Barack Obama photo

Remarks in Abington, Pennsylvania

October 03, 2008

You know, there were a lot of noteworthy moments in that debate, but there's one that sticks out this morning. It's when Governor Palin said to Joe Biden that our plan to get our economy out of the ditch was somehow a job killing plan.

I wonder if she turned on the news this morning.

Because it was just reported that America has experienced its ninth straight month of job loss. Just since January, we've lost more than 750,000 jobs across America, 7,000 in Pennsylvania alone. This is the economy that John McCain said - just two weeks ago - was fundamentally strong. This is the economy that my opponent said made great progress under the policies of George W. Bush. And those are the economic policies that he proposes to continue for another four years.

So when Senator McCain and his running mate talk about job killing, that's something they know a thing or two about. Because the policies they're supporting are killing jobs every single day.

Well, Abington, I am here to tell you that we cannot afford four more years of this. Because where I come from, there's nothing more fundamental than having the sense of meaning and purpose that comes with showing up at work in the morning. There's nothing more fundamental than being able to put your kids through college, or having health care when you get sick, or being able to retire with security. There's nothing more fundamental than a good paying job.

That's why we're here today - because we need to do what we did in the 1990s and create millions of new jobs and not lose them. We need to do what we did in the 1990s and make sure people's incomes are going up and not down. We need to do what a guy named Bill Clinton did in the 1990s and put people first again. That's why I'm running for President of the United States of America.

We've tried it their way. It hasn't worked. And it won't work now. But let me tell you what will work.

What will work is investing $15 billion a year over the next decade in renewable sources of energy like wind and solar - an investment that will generate five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced. And by the way, we can end our dependence on foreign oil in the process, and nothing will help our economy more than that.

What will work is making an investment in rebuilding our crumbling roads, schools, and bridges. That will mean jobs for two million more Americans.

My opponent supports giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas. But what will work is giving those tax breaks to companies that create jobs here at home.

My opponent supports tax havens that let companies avoid paying taxes here in America - tax havens that cost $100 billion every year. But what will work is shutting those tax havens and closing corporate loopholes.

What will work is giving tax breaks to the small businesses that are the engine of economic growth in this country, and cutting taxes - hear me now - cutting taxes - for 95 percent of all working families. Under my plan, tax rates will actually be less than they were under Ronald Reagan.

That's what will work. And that's the kind of change Joe Biden and I are going to bring to Washington.

Now, let me be perfectly clear. The fact that our economy is in this mess is an outrage. It's an outrage because we did not get here by accident. This was not a normal part of the business cycle. This did not happen because of a few bad apples.

This financial crisis is a direct result of the greed and irresponsibility that has dominated Washington and Wall Street for years. It's the result of an economic philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else; a philosophy that views even the most common-sense regulations as unwise and unnecessary. Well, this crisis is nothing less than a final verdict on this failed philosophy - and it's a philosophy that will end when I'm President of the United States.

That's what this election is all about.

Because despite my opponent's best efforts to make you think otherwise, this is the philosophy he's embraced during his twenty-six years in Washington. And it shows just how out of touch he really is. How else could he offer $200 billion in tax cuts for big corporations at a time like this? How else could he propose giving the average Fortune 500 CEO a $700,000 tax cut at a time when millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills? How else could he come up with an economic plan that leaves out more than 100 million middle class taxpayers?

Senator McCain just doesn't get it. Well, Abington, I do get it. And I think all of you get it too.

We know these are difficult times. We know how bad Pennsylvania has been hurting. But here's what I also know - I know we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. Because that's who we are. Because that's what Americans do. This is a nation that's faced tougher times than these - we've faced war and depression; great challenges and great threats. And at each and every moment, we've risen to meet these challenges because we've never forgotten that fundamental truth - that here, in this country, our destiny is not written for us; it's written by us.

Here, in the United States of America, the future is ours to shape. That's what we need to do right now. Part of what that means is passing the rescue plan that's before Congress. This is a plan that will help us deal with this immediate crisis and put our economy on a firmer footing. It's a plan I voted for the other night - because I made sure it included taxpayer protections and wasn't simply a blank check like this administration initially asked for. And it's a plan that the House is going to be voting on soon. So to Democrats and Republicans in the House who are now on the fence, let me say this: do not make the same mistake twice. For the sake of our families, our economy, and our country, step up to the plate and pass this plan.

But understand, even with this plan, we may face a long and difficult road to recovery. That's why, if I'm President, passing this rescue plan won't be the end of what we do to strengthen our economy, it'll be the beginning. It'll be the beginning of a long-term rescue plan for our middle class - a plan that will put opportunity within reach for anyone who's willing to fight for it.

Now, some people have asked whether our weakening economy means the next President will have to scale back his agenda. But I reject the idea that you can't build a strong middle class at a time when our economy is weak. Because I've got a different economic philosophy than John McCain - I believe that building a strong middle class is the key to making our economy strong. And that's what we'll do when I'm President of the United States.

So yes, we'll create millions of new jobs, and yes, we'll put more money back into the pockets of hardworking families. But we'll also do something more. We will reform our health care system so we can relieve families, businesses, and our economy from the crushing cost of health care by investing in new technology and preventative care. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves.

And we're going to stand up to the insurance companies. This is personal for me. My mother died when she was 53 from ovarian cancer, and you know what she was doing in her final months? She was in her hospital bed arguing with insurance companies about whether or not it was a preexisting condition. So I know the pain that's caused by our broken health care system. And that's why as President, I will stop insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

And another thing we know will work in the long term is to make sure that our education system is second to none so that every child in America has the skills they'll need to compete for high wage jobs in the 21st century. I've laid out a comprehensive plan to get there that will give our kids the opportunities they deserve.

When I spoke about that plan a while back, Senator McCain's top education advisor said that this isn't an issue he's been focused on.

Well, let me tell you, if you want to create jobs and grow this economy in the 21st century, you had better focus on education. Because we know that countries that out-teach us today will outcompete us tomorrow.

Finally, I will modernize our outdated financial regulations and put in place the common-sense rules of the road I've been calling for since March - rules that will keep our market free, fair, and honest; rules that will restore accountability and responsibility in the boardroom, and make sure Wall Street can never get away with the stunts that caused this crisis again.

But just as we demand accountability on Wall Street, we must also demand it in Washington. That's why I'm not going to stand here and simply tell you what I'm going to spend, I'm going to tell you how we're going to save when I am President.

I'll do what you do in your own family budgets and make sure we're spending money wisely. I will go through the entire federal budget, page by page, line by line, and eliminate programs that don't work and aren't needed. We'll start by ending a war in Iraq that's costing $10 billion a month while the Iraqi government sits on a $79 billion surplus. And we'll save billions more by cutting waste, improving management, and strengthening oversight.

These are the changes and reforms we need. A new era of responsibility and accountability on Wall Street and in Washington. Common-sense regulations to prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again. Investments in the technology and innovation that will restore prosperity and lead to new jobs and a new economy for the 21st century. Bottom-up growth that gives every American a fair shot at the American dream.

I won't pretend this will be easy or come without cost. We will all need to sacrifice and we will all need to pull our weight because now more than ever, we are all in this together. What this crisis has taught us is that at the end of the day, there is no real separation between Main Street and Wall Street. There is only the road we're traveling on as Americans - and we will rise or fall on that journey as one nation; as one people.

This country and the dream it represents are being tested in a way that we haven't seen in nearly a century. And future generations will judge ours by how we respond to this test. Will they say that this was a time when America lost its way and its purpose? When we allowed our own petty differences and broken politics to plunge this country into a dark and painful recession?

Or will they say that this was another one of those moments when America overcame? When we battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other's success?

This is one of those moments. I realize you're cynical and fed up with politics. I understand that you're disappointed and even angry with your leaders. You have every right to be. But despite all of this, I ask of you what's been asked of the American people in times of trial and turmoil throughout our history. I ask you to believe - to believe in yourselves, in each other, and in the future we can build together.

Together, we cannot fail. Not now. Not when we have a crisis to solve and an economy to save. Not when there are so many Americans without jobs and without homes. Not when there are families who can't afford to see a doctor, or send their child to college, or pay their bills at the end of the month. Not when there is a generation that is counting on us to give them the same opportunities and the same chances that we had for ourselves.

We can do this. Americans have done this before. Some of us had grandparents or parents who said maybe I can't go to college but my child can; maybe I can't have my own business but my child can. I may have to rent, but maybe my children will have a home they can call their own. I may not have a lot of money but maybe my child will run for Senate. I might live in a small village but maybe someday my son can be president of the United States of America.

Now it falls to us. Together, we cannot fail. And I need you to make it happen. If you want the next four years looking like the last eight, then I am not your candidate. But if you want real change - if you want an economy that rewards work, and that works for Main Street and Wall Street; if you want tax relief for the middle class and millions of new jobs; if you want health care you can afford and education that helps your kids compete; then I ask you to knock on some doors, make some calls, talk to your neighbors, and give me your vote on November 4th. And if you do, I promise you - we will win Pennsylvania, we will win this election, and then you and I - together - will change this country and change this world. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.

Barack Obama, Remarks in Abington, Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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