Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event -- Pueblo, Colorado
Colorado State Fairgrounds
10:35 A.M. MDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Pueblo! (Applause.) Hello, Colorado! (Applause.) It's good to be back! (Applause.) It is good to be back. And thank you so much for being here. This is a good-looking crowd.
Can everybody please give Crystal a big round of applause for that great introduction. (Applause.) There are a couple other people I want to acknowledge. First of all, one of our campaign co-chairs, former Secretary of Transportation, former Secretary of Energy, former mayor, good friend -- please give a big round of applause to Federico Peña. (Applause.) And we've got one of the finest senators that the state of Colorado ever had, who is now doing a great job looking after the natural resources of this beautiful country of ours -- your own, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar. (Applause.)
It is great to be with all of you. We spent the night here last night, and everybody has been so hospitable. And then, this morning, before we came here we stopped by Romero's for some green chili. (Applause.) I got to admit that we're saving some to take back to the White House. (Laughter and applause.) So I'm going to work with the White House chefs to see if we can figure out some of the secrets here. (Laughter.)
But, listen, unless you've been able to hide from your TV set or your cable is broke, you're probably aware right now that we've got a pretty intense campaign going on. (Applause.) And the reason it's so intense is because the choice that we face this November could not be bigger. It's not just a choice between two candidates. It’s not just a choice between two parties. More than any election in recent memory, this is a choice between two fundamentally different paths for our country -- two fundamentally different visions of where this country needs to go.
And the direction that we choose -- the direction that you choose when you walk into that voting booth in November, it won't make a difference just in our lives; it will make a difference in our kids' lives and our grandkids' lives for decades to come. (Applause.)
Now remember that four years ago we came together as Democrats, but also independents and Republicans, to restore the basic bargain that built the greatest middle class and the most prosperous economy the world has ever known. And it's a bargain that says -- it's very simple -- it says, if you work hard, hard work should be rewarded. (Applause.) It's an idea that says if you put in the effort, if you take responsibility for yourself and your community, you should be able to find a job that pays the bills. (Applause.) You should be able to afford a home that you can call your own. You should be able to count on health care if you get sick. You should be able to retire with dignity and respect. And most importantly, you should be able to give your kids the kinds of education and opportunity that lets them dream even bigger than you dreamed and do even better than you did. (Applause.)
That idea is at the heart of America. That's the American promise. Now, we understood that restoring that promise wouldn't be easy. It would take more than one year or one term or even one President. After all, we had been coming off a decade in which the middle class had been getting hammered, jobs had been getting shipped overseas, wages and incomes were going down, the cost of everything from health care to groceries was going up. And it all culminated in the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes -- a crisis that robbed too many of our friends and neighbors of their jobs and their homes and their savings, and put the American Dream even further out of reach.
So we knew that we had a lot of work to do. And over the last three and a half years, we have focused on righting the ship, making sure that we didn’t slip into a depression, saving an auto industry, creating 4.5 million new jobs, half a million new manufacturing jobs -- (applause) -- getting health care done, helping young people go to college. We have been working to get us moving forward.
And as tough as things have been -- and we know our job is not done yet -- what we've learned over these last three and a half years is that the crisis didn't change who we are. It hasn't changed our character. It hasn't changed what has made us great. It hasn't changed why we came together, what we believe in, why we feel such an urgency to get to work. Because we understand that we need to build an economy where hard work pays off, so that no matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from, what your last name is -- here in America, you can make it if you try. (Applause.) That's what this campaign is about, Colorado. That's why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States of America. (Applause.)
Now, look, there are no quick fixes. There are no easy solutions to the challenges we face. But I know in my bones that we have the capacity to meet those challenges. Think about what we've got going for us. We've still got the best workers in the world. (Applause.) We've got the best business people in the world. We've got the best scientists, the best researchers, the best colleges, the best universities. We are a young nation and we've got a diversity of talent and ingenuity that comes from every corner of the globe. (Applause.)
So when you hear people saying, America is in decline, or you hear folks for political reasons trying to paint things as dark as they can, let me tell you something -- there isn't a country on Earth that wouldn't trade places with the United States of America. (Applause.) What is standing in our way right now isn't the lack of technical solutions or good plans. What's standing in our way is the politics in Washington -- folks who think compromise is a dirty word, folks who think the only thing we can do to grow the economy is to go back to the same top-down economics that got us into this mess in the first place.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: And I promise you, that's their only idea -- to go back to the things that didn't work. Mr. Romney, his friends in Congress, they believe -- they've got two ideas. One, tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Two, they want to get rid of regulations that help keep our air and water clean -- regulations that protect our consumers, regulations that make sure that Wall Street doesn't do the same kinds of things that created the financial crisis.
And their idea is, is that if we give these big tax cuts to folks who don't need them and are doing really well, and we let corporations run roughshod, even if they're not doing the right thing, that somehow that's going to lead to jobs and prosperity for everybody. That's what they're proposing. That's what they will do if they win this election.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Now, Crystal mentioned this -- the centerpiece of Mr. Romney's entire economic plan is a new $5 trillion tax cut -- a lot of it is going to the wealthiest Americans. But last week, we found out he expects the middle class to pick up the tab to pay for it.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: So you've got a $5 trillion tax plan and to pay for it you raise taxes on middle-class families with children by an average of $2,000 -- not to reduce the deficit, not to grow jobs, not to invest in education, but just to give another $250,000 tax cut to people making more than $3 million a year.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Now, you know what, they have tried to sell us this trickle-down tax cut fairy dust before. It did not work. It did not work then. It is not going to work now. It is not a plan to create jobs. It is not a plan to cut the deficit. It's not a plan to move our economy forward. We do not need -- I do not need a tax cut. We don't need tax cuts for folks who are doing really, really, really well. We need to keep taxes low for working Americans like you. (Applause.)
We need to keep tax cuts in place for families who are trying to raise kids, and keep them healthy and send them to college, and keep a roof over their heads. And that's the choice in this election. And that's why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)
Four years ago, I promised that I would cut middle-class taxes. I kept that promise. (Applause.) And the average middle-class family, their taxes are about $3,600 lower than when I came into office. So if you talk to your friends and they say, oh, he’s some big taxing Democrat, you tell them, actually, he’s cut your taxes. Now I want to keep taxes exactly where they are on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income. So if you’re a family making under $250,000 -- which is 98 percent of American families -- you won’t see your income taxes go up by one single dime. (Applause.)
Now, if you’re fortunate enough to be in the other 2 percent, if you make more than $250,000 a year, you still get a tax cut on your first $250,000. But if you make $3 million, then we’re going to go take the rest of it and tax that a little bit more at the rate we taxed it under Bill Clinton. (Applause.)
And listen, the reason we do that is not because we love taxes. I would end up having to pay more under my plan. And it’s not like I love paying taxes, but I understand that I’ve got to do a little bit more. I’ve been so blessed. And it will help us bring down our deficit and invest in things like education that will help us grow as an economy. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Now, understand also -- we’re going to make sure that government does its part. We’ve already cut a trillion dollars of spending that we didn’t need, and we’ll keep streamlining government to make it more effective. But we’re just asking folks like me to go back to the rates we paid under Bill Clinton, and that was a time when the economy created nearly 23 million new jobs -- the biggest budget surplus in history. (Applause.)
And it actually was good for businesses and good for folks at the top, too. Because you know what happens? If a steel worker or a construction worker, they’ve got a job and they’ve got a little more money in their pockets, maybe they buy that new car. And that means that now that business has more profits, maybe they hire more workers. If a teacher or a receptionist has a little bit more money in their pockets, maybe they go over to another restaurant. Maybe they go to Romero’s and they eat out. And now the restaurant hires a couple more workers -- everybody does better. That’s how the economy grows best -- from the middle out, from the bottom up, not from the top down.
When all of us share in prosperity, we all do better. (Applause.) That’s the choice in this election. That’s why I’m running for President -- because I believe we’re all in this together. (Applause.)
We’ve got a bunch of examples of the differences, the choice in this election. When the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse, more than 1 million jobs at stake, Governor Romney said, let’s “let Detroit go bankrupt.”
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: I said I believe in American workers, I believe in this American industry, and now the American auto industry has come roaring back and GM is number one again. (Applause.) So now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs not just in the auto industry, but in every industry. I don’t want those jobs taking root in places like China. I want them taking root in places like Pueblo. (Applause.)
Governor Romney brags about his private sector experience, but it was mostly investing in companies, some of which were called “pioneers” of outsourcing. I don’t want to be a pioneer of outsourcing. I want to insource. I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas; let’s give those tax breaks to companies that are investing here in the United States of America, making American products with American workers and selling them around the world. That’s why I’m running for a second term. (Applause.)
Here’s another difference. At a moment when homegrown energy, renewable energy is creating new jobs in states like Colorado and Iowa, my opponent wants to end tax credits for wind energy producers.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Think about what that would mean for a community like Pueblo. The wind industry supports about 5,000 jobs across this state. Without those tax credits, 37,000 American jobs, including potentially hundreds of jobs right here, would be at risk. Colorado, it’s time to stop spending billions in taxpayer subsidies on an oil industry that’s already making a lot of profit -- (applause) -- and let’s keep investing in new energy sources that have never been more promising. That’s the choice in this election. That’s why I’m running for President. (Applause.)
I’m running because in 2008 I promised to end the war in Iraq, and I ended it. (Applause.) I promised to go after al Qaeda and go after bin Laden, and we did it. (Applause.) We’ve set a timeline to end the war in Afghanistan, to make Afghans responsible for their own security. And we could not have done all this if it had not been for our outstanding men and women in uniform. (Applause.) Here in Pueblo, the Home of Heroes, you know what it means to care for our veterans. (Applause.) I want to thank you for everything you’ve done and are doing to look after our men and women who have worn the uniform. And I promise you that as long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, this country will care for our veterans and serve them as well as they’ve served us. Nobody who has fought for our country should have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads when they come home. (Applause.)
So my plan will create a Veterans Job Corps, so we can put returning heroes back to work as cops and firefighters in communities that need them. And I want to take about half the money that we’re no longer spending on war, and let’s put people back to work -- do some nation-building right here at home. (Applause.) Let’s renew our roads and our runways and our wireless networks. And let’s work on our water infrastructure.
Here in the Southwest, water is the lifeblood of our communities. It was 50 years ago, this month, that President Kennedy came to Pueblo and he signed the Fry-Ark bill. Today, my administration is making sure, 50 years later, that you’ve got the resources to finish the job so that we are leaving your kids and your grandkids clean water, clean drinking water that is long overdue. That’s the kind of investment in America that creates jobs now and makes life better for the future. That’s what this election is about. That’s the America we want to build. (Applause.)
Colorado, I’m running to make sure that we’re once again the country that leads the world in education. (Applause.) I want to help our schools reward and hire the best teachers, especially in math and science. I want to give 2 million more Americans the chance to study at community colleges and get the skills they need for the jobs that businesses are hiring for right now. (Applause.) I want to get colleges and universities to bring tuition down once and for all. (Applause.) Because in the 21st century, higher education is not a luxury, it’s an economic necessity. And I want to make sure none of our young people who are willing to put in the effort are locked out of opportunity. (Applause.)
So the stakes are big in this election on every issue. On homeownership, my opponent says, let’s just let foreclosures bottom out. That’s his answer. What I’ve said is, let’s let every homeowner refinance at historically low rates, save you $3,000 that you can then spend to restore equity in your home or help your kids go to college. (Applause.) That is good for the economy. It’ll be good for the housing market.
Mr. Romney wants to reverse the Affordable Care Act -- Obamacare. Let me tell you something. Right now, 6.5 million young people can stay on their parent’s plan because of the health care law I passed. (Applause.) Millions of seniors are seeing lower prescription drug costs. (Applause.) We are going to make sure that if you’ve got a preexisting condition, you can now get health insurance. (Applause.) We’re not going backwards. We’re not going to take that away. And we’re certainly not going to follow Mr. Romney’s lead and go back to the days when women didn’t have control of their own health care choices. Women can make their own decisions. We don’t need politicians doing it. (Applause.)
Mr. Romney thinks "don't ask, don't tell" was a good idea. I think anybody who loves this country should be able to serve this country. That was the right thing to do. (Applause.)
Mr. Romney believes in something called self-deportation, thinks Arizona is a model for immigration laws across the country.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: I think we did the right thing to say that a young person who comes to America -- is brought here, is raised here, is friends with our kids, is going to school with our kids, is American in every single way except for a piece of paper should have the chance to be a part of the American family. That was the right thing to do. (Applause.) We're going forward, not backwards. (Applause.)
On every single one of these issues, there is a choice. And it's about whether we go back to the failed policies of the past or whether we actually finally start once again working around that core idea that built this country -- the idea that if you work hard here you can make it. The idea that in America, everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules. (Applause.) The idea that in America, we rise or fall together, and government can't solve every problem and it shouldn't try, and it certainly can't help folks who are aren't willing to help themselves. But there are some things that we can do together as a people that makes us all better off, that makes our country strong, and that our economy works best when the middle class is growing and feels secure. (Applause.)
Now, I've got to tell you, we've got less than three months left in this election -- less than three months. Time is flying. And over the next three months, you will see more negative ads, more money spent than you've ever seen in your life. I mean, these super PACs, these guys are writing $10 million checks and giving them to Mr. Romney's supporters.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: And, basically, they all have just the same argument. They all say the same thing. They say the economy is bad and it's Obama's fault -- every ad is the same argument.
Now, let me tell you something. That may be a strategy to try to win an election, but they can't hide the fact that they don't have a plan to grow the economy. (Applause.) They don't have a plan to create more jobs. They don't have a plan to revive the middle class. I've got that plan. That's why I'm running. (Applause.)
So when you talk to your friends and your neighbors, some of them may think we'll be better off if we cut taxes for the wealthy and get rid of every regulation, set our sights lower and stop providing the kind of assistance we need to kids to go to college. And you've got to tell them, look, if you think that's going to work better -- that's how democracy works -- you should vote for those other folks. Feel free to try to send them to Washington.
But I believe -- and you believe -- we've come too far to turn back now. (Applause.) We've got too much more work to do. We've got too many good jobs we've got to create. We've got too many teachers we still need to hire. We've got too many schools we need to rebuild. We've got too many students we need to help go to college. We've got too much homegrown energy we need to generate right here in Colorado. (Applause.) We've got more troops we need to come home. We've got more doors of opportunity that we need to open for every young person here in Pueblo, here in Colorado, all across the country. (Applause.)
That's what's at stake right now. That's why I'm running for President. That's why I'm asking for your vote -- (applause) -- not just for me, but for the country that you believe in. You've got to be registered to vote. We've got folks here who are ready to help you do that. Here in Colorado, you can register online. You go to GottaRegister.com. But don't wait until the last minute. Grab some friends, get online -- let's get this done. (Applause.)
Back in 2008, I made a promise to you. I said, I'm not a perfect man and I won't be a perfect President. But what I did say is I'd always tell you what I thought, I'd always tell you where I stood, and most importantly, I would spend every waking minute fighting as hard as I knew how for you. (Applause.)
I have kept that promise, Colorado. I kept that promise because I believe in you. (Applause.) I believe in this country. And if you still believe in me and you're willing to stand with me, and knock on some doors with me, and make some phone calls with me and take your friends to the polls for me, I promise you we will win Colorado. We will win this election. We will finish what we started. And we will remind the world why the United States is the greatest nation on Earth.
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
11:06 A.M. MDT