Weekly Address: It’s Time for Congress to Get to Work
President Obama speaks to the American people from a Honeywell manufacturing facility in Minnesota about his proposal to make it easier for companies to hire our returning service members for jobs that utilize their skills and help grow our economy.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Jobs for America’s Veterans
Golden Valley, Minnesota
June 2, 2012
Today I’m at one of Honeywell’s manufacturing facilities in Golden Valley, Minnesota, where I just announced a step that will make it easier for companies to hire returning service members who have the skills our country needs right now. It’s another part of our effort to make sure that no American who fights for this country abroad has to fight for a job when they come home. That’s why businesses like Honeywell are answering our challenge to hire 100,000 post-9/11 veterans and their spouses by the end of next year. That’s why I’ve directed the government to hire over 200,000 veterans so far – because our economy needs their tremendous talent, and because millions of Americans are still looking for a job.
Right now, this country is still fighting our way back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The economy is growing again, but it’s not growing fast enough. Our businesses have created almost 4.3 million new jobs over the last twenty-seven months, but as we learned in this week’s jobs report, we’re not creating them fast enough. And just like last year at this time, our economy faces some serious headwinds. Gas prices are starting to come down again, but when they spiked over the last few months, it hit people’s wallets pretty hard. The crisis in Europe’s economy has cast a shadow on our own. And all of this makes it even more challenging to fully recover and lay the foundation for an economy that’s built to last.
But from the moment we first took action to prevent another depression, we knew the road to recovery wouldn’t be easy. We knew it would take time, that there would be ups and downs along the way. But we also knew that if we were willing to act wisely, and boldly, and together; if we were willing to keep at it, and never quit, we would come back stronger.
Nothing has shaken my faith in that belief. We will come back stronger. We do have better days ahead. And that’s because of you. I would place my bet on American workers and American businesses any day of the week. You’re the reason our auto industry has come roaring back. You’re the reason manufacturing is hiring at its fastest pace since the 1990s. You work hard. You play by the rules. And what you deserve are leaders who will do the same; who will do whatever it takes to fight for the middle-class and grow this economy faster. Because while we can’t fully control everything that happens in other parts of the world, there are plenty of things we can control here at home. There are plenty of steps we can take right now to help create jobs and grow this economy.
I sent Congress a jobs bill last September full of the kinds of bipartisan ideas that would have put our fellow Americans back to work and helped reinforce our economy against those outside shocks. I sent them a plan that would have reduced the deficit by $4 trillion in a way that’s balanced – that pays for the job-creating investments we need by cutting unnecessary spending and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes.
Since then, Congress has only passed a few parts of that jobs bill, like a tax cut that’s allowing working Americans to keep more of your paycheck every week. That was important. But Congress hasn’t acted on enough of the other ideas in that bill that would make a difference and help create jobs right now. And there’s no excuse for that. Not when so many people are looking for work. Not when so many people are struggling to pay the bills.
So my message to Congress is, get to work.
Right now, Congress should pass a bill to help states prevent more layoffs, so we can put thousands of teachers and firefighters and police officers back on the job. Congress should have passed a bill a long time ago to put thousands of construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our runways. Instead of just talking a good game about job creators, Congress should give small business owners a tax break for hiring more workers and paying them higher wages. Let’s get that done.
Right now, Congress should give every responsible homeowner the opportunity to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage. Next week, there’s a vote in Congress on a bill that would give working women the tools they need to demand equal pay for equal work. Ensuring paycheck fairness for women should be a no brainer. And they need to pass that bill.
Right now, Congress also needs to extend the tax credits for clean energy manufacturers that are set to expire at the end of the year – so that we don’t walk away from 40,000 good jobs. And it’s long past time for Congress to end the tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and use that money to cover moving expenses for companies that are bringing jobs back to America.
It’s not lost on anyone, least of all me, that this is an election year. But we’ve got responsibilities that are bigger than an election. We’ve got responsibilities to you. With so many people struggling to get by, now is not the time to play politics. Now is not the time for Congress to sit on its hands. The American people expect their leaders to work hard, no matter what year it is. That’s what I intend to do. And I expect Democrats and Republicans to join me.