6:19 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. (Applause.) Thank you. Everybody, please have a seat. It is wonderful to see you here -- to be here. And I want to thank Debra for opening up this beautiful home on a lovely day, and to then invite some of my best friends over to hang out. (Laughter.)
A couple of other people I just want to mention very briefly. First of all, as somebody who is working tirelessly on our behalf each and every day, and we’re so proud of her -- our DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is here. (Applause.) Accompanied by the adorable Shelby. (Applause.) Yay! And I want to say thank you to Jane Stetson, who has been such a dear friend -- (applause) -- and is now chairing -- co-chairing our finance committee and doing just extraordinary work each and every day.
Typically, in these more intimate gatherings, what I like to do is to just make a few comments at the top and then make this a conversation. So we’ll open it up and you guys can ask questions, make comments, give me advice. I always get advice. (Laughter.)
But obviously, we’ve gone through three and a half of the toughest years that this country has seen in my lifetime and most of yours. The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The worst economic crisis worldwide since the 1930s. The month I took office we lost 750,000 jobs. The U.S. auto industry, the iconic industry that had helped to create our middle class, was on the verge of liquidation -- at least two of the three of the Big Three auto firms.
We were in the midst of two wars. And I think there had been decades of issues that had been put off and put off -- whether it was health care or energy or education -- and a sense that somehow we could not get done what needed to get done to ensure that middle-class families regained a sense of security, so that if they worked hard and they acted responsibly that they’d be able to afford a home and send their kids to college, and retire with dignity and respect. That sense that we would be passing on a future for our children that was greater than ours.
That’s what propelled me to run. And after three and a half years we’re nowhere near where we need to be yet. But think about the extraordinary progress that we’ve been able to make.
Over the last three months alone, 600,000 jobs created; 4 million jobs created over the last two years. We’ve been able to save an auto industry where GM is now the number-one automaker again in the world; saved probably a million jobs throughout the Midwest. Chrysler is back. And our auto industry is actually making better cars -- cars that are being sold all around the world. Doubled fuel-efficiency standards on cars so that not only are we helping to save the planet, but we’re saving people at the pump and helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil so that it’s below 50 percent for the first time in 13 years.
Passing health care reform that provides 30 million people, for the first time, the opportunity to get health insurance that didn’t have it before. And it makes young people -- it makes it possible for young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance -- 2.5 million young people already taking advantage of that. Preventive care, including mammograms and cervical cancer screenings for women, contraceptive care.
And not only is it helping families, but it’s also help the country as a whole, because over time what we’re building into is a health care system that’s going to be more efficient and provide better quality. And by the way, just yesterday or today, Kaiser released a study showing that there’s going to be over a billion dollars of rebates going out to millions of families all across America because of this law. (Applause.)
So whether it’s what we’ve done on education with “Race to the Top” and helping to initiate school reform in more than 40 states, whether it’s what we’ve done on clean energy -- doubling the amount of energy that’s coming from wind and solar, and helping to build from scratch, essentially, an advanced-battery industry that will be the future of automation -- or the automotive industry for the future; whether it’s the work that we’ve done not just to end the war in Iraq, but also to start transitioning our troops out of Afghanistan so that they can take greater responsibility in restoring that sense of respect for America around the world -- on all these fronts, we’ve made enormous progress.
But we’ve got a lot more to do. I won’t be satisfied until everybody can find a job that pays a living wage and allows them either to stay in the middle class, but also creates those ladders of opportunity into the middle class.
I’m not going to be satisfied until we once again have the best education system in the world, and college is affordable for young people all across the country.
I’m not going to be satisfied not just with getting our troops home from Afghanistan, but making sure -- as we talked about today down in Fort Stewart -- that every single one of our veterans have the capacity to rebuild this country the same way my grandfather had and his generation had the capacity to rebuild the country when they came back from World War II.
So we've got a lot more work to do. And here's the good news: I think that when you look at the issues, when you look at where people stand in terms of making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules; when you look at how they feel about Wall Street reform or health care reform, and break it down specifically -- not sort of just the rhetoric that goes on out there -- but do you believe that young people should be able to stay on their parents’ health care plans; do you believe that seniors should be able to afford prescription drugs and get bigger discounts; do you believe that we should prevent reckless behavior on Wall Street; do you believe that we should have an all-of-the-above energy strategy -- when you break down the issues, then people are on our side. They believe what we believe.
But understandably, things are tough, and they've grown cynical, and they see the mess that goes on in Washington and there's a temptation at a certain point to just say, oh, a plague on both their houses; nothing is getting done.
And so we're going to have to work harder this time than we did in '08. I always say, back in '08 I wasn't as gray, and it was kind of cool being an Obama supporter. (Laughter.) And now, I'm the President. (Laughter.) I'm just saying -- (laughter) -- now, we see the guy all the time, and he's kind of dinged up.
But I want you to know, my commitment, my sense of determination is undiminished. My confidence in the American people is undiminished. My hunger, my desire to help every one of those folks out there that is trying hard to carve out a life for themselves and their families, that hunger is undiminished.
So I'm going to work harder than I did I 2008, and if you guys are willing to join me, then we're going to have four more years to be able to finish what we started. All right?
Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
6:28 P.M. EDT