"Today, we are turning this beautiful music hall into a town hall. So I’m not going to take too much time up front. I want to spend as much time as possible answering some of your questions and getting your comments. But I do want to just say a few things about what’s at stake here.
Four years ago, we came together — Democrats, but also independents and Republicans (EXPLETIVE) — who were interested in restoring the basic bargain that made America the greatest nation on Earth. We’ve got so much to be thankful for — incredible land and an incredible military, our men and women in uniform, they do so much for us all the time, and there’s obviously great wealth in this nation. But what really sets us apart has always been that we’ve got the greatest middle class and a basic idea that’s at the heart of this country that says if you work hard, then you can get ahead. If you’re responsible, then you can live out your dreams, you’re not confined to the circumstances of your birth.
A basic belief that if you’re doing what you need to do — because we’re not a country that believes in handouts, we believe in working for what we get (EXPLETIVE) — that you’re able to find a job that supports a family, get a home that you can call your own, that you’re able to send your kids to get a good education and hopefully allow them to go to college and they can achieve and succeed in ways you might not have even imagined; that you won’t go bankrupt when you get sick that you’ll be able (TRICOLON & ANAPHORA) to retire with dignity and respect. That’s the idea that built this country. That’s the idea that (ANAPHORA) turned us into a economic powerhouse.
And what we saw for about a decade before I took office was the sense that that dream was slipping away from too many people, because people were working harder but they were getting less (ANTITHESIS). Incomes and wages were flat-lining while the cost of everything from college to health care to groceries to gas were all going up (ANTITHESIS).
So our goal was to turn this around — and we knew it wouldn’t be easy. We knew that it might take more than one term, maybe more than one President. But we knew (TRICOLON & ANAPHORA) that we had to get started to reclaim this dream.
And then what we discovered was that because of irresponsibility, because of (ANAPHORA) economic policies that had failed and a lack of oversight when it came to regulations, we inherited the worst financial crisis and the worst economic crisis (SYMPLOCE) since the Great Depression. And millions of people were hurt — lost their jobs, lost their homes, lost their savings. And a lot of folks are still struggling.
But here’s the thing. Americans are always tougher than tough times. And this crisis has not changed our character. It hasn’t changed what we believe in. It hasn’t changed (TRICOLON & ANAPHORA) that basic notion that everybody should get a fair shot, and everybody should do their fair share, and everybody should (TRICOLON & ANAPHORA) play by the same set of rules.
And so even though over the last three and a half years, our central focus has been how do we recover from this crisis, and get people back to work, and make sure that small businesses are doing well again, and that they’re getting financing — despite all those things, our goal has not just been to get back to where we were before the crisis struck, but rather to build an economy that lasts (ANTITHESIS) to build an economy that says no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter (TRICOLON & ANAPHORA) what your last name is, you can make it if you try here in America.
Everything I’ve done since I’ve been President has been focused on this central issue. That’s the reason I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.
And you know, part of the reason that I’m here today is I want to remind everybody that the challenges we face are solvable. The problem is not a lack of big ideas. It’s not a lack of technical solutions to our policy issues. The problem is we’ve got a stalemate right now in Washington between two fundamentally different ideas about how we move the country forward.
This election is about more than just two candidates or two political parties. It’s about two different visions about how do we build a strong economy (ANTITHESIS). And the good news is you’re the tiebreaker. The choice is up to you. The choice is up to you.
Governor Romney and his allies in Congress, they believe in an economic theory that says if folks at the very top are doing really well, then that spreads to everybody else. It’s what we call top-down economics.
So right now their main prescription for growing the economy faster is an additional $5 trillion in tax cuts, most of which would go to the wealthiest Americans, even if to pay for it you’d have to gut education programs, or turn Medicare into a voucher program, or eliminate our investments (TRICOLON) in basic research and science. That’s their vision about how you grow an economy.
They’ve actually got a two-part vision. One is tax cuts for the wealthy, and then the second is eliminate regulations that we’ve put in place to make sure, for example, that Wall Street doesn’t engage in the same reckless behavior that got us into this mess in the first place.
Now, I’ve got to tell you, it would be one thing if they had this theory and we hadn’t tried it before. But the truth is we tried it for almost a decade, and it didn’t work. The track record of their vision resulted in turning surpluses into deficits. We ran two wars on a credit card. Job growth was the most sluggish it had been in decades. The average wages and income of working families actually went down during this period, and it culminated in this massive crisis.
So I don’t know about you, but in my life, what I found — sometimes I do bone-headed things, I make mistakes. What I find is when I don’t — when I try something and it doesn’t work, then I don’t try it again. Right? You don’t go back to doing something that didn’t work.
Now, I’ve got a different idea. So, for example, Governor Romney said he would extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans indefinitely. He says that until he puts a tax plan in place. But his tax plan is not just to keep all the Bush tax cuts. As I said, he wants to put another $5 trillion — this is estimated that it’s almost impossible for you to bring down the deficit and deal with the debt with that kind of tax plan. Nearly 40 percent of these new taxes would go to the top 1 percent of all households.
We have not found any serious economic study that says Governor Romney’s economic plan would actually create jobs — until today. I’ve got to be honest. Today we found out there’s a new study out by non-partisan economists that says Governor Romney’s economic plan would, in fact, create 800,000 jobs. There’s only one problem: The jobs wouldn’t be in America. They would not be in America. They’d be in other countries. By eliminating taxes on corporations’ foreign income, Governor Romney’s plan would actually encourage companies to shift more of their operations to foreign tax havens, creating 800,000 jobs in those other countries.
Now, this shouldn’t be a surprise, because Governor Romney’s experience has been investing in what were called “pioneers” of the business of outsourcing. Now he wants to give more tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas.
So I want everybody to understand, Ohio, I’ve got a different theory. We don’t need a President who plans to ship more jobs overseas, or wants to give more tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas. I want to give tax breaks to companies that are investing right here (ANTITHESIS) in Ohio, that are investing in Cincinnati, that are investing in Hamilton County. I want to give incentives to companies that are investing in you, the American people, to create American jobs, making American (TRICOLON) goods that we’re selling around the world, stamped with three proud words: Made in America. (Applause.)
That’s why I’m running for President of the United States.
Now, the difference extends not just to the difference in corporate taxes, it’s also individual taxes. We don’t need a President who is going to give himself a big tax break. We need a President who is going to cut your taxes (ANTITHESIS).
Now, four years ago I promised to cut taxes for the middle class — and I kept that promise.
The typical family’s tax burden is $3,600 lower than it was when I came into office. I want all the press to notice that. Because sometimes, you’ll hear all these crazy accusations — oh, Obama is raising taxes and burdening — no, here are the facts. Typical middle-class family, your taxes have gone down $3,600 since I’ve been in office.
A couple weeks ago, I called on Congress to immediately extend these tax cuts to 98 percent of the American people. Folks making $250,000 a year or less would not see their taxes go up one single dime — their income taxes go up one single dime. Now, I should point out, by the way, that 97 percent of small businesses also would not see their taxes go up, because typically they don’t earn more than $250,000.
Now, if you’re fortunate enough to be the other 2 percent — and I am — I mean, Michelle and I didn’t use to be, now we are. We’ve been blessed. That’s great. What we’re saying is for those folks, we can afford to pay a little bit more in taxes by going back to the rates that were paid under Bill Clinton. That will help us reduce our deficit by about a trillion dollars. And everybody says the deficit and the debt are important, and I agree.
And I just want to point out, the last time we did that, when Bill Clinton was President, we had surpluses, not deficits, created 23 million new jobs, and by the way, we created a lot of millionaires and billionaires to boot. Because when an economy is growing from the middle out and from the bottom up, everybody does well, including people at the very top. That’s how you grow an economy.
When teachers and firefighters and police officers and (POLYSYNDETON) construction workers — when folks who are putting in a hard day’s work, when they do well, then everybody does well. That’s how America has always succeeded. We believe in individual initiative and self-reliance. But there’s some things we do together, and growing an economy is one of them.
My grandfather, he went to college on the GI Bill. That generation helped to expand the middle class, and everybody did better. When we invested in the Hoover Dam or the Golden Gate Bridge, or the Internet, sending a man to the moon — all those things benefited everybody. And so that’s the vision that I want to carry forward.
That’s why when the auto industry was on the brink of collapse and Governor Romney said let’s “let Detroit go bankrupt,” I said no. One out of eight jobs in Ohio depend on the auto industry, a million jobs across the Midwest are at stake. I’m going to bet on American workers and American ingenuity. And now, GM is back on top and Chrysler and Ford are on the move, and the American auto industry has come roaring back.
So let me just close by saying this, and then we can get to some questions. My vision says we’re going to invest in education and we’re going to hire new teachers, especially in math and science; open up 2 million more slots for folks to go to community colleges to get trained in the jobs that businesses are hiring for right now. We already helped to make sure that student loan rates didn’t double, but now we’ve got to work more to lower tuition costs so young people aren’t burdened with debt.
So we’re going to invest in education. We’re going to invest in (ANAPHORA) American energy. Yes, we want to continue to expand our production of oil and natural gas, but I also want to make sure that we are the leaders in solar and wind and biodiesel, the energy of the future that can help reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
American manufacturing, change our tax code, provide incentives for companies to invest here, invest in basic research and science so that we are at the cutting-edge — because whoever has got the best technology, will ultimately have the best economy. We’ve got to make those investments.
Rebuilding our infrastructure — I know you’ve got some bridges around here that need repair. You’ve got some roads that need a repair (SYMPLOCE) Let’s put construction workers back to work.
I ended the war in Iraq as I promised. We’re winding down the war in Afghanistan. We decimated al Qaeda. Let’s now take half the money we were spending on war and do some nation-building right here at home.
And finally, let’s reduce our deficit, reduce our debt. Let’s do it in a responsible way that allows us to continue to make these investments we need to grow, and make sure that everybody is doing a little bit to help not just themselves but help the country (ANTITHESIS)
So that’s my vision. And it contrasts with the other side, and you are going to be the tiebreaker. This is going to be your choice. That’s how our democracy works. And some of you noticed, there’s going to be a lot of paid advertising and a lot of money — we’re seeing folks write $10 million checks to try to get me out of office. So it’s not you, I know.
But even though my hair is a little grayer even though (ANAPHORA) I’m a little older, let me tell you, I still have as much confidence as I ever had in the American people. Because one of the great privileges of being President is you get a chance to travel all across the country. You meet people from every walk of life. And wherever I go, what I’m always struck by is the core decency and goodness and hard work and responsibility and (POLYSYNDETON) faith that the American people have.
So I’ll always bet on the American people. And I’m confident that if we work hard, we get our message out, we have an honest debate about what needs to happen in this country and what future is best for our children and our grandchildren, then we’re going to finish what we started in 2008. And we’ll remind the world why the United States is the greatest nation on Earth.
Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.