12:50 P.M. EDT
Ed. note: With the
mid-terms elections three months off, President Obama is starting to
deliver some very political speeches. Here he presents the
choice: "whether we want to go forward or we want to go backwards
to the same policies that got us into this mess in the first
place." He invokes favorite Democratic whipping boy, George W.
Bush. "They don’t have a single idea that’s different from George
Bush’s ideas -- not one," he states. Elaborating on the
theme, Obama argues that, "These are the folks who were behind the
steering wheel and drove the car into the ditch."
President Barack Obama
Remarks at a DNC
Hyatt Regency Hotel
August 2, 2010
[WHITE HOUSE TRANSCRIPT]
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank
you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,
everybody. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank
you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.
Everybody, please have a seat. Have a seat.
Well, we have some just extraordinary leaders
here today. I want to acknowledge a few of them. First of
all, please give another round of applause to your outstanding young
mayor, Kasim Reed. (Applause.) Three wonderful members of
Congress who are fighting day in, day out, on behalf of the people of
Georgia but also on behalf of people all across this country --
Congressman Sanford Bishop -- (applause) -- Congressman David Scott --
(applause) -- and one of the genuine heroes of this country,
Congressman John Lewis. (Applause.)
Our Labor Commissioner and U.S. Senate
candidate Michael Thurmond is in the house. (Applause.)
Attorney General Thurbert Baker -- (applause) -- I think is here.
If not, give him a round of applause anyway. Ag Commissioner
Tommy Irvin. (Applause.) State party chair Jane Kidd.
(Applause.) And the DNC Southern finance chair Daniel Halpern is
in the house. (Applause.)
So, Atlanta, it is wonderful to be here,
wonderful to be among so many good friends. A lot of people here
worked hard on behalf of my campaign. I am reminded of the story
President Lincoln told about one of his supporters who came to the
White House seeking some patronage, seeking a job. And apparently
in the outdoor reception area, he said, look, I want to see Lincoln
personally because I’m responsible for him getting that job.
Nobody did more than me. It’s payback time. So Lincoln lets
him into his office. He says, sir, I understand that you take
responsibility for me having this job. The guy says, that’s
right. And Lincoln says, you’re forgiven. (Laughter.)
Look, we all know that the last few years have
been extraordinarily challenging for the United States. Eighteen
months ago, I took office after nearly a decade of economic policies
that gave us sluggish growth, falling incomes, and a record deficit,
and policies that culminated in the worst financial crisis that we’ve
seen since the Great Depression. In the last six months of 2008,
three million Americans lost their jobs. The month I was sworn,
January of 2009, 750,000 Americans lost their jobs; 600,000 were lost a
month later. All told, 8 million jobs lost as a consequence of
Now, we didn’t get here by accident. We
got here after 10 years of an economic agenda in Washington that was
pretty straightforward: You cut taxes for millionaires, you cut
rules for special interests, and you cut working folks loose to fend
for themselves. That was the philosophy of the last
administration and their friends in Congress. If you couldn’t
find a job or you couldn’t go to college, tough luck -- you’re on your
own. But if you’re a Wall Street bank or an insurance company or
an oil company, then you got to write your own ticket and play by your
own rules. And we know how this turned out.
So when I took office, because of the help of
some of the people in this room, we put forward a new economic plan --
a plan that rewards hard work instead of greed; a plan that rewards
responsibility instead of recklessness; a plan that’s focused on making
our middle class more secure and our country more competitive in the
long run -- so that the jobs and industries of the future aren’t all
going to China and India, but are being created right here in the
United States of America.
Instead of spending money on tax breaks for
folks who don't need them and weren’t even asking for them, we’re
making smart investments in innovation and clean energy and education
that are going to benefit all of our people and our entire economy over
the long run. (Applause.)
And instead of giving special interests free reign to do whatever they
want, we’re demanding new accountability from Wall Street to Washington
-- so that big corporations have to play by the same rules that small
businesses and entrepreneurs do.
Now, because the policies of the last decade
got us in such a deep hole, it’s going to take some time for us to dig
ourselves out. We’re certainly not there yet. But I want
everybody to understand, after eighteen months, I can say with
confidence we are on the right track. (Applause.)
When we were -- instead of losing millions of
jobs, we have created jobs for six straight months in the private
sector. Instead of an economy that is contracting, we’ve got an
economy that is expanding. So the last thing we would want to do
is go back to what we were doing before.
And I want everybody in this room to
understand, that is the choice in this election.
(Applause.) The choice is -- the choice is whether we want to go
forward or we want to go backwards to the same policies that got us
into this mess in the first place.
Now, understand, it’d be one thing if the
Republicans had seen the error of their ways. (Laughter.)
Right? I mean, if after the rejections of 2006 and 2008,
realizing, gosh, look at this big disaster that we caused and taking
record surpluses into record deficits and causing all this hardship --
we’re going to rethink our approach and go out in the wilderness for a
while, come back with some new ideas. (Laughter.)
But that’s not what happened. It’s not
like they’ve engaged in some heavy reflection. They have not come up
with a single, solitary, new idea to address the challenges of the
American people. They don’t have a single idea that’s different
from George Bush’s ideas -- not one. (Applause.)
Instead, they’re betting on amnesia.
(Laughter.) That’s what they’re counting on. They’re
counting on that you all forgot. They think that they can run the
okey-doke on you. (Laughter.) Bamboozle you.
I mean, think about it, these are the folks
who were behind the steering wheel and drove the car into the
ditch. So we’ve had to put on our galoshes, we went down there in
the mud, we’ve been pushing, we’ve been shoving. They’ve been
standing back, watching, say you’re not moving fast enough, you ain’t
doing it right. (Laughter.) Why are you doing it that
way? You got some mud on the car. Right? (Applause.)
That’s all right. We don’t need
help. We’re just going to keep on pushing. We push, we
push. The thing is slipping a little bit, but we stay with
it. Finally -- finally -- we get this car out of the ditch, where
we’re just right there on the blacktop. We’re about to start
driving forward again. They say, hold on, we want the keys
back. (Laughter and applause.) You can’t have the keys back
-- you don’t know how to drive. (Laughter and applause.)
You don’t know how to drive.
And I do want to point out, when you get in
your car, when you go forward, what do you do? You put it in
“D.” When you want to go back, what do you do?
(Laughter.) You put it in “R.” We won’t do want to go into
reverse back in the ditch. We want to go forwards. We got
to put it in “D.” (Applause.) Can’t have the keys
The choice in this election is between
policies that encourage job creation here in America or encourage jobs
to go elsewhere. That’s why I’ve said instead of giving tax
breaks to corporations that want to ship jobs overseas, we want to give
tax breaks to companies that are investing right here in the United
States of America. (Applause.) And by the way, we’ve
already cut taxes for businesses eight times since I’ve been President
-- eight times. And we want to do more, because small business
owners are the lifeblood of this economy. (Applause.)
Right now, as we speak -- as we speak, there’s
a bill in the Senate that would cut taxes for small businesses, would
help them get the loans they need to hire again. The members of
Congress who are here, they already voted on this. They already
passed this bill. And by the way, this is a bill that's based on
Democratic and Republican ideas. It’s been praised by groups like
the Chamber of Commerce. They never praise me.
(Laughter.) The National Federation of Independent
Business. It’s a bill that’s fully paid for, doesn’t add to our
So you would think -- Republicans say they're the
pro-business party, isn’t that what they say? You would think
this is a bill that they would want to pass. And, yet, day after
day, week after week, they keep on stalling this bill and stonewalling
this bill and opposing this bill. Why? Pure politics.
They're more interested in the next election than
the next generation. And that's why they can’t have the keys back
-- because we need somebody who is driving with a vision to the
future. (Applause.) That's what we’ve been doing over these
last 20 months.
We’re also jumpstarting a homegrown, clean energy
industry -- because I don’t want to see the solar panels and the wind
turbines and the biodiesel created in other countries. I don't
want China and Germany and Brazil to get the jump on us in the
industries of the future. I want to see all that stuff right here
in the United States of America, with American workers. And the
investments we’ve made so far are expected to create 800,000 jobs by
2012 -- 800,000 jobs in an industry of the future. (Applause.)
We want to create the infrastructure for the future
-- not just roads and bridges -- but also the broadband lines and the
smart grid lines that will ensure we stay competitively on top for
years to come, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs all across
the country in the process. So that's our plan to create jobs
right here in America -- not just short term, but long term.
But the fact is, most of the members of the
other party voted no on each and every one of these initiatives.
No on tax cuts to small businesses. No to clean energy
jobs. No to the railroad and highway projects.
Now, I want to point out that doesn’t stop
them from showing up at the ribbon-cuttings. (Laughter and
applause.) John, you notice that? They’ll be voting no --
no, this is Obama’s -- no, we don't believe in recovery, we don't
believe in all this. And then you show up at that ribbon cutting,
and they're all there right in the front. Cheesing and
grinning. (Laughter.) Sending out press releases.
So a few weeks ago, the Republican leader of the House was asked,
what’s your jobs plan if your party takes control of Congress next
year? He said, well, you know, our number one priority -- he was
asked what’s your jobs plan -- your number priority is to repeal the
health care bill.
Now, this is a bill that makes sure that
insurance companies can’t deny you coverage if you’ve got a preexisting
condition, makes sure that young people can stay on their parents’
insurance till they're 26, provides a 35 percent tax credit to small
businesses that are doing the right thing, giving their employees
health care, makes sure that companies can’t drop you when you get sick.
Now, I have no idea why you would want to
repeal that in the first place, but I sure don't understand how
repealing it would create jobs, unless it’s for some folks in the
insurance company who are being hired to deny you your claims.
But that can't be a real jobs plan.
Now, look, I may be wrong. Maybe they
know something I don't, or no other economist or expert
understands. And if you think that's a good idea, then you should
vote for them.
But I’ve got a different view. The
health insurance reform we passed isn’t just preventing insurance
companies from denying you coverage -- it’s making the coverage that
you got more secure, and is ultimately going to lower costs for all
Americans. And one of the most important things we can do to
reduce our budget deficit is to get control of health care costs.
These guys don't have a plan for that.
They just have a plan to say no because they're thinking about the next
election instead of the next generation. And that's the choice
that we’re going to be making in this next election. The choice
in this election is between policies that strengthen the hand of the
special interests or strengthen America’s middle class.
They want to repeal health care -- we’re not
going to let it happen. We want to move forward. They
pledged to repeal Wall Street reform. Here we’ve got the biggest
financial crisis since the Great Depression. Everybody knows,
having looked at it, that the incentives on Wall Street were skewed and
people were doing crazy things with other people’s money, making huge,
risky bets and then expecting taxpayers to bail them out if it didn’t
work out. So after all the hardship we’ve gone through to repair
this economy, you’d think it would be common sense to say, let’s have
some basic rules of the road in place to ensure that a crisis like this
doesn’t happen again.
But what did the other party say? No.
They want to go back to the status quo that got us into this same
situation. The reforms we passed protect consumers and
responsible bankers and responsible business owners. That’s what
the free market is supposed to be about: setting some basic rules
for the road so that everybody can compete -- not on how to game the
system, but how to provide good service and good products to customers.
Make sure that mortgage companies can’t give you a
mortgage that you don’t understand. Make sure that credit card
companies can’t jack up your rates without providing you some
notification -- common sense stuff. But they want to repeal it
because they’re more interested in the next election than they are in
the next generation. And that’s the choice that we will face in
this next election.
If the other party wants to keep on giving
taxpayer subsidies to big banks, that’s their prerogative. But
that’s not what America is about. That’s not going to move us
I’ll give you another example. We had a
law in place when I took office in which the government was
guaranteeing student loans, except they were going through financial
middlemen who were taking out billions of dollars of profits issuing
the loans. But the loans were guaranteed, so they weren’t taking
any risks. They were just making billions of dollars of money.
We said, well, that doesn’t make sense at a
time when young people are trying to get to college. So what
we’re going to do is we’re going to cut out the middle man. We’ve
added tens of billions of dollars to the student loans program.
More than a million young people are going to get help that wouldn’t
otherwise get help because of the decision we’ve made.
(Applause.) What side do you think they were on? The other
party voted no.
We passed a law to prohibit pay
discrimination. My attitude is equal pay for equal work.
Women should be paid just like men for doing the same job.
(Applause.) They said no. They want to go backwards.
We want to move forwards. (Applause.)
They want to extend the Bush tax cuts for
millionaires and billionaires. Now, I believe in tax cuts for the
right folks. I kept my campaign promise -- cut taxes for 95
percent of working Americans. But I don’t understand how do you
get up here and talk about how you care so deeply about the deficit,
and yet you want to perpetuate a tax cut that costs $700 billion, with
a “B” -- $700 billion -- and would not provide the kind of economic
growth or benefits for the vast majority of Americans. That’s the
choice that we face in this election.
They voted to make sure that oil companies
continue to get protected from some liabilities with respect to oil
spills. How do you do that? We just spent all this time and
energy trying to cap this well in the Gulf. You’d think it would
make just common sense to ensure that oil companies are fully
accountable. They voted no against that.
When we forced BP to put $20 billion aside to
make sure those fishermen and store owners and hotel owners were
protected -- (applause) -- and what happened? The guy who would
be the chairman of the Energy Committee in the House apologized to
BP. Sure did. Apologized. Said we engaged in a
shakedown to protect ordinary families from the devastation that had
So look, you go across the board, Atlanta,
there’s going to be a choice in this election. It’s the choice
between special interest policies that led us into this mess and
policies that are finally leading us out, that are finally helping
America grow again, policies that are making middle-class Americans
more secure and giving them greater opportunity.
I know this nation has been through incredibly
difficult times. And I also know, by the way, that not all the
steps we took have been popular. Folks in Washington, these
pundits, sometimes they write -- they're all surprised -- “President
Obama went ahead with some of these steps like health care reform and
helping the auto companies, and those weren’t popular.”
Well, I knew they weren’t popular. I’ve
got pollsters too. (Laughter.) You don't think I’ve got
polls that tell me what’s popular and what’s not? But for the
last 20 months, my job has been to govern.
So when I went to Detroit last week, and I
look out and I see plants producing clean energy cars that otherwise
would have been shut down, a million jobs that would have been lost,
cars no longer made in America because the entire industry had
collapsed, and I say, we made the right decision.
And now Ford and Chrysler and GM are all
making a profit. They’ve all hired 55,000 workers back.
(Applause.) They are on the move. They're about to pay the
taxpayers back for every investment that we made.
(Applause.) Then I say to myself, I’m not here just to do what’s
popular -- I’m here to do what’s right.
And that's the kind of leadership you need and
you deserve. That's the choice we face in this election.
And, Democrats, if you work hard, as hard as you worked for me in 2008,
we’re going to keep going forward. We are not going
Thank you very much, everybody. God
bless you. (Applause.) God bless the United States of