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The President's Weekly Address

June 16, 2012

Over the last few weeks, I've been talking a lot about America's economic future. I've told you how I believe we should go about creating strong, sustained growth; how we should pay down our long-term debt in a balanced way; and most of all, what we should do right now to create good, middle class jobs so people who work hard can get ahead.

This isn't some abstract debate or trivial Washington argument. I've said that this is the defining issue of our time, and I mean it. I've said that this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and I believe it. The decisions we make over the next few years will have an enormous impact on the country we live in, and the one we pass on to our children.

Right now we're still fighting our way back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The economy is growing again, but it's not growing fast enough. Our businesses have created 4.3 million new jobs over the last 27 months, but we're not creating them fast enough. And we're facing some pretty serious headwinds, the effects of the recent spike in gas prices to the financial crisis in Europe.

But here's the thing: We have the answers to these problems. We have plenty of big ideas and technical solutions from both sides of the aisle. That's not what's holding us back. What's holding us back is a stalemate in Washington.

Last September, I sent Congress a jobs bill full of the kinds of bipartisan ideas that could have put over a million Americans back to work and helped bolster our economy against outside shocks. I sent them a plan that would have reduced our deficit by $4 trillion in a balanced way that pays for the investments we need by cutting unnecessary spending and by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more in taxes.

Since then, Congress has passed a few parts of that jobs bill, like a tax cut that's allowing working Americans to keep more of your paycheck every week. But on most of the ideas that would create jobs and grow our economy, Republicans in Congress have not lifted a finger. They'd rather wait until after the election in November. Just this past week, one of them said, "Why not wait for the reinforcements?" That's a quote, and you can bet plenty of his colleagues are thinking the same thing.

I think that's wrong. This isn't about who wins or loses in Washington. This is about your jobs and your paychecks and your children's future. There is no excuse for Congress to stand by and do nothing while so many families are struggling, no reason whatsoever.

And right now Congress should pass a bill to help States put thousands of teachers and firefighters and police officers back on the job. They should have passed a bill a long time ago to put thousands of construction workers back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges and runways. And instead of just talking about job creators, they should give small-business owners a tax break for hiring more workers and paying them higher wages.

Right now Congress should give every responsible homeowner the opportunity to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage. They should extend tax credits for clean energy manufacturers so we don't walk away from 40,000 good jobs. And instead of giving tax breaks to companies who ship jobs overseas, Congress should take that money and use it to cover moving expenses for companies that are bringing jobs back to America. There is no reason to wait.

So you see, every problem we face is within our power to solve. What's lacking is our politics. I need you to remind your Members of Congress why you sent them to Washington in the first place. Tell them to stop worrying about the next election and start worrying about the next generation. I'm ready to work with anyone--Republican, Democrat, or Independent--who is serious about moving this country forward. And I hope Members of Congress will join me.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Note: The address was recorded at approximately 4:25 p.m. on June 15 in the Map Room at the White House for broadcast on June 16. In the address, the President referred to Rep. James D. Jordan. The transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on June 15, but was embargoed for release until 6 a.m. on June 16.

Barack Obama, The President's Weekly Address Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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