Good morning. It's been said that to learn about democracy you can take a break from Plato and take the bus. I know firsthand that's good advice. It was on our bus tour last year that I met so many of the Americans who helped to chart our course toward tomorrow: fathers and mothers and children, citizens whose concerns are everyday concerns, the kind that unfortunately have been ignored for too long in this Capital City.
I heard worry in some of those voices and hope everywhere that new leadership could change our country for the better. That strengthened my resolve to beat back the status quo, to fight against special interest and politics as usual, to fight for the people who work hard and play by the rules. You put your faith in us so that we could put you, the American people, first. And that's what I try to do every day. In every battle I fight, I just try to keep you and your needs and the future of our great Nation in mind.
Even today I'm reminded of the work still to be done here. For many Americans the weekend is a time to unwind a bit, see friends, catch up with the family, do the shopping and other chores. Maybe some of you are out in the yard gardening or washing a car or tossing a softball or a frisbee.
I know there's been some good news lately. After about 100 days as President we've begun to change the direction of America. Our economic program has been adopted in its broad outlines by Congress. That's brought an end to trickle-down economics. The stock market is at an all-time high, and interest rates are very, very low, mortgages at a 20-year low. Many of you have already saved a lot of money just since the November election on these lower interest rates, with refinancing your home mortgages or getting car loans or consumer credit or perhaps business loans at lower rates. That's going to put billions and billions of dollars back into this economy, which will create jobs and opportunities for people for years to come. I'm excited about that. We're also lowering the deficit with over 200 specific cuts in Government spending and tax increases, almost all of which are coming on people with incomes above $100,000.
We're doing some other things, like taking steps to make more credit available to businesses and farms, supporting working families with children, developing a proposal to clean up our environment in a way that creates jobs rather than costs jobs, and working to invest for new jobs for those people who have been laid off by defense cuts.
These developments will all help to turn our country around and move us in the right direction. But still, for many Americans, this is just another day without a job and a cruel reminder that without gainful employment even the basics in life, including self-esteem, are hard to come by.
For those Americans I'll never stop fighting, because for all Americans the stakes go up whenever unemployment refuses to go down. Think about this: For 16 straight months the national unemployment rate has been 7 percent or higher. Just this week we saw the latest figures for unemployment claims, and it still wasn't good. There were 359,000 claims, an increase of 26,000.
And some say we're in a recovery. Well, the majority of the officials you elected to represent you in Washington know this is a serious situation. They know that every industrial nation in the world is having a big problem creating jobs. Most people understand we need action and bold changes to ensure that we g ...
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