Full Text Obama Presidency July 31, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks Welcoming New Secretary Julian Castro to HUD

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at HUD

Source: WH, 7-31-14

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Washington, D.C.

3:50 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Now, let me start off by making two points.  The first is, clearly, HUD has the rowdiest employees.  (Applause.)  I now realize that.  The second point is that before I came out here, Shaun Donovan made a point of saying that this wasn’t as exciting to people as Michelle coming.  (Laughter.)  Now, I know that.  (Laughter.)  I hear that everywhere I go.  (Laughter.)  There’s no reason to remind me, to rub it in.  (Laughter.)  That’s why I married her.  (Laughter and applause.)  To improve the gene pool.

I am here today because I stole one terrific Secretary of HUD from you, but I’ve delivered another terrific Secretary of HUD to you.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank all of you for the great job that you’re doing day in and day out.  And we appreciate the members of Congress who are here — although I have to say that Joaquin never had a choice.  (Laughter.)  The other two, obviously they care.  (Laughter.)  The brother, he’s like, okay, I’ve got to show up.  (Laughter.)  But I appreciate them being here.

Let me just say a few words about Shaun.  From his first day when he got here, Shaun knew he had his work cut out for him.  You will recall that the housing market was the epicenter of the crisis that went through in 2008-2009.  There were millions of families whose homes were underwater.  Hundreds of thousands of construction workers were out of a job.  Too many veterans lived out on the street.

But we were very fortunate because Shaun is just one of those people where he sees a problem he’s going to work to solve it.  And if what he tries the first time doesn’t work he’s going to try something else.  And he’s a geek, he’s a wonk.  (Laughter.)  He studies the spreadsheets.  He recruited top talent.  He promised that if everyone here at HUD worked just a little bit harder, you could really turn things around for struggling families.  And all of you accepted that challenge.

We’ve still got work to do, but think about the progress that we’ve made.  Home prices, home sales, construction all up.  Veterans homelessness down by nearly 25 percent.  (Applause.)    Millions of families are now seeing their home values above water, which obviously is a huge relief for them.  When natural disasters strike, like the Colorado floods or Hurricane Sandy, you are right in there helping the families rebuild.

And a lot of that is thanks to Shaun; a lot of it is thanks to the fact that all of you under his leadership took up the challenge, and you remembered what it is that this agency is about.

I love the way that your new Secretary characterized it.  This is — this should be a department of opportunity.  And housing, for so many people, is symbolic of the American Dream.  It means that you’ve got something stable, something you can count on, something that you own.  And to watch the transformation that has happened around the country, first and foremost because of the resiliency of the American people and their hard work, but also because that every step of the way you were in there trying to help them — that really makes a difference.

So I could not be prouder of the work that Shaun did.  But I can tell you that nobody is more passionate about these issues than Julián.  He knows the difference between smart policy and investments that can make a difference and just talk.  And he’s all about action, not just talk.

He’s seen it firsthand in how he grew up.  He’s seen it firsthand, as a mayor.  He revitalized parts of San Antonio that had been neglected for a long time.  He helped the Eastside Promise Zone take root and to grow.  He championed the kind of investments that keep communities strong over the long term — like economic development and expanded early childhood education. And most of all, he knows how to lead a team.  And this is a big team and you guys have gotten some big things done.  But we’ve got a lot more to do.  Even bigger things need to get done.

So in talking to Julián and initially trying to persuade him to take this task, what I saw was that spirt of hard work that’s reflected in how he was brought up and the values that were instilled in him.  And he, every single day, wants to make sure that those values live out in the work that he does.

And I know everybody in this room, you’ve got a story to tell, too, about somebody who, along the way, gave you some opportunity; about somebody who — maybe you were, like me, raised by a single mom and — like that first apartment that really — had your own bedroom and it was clean.  (Laughter.)  And it was in a decent neighborhood and there was a decent school district.  And how happy everybody was, and the transformation that could take place in people’s lives.  That’s a story I want you to tap into every day that you come to work.

Sometimes work in Washington can be discouraging.  Sometimes it seems as if the agenda that you’re trying to pursue helping working families and middle-class families — sometimes it seems that’s not the priorities up on Capitol Hill.  But if you remember why you got into this work in the first place, if you remember that this is not just a job but it should also be a passion — (applause) — that it should also be part of giving back, that you shouldn’t just be checking in and punching the clock, but every single day there’s somebody out there who could use your help — and I know when they get that help — and they write letters to me and they’ll tell me, you know what, you transformed my life — there’s no better feeling on Earth than that feeling that you somehow played a small part in a family succeeding.  (Applause.)

And that success then last generations, because some child or grandchild suddenly is feeling better and they start doing better in school, and maybe they avoided getting into trouble and ending up in the criminal justice system, or dropping out of school and not being able to find a job — all because of what you did.  What an incredible privilege that is.  What an incredible honor.

And that’s the attitude I want you to have every single day that you’re here.  I tell folks, I’ve now been President for more than five and a half years, and I’ve got two and a half years left, and I want to squeeze every single day — I want to squeeze as much out of every single day.  (Applause.)  This is not just a job, this is a privilege that we have.  And we’ve got to do — we’ve got to take advantage of it.  We’ve got to seize it.  Because that’s what makes it worthwhile.

It’s something that when I travel around the country I try to describe because people are so inundated with cynicism and bad news, and I want to tell them a story of good news.  There are people in agencies like HUD, every single day they care about you, and they want to help you.  And big organizations are never going to be perfect, and there are always going to be some bureaucracies, there’s always going to be some red tape, there’s always going to be some things that don’t work quite as smoothly as we want.  And your job is to fix that stuff, or work around that stuff.

And I want everybody here to — when you’re working with this new Secretary, who’s got energy and drive, he’s young, he’s good-looking, he talks good — (applause) — you can’t let him down.  (Laughter.)  You’ve got to be open to try new things and doing things in a different way, and doing them better.  But more importantly, you can’t let those families out there down, because they’re counting on you.

So I’m eager to work with him, but more importantly, I’m eager to work with you.  And every single day when you come to work, I just want you to know that I can’t do my job unless you’re doing your job.  Julian can’t do his job unless you’re doing your job.  And whether you are managing a financing program to build low-income or affordable housing, or you are helping with some of our initiatives like Promise Zones, or you are coordinating with regional offices — whatever your task, whether you are upper management or you’re the new kid on the block who’s coming in, you can really have an impact that lasts for generations.

Don’t squander that.  Don’t succumb to the cynicism.  Don’t start thinking that this is just a job.  Remember the mission that you’ve got.  And if you do that, I guarantee you, under Julian’s leadership, years from now you’re going to be able to look back and really be proud of everything that you’ve accomplished, because there are going to be a whole lot of people’s lives who are a lot better.

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

END
3:57 P.M. EDT

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Political Musings May 18, 2014: Obama to nominate rising star San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro as HUD Secretary

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

According to news reports on Saturday, May 17, 2014 President Barack Obama plans to nominate Democratic Party rising star and three term San Antonio, Texas mayor Julian Castro, 39 to be the new Housing and Urban Development Secretary. Castro’…READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz September 6, 2012: San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro’s Keynote Address Speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Julián Castro’s Speech to the Democratic National Convention — FULL TEXT

Source: National Journal, 9-4-12

My fellow Democrats, my fellow Texans, my fellow Americans: I stand before you tonight as a young American, a proud American, of a generation born as the Cold War receded, shaped by the tragedy of 9/11, connected by the digital revolution and determined to re-elect the man who will make the 21st century another American century—President Barack Obama.

The unlikely journey that brought me here tonight began many miles from this podium. My brother Joaquin and I grew up with my mother Rosie and my grandmother Victoria. My grandmother was an orphan. As a young girl, she had to leave her home in Mexico and move to San Antonio, where some relatives had agreed to take her in. She never made it past the fourth grade. She had to drop out and start working to help her family. My grandmother spent her whole life working as a maid, a cook and a babysitter, barely scraping by, but still working hard to give my mother, her only child, a chance in life, so that my mother could give my brother and me an even better one.

As my grandmother got older, she begged my mother to give her grandchildren. She prayed to God for just one grandbaby before she died. You can imagine her excitement when she found out her prayers would be answered—twice over. She was so excited that the day before Joaquin and I were born she entered a menudo cook-off, and she won $300! That’s how she paid our hospital bill.

By the time my brother and I came along, this incredible woman had taught herself to read and write in both Spanish and English. I can still see her in the room that Joaquin and I shared with her, reading her Agatha Christie novels late into the night. And I can still remember her, every morning as Joaquin and I walked out the door to school, making the sign of the cross behind us, saying, “Que dios los bendiga.” “May God bless you.”

My grandmother didn’t live to see us begin our lives in public service. But she probably would have thought it extraordinary that just two generations after she arrived in San Antonio, one grandson would be the mayor and the other would be on his way—the good people of San Antonio willing—to the United States Congress.

My family’s story isn’t special. What’s special is the America that makes our story possible. Ours is a nation like no other, a place where great journeys can be made in a single generation. No matter who you are or where you come from, the path is always forward.

America didn’t become the land of opportunity by accident. My grandmother’s generation and generations before always saw beyond the horizons of their own lives and their own circumstances. They believed that opportunity created today would lead to prosperity tomorrow. That’s the country they envisioned, and that’s the country they helped build. The roads and bridges they built, the schools and universities they created, the rights they fought for and won—these opened the doors to a decent job, a secure retirement, the chance for your children to do better than you did.

And that’s the middle class—the engine of our economic growth. With hard work, everybody ought to be able to get there. And with hard work, everybody ought to be able to stay there—and go beyond. The dream of raising a family in a place where hard work is rewarded is not unique to Americans. It’s a human dream, one that calls across oceans and borders. The dream is universal, but America makes it possible. And our investment in opportunity makes it a reality.

Now, in Texas, we believe in the rugged individual. Texas may be the one place where people actually still have bootstraps, and we expect folks to pull themselves up by them. But we also recognize there are some things we can’t do alone. We have to come together and invest in opportunity today for prosperity tomorrow.

And it starts with education. Twenty years ago, Joaquin and I left home for college and then for law school. In those classrooms, we met some of the brightest folks in the world. But at the end of our days there, I couldn’t help but to think back to my classmates at Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio. They had the same talent, the same brains, the same dreams as the folks we sat with at Stanford and Harvard. I realized the difference wasn’t one of intelligence or drive. The difference was opportunity.

In my city of San Antonio, we get that. So we’re working to ensure that more four-year-olds have access to pre-K. We opened Cafe College, where students get help with everything from test prep to financial aid paperwork. We know that you can’t be pro-business unless you’re pro-education. We know that pre-K and student loans aren’t charity. They’re a smart investment in a workforce that can fill and create the jobs of tomorrow. We’re investing in our young minds today to be competitive in the global economy tomorrow.

And it’s paying off. Last year the Milken Institute ranked San Antonio as the nation’s top performing local economy. And we’re only getting started. Opportunity today, prosperity tomorrow.

Now, like many of you, I watched last week’s Republican convention. They told a few stories of individual success. We all celebrate individual success. But the question is, how do we multiply that success? The answer is President Barack Obama.

Mitt Romney, quite simply, doesn’t get it. A few months ago he visited a university in Ohio and gave the students there a little entrepreneurial advice. “Start a business,” he said. But how? “Borrow money if you have to from your parents,” he told them. Gee, why didn’t I think of that? Some people are lucky enough to borrow money from their parents, but that shouldn’t determine whether you can pursue your dreams. I don’t think Governor Romney meant any harm. I think he’s a good guy. He just has no idea how good he’s had it.

We know that in our free market economy some will prosper more than others. What we don’t accept is the idea that some folks won’t even get a chance. And the thing is, Mitt Romney and the Republican Party are perfectly comfortable with that America. In fact, that’s exactly what they’re promising us.

The Romney-Ryan budget doesn’t just cut public education, cut Medicare, cut transportation and cut job training.

It doesn’t just pummel the middle class—it dismantles it. It dismantles what generations before have built to ensure that everybody can enter and stay in the middle class. When it comes to getting the middle class back to work, Mitt Romney says, “No.” When it comes to respecting women’s rights, Mitt Romney says, “No.” When it comes to letting people marry whomever they love, Mitt Romney says, “No.” When it comes to expanding access to good health care, Mitt Romney says, “No.”

Actually, Mitt Romney said, “Yes,” and now he says, “No.” Governor Romney has undergone an extreme makeover, and it ain’t pretty. So here’s what we’re going to say to Mitt Romney. We’re going to say, “No.”

Of all the fictions we heard last week in Tampa, the one I find most troubling is this: If we all just go our own way, our nation will be stronger for it. Because if we sever the threads that connect us, the only people who will go far are those who are already ahead. We all understand that freedom isn’t free. What Romney and Ryan don’t understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.

Republicans tell us that if the most prosperous among us do even better, that somehow the rest of us will too. Folks, we’ve heard that before. First they called it “trickle-down.” Then “supply-side.” Now it’s “Romney-Ryan.” Or is it “Ryan-Romney”? Either way, their theory has been tested. It failed. Our economy failed. The middle class paid the price. Your family paid the price.

Mitt Romney just doesn’t get it. But Barack Obama gets it. He understands that when we invest in people we’re investing in our shared prosperity. And when we neglect that responsibility, we risk our promise as a nation. Just a few years ago, families that had never asked for anything found themselves at risk of losing everything. And the dream my grandmother held, that work would be rewarded, that the middle class would be there, if not for her, then for her children—that dream was being crushed.

But then President Obama took office—and he took action. When Detroit was in trouble, President Obama saved the auto industry and saved a million jobs. Seven presidents before him—Democrats and Republicans—tried to expand health care to all Americans. President Obama got it done. He made a historic investment to lift our nation’s public schools and expanded Pell grants so that more young people can afford college. And because he knows that we don’t have an ounce of talent to waste, the president took action to lift the shadow of deportation from a generation of young, law-abiding immigrants called dreamers.

I believe in you. Barack Obama believes in you. Now it’s time for Congress to enshrine in law their right to pursue their dreams in the only place they’ve ever called home: America.

Four years ago, America stood on the brink of a depression. Despite incredible odds and united Republican opposition, our president took action, and now we’ve seen 4.5 million new jobs. He knows better than anyone that there’s more hard work to do, but we’re making progress. And now we need to make a choice.

It’s a choice between a country where the middle class pays more so that millionaires can pay less—or a country where everybody pays their fair share, so we can reduce the deficit and create the jobs of the future. It’s a choice between a nation that slashes funding for our schools and guts Pell grants—or a nation that invests more in education. It’s a choice between a politician who rewards companies that ship American jobs overseas—or a leader who brings jobs back home.

This is the choice before us. And to me, to my generation and for all the generations to come, our choice is clear. Our choice is a man who’s always chosen us. A man who already is our president: Barack Obama.

In the end, the American dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay. Our families don’t always cross the finish line in the span of one generation. But each generation passes on to the next the fruits of their labor. My grandmother never owned a house. She cleaned other people’s houses so she could afford to rent her own. But she saw her daughter become the first in her family to graduate from college. And my mother fought hard for civil rights so that instead of a mop, I could hold this microphone.

And while she may be proud of me tonight, I’ve got to tell you, Mom, I’m even more proud of you. Thank you, Mom. Today, my beautiful wife Erica and I are the proud parents of a three-year-old little girl, Carina Victoria, named after my grandmother.

A couple of Mondays ago was her first day of pre-K. As we dropped her off, we walked out of the classroom, and I found myself whispering to her, as was once whispered to me, “Que dios te bendiga.” “May God bless you.” She’s still young, and her dreams are far off yet, but I hope she’ll reach them. As a dad, I’m going to do my part, and I know she’ll do hers. But our responsibility as a nation is to come together and do our part, as one community, one United States of America, to ensure opportunity for all of our children.

The days we live in are not easy ones, but we have seen days like this before, and America prevailed. With the wisdom of our founders and the values of our families, America prevailed. With each generation going further than the last, America prevailed. And with the opportunity we build today for a shared prosperity tomorrow, America will prevail.

It begins with re-electing Barack Obama. It begins with you. It begins now. Que dios los bendiga. May God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

Full Text Campaign Buzz July 17, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Campaign Event, Private Residence, San Antonio, TX

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Remarks by the President at Campaign Event — Private Residence, San Antonio, TX

Source: WH, 7-17-12

Private Residence
San Antonio, Texas

2:19 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Please, have a seat.  Have a seat.  Well, look, it is wonderful to see you all of you.  Obviously, I want to start off
by thanking the whole Watts family for their incredible hospitality.  It’s Mikal’s birthday, so I hope everybody has wished him a happy birthday.  And, Tammy, congratulations for putting up with him for this long.  (Laughter and applause.)

A couple of other people I have to acknowledge — first of all, one of our great public servants, somebody who is battling on behalf of selling American products and American goods all across the country, but who lost some money this weekend because I partnered with him in golf — (laughter) — Ron Kirk is here.  (Applause.)

In addition, obviously your outstanding Mayor, Julian Castro is here.  (Applause.)  Congressman Charlie Gonzalez is in the house.  (Applause.)  Former HUD Secretary and all around good guy, Henry Cisneros is here.  (Applause.)  Texas Democratic Party
Chair Gilberto Hinojosa is in the house.  (Applause.)  And one of our national co-chairs and a dear friend, Eva Longoria is here.  (Applause.)

So in settings like this I usually don’t like to give a long speech.  I just had a terrific event over at the Convention Center.  What I’d like to do is spend most of my time just having a conversation with all of you and answering questions, taking suggestions.

But I will tell you that although Texas is not quite a battleground state, the issues that face the country are obviously as relevant here as they are anywhere.  And right now we’ve got two stark choices, two fundamentally different visions about where to take the country.

You’ve got my opponent, his allies in Congress, allies here in the Lone Star State, who believe that the way you grow an economy, the way to achieve prosperity is from the top down, and a recipe of more tax cuts that benefit a lot of folks in this room, including myself, and elimination of rules and regulations that protect consumers — from polluters and unscrupulous lenders or reckless behavior on Wall Street — that that’s the recipe for success, that’s where we need to go.

I’ve got a different vision.  It’s a vision that I fought for in 2008, and some of you joined me — a vision we’re still fighting for, that I’ve been fighting for since I got into office.  It’s a vision that says the government can’t solve every problem and shouldn’t try, but it is a vision that says what
makes this country great is the fact that anybody, anywhere, if they work hard enough and are willing to take responsibility, they can make it.

And there are some ingredients that we invest in as a country and as a community to make sure that the ladders of opportunity exist — a great education system, a great transportation and infrastructure system, investments in basic science and research, investments in the kind of safety net that encourages work but also says that if you have a string of bad luck, or if somebody in your family is disabled, or when you finally, after lifelong work, retire, that you can live a life of dignity and respect, and an approach to our deficits and debt that says everybody does their fair share.

And that was my commitment even before I ran for office and that we’ve fought for the last three and half years — we’ve got a long way to go.  There are still way too many people who are out of work, too many homes that are still underwater across the country, too many small businesses that are
struggling.

But in addition to making sure that we didn’t fall into a Great Depression, we’ve tried to systematically — whether it’s the health care bill, whether it’s our approach to expanding access to college education for young people, whether it is putting in place rules and regulations to protect from the kind of chaos of Wall Street that we saw in 2007, 2008 — everything we’ve done has been designed to fulfill that goal of making sure that we’re building a strong middle class and we’re continuing to create avenues of opportunity for those who are working hard to get into the middle class.

Now, this is going to be a close election.  I don’t think there’s any doubt about that — not because the other side has particularly new or interesting ideas, but because the economy is still struggling for a lot of folks.  And as a consequence, your help, your support is going to be critical.  But I’m optimistic about our prospects of being able to finish what we started in 2008.  And the reason I’m optimistic is because what the American people showed me in 2008 is that when they determine what is true and what is right and they come together, it doesn’t matter how much money the special interests spend, it doesn’t matter how many television ads are run — ultimately (inaudible.)

And I think one of the great privileges of being President is as I travel around the country and meet people from all walks of life — every race, every region, every faith — there’s a core decency to the American people, a basic goodness and grit and determination of the American people that gives me great confidence about our future.

So I just want to say to all of you — thank you for your extraordinary support.  Again, thanks to the Watts family for hosting us.  And I guarantee if all of you stay with
me and keep on working hard for the next four months, then I’m going to have the next — another four years to do the work that needs to be done.

Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
2:27 P.M. CDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz July 17, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Texas Campaign Event at the Henry Gonzalez Convention Center San Antonio, Texas

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Remarks by the President at Campaign Event in San Antonio, TX

Source: WH, 7-17-12

Henry Gonzalez Convention Center
San Antonio, Texas

12:45 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, San Antone!  (Applause.)  Hello, Texas!  (Applause.)  Well, thank you so much.  Everybody have a seat.  Have a seat.  It is good to be with all of you, good to be back in San Antonio.  (Applause.)

A couple of people I want to acknowledge who helped to make this day possible.  First of all, your outstanding Mayor, Julian Castro.  (Applause.)  Somebody whose name I know you’re familiar with because we are in the Henry Gonzalez Convention Center — a great friend, outstanding leader, great Congressman — Charlie Gonzalez is in the house. (Applause.)  Another fighter for working people — Lloyd Doggett is here.  (Applause.)  One of my national co-chairs and just a great friend and a great advocate  — and a really good actress, too — Eva Longoria.  (Applause.)  And finally, our FuturoFund co-chair and a wonderful friend and supporter — Henry Muñoz.  (Applause.)

Now, this is my last campaign.  It’s true, I’m term-limited up.  (Laughter.)  And that got me thinking about some of my first campaigns.  I know that Charlie and Julian and others, they think back to your first campaigns.  And back then, I didn’t have Air Force One.  (Laughter.)  Didn’t have a motorcade, no helicopter. I did the driving myself, and we didn’t even have MapQuest — (laughter) — I’d have to unfold the maps.  And Illinois, like Texas, is a big state, so I’d have to travel all across the state, and you’d go from urban neighborhoods to rural communities, suburbs.  You’d meet folks from every walk of life  — black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American.

And wherever I traveled, what I discovered was that there was a common theme to everyone’s story.  If I met an elderly couple, I’d think back to my grandparents, and how my grandfather fought in Patton’s Army in World War II, and my grandmother worked on a bomber assembly line.  And when my grandfather came back home, he was able to attend college on the GI Bill, and they were able to buy their first home with an FHA loan.  And I’d think about the distance they’d traveled from the small towns in Kansas, where they had been born.

And if I met a single mom I’d think about my mother, who had to raise me and my sister basically by herself, with some help from my grandparents, because my father had left, so that I didn’t even know him, and how she had to work and go to school and look after her kids.  But with the help of grants and scholarships, she was able to get an outstanding education and, more importantly from her perspective, give me and my sister a great education.  And I thought about how much that would be possible in some other place.

And if I met a working family, I’d think about Michelle’s family.  Her dad had multiple sclerosis, so by the time I met him, he could barely walk, had to use two canes, and had to wake up an hour earlier than everybody else to get dressed before going to work.  He worked at a water filtration plant, blue-collar worker.  And Michelle’s mom stayed at home when the kids were young, and then worked as a secretary.  But Michelle’s dad, despite his disability, never missed a day of work, and went to every dance recital and every basketball game, and had just a great joy about him.

And so all across the state of Illinois, I would be traveling and I’d meet people, and I’d say, you know what, their story is my story.  And then when I began to run for President I traveled all across the country, including here in Texas — I’d realize, well, the stories I’ve been hearing in Illinois, those are America’s story.  And at the heart of that story was a basic idea, which is, in this country, unlike any other, the basic bargain that binds us together is the idea that if we work hard, if we’re responsible, then you can get ahead; that you’re endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights like liberty, but also the pursuit of happiness — not a guarantee, but the chance to get ahead if you work hard.

And so generation after generation, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents toiling against all odds, understanding that at some point this hard work would pay off and they could climb their way into a middle class.  And that middle class didn’t just have to do with how much money you had in your bank account.  It had to do with the idea that you could always find a job that supported a family, and you wouldn’t go bankrupt when you got sick, and you could buy a home to call your own, and you could make sure your kids had a good education.  Maybe you take a vacation once in a while — nothing fancy, but time to spend with those you love.  And you could retire with dignity and respect.  And most of all, you could expect that your children could aspire to things that you never even imagined.

That was the heart — that is the heart of the American idea. This basic idea that no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name is, here in America, you can make it if you try.

And in 2008, when I ran for President and so many of you supported me, we ran because we believed in that idea and we believed that that basic bargain had been fraying.  We had seen a decade in which hard work wasn’t paying off for too many people. So people were working harder than ever, but the cost of living, gas, college, health care, all were going up; incomes, wages flat-lining.  We’d gone from surplus to record deficits, job growth stagnant.

And so what compelled us together to make this effort was specific issues, but it was also, how do we get that idea back for the vast majority of Americans?  And what we didn’t know at the time was, is that we were looking at the worst financial crisis in a generation — the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  And so millions of people were losing their jobs even as I was wrapping up the campaign.  And people lost their homes, and more and more folks struggled, and it felt as if that dream was slipping even further away.

But we have not been deterred.  As much work as we still have to do, over the last three and a half years that focus on how do we build a middle class that is strong and secure and growing, that has remained my central focus.  (Applause.)  And even as we’ve created 4.5 million new jobs and 500,000 jobs in manufacturing, and stabilized the financial system — all the steps we’ve taken without much cooperation from the other side — that’s still been our North Star.

And what’s always helped me every single day move forward is the recognition and the belief and the understanding that although the times have been tough, the American people have been tougher — (applause) — and that for everything that happened during that financial crisis and the recession that followed, America’s fundamental character did not change.  (Applause.)  People’s willingness to work hard did not change.  People’s ability to bounce back from adversity had not changed.  (Applause.)

And now, as we look out at the future, the question is, how do we best fulfill that goal, that aim that we set for ourselves in 2008?  For all the progress we’ve made, we did not embark on this journey just to get back to where we were in 2007.  We worked hard because we want a country where everybody gets a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  (Applause.)  That’s why I ran for President in 2008.  That’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States of America.  (Applause.)

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

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, as we think about this election, understand that the challenges we face are solvable.  Sometimes it’s fashionable among the pundits to say, well, America is in decline, or our best days are behind us.  You hear that periodically.  This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that about America.  And I could not disagree more, because there’s not a problem out there that we can’t solve.  The problem is not that we don’t have technical solutions or big ideas to tackle these challenges.  The problem is we’ve got a stalemate in Washington right now.  And it’s more than just a difference between two candidates, more than just a difference between two political parties.  It is two fundamentally different visions about how to move America forward.

My opponent and his allies in Congress, they believe that prosperity comes from the top down.  They believe that if we keep in place the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and then we add on top of that another $5 trillion of tax cuts — most of which would go to people who don’t need tax cuts and, frankly, aren’t even asking for them — if we do all that, even if it means gutting education investments, even if it means slashing transportation, even if it means that we’re not able to take care of our veterans as effectively, even if it means that we’re not investing in basic science and research, even if it means that Medicare we’ve got to voucherize — even if we do all those things, they still believe that those tax cuts that benefit folks at the top will result in everybody being better off.  That’s their basic economic theory.  It’s not complicated.

They’ve got one other element to it, in fairness.  They also say they want to eliminate regulations on insurance companies and Wall Street banks — regulations we put in place to protect consumers from unscrupulous mortgage practices, and that take regulations off of polluters.  If we do those things along with the tax cuts, the market will be freed up, government is out of the way, and happy days are here again.  That’s their theory.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  And don’t take my word for it — go to their websites.  Look at the budget that was passed by the House Republicans.  That’s their theory.  That’s what it boils down to.

Now, it is a theory — (laughter) — and some of you might be persuaded by this theory if it hadn’t been for the fact that we just tried it.  (Laughter and applause.)  We spent almost a decade doing what they prescribed.  And how did it turn out?  We didn’t see greater job growth.  We didn’t see middle-class security.  We saw the opposite.  And it all culminated in the worst financial crisis in our lifetimes — precisely because there were no regulations that were adequate to the kinds of recklessness that was being carried out.

So I don’t know about you, I don’t know how you guys operate in your life, but my general rule is if I do something and it doesn’t work — (laughter) — I don’t go back to doing it.  (Applause.)  We don’t go backwards, we go forwards.

So I’ve got a different idea.  I don’t believe in top-down economics; I believe in middle-out economics.  I believe in bottom-up economics.  (Applause.)  I believe in fighting on behalf of working families and giving them opportunity and putting some money in their pockets — because when we do that, everybody does better, folks at the bottom, folks in the middle and folks at the top.

That’s not a Democratic idea.  That’s an American idea.  (Applause.)  That’s what built this country.  That’s what made us into an economic superpower.  (Applause.)

So let’s just be more specific about some contrasts here.  My opponent thought it was a good idea to “let Detroit go bankrupt.”  With a million jobs at stake, I disagreed.  I wanted to make a bet on America’s workers and American industry and American manufacturing.  And three and a half years later, the auto industry is back.  GM is number one; Ford and Chrysler are selling cars.  (Applause.)  That’s my vision for America.

And this is not unique to the auto industry.  I want advanced manufacturing locating here in San Antonio.  (Applause.) I want us to be making things here in the United States of America, so I want to end tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas.  Let’s give tax breaks to companies that are investing right here in Texas, right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Let’s put American workers back to work selling goods stamped with three proud words:  Made in America.  That’s my vision for America.  (Applause.)

My opponent has a different idea.  His main calling card for wanting to be President is his private sector experience.  So we asked the voters to examine that experience.  He invested — made money investing in companies that had been called “pioneers” of outsourcing.  I don’t want pioneers of outsourcing in the White House; I want somebody who believes in insourcing.  Let’s bring those jobs back home.  That’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.  (Applause.)

In 2008, I made a promise we’d end the war in Iraq — we ended it.  (Applause.)  I promised to go after bin Laden — we got him.  (Applause.)  We’re transitioning out of Afghanistan and starting to bring our troops home.  And what I’ve said is, as we wind down these wars, let’s take half the money that we spent on war to pay down the deficit; let’s use the other half to do some nation-building here at home.  (Applause.)

Now, Mr. Romney disagrees with me on this — said it was “tragic” the way I ended the war in Iraq — the way I ended the war in Iraq, doesn’t want to set a timetable for ending the war in Afghanistan.  But, you know, I’m looking around this country and I know from our history, from world history, that no nation has always been stronger than its economy.  That’s an issue of our national defense.

And so because of our outstanding men and women in uniform, we know that we’ve got the greatest military on Earth, but we also have to have the best economy on Earth to support those troops.  (Applause.)  And that means, let’s start investing, rebuilding roads and rebuilding bridges and laying broadband lines into rural communities.  Let’s rebuild schools that are overcrowded and give them state-of-the-art science labs.  (Applause.)  And let’s rebuild our ports and our runways.  (Applause.)

That’s what America is about, is rebuilding.  And we’ve got thousands of construction workers out there that are ready to get to work.  Let’s put them to work.  (Applause.)  That will be good for our economy, and over the long term will be good for our strength.  That’s a difference between myself and my opponent.

As long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, we’re going to make sure that our veterans are properly cared for.  (Applause.)  And we have expanded our funding and improved how we are working with our veterans.  But we’ve got more work to do and that requires resources.  We’re sure not going to spend that money better on tax cuts for me.  (Laughter.)  I want to make sure that a young man or woman who has served our country, who has fought for us, they shouldn’t have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads when they come home.  (Applause.)

I’m running to make sure that America has the best education system on Earth — (applause) — from pre-K all the way to post-graduate.  And that means hiring new teachers, especially in math and science.  And it means building on the work we’ve already done to make sure that student loan rates don’t double, to make sure that middle-class families are getting tuition tax credits. Now we’ve got to reduce the cost of college, make it more affordable to everybody.  (Applause.)  I want to expand opportunities for 2 million young people to go to community colleges so they can get trained on the jobs that businesses are hiring for right now.  (Applause.)  Because today education is not a luxury, today a higher education is an economic imperative for the 21st century.  And I want to make sure that the United States of America once again has the highest percentage of college graduates, because that is going to help determine who wins the race in this global economy in the 21st century.  (Applause.)  And I want America to be number one.  That’s why I’m running for President of the United States. (Applause.)

On almost every issue, there’s a stark contrast between my vision and my opponent’s.  When it comes to housing, he wants to just let foreclosure bottom out.  I don’t think that’s a solution; that’s part of the problem.  So I want to actually help families all across Texas and all across the country refinance — at these historically low rates, the average family could save $3,000 a year, in your pockets.  That will not just be good for you, that will not just be good for the housing market; that will be good for the economy.  But we need to get it done.  (Applause.)

I don’t want to go back to the days when whether you could serve your country or not depended on who you loved.  We ended “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and I want to make sure that it stays ended because it was a bad idea.  (Applause.)

I don’t want to go back to the day when women didn’t have control of their health care choices.  (Applause.)  I’ve got two daughters, and I want them to have the same control over their health care as anybody’s sons out there.  I believe that’s the right thing to do.  (Applause.)

And we don’t need another four years of arguments about health care.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  The Affordable Health Care Act — otherwise known as Obamacare — was the right thing to do.  (Applause.)  And you know what, they’re right, I do care.  I care about folks who get sick and go bankrupt.  I care about parents who don’t know whether or not they’re going to be able to get treatment for their kids.  It was the right thing to do.  (Applause.)

And for all the misinformation out there, it’s very simple to describe what’s going to happen.  If you already have health care, the only thing that you have to do is enjoy the fact that now insurance companies can’t jerk you around because of the small print.  (Applause.)  You have rights.  Your kids can stay on their parent’s plan until they’re 26 years old.  (Applause.)  Senior citizens are seeing reductions in prescription drug costs.

If you don’t have health insurance, we’re going to help you get it.  (Applause.)  And, yes, it’s true we expect everybody to act responsibly, so for the 1 percent or 2 percent of people who still don’t get health insurance even though they can afford it, we’re going to say to them, you can’t pass off those costs on to somebody else in the form of higher premiums.  (Applause.)  You’ve got to take responsibility, as well.

It was the right thing to do.  We are not going backwards, we’re going forwards.  And 30 million people are going to get health insurance because of it.  (Applause.)

We’re not going backwards when it comes to immigration.  My opponent says the Arizona law should be “a model for the nation.”
AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  I believe we are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  (Applause.)  I believe we can secure our borders and give opportunities to people who are striving and working hard — especially young people who have been raised in this country and see themselves as Americans.  That was the right thing to do.  We’re not going backwards, we’re going forwards.  (Applause.)

And we’re going to get control of our deficit and debt, but not with the plan that these folks are promoting.  They say this is the most important issue, the thing they care about most, and then, they propose a $5 trillion tax cut that would mostly benefit folks who don’t need it, and would blow a hole a mile wide through our budget.

Now, I don’t believe government can solve every problem.  Not every government program works.  We’ve already cut a trillion dollars out of our federal budget, and we can do more.  But we’ve got to do it smartly and responsibly.  I don’t believe that government can help somebody that doesn’t want to help themselves, but for all those folks who are working hard every day, I want to make sure that we continue to invest so that young people can go to college; that we continue to take steps so that we’ve got a great transportation system to move people and goods and services across the country.  I want to make sure that we’re investing in basic research and science that has given us this technological lead that allowed us to grow and become the economic superpower that we are.

So what I’ve said is, yes, we’ll make some more cuts, but let’s ask folks who have been incredibly blessed to do a little bit more, to go back to the rates we had under Bill Clinton.  (Applause.)  And you know what, that theory has been tested as well — because when Bill Clinton did it, we had surpluses instead of deficits.  (Applause.)  We created 23 million new jobs — and people at the top did really well also.

Like I said, that’s been our history — when middle-class folks are doing well and those striving to get into the middle class are doing well, everybody does well.

And that maybe is what is at the heart of the difference in this debate.  See, I believe in individual initiative and entrepreneurship and risk-taking.  And I believe that the free market is the greatest system on Earth to create wealth and prosperity.  But just like Abraham Lincoln said, there are some things we do better together than we do on our own.  (Applause.)

When my grandfather came back home and that generation got the GI Bill that was great for everyone because it upgraded the skills of all of our workers, that wasn’t just good for some, that was good for all.  When we invested in the Hoover Dam or the Golden Gate Bridge or the Trans-Continental Rail System, or when we sent a man to the moon or invented the Internet, that was good for everybody.

There are some things we do better together.  And we rise or fall as one nation.  (Applause.)  That’s what I believe.  That’s what our history tells us.  That’s what our future demands.  That’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.  (Applause.)

So let me just say this.  In the next four months — you guys won’t see them because you’re not considered one of the battleground states, although that’s going to be changing soon — (applause) — but there’s going to be more money spent than we’ve ever seen before.  Folks writing $10 million checks to try to beat me, running ads with scary voices — (laughter) — and basically one message.  I mean, it’s a very simple message.  Their message is:  The economy is not where it needs to be and it’s Obama’s fault.  So there will be various — there will be variations on the theme, but it will be the same message over and over and over again.

That’s what they’re banking on — because they can’t sell their actual economic plan, so their goal is to see if they can knock us down.  More money than we’ve ever seen before.  And it’s understandable that some folks get cynical about the political process as a result.

But what you taught me in 2008 is the same thing that I learned in my first campaigns, as I traveling around in my car, going from town to town, talking to people in their living rooms or VFW halls or diners, and trying to get their votes — and hearing stories about people’s parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, some who came as immigrants, some who were brought here not of their own accord, some who worked in mills or mines, some worked on farms, ranches.  The thing I learned was that there is a core decency and grit and faith in the American people.  And when the American people decide what’s true and what’s right, and they join together to bring about change, to make this country more responsive to the hopes and dreams of ordinary people — when that happens, it doesn’t matter how much money the other side spends, it can’t be stopped.  I cannot be stopped.  (Applause.)

You showed that in 2008, and I believe you’re going to show it again in 2012.  (Applause.)  I tried to make promises in 2008 that I knew I could keep, and one of those promises was that I wasn’t a perfect man and I wouldn’t be a perfect President, but I’d always tell you what I thought and I’d always tell you where I stood, and I’d spend every waking minute fighting as hard as I knew how for you — (applause) — making sure that every single day I was thinking about how to make your lives a little bit better.

And I knew I could keep that promise because I saw myself in you.  And when I saw your grandparents, I saw my grandparents.  And when I saw your kids, I saw my kids.  And I’ve kept that promise.  And I still believe in you.  (Applause.)

And if you still believe in me, and you’re willing to stand up, and knock on doors and make phone calls, and get out there and fight on behalf of a vision in which every Americans has opportunity to pursue their dreams — (applause) — I promise you, we will finish what we started in 2008.  We will not be going backwards, we will be going forwards.  We will win this election.  (Applause.)  And we will remind the world just why it is that the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

God bless you.  God bless the great state of Texas and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
1:20 P.M. CDT

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