Remarks by the President on the American Jobs Act in Columbus, OH
Fort Hayes High School
2:33 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Columbus! (Applause.) It is good to be back in the state of Ohio. (Applause.) Just a couple of people I want to make sure you know are here. First of all, my outstanding Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is in the house. (Applause.) Superintendant of Columbus City Schools, Dr. Gene T. Harris, is here. (Applause.) The principal of Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center, Milton Ruffin, is here. (Applause.) And the mayor of the great city of Columbus, Michael Coleman, is in the house. (Applause.)
It is a great honor to be here at Fort Hayes –- one of the best high schools in Ohio. (Applause.)
I want to thank Tom for that introduction. He just gave me a quick tour, and let me just say, these buildings look great. He did a good job. I wouldn’t mind taking a few classes here. (Applause.) You’ve got computers in every classroom, got state-of-the-art graphic design and science labs, new media center, music rooms. And when you combine that with outstanding teachers -- (applause) -- and a challenging curriculum, you’ve got the foundation for what you need to learn and graduate, and compete in this 21st century economy. (Applause.)
So, Fort Hayes, I’m here to talk about exactly that -- about the economy. I came to talk about how we can get to a place where we’re creating good, middle-class jobs again -– jobs that pay well; jobs that offer economic security. (Applause.) And the renovation of Fort Hayes is a great example of where those jobs can come from if we can finally get our act together in Washington. (Applause.) If we can get folks in that city to stop worrying so much about their jobs and start worrying about your jobs. (Applause.)
Now, yesterday, I sent Congress the American Jobs Act. This is it right here. It’s pretty thick. This is a plan that does two things: It puts people back to work, and it puts more money in the pockets of working Americans. (Applause.) Everything in the American Jobs Act is the kind of proposal that in the past has been supported by both Republicans and Democrats. Everything in it will be paid for. And every one of you can make it happen by sending a message to Congress that says: Pass this bill. (Applause.)
Ohio, if you pass this bill, then right here in this state, tens of thousands of construction workers will have a job again. (Applause.) This is one of the most common-sense ideas out there. All over the country, there are roads and bridges and schools just like Fort Hayes in need of repair. Some of the buildings here at Fort Hayes were originally built during the Civil War. That’s old. (Laughter.) And when buildings are that old, they start falling apart. They start leaking, and ceiling tiles start to cave in, and there’s no heat in the winter or air-conditioning in the summer. Some of the schools the ventilation is so poor it can make students sick.
How do we expect our kids to do their very best in a situation like that? The answer is we can’t. Every child deserves a great school, and we can give it to them, but we got to pass this bill. (Applause.)
Your outstanding Senator, Sherrod Brown, has been fighting to make this happen. (Applause.) And those of you here at Fort Hayes have been making it happen. See, a few years back, you decided to renovate this school. And you didn’t just repair what was broken; you rebuilt this school for the 21st century -– with faster Internet and cutting-edge technology. And that hasn’t just created a better, safer learning environment for the students; it also created good jobs for construction workers.
You just heard Tom say it’s created over 250 jobs for masons and concrete workers and carpenters and plumbers and electricians -– and many of those jobs are filled by the good people of Columbus, Ohio. (Applause.)
But here’s the thing. There are schools all throughout Ohio that need this kind of renovation. There’s a bridge in Cincinnati that connects Ohio to Kentucky that needs this kind of renovation. (Applause.) There are construction projects like these all across the country just waiting to get started. And there are millions of unemployed construction workers who are looking for a job. So my question to Congress is: What on Earth are we waiting for? (Applause.)
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any student to study in broken-down schools. I want our kids to study in great schools. I don’t want the newest airports and the fastest railroads being built in China. I want them being built right here in the United States of America. (Applause.) There is work to be done. There are workers ready to do it. So let’s tell Congress, pass this bill right away. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Pass this bill! Pass this bill! Pass this bill! Pass this bill!
THE PRESIDENT: Pass this jobs bill, and there will be funding to save the jobs of up to 14,000 Ohio teachers and cops and firefighters. (Applause.) Think about it. There are places like South Korea that are adding teachers to prepare their kids for the global economy, at the same time as we’re laying off our teachers left and right; where we’ve got school districts that have eliminated all extracurriculars -- art, sports, you name it.
You’ve got situations where -- I just heard a story from Arne Duncan driving over here. I met this young man yesterday -- he’s a music teacher in Philly, and his budget -- total budget is $100 for teaching music in a whole bunch of schools. So they’re using buckets to do drums because they can’t afford actual musical instruments.
You’ve seen it here in Ohio. Budget cuts are forcing superintendents here in Columbus and all over the state to make layoffs they don’t want to make. It is unfair to our kids, it undermines our future, and it has to stop. Tell Congress to pass the American Jobs Act so we can put our teachers back in the classroom where they belong. (Applause.)
Tell them to pass this bill so we can help the people that create most of the new -- we can help the people who create most of the new jobs in this country. That’s America’s small business owners. It’s all well and good that big corporations have seen their profits roaring back -- that’s good. We want them to be able to hire people as well. But smaller companies haven’t come back.
So this bill cuts taxes for small businesses that hire new employees. It cuts taxes for small businesses that raise salaries for current employees. It cuts small business payroll taxes in half. So let’s tell Congress, instead of just talking about helping America’s job creators, let’s actually do something to help America’s job creators. Let’s pass this bill right away. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Pass this bill! Pass this bill! Pass this bill!
THE PRESIDENT: If Congress passes this jobs bill, companies will get new tax credits for hiring America’s veterans. (Applause.) We ask these men and women to leave their careers, leave their families, risk their lives to make sure that we’re protected. The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home. That’s why Congress needs to pass this bill. It will help hundreds of thousands of veterans all across the country.
It will help hundreds of thousands of young people find summer jobs next year. (Applause.) It’s also got a $4,000 tax credit for companies that hire anybody who’s spent more than six months looking for a job. The American Jobs Act extends unemployment insurance, but it also says if you’re collecting benefits, you’ll get connected to temporary work as a way to build your skills and enhance your résumé while you’re looking for a permanent job. (Applause.)
And, finally, if we get Congress to pass this bill, the typical working family will get $1,500 in tax cuts next year -- (applause) -- $1,500 that would have been taken out of your paycheck will go right back into your pocket. But if Congress doesn’t act, if Congress refuses to pass this bill, then middle-class families will get hit with a tax increase at the worst possible time. Now, we can’t let that happen.
THE PRESIDENT: Some folks have been working pretty hard to keep tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. Tell them they need to fight just as hard -- they need to fight harder -- for middle-class families. Tell them to pass this jobs bill. (Applause.)
So the American Jobs Act will lead to new jobs for construction workers, jobs for teachers, jobs for veterans, jobs for young people, jobs the unemployed. It will provide tax relief for every worker and small business in America. And it will not add to the deficit. It will be paid for. (Applause.)
We will pay for this plan, we’ll pay down our debt, and we’ll do it by following the same principle that every family follows: We’ll make sure that government lives within its means. We’ll cut what we can’t afford to pay for what we really need -– including some cuts we wouldn’t make if we hadn’t racked up so much debt over the last decade.
And here’s the other thing, Columbus. We got to make sure that everybody pays their fair share -- (applause) -- including the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations. (Applause.) After all, we’ve got to decide what our priorities are. Do you want to keep tax loopholes for oil companies?
THE PRESIDENT: Or do you want to renovate more schools like Fort Hayes so that construction workers have jobs again? (Applause.) Do you want to keep tax breaks for multi-millionaires and billionaires?
THE PRESIDENT: Or do you want to put teachers back to work, and help small businesses, and cut taxes for middle-class families? (Applause.)
So, Columbus, we know what’s right. We know what to do to create jobs now, and in the future. We know that if we want businesses to start here and stay here and hire here, we’ve got to out-build and out-educate and out-innovate every country on Earth. We’ve got to start manufacturing. We’ve got to sell more goods around the world that are stamped with three proud words -- “Made in America.” (Applause.)
We need to build an economy that lasts. And, Columbus, that starts now. That starts with your help. Democrats and Republicans have supported every kind of proposal that’s in the American Jobs Act -– and we need to tell them to support those proposals now.
Already, yesterday there were some Republicans quoted in Washington saying that even if they agree with the proposals in the American Jobs Act, they shouldn’t pass it because it would give me a win.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: That’s the kind of games-playing we’ve gotten used to in Washington. Think about that. They supported this stuff in the past, but they’re thinking maybe they don’t do it this time because Obama is promoting it. Give me a win? This isn’t about giving me a win. This isn’t about giving Democrats or Republicans a win. It’s about giving the American people a win. (Applause.) It’s about giving Ohio a win. (Applause.) It’s about your jobs and your lives and your futures, and giving our kids a win. (Applause.)
Maybe there's some people in Congress who'd rather settle our differences at the ballot box than work together right now. But I’ve got news for them: The next election is 14 months away. And the American people don’t have the luxury of waiting that long. You’ve got folks who are living week to week, paycheck to paycheck. They need action, and they need it now.
So I’m asking all of you to lift your voice –- not just here in Columbus, but anybody who is watching, anybody who is listening, anybody who is following online. I need you to call and email and tweet and fax and visit, and tell your congressperson that the time for gridlock and the time for games is over. The time for action is now. (Applause.)
Tell them that if you want to create jobs right now –- pass this bill. (Applause.) If you want construction workers renovating schools like this one -– pass this bill. (Applause.) If you want to put teachers back in the classroom –- pass this bill. If you want tax cuts for middle-class families and small business owners, then what to do you do? Pass this bill.
AUDIENCE: Pass this bill!
THE PRESIDENT: If you want to help our veterans share in the opportunity that they defend -– pass this bill.
Now is the time to act. We’re not a people who just watch things happen. We’re Americans; we make things happen. (Applause.) We are tougher than the times we live in. We are -- bigger than the politics that we've been putting up with. We are patriots and pioneers, and innovators and entrepreneurs, who, through individual effort, but also through a commitment to one another, built an economy that’s the engine and the envy of the world.
We write our own destiny. It’s within our power to write it once more. So let’s meet this moment. Let’s get to work. Let’s show the world once again why the United States of America is the greatest country on Earth. (Applause.)
Thank you very much, Ohio. Thank you, Columbus. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
2:50 P.M. EDT