Barack Obama photo

Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Fundraiser in Miami Beach, Florida

June 12, 2013

The President. Hello, everybody!

Audience members. Hello!

The President. It is good to be back in Miami. Don't worry, I still think it's going to be a seven-game series. I'm just saying. [Laughter] I know everybody in Miami is feeling a little stressed right now, but—[laughter]—you've got two great teams playing.

I want to, first of all, just say thank you to Joe for hosting us. Opening up your house is a big deal on any occasion. When you've got Secret Service and everybody else running around, moving furniture, potentially bumping into that painting that's probably worth a lot of money—[laughter]—that makes you more stressed. So can you all please move away from the painting? [Laughter] Just wanted to make that point. You're welcome, Joe. All right.

A couple of other people that I want to mention. We've got Debbie Wasserman Schultz here, the great Congresswoman and head of our DNC. We've got our DNC finance chair, Henry Muñoz, who's here. And we have the Florida Democratic Party chair, Allison Tant is here. And I am here. And you are here. So we've got a good party going on here tonight.

Audience member. Yes, we do!

The President. [Laughter] Happy birthday. [Laughter]

It's wonderful to be out of Washington and have a chance to see folks who are doing all kinds of great work in their communities. As I was taking pictures with some people, I talked to doctors, I talked to folks who are active in the community, people who are working on behalf of immigration reform, people who are working on behalf of low-income families, teachers. And so we've got a pretty good group here of folks who, aside from politics, are making a difference every single day. And that's what America is about, is neighbors helping neighbors, friends helping friends, communities figuring out how can we continually make ourselves a better place for our kids and for our grandkids.

And after having gone through the worst recession since the Great Depression, America, all across the country in communities north, south, east, and west are starting to slowly see recovery. We've now created jobs for 39 consecutive months, close to 7 million jobs. We have seen housing begin to come back. The stock market has recovered. The economy is growing. We're producing more energy than we have in years. We're importing less than we have in decades. We've doubled our production of clean energy. We've doubled the fuel efficiency standards on cars.

Across the board, people are feeling like, all right, America is moving, and it's moving in the right direction. But what we also know——

Audience member. Good job, Mr. President. Good job.

The President. What we also know is, is that we've got a lot more work to do. Because all across the country, we still have people who are looking for work and can't find it. We still have young people in schools that aren't learning what they need to compete in the 21st century. We still have young people who are burdened by massive college costs. We still have infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt. We've got research projects that could help to revolutionize our economy, but are not being adequately funded. We have folks whose homes are still underwater, and they're still struggling. And people are concerned about the possibilities of retiring with dignity and respect.

So we've got a lot more work to do. And the reason I'm here today is to ask for your help. I'm very proud of the record that we've been able to put together over the last 4½ years, making sure that every American in this country gets health care, and we are implementing health care reform so that every single American is able to get health care and won't go bankrupt when they get sick.

We're very proud of the work we've done on financial reform, setting up, for example, a consumer finance agency that for the first time will be protecting consumers from unscrupulous mortgage lenders or financial institutions. I couldn't be prouder of us repealing "don't ask, don't tell" and being at the forefront of making sure that in this country, it doesn't matter who you love, it matters whether you want to serve the country that you love.

We're making progress on reforming education. We've put billions of dollars that were previously going to banks into helping young people go to college. We're making progress. But with all the stuff that remains to be done, I can't do it by myself. Our system of government was designed to separate powers, and so you've got three coequal branches. And I can propose a whole bunch of good stuff, things that I know will make a difference in the lives of middle class families and everybody who's working to get into the middle class. But if I don't have the kind of cooperation from Congress that I need, then all too often, those are just plans on the shelf.

Now, I've run my last campaign, and Michelle is very happy about that. [Laughter] And so what that means is, I think you can have confidence that all I care about right now is governing. All I care about right now is making sure that the country is stronger, more prosperous 3 years from now, 4 years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now than it was before I took office. And I will work with everybody who's got that same attitude.

So the good news is, for example, right now Congress is working on a serious effort to reform our broken immigration system. And I actually am pretty confident that before the summer is over, I can sign into law comprehensive immigration reform that will strengthen our borders, fix our legal immigration system, and make sure that those who are here and are undocumented can earn their way—in an arduous process, but earn their way—to be full-fledged members of our country.

And that's an example of what we can accomplish when we work on a bipartisan basis. Unfortunately, all too often, Republicans aren't interested in the compromise that's required to get things done. They've got a different philosophical view on a whole lot of issues. I don't think the vision that they have is one that would make the country stronger and more prosperous, but I understand they're entitled to their opinion.

And no party has a monopoly on wisdom, but when you get to the point where the other party will not compromise at all; when you get to the point where you've got another party that is more interested in trying to roll back health care for 30 million Americans than provide health care for 30 million Americans; when you have a party that is trying to roll back Wall Street reform and trying to—instead of trying to implement it so that we don't have another batch of Wall Street bailouts; when you have a situation where folks are trying to make sure that women don't have the capacity to choose health care for themselves and make their own health care decisions and, in some cases, are on the wrong side of the issue when it comes to equality for the LGBT community; when folks aren't interested in compromising, then I want to make sure that I've got people there who are ready to do some work.

I want Members of Congress who are looking out for you, not looking out for special interests, not looking out for folks who frankly are doing just fine. But I want to make sure that we've got people who are looking out for those who need help and those who are committed to growing this economy in a broad-based way for everybody so that every child in America—doesn't matter what they look like, where they come from, what their last name is—that they can succeed. That's our goal. That's the kind of Congress I want.

And in order for that to happen, I'm going to need all of you to be just as engaged as you were in 2012 and 2008. Sometimes, the Presidential campaigns are the ones that get a lot of notice and a lot of fanfare. And what happens, particularly among Democrats, is when it's not a Presidential year, our turnout drops off. That's what happened in 2010. You had this big gap between the number of people who vote on a Presidential year and those who vote on a non-Presidential year. We can't think in those terms. It's like if—those of you who are basketball fans, you can't take off—[laughter]—you can't just play in the fourth quarter, you've got to play all the quarters. [Laughter] You've got to play hard the whole time, not just part of the time. Well, the same is true when it comes to being engaged in the political process.

And so I'm spending a lot of time traveling around the country. I was over in North Carolina looking at a school district that had transformed itself: gotten rid of textbooks, bought every child in the school district a laptop, and are now performing higher than every school district except one in North Carolina even though they're spending less money than almost every school district.

I was in Austin, Texas, and seeing an incubator where young entrepreneurs are inventing new products and new systems—in part because of the research dollars that are flowing from the Federal Government—and are creating new businesses and jobs that will keep America at the cutting edge.

I have the honor of serving as Commander in Chief and meeting young men and women all across the country and all around the world who are putting their lives on the line every single day to protect us.

And I meet young people everywhere who are so inspiring because they have this innate optimism about what's possible in this country. They're not willing to settle for environmental degradation. They're not willing to settle for inequality. They're not willing to settle for people being treated differently because—or being bullied because of their sexual orientation.

And these young people, when you talk to them, it reminds you—just like it reminds you when you talk to our men and women in uniform, just like it reminds you when you talk to some of our small-business owners—America has got all the cards we need to succeed as long as everybody is involved. As long as everybody is engaged. As long as the vision that has driven this country all these years expresses itself not only in our neighborhoods, not only in our workplaces, not only in our churches or synagogues or mosques, not only in our day-to-day lives, but also expresses itself in Washington, expresses itself in Congress. That's what we're fighting for.

So I want to make sure everybody here understands our work is not done, and I'm not going to be able to do it by myself. We're going to need great Members of Congress who are passionate and motivated and thinking about how we build a thriving, growing middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for people to get into the middle class. And in order for me to have those Members of Congress, I'm going to need all of you active. So let's get to work. I hope you're still fired up.

I love you, Miami. Good luck in game four.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:26 p.m. at the residence of Joseph W. Blount. Audio was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

Barack Obama, Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Fundraiser in Miami Beach, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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