Remarks by the President at Ohio University, Athens, OH
6:10 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Ohio! (Applause.) How’s it going, Bobcats? (Applause.) Are you fired up? (Applause.) Are you ready to go? (Applause.) Boy, this is a good crowd. (Applause.) It’s a big crowd and a good-looking crowd. (Applause.) The weather is perfect. Who arranged the weather? Good job. (Laughter.)
Can everybody please give a big round of applause for Shannon for the great introduction. (Applause.) Please give a round of applause to my great friend, your former governor, Ted Strickland is in the house. (Applause.) And your outstanding Mayor, Paul Wiehl is here. (Applause.)
And of course, all of you are here. (Applause.) I came here today because I heard you’ve got a pretty fun football team to watch. (Applause.) Undefeated, if I'm not mistaken. (Applause.) A shot at the MAC Championship. (Applause.) Maybe a BCS bid. (Applause.) I just want to point out that I was pushing for a playoff system -- we got a playoff system. One more promise kept, for those of you who are following college football. (Laughter.) But it is outstanding the Bobcats are doing so well, so I want to wish you guys luck in the upcoming season. (Applause.)
I also came here today, Ohio, because I want your vote. (Applause.) I want your vote. I am not too proud to beg. I want you to vote. (Applause.) And the good news is you can vote in Ohio right now. Find out where at Vote.BarackObama.com. If you live nearby, you can vote just a few blocks away at 15 South Court Street -- 15 South Court Street. (Applause.) Everybody knows where that is. If not, find out.
I know a bunch of folks are meeting there at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow to vote together. So what do you say, Ohio? Can you grab some friends -- go vote? (Applause.) Go vote. See, my assumption is if you're here you're going to vote. So you’ve got to go back to your dorm, grab that guy who’s sitting there eating chips, watching SportsCenter. (Laughter.) Tell him he’s got to vote, too.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you, Barack!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.)
Now, we had our second presidential debate last night. (Applause.) I'm still trying to get the hang of this thing. (Laughter.) But there are a couple of things that I noticed that keeps on recurring in this debate and during the course of this campaign. Governor Romney continues to run around talking about his five-point plan for the economy.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Wait, wait, wait. Don't boo -- vote. (Applause.)
But as we saw last night, the five-point plan really boils down to one point -- folks at the very top get to play by a different set of rules than you do. So they can pay lower taxes. They can use offshore accounts. They can buy a company, load it up with debt, lay off the workers, strip away the pensions, send the jobs overseas -- and still make a big profit doing it. It’s the same philosophy that’s been squeezing middle-class families for over a decade. It’s the same philosophy that got us into this mess. And I have seen too much pain and struggle here in Ohio and all across the country to let us go down that path again.
We cannot grow this economy from the top down. We grow it from the middle out. We're not going backwards, we're going forward. (Applause.) That's why I'm running for a second term for President, and that's why I want your vote! (Applause.)
So he’s trying to sell you on this five-point plan. Then he tries to take another stab at trying to sell you on his $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthy. He says it's not going to raise the deficit. I'm going to lower taxes for middle-class folks. We're not going to, in any way, give a tax break to the well-to-do folks, even though he said during the Republican primary he was going to cut taxes for the top 1 percent.
Then, when you ask him, all right, if you're going to pay for all this, how are you going to pay for it -- couldn't tell you; said he was going to pay for it by cutting Planned Parenthood and Big Bird.
THE PRESIDENT: That's what he said. And then, when you keep on pressing him, he says, I said I was going to do it. I was a businessman, so you should just take my word for it.
Now, here's a tip: When a politician tells you that he's going to tell you what he's going to do after the election, but he can't tell you now, it's not because the plan is so good that he doesn't want to let you in on it. It's not because he wants to give you this great surprise later on. It's because he knows it won't work.
Everybody who has looked at this tax plan of his says he can't pay for it without either blowing up the deficit, or by raising taxes on middle-class families.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Don't boo --
THE PRESIDENT: -- vote.
So then, Governor Romney says, well, I've got a plan to create 12 million jobs in the next four years.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: In China. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: My guy here said, “In China.” (Laughter.)
Now, when folks started going through these numbers, his jobs plan fell apart even faster than his tax plan. The Washington Post called it “bait and switch” -- bait and switch. I mean, here's a guy whose -- part of his tax plan is to give tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas. He's invested in companies that were called "pioneers” of outsourcing. Does that sound like a 12-million job plan to you?
THE PRESIDENT: That's the right answer. (Laughter.)
So let’s recap here. He's got a tax plan that doesn’t add up. He's got a jobs plan that doesn’t create jobs. He's got a deficit plan that doesn't reduce the deficit. You’ve heard of the New Deal, Ohio. You’ve heard of the Fair Deal. Mitt Romney’s trying to sell you a Sketchy Deal. (Applause.) But we’re not buying it. We know better, because this is the same sketchy deal that we were sold back in the previous administration.
We tried it. It didn't work. We're not going back. We're moving forward. I need you to finish what we started. (Applause.) That's why I'm asking for your vote. 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: Now, then last night, the issue of keeping promises came up. So I had to remind people, four years ago I promised to end the war in Iraq -- and I did. (Applause.) I said we’d end the war in Afghanistan -- and we are. (Applause.) I said we’d refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11 -- and bin Laden is dead. (Applause.)
Four years ago, I promised to cut taxes for middle-class families -- and we have, by $3,600. (Applause.) I promised to cut taxes for small business owners -- and we have, 18 times. (Applause.) I said we'd put an end to taxpayer-funded bailouts. We got every dime back that we used to rescue the banks and we passed a law to end those bailouts for good. (Applause.)
As Shannon just told you, I promised to pass health reform so that your insurance companies can't jerk you around, so that young people can stay on their parent's plan until they're 26 -- (applause) -- so that people with preexisting conditions can get health insurance -- (applause) -- so that women aren't being charged more than men for the same insurance. (Applause.)
I promised we'd repeal "don’t ask, don’t tell" -- (applause) -- because my attitude is anybody who's willing to serve our military and sacrifice for us, it shouldn't matter who they love. (Applause.) When Governor Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt, we said, thanks, but no thanks. We won’t take your vast business advice. We’re going to support the auto industry. We’re going to bet on American workers -- because we knew that one in eight Ohio jobs is supported by the auto industry. And that industry has come roaring back to the top of the world. (Applause.)
Four years ago, I said I would do everything I could, every single day, to dig us out of the hole we were left. And because of the incredible resilience of the American people, four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, we are moving forward again. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month. Now we’ve added more than 5 million new jobs, more manufacturing jobs than any time since the 1990s. The unemployment rate has fallen from 10 percent to 7.8 percent. Foreclosures are at their lowest in five years. Home values are on the rise. Stock market has doubled. Manufacturing is coming back. Assembly lines are putting folks back to work. That's what we’ve been fighting for. Those are the promises I’ve kept. (Applause.)
Now, for all the progress we’ve made, we’ve got more work to do. There are too many folks out there still looking for work. There are too many folks out there who are still having trouble paying the bills. And that's why we’ve got to keep moving forward to build on what we’ve already done. (Applause.)
Yesterday I talked about a concrete, specific plan to create jobs -- to create more security for the middle class. It starts, number one, with building on the manufacturing progress we’ve already made. Let’s stop outsourcing jobs. Let’s export products stamped with three proud words: Made in America. That's what we need to do. (Applause.)
So Mitt Romney wants to keep giving those tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas. I want to end -- I want to invest in companies that are building right here, building plants, hiring workers, making products in Athens, in Ohio, in the United States of America. (Applause.) You can make that happen.
I want to control our own energy. You know, after 30 years where we hadn’t done anything, we are now going to be producing cars that by the middle of the next decade will go twice as far on a gallon of gas, which means that saves you money, but it also means we are reducing our dependence on foreign oil. (Applause.)
And we’re also investing in the energy sources of tomorrow: wind and solar and biofuels, clean coal technology. Today America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in two decades. So Governor Romney wants to reverse this progress; we want to build on it. Instead of giving -- we give $4 billion a year to oil companies -- corporate welfare. You pay for it. They're already making money every time you go to the pump.
So I’m saying let’s take that money -- I don't want China to win the race for new technologies and new energy. Let’s invest here in the United States in developing that technology. (Applause.)
And by the way, we can -- by doing this, we can also reduce the problem of carbon pollution and we can still invest in clean coal technology.
I was listening to Governor Romney yesterday talk about how he’s a champion of coal. When he was a governor, stood in front of a coal-fired plant and said, this plant kills people -- and now he’s running around talking like he’s Mr. Coal. (Laughter.) Come on. Come on. You know that's not on the level. Does anybody actually look at that guy and think, man, he’s really into coal. (Laughter.)
Did you see when he was doing that ad, he’s in front of all these -- all these miners with hard hats. Found out later they had to come, boss made them come. (Laughter.) Come on. Got to be on the level if you want to be President of the United States. (Applause.)
I want to give more Americans the chance to learn the skills they need in the 21st century economy. Look, I’m only here because I got a good education. I wasn’t born into fame or fortune, and nobody was picking, boy, that guy Barack Obama, he’s going to be President someday. (Laughter.) But I got a great education.
My mom was a single mom -- she’s working her way through school trying to raise me and my sister. But in America, we give everybody an opportunity. That's what this country is about. (Applause.) And I’ve never forgotten that.
So one of the first things we did was to make sure -- let’s stop giving banks and lenders billions of dollars as middlemen for the student loan program. Let’s cut out the middlemen and give the money directly to students. (Applause.) That's how we kept your student loan interest rates low. That's how we expanded Pell grants. That's why we’ve set up a system where students, if they have debt, they're never going to have to pay more than 10 percent of their income. If they choose to become a teacher or do something that doesn't pay a lot of money, they can still manage the debt from getting an outstanding education. (Applause.)
So now you’ve got a choice, Ohio. Governor Romney, he says hiring more teachers, that doesn't help the economy grow. You know what? He’s wrong. It will. And think about all those kids right now who are in overcrowded classrooms or don't have a computer science lab -- they're only going to be in third grade once, or juniors in high school once. If they miss those opportunities now, they may not make it up later.
So we could -- you can take Governor Romney's advice and give a $5 trillion tax cut and pay for it by cutting education --
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Don't boo --
THE PRESIDENT: -- vote.
Or we can recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers, put them to work right now. (Applause.) That's where the jobs are of the future. It should be a national mission to make sure that all our young people are getting an education in some of these fields where we know there are going to be jobs.
And, by the way, we want our sons in that, but we also want our daughters. (Applause.) I don't know if you were listening last night, but, see, we don't have to order up some binders -- (laughter) -- to find qualified, talented, driven young women to learn and teach and thrive and start businesses. (Applause.) And when these young women graduate, we should make a very simple concept the rule: Equal pay for equal work. Equal pay for equal work. (Applause.)
I've got two daughters. I don't want them paid less than a man for doing the same job. (Applause.) And, by the way, men out there, you don't want your wives paid less than a man for the same job. (Applause.) So this isn't just a women's issue. This is a family issue. This is a middle-class issue.
Governor Romney, for months, refused to say if he'd support the law that we signed that said equal pay for equal work. Just today, his campaign admitted, well, he's never weighed in on that. Why not? What's so hard about weighing in on that? Do you believe in equal pay for equal work, or you don’t? I weighed in on it, because that was the first bill that I signed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act -- (applause) -- to make it easier for women to enforce their rights to get equal pay for equal work. (Applause.)
I want to take some of the money that we are saving from ending the war in Iraq and transitioning in Afghanistan to pay down our deficit, and put our folks to work right here doing some nation-building here at home, building roads and bridges and schools. (Applause.)
The next debate on Monday is going to be about foreign policy. It will be interesting to hear what Governor Romney has to say. He said he thought it was “tragic” the way we ended the war in Iraq. He said let's double down on this. He said we should still have troops in Iraq -- just said this a couple weeks ago.
I think that was a mistake. I think bringing our troops home -- after all the sacrifices they've made in a distant country, all their sacrifices their families have made, it is time to make sure that we're doing some nation-building here at home. That's what I believe. (Applause.)
And when our troops do come home and take off those uniforms, they need to know as long as I'm your Commander-in-Chief, we will sustain the strongest military in the world, and we will also make sure those troops get served as well as they've served us. (Applause.) Nobody who fought for this country should ever have to fight for a job, or a roof over their heads, or the health care they’ve earned when they come home. That shouldn’t happen. That shouldn’t happen. (Applause.)
And finally, we need to cut the deficit and the debt. I know you -- the other side, they put up a lot of ads. They think that you’ve forgotten the fact that they fought two wars on a credit card, and two tax cuts on a credit card, and didn't pay for anything -- said deficits didn't matter. They're like the guy who shows up at a restaurant, orders a big steak, has a big drink, orders a big piece of pie, then leaves before paying the tab. And then they say, oh, look, look at what Obama did. It’s like, what? (Laughter.) You all had nothing to do with it.
But, look, we’ve got to do something about it. So what I’ve said -- look, I’ve already worked with Republicans and Democrats to cut a trillion dollars in spending. I’m ready to do more. But we can't get it done just by cutting education programs or cutting basic research programs that help us grow our economy. So what I’ve said is if we’re doing some cutting, let’s also make sure the wealthiest households pay a little bit more, pay higher taxes after your first $250,000 worth of income -- go back to the rates Bill Clinton had when we created 23 million new jobs, when we went from deficit to surplus. (Applause.)
Governor Romney has some different ideas. He was asked on “60 Minutes” -- some of you may have seen this -- is it fair for you, making $20 million a year, to pay a lower tax rate than a teacher making $50,000?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's your answer, but that's not his answer. He said, yes, I think that's fair; that's how you grow an economy, that's how we allocate capital.
I say, well, no, I actually think it’s not fair, especially when we’ve got to reduce the deficit. And I’m not going to ask middle-class families to give up their deductions for owning a home, or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. I’m not going to pay for that tax cut by making all the students here pay more for college, or kicking kids off of Head Start, or eliminating health insurance for millions of Americans who are elderly or poor or disabled. I’m not going to turn Medicare into a voucher system. We’re not going to privatize Social Security. (Applause.)
We’ve got to make choices, but let’s make sure everybody has to make some sacrifices -- not just a few. That's the choice you’ve got to make in this election.
Our opponents, they always tell us, well, government can't do everything. You want trickle-down government -- that was the phrase he’s been using. No, I don't. I believe in free enterprise. I believe every one of the young people here, they're going to have to work for their success. They're going to have to earn it. I don't believe in handouts. But I also believe in a country where everybody has got a shot, where everybody has opportunity. (Applause.)
These folks, they’ve got a “you’re on your own” philosophy. Can’t afford health insurance? Hope you don’t get sick. Can’t afford to start a business or go to college? Borrow money from your parents. (Laughter.) That’s not what built this country.
I talked last night about the fact -- my grandfather, he fought in Patton’s Army in World War II. He never -- he hadn’t gone to college; right out of high school he joined the Army, part of that Greatest Generation. When he came home, he was given a GI Bill, a chance to go to college. And that wasn’t a handout. That wasn’t just good for him; that was good for the whole country -- because suddenly the whole country got a better education, and the whole country saw its incomes rise, and the whole country saw businesses grow. (Applause.) The whole country prospered. The whole country succeeded.
That’s the America we believe in. We believe in doing things for ourselves, but we also believe in doing some things together to make sure this country succeeds. (Applause.) And that’s what the last campaign was about in 2008. That’s what this one is about. But it only happens because of you.
You’re the reason we’ve got a factory worker in Toledo or Lordstown who lost his job but now is back on the line building great cars. You did that.
You’re the reason students in Akron, or Columbus, or right here at Ohio University, can get some help paying for their college. You’re the reason why a veteran coming home suddenly has got a New GI Bill that allows them to have a brighter future.
You’re the reason some young immigrant who grew up here and pledged allegiance to our flag is not going to be deported from the only country she’s ever known. (Applause.) You’re the reason that those who served us so bravely can finally hear those magic words and hug their loved ones and hear them say: “Welcome home.” Welcome home. Welcome home. (Applause.)
That happened because of you. And only you have got the power to keep us moving forward. I can’t do it by myself. I need you. I’m only in Washington because of you.
So you can choose the other guy, who wants to reinstitute the top-down policies that got us into this mess -- or you can help us move forward with the policies that are getting us out of this mess. (Applause.)
You can choose a foreign policy that got us into wars with no plan of getting out -- or you can say, no, we’re going to turn the page. We’re going to end the Afghan war responsibly. We’re going to bring our troops home. We’re going to focus on the terrorists who would actually do us harm.
You can turn back the clock on 50 years of progress for women and immigrants and gays and lesbians -- or you can stand up and say, no, I want to move forward. (Applause.)
In this election, you can say I want America to remain a country where no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter who you are, who you love -- black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native America, gay, straight, able, disabled, it doesn’t matter -- we’re all Americans, and we’re going to move forward together.
That’s what’s at stake in this election. That’s why I’m asking for your vote. That’s why I’m here today, Ohio. (Applause.) I believe in you, and I need you to keep on believing in me so I can finish the job that we started. (Applause.)
And if we win -- and if you’re willing to make some phone calls, and knock on some doors with me, we’ll win Ohio again. We’ll win this election again. (Applause.) We’ll finish what we started. We’ll remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.
Thank you, Ohio! I love you. Thank you. (Applause.)
6:41 P.M. EDT