Obama's jobs speech in Elyria, Ohio: The prepared text
Prepared remarks for President Obama's speech to a town-hall meeting Friday afternoon at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio, as provided by the White House:
It's great to be here in Elyria. It's always nice to get out of Washington. For two years, I had the privilege of traveling across this country, talking with folks like you about the challenges you face in your own lives, and the challenges we all face together as a nation.
In fact, the hardest part of being President, as great an honor as it is, is not being able to do that as much anymore. The White House is a wonderful place to work. You live above the store. I can see my kids when they wake up every morning and eat dinner with them every night, and that makes everything else so much better. But the truth is, being President is also a little confining. I can't just walk around and visit people like I used to. I can't just go to the barber shop or sit at a diner.
So, I appreciate the chance to come out here and spend a day - to visit plants like EMC Precision Machining and the clean energy job training program here at Lorain County Community College. I appreciate the chance to spend a day with all of you.
I know these have been difficult and unsettling times for people in Elyria, in Ohio, and across our country. I walked into office a year ago in the middle of a raging economic storm that was wreaking devastation on your town and communities everywhere. We had to take some difficult steps to deal with that mess, to stave off an even greater economic catastrophe. We had to stabilize the big banks, which, given their role in creating this mess, was a tough pill to swallow.
I knew it would be unpopular - and rightly so. But I also knew that we had to do it because if they went down, your local banks would have gone down, too. If the financial system had gone down, it would have taken the entire economy and millions more families and businesses with it. We would have been looking at a Second Great Depression.
In my first months in office, we also helped save two of the big three automakers from collapse. Some people weren't happy about that, either. They felt that if you make a bad decision, you ought to reap the consequences, just like any business would. But if we had let GM and Chrysler simply go under, hundreds of thousands of Americans would have been hurt, not just at those companies themselves, but at other auto companies and at their suppliers and dealers, here in Ohio, up in Michigan, and all across this country.
So, we said, if you're willing to take the tough and painful steps to make yourselves more competitive, we're willing to invest in your future. And earlier this week, we heard that the auto industry planned to make almost 3 million cars and trucks here in North America in the next three months - up 69% from the first three months of 2009.
We also passed a Recovery Act to pull our economy back from the brink. We cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans - 15 different tax cuts for working families and 7 different tax cuts for small businesses so they can start up, and grow, and hire. We extended and increased unemployment insurance. We made COBRA cheaper. We gave aid to states to help them through these tough times. We made the largest investment in infrastructure since the creation of the Interstate Highway System, putting Americans to work rebuilding our roads, bridges and waterways, doing the work America needs done.
Today, because of the actions we took, the worst of this economic storm has passed. But families like yours and communities like Elyria are still reeling from the devastation left in its wake. Folks have seen jobs you thought would last forever disappear. You've seen plants close and businesses shut down. I've heard about how the city government here is bare bones. And how you can't get to work or go buy groceries like you used to because of cuts in the county transit system.
And this, after one of the toughest decades our middle class has faced in generations. This has been a decade where some Americans made huge amounts of money, while many others pedaled faster and faster, only to find themselves stuck in the same place, or even slipping behind. Even as you've found your paychecks shrinking, even as you've found the value of your biggest asset - your home - falling, the cost of everything has gone up. The cost of groceries. The cost of sending your kids to college. The cost of saving for retirement. And another pressure you've faced is the breakneck, unrelenting climb of costs for the health care you need.
I didn't run for President to turn away from these challenges. I didn't run for President to kick them down the road. I ran for President to confront them - once and for all. I ran for this office to rebuild our economy so it works not just for a fortunate few, but for hardworking people in this country. To create good jobs that can support a family. To get wages growing and incomes rising. To improve the quality of America's schools and lift up great community colleges like this, which are so important to our future. To make that higher education affordable for the children of working families. And, yes, to deal with the problem of runaway health insurance costs that are breaking family budgets, breaking business budgets, and breaking our national budget.
No, I had no illusions when I took on health care. It was always going to be hard. I knew from the beginning that seven Presidents had tried it and seven Presidents had failed. But I also knew that insurance premiums had more than doubled in the past decade, that out-of-pocket expenses had skyrocketed, that millions more people had lost their insurance, and that it would only get worse.
I took this up because I want to ease the burdens on all the families and small businesses that can't afford to pay outrageous rates. I want to protect mothers, fathers, children from being targeted by the worst practices of the insurance industry.
Now, we've gotten pretty far down the road, but I have to admit, we've run into a bit of a buzz saw along the way. The long process of getting things done runs headlong into the special interests, their armies of lobbyists, and partisan politics aimed at exploiting fears instead of getting things done. And the longer it's taken, the uglier the process has looked.
I know folks in Washington are in a little bit of a frenzy this week, trying to figure out what the election in Massachusetts the other day means for health insurance reform, for Republicans and Democrats, and for me. This is what they love to do.
But this isn't about me. It's about you. I didn't take up this issue to boost my poll numbers or score political points - believe me, if I were, I would have picked something a lot easier than this. No, I'm trying to solve the problems that folks here in Elyria and across this country face every day. And I am not going to walk away just because it's hard. We're going to keep on working to get this done with Democrats, Republicans - anyone who is willing to step up. Because I am not going to watch more people get crushed by costs, or denied the care they need by insurance company bureaucrats, or partisan politics, or special interest power in Washington.
Let me tell you - so long as I have the privilege of serving as your President, I'll never stop fighting for you. I'll take my lumps, too. I'll never stop fighting to bring jobs back to Elyria. I'll never stop fighting for an economy where hard work is rewarded, where responsibility is honored, where accountability is upheld, where we're creating the jobs of tomorrow.
That's why I'm calling on Congress to pass a jobs bill to put more Americans to work rebuilding roads and railways, to provide tax breaks to small businesses for hiring people, and to offer families an incentive to make their homes energy efficient, saving them money while creating jobs.
And that's why we enacted incentives that are beginning to give rise to a clean energy economy, that are starting to translate into real jobs making solar panels, making windmill blades, making cutting-edge batteries. In fact, almost $25 million of our investment went to a plant right here in Elyria that's helping produce the car batteries of the future.
So long as I'm President, I'll never stop fighting for policies that will help restore home values, to redeem the investment that folks have made. I'll never stop fighting to give our kids the best education possible; to take the tens of billions of dollars we pay banks to act as middlemen on student loans and invest that money in the students who need it.
I'll never stop fighting to give every American a fair shake. That's why the very first bill I signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Act to uphold the principle of equal pay for equal work for men and women alike. Especially in this age when so many families need two paychecks to get by.
So long as I'm President, I'll never stop fighting to protect you from the kind of deceptive practices we've seen from some in the financial sector. That's why I signed a Credit Card Bill of Rights into law to protect you from surprise charges, retroactive rate hikes, and other unfair rules. And that's why I'm fighting for a tough Consumer Financial Protection Agency to protect you against those hidden overdraft fees that can make a single ATM withdrawal cost thirty dollars or more.
I'll never stop fighting to open up government. That's why we put in place the toughest ethics laws and toughest transparency rules of any administration in history.
So long as I'm President, I'll never stop fighting to cut waste and abuse in Washington; to eliminate what we don't need - to pay for what we do; to rein in exploding deficits we've been accumulating for too long.
And I'm going to keep up the fight for real, meaningful health insurance reforms. That's why we expanded the children's health insurance program to include four million more kids. And that's why I'll continue fighting for reform that will hold the insurance industry accountable and bring more stability and security to folks in our health care system.
These are some of the fights we've had. And I can promise you, there will be more fights in the days ahead. We're having one of them right now - because I want to charge Wall Street a modest fee to repay taxpayers in full for saving their skin in a time of need. You can rest assured, we're going to get that money - your money - back, each and every dime.
You know, I said at the beginning how much it means to me to travel this country; how much it means to me to be here in Elyria. That is more true now than ever before. Because it's easy to get a pretty warped view of things from Washington. But when I get out here and talk with folks like you, I'm reminded of the strength - the resilience and perseverance - of the American people. I'm reminded of the fundamental character of the Americans I am so privileged to serve. It's that character that has borne our nation through seas far rougher than the ones we face today. And it is that character that will carry us through this storm to better days ahead.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
January 22, 2010; 1:28 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Primary Source
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