Golden Beach, Florida
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. (Applause.) Well, first of all, let me thank Jeremy, who has been a friend for a long time. He supported me at a time when nobody could pronounce my name, and had great faith, probably because I think we’re both basketball fans, and he was impressed with my knowledge, although his seats at games are generally better than mine. (Laughter.)
And I want to thank Jeremy’s family for taking the time to be here, and his lovely mom and sisters. And Kirk Wagar, who has just been working so hard on my behalf not just this time out but the previous time out. We appreciate you.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is not only a outstanding member of Congress and a great mom but is also doing wonderful work on behalf of the DNC -- we appreciate her. Thank you, Florida, for sending her into the national spotlight.
And Mayor Anthony Foxx -- he is going to be our host in Charlotte, when we have our convention, and so we’re glad that he’s here as well. (Applause.
And of course I appreciate all of you. Some of you have been great friends in other venues, and we appreciate everything that you do.
I’m going to be very brief at the top because I want to spend most of my time answering questions and getting comments and thoughts from you. We’ve gone through three of the toughest years in our lifetimes -- an economy that almost tipped into a Great Depression; an auto industry that almost went belly-up; a banking system that froze; millions of people losing their jobs; a housing market that collapsed -- a world economic crisis that began just a little bit before I was sworn into office, and we’ve been fighting to bring America back ever since.
The good news is we’re making enormous progress on a whole range of fronts. The auto industry is back on its feet, selling cars. GM is making regular profits and is the number-one automaker again in the world, and they’re making better cars. We’ve made progress in doubling fuel-efficiency standards on cars that help our environment and are reducing -- is reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Actually, each year that I’ve been in office we’ve been importing less oil, even as the economy has become more productive and is growing.
Four million jobs over the last two years. The best manufacturing job growth since the 1990s -- 600,000 jobs just in the last three months alone.
So we’re making progress, but I think all of us understand that we’ve still got a lot more work to do, partly because we haven’t fully recovered from the depths of this crisis -- there are still too many people out there who are looking for work, there are still too many homes that are underwater. Florida -- the economy here is still suffering from the headwinds of the housing market and its collapse. But partly because when we ran for office -- when I ran for office in 2008, the goal wasn't just to get back to where we were in 2007. Because even then, even before the economic crisis had hit -- the financial crisis had hit, we had seen a decade in which job growth was sluggish, and incomes and wages for ordinary people didn't just flat-line, they actually went down when you factored in inflation.
That sense of middle-class security -- the sense that if you worked hard you could get ahead, support a family, send your kids to college, retire with dignity and respect -- that sense of security had been slipping away for too many people. And the goal in 2008 was to make those changes, to get rid of those obstacles, to reform systems that had had problems for decades so that middle-class Americans and people who aspire to get in the middle class would once again have a chance. An economy that was characterized by everybody having a fair shot and everybody doing their fair share and everybody playing by the same set of rules -- that’s what we’ve been fighting for.
And that’s why in addition to just dealing with the immediate crisis, in addition to dealing with two wars, ending one, transitioning in another, in addition to going after bin Laden and making sure that we degraded the al Qaeda network, in addition to restoring America’s respect in the world, in addition to all the things we’ve done in foreign policy, in crisis management, what we’ve tried to do is also make sure that we’re dealing with those long-term barriers to economic growth and prosperity, broad-based prosperity.
So that means having an energy policy that emphasizes clean energy and solar and wind power and all those things that are going to allow us to stay at the cutting edge in the 21st century. It means reforming our education system -- K-12, community colleges and four-year colleges and universities -- so that we’ve got the best workforce in the world in this more competitive environment that we’re in.
It means dealing with health care -- not only to make sure that 30 million people get health care that didn't have it before, so nobody is bankrupt when they get sick in this country, but also to start rationalizing the system so that it is more efficient, provides better care, lowers costs, is a good deal for everybody.
And it means making sure that we've got a budget, a tax system, that is fair so that you don’t have Warren Buffett paying a lower tax rate than his secretary; so that we can lower the deficits and make investments that we need in the future generations -- in rebuilding our infrastructure and investing in basic science and research, college loans for students -- but doing so in a way that’s paid for. And part of paying for it is, folks like me and many of you, making sure that we are doing our fair bit.
Now, the other side has a just fundamentally different
view of these issues, and that’s before we start talking about things like the courts and access to justice and women’s rights and voting rights and a whole range of social concerns where, again, there is a -- immigration -- where there is a big contrast between what the other side is peddling and what I think is needed to make this country strong.
So you’re probably going to have as big a contrast in this election as we’ve seen in a very long time. And that means that we may have to work even harder than we did in 2008.
The good news is I think the American people are on our side. I think the American people understand that this country is stronger when we come together, and we’re looking out for one another, and we’re thinking about the future, and not just the next election.
But they expect to see us fight for them. And that’s what I intend to keep doing, with your help, for the next four and a half years.
So thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.)