomo has signed the first gun-control measures to be enacted since the rampage killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead.

Lawmakers have expanded the state’s ban on assault-style weapons, restricted the capacity of magazines and required mental health counselors to speak up when they believe their patients may do harm.

“This is a gun control bill, if you will, that actually exercises common sense,” Cuomo said. “The first point is people who are mentally ill should not have access to guns.”…READ MORE

Political Headlines January 4, 2013: House, Senate Approve $9.7 Billion for Sandy Flood Victims

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

House, Senate Approve $9.7 Billion for Sandy Flood Victims

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-4-13

Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

More than two months after superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast, Congress on Friday approved $9.7 billion for FEMA flood insurance programs to be distributed to businesses and residents inundated by the storm.

The House of Representatives vote passed 354 to 67, with all opposition coming from Republicans.  The Senate approved the bill by unanimous consent. The bill grants the National Flood Insurance Program additional borrowing authority to process 115,000 pending insurance claims.

The Senate passed a $60.4 billion bill which would provide aid for victims of Sandy last year. That bill, which matched the White House’s emergency supplemental request, expired after the House refused to consider the legislation before the 112th session of Congress ended this week….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 2, 2013: Gov. Chris Christie Finds Speaker John Boehner’s Actions ‘Disgusting’ for Adjourning the House before Vote on Sandy Relief

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Sandy Relief: Christie Finds Boehner’s Actions ‘Disgusting’

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-2-13

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday that it was “disgusting” that the House adjourned without voting on a $60 billion relief package for the victims of superstorm Sandy and put the blame squarely on a fellow Republican — House Speaker John Boehner.

Christie, who is considered a possible Republican presidential candidate four years from now, said there was “only one group to blame, the Republican Party and Speaker Boehner.”

The blunt talking New Jersey governor joined a chorus of Republicans from New York and New Jersey fuming over Boehner’s decision to pull the bill at the last minute….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 2, 2013: Governors Chris Christie, Andrew Cuomo & Lawmakers from New York & New Jersey Furious over Failure to Allocate ‘Sandy’ Funds

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Lawmakers Furious over Failure to Allocate ‘Sandy’ Funds

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-2-13

ABC News

Republican lawmakers from New York and New Jersey whose storm-ravaged residents are desperate for federal aid are fuming at their party’s leaders for refusing to hold a vote on a $60 billion disaster relief package, despite promises that help was on the way….

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, called it a “dereliction of duty” in a joint statement with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat.

“This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented,” the governors said….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency December 13, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the White House Hanukkah Reception

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Hanukkah at the White House: A Menorah that Survived Sandy

Source: WH, 12-14-12

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Rabbi Larry Bazer at the 2012 Hanukkah reception, Dec. 13, 2012President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Rabbi Larry Bazer participate in the Menorah lighting during the Hanukkah reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 13, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on Thursday welcomed friends and leaders from the Jewish community to celebrate the sixth night of Hanukkah. In his remarks, the President remembered the enduring story of resilience and optimism that is the essence of this holiday:

Over 2,000 years ago, a tyrant forbade the Israelites from practicing their religion and his forces desecrated the Holy Temple.  So Judah Maccabee gathered a small band of believers to fight this oppression, and against all odds, they prevailed.  And the Maccabees liberated Jerusalem and restored the faith of its people.  And when they went to reclaim the Temple, the people of Jerusalem received another gift from God — the oil that should have lasted only one night burned for eight.  That miraculous flame brought hope and it sustained the faithful.

To this day, Jews around the world honor the Maccabees’ everlasting hope that light will overcome the darkness, that goodness will overcome evil, and that faith can accomplish miracles.The celebration this year was a tribute to more recent examples of resilience and optimism as well. The 90-year-old menorah used in the ceremony came from the Temple Israel synagogue in Long Beach, New York, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. It served as a symbol of perseverance, and as a reminder of those who are still recovering from Sandy’s destruction.

This was not the first year that Rabbi Larry Bazer, the Joint Forces Chaplain for the Massachusetts National Guard, was asked to light the candles at the White House Hanukkah celebration. Last year, Rabbi Bazer was unable to attend because he was four months into his deployment in Afghanistan, and he spent every night of Hanukkah with a different group of soldiers. As President Obama noted, “he had a pretty good excuse” for turning down that invitation.

Remarks by the President at a Hanukkah Reception

East Room

7:50 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, everybody.

AUDIENCE:  Good evening.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you for coming to the White House tonight to celebrate the sixth night of Hanukkah.  (Applause.)  It is truly an honor to host so many leaders from the Jewish community this evening.  Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren is here.  (Applause.)  And obviously I know I speak for all of us when we say that America’s support for our friend and ally Israel remains unshakeable during these difficult times.  (Applause.)

Many members of Congress and local government are here, and we want to welcome you.  We are graced by two Supreme Court Justices, several members of my Cabinet and administration — so, everybody, be on your best behavior.  (Laughter.)

I want to thank the incredibly talented members of the West Point Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir for their service.  (Applause.)  They are incredible young people.  Obviously we’re in awe of their service to our nation, and for sharing a couple of Hanukkah favorites with the Marine band.

And finally, I’d like to recognize the rabbis and lay leaders who traveled from all over the country to be here.  Thank you for sharing the holiday with us.  We’re grateful.  (Applause.)

So tonight, as we gather to light the sixth candle of Hanukkah, we remember an enduring story of resilience and optimism.  Over 2,000 years ago, a tyrant forbade the Israelites from practicing their religion and his forces desecrated the Holy Temple.  So Judah Maccabee gathered a small band of believers to fight this oppression, and against all odds, they prevailed.  And the Maccabees liberated Jerusalem and restored the faith of its people.  And when they went to reclaim the Temple, the people of Jerusalem received another gift from God — the oil that should have lasted only one night burned for eight.  That miraculous flame brought hope and it sustained the faithful.

To this day, Jews around the world honor the Maccabees’ everlasting hope that light will overcome the darkness, that goodness will overcome evil, and that faith can accomplish miracles.

The menorah that we’re using tonight and the man who will light it are both powerful symbols of that spirit.  Six weeks ago, the Temple Israel Synagogue in Long Beach, New York, was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  But this 90-year-old menorah survived, and I am willing to bet it will survive another 90 years, and another 90 years after that.  So tonight, it shines as a symbol of perseverance, and as a reminder of those who are still recovering from Sandy’s destruction — a reminder of resilience and hope and the fact that we will be there for them as they recover.

So I want to thank Rabbi David Bauman for sharing your congregation’s blessed menorah with us.  We pray that its light will carry victims of Sandy and all Americans to a brighter tomorrow.  And we’re confident that it will.  (Applause.)

And we’re confident that it will because for centuries the menorah has served as a source of inspiration and courage for all those dreaming of a better future, and Rabbi Larry Bazer knows that as well as anybody.

Now, we had hoped that Rabbi would join us to light the candles last year, but he wasn’t able to make it.  We don’t get that very often.  Usually when we invite people, they come.   (Laughter.)   But we gave him another chance because he had a pretty good excuse the first time.

Last Hanukkah, Rabbi Bazer — and he happens to be the Joint Forces Chaplain for the Massachusetts National Guard — was four months into his deployment in Afghanistan, and he lit a custom-built electric menorah in the central square of Camp Phoenix in Kabul.  As the only rabbi in Afghanistan at the time, he spent every night of Hanukkah with a different group of soldiers, reminding them of the Maccabees’ perseverance, and bringing them faith to guide their challenging work.

Even in the face of great danger, the message of Hanukkah endures.  And it continues to inspire those all over the world who stand for freedom and opportunity, and we could not be more grateful to Rabbi Bazer for his extraordinary service to our country as well as his service to his congregation.  (Applause.)

The Rabbi stands here alongside this menorah both as a symbol of hope and perseverance and determination and duty.  And it also reminds us that there are sacrifices that are involved in defending our values.  Obviously we’re grateful to the men and women who serve our nation so nobly and so bravely all around the world.  (Applause.)   And our thoughts and prayers in this holiday season especially go out to those who are away from home during the holiday season.

But obviously the lessons of Hanukkah also apply to those of us who should be serving in different ways in our own communities, in our work places, in our own families as citizens of this nation; that we have obligations to one another, that we’re stronger together than we are apart, that we have to think about future generations and not just the present.

Those are all values that we have to also make sacrifices to defend.  And so I want to welcome all of you.  I’m honored to be with you.  I see a lot of good friends around the room.  But at this time I’d like to invite Rabbi Bazer to join me to light the White House menorah.

(The blessing is offered and the menorah is lighted.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Have a wonderful evening, everybody.  We’re going to go around and try and shake some hands.

END
7:57 P.M. EST

Political Headlines November 15, 2012: President Barack Obama Visits Hurricane Sandy Ravaged New York

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Visits Sandy Ravaged New York

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-15-12
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama on Thursday named Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to coordinate the federal government’s long-term response to rebuilding the New York/New Jersey region devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

“On the federal level, I wanted to assign one particular person who will be our point-person. We thought it would be good to have a New Yorker be the point person,” Obama said in remarks on Staten Island.

Donovan, who is a former New York City housing commissioner, “knows a little bit about New York and building,” Obama said….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency November 15, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Remarks After Surveying Damage from Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island, New York

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President After Surveying Damage from Hurricane Sandy

Source: WH, 11-15-12 

Cedar Grove Avenue
Staten Island, New York

2:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much, everybody.  I’m going to be relatively brief.  I came up here right after the storm, was on the Jersey side, and I promised to everybody that I was speaking on behalf of the country when I said we are going to be here until the rebuilding is complete, and I meant it.  So I’m going to come back today, but I’m also going to be coming back in the future to make sure that we have followed through on that commitment.

I want to thank the outstanding leadership that’s been provided by state and local officials.  Obviously, Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg have done an outstanding job.  To borough president Molinaro, thank you so much for your leadership at a time when the folks here on this island were obviously going through extraordinarily difficult times, the people of Long Island who are going through really tough times.

Across the board, what we’ve seen is cooperation and a spirit of service.  And for the first responders who are here, the police officers, the firefighters, the EMS folks, the sanitation workers who sometimes don’t get credit but have done heroic work, we are so grateful to you because you exemplify what America is all about.  I’m grateful to the Red Cross who has been so responsive not just here, but in disasters around the country.  And I want to thank all the volunteers.  As we were shaking hands over there, we had folks from every part of the country.  We had some Canadians who had come down to help out.

And during difficult times like this, we’re reminded that we’re bound together and we have to look out for each other.  And a lot of the things that seem important, the petty differences melt away, and we focus on what binds us together and that we as Americans are going to stand with each other in their hour of need.

Now, more specifically, we are now still in the process of recovery.  As you can see, as you travel around parts of Staten Island, as we flew over parts of — other parts of the city and the region that had been impacted, there is still a lot of cleanup to do.  People still need emergency help.  They still need heat.  They still need power.  They still need food.  They still need shelter.  Kids are still trying to figure out where they’re going to school.  So there’s a lot of short-term, immediate stuff that has to be dealt with.  And we are going to make sure that we stay here as long as people need that immediate help.  That’s FEMA’s primary task.  And we’ll be coordinating closely with state and local governments to make sure folks are getting the short-term help.

But what we’ve also already heard is that there’s going to be some long-term rebuilding that’s required.  You look at this block and you know that this is a community that is deeply rooted.  Most of the folks that I met here have been here 20, 30, 50 years.  They don’t want to see their community uprooted, but there’s got to be a plan for rebuilding, and that plan is going to have to be coordinated, and they’re going to need resources.

So what I’ve committed to doing is to work with the outstanding congressional delegation led by your Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, also working with Governor Christie and the Jersey delegation to try to come up with a game plan for how we’re going to be able to resource the rebuilding process.

And I’m confident, as Governor Cuomo said, that we’re going to be able to do it.  But it’s going to require everybody focused on getting the job done.  We’re going to have to put some of the turf battles aside.  We’re going to have to make sure that everybody is focused on doing the job as opposed to worrying about who is getting the credit or who is getting the contracts or all that stuff that sometimes goes into the rebuilding process.

On the federal level, because this is going to be such a big job, I wanted to assign one particular person who would be in charge from our perspective, who would be our point person — because FEMA basically runs the recovery process, it doesn’t focus on the rebuilding.  For that, we’ve got to have all government agencies involved.  Janet Napolitano has done a great job with respect to DHS, but we thought it would be good to have a New Yorker who is going to be the point person.  And so our outstanding HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan, who used to be the head of the New York Housing Authority — so he knows a little bit about New York and building — is going to be our point person.  And he’s going to be working with the mayor, the governor, the borough presidents, the county officials to make sure that we come up with a strong, effective plan.  And then, I’ll be working with the members of Congress to do everything we can to get the resources needed to rebuild.  And I have every confidence that Shaun is going to be doing a great job, and so people should feel some confidence about that.

Let me just close by saying this:  I had the opportunity to give some hugs and communicate thoughts and prayers to the Moore family.  They lost two young sons during the course of this tragedy.  And obviously, I expressed to them — as a father, as a parent — my heartbreak over what they went through.  And they’re still obviously a little shell-shocked.

But they came here in part because they wanted to say thank you to all the people who have been supportive of them.  They in particular mentioned Lieutenant Kevin Gallagher of the NYPD, who, when they knew that their sons were missing, Lieutenant Gallagher made a point of staying with them and doing everything he could so that ultimately they knew what had happened with their boys and were able to recover their bodies, and has been with them as a source of support ever since.

That’s not in the job description of Lieutenant Gallagher.  He did that because that’s what so many of our first responders do.  They go above and beyond the call of duty to respond to people in need.  And so I want to give a shout-out to Lieutenant Gallagher, but I also want to point out, the Moores, even in their grief, asked me to mention Lieutenant Gallagher, and that says something about them as well.

And that spirit and sense of togetherness and looking out for one another, that’s what’s going to carry us through this tragedy.  It’s not going to be easy.  There’s still going to be, believe it or not, some complaints over the next several months.  Not everybody is going to be satisfied.  I have to tell you the insurance companies and some of the other private sector folks who are involved in this, we need you to show some heart and some spirit in helping people rebuild as well.

But when I hear the story of the Moores and I hear about Lieutenant Gallagher, that’s what makes me confident that we’re going to be able to rebuild.

I’m very proud of you, New York.  You guys are tough.  You bounce back, just as America always bounces back.  The same is going to be true this time out.  All right, thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
2:08 P.M. EST

Campaign Buzz October 18, 2012: Barack Obama & Mitt Romney Trade Barbs, Jokes at Al Smith Dinner — Speech Excerpts

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

IN FOCUS: BARACK OBAMA & MITT ROMNEY AT AL SMITH DINNER

Obama, Romney Trade Barbs, Jokes at Al Smith Dinner

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Two days after their contentious brawl at the second presidential debate, Mitt Romney and President Obama faced off again Thursday night in a war of wit at the annual Al Smith dinner, poking fun at themselves and each other.

“I’m pleased that the president is here. We were chatting pleasantly this evening as if Tuesday night never happened,” Romney joked at the top of his remarks.

“This is the third time that Governor Romney and I have met recently. As some of you may have noticed, I had a lot more energy in our second debate. I felt really well-rested after the nice long nap I had in the first debate,” Obama said, making fun of his widely-panned debate performance….READ MORE

QUOTES

BARACK OBAMA: 

“I felt really well rested after the nice long nap I had in the first debate.”

“Everyone please take your seats, or else Clint Eastwood will yell at them.”

“In less than three weeks, voters in states like Ohio, Virgina and Florida will decide this incredibly important election. Which begs the question, what are we doing here?”

“I particularly want to apologize to Chris Matthews. Four years ago, I gave him a thrill up his leg. This time around, I gave him a stroke.”

“Early today, I went shopping at some stores in midtown. I understand Gov. Romney went shopping for some stores in midtown.”

“Of course, the economy is on everybody’s minds. The unemployment rate is at its lowest level since I took office. I don’t have a joke here. I just thought it’d be useful to remind everybody that the unemployment rate is at the lowest it’s been since I took office.”

MITT ROMNEY

“I was actually hoping the president would bring Joe Biden along this evening, ‘cause he’ll laugh at anything.”

“As President Obama surveys the Waldorf banquet room, with everyone in white tie and finery, you have to wonder what he’s thinking: so little time, so much to redistribute.”

“He knows how to seize a moment, this president. And already he has a compelling new campaign slogan: you’re better off now than you were four weeks ago.”

“Usually when I get invited to gatherings like this, it’s just to be the designated driver.”

“By the way, in the spirit of Sesame Street, the president’s remarks tonight are brought to you by the letter O and the number 16 trillion.”

“My job is to lay out a positive vision for the future of the country, and their (the press) job is to make sure no one else finds out about it.”

Campaign Headlines October 17, 2012: Peter Roff: Mitt Romney Won the Second Presidential Debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Mitt Romney Won the Second Debate

Source: US News & World Report, 10-17-12
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama debate on Oct. 16, 2012, during the second of three presidential debates at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.
Having had a night’s sleep to reflect on things, Tuesday night’s debate between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is starting to feel more like the challenger scored a narrow victory.The instant analysis, which I helped provide as part of the U.S. News & World Report opinion team’s live blogging of the event, lends itself to snap judgments made in the heat of the moment. What matters more is what people remember the next day, even as everything both candidates said and everything both candidates did is analyzed to death.

Certainly, President Obama turned in a much more polished, much more comfortable performance. The format was better suited to him than to Romney, who at times seem uncomfortable fighting for the chance to be heard over both the president and the moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley. But in looking at what each candidate said, give the points to Romney for this simple reason: Both candidates spent more time talking about what Romney would do or wanted to do or had done than was spent on Obama’s record….READ MORE

Campaign Headlines October 16, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: Mitt Romney’s Quotes from the Second Presidential Debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Mitt Romney: “The President Has Tried, But His Policies Haven’t Worked”

Source: Mitt Romney Press, 10-16-12

“I can tell you that if you were to elect President Obama, you know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a repeat of the last four years. We just can’t afford four more years like the last four years.” – Mitt Romney

Presidential Debate
Hempstead, NY
October 16, 2012

Click Here To Watch Mitt Romney

MITT ROMNEY: “I think you know better. I think you know that these last four years haven’t been so good as the President just described and that you don’t feel like you’re confident that the next four years are going to be much better either.

“I can tell you that if you were to elect President Obama, you know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a repeat of the last four years. We just can’t afford four more years like the last four years.

“He said that by now we’d have unemployment at 5.4 percent. The difference between where it is and 5.4 percent is 9 million Americans without work.

“I wasn’t the one that said 5.4 percent. This was the President’s plan. Didn’t get there.

“He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security, because he pointed out they’re on the road to bankruptcy. He would reform them. He’d get that done. He hasn’t even made a proposal on either one.

“He said in his first year he’d put out an immigration plan that would deal with our immigration challenges. Didn’t even file it.

“This is a president who has not been able to do what he said he’d do. He said that he’d cut in half the deficit. He hasn’t done that either. In fact, he doubled it. He said that by now middle-income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. It’s gone up by $2,500 a year. And if Obamacare is passed, or implemented — it’s already been passed — if it’s implemented fully, it’ll be another $2,500 on top.

“The middle class is getting crushed under the policies of a president who has not understood what it takes to get the economy working again. He keeps saying, ‘Look, I’ve created 5 million jobs.’ That’s after losing 5 million jobs. The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country. The unemployment, the number of people who are still looking for work, is still 23 million Americans.

“There are more people in poverty, one out of six people in poverty.

“How about food stamps? When he took office, 32 million people were on food stamps. Today, 47 million people are on food stamps. How about the growth of the economy? It’s growing more slowly this year than last year, and more slowly last year than the year before.

“The President wants to do well. I understand. But the policies he’s put in place from Obamacare to Dodd-Frank to his tax policies to his regulatory policies, these policies combined have not let this economy take off and grow like it could have.

“You might say, ‘Well, you got an example of one that worked better?’ Yeah, in the Reagan recession where unemployment hit 10.8 percent, between that period — the end of that recession and the equivalent period of time to today, Ronald Reagan’s recovery created twice as many jobs as this president’s recovery. Five million jobs doesn’t even keep up with our population growth. And the only reason the unemployment rate seems a little lower today is because of all the people that have dropped out of the workforce.

“The President has tried, but his policies haven’t worked. He’s great as a speaker and describing his plans and his vision. That’s wonderful, except we have a record to look at. And that record shows he just hasn’t been able to cut the deficit, to put in place reforms for Medicare and Social Security to preserve them, to get us the rising incomes we need. Median income is down $4,300 a family and 23 million Americans out of work. That’s what this election is about. It’s about who can get the middle class in this country a bright and prosperous future and assure our kids the kind of hope and optimism they deserve.”

Campaign Buzz October 16, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: Who Won? Draw in Second Presidential Debate

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

IN FOCUS: SECOND PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are shown. | AP Photo

‘Gov. Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan,’ Obama said. | AP Photo

Mitt Romney, left, addresses President Barack Obama during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University. | AP Photo

Romney has closed on Obama in swing-state polling in recent days. | AP Photo

STATS

IN THE NEWS

Rivals Bring Bare Fists to Rematch

Source: NYT, 10-17-12

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Mitt Romney and President Obama during the debate, their second, Tuesday night at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. More Photos »

President Obama and Mitt Romney engaged Tuesday in one of the most intensive clashes in a televised presidential debate, with tensions between them spilling out in interruptions, personal rebukes and accusations of lying as they parried over the last four years under Mr. Obama and what the next four would look like under a President Romney.

Competing for a shrinking sliver of undecided voters, many of them women, their engagements at times bordered on physical as they circled each other or bounded out of their seats while the other was speaking, at times more intent to argue than to address the questions over jobs, taxes, energy, immigration and a range of other issues….READ MORE

Obama and Romney Get Fired Up in Heated Second Debate

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-16-12

Circling each other like boxers at times and looking one another in the eye, President Obama and Mitt Romney came out swinging as soon as Monday night’s debate began, sparring over Libya, energy production, and an assault weapons ban.

At one point during a particularly heated exchange, Romney snapped when Obama tried to interrupt, “I’m still speaking.”

An another point, Obama said Romney’s insinuation that his administration played politics with the deaths of four Americans in Libya was “offensive.”

Obama, whose performance at the first debate two weeks ago was roundly considered to be lackluster, tried to make up lost ground Monday night….READ MORE

Obama goes on attack against Romney in debate rematch

Source: Reuters, 10-16-12

President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney clashed repeatedly on jobs, energy and Libya in their second debate on Tuesday, with Obama moving aggressively to challenge his opponent.

Obama was much sharper and more energetic than in their first encounter two weeks ago, when his listless performance was heavily criticized and gave Romney’s campaign a much-needed boost….READ MORE

Presidential debate 2012: Fight night on Long Island

Source: Politico, 10-16-12

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney confronted each other almost face to face on the debate stage here at Hofstra University Tuesday, as the president delivered an aggressive, prosecutorial critique of his Republican challenger for the first time in the 2012 debate season.

In one of the most combative presidential debates in recent memory, the two nominees circled each other in the town hall-style format, frequently interrupting each other and squabbling over the rules of engagement. “I want to make sure our timekeepers are working here,” Obama complained at one point, while Romney protested to an interjecting Obama: “You’ll get your chance in a second.” CNN anchor Candy Crowley, who moderated the debate, was at times powerless to keep the two candidates at more than arm’s length….READ MORE

QUOTES

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY

Answering question on women paid less than men:

“What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers that are looking to find good employees are bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.”

On Obama’s record:

“The president has tried, but his policies haven’t worked. He’s great as a speaker and at describing his plans and his vision. That’s wonderful, except we have a record to look at and that record shows that he just hasn’t been able to cut the deficit, to put in place reforms for Medicare and Social Security to preserve them, to get us the rising incomes we need.”

On his own job plan:

“I want to make small businesses grow and thrive. I know how to make that happen. I spent my life in the private sector. I know why jobs come and why they go. And they’re going now because of the policies of this administration.”

On comparisons to President George W. Bush:

“President Bush and I are different people and these are different times. And that’s why my five-point plan is so different from what he would have done.”

On energy:

“I want to make sure we use our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, our renewables… But what we don’t need is to have the president keeping us from taking advantage of oil, coal and gas. This has not been Mr Oil, or Mr Gas, or Mr Coal.”

On taxes:

“I will not under any circumstances reduce the share that’s being paid by the highest-income paying taxpayers and I will not under any circumstance increase taxes on the middle class. The president’s spending, the president’s borrowing will cause this nation to have to raise taxes on the American people, and not just at the high end.”

On unemployment:

“We have fewer people working today than we had when the president took office… We have not made the progress we need to make to put people back to work.”

On employment after college:

“The key thing is to make sure you’ve got a job when you get out of school. And what’s happened over the last four years has been very, very hard for America’s young people… Half of college kids graduating this year without a job, without a college level job, that’s just unacceptable…. When you come out in 2014, I presume I’m going to be president. I’m going to make sure you get a job.”

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

On his response to Libya:

“Not everybody agrees with some of the decisions I’ve made, but when it comes to our national security I mean what I say… When I say that we’re going to find out exactly what happened, everybody will be held accountable and I am ultimately responsible for what’s taking place there, because these are my folks and I’m the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home – you know I mean what I say.

On Romney’s responses to Libya attack:

“While we were still dealing with our diplomats still being threatened, Governor Romney put out a press release, trying to make political points. And that’s not how a commander-in-chief operates. You don’t turn national security into a political issue, certainly not right when it’s happening.”

On women’s issues:

“These are not just women’s issues. These are family issues. These are economic issues… That’s been one of the hallmarks of my administration. I’m going to continue to push on this issue for the next four years.”

On Romney’s tax plan:

“What he says is he’s going to make sure that this doesn’t add to the deficit and he’s going to cut middle-class taxes. But when he’s asked, ‘how are you going to do it, which deductions, which loopholes are you going to close?’ he can’t tell you… We haven’t heard from the governor any specifics beyond Big Bird

and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood in terms of how he pays for that.”

Answering why Americans should vote for him again:

“The commitments I’ve made, I’ve kept. And those that I haven’t been able to keep, it’s not for a lack of trying and we’re going to get it done in the second term.”

On Romney’s promise to crack down on China:

“When he talks about getting tough on China, keep in mind that Governor Romney invested in companies that were pioneers of outsourcing to China… Governor, you’re the last person to get tough on China.”

On energy:

“When I hear Governor Romney say he’s a big coal guy, I mean, keep in mind, Governor, when you were governor of Massachusetts, you stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said, ‘This plant kills,’ and took great pride in shutting it down. And now suddenly, you’re a big champion of coal.”

On lower gas prices when he took office:

“The economy was on the verge of collapse because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression, as a consequence of some of the same policies that Governor Romney now promotes. So it’s conceivable that Governor Romney could bring down the gas prices, because with his policies we might be back in that same mess.”

On Romney’s energy plan:

“He’s got the oil and gas part, but he doesn’t have the clean energy part. And if we’re only thinking about tomorrow and the next day and not thinking about ten years from now, we’re not going to control our economic future. Because China, Germany, they’re making these investments, and I’m not going to cede those jobs in the future to those counties.”

On Romney’s economic plan:

“Governor Romney says he’s got a five-point plan. Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan, he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. That’s been his philosophy in the private sector, that’s been his philosophy as a governor and that’s been his philosophy as a presidential candidate.”

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS COMMENTS

Dr. Paul A. Rahe, professor of history, Hillsdale College, Michigan:

Source: One News Now, 10-17-12

“It seems to me that when you have a draw between a president of the United States and a challenger, the challenger wins; and when you have a president of the United States whose policies have obviously failed, that he’s trying to sell you a bill of goods for the future, he’s at a real disadvantage in the debate. So I think Romney did well enough that he will build upon what he achieved in the first debate when he throttled Obama…. You know, if you leave aside the Libya business where Candy Crowley sided with Obama and told an untruth – it’s as simple as that about what went on in the Rose Garden that day. What Obama said was that it was an act of senseless violence, not that it was a terrorist act. Now, an act of senseless violence is consistent with the line that they were peddling – that this was just a demonstration and a reaction to the movie.”

Michael Beschloss, presidential historian:

Source: PBS Newshour, 10-16-12

1984, Ronald Reagan as president was debating Walter Mondale, famously, bad for him, turned in a performance that thought that — many thought that President Reagan had lost it. He just wasn’t with the intensity that he had had before. People wondered whether he was up for a second term, a lot of the same things that were said about Barack Obama.

The thing is Reagan in the second debate, after the first one had caused him in some polls to be actually tied with Walter Mondale, reversed the damage, swept it away.

So I think — with this performance tonight, I think Barack Obama may very well do the same thing….

You know, this is the sixth town meeting debate. And the idea of this in the first place when it was started in 1992 was that it’s one way of making sure that at least you have got one debate where they’re kindly to each other because they’re not going to confront each other.

This was the iciest town meeting debate of all six. I used to think that 2000 between George W. Bush and Al Gore was an uncomfortable evening. Compared to this one, that was Valentine’s Day….

Well, and the other thing is that, in terms of degree of difficulty, it’s almost always harder for an incumbent president running for reelection because he’s got to defend the record. He’s done all sorts of things for four years.

The challenger can always say, I will do this and that, I will do better. It sounds better. So I think by that standard also, Barack Obama did very well tonight…..

But what he didn’t do is what we have seen with other incumbent presidents, which is they’re very heavy on rebutting what the challenger says, very light in terms of saying what they would do in the second term, Ronald Reagan especially.

Campaign Headlines October 16, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: 10 best Presidential debate lines from Romney, Obama

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

10 best debate lines from Romney, Obama

Source: Politico, 10-16-12

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are shown. | AP Photo

‘Gov. Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan,’ Obama said. | AP Photo

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney went head-to-head with President Barack Obama at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Tuesday for the second, town hall–style presidential debate. Here are some of their most memorable lines:

ROMNEY:

1. “When do you graduate? 2014. When you come out in 2014, I presume I’m going to be president. I’m going to make sure you get a job.

2. “When we’re talking about math that doesn’t add up, how about $5 trillion of deficits over the last four years. That’s math that doesn’t add up.”

3. “We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks.’ And they brought us whole binders full of women.”

4. “You shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer to figure out how to get into this country legally.”

5. “The president took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did. And I think it’s important to know that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet so they could start hiring more people.”

OBAMA:

1. “Gov. Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.”

2. “When he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considers themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about: folks on social security who have worked all their lives; veterans, who sacrificed for this country; students, who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams but also this country’s dreams; soldiers, who are overseas fighting for us right now; people who are working hard every day.”

3. “We haven’t heard from the governor any specifics beyond Big Bird and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood in terms of how he pays for that.”

4. “I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours, so it doesn’t take as long.”

5. “Gov. Romney was a very successful investor. If somebody came to you, governor, with a plan that said, ‘Here, I want to spend $7 or $8 trillion and we’re going to pay for it but we can’t tell you until maybe after the election how we’re going to do it.’ You wouldn’t have taken such a sketchy deal and neither would you, the American people.”

Campaign Headlines October 16, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: CNN Poll: Who won the second Presidential debate? Obama 46%- Romney 39%

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CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Poll: Who won the debate? Obama 46%- Romney 39%

Source: CNN, 10-16-12

CNN Confirms CBS Poll: 58-40% in Romney’s favor on Economy; 49-46 Romney on health care; 51-44 Romney on taxes; 59-36 Romney on Deficit

On the Trail

Confrontations define second debate

Obama, Romney clash over energy

More Political news

Campaign Headlines October 16, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: CBS News Poll: Obama edges Romney to win second presidential debate

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CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Poll: Obama edges Romney in second presidential debate

Source: CBS News, 10-16-12

In a CBS News Instant Poll of uncommitted voters, 37 percent say President Obama won the second presidential debate, 30 percent say Romney won, and 33 percent called it a tie.

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 16, 2012: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney: Townhall Second Presidential Debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York Transcript

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Second Presidential Debate Full Transcript

Source: Politico, 10-16-12

Transcript of the Oct. 16, 2012, presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney in Hempstead, N.Y., as prepared by the Commission on Presidential Debates with permission to re-publish.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AND FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY
PARTICIPATE IN A CANDIDATES DEBATE, HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY,
HEMPSTEAD, NEW YORK

OCTOBER 16, 2012

SPEAKERS: FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

CANDY CROWLEY, MODERATOR

[*]
CROWLEY: Good evening from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. I’m Candy Crowley from CNN’s “State of the Union.” We are here for the second presidential debate, a town hall, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

CROWLEY: The Gallup organization chose 82 uncommitted voters from the New York area. Their questions will drive the night. My goal is to give the conversation direction and to ensure questions get answered.

The questions are known to me and my team only. Neither the commission, nor the candidates have seen them. I hope to get to as many questions as possible.

CROWLEY: And because I am the optimistic sort, I’m sure the candidates will oblige by keeping their answers concise and on point.

Each candidate has as much as two minutes to respond to a common question, and there will be a two-minute follow-up. The audience here in the hall has agreed to be polite and attentive — no cheering or booing or outbursts of any sort.

We will set aside that agreement just this once to welcome President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.

(APPLAUSE)

Gentlemen, thank you both for joining us here tonight. We have a lot of folks who’ve been waiting all day to talk to you, so I want to get right to it.

Governor Romney, as you know, you won the coin toss, so the first question will go to you. And I want to turn to a first-time voter, Jeremy Epstein, who has a question for you.

QUESTION: Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?

ROMNEY: Thank you, Jeremy. I appreciate your — your question, and thank you for being here this evening and to all of those from Nassau County that have come, thank you for your time. Thank you to Hofstra University and to Candy Crowley for organizing and leading this — this event.

Thank you, Mr. President, also for being part of this — this debate.

Your question — your question is one that’s being asked by college kids all over this country. I was in Pennsylvania with someone who had just graduated — this was in Philadelphia — and she said, “I’ve got my degree. I can’t find a job. I’ve got three part- time jobs. They’re just barely enough to pay for my food and pay for an apartment. I can’t begin to pay back my student loans.”

So what we have to do is two things. We have to make sure that we make it easier for kids to afford college.

ROMNEY: And also make sure that when they get out of college, there’s a job. When I was governor of Massachusetts, to get a high school degree, you had to pass an exam. If you graduated in the top quarter of your airlines, we gave you a John and Abigail Adams scholarship, four years tuition free in the college of your choice in Massachusetts, it’s a public institution.

I want to make sure we keep our Pell grant program growing. We’re also going to have our loan program, so that people are able to afford school. But the key thing is to make sure you can get a job when you get out of school. And what’s happened over the last four years has been very, very hard for America’s young people. I want you to be able to get a job.

I know what it takes to get this economy going. With half of college kids graduating this year without a college — excuse me, without a job. And without a college level job, that’s just unacceptable.

And likewise you’ve got more and more debt on your back. So more debt and less jobs. I’m going to change that. I know what it takes to create good jobs again. I know what it takes to make sure that you have the kind of opportunity you deserve. And kids across this country are going to recognize, we’re bringing back an economy.

It’s not going to be like the last four years. The middle-class has been crushed over the last four years, and jobs have been too scarce. I know what it takes to bring them back, and I’m going to do that, and make sure that when you graduate — when do you graduate?

QUESTION: 2014.

ROMNEY: 2014. When you come out in 2014, I presume I’m going to be president. I’m going to make sure you get a job. Thanks Jeremy. Yeah, you bet.

CROWLEY: Mr. President?

OBAMA: Jeremy, first of all, your future is bright. And the fact that you’re making an investment in higher education is critical. Not just to you, but to the entire nation. Now, the most important thing we can do is to make sure that we are creating jobs in this country. But not just jobs, good paying jobs. Ones that can support a family.

OBAMA: And what I want to do, is build on the five million jobs that we’ve created over the last 30 months in the private sector alone. And there are a bunch of things we can do to make sure your future is bright.

Number one, I want to build manufacturing jobs in this country again. Now when Governor Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt. I said we’re going to bet on American workers and the American auto industry and it’s come surging back.

I want to do that in industries, not just in Detroit, but all across the country and that means we change our tax code so we’re giving incentives to companies that are investing here in the United States and creating jobs here.

It also means we’re helping them and small businesses to export all around the world to new markets.

Number two, we’ve got to make sure that we have the best education system in the world. And the fact that you’re going to college is great, but I want everybody to get a great education and we’ve worked hard to make sure that student loans are available for folks like you, but I also want to make sure that community colleges are offering slots for workers to get retrained for the jobs that are out there right now and the jobs of the future.

Number three, we’ve got to control our own energy. Now, not only oil and natural gas, which we’ve been investing in; but also, we’ve got to make sure we’re building the energy source of the future, not just thinking about next year, but ten years from now, 20 years from now. That’s why we’ve invested in solar and wind and biofuels, energy efficient cars.

We’ve got to reduce our deficit, but we’ve got to do it in a balanced way. Asking the wealthy to pay a little bit more along with cuts so that we can invest in education like yours.

And let’s take the money that we’ve been spending on war over the last decade to rebuild America, roads, bridges schools. We do those things, not only is your future going to be bright but America’s future is going to bright as well.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you for more immediate answer and begin with Mr. Romney just quickly what — what can you do? We’re looking at a situation where 40 percent of the unemployed have been unemployed have been unemployed for six months or more. They don’t have the two years that Jeremy has.

What about those long term unemployed who need a job right now?

ROMNEY: Well what you’re seeing in this country is 23 million people struggling to find a job. And a lot of them, as you say, Candy, have been out of work for a long, long, long time. The president’s policies have been exercised over the last four years and they haven’t put Americans back to work.

We have fewer people working today than we had when the president took office. If the — the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent when he took office, it’s 7.8 percent now. But if you calculated that unemployment rate, taking back the people who dropped out of the workforce, it would be 10.7 percent.

We have not made the progress we need to make to put people back to work. That’s why I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years and rising take-home pay. It’s going to help Jeremy get a job when he comes out of school. It’s going to help people across the country that are unemployed right now.

And one thing that the president said, which I want to make sure that we understand, he said that I said we should take Detroit bankrupt. And that’s right. My plan was to have the company go through bankruptcy like 7-Eleven did and Macy’s and Condell (ph) Airlines and come out stronger.

And I know he keeps saying, you want to take Detroit bankrupt. Well, the president took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did.

And I think it’s important to know that that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet, so they could start hiring more people. That was precisely what I recommended and ultimately what happened.

CROWLEY: Let me give the president a chance.

Go ahead. OBAMA: Candy, what Governor Romney said just isn’t true. He wanted to take them into bankruptcy without providing them any way to stay open. And we would have lost a million jobs. And that — don’t take my word for it, take the executives at GM and Chrysler, some of whom are Republicans, may even support Governor Romney. But they’ll tell you his prescription wasn’t going to work.

And Governor Romney’s says he’s got a five-point plan? Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. That’s been his philosophy in the private sector, that’s been his philosophy as governor, that’s been his philosophy as a presidential candidate.

You can make a lot of money and pay lower tax rates than somebody who makes a lot less. You can ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for it. You can invest in a company, bankrupt it, lay off the workers, strip away their pensions, and you still make money.

That’s exactly the philosophy that we’ve seen in place for the last decade. That’s what’s been squeezing middle class families.

And we have fought back for four years to get out of that mess. The last thing we need to do is to go back to the very same policies that got us there.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, the next question is going to be for you here.

And, Mr. Romney — Governor Romney — there’ll be plenty of chances here to go on, but I want to…

ROMNEY: That — that Detroit — that Detroit answer…

CROWLEY: We have all these folks.

ROMNEY: … that Detroit answer…

CROWLEY: I will let you absolutely…

ROMNEY: … and the rest of the answer, way off the mark.

CROWLEY: OK. Will — will — you certainly will have lots of time here coming up.

Because I want to move you on to something that’s sort of connected to cars here, and — and go over. And we want to get a question from Phillip Tricolla.

QUESTION: Your energy secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating it’s not policy of his department to help lower gas prices. Do you agree with Secretary Chu that this is not the job of the Energy Department?

OBAMA: The most important thing we can do is to make sure we control our own energy. So here’s what I’ve done since I’ve been president. We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years.

Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment. But what I’ve also said is we can’t just produce traditional source of energy. We’ve also got to look to the future. That’s why we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars. That means that in the middle of the next decade, any car you buy, you’re going to end up going twice as far on a gallon of gas. That’s why we doubled clean — clean energy production like wind and solar and biofuels.

And all these things have contributed to us lowering our oil imports to the lowest levels in 16 years. Now, I want to build on that. And that means, yes, we still continue to open up new areas for drilling. We continue to make it a priority for us to go after natural gas. We’ve got potentially 600,000 jobs and 100 years worth of energy right beneath our feet with natural gas.

And we can do it in an environmentally sound way. But we’ve also got to continue to figure out how we have efficiency energy, because ultimately that’s how we’re going to reduce demand and that’s what’s going to keep gas prices lower.

Now, Governor Romney will say he’s got an all-of-the-above plan, but basically his plan is to let the oil companies write the energy policies. So he’s got the oil and gas part, but he doesn’t have the clean energy part. And if we are only thinking about tomorrow or the next day and not thinking about 10 years from now, we’re not going to control our own economic future. Because China, Germany, they’re making these investments. And I’m not going to cede those jobs of the future to those countries. I expect those new energy sources to be built right here in the United States.

That’s going to help Jeremy get a job. It’s also going to make sure that you’re not paying as much for gas.

CROWLEY: Governor, on the subject of gas prices?

ROMNEY: Well, let’s look at the president’s policies, all right, as opposed to the rhetoric, because we’ve had four years of policies being played out. And the president’s right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on federal land. As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent. Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters.

So where’d the increase come from? Well a lot of it came from the Bakken Range in North Dakota. What was his participation there? The administration brought a criminal action against the people drilling up there for oil, this massive new resource we have. And what was the cost? 20 or 25 birds were killed and brought out a migratory bird act to go after them on a criminal basis.

Look, I want to make sure we use our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, our renewables. I believe very much in our renewable capabilities; ethanol, wind, solar will be an important part of our energy mix.

But what we don’t need is to have the president keeping us from taking advantage of oil, coal and gas. This has not been Mr. Oil, or Mr. Gas, or Mr. Coal. Talk to the people that are working in those industries. I was in coal country. People grabbed my arms and said, “Please save my job.” The head of the EPA said, “You can’t build a coal plant. You’ll virtually — it’s virtually impossible given our regulations.” When the president ran for office, he said if you build a coal plant, you can go ahead, but you’ll go bankrupt. That’s not the right course for America.

Let’s take advantage of the energy resources we have, as well as the energy sources for the future. And if we do that, if we do what I’m planning on doing, which is getting us energy independent, North America energy independence within eight years, you’re going to see manufacturing jobs come back. Because our energy is low cost, that are already beginning to come back because of our abundant energy. I’ll get America and North America energy independent. I’ll do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses.

We’re going to bring that pipeline in from Canada. How in the world the president said no to that pipeline? I will never know.

This is about bringing good jobs back for the middle class of America, and that’s what I’m going to do. CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me just see if I can move you to the gist of this question, which is, are we looking at the new normal? I can tell you that tomorrow morning, a lot of people in Hempstead will wake up and fill up and they will find that the price of gas is over $4 a gallon.

Is it within the purview of the government to bring those prices down, or are we looking at the new normal?

OBAMA: Candy, there’s no doubt that world demand’s gone up, but our production is going up, and we’re using oil more efficiently. And very little of what Governor Romney just said is true. We’ve opened up public lands. We’re actually drilling more on public lands than in the previous administration and my — the previous president was an oil man.

And natural gas isn’t just appearing magically. We’re encouraging it and working with the industry.

And when I hear Governor Romney say he’s a big coal guy, I mean, keep in mind, when — Governor, when you were governor of Massachusetts, you stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said, “This plant kills,” and took great pride in shutting it down. And now suddenly you’re a big champion of coal.

So what I’ve tried to do is be consistent. With respect to something like coal, we made the largest investment in clean coal technology, to make sure that even as we’re producing more coal, we’re producing it cleaner and smarter. Same thing with oil, same thing with natural gas.

And the proof is our oil imports are down to the lowest levels in 20 years. Oil production is up, natural gas production is up, and, most importantly, we’re also starting to build cars that are more efficient.

And that’s creating jobs. That means those cars can be exported, ’cause that’s the demand around the world, and it also means that it’ll save money in your pocketbook.

OBAMA: That’s the strategy you need, an all-of-the-above strategy, and that’s what we’re going to do in the next four years.

ROMNEY: But that’s not what you’ve done in the last four years. That’s the problem. In the last four years, you cut permits and licenses on federal land and federal waters in half.

OBAMA: Not true, Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: So how much did you cut (inaudible)?

OBAMA: Not true.

ROMNEY: How much did you cut them by, then?

OBAMA: Governor, we have actually produced more oil —

ROMNEY: No, no. How much did you cut licenses and permits on federal land and federal waters?

OBAMA: Governor Romney, here’s what we did. There were a whole bunch of oil companies.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: No, no, I had a question and the question was how much did you cut them by?

OBAMA: You want me to answer a question —

ROMNEY: How much did you cut them by?

OBAMA: I’m happy to answer the question.

ROMNEY: All right. And it is —

OBAMA: Here’s what happened. You had a whole bunch of oil companies who had leases on public lands that they weren’t using. So what we said was you can’t just sit on this for 10, 20, 30 years, decide when you want to drill, when you want to produce, when it’s most profitable for you. These are public lands. So if you want to drill on public lands, you use it or you lose it.

ROMNEY: OK, (inaudible) —

OBAMA: And so what we did was take away those leases. And we are now reletting them so that we can actually make a profit.

ROMNEY: And production on private — on government land —

OBAMA: Production is up.

ROMNEY: — is down.

OBAMA: No, it isn’t.

ROMNEY: Production on government land of oil is down 14 percent.

OBAMA: Governor —

ROMNEY: And production on gas —

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: It’s just not true.

ROMNEY: It’s absolutely true. Look, there’s no question but the people recognize that we have not produced more (inaudible) on federal lands and in federal waters. And coal, coal production is not up; coal jobs are not up.

I was just at a coal facility, where some 1,200 people lost their jobs. The right course for America is to have a true all-of-the-above policy. I don’t think anyone really believes that you’re a person who’s going to be pushing for oil and gas and coal. You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking.

OBAMA: Well —

ROMNEY: And the answer is I don’t believe people think that’s the case —

OBAMA: — (inaudible).

ROMNEY: That wasn’t the question.

OBAMA: OK.

ROMNEY: That was a statement. I don’t think the American people believe that. I will fight for oil, coal and natural gas. And the proof, the proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you’re paying at the pump. If you’re paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then, the strategy is working. But you’re paying more. When the president took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about $1.86 a gallon. Now, it’s $4.00 a gallon. The price of electricity is up.

If the president’s energy policies are working, you’re going to see the cost of energy come down. I will fight to create more energy in this country, to get America energy secure. And part of that is bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada, taking advantage of the oil and coal we have here, drilling offshore in Alaska, drilling offshore in Virginia where the people want it. Those things will get us the energy we need.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, could you address, because we did finally get to gas prices here, could you address what the governor said, which is if your energy policy was working, the price of gasoline would not be $4 a gallon here. Is that true?

OBAMA: Well, think about what the governor — think about what the governor just said. He said when I took office, the price of gasoline was $1.80, $1.86. Why is that? Because the economy was on the verge of collapse, because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression, as a consequence of some of the same policies that Governor Romney’s now promoting.

So, it’s conceivable that Governor Romney could bring down gas prices because with his policies, we might be back in that same mess.

What I want to do is to create an economy that is strong, and at the same time produce energy. And with respect to this pipeline that Governor Romney keeps on talking about, we’ve — we’ve built enough pipeline to wrap around the entire earth once.

So, I’m all for pipelines. I’m all for oil production. What I’m not for is us ignoring the other half of the equation. So, for example, on wind energy, when Governor Romney says “these are imaginary jobs.” When you’ve got thousands of people right now in Iowa, right now in Colorado, who are working, creating wind power with good-paying manufacturing jobs, and the Republican senator in that — in Iowa is all for it, providing tax breaks (ph) to help this work and Governor Romney says I’m opposed. I’d get rid of it.

That’s not an energy strategy for the future. And we need to win that future. And I intend to win it as President of the United States.

CROWLEY: I got to — I got to move you on —

ROMNEY: He gets the first —

CROWLEY: — and the next question —

ROMNEY: He actually got —

CROWLEY: — for you —

ROMNEY: He actually got the first question. So I get the last question — last answer —

CROWLEY: (Inaudible) in the follow up, it doesn’t quite work like that. But I’m going to give you a chance here. I promise you, I’m going to.

And the next question is for you. So if you want to, you know, continue on — but I don’t want to leave all —

ROMNEY: Candy, Candy —

CROWLEY: — sitting here —

ROMNEY: Candy, I don’t have a policy of stopping wind jobs in Iowa and that — they’re not phantom jobs. They’re real jobs.

CROWLEY: OK.

ROMNEY: I appreciate wind jobs in Iowa and across our country. I appreciate the jobs in coal and oil and gas. I’m going to make sure —

CROWLEY: OK.

ROMNEY: — we’re taking advantage of our energy resources. We’ll bring back manufacturing to America. We’re going to get through a very aggressive energy policy, 31/2 million more jobs in this country. It’s critical to our future.

OBAMA: Candy, it’s not going to —

CROWLEY: We’re going to move you along —

OBAMA: Used to being interrupted.

CROWLEY: We’re going to move you both along to taxes over here and all these folks that have been waiting.

Governor, this question is for you. It comes from Mary Follano — Follano, sorry.

ROMNEY: Hi, Mary.

QUESTION: Governor Romney, you have stated that if you’re elected president, you would plan to reduce the tax rates for all the tax brackets and that you would work with the Congress to eliminate some deductions in order to make up for the loss in revenue.

Concerning the — these various deductions, the mortgage deductions, the charitable deductions, the child tax credit and also the — oh, what’s that other credit? I forgot.

OBAMA: You’re doing great.

QUESTION: Oh, I remember.

The education credits, which are important to me, because I have children in college. What would be your position on those things, which are important to the middle class?

ROMNEY: Thank you very much. And let me tell you, you’re absolutely right about part of that, which is I want to bring the rates down, I want to simplify the tax code, and I want to get middle- income taxpayers to have lower taxes.

And the reason I want middle-income taxpayers to have lower taxes is because middle-income taxpayers have been buried over the past four years. You’ve seen, as middle-income people in this country, incomes go down $4,300 a family, even as gasoline prices have gone up $2,000. Health insurance premiums, up $2,500. Food prices up. Utility prices up.

The middle-income families in America have been crushed over the last four years. So I want to get some relief to middle-income families. That’s part — that’s part one.

Now, how about deductions? ‘Cause I’m going to bring rates down across the board for everybody, but I’m going to limit deductions and exemptions and credits, particularly for people at the high end, because I am not going to have people at the high end pay less than they’re paying now.

The top 5 percent of taxpayers will continue to pay 60 percent of the income tax the nation collects. So that’ll stay the same.

Middle-income people are going to get a tax break.

And so, in terms of bringing down deductions, one way of doing that would be say everybody gets — I’ll pick a number — $25,000 of deductions and credits, and you can decide which ones to use. Your home mortgage interest deduction, charity, child tax credit, and so forth, you can use those as part of filling that bucket, if you will, of deductions.

But your rate comes down and the burden also comes down on you for one more reason, and that is every middle-income taxpayer no longer will pay any tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. No tax on your savings. That makes life a lot easier.

If you’re getting interest from a bank, if you’re getting a statement from a mutual fund or any other kind of investment you have, you don’t have to worry about filing taxes on that, because there’ll be no taxes for anybody making $200,000.00 per year and less, on your interest, dividends and capital gains. Why am I lowering taxes on the middle-class? Because under the last four years, they’ve been buried. And I want to help people in the middle-class.

And I will not — I will not under any circumstances, reduce the share that’s being paid by the highest income taxpayers. And I will not, under any circumstances increase taxes on the middle-class. The president’s spending, the president’s borrowing will cost this nation to have to raise taxes on the American people. Not just at the high end. A recent study has shown the people in the middle-class will see $4,000.00 per year in higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration.

I will not let that happen. I want to get us on track to a balanced budget, and I’m going to reduce the tax burden on middle income families. And what’s that going to do? It’s going to help those families, and it’s going to create incentives to start growing jobs again in this country.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Governor.

OBAMA: My philosophy on taxes has been simple. And that is, I want to give middle-class families and folks who are striving to get into the middle-class some relief. Because they have been hit hard over the last decade. Over the last 15, over the last 20 years.

So four years ago I stood on a stage just like this one. Actually it was a town hall, and I said I would cut taxes for middle- class families, and that’s what I’ve done, by $3,600.00. I said I would cut taxes for small businesses, who are the drivers and engines of growth. And we’ve cut them 18 times. And I want to continue those tax cuts for middle-class families, and for small business.

But what I’ve also said is, if we’re serious about reducing the deficit, if this is genuinely a moral obligation to the next generation, then in addition to some tough spending cuts, we’ve also got to make sure that the wealthy do a little bit more.

So what I’ve said is, your first $250,000.00 worth of income, no change. And that means 98 percent of American families, 97 percent of small businesses, they will not see a tax increase. I’m ready to sign that bill right now. The only reason it’s not happening is because Governor Romney’s allies in Congress have held the 98 percent hostage because they want tax breaks for the top 2 percent.

But what I’ve also says is for above $250,000, we can go back to the tax rates we had when Bill Clinton was president. We created 23 million new jobs. That’s part of what took us from deficits to surplus. It will be good for our economy and it will be good for job creation.

Now, Governor Romney has a different philosophy. He was on 60 Minutes just two weeks ago and he was asked: Is it fair for somebody like you, making $20 million a year, to pay a lower tax rate than a nurse or a bus driver, somebody making $50,000 year? And he said, “Yes, I think that’s fair.” Not only that, he said, “I think that’s what grows the economy.”

Well, I fundamentally disagree with that. I think what grows the economy is when you get that tax credit that we put in place for your kids going to college. I think that grows the economy. I think what grows the economy is when we make sure small businesses are getting a tax credit for hiring veterans who fought for our country. That grows our economy.

So we just have a different theory. And when Governor Romney stands here, after a year of campaigning, when during a Republican primary he stood on stage and said “I’m going to give tax cuts” — he didn’t say tax rate cuts, he said “tax cuts to everybody,” including the top 1 percent, you should believe him because that’s been his history.

And that’s exactly the kind of top-down economics that is not going to work if we want a strong middle class and an economy that’s striving for everybody.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, I’m sure you’ve got a reply there.

(LAUGHTER) ROMNEY: You’re absolutely right.

You heard what I said about my tax plan. The top 5 percent will continue to pay 60 percent, as they do today. I’m not looking to cut taxes for wealthy people. I am looking to cut taxes for middle-income people.

And why do I want to bring rates down, and at the same time lower exemptions and deductions, particularly for people at the high end? Because if you bring rates down, it makes it easier for small business to keep more of their capital and hire people.

And for me, this is about jobs. I want to get America’s economy going again. Fifty-four percent of America’s workers work in businesses that are taxed as individuals. So when you bring those rates down, those small businesses are able to keep more money and hire more people.

For me, I look at what’s happened in the last four years and say this has been a disappointment. We can do better than this. We don’t have to settle for, how many months, 43 months with unemployment above 8 percent, 23 million Americans struggling to find a good job right now.

There are 3.5 million more women living in poverty today than when the president took office.

We don’t have to live like this. We can get this economy going again. My five-point plan does it. Energy independence for North America in five years. Opening up more trade, particularly in Latin America. Cracking down on China when they cheat. Getting us to a balanced budget. Fixing our training programs for our workers. And finally, championing small business.

I want to make small businesses grow and thrive. I know how to make that happen. I spent my life in the private sector. I know why jobs come and why they go. And they’re going now because of the policies of this administration.

CROWLEY: Governor, let me ask the president something about what you just said.

The governor says that he is not going to allow the top 5 percent, believe is what he said, to have a tax cut, that it will all even out, that what he wants to do is give that tax cut to the middle class. Settled?

OBAMA: No, it’s not settled.

Look, the cost of lowering rates for everybody across the board, 20 percent. Along with what he also wants to do in terms of eliminating the estate tax, along what he wants to do in terms of corporates, changes in the tax code, it costs about $5 trillion.

Governor Romney then also wants to spend $2 trillion on additional military programs even though the military’s not asking for them. That’s $7 trillion.

He also wants to continue the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. That’s another trillion dollars — that’s $8 trillion.

Now, what he says is he’s going to make sure that this doesn’t add to the deficit and he’s going to cut middleclass taxes.

But when he’s asked, how are you going to do it, which deductions, which loopholes are you going to close? He can’t tell you.

The — the fact that he only has to pay 14 percent on his taxes when a lot of you are paying much higher. He’s already taken that off the board, capital gains are going to continue to be at a low rate so we — we’re not going to get money that way.

We haven’t heard from the governor any specifics beyond Big Bird and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood in terms of how he pays for that.

Now, Governor Romney was a very successful investor. If somebody came to you, Governor, with a plan that said, here, I want to spend $7 or $8 trillion, and then we’re going to pay for it, but we can’t tell you until maybe after the election how we’re going to do it, you wouldn’t take such a sketchy deal and neither should you, the American people, because the math doesn’t add up.

And — and what’s at stake here is one of two things, either Candy — this blows up the deficit because keep in mind, this is just to pay for the additional spending that he’s talking about, $7 trillion – $8 trillion before we even get to the deficit we already have. Or, alternatively, it’s got to be paid for, not only by closing deductions for wealthy individuals, that — that will pay for about 4 percent reduction in tax rates.

You’re going to be paying for it. You’re going to lose some deductions, and you can’t buy the sales pitch. Nobody who’s looked at it that’s serious, actually believes it adds up.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me get — let me get the governor in on this. And Governor, let’s — before we get into a…

ROMNEY: I — I…

CROWLEY: …vast array of who says — what study says what, if it shouldn’t add up. If somehow when you get in there, there isn’t enough tax revenue coming in. If somehow the numbers don’t add up, would you be willing to look again at a 20 percent…

ROMNEY: Well of course they add up. I — I was — I was someone who ran businesses for 25 years, and balanced the budget. I ran the Olympics and balanced the budget. I ran the — the state of Massachusetts as a governor, to the extent any governor does, and balanced the budget all four years. When we’re talking about math that doesn’t add up, how about $4 trillion of deficits over the last four years, $5 trillion? That’s math that doesn’t add up. We have — we have a president talking about someone’s plan in a way that’s completely foreign to what my real plan is.

ROMNEY: And then we have his own record, which is we have four consecutive years where he said when he was running for office, he would cut the deficit in half. Instead he’s doubled it. We’ve gone from $10 trillion of national debt, to $16 trillion of national debt. If the president were reelected, we’d go to almost $20 trillion of national debt. This puts us on a road to Greece. I know what it takes to balance budgets. I’ve done it my entire life. So for instance when he says, “Yours is a $5 trillion cut.” Well, no it’s not. Because I’m offsetting some of the reductions with holding down some of the deductions.

And…

CROWLEY: Governor, I’ve gotta — gotta — actually, I need to have you both (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: I understand the stakes here. I understand both of you. But I — I will get run out of town if I don’t…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: And I just described — I just described to you, Mr. President — I just described to you precisely how I’d do it which is with a single number that people can put — and they can put they’re — they’re deductions and credits…

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Mr. President, we’re keeping track, I promise you. And Mr. President, the next question is for you, so stay standing.

OBAMA: Great. Looking forward to it.

And it’s Katherine Fenton, who has a question for you.

QUESTION: In what new ways to you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?

OBAMA: Well, Katherine, that’s a great question. And, you know, I was raised by a single mom who had to put herself through school while looking after two kids. And she worked hard every day and made a lot of sacrifices to make sure we got everything we needed. My grandmother, she started off as a secretary in a bank. She never got a college education, even though she was smart as a whip. And she worked her way up to become a vice president of a local bank, but she hit the glass ceiling. She trained people who would end up becoming her bosses during the course of her career.

She didn’t complain. That’s not what you did in that generation. And this is one of the reasons why one of the first — the first bill I signed was something called the Lily Ledbetter bill. And it’s named after this amazing woman who had been doing the same job as a man for years, found out that she was getting paid less, and the Supreme Court said that she couldn’t bring suit because she should have found about it earlier, whereas she had no way of finding out about it. So we fixed that. And that’s an example of the kind of advocacy that we need, because women are increasingly the breadwinners in the family. This is not just a women’s issue, this is a family issue, this is a middle-class issue, and that’s why we’ve got to fight for it.

It also means that we’ve got to make sure that young people like yourself are able to afford a college education. Earlier, Governor Romney talked about he wants to make Pell Grants and other education accessible for young people.

Well, the truth of the matter is, is that that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’ve expanded Pell Grants for millions of people, including millions of young women, all across the country.

We did it by taking $60 billion that was going to banks and lenders as middlemen for the student loan program, and we said, let’s just cut out the middleman. Let’s give the money directly to students.

And as a consequence, we’ve seen millions of young people be able to afford college, and that’s going to make sure that young women are going to be able to compete in that marketplace.

But we’ve got to enforce the laws, which is what we are doing, and we’ve also got to make sure that in every walk of life we do not tolerate discrimination.

That’s been one of the hallmarks of my administration. I’m going to continue to push on this issue for the next four years.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equity for women?

ROMNEY: Thank you. And important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.

And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, “How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men.” They said, “Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.” And I said, “Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?”

ROMNEY: And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.

I went to a number of women’s groups and said, “Can you help us find folks,” and they brought us whole binders full of women.

I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.

Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort. But number two, because I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school.

She said, I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.

We’re going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I’m going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they’re going to be anxious to hire women. In the — in the last women have lost 580,000 jobs. That’s the net of what’s happened in the last four years. We’re still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 31/2 million women, more now in poverty than four years ago.

What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers that are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford.

This is what I have done. It’s what I look forward to doing and I know what it takes to make an economy work, and I know what a working economy looks like. And an economy with 7.8 percent unemployment is not a real strong economy. An economy that has 23 million people looking for work is not a strong economy.

An economy with 50 percent of kids graduating from college that can’t finds a job, or a college level job, that’s not what we have to have. CROWLEY: Governor?

ROMNEY: I’m going to help women in America get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.

CROWLEY: Mr. President why don’t you get in on this quickly, please?

OBAMA: Katherine, I just want to point out that when Governor Romney’s campaign was asked about the Lilly Ledbetter bill, whether he supported it? He said, “I’ll get back to you.” And that’s not the kind of advocacy that women need in any economy. Now, there are some other issues that have a bearing on how women succeed in the workplace. For example, their healthcare. You know a major difference in this campaign is that Governor Romney feels comfortable having politicians in Washington decide the health care choices that women are making.

I think that’s a mistake. In my health care bill, I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everybody who is insured. Because this is not just a — a health issue, it’s an economic issue for women. It makes a difference. This is money out of that family’s pocket. Governor Romney not only opposed it, he suggested that in fact employers should be able to make the decision as to whether or not a woman gets contraception through her insurance coverage.

That’s not the kind of advocacy that women need. When Governor Romney says that we should eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, there are millions of women all across the country, who rely on Planned Parenthood for, not just contraceptive care, they rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings. That’s a pocketbook issue for women and families all across the country. And it makes a difference in terms of how well and effectively women are able to work. When we talk about child care, and the credits that we’re providing. That makes a difference in whether they can go out there and — and earn a living for their family.

These are not just women’s issues. These are family issues. These are economic issues.

And one of the things that makes us grow as an economy is when everybody participates and women are getting the same fair deal as men are.

CROWLEY: Mr. President…

OBAMA: And I’ve got two daughters and I want to make sure that they have the same opportunities that anybody’s sons have. That’s part of what I’m fighting for as president of the United States.

CROWLEY: I want to move us along here to Susan Katz, who has a question.

And, Governor, it’s for you. QUESTION: Governor Romney, I am an undecided voter, because I’m disappointed with the lack of progress I’ve seen in the last four years. However, I do attribute much of America’s economic and international problems to the failings and missteps of the Bush administration.

Since both you and President Bush are Republicans, I fear a return to the policies of those years should you win this election. What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush, and how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?

ROMNEY: Thank you. And I appreciate that question.

I just want to make sure that, I think I was supposed to get that last answer, but I want to point out that that I don’t believe…

OBAMA: I don’t think so, Candy.

ROMNEY: … I don’t believe…

OBAMA: I want to make sure our timekeepers are working here.

ROMNEY: The time — the time…

CROWLEY: OK. The timekeepers are all working. And let me tell you that the last part, it’s for the two of you to talk to one another, and it isn’t quite as (inaudible) you think.

But go ahead and use this two minutes any way you’d like to, the question is on the floor.

ROMNEY: I’d just note that I don’t believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not. And I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care of not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives. And — and the — and the president’s statement of my policy is completely and totally wrong.

OBAMA: Governor…

ROMNEY: Let me come back and — and answer your question.

President Bush and I are — are different people and these are different times and that’s why my five point plan is so different than what he would have done.

I mean for instance, we can now, by virtue of new technology actually get all the energy we need in North America without having to go to the — the Arabs or the Venezuelans or anyone else. That wasn’t true in his time, that’s why my policy starts with a very robust policy to get all that energy in North America — become energy secure.

Number two, trade — I’ll crack down on China, President Bush didn’t. I’m also going to dramatically expand trade in Latin America. It’s been growing about 12 percent per year over a long period of time. I want to add more free trade agreements so we’ll have more trade.

Number three, I’m going to get us to a balanced budget. President Bush didn’t. President Obama was right, he said that that was outrageous to have deficits as high as half a trillion dollars under the Bush years. He was right, but then he put in place deficits twice that size for every one of his four years. And his forecast for the next four years is more deficits, almost that large. So that’s the next area I’m different than President Bush.

And then let’s take the last one, championing small business. Our party has been focused too long. I came through small business. I understand how hard it is to start a small business. That’s why everything I’ll do is designed to help small businesses grow and add jobs. I want to keep their taxes down on small business. I want regulators to see their job as encouraging small enterprise, not crushing it.

And the thing I find the most troubling about Obama Care, well it’s a long list, but one of the things I find most troubling is that when you go out and talk to small businesses and ask them what they think about it, they tell you it keeps them from hiring more people.

My priority is jobs. I know how to make that happen. And President Bush has a very different path for a very different time. My path is designed in getting small businesses to grow and hire people.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Governor.

Mr. President?

OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think it’s important to tell you that we did come in during some tough times. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month when I started. But we had been digging our way out of policies that were misplaced and focused on the top doing very well and middle class folks not doing well.

Now, we’ve seen 30 consecutive — 31 consecutive months of job growth; 5.2 million new jobs created. And the plans that I talked about will create even more. But when Governor Romney says that he has a very different economic plan, the centerpiece of his economic plan are tax cuts. That’s what took us from surplus to deficit. When he talks about getting tough on China, keep in mind that Governor Romney invested in companies that were pioneers of outsourcing to China, and is currently investing in countries — in companies that are building surveillance equipment for China to spy on its own folks.

That’s — Governor, you’re the last person who’s going to get tough on China. And what we’ve done when it comes to trade is not only sign three trade deals to open up new markets, but we’ve also set up a task force for trade that goes after anybody who is taking advantage of American workers or businesses and not creating a level playing field. We’ve brought twice as many cases against unfair trading practices than the previous administration and we’ve won every single one that’s been decided.

When I said that we had to make sure that China was not flooding our domestic market with cheap tires, Governor Romney said I was being protectionist; that it wouldn’t be helpful to American workers. Well, in fact we saved 1,000 jobs. And that’s the kind of tough trade actions that are required.

But the last point I want to make is this. You know, there are some things where Governor Romney is different from George Bush. George Bush didn’t propose turning Medicare into a voucher. George Bush embraced comprehensive immigration reform. He didn’t call for self-deportation.

George Bush never suggested that we eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, so there are differences between Governor Romney and George Bush, but they’re not on economic policy. In some ways, he’s gone to a more extreme place when it comes to social policy. And I think that’s a mistake. That’s not how we’re going to move our economy forward.

CROWLEY: I want to move you both along to the next question, because it’s in the same wheelhouse, so you will be able to respond. But the president does get this question. I want to call on Michael Jones.

QUESTION: Mr. President, I voted for you in 2008. What have you done or accomplished to earn my vote in 2012? I’m not that optimistic as I was in 2012. Most things I need for everyday living are very expensive.

OBAMA: Well, we’ve gone through a tough four years. There’s no doubt about it. But four years ago, I told the American people and I told you I would cut taxes for middle class families. And I did. I told you I’d cut taxes for small businesses, and I have.

I said that I’d end the war in Iraq, and I did. I said we’d refocus attention on those who actually attacked us on 9/11, and we have gone after Al Qaeda’s leadership like never before and Osama bin Laden is dead.

OBAMA: I said that we would put in place health care reform to make sure that insurance companies can’t jerk you around and if you don’t have health insurance, that you’d have a chance to get affordable insurance, and I have.

I committed that I would rein in the excesses of Wall Street, and we passed the toughest Wall Street reforms since the 1930s. We’ve created five million jobs, and gone from 800 jobs a month being lost, and we are making progress. We saved an auto industry that was on the brink of collapse.

Now, does that mean you’re not struggling? Absolutely not. A lot of us are. And that’s why the plan that I’ve put forward for manufacturing and education, and reducing our deficit in a sensible way, using the savings from ending wars, to rebuild America and putting people back to work. Making sure that we are controlling our own energy, but not only the energy of today, but also the energy of the future. All of those things will make a difference, so the point is the commitments I’ve made, I’ve kept.

And those that I haven’t been able to keep, it’s not for lack of trying and we’re going to get it done in a second term. But, you should pay attention to this campaign, because Governor Romney has made some commitments as well. And I suspect he’ll keep those too. You know when members of the Republican Congress say, “We’re going to sign a no tax pledge, so that we don’t ask a dime for millionaires and billionaires to reduce our deficit so we can still invest in education, and helping kids go to college. He said, “Me too.”

When they said, “We’re going to cut Planned Parenthood funding.” He said, “Me too.” When he said, “We’re going to repeal Obamacare. First thing I’m going to do,” despite the fact that it’s the same health care plan that he passed in Massachusetts and is working well. He said, “Me too.” That is not the kind of leadership that you need, but you should expect that those are promises he’s going to keep.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me let…

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: …the choice in this election is going to be whose promises are going to be more likely to help you in your life? Make sure your kids can go to college. Make sure that you are getting a good paying job, making sure that Medicare and Social Security… (CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Mr. President. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: …will be there for you.

CROWLEY: Thank you. Governor?

ROMNEY: I think you know better. I think you know that these last four years haven’t been so good as the president just described and that you don’t feel like your confident that the next four years are going to be much better either.

I can tell you that if you were to elect President Obama, you know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a repeat of the last four years. We just can’t afford four more years like the last four years.

He said that by now we’d have unemployment at 5.4 percent. The difference between where it is and 5.4 percent is 9 million Americans without work.

I wasn’t the one that said 5.4 percent. This was the president’s plan. Didn’t get there.

He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security, because he pointed out they’re on the road to bankruptcy. He would reform them. He’d get that done. He hasn’t even made a proposal on either one.

He said in his first year he’d put out an immigration plan that would deal with our immigration challenges. Didn’t even file it.

This is a president who has not been able to do what he said he’d do. He said that he’d cut in half the deficit. He hasn’t done that either. In fact, he doubled it. He said that by now middle-income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. It’s gone up by $2,500 a year. And if Obamacare is passed, or implemented — it’s already been passed — if it’s implemented fully, it’ll be another $2,500 on top.

ROMNEY: The middle class is getting crushed under the policies of a president who has not understood what it takes to get the economy working again. He keeps saying, “Look, I’ve created 5 million jobs.” That’s after losing 5 million jobs. The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country. The unemployment, the number of people who are still looking for work, is still 23 million Americans.

There are more people in poverty, one out of six people in poverty.

How about food stamps? When he took office, 32 million people were on food stamps. Today, 47 million people are on food stamps. How about the growth of the economy? It’s growing more slowly this year than last year, and more slowly last year than the year before.

The president wants to do well. I understand. But the policies he’s put in place from Obamacare to Dodd-Frank to his tax policies to his regulatory policies, these policies combined have not let this economy take off and grow like it could have.

You might say, “Well, you got an example of one that worked better?” Yeah, in the Reagan recession where unemployment hit 10.8 percent, between that period — the end of that recession and the equivalent of time to today, Ronald Reagan’s recovery created twice as many jobs as this president’s recovery. Five million jobs doesn’t even keep up with our population growth. And the only reason the unemployment rate seems a little lower today is because of all the people that have dropped out of the workforce.

The president has tried, but his policies haven’t worked. He’s great as a — as a — as a speaker and describing his plans and his vision. That’s wonderful, except we have a record to look at. And that record shows he just hasn’t been able to cut the deficit, to put in place reforms for Medicare and Social Security to preserve them, to get us the rising incomes we need. Median income is down $4,300 a family and 23 million Americans out of work. That’s what this election is about. It’s about who can get the middle class in this country a bright and prosperous future and assure our kids the kind of hope and optimism they deserve.

CROWLEY: Governor, I want to move you along. Don’t — don’t go away, and we’ll have plenty of time to respond. We are quite aware of the clock for both of you. But I want to bring in a different subject here.

Mr. President, I’ll be right back with you.

Lorraine Osorio has a question for you about a topic we have not…

OBAMA: This is for Governor Romney?

CROWLEY: It’s for Governor Romney, and we’ll be right with you, Mr. President. Thanks.

ROMNEY: Is it Loraina?

QUESTION: Lorraine.

ROMNEY: Lorraine?

QUESTION: Yes, Lorraine.

ROMNEY: Lorraine.

QUESTION: How you doing?

ROMNEY: Good, thanks.

QUESTION: Mr. Romney, what do you plan on doing with immigrants without their green cards that are currently living here as productive members of society?

ROMNEY: Thank you. Lorraine? Did I get that right? Good. Thank you for your question. And let me step back and tell you what I would like to do with our immigration policy broadly and include an answer to your question.

But first of all, this is a nation of immigrants. We welcome people coming to this country as immigrants. My dad was born in Mexico of American parents; Ann’s dad was born in Wales and is a first-generation American. We welcome legal immigrants into this country.

I want our legal system to work better. I want it to be streamlined. I want it to be clearer. I don’t think you have to — shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer to figure out how to get into this country legally. I also think that we should give visas to people — green cards, rather, to people who graduate with skills that we need. People around the world with accredited degrees in science and math get a green card stapled to their diploma, come to the U.S. of A. We should make sure our legal system works.

Number two, we’re going to have to stop illegal immigration. There are 4 million people who are waiting in line to get here legally. Those who’ve come here illegally take their place. So I will not grant amnesty to those who have come here illegally.

What I will do is I’ll put in place an employment verification system and make sure that employers that hire people who have come here illegally are sanctioned for doing so. I won’t put in place magnets for people coming here illegally. So for instance, I would not give driver’s licenses to those that have come here illegally as the president would.

The kids of those that came here illegally, those kids, I think, should have a pathway to become a permanent resident of the United States and military service, for instance, is one way they would have that kind of pathway to become a permanent resident.

ROMNEY: Now when the president ran for office, he said that he’d put in place, in his first year, a piece of legislation — he’d file a bill in his first year that would reform our — our immigration system, protect legal immigration, stop illegal immigration. He didn’t do it.

He had a Democrat House, a Democrat Senate, super majority in both Houses. Why did he fail to even promote legislation that would have provided an answer for those that want to come legally and for those that are here illegally today? What’s a question I think the — the president will have a chance to answer right now.

OBAMA: Good, I look forward to it.

Was — Lorranna — Lorraine — we are a nation of immigrants. I mean we’re just a few miles away from Ellis Island. We all understand what this country has become because talent from all around the world wants to come here. People are willing to take risks. People who want to build on their dreams and make sure their kids have an even bigger dreams than they have.

But we’re also a nation of laws. So what I’ve said is we need to fix a broken immigration system and I’ve done everything that I can on my own and sought cooperation from Congress to make sure that we fix the system.

The first thing we did was to streamline the legal immigration system, to reduce the backlog, make it easier, simpler and cheaper for people who are waiting in line, obeying the law to make sure that they can come here and contribute to our country and that’s good for our economic growth.

They’ll start new businesses. They’ll make things happen to create jobs here in the United States.

Number two, we do have to deal with our border so we put more border patrol on the — any time in history and the flow of undocumented works across the border is actually lower than it’s been in 40 years.

What I’ve also said is if we’re going to go after folks who are here illegally, we should do it smartly and go after folks who are criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community, not after students, not after folks who are here just because they’re trying to figure out how to feed their families. And that’s what we’ve done. And what I’ve also said is for young people who come here, brought here often times by their parents. Had gone to school here, pledged allegiance to the flag. Think of this as their country. Understand themselves as Americans in every way except having papers. And we should make sure that we give them a pathway to citizenship.

And that’s what I’ve done administratively. Now, Governor Romney just said, you know he wants to help those young people too, but during the Republican primary, he said, “I will veto the DREAM Act”, that would allow these young people to have access.” His main strategy during the Republican primary was to say, “We’re going to encourage self-deportation.” Making life so miserable on folks that they’ll leave. He called the Arizona law a model for the nation. Part of the Arizona law said that law enforcement officers could stop folks because they suspected maybe they looked like they might be undocumented workers and check their papers.

You know what? If my daughter or yours looks to somebody like they’re not a citizen, I don’t want — I don’t want to empower somebody like that. So, we can fix this system in a comprehensive way. And when Governor Romney says, the challenge is, “Well Obama didn’t try.” That’s not true. I have sat down with Democrats and Republicans at the beginning of my term. And I said, let’s fix this system. Including Senators previously who had supported it on the Republican side. But it’s very hard for Republican’s in Congress to support comprehensive immigration reform, if their standard bearer has said that, this is not something I’m interested in supporting.

CROWLEY: Let me get the governor in here, Mr. President. Let’s speak to, if you could…

ROMNEY: Yes.

CROWLEY: …the idea of self-deportation?

ROMNEY: No, let — let — let me go back and speak to the points that the president made and — and — and let’s get them correct.

I did not say that the Arizona law was a model for the nation in that aspect. I said that the E-Verify portion of the Arizona law, which is — which is the portion of the law which says that employers could be able to determine whether someone is here illegally or not illegally, that that was a model for the nation. That’s number one.

Number two, I asked the president a question I think Hispanics and immigrants all over the nation have asked. He was asked this on Univision the other day. Why, when you said you’d filed legislation in your first year didn’t you do it? And he didn’t answer. He — he doesn’t answer that question. He said the standard bearer wasn’t for it.

I’m glad you thought I was a standard bearer four years ago, but I wasn’t.

Four years ago you said in your first year you would file legislation.

In his first year, I was just getting — licking my wounds from having been beaten by John McCain, all right. I was not the standard bearer.

My — my view is that this president should have honored his promise to do as he said.

Now, let me mention one other thing, and that is self-deportation says let people make their own choice. What I was saying is, we’re not going to round up 12 million people, undocumented illegals, and take them out of the nation. Instead let people make their own choice. And if they — if they find that — that they can’t get the benefits here that they want and they can’t — and they can’t find the job they want, then they’ll make a decision to go a place where — where they have better opportunities.

But I’m not in favor of rounding up people and — and — and taking them out of this country. I am in favor, as the president has said, and I agree with him, which is that if people have committed crimes we got to get them out of this country.

ROMNEY: Let me mention something else the president said. It was a moment ago and I didn’t get a chance to, when he was describing Chinese investments and so forth.

OBAMA: Candy?

Hold on a second. The…

ROMNEY: Mr. President, I’m still speaking.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: Mr. President, let me finish.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: I’ve gotta continue.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, you can make it short. See all these people? They’ve been waiting for you. (inaudible) make it short (inaudible).

ROMNEY: Just going to make a point. Any investments I have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust. And I understand they do include investments outside the United States, including in — in Chinese companies.

Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: I’ve got to say…

ROMNEY: Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: You know, I — I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours so it doesn’t take as long.

ROMNEY: Well, let me give you some advice.

OBAMA: I don’t check it that often.

ROMNEY: Let me give you some advice. Look at your pension. You also have investments in Chinese companies. You also have investments outside the United States. You also have investments through a Cayman’s trust.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: We’re way off topic here, Governor Romney.

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: I thought we were talking about immigration.

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: I do want to make sure that…

CROWLEY: If I could have you sit down, Governor Romney. Thank you.

OBAMA: I do want to make sure that — I do want to make sure that we just understand something. Governor Romney says he wasn’t referring to Arizona as a model for the nation. His top adviser on immigration is the guy who designed the Arizona law, the entirety of it; not E-Verify, the whole thing. That’s his policy. And it’s a bad policy. And it won’t help us grow.

Look, when we think about immigration, we have to understand there are folks all around the world who still see America as the land of promise. And they provide us energy and they provide us innovation and they start companies like Intel and Google. And we want to encourage that.

Now, we’ve got to make sure that we do it in a smart way and a comprehensive way, and we make the legal system better. But when we make this into a divisive political issue, and when we don’t have bipartisan support — I can deliver, Governor, a whole bunch of Democrats to get comprehensive immigration reform done, and we can’t…

ROMNEY: I’ll get it done. I’ll get it done. First year…

OBAMA: … we can’t — we have not seen Republicans serious about this issue at all. And it’s time for them to get serious on it.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me move you on here please. Mr. President, (inaudible).

OBAMA: This used to be a bipartisan issue.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Don’t go away, though — right. Don’t go away because I — I want you to talk to Kerry Ladka who wants to switch the topic for us.

OBAMA: OK.

Hi, Kerry.

QUESTION: Good evening, Mr. President.

OBAMA: I’m sorry. What’s your name?

QUESTION: It’s Kerry, Kerry Ladka.

OBAMA: Great to see you.

QUESTION: This question actually comes from a brain trust of my friends at Global Telecom Supply (ph) in Minneola yesterday.

OBAMA: Ah.

QUESTION: We were sitting around, talking about Libya, and we were reading and became aware of reports that the State Department refused extra security for our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, prior to the attacks that killed four Americans.

Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?

OBAMA: Well, let me first of all talk about our diplomats, because they serve all around the world and do an incredible job in a very dangerous situation. And these aren’t just representatives of the United States, they are my representatives. I send them there, oftentimes into harm’s way. I know these folks and I know their families. So nobody is more concerned about their safety and security than I am.

So as soon as we found out that the Benghazi consulate was being overrun, I was on the phone with my national security team and I gave them three instructions.

Number one, beef up our security and procedures, not just in Libya, but at every embassy and consulate in the region.

Number two, investigate exactly what happened, regardless of where the facts lead us, to make sure folks are held accountable and it doesn’t happen again.

And number three, we are going to find out who did this and we’re going to hunt them down, because one of the things that I’ve said throughout my presidency is when folks mess with Americans, we go after them.

OBAMA: Now Governor Romney had a very different response. While we were still dealing with our diplomats being threatened, Governor Romney put out a press release, trying to make political points, and that’s not how a commander in chief operates. You don’t turn national security into a political issue. Certainly not right when it’s happening. And people — not everybody agrees with some of the decisions I’ve made. But when it comes to our national security, I mean what I say. I said I’d end the war in Libya — in — in Iraq, and I did.

I said that we’d go after al-Qaeda and bin Laden, we have. I said we’d transition out of Afghanistan, and start making sure that Afghans are responsible for their own security, that’s what I’m doing. And when it comes to this issue, when I say that we are going to find out exactly what happened, everybody will be held accountable. And I am ultimately responsible for what’s taking place there because these are my folks, and I’m the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home. You know that I mean what I say.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, I’m going to move us along. Governor?

ROMNEY: Thank you Kerry for your question, it’s an important one. And — and I — I think the president just said correctly that the buck does stop at his desk and — and he takes responsibility for — for that — for the failure in providing those security resources, and — and those terrible things may well happen from time to time. I — I’m — I feel very deeply sympathetic for the families of those who lost loved ones. And today there’s a memorial service for one of those that was lost in this tragedy. We — we think of their families and care for them deeply. There were other issues associated with this — with this tragedy. There were many days that passed before we knew whether this was a spontaneous demonstration, or actually whether it was a terrorist attack.

ROMNEY: And there was no demonstration involved. It was a terrorist attack and it took a long time for that to be told to the American people. Whether there was some misleading, or instead whether we just didn’t know what happened, you have to ask yourself why didn’t we know five days later when the ambassador to the United Nations went on TV to say that this was a demonstration. How could we have not known?

But I find more troubling than this, that on — on the day following the assassination of the United States ambassador, the first time that’s happened since 1979, when — when we have four Americans killed there, when apparently we didn’t know what happened, that the president, the day after that happened, flies to Las Vegas for a political fund-raiser, then the next day to Colorado for another event, other political event.

I think these — these actions taken by a president and a leader have symbolic significance and perhaps even material significance in that you’d hope that during that time we could call in the people who were actually eyewitnesses. We’ve read their accounts now about what happened. It was very clear this was not a demonstration. This was an attack by terrorists.

And this calls into question the president’s whole policy in the Middle East. Look what’s happening in Syria, in Egypt, now in Libya. Consider the distance between ourselves and — and Israel, the president said that — that he was going to put daylight between us and Israel.

We have Iran four years closer to a nuclear bomb. Syria — Syria’s not just a tragedy of 30,000 civilians being killed by a military, but also a strategic — strategically significant player for America.

The president’s policies throughout the Middle East began with an apology tour and — and — and pursue a strategy of leading from behind, and this strategy is unraveling before our very eyes.

CROWLEY: Because we’re — we’re closing in, I want to still get a lot of people in. I want to ask you something, Mr. President, and then have the governor just quickly.

Your secretary of state, as I’m sure you know, has said that she takes full responsibility for the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi. Does the buck stop with your secretary of state as far as what went on here?

OBAMA: Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she works for me. I’m the president and I’m always responsible, and that’s why nobody’s more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do.

The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.

And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.

And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as Commander in Chief.

CROWLEY: Governor, if you want to…

ROMNEY: Yes, I — I…

CROWLEY: … quickly to this please.

ROMNEY: I — I think interesting the president just said something which — which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

OBAMA: That’s what I said.

ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror.

It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?

OBAMA: Please proceed governor.

ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: It — it — it — he did in fact, sir. So let me — let me call it an act of terror…

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

CROWLEY: He — he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.

ROMNEY: This — the administration — the administration indicated this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous reaction.

CROWLEY: It did.

ROMNEY: It took them a long time to say this was a terrorist act by a terrorist group. And to suggest — am I incorrect in that regard, on Sunday, the — your secretary —

OBAMA: Candy?

ROMNEY: Excuse me. The ambassador of the United Nations went on the Sunday television shows and spoke about how —

OBAMA: Candy, I’m —

ROMNEY: — this was a spontaneous —

CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me —

OBAMA: I’m happy to have a longer conversation —

CROWLEY: I know you —

OBAMA: — about foreign policy.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. But I want to — I want to move you on and also —

OBAMA: OK. I’m happy to do that, too.

CROWLEY: — the transcripts and —

OBAMA: I just want to make sure that —

CROWLEY: — figure out what we —

OBAMA: — all of these wonderful folks are going to have a chance to get some of their questions answered.

CROWLEY: Because what I — what I want to do, Mr. President, stand there a second, because I want to introduce you to Nina Gonzalez, who brought up a question that we hear a lot, both over the Internet and from this crowd.

QUESTION: President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. What has your administration done or planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?

OBAMA: We’re a nation that believes in the Second Amendment, and I believe in the Second Amendment. We’ve got a long tradition of hunting and sportsmen and people who want to make sure they can protect themselves.

But there have been too many instances during the course of my presidency, where I’ve had to comfort families who have lost somebody. Most recently out in Aurora. You know, just a couple of weeks ago, actually, probably about a month, I saw a mother, who I had met at the bedside of her son, who had been shot in that theater.

And her son had been shot through the head. And we spent some time, and we said a prayer and, remarkably, about two months later, this young man and his mom showed up, and he looked unbelievable, good as new.

But there were a lot of families who didn’t have that good fortune and whose sons or daughters or husbands didn’t survive.

So my belief is that, (A), we have to enforce the laws we’ve already got, make sure that we’re keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who are mentally ill. We’ve done a much better job in terms of background checks, but we’ve got more to do when it comes to enforcement.

But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets. And so what I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced. But part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence. Because frankly, in my home town of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence and they’re not using AK-47s. They’re using cheap hand guns.

And so what can we do to intervene, to make sure that young people have opportunity; that our schools are working; that if there’s violence on the streets, that working with faith groups and law enforcement, we can catch it before it gets out of control.

And so what I want is a — is a comprehensive strategy. Part of it is seeing if we can get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. But part of it is also going deeper and seeing if we can get into these communities and making sure we catch violent impulses before they occur.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, the question is about assault weapons, AK-47s.

ROMNEY: Yeah, I’m not in favor of new pieces of legislation on — on guns and taking guns away or making certain guns illegal. We, of course, don’t want to have automatic weapons, and that’s already illegal in this country to have automatic weapons. What I believe is we have to do, as the president mentioned towards the end of his remarks there, which is to make enormous efforts to enforce the gun laws that we have, and to change the culture of violence that we have.

And you ask how — how are we going to do that? And there are a number of things. He mentioned good schools. I totally agree. We were able to drive our schools to be number one in the nation in my state. And I believe if we do a better job in education, we’ll — we’ll give people the — the hope and opportunity they deserve and perhaps less violence from that. But let me mention another thing. And that is parents. We need moms and dads, helping to raise kids. Wherever possible the — the benefit of having two parents in the home, and that’s not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone, that’s a great idea.

Because if there’s a two parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will — will be able to achieve increase dramatically. So we can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence and give them opportunity, and bring them in the American system. The — the greatest failure we’ve had with regards to — to gun violence in some respects is what — what is known as Fast and Furious. Which was a program under this administration, and how it worked exactly I think we don’t know precisely, where thousands of automatic, and AK-47 type weapons were — were given to people that ultimately gave them to — to drug lords.

They used those weapons against — against their own citizens and killed Americans with them. And this was a — this was a program of the government. For what purpose it was put in place, I can’t imagine. But it’s one of the great tragedies related to violence in our society which has occurred during this administration. Which I think the American people would like to understand fully, it’s been investigated to a degree, but — but the administration has carried out executive privilege to prevent all of the information from coming out.

I’d like to understand who it was that did this, what the idea was behind it, why it led to the violence, thousands of guns going to Mexican drug lords. OBAMA: Candy?

CROWLEY: Governor, Governor, if I could, the question was about these assault weapons that once were once banned and are no longer banned.

I know that you signed an assault weapons ban when you were in Massachusetts, obviously, with this question, you no longer do support that. Why is that, given the kind of violence that we see sometimes with these mass killings? Why is it that you have changed your mind?

ROMNEY: Well, Candy, actually, in my state, the pro-gun folks and the anti-gun folks came together and put together a piece of legislation. And it’s referred to as an assault weapon ban, but it had, at the signing of the bill, both the pro-gun and the anti-gun people came together, because it provided opportunities for both that both wanted.

There were hunting opportunities, for instance, that haven’t previously been available and so forth, so it was a mutually agreed- upon piece of legislation. That’s what we need more of, Candy. What we have right now in Washington is a place that’s gridlocked.

CROWLEY: So I could — if you could get people to agree to it, you would be for it?

ROMNEY: We have —

OBAMA: Candy?

ROMNEY: — we haven’t had the leadership in Washington to work on a bipartisan basis. I was able to do that in my state and bring these two together.

CROWLEY: Quickly, Mr. President.

OBAMA: The — first of all, I think Governor Romney was for an assault weapons ban before he was against it. And he said that the reason he changed his mind was, in part, because he was seeking the endorsement of the National Rifle Association. So that’s on the record.

But I think that one area we agree on is the important of parents and the importance of schools, because I do believe that if our young people have opportunity, then they are less likely to engage in these kinds of violent acts. We’re not going to eliminate everybody who is mentally disturbed and we have got to make sure they don’t get weapons.

(AUDIO GAP)

OBAMA: because I do believe that if our young people have opportunity, then they’re less likely to engage in these kind of violent acts.

We’re not going to eliminate everybody who is mentally disturbed, and we’ve got to make sure they don’t get weapons. But we can make a difference in terms ensuring that every young person in America, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, have a chance to succeed.

And, Candy, we haven’t had a chance to talk about education much, but I think it is very important to understand that the reforms we’ve put in place, working with 46 governors around the country, are seeing schools that are some of the ones that are the toughest for kids starting to succeed. We’re starting to see gains in math and science.

When it comes to community colleges, we are setting up programs, including with Nassau Community College, to retrain workers, including young people who may have dropped out of school but now are getting another chance, training them for the jobs that exist right now.

And in fact, employers are looking for skilled workers. And so we’re matching them up. Giving them access to higher education. As I said, we have made sure that millions of young people are able to get an education that they weren’t able to get before.

Now…

CROWLEY: Mr. President, I have to — I have to move you along here. You said you wanted to…

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: We need to do it here.

OBAMA: But — but it’ll — it’ll — it’ll be…

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: … just one second.

CROWLEY: One…

OBAMA: Because — because this is important. This is part of the choice in this election.

When Governor Romney was asked whether teachers, hiring more teachers was important to growing our economy, Governor Romney said that doesn’t grow our economy.

When — when he was asked would class size…

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: The question, Mr. President, was guns here, so I need to move us along.

OBAMA: I understand.

CROWLEY: You know, the question was guns. So let me — let me bring in another…

OBAMA: But this will make a difference in terms of whether or not we can move this economy forward for these young people…

CROWLEY: I understand.

OBAMA: … and reduce our violence.

CROWLEY: OK. Thank you so much.

I want to ask Carol Goldberg to stand up, because she gets to a question that both these men have been passionate about. It’s for Governor Romney.

QUESTION: The outsourcing of American jobs overseas has taken a toll on our economy. What plans do you have to put back and keep jobs here in the United States?

ROMNEY: Boy, great question and important question, because you’re absolutely right. The place where we’ve seen manufacturing go has been China. China is now the largest manufacturer in the world. It used to be the United States of America. A lot of good people have lost jobs. A half a million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the last four years. That’s total over the last four years.

One of the reasons for that is that people think it’s more attractive in some cases to go offshore than to stay here. We have made it less attractive for enterprises to stay here than to go offshore from time to time. What I will do as president is make sure it’s more attractive to come to America again.

This is the way we’re going to create jobs in this country. It’s not by trickle-down government, saying we’re going to take more money from people and hire more government workers, raise more taxes, put in place more regulations. Trickle-down government has never worked here, has never worked anywhere.

I want to make America the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs, for small business, for big business, to invest and grow in America.

Now, we’re going to have to make sure that as we trade with other nations that they play by the rules. And China hasn’t. One of the reasons — or one of the ways they don’t play by the rules is artificially holding down the value of their currency. Because if they put their currency down low, that means their prices on their goods are low. And that makes them advantageous in the marketplace.

We lose sales. And manufacturers here in the U.S. making the same products can’t compete. China has been a currency manipulator for years and years and years. And the president has a regular opportunity to label them as a currency manipulator, but refuses to do so.

On day one, I will label China a currency manipulator, which will allow me as president to be able to put in place, if necessary, tariffs where I believe that they are taking unfair advantage of our manufacturers.

So we’re going to make sure that people we trade with around the world play by the rules. But let me — let me not just stop there. Don’t forget, what’s key to bringing back jobs here is not just finding someone else to punish, and I’m going to be strict with people who we trade with to make sure they — they follow the law and play by the rules, but it’s also to make America the most attractive place in the world for businesses of all kinds.

That’s why I want to down the tax rates on small employers, big employers, so they want to be here. Canada’s tax rate on companies is now 15 percent. Ours is 35 percent. So if you’re starting a business, where would you rather start it? We have to be competitive if we’re going to create more jobs here.

Regulations have quadrupled. The rate of regulations quadrupled under this president. I talk to small businesses across the country. They say, “We feel like we’re under attack from our own government.” I want to make sure that regulators see their job as encouraging small business, not crushing it. And there’s no question but that Obamacare has been an extraordinary deterrent to enterprises of all kinds hiring people.

My priority is making sure that we get more people hired. If we have more people hired, if we get back manufacturing jobs, if we get back all kinds of jobs into this country, then you’re going to see rising incomes again. The reason incomes are down is because unemployment is so high. I know what it takes to get this to happen, and my plan will do that, and one part of it is to make sure that we keep China playing by the rules.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, two minutes here, because we are then going to go to our last question.

OBAMA: OK. We need to create jobs here. And both Governor Romney and I agree actually that we should lower our corporate tax rate. It’s too high. But there’s a difference in terms of how we would do it. I want to close loopholes that allow companies to deduct expenses when they move to China; that allow them to profit offshore and not have to get taxed, so they have tax advantages offshore.

All those changes in our tax code would make a difference.

Now, Governor Romney actually wants to expand those tax breaks. One of his big ideas when it comes to corporate tax reform would be to say, if you invest overseas, you make profits overseas, you don’t have to pay U.S. taxes.

But, of course, if you’re a small business or a mom-and-pop business or a big business starting up here, you’ve got to pay even the reduced rate that Governor Romney’s talking about.

And it’s estimated that that will create 800,000 new jobs. The problem is they’ll be in china. Or India. Or Germany.

That’s not the way we’re going to create jobs here. The way we’re going to create jobs here is not just to change our tax code, but also to double our exports. And we are on pace to double our exports, one of the commitments I made when I was president. That’s creating tens of thousands of jobs all across the country. That’s why we’ve kept on pushing trade deals, but trade deals that make sure that American workers and American businesses are getting a good deal.

Now, Governor Romney talked about China, as I already indicated. In the private sector, Governor Romney’s company invested in what were called pioneers of outsourcing. That’s not my phrase. That’s what reporters called it.

And as far as currency manipulation, the currency has actually gone up 11 percent since I’ve been president because we have pushed them hard. And we’ve put unprecedented trade pressure on China. That’s why exports have significantly increased under my presidency. That’s going to help to create jobs here.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, we have a really short time for a quick discussion here.

iPad, the Macs, the iPhones, they are all manufactured in China. One of the major reasons is labor is so much cheaper here. How do you convince a great American company to bring that manufacturing back here?

ROMNEY: The answer is very straightforward. We can compete with anyone in the world as long as the playing field is level. China’s been cheating over the years. One by holding down the value of their currency. Number two, by stealing our intellectual property; our designs, our patents, our technology. There’s even an Apple store in China that’s a counterfeit Apple store, selling counterfeit goods. They hack into our computers. We will have to have people play on a fair basis, that’s number one.

Number two, we have to make America the most attractive place for entrepreneurs, for people who want to expand their business. That’s what brings jobs in. The president’s characterization of my tax plan…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: …is completely…is completely…

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: …is completely false. Let me tell you…

CROWLEY: Let me to go the president here because we really are running out of time. And the question is can we ever get — we can’t get wages like that. It can’t be sustained.

OBAMA: Candy, there are some jobs that are not going to come back. Because they are low wage, low skill jobs. I want high wage, high skill jobs. That’s why we have to emphasize manufacturing. That’s why we have to invest in advanced manufacturing. That’s why we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got the best science and research in the world. And when we talk about deficits, if we’re adding to our deficit for tax cuts for folks who don’t need them, and we’re cutting investments in research and science that will create the next Apple, create the next new innovation that will sell products around the world, we will lose that race.

If we’re not training engineers to make sure that they are equipped here in this country. Then companies won’t come here. Those investments are what’s going to help to make sure that we continue to lead this world economy, not just next year, but 10 years from now, 50 years from now, 100 years from now.

CROWLEY: Thanks Mr. President.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Governor Romney?

ROMNEY: Government does not create jobs. Government does not create jobs.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, I want to introduce you to Barry Green, because he’s going to have the last question to you first?

ROMNEY: Barry? Where is Barry?

QUESTION: Hi, Governor. I think this is a tough question. To each of you. What do you believe is the biggest misperception that the American people have about you as a man and a candidate? Using specific examples, can you take this opportunity to debunk that misperception and set us straight?

ROMNEY: Thank you, and that’s an opportunity for me, and I appreciate it.

In the nature of a campaign, it seems that some campaigns are focused on attacking a person rather than prescribing their own future and the things they’d like to do. In the course of that, I think the president’s campaign has tried to characterize me as — as someone who’s very different than who I am.

I care about 100 percent of the American people. I want 100 percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future. I care about our kids. I understand what it takes to make a bright and prosperous future for America again. I spent my life in the private sector, not in government. I’m a guy who wants to help with the experience I have, the American people.

My — my passion probably flows from the fact that I believe in God. And I believe we’re all children of the same God. I believe we have a responsibility to care for one another. I — I served as a missionary for my church. I served as a pastor in my congregation for about 10 years. I’ve sat across the table from people who were out of work and worked with them to try and find new work or to help them through tough times.

I went to the Olympics when they were in trouble to try and get them on track. And as governor of my state, I was able to get 100 percent of my people insured, all my kids, about 98 percent of the adults. I was able also to get our schools ranked number one in the nation, so 100 percent of our kids would have a bright opportunity for a future.

ROMNEY: I understand that I can get this country on track again. We don’t have to settle for what we’re going through. We don’t have to settle for gasoline at four bucks. We don’t have to settle for unemployment at a chronically high level. We don’t have to settle for 47 million people on food stamps. We don’t have to settle for 50 percent of kids coming out of college not able to get work. We don’t have to settle for 23 million people struggling to find a good job.

If I become president, I’ll get America working again. I will get us on track to a balanced budget. The president hasn’t. I will. I’ll make sure we can reform Medicare and Social Security to preserve them for coming — coming generations. The president said he would. He didn’t.

CROWLEY: Governor…

ROMNEY: I’ll get our incomes up. And by the way, I’ve done these things. I served as governor and showed I could get them done.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, last two minutes belong to you.

OBAMA: Barry, I think a lot of this campaign, maybe over the last four years, has been devoted to this nation that I think government creates jobs, that that somehow is the answer.

That’s not what I believe. I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world’s ever known.

I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative and risk takers being rewarded. But I also believe that everybody should have a fair shot and everybody should do their fair share and everybody should play by the same rules, because that’s how our economy’s grown. That’s how we built the world’s greatest middle class.

And — and that is part of what’s at stake in this election. There’s a fundamentally different vision about how we move our country forward.

I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.

Folks on Social Security who’ve worked all their lives. Veterans who’ve sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country’s dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don’t make enough income.

And I want to fight for them. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds.

When my grandfather fought in World War II and he came back and he got a G.I. Bill and that allowed him to go to college, that wasn’t a handout. That was something that advanced the entire country. And I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities. That’s why I’m asking for your vote and that’s why I’m asking for another four years.

CROWLEY: President Obama, Governor Romney, thank you for being here tonight.

On that note we have come to an end of this town hall debate. Our thanks to the participants for their time and to the people of Hofstra University for their hospitality.

The next and final debate takes place Monday night at Lynn (ph) University in Boca Raton, Florida. Don’t forget to watch. Election Day is three weeks from today. Don’t forget to vote.

Good night.

(APPLAUSE)

END

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