Barack Obama photo

Remarks at a Campaign Rally in Mansfield, Ohio

August 01, 2012

The President. Hello, Ohio! Well, it is good to be in Mansfield. I hope everybody is having a great summer.

A couple of people I want to acknowledge: First of all, please give a huge round of applause to Brenda for that great introduction. And go try some of her pizza if you have not tried it. What I hear——

Audience member. [Inaudible]

The President. You got a testimony right here; he says it's outstanding. I want to thank her so much for doing this.

A couple other people: Your outstanding former Governor, Ted Strickland, is here. Give Ted a big round of applause. And although he couldn't be here because he's got votes, I just want to tell you that you could not have a stronger advocate than your hometown boy, the United States Senator from Ohio, Sherrod Brown.

Audience member. We love you, Mr. President!

The President. I love you back.

And I want to thank all the neighborhood team leaders who are here who are working so hard in this campaign.

Now, finally, I just think it makes sense for us to give it up for all of our outstanding American athletes who are competing in London right now. I want to congratulate Michael Phelps: most medals we've ever seen. And then I had a chance on the way over here to call up the women's gymnastic team for bringing home the gold.

I have to tell you, when I'm watching—when people run track, I understand, I know how to run. They're just much faster. [Laughter] And I know how to swim—they just swim much better than I do. These gymnastics folks—I don't understand how they do what they do. [Laughter] So I told these young ladies as I was congratulating them, how do you not bust your head—[Laughter]—every time you're on those—that little balance beam? I couldn't walk across that balance beam. [Laughter]

So anyway, we could not be prouder of them. And there are a whole bunch of Ohioans who are representing our country in the Olympics and the Paralympics. Abby Johnston from Upper Arlington already won a silver medal in diving. We'll be rooting for Army Specialist Justin Lester from Akron; he's going to be wrestling for America next week.

So the wonderful thing about the Olympics is it reminds us that, for all our differences, when it comes down to our country, we're Americans first. And we could not be prouder of them and everything they're doing on our behalf.

Now, unless you've been hiding from your television, you may be aware, there's a pretty intense campaign going on right now. And the reason that this is an intense campaign is because the choice that we faced in November could not be bigger. I mean, this is a stark choice.

It's a choice not just between two candidates or two parties, but more than any election in recent memory, this is a choice between two fundamentally different visions for America—two fundamentally different paths that we should—that we could be going down.

Audience member. Love you, Obama!

The President. I appreciate that. [Laughter]

Now, the direction that we choose—the direction you choose when you walk into this voting booth in November—is going to have a direct impact on your lives, but also on your children's lives and your grandchildren's lives.

And 4 years ago, we came together—as Democrats, but also Independents and some Republicans—to restore the basic bargain that built the greatest middle class and the most prosperous country the world has ever known. And it's a bargain that I've lived in my life and so many of you have experienced. It's the basic idea that says here in this country, if you work hard, that work should be rewarded. If you act responsibly, you should be able to get ahead.

It's a deal that says if we put in enough effort, we should be able to find a job that pays the bills. We should be able to afford a home that we call our own. We should have health care that we can count on if we get sick. We should be able to retire with dignity and respect. And most of all, we should be able to give our children the kind of education that allows them to dream even bigger and do even better than we ever imagined. That's what we believe.

It's a simple American promise. It's at the—a core of the American Dream. And we knew that restoring it wouldn't be easy, we knew it would take more than one year or one term or even one President. And that was before the middle class was hammered by the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, a crisis that robbed too many of our friends and our neighbors of their homes, their jobs, their savings and pushed the American Dream even further out of reach for too many people.

But you know what, there's one thing that that crisis did not changed. It did not change who we are. It did not change the American character. It did not change what made us great. It hasn't changed why we came together to do what we did in 2008; it's just made our mission more urgent.

Our first order of business is to recover all the jobs and wealth that was lost in the crisis. And we've made strides these last 3 1/2 years to get that done. But beyond that, we're here to reclaim that financial security that's been slipping away for more than a decade.

The decade before I came into office, your incomes and wages generally weren't going up, jobs were moving overseas, the auto industry had been getting hammered. So our job is not just to put people back to work. It's also to build an economy where, over the long haul, that work pays off, so that no matter who you are, or what you look like, or where you come from, here in America, you can make it if you try.

That's what this campaign is about, Ohio. And that's why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States of America.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. Now, Mansfield, there are no quick fixes or easy solutions to the challenges we face. But there's no doubt in my mind, we've got the capacity to meet them. Think about everything that we have going for us here in America. We've got the best workers. We've got the best entrepreneurs. We've got the best scientists. We've got the best researchers. We've got the best colleges, best universities. We've got a Buckeye guy right here. We're a young nation, with great diversity of talent and ingenuity. People come here—want to come here—from every corner of the globe. So no matter what the naysayers tell us, no matter how dark the other side tries to make things look, there is not another country on Earth that wouldn't gladly trade places with the United States of America.

So what's standing in our way is not that we don't have the ingredients to make the 21st century the American Century just like the 20th. The problem we've got right now is our politics: the sort of uncompromising view, the notion that we should be going back to what we were doing that got us into this mess in the first place, instead of going forward to achieve a brighter American future. It's the old—it's that old top-down economics that we've been hearing about for years: the old, discredited idea that if we somehow get rid of more regulations on big corporations and give more tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, that somehow that's going to lead to more jobs and prosperity for everybody.

Ohio, you know better. I know better. We know this country wasn't built from the top down. It was built by the middle class. It was built by farmers and factory workers and startups and small businesses and companies that sent American products overseas, not sending American jobs overseas. That's what built Ohio, and that's what built America.

And that's what we're fighting for. That's what we're fighting for right now. That's the economy we need to build together. And I promise you, we will not get there if we adopt these ideas that somehow spending more money on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires who don't need them and aren't even asking for them is actually going to improve the economy. We tried that; it did not work.

Now, despite the evidence, the entire centerpiece of my opponent's economic plan is a new $5 trillion tax cut on top of the Bush tax cuts.

Audience members. Boo!

The President. Now, the bulk of this tax cut would go to the very top. A lot of it would go to the wealthiest 1 percent of all households. Folks making more than $3 million a year—the top one-tenth of one percent—would get a tax cut worth almost a quarter of a million dollars. Now, think about that. Folks making $3 million a year or more would get a quarter-of-a-million-dollar tax cut.

But listen, it gets worse. [Laughter] Under my opponent's plan, who do you think gets the bill for these $250,000 tax cuts? You do. And you do not have to take my word for it. Just today an independent, nonpartisan organization ran all the numbers on Governor Romney's plan. This wasn't my staff; this wasn't something we did. Independent group ran the numbers. They found that if Governor Romney wants to keep his word and pay for this plan, then he'd have to cut tax breaks that middle class families depend on to pay for your home—the home mortgage deduction—to pay for your health care—the health care deduction—to send your kids to college. That means the average middle class family with children, according to this study, would be hit with a tax increase of more than $2,000.

Audience members. Boo!

The President. And here's the thing. He's not asking you to contribute more to pay down the deficit. He's not asking you to pay more to invest in our children's education or rebuild our roads or put more folks back to work. He's asking you to pay more so that people like him can get a big tax cut. In order to afford one $250,000 tax cut for somebody like Mr. Romney, 125 families like yours would have to pay another $2,000 in taxes each and every year.

Does that sound like a good plan for economic growth?

Audience members. No!

The President. Does that sound like a plan you can afford?

Audience members. No!

The President. How many of you want to pay another $2,000 to give Mr. Romney or me another tax break?

Audience members. No!

The President. Ohio, we do not need more tax cuts for folks who are already doing really well. We need tax cuts for working Americans. We need tax cuts for families who are trying to raise their children and keep them healthy and send them to college and put a roof over their heads. We don't need more tax cuts for companies that are shipping jobs overseas, we need tax cuts for companies that are creating jobs right here in the United States of America.

That's the choice in this election. That's why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States.

Mansfield, I've got a different plan for America than Mr. Romney's. Four years ago, I promised to cut middle class taxes, and that's exactly what I've done, by a total of about $3,600 for the typical family. Now I want to keep income taxes exactly where they are on the first $250,000 of everybody's income. So if your family makes under $250,000 a year—which is 98 percent of American families—you won't see your income taxes increase by a single dime next year.

Now, if you're fortunate enough to be in the other 2 percent of Americans, all we're asking you to do is contribute a little bit more—this includes me, by the way—so that we can pay down our deficit and invest in things like education that are going to help us grow over the long term.

And in terms of cutting our deficit, I'll make sure Government does its part. We're going to cut away spending that we don't need. We've already cut a trillion dollars. We can do more. But I'm not going to pay for massive new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires by gutting the investments that have always kept the middle class strong. All we're asking people like me and Mr. Romney to do is go back to the rates we paid under Bill Clinton. And I don't know if you remember, that's when our economy created nearly 23 million new jobs, the biggest budget surplus in history.

And here's the kicker: It actually created a lot of millionaires, because when the middle class is doing well, then our businesses do well. When folks have money to spend, they buy a new car, and the car companies do well, and they hire more workers. When you've got some extra money in your pockets, then you go get some pizza from Brenda. And then Brenda decides, maybe she can afford to hire another worker. That's how we grow our economy

If we're investing in roads and bridges, putting some hardhats back to work, getting our steelworkers back to work, they've got more money to spend. Maybe they buy that new computer. Maybe they decide to take a little vacation. And all that money circulates in the economy, and it makes us all grow.

So here's the bottom line, Ohio. If you believe that their plan—Mr. Romney's plan and his congressional allies—if you genuinely believe that that plan will make you better off, if you believe it's okay for them to tell us just to set our sights lower or to settle for something less, then by all means, send these folks back to Washington for the next few years.

Audience members. No!

The President. But wouldn't you be better off, wouldn't we all be better off, if we kept fighting for the things that have always made us strong?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. If we fought to make higher education more affordable so more young people can go to college? Wouldn't we be better off if we invested to develop new sources of American energy? Wouldn't we be better off if we kept investing in manufacturing so that we can sell goods around the world stamped with the words "Made in Mansfield, Ohio," "Made in the United States of America"?

In 5 years or 10 years or 20 years, won't we be better off if we've got the courage to keep moving forward? To keep working our way back. That's what I believe. That's why I'm running for President.

You know, my hair may be grayer than it was 4 years ago. [Laughter] But my determination to do right by you is stronger than ever. My faith in you is stronger than ever. And if you still believe in me like I believe in you, I hope you'll stand with me in November. I'm asking you to stand with me in November. I'm asking you to join this cause. Let's finish what we started in 2008. Let's put the middle class back in the forefront. Let's remind the world just why it is that the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.

God bless you. God bless the United States of America.

Note: The President spoke at 11:44 a.m. at Mansfield Central Park. In his remarks, he referred to Brenda Baker, owner, Fast Eddie's Pizza in Bellville, OH; Michael F. Phelps, swimmer, and Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber, gymnasts, 2012 U.S. Olympic team; and Republican Presidential candidate former Gov. W. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.

Barack Obama, Remarks at a Campaign Rally in Mansfield, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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