Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event
The Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theaterr
Miami Beach, Florida
8:01 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Miami! (Applause.) Thank you. It is good to be back in Miami. (Applause.)
Now, let me just, first of all, recognize a few people who are here. First of all, wasn’t Maytee wonderful? Give her a big round of applause. (Applause.) She is an example of what this campaign is all about. And I could not be prouder to have folks like her involved every single day, out there in the grassroots, making a difference. So, all of you who are out there volunteering, knocking on doors, making phone calls, I love you and I’m grateful to you. (Applause.)
A couple of other people I want to acknowledge -- first of all, outstanding Congresswoman and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in the house. (Applause.) We love Debbie. My Florida finance chair, Kirk Wager, is here. (Applause.) Abigail and F.J. Pollack did a great job -- thank you. (Applause.) I want to thank Enrique Santos for emceeing. (Applause.) Somebody who has become just a great friend and an extraordinary person, and also sings and dances pretty good -- Marc Anthony. (Applause.)
Finally, it would be incomplete if I did not congratulate the city of Miami for having the world champion Miami Heat here in town. (Applause.) You guys earned it. And since one of my favorite people is Alonzo Mourning, who’s here, and Tracy Mourning, I just wanted to give them a special shout-out. (Applause.) Alonzo looks like he can still play. (Laughter.) Hasn’t aged a bit -- unbelievable. I’m getting all gray, and he just looks the same. (Laughter.) Except he doesn’t have that flattop. (Laughter.)
Now, Miami, I’m here not just because I need your help -- although I do, and I will get to that.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.)
But I’m mainly here because your country needs your help.
Back in 2008, we came together to reclaim the basic bargain that built this country, the essence of America, what created the largest middle class and the most prosperous economy on Earth. We came together because we believe that in America, your success shouldn’t be determined by the circumstances of your birth. If you’re willing to work hard, you should be able to find a good job. (Applause.) If you’re willing to meet your responsibilities, you should be able to own a home, maybe start a business; give your children a chance to do even better than you did -- no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you came from, no matter what your last name, no matter who you love. That is the promise of America. (Applause.)
And we came together in 2008 because we felt that basic bargain, that simple dream was slipping away for too many people, and it had been for a decade. We’d gone through a decade where manufacturing was leaving our shores, and a surplus had turned to a deficit; a few folks were doing really well but more and more people were struggling to get by, no matter how hard they worked. And the costs of health care and college were going up and up and up, and people were borrowing with credit cards and home equity loans to try to maintain their standard of living. But it just got harder and harder. And all this culminated in the worst economic crisis that we’ve seen in our lifetimes. And because of that crisis, that dream felt like it was even farther away.
Now, the good news is the American people are tougher than tough times. And over the last three and half years we’ve fought back. (Applause.) And when some said let’s let Detroit go bankrupt, we believed in the American worker and we believed in American manufacturing, and now Detroit is back on top and we are selling cars all over the world. (Applause.) People who lost their jobs went back and got retrained -- maybe a 50-year-old sitting back in a classroom in a community college, and suddenly finding an entire new career opening up to him. Small businesses, through the SBA, were able to get some financing and keep their doors open and keep their payrolls, and make sure that the families who depended on that business were still able to succeed.
Now, we’ve still got a long way to go. We lost 9 million jobs in that recession. And although we’ve created more than 4 million since I’ve taken office, and 800,000 in the last few months alone -- (applause) -- this has been a steep climb. And we understand from our friends and our neighbors in our own lives how much more work we have to do. Too many folks out there still without a job; too many people here in Florida still seeing their homes underwater. So we understand how much work we have left.
But the debate in this election is not whether we need to do better. Everybody understands the economy is not where it needs to be. A lot of folks are still struggling -- we’ve got to do better. The debate in this election, though, is about how do we do better -- how do we grow our economy faster? How do we create more good jobs? How do we pay down our debt? How do we reclaim that basic bargain and rebuild our middle class that has made us the greatest nation on Earth? That’s the question in this election. That’s the choice in this election. (Applause.)
And this is not just a manufactured debate. This is not one of those Washington-Beltway-insider arguments that don’t mean anything. This is the defining issue of our time. It’s a make-or-break moment for the middle class, but also for all those folks who still aspire to the middle class, who are still trying to climb into a life of security for their families. The next President, the next Congress, is going to face a set of decisions on the economy and on deficits and on taxes that will have an enormous impact not just on our country today, but on the country that we pass on to the next generation.
And understand that what’s holding us back from meeting these challenges is not the lack of technical solutions; it’s not the lack of big ideas. What’s holding up back right now is we’ve got a stalemate in Washington. We’ve got a stalemate between two fundamentally different views, two fundamentally different visions of where this country should go.
And you know who’s going to break that stalemate? You. You’re going to break that stalemate. This election is your chance to move this country forward and make sure it does not go backwards. (Applause.)
So let me just break down this choice, because I want everybody to be very clear about it. Governor Romney and his allies believe that we should go back to the top-down economics of the last decade.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: They believe that if we eliminate regulations and we cut taxes by trillions of dollars, we just leave the market alone, that everybody will prosper. They argue that if we help corporations and wealthy investors maximize their profits by whatever means necessary -- whether it means layoffs or outsourcing or union busting or whatever means are available
-- that that will automatically translate into jobs and prosperity that benefit everybody.
Last week it was reported Governor Romney’s old firm owned companies that, according to this article, were pioneers in the business of outsourcing American jobs to places like China and India. And yesterday his advisors were asked about this, and they tried to clear it up by explaining that there’s actually a difference between outsourcing and offshoring. (Laughter.) I’m not making that up. You can’t make something like that up. (Laughter.)
Now, if you’re a worker whose job just went overseas, you really aren’t looking for somebody to explain to you the difference between offshoring and outsourcing. What you need is somebody who’s going to wake up every single day fighting for your job, fighting for American jobs. That’s what you want. (Applause.)
You want somebody who will close the outsourcing loopholes in our tax code. You want somebody who will give tax breaks to companies that create jobs in manufacturing here in the United States, not ship them overseas. (Applause.)
And the reason this is relevant is because this is part of their overall economic vision, an overall economic plan that he and the Republicans in Congress share and they will implement if they are elected. And it’s there for all to see it -- they put it on the table. It’s been voted on in Congress. It’s right on Governor Romney’s website. They’re going to rollback all kinds of regulations on banks and polluters and insurance companies and oil companies. That’s part one of the plan.
Part two of the plan is not only to keep all the Bush tax cuts in place, including for the wealthiest Americans, but also add another $5 trillion in tax cuts on top of that, which includes a 25 percent tax cut for every millionaire in the country.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Now, you may be wondering -- because I can tell this is a smart crowd -- (laughter) -- how do they spend $5 trillion on new tax cuts and then claim that their plan would reduce the deficit? That’s a good question. (Laughter.)
They start by proposing a trillion dollars in cuts to things like education and training and medical research and clean energy -- $1 trillion out of that part of the budget that is helping to make us more competitive. But that’s not enough. They also proposed eliminating health care for about 50 million Americans and turning Medicare into a voucher program.
But that’s still not enough. It still doesn’t get you to $5 trillion. So they’ll also then have to eliminate deductions, which effectively will raise taxes on the middle class by taking away tax benefits for everything from health care, college, retirement, homeownership -- so that could cost middle-class families thousands of dollars.
That’s their entire economic plan. That’s it. So when Mr. Romney says he’s some financial wizard who can fix our economy, that’s exactly how he intends to do it.
Now, there are folks out there who think this plan sounds like a good idea. They want to give the policies of the last decade another try. And if so, they should vote for Mr. Romney. They should reelect the Republicans who have been running Congress. Together, they will take America down this path. They are more than qualified to do it. They will do it. Take them at their word, they will do it. (Laughter and applause.)
But you and I remember how it worked out the last time we tried this philosophy. These policies have been tested, and they have failed. And the reason is because there’s another vision out there for America -- the one I believe in, the one you believe in. A vision that says, prosperity never comes from the top down; it comes from a strong and growing middle class, and all those strivers who are fighting to get into the middle class, and successful, thriving small businesses that become medium-sized businesses and big businesses.
We don’t need more top-down economics. We need a plan for better education and training and energy independence and innovation and new infrastructure, and we need a tax code that encourages companies to keep jobs here in the United States and asks wealthy Americans to help pay down our deficit -- that’s what we need. That’s what we’re fighting for. And that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States of America. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Listen, listen, Miami, we do not expect government to solve all our problems. This notion that somehow all we believe in are government solutions -- look at the record. Over the last three years, I cut taxes for the typical working family by $3,600. (Applause.) Cut taxes for small businesses 18 times. Eliminated billions of dollars of regulations that don’t make sense -- aren’t making people safer or healthier. I don’t believe we should be in the business of helping people who refuse to help themselves. I believe in individual responsibility. (Applause.)
I believe no education program is going to be better than parents doing their job at making sure that kids are instilled with a love of learning. But I do share the belief of our first Republican President, a guy named Abraham Lincoln, that through our government we should do together what we can’t do as well for ourselves. (Applause.)
The belief that we are a team, that’s how we built this country -- together. We built railroads and highways, the Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Interstate Highway System, the Transcontinental Railroad -- we built those things together. We sent my grandfather’s generation to college on the GI Bill. We did that together. (Applause.) We made investments in sending a man to the moon and helping to create the Internet -- we did those things together.
We did those things because there is such a thing as a common good. There’s the understanding that these investments we make, make us all richer. They give us all opportunity. We don’t do it just for one person or for one group. We understand that we move forward as one nation and as one people. That’s the lesson of our past. That’s the right vision for our future. That’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States. I believe in that vision. I believe in it. (Applause.)
I’m running to make sure that every American, every young
person has a chance to get the skills and training that today’s
jobs require. And that's why we want to recruit an army of new teachers and pay them better, and hire them in areas like math and science, and give 2 million more Americans the chance to go to community colleges to upgrade their skills to get the jobs that local businesses are looking for right now. (Applause.)
That's why we want to make higher education affordable for every young person who is willing to work for it, not just by offering loans and grants, but also by getting schools to hold down their college tuition. It's the right thing to do. That's the choice in this election, and that's why I'm running for President. (Applause.)
I want us to be in control of our own energy future. That's good for our economy, our security. It's good for our planet. That's why we need to end government subsidies for oil companies that are already making a lot of money. (Applause.) Let's double down on investments in clean energy -- in solar and wind and biodiesel, fuel-efficient cars. That would be good for all of us.
I want to make sure that America continues to be the best place for innovation and discovery. It's why we need to continue investing in research and development. And after a decade of war, it's time for us to start doing some nation-building here at home. (Applause.)
I ended the war in Iraq, as I promised. We are winding down the war in Afghanistan. I want to take half the money we’re no longer spending on war and put it to use putting people back to work rebuilding our roads and our runways and our ports and our wireless networks. That’s the choice in this election. (Applause.)
The other side will say, well, we can't afford to do all that -- deficits, debt, that's our problem. Well, I put forward a plan that will reduce our deficit by $4 trillion in a way that’s balanced and responsible, a detailed plan that cuts spending we can’t afford -- and there's waste in government programs that don't work -- that also strengthens programs like Medicare for the long haul, and reforms our tax code so that the wealthiest Americans pay a little more.
And, by the way, that approach -- just like their approach has been tested, our approach has been tested, because that formula of a tax code that is balanced and fair is what produced those surpluses under Bill Clinton. (Applause.) It's what got our economy creating 23 million new jobs. (Applause.) It's what got the engines of our economy moving. And, by the way, it was good for business. We created a lot of millionaires and a lot of billionaires during those times, because they had a lot of customers for their services and their products. (Applause.) And there are a lot of patriotic, successful Americans -- including here tonight -- who would be willing to do a little bit more for their country because they understand the concept of a common good. They understand we're in it together.
Now, Governor Romney disagrees with my vision. That's what democracy is all about -- we choose. His allies in Congress disagree with my vision. They’ve got a different approach. Neither of them will endorse any policy that asks folks like me or Marc Anthony -- (laughter) -- to pay even a nickel more in taxes. That's the reason we haven’t reached an agreement on our deficit. It’s the reason my jobs bill that independent economists say would put an additional million people back to work has been voted down time and time again. It’s the biggest source of gridlock in Washington these last three years.
And the folks who can break this stalemate are you.
(Applause.) You can decide. On every challenge we face, you get the final say. That's how our democracy works. You can decide. You can decide whether we decide to keep our brave men and women in Afghanistan indefinitely, as Mr. Romney wants to do, or whether we stick to the timeline that I set that will finally bring our troops home. (Applause.) That will be your decision.
You can decide whether or not we go back to restricting access to birth control or defunding Planned Parenthood, or whether you believe that women in America should control their own health choices. That will be your decision. (Applause.)
You can decide whether we should roll back Wall Street regulations that we put in place to prevent taxpayer bailouts and to protect consumers. You can decide whether it makes sense, as Mr. Romney wants to do, to roll back the reforms that we put in place that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against people who are sick.
I believe it's the right thing to do. I believe health reform was the right thing to do. I believe it was right to make sure that over 3 million young people can stay on their parent's health insurance plan. (Applause.) I believe it was right to provide more discounts for seniors on their prescription drugs. I believe it was right to make sure that everybody in this country gets decent health care and is not bankrupt when they get sick. (Applause.) That's what I believe. But it's up to you. You decide.
It's your decision whether we go back to the days when you could be kicked out of the U.S. military just because of who you are and who you love. (Applause.) I believe ending "don't ask, don't tell" was the right thing to do. (Applause.)
You can decide whether or not it makes sense to stop denying the opportunity of responsible young people -- to allow them to stay here and prosper here and get educated here, just because they’re the children of undocumented immigrants. (Applause.) They are Americans through and through, except for their papers. I believe it was the right thing to do. (Applause.) But, ultimately, it's up to you. (Applause.)
And you know what, you can also decide whether we're going to continue to have elections decided by multimillion dollar donations, instead of the voices of ordinary citizens.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: This is going to be a close election. It's going to be close because there are a lot of folks still struggling out there. But it's also going to be close because the other side will spend more money than at any time in United States history on negative ads that have a very simple message. They will say the economy is bad and it's all my fault. (Laughter.) That will be their message. I mean, they will have variations to the same theme. They'll say, well, he can't fix it because he thinks government is always the answer, or he can't fix it because he didn’t make a lot of money in the private sector, or he is in over his head, or he thinks everybody is doing just fine.
That’s what the scary voices in the ads will be saying. That’s what Mitt Romney will say. That’s what the Republicans in Congress will say. And since you are in a battleground state, you will hear this a lot.
And I understand it's a theory to win an election. It's sure not a plan to create jobs. (Applause.) It's not a plan to grow our economy. It's not a plan to restore the American Dream.
And so, ultimately, the question for all of you is how much are you willing to fight for this? (Applause.) If you agree with me and if you believe this economy grows best when everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair share and everybody is playing by the same set of rules -- if you believe in the common good, if you believe we’re a team, if you believe we do best when we work together, then I’m going to need you. And I’m going to need you to go out there and work hard.
And by the way, this is not a Democratic idea or a Republican idea. You vote for anybody -- Republican, Democrat, independent -- anybody who shares these values and shares this vision, because there was a time when Republicans would express these same values and these same visions. And I think there are a lot of Republicans and independents out there who recognize that we can’t go back to you’re-on-your-own economics, that don’t believe we should just tell the young person who can’t afford college, you’re on your own, or tell somebody who’s working hard, but doesn’t have health care, tough luck.
But it’s going to require us to work hard. It’s going to require us to have faith. In 2008, I used to tell you, in the height of all the excitement, I would remind people I'm not a perfect man, and I said I’d never be a perfect President --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You are! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: But what I said was -- I made a promise -- I said I’d always tell you where I stood, and I’d always tell you what I believed, and I would work as hard as I could, as hard as I knew how, every single day, every minute of every day, for you. (Applause.) That I would be thinking about you, and I’d be fighting for you and advocating for you -- (applause) -- for all those folks out there all across the country who know what struggle is, but also know what it means to overcome struggle.
And I’ve kept that promise. I’ve kept that promise because my faith in the American people is undiminished. And as I travel across the country, I see your decency and I see your strength and I see your resilience, and I am inspired. And so I am just as determined as I ever have been. (Applause.)
I believe in this country and I believe in you. And if you still believe in me, I’m going to need you to stand with me in this election -- (applause) -- and get on the phone, and knock on doors, and talk to your friends, and talk to your neighbors. And we are going to fight, and we are going to struggle, and we're going to finish what we started in 2008, and remind the world just why it is that America is the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)
God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
8:30 P.M. EDT