The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Excerpts of President Barack Obama's Remarks at a Town Hall Meeting on the Economy in Racine, Wisconsin

“This debate we’re having in Washington isn’t about big government or small government.  It’s about responsible government.  It’s about accountable government.  It’s about a government that stands on the side of the American people – a government that breaks down barriers to opportunity and prosperity.  That’s the kind of government we need. 
 
We already tried the other side’s ideas.  We already know where their theories led us.  And now we have a choice as a nation.  We can return to the failed economic policies of the past, or we can keep building a stronger future.  We can go backward, or we can keep moving forward. 
 
I don’t know about you, but I want to move forward.”

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“As we speak, we’re on the verge of passing the most comprehensive financial reform since the Great Depression – reform that will prevent a crisis like this from happening again.  It’s reform that will protect our economy from the recklessness and irresponsibility of a few.  Reform that will protect consumers against the unfair practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders.  Reform that ensures taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes. 
 
But most of our friends in the other party are planning on voting against this reform.  In fact, just yesterday, I was stunned to hear the leader of the Republicans in the House say that financial reform was like using a nuclear weapon to target an ant.  That’s right.  He compared the financial crisis to an ant.  The same financial crisis that led to the loss of nearly eight million jobs.  The same crisis that cost people their homes and their lives savings. 
 
Well if the Republican leader is that out of touch with the struggles facing the American people, he should come here to Racine and ask people if they think the financial crisis was an ant.  He should ask the men and women who’ve been out of work for months at a time.  He should ask the Americans who send me letters every night that talk about how they’re barely hanging on. 
 
These Americans don’t believe the financial crisis was an ant.  They know that it’s what led to the worst recession since the Great Depression.  And they expect their leaders in Washington to do whatever it takes to make sure a crisis like this never happens again.  The Republican leader might want to maintain a status quo on Wall Street.  But we want to move America forward.”
 
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“There are some folks in the other party who are also against raising the limit on what companies like BP have to pay for the environmental disasters they cause.  And a few Republicans have even said they’re against the $20 billion fund that will be used to compensate the workers and businesses in the Gulf whose livelihoods have been harmed by the oil spill – a fund that is paid for by BP.  The top Republican on the energy committee even had the nerve to apologize to BP for the fact that we made them set up this fund.  Apologize to BP!  He actually called the fund “a tragedy.”  A tragedy?  A tragedy is what the people of the Gulf are going through right now.  That’s the tragedy.  And our government has a responsibility to hold the corporations accountable that caused it.  They want to take us backwards.  We want to move forward.” 

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