Barack Obama photo

Remarks at Troy High School in Troy, Michigan

June 02, 2008

Wherever I go, I talk about how we need to bring about real change in this country. And few understand the need for change as well as folks here in Michigan. Because while we've been talking about a recession in this country for a few months now, Michigan has been living it for a very long time. Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the nation and workers and communities across this state have been struggling for years with the downturn that all of America is feeling today.

In fairness, some of these challenges are the product of larger forces beyond the control of government. But there is no doubt that the Bush economic policies have done little to help the working families of Michigan or build a better future for America.

That is, in large part, what this election in November will be all about. Because Senator McCain says we have made, and this is a quote, "great progress economically" these past eight year, and he promises more of the same.

Well, I couldn't disagree more. Since George Bush took office, we've gone through the first period of sustained economic growth since World War II in which the incomes of American workers have actually dropped. 7 million more Americans don't have health care. 1 million more Americans are out of work. Millions of families are facing foreclosure. You're working harder for less, and paying more for tuition, more for groceries, and more at the pump.

To me, this isn't "great progress." This is a cause for concern and an impetus for change.

Yet Senator McCain wants to double down on the Bush economic plan. Rather than reforming an unfair tax system and offering the middle class some relief, he's offering more tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy we just can't afford. Rather than making health care affordable for every American, like I've proposed, he's offering a health care plan that puts coverage at risk and that's designed for folks who are already healthy and able to afford health care at any price. And rather than standing up for robust trade that works for all Americans, as I do, he's supporting more trade deals that work for Wall Street, but not for Main Street.

But understand, there's a reason the problems we face today are so much bigger than they were several years ago. A big part of it is that George Bush and John McCain have been so focused on pursuing a flawed and costly war in Iraq that they've lost sight of our mounting problems here at home. Instead of working to fix our economy and lift up hardworking families, they've fought to extend a war that's costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars without making us any safer -- a war that has strengthened our enemies and distracted us from the real battle with Osama bin Ladin in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Just to put this in perspective, for what taxpayers here in Oakland County have spent in Iraq, you could be providing health care for nearly 900,000 people, or offering more than 200,000 college scholarships for Michigan students, or hiring more than 30,000 elementary school teachers. And now it seems like all Senator McCain is talking about on the campaign trail is Iraq - instead of offering real solutions to the problems you face every day.

In fact, Senator McCain conceded not long ago that he didn't know much about the economy. That's not his interest. That's not his priority. But it will be mine.

I want to end a war that's costing America $10 billion a month and begin to make the critical investments we need to get our own country moving again.

That's the choice in this election. Are we going to continue the failed Bush-McCain economic policies and remain mired in an endless and costly conflict in Iraq, or will we change course, and focus on the problems that working families in Michigan and across America are facing every day?

I believe strongly that we are on the wrong path, and that we need new priorities and a new direction and that is why I'm running for President or the United States.

Barack Obama, Remarks at Troy High School in Troy, Michigan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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