New York, New York
5:56 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Well, first of all, let me thank Tony and Amie for hosting us here today. Describing what it's like to have people move furniture out of six of your rooms -- (laughter) -- and I've been assured that it will all be put back where it was. (Laughter.)
I want to thank all of you for being here. And frankly, because this is a nice, intimate setting, I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking at the top; I want to spend most of the time answering your questions, taking your comments, having a conversation.
I tell you, though, I couldn't make the argument too much better than Tony just made it. When I ran in 2008, it was based on the premise that America was built on the idea that anybody can make it if they try; that everybody gets a fair shot, everybody does their fair share, everybody plays by the same rules. And that idea had been slipping away for too long. So you'd seen a decade of sluggish job growth; incomes and wages had flatlined even as the cost of health care and college were going up. And the question was, how do we restore that sense of balance?
Now, this is all before we had a sense that we were going to be experiencing the worst financial crisis and the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes. And over the last three and a half years, obviously we have had extraordinary challenges -- challenges unlike any that we've seen. And there are a lot of folks still hurting out there -- a lot of people who are still looking for work or underemployed; a lot of folks whose homes are still underwater; a lot of people who are fearful or anxious about the future.
But we've made progress. The good news is, is that over the last two years we've created more than 4 million jobs -- a million jobs in the last six months -- close to the last six months alone. We have been able to restore the greatness of the U.S. auto industry at a time when a lot of folks thought it would liquidate. We've doubled clean energy production. We've been able to start seeing manufacturing come back to our shores in a way that a lot of people hadn't anticipated. The financial system, although it is still healing, is in obviously much better shape than it was back in 2007, 2008.
So we've made some progress. Now, the reason I'm running is we haven't made enough yet. We still have a long way to go. And this election is going to present as stark a choice in terms of visions for the future as any election that we've seen in a very long time. I believe that the free market is the greatest wealth generator ever devised by man, and it's at the heart, at the core of who we are. I think risk-takers and innovators should be rewarded. I think all of us benefit from the freedom of free enterprise.
But if you look at our history, what we also realize is that what makes our markets work and what allows us then to go out and pursue our individual dreams is that there are some things we've done in concert. There are some things that we've done as a common enterprise -- making sure that our schools are teaching our kids the skills that they need to compete in a new economy; making certain that we're investing in science and research so that the next medical breakthrough or the next great business idea takes root right here in the United States; making sure we're investing in roads and bridges and airports and broadband lines and wireless networks that allow -- that provide a platform for businesses and individuals to succeed; and making sure that we've got basic rules of the road in place so that the markets function in a transparent, clear way so that small investors have confidence if they invest on Wall Street they're not going to get bilked by somebody who has more information than them; that we make sure that our financial system is stable and that we're not going to tip over into a situation where, because of somebody's miscalculation or sometimes just because of panic, suddenly the whole system is at risk; making sure that we have a basic safety net so that seniors who have worked all their lives can count on Social Security and Medicare; that the most vulnerable among us are cared for through programs like Medicaid; and making sure that something like health care is not the luxury of a few, but is something that if people are playing by the rules and working hard they can count on, and they don't have to worry about losing their home because their child gets sick.
And in this campaign, what's going to be tested is whether that view, which says, yes, we believe in individual initiative and we believe in risk-taking and we believe in markets and entrepreneurship, but we also believe in doing some things together, because all of us prosper from that -- whether that's a better idea or the better idea is just, everybody is on their own; we slash taxes more for those of us who have been incredibly fortunate and blessed by this system; slowly those rungs on the ladder to upward mobility start to fray; people are left to fend for themselves. There is a theory that that, somehow, is going to unleash the kind of growth that we imagine for this country. And my argument is, is that we tried it and it doesn't work. It's not good for the markets. It's not good for business. It's not good for consumers. It's not good for our kids. It's not good for our future.
And that's ultimately what this election is going to be about. When you cut through all the other stuff -- there's going to be a lot of noise and a lot of day-to-day skirmishes and arguing -- but ultimately it's going to come down to, whose vision do you believe? And I think we've got the facts and the evidence on our side. And the fact that you're all here today tells me that you're interested in that same kind of vision -- one in which our kids succeed but, you know what, other people's kids succeed, too. Because I think that will be a better America and a better world for our kids as well.
This is going to be a tough election. This is going to be a close election precisely because there are folks out there who are still hurting. But I'm pretty confident that if we work hard, if we stay true to that vision, that it's the one that the American people believe in as well.
So I'm grateful for your help. I'm looking forward to your questions. And I hope you are ready to get to work. All right, thank you. (Applause.)
6:04 P.M. EDT