Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event
Hillsborough Community College
4:18 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, it is good to be back in Tampa, Florida! (Applause.) I was so fired up I missed a stair. (Laughter.) I couldn't wait to get out here. (Applause.) Well, how is everybody doing today? (Applause.)
A couple of people I want to acknowledge -- first of all, the outstanding Mayor of your fair city, Bob Buckhorn is in the house. (Applause.) Florida's own, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Shultz is here. (Applause.) And the chair of the Florida Democratic Party, Rod Smith is in the house. (Applause.)
And all of you are here. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Fired up, ready to go! Fired up, ready to go! Fired up, ready to go!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Listen, Tampa, I'm here not only because I need your help. But I’m also here because the country needs your help. For the last three years, we've been battling our way back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Not only are we digging out of a hole that’s 9 million jobs deep, we’re digging out of an entire decade where manufacturing left our shores; where costs rose but incomes weren’t going up; where middle-class families fell further and further behind. It was a decade where two wars and trillions of dollars in tax cuts were put on our nation’s credit card, turning a record surplus into a record deficit.
Now, today, our economy is growing again, but it needs to grow faster. Our businesses have created over 4 million jobs in the last 27 months. (Applause.) But we need to create more, and they need to pay better. I signed a law that will reduce our deficit by $2 trillion, but we've got to do more work on our deficit. One of the most urgent tasks is recovering from this immediate crisis -- but the economy won’t be truly healthy until we reverse that much longer erosion of the middle class -- (applause) -- until we restore the basic American bargain that says if you work hard in this country, you can get ahead, and own a home, and send your kids to college, and retire with dignity and respect. (Applause.)
Now, here's the thing, Florida. What’s holding us back from meeting these challenges is not the lack of big ideas, it's not the lack of technical solutions. By now, just about every policy and proposal has been laid out there on the table. What is holding us back is a stalemate between two fundamentally different views in Washington about which direction we should go in.
This isn’t just one of the run-of-the-mill political arguments you hear about in Washington sometimes. This is the defining issue of our time. We're in a make-or-break moment for the middle class. And the next President and the next Congress will face a set of decisions -- on the economy, and on the deficit, and on taxes -- that will have an enormous impact on this country not just today but the country that we pass on to our children.
And you know what, the outcome of this decision, this choice, is entirely up to you. It's up to you -- the people of Tampa, the people of Florida, the American people. (Applause.)
Now, Governor Romney and his allies --
AUIDENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: They're patriotic Americans. They've got wonderful families. But they believe that we should go back to the top-down economics of the last decade.
AUDIENCE: Nooo --
THE PRESIDENT: They figure that if we simply eliminate regulations and cut taxes by trillions of dollars, then the market will solve all of our problems. (Baby cries.) You see? You heard that? (Applause.) I'm just saying. (Laughter.)
No, wait, wait, that's their argument. They argue that if we help corporations and wealthy investors maximize their profits by whatever means necessary -- whether through layoffs or outsourcing or union-busting -- that it will automatically translate into jobs and prosperity that benefit all of us. That's their theory. That's their theory.
But I believe they’re wrong. (Applause.) I think they're wrong. I believe we should do everything we can to help our entrepreneurs succeed. (Applause.) I want our companies to be as profitable as they can be. But that alone is not enough. Because the central challenge we face right now -- the challenge that we’ve faced for over a decade -- is that bigger profits haven’t led to better jobs. Bigger profits haven’t led to higher incomes.
And the reason is, in this country, in America, prosperity has never come from the top down -- it comes from a strong and growing middle class, and all those people who are striving and working to get into the middle class. (Applause.) It comes from successful, thriving small businesses that grow into medium-sized businesses, and then large businesses.
We don’t need more top-down economics. What we need is some middle class-out economics, some bottom-up economics. (Applause.) We need a plan for better education and for better training, for energy independence, for innovation, for infrastructure that can rebuild America. (Applause.) What we need is a tax code that encourages companies to create jobs and manufacturing here in the United States -- (applause) -- and that asks the wealthiest Americans to help pay down our deficit, to do their fair share. (Applause.)
Tampa, that’s the way forward. That’s where I want to take this country over these next four years. And that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Now, listen, there’s no mystery about where the other side will take us if they win the election. I mean, their economic plan has been voted on in Congress. Governor Romney has it right there on his website. So, look, first, they promise to roll back all kinds of regulations on banks and polluters and insurance companies and oil companies.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: That’s the first part of their plan. The second part of their plan -- they don’t just want to keep all the Bush tax cuts in place, the ones for the wealthiest Americans, they want to keep those in place; then they want to add another $5 trillion in tax cuts on top of that --
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: -- including a 25 percent tax cut for every millionaire in the country.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Now, I can tell this is a sophisticated group, so -- (laughter) -- so you might be wondering, how do they spend $5 trillion on new tax cuts and then, with a straight face, say that their plan would reduce the deficit? How do they do that? It's a good question. Well, let me tell you, they start by proposing $1 trillion in cuts to things like education and training and medical research and clean energy.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: But that’s not enough. That’s only $1 trillion; they’ve got all this -- $4 trillion to go. So then they propose eliminating health care for about 50 million Americans --
AUDIENCE: Nooo --
THE PRESIDENT: And then they propose turning Medicare into a voucher program. But you know what, that’s still not enough. So, as it was reported in the newspaper just this week, they’ll also have to raise taxes on the middle class by taking away tax deductions for everything from health care to college, to retirement, to homeownership --
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: And that could cost some families thousands of dollars. So think about that. To pay for another $250,000 tax cut for the average millionaire, they want you to foot the bill.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Let me see a show of hands: Is there anybody here who can afford to pay thousands of dollars to give people like me and Mr. Romney another tax cut?
THE PRESIDENT: Come on, go ahead and raise your hand, don’t be shy. (Laughter.)
Now, look, that’s their entire economic plan. That’s it. When Mr. Romney tells us he’s some sort of financial wizard who can fix our economy, that’s how he intends to do it.
And Bill Clinton has pointed out that this Republican agenda, it’s nothing new. It’s nothing more than the same thing we tried during the last administration, except on steroids. (Laughter and applause.)
Now, here’s the thing. I have not seen a single nonpartisan expert say that the other side’s economic plan would actually reduce the deficit in the long term. I haven’t seen a single independent economist say it would create jobs in the short-term. In fact, one said that it would push us even deeper into recession.
But, you know what, if people still think their plan sounds like a good idea -- (baby cries) -- see, somebody is depressed about this plan. They're hearing about it -- (laughter.) I know, it’s heartbreaking. (Laughter.)
But if somebody out there thinks that's a good idea, if they want to give the policies of the last decade another try, then they should vote for Mr. Romney. That's how our democracy works. They should reelect the Republicans who've been running for Congress. That's what our democracy is all about.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: And together, Mr. Romney and a Republican Congress will take America back down this path that we’ve tried, and it didn’t work the last time.
But if you believe we need a better plan -- (applause) -- if you believe we need a middle-class plan -- (applause) -- that grows our economy and shrinks our deficit -- (applause) -- then we need to win this election. (Applause.) We need to move this country forward. (Applause.)
Despite what you’ll hear from the other side, my plan isn’t based on some belief that government has the answer to all our problems. Over the last three years, I’ve cut taxes for the typical working family by $3,600. (Applause.) I’ve cut taxes for small businesses 18 times. (Applause.) I want a government that is leaner and smarter, one that's designed for the 21st century, more responsive to the American people.
So, look, I don’t believe every regulation is smart, or that every tax dollar is spent wisely. I don’t believe that we should be in the business of helping people who refuse to help themselves. But I do share the belief of our first Republican President, a guy from my home state named Abraham Lincoln -- (applause) -- who said that through government, we should do together what we can’t do as well for ourselves. (Applause.)
That’s how we built this country -- together. Sure, Democrats and Republicans have always disagreed on certain policies and programs. But throughout our history, at least our modern history, there’s been a shared belief that we’re a great market economy, but the market can’t solve all its problems on our own.
So that’s why FDR worked with Republicans and Democrats to send a generation of returning veterans to college on the GI Bill –- (applause) -- an investment that led to the largest middle-class, the most prosperous economy in our history. (Applause.) They understood that people succeed when they have a chance to get a decent education and learn new skills -- and the businesses that hire those people benefit, as well, and the companies they start benefit, as well. That was not just a Democratic belief. That was an American belief. (Applause.)
President Eisenhower, a Republican, he launched the Interstate Highway System and a new generation of scientific research. He understood that for companies to grow and hire, they need access to the best transportation, and the fastest communication, the most cutting-edge innovation.
Ronald Reagan worked with Democrats to save Social Security and pay down the deficit by, yes, asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more in taxes. (Applause.) They understood that our economy is stronger when we don’t balance our budget on the backs of middle-class and poor Americans. We do it best when everybody does their fair share. (Applause.)
So Governor Romney and the Republican leaders in Congress, they’ve rejected what used to be this bipartisan tradition. They’ve opted for top-down, on-your-own economics that has never succeeded in this country. And I've got a different view. I have an economic plan based on the shared vision that’s always worked for America’s middle class and all those striving to get there -- (applause) -- a plan focused on education and energy and innovation and infrastructure, and a tax code that is fair and responsible. (Applause.) That's how we’re going to build this country. That's why I’m running for President of the United States. (Applause.)
So first, we’re going to make sure that every American has a chance to get the skills and training that today’s jobs require. My plan would recruit an army of new teachers -- (applause) -- pay them better, hire more teachers in areas like math and science. (Applause.) I want to give 2 million more Americans the chance to go to community colleges like this one, and learn skills that local businesses are looking for right now. (Applause.) I want to make higher education affordable for every American who’s willing to work for it -- (applause) -- not just by offering more loans and financial aid, but also by getting schools to hold down the cost of college tuition. (Applause.)
Second, under my plan, we’re going to move towards a future where we control our own energy. That’s something that’s good for our economy, good for our environment, good for our national security. (Applause.) So we need to end government subsidies to oil companies -- they’re making a lot of money on their own. Let’s double -- (applause) -- on wind power and solar power, biofuels and fuel-efficient cars. (Applause.) I want to put in place a new standard that makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy for every business in America.
Number three -- we’re going to make sure the United States of America is the best place on Earth for innovation and science and discovery. (Applause.) So my plan would give companies a permanent tax credit for research and development that they do here in America. We’ll double down on public research that laid the foundation for the Internet and GPS and Google, and all the companies and jobs that followed. That’s who we are. We are innovators. We create things. We don’t just buy things from other countries. (Applause.) We create things here in America, and build them here in America.
And then we’re going to take half the money we’re no longer spending on war -- (applause) -- and we’re going to use it to do some nation-building here at home. (Applause.) If we want businesses to thrive here, we've got to put people back to work rebuilding our roads and our runways, our wireless networks, our ports. And what I’m pushing for is an independent fund that will attract private dollars and issue loans for new construction projects just based on two criteria: how badly are they needed and how much good will they do for the economy. We don’t need bridges to nowhere. We need bridges to help businesses move goods and services and people all across the country and all around the world. (Applause.)
And fifth, we’re going to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion. I have a detailed plan. We’ll cut spending we can’t afford. We’ll strengthen programs like Medicare for the long haul. We can reform our tax code in a way that is fair and responsible -- which, by the way, means let’s stop giving tax breaks to businesses that ship jobs and factories overseas. (Applause.) Let’s reward companies that create jobs in manufacturing right here in the United States of America. (Applause.)
My plan will stop giving tax breaks to businesses that ship jobs and factories overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs and manufacturing right here in the United States of America. (Applause.)
Now, Mr. Romney disagrees with this. Today, it was reported in The Washington Post that the companies his firm owned were "pioneers" in the outsourcing of American jobs to places like China and India.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Pioneers. Let me tell you, Tampa, we do not need an outsourcing pioneer in the Oval Office. (Applause.) We need a President who will fight for American jobs and fight for American manufacturing. That’s what my plan will do. That's why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: And, look, to get our deficit under control without sacrificing all the investments I’ve talked about -- everything that we need to grow the economy -- my plan, yes, will ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more -- just like they did when Bill Clinton was President -- (applause) -- just like they did when our economy created 23 million new jobs, and the biggest budget surplus in history, and a whole lot of millionaires to boot. And there are -- look, there are plenty of patriotic, very successful Americans who’d be willing to make this contribution again. (Applause.) Because they believe in this country.
So this is about choices. I don’t believe that giving millionaires and billionaires a $250,000 tax cut is more valuable to our future than hiring transformative teachers, or providing financial aid to kids who need it to go to college. (Applause.) I don’t believe that kind tax cut is more likely to create jobs than providing loans to new entrepreneurs, or tax credits to small businesses who hire veterans. (Applause.) I don’t think it’s more likely to spur economic growth than our investments in clean energy and medical research, in building new roads and bridges and expanding our ports and our runways.
So Governor Romney disagrees with my vision. And his allies in Congress disagree with my vision. Neither of them will endorse any policy that asks the wealthiest Americans to pay even a nickel more in taxes. Not a penny more. It’s the reason -- that's the reason we haven't reached an agreement on how to reduce our deficit. That's the reason my jobs bill that would put a million more people back to work has been voted down by Republicans in Congress time and time again. It is the biggest source of gridlock in Washington, and has been over the last three years.
So, Tampa, here's the thing. Only you can break that stalemate. (Applause.) In this election, you have the final say about where we go. After a decade of war that’s cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, you can decide whether we keep our brave men and women in Afghanistan indefinitely, like Mr. Romney wants to do, or whether we stick to the timeline that will finally bring our troops home. (Applause.)
You can decide -- did something just fall down there? That's why we need infrastructure, right there. (Applause.)
You can decide whether we're going to have another political fight about ending a woman’s right to choose, and getting rid of Planned Parenthood, and taking away access to birth control. Or you can decide that women should control their own health care choices. (Applause.)
You can decide, you choose whether to re-fight the battles we just had over financial reform and health care reform. Or you can decide that ending taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street banks was the right thing to do, and that allowing 3 million young people to stay on their parent's health insurance is the right thing to do, and that preventing insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions is the right thing to do. (Applause.) You can decide.
You can decide whether we’re going back to the days when you could be kicked out of the United States military just because of who you are and who you love. (Applause.)
You can decide whether it’s time to stop denying citizenship to responsible young people just because they’re the children of undocumented immigrants. (Applause.)
You can decide that this is -- becomes the last election where multi-million dollar donations that are undisclosed somehow speak louder than the voices of ordinary citizens. (Applause.)
So you know what, Tampa, this is up to you. This is up to you. From now until November, the other side will spend more money than we have ever seen in the history of the Republic. And all that money is going to be spent on ads telling you that the economy is bad, it’s all my fault, and I can’t fix it because government is always the answer, according to me. (Laughter.) Or because I didn’t make a lot of money in the private sector, or because I’m in over my head, or because I think everybody is doing just fine. (Laughter.) They will have ad after ad after ad, and all them will have scary voices. (Laughter.) They’ll have pictures of me looking all old and -- (laughter) -- broke down. You’ve seen those ads. You’ve seen them. That’s what Mr. Romney is going to say. That’s what the Republicans in Congress will say.
And that may be their plan to win an election, but it’s sure not a plan to create jobs. (Applause.) It’s not a plan to grow the economy. It’s not a plan to pay down the debt. It’s not a plan to restore the middle class and restore the American Dream. (Applause.)
You deserve better than that. (Applause.) At such a big moment in our history, at a time when so many people are struggling, you deserve a real debate about the economic plans we’re proposing. And then, make a choice -- if there’s anybody who believes the best way to grow our economy and create jobs is eliminating regulations and cutting $5 trillion worth of taxes, they should vote for Governor Romney and the Republicans who run Congress. God bless them.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Because those folks -- because that’s what they’re proposing. They are more than qualified to take us in that direction.
But if you believe we need a plan for education and energy, and innovation and infrastructure -- (applause) -- if you believe this economy grows best when everybody has got a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same rules; if you believe that everybody should be able to succeed, if they’re working hard, no matter where they come from or what they look like, what their last name is or who they love -- then I ask that you stand with me for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: In fact, I ask everybody -- I want you guys -- vote for anybody else -- Democrat, independent, or a Republican who shares this belief in how we grow an economy that is good for everybody and not just some. I will work with anybody of any party who believes that we’re in this together -- (applause) -- who believes that we rise or fall as one nation and one people. (Applause.)
Don’t let anybody tell you we lack the capacity to meet our challenges. We’re Americans. The only thing lacking right now is our politics. And we can solve that. That’s what your vote is for.
So I need you to hit the doors. I need you to make some phone calls. (Applause.) I need you to register your friends, get your family members going. Get on Facebook, get on Twitter. (Applause.)
I know since the last time I ran that my hair is a little grayer -- (laughter) -- and I know that we’ve been through some tough times together. But I promised you back in 2008 that I would always tell you what I thought and I’d always tell you where I stood. And I promised you that I would wake up every single day thinking about you and fighting for you. (Applause.) And, Tampa, I have kept that promise. (Applause.) I have kept that promise. I still believe in you. I need you to sill believe in me. (Applause.)
And if we’re out there working together, we can finish what we started and remind the world how a strong economy is built, and why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.
God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)
4:52 P.M. EDT