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Speeches from the 2012 Presidential Campaign

Barack Obama
Campaign Remarks in Iowa
Oskaloosa, Iowa
August 14, 2012

Hello, Iowa! (Applause.) It is good to be back in Oskaloosa. (Applause.) It is good to see all of you. If you've got a chair, please feel free to take a seat. I want everybody to feel relaxed out here. It's a beautiful summer day.

I've been talking to some kids; I guess school starts up in a couple of days, so they were looking a little depressed. (Laughter.) But it's okay. School is going to be great. I know you guys have had a great summer.

Before I start, I just want to acknowledge an outstanding member of Congress who is fighting every day on behalf of the people of his district -- Dave Loebsack is here. Give Dave a big round of applause. (Applause.) There he is. Thank you, Dave.

It has been great to be back in Iowa. Back in 2007-2008, I was on your farms and in your backyards and on your porches. And that's where our movement for change really began, right here in Iowa. (Applause.) And we spent a lot of time on bus tours like this one all across the state.

And it was good also to be back at the Iowa State Fair, although when I was just a candidate, they let me go on the bumper cars. (Laughter.) And I went up on the Big Bend -- you guys ever been on that, where they just shoot you up about 500 feet in the air? I was with Malia and I started screaming, and she looked at me, saying, come on, Dad, get it under control. (Laughter.) But it was terrifying. Anyway, Secret Service does not let me do that anymore. But I was still able to get a beer and a pork chop -- (applause) -- so I was pretty happy about that. I was pretty happy about that.

Here's the thing -- I'm back because our journey is not done. We're spending three days driving all the way across the state, just like we did in 2007 and 2008; we're going from Council Bluffs all the way to the Quads, Quad Cities, because once again you face a critical choice in November. In some ways, this is even more important an election than 2008, because this choice could not be bigger.

It's not just a choice between two candidates. It's not just a choice between two political parties. It is a choice between two fundamentally different visions of how America became great and how it's going to stay great, two fundamentally different visions of the path we need to take for the future of our kids and our grandkids. (Applause.)

And the direction that you choose when you walk into the voting booth in November, it's going to determine not our lives next year or five years from now. It's going to determine the future for decades to come for our kids and our grandchildren.

Four years ago when we came together -- and it wasn't just Democrats, by the way; we had independents and we had some Republicans. We came together because a lot of us realized that the core idea, the basic bargain that made this country, was under threat. And it's a basic bargain that says if you work hard in this country, you can get ahead; that if you take responsibility, than you can make it, and you can get into the middle class. You can feel a sense of security. That you can find a job that pays the bills and have a home you call your own. That you won't go bankrupt when you get sick. That you can retire with dignity and respect. And most importantly, that you can give your kids a great education and they can do even better and dream even bigger than you ever imagined. That's the American Promise. That's the American Dream. That's what we've been fighting for. (Applause.)

Now, we knew restoring that basic idea wouldn't be easy because we had just gone through a decade in which that bargain, that promise wasn't being kept. Jobs had gotten shipped overseas. People were working harder, but making less, while the cost of everything from health care to college was going up. We fought two wars on a credit card, adding enormously to our debt. And all this culminated then in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

And so, we knew this wasn't going to be easy. And when the crisis hit in 2008 and 2009, millions of people all across this country -- some of our friends and neighbors and family members -- lost their jobs, lost their homes, lost their savings. And that made the American Dream even a little bit further out of reach.

Now, I told you when I ran the first time that this was not going to be easy, restoring that bargain; that there weren't any quick fixes to our solutions. But what I also insisted, and what I still believe, is we've got everything we need to solve these challenges. (Applause.) We have everything we need right here in America to make the middle class strong again.

We've got the best workers in the world. (Applause.) We've got the best entrepreneurs in the world. (Applause.) Everybody knows we've got the best farms in the world. (Applause.) We've got the best scientists, the best researchers. We've got the best universities. We've got the best colleges. We are a young nation still, partly because we're still a magnet for talent from all around the world. We've got the greatest diversity of talent and ingenuity of any other country.

And so even though there are some people who like to talk about America in decline, or they try to paint things as dark as possible -- especially during election season -- there is no doubt in my mind that there's not another country on Earth that wouldn't gladly trade places with us. We've got everything we need to succeed. (Applause.)

And most of all, what we've got is the American character. I've seen it over the last three and a half years. I see it in folks who lose their jobs at the age of 50 or 55 and they go back to a community college, studying hard, sitting next to 20-year-olds, and retrain, and suddenly they go back and they get a job in a new industry. Or the small business owner who could barely keep their doors open but decided, you know what, I'm not going to take a salary, I'm not going to take any pay, because I want to make sure my workers are taken care of because they've got families to support.

All across America, it turns out Americans are tougher than any tough times. We are resilient, and we work hard, and we may get knocked down but we always get back up. That has been the character of America, and that character has not changed. (Applause.)

And it's because of that character that over the last three and a half years we've made some progress. We're not all the way back to where we need to be, but we've created four and a half million new jobs -- half a million new jobs in manufacturing. (Applause.) We have seen small businesses start to open back up. We've seen workers getting retrained and getting rehired. And so we've made progress.

But our goal in 2007-2008 wasn't just getting back to where we were before the crisis. Our goal was to make sure that we built an economy that lasts; where we built an economy where middle-class folks and folks aspiring to the middle class can succeed. That has been our goal. That's what we're still fighting for. We are not yet done, and that's why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States of America -- because we've got more work to do. (Applause.)

Now, I said we've got everything we need to solve our problems. The main impediment we've got, the main roadblock we've got is politics in Washington. (Applause.) You've got another party that thinks compromise is a dirty word, and that believes the only way we can move forward is to go back to the same top-down economics that got us into this mess in the first place.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes. You're right!

THE PRESIDENT: Now, you may have heard that Governor Romney just chose his running mate, Congressman Ryan.


THE PRESIDENT: He's a good man, he's a family man. He's the ideological leader of the Republicans in Congress, and he's an articulate spokesperson for Governor Romney's views. The problem is those views are wrong. I fundamentally disagree with their vision for America. (Applause.) Their basic prescription for America is to get rid of more regulations on big banks and big corporations, give more tax breaks to the very wealthiest Americans, and their belief is somehow that prosperity then will trickle down on everybody else. That's their view.

Look, the centerpiece of Governor Romney's entire economic plan -- the centerpiece of it, his main idea -- his one big idea is to give another $5 trillion tax cut on top of the Bush tax cuts that he's keeping -- he wants to keep in place -- $5 trillion. To give you some sense of perspective, our entire defense budget is about half a trillion dollars a year. So this tax cut would be the equivalent of what we spend on the national defense every single year for the next 10 years -- $5 trillion. Last week we found out that he expects you to pay the tab. Governor Romney's tax plan would actually raise taxes on middle-class families with children by an average of $2,000 to pay for this big tax break that's going mostly to the wealthiest folks.


THE PRESIDENT: Understand, this is not asking you to pay more taxes to reduce our deficit or to help kids get an education or to rebuild some roads and bridges and ports around the country. This is asking you to pay more to give an average $250,000 tax break to folks making $3 million a year or more. That is his big idea.

Now, they have tried to sell this kind of trickle-down fairy dust before. (Laughter.) And frankly, they tried it as recently as 2001, 2002, 2003. And what did we get? The most sluggish job growth in generations, incomes and wages going down, jobs going overseas, and a huge economic crisis -- and, by the way, the deficits kept on going up so by the time I walked into office we had a trillion-dollar deficit.

Why would we want to try that again? I don't know about you, but my general rule is if I do something and it doesn't work, and then I do it again and it doesn't work again, I stop doing it. (Laughter.) I stop doing it. I try something else. (Applause.)

So they don't have a plan to cut the deficit. They don't have a plan to create jobs. They sure don't have a plan to revive the middle class. We don't need more tax cuts for folks like me -- folks who are doing fine. We need tax relief for working Americans. (Applause.)

So when I came into office, I had promised you that I would cut taxes for middle-class Americans. And guess what? I kept that promise. (Applause.) The Republicans like to call Democrats the big tax-and-spend folks, but it turns out that your tax rates are lower by about $3,600 for the typical family than they were when I came into office because I kept my promise. (Applause.)

So now what I want to do is to keep your income tax rates exactly where they are. I don't want your taxes going up for the first $250,000 of income that you make -- which, by the way, covers about 98 percent of all Americans and 97 percent of all small businesses. Your taxes -- your income taxes would not go up one single dime next year if Congress does what I've asked them to do. (Applause.)

What I have said is, for those who are fortunate enough to be in the other 2 percent, you'd still get a tax cut for the first $250,000 you make, but after that we're asking you to pay a little bit more to help pay down the deficit, and help to invest in making college affordable for young people, and making sure that we've got teachers on the job, and making sure that we're investing in science to help cure cancer and Alzheimer's. (Applause.) That's how our economy can grow. That's how our economy will grow.

We're going to make sure government does its part. A lot of people don't realize we've already cut a trillion dollars of government spending to lower our deficit -- a trillion dollars. And we can do more. I think government has to make sure that it's good stewards for your taxpayer dollars, that it's not being wasted -- and there's still more waste that we can get out of there. But we can't close the deficit and invest in our future just by cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans, cutting education, cutting the things that help us grow. And by the way, the proposal that I'm putting forward that says folks like me and Governor Romney have to pay a little bit more -- we actually have tried that, too. We tried it under Bill Clinton, when we created 23 million new jobs, the biggest budget surplus in history. (Applause.)

And guess what -- folks at the top, they did good, too. And the reason is, when you give a family farmer, or you give a construction worker, or you give a receptionist, or you give a nurse or a teacher a little bit more money in their pockets, what do they do?


THE PRESIDENT: They spend it. Maybe they can finally trade in that 10-year-old car and get a new car. Maybe they get a new appliance because the dishwasher or the washing machine is broken. Maybe they buy a new computer for their kids who are about to go to college. Maybe they go to a restaurant or, heaven forbid, take a vacation once in a while.

And what that means is then businesses have more customers, and businesses hire more workers, and everybody does better. You get what's called a virtuous cycle of everybody feeling more confident about the economy because everybody has got a stake in the economy.

See, I don't believe in an economy from the top down; I believe that the economy grows from the middle class out and from the bottom up. (Applause.) And when everybody is doing well and everybody has got a fair shot, everybody ends up doing better. That's how we grow this economy. And that's why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States of America. (Applause.)

So there are differences in this election on almost every issue. When the automakers were on the brink of collapse, Governor Romney said "let Detroit go bankrupt." I said, let's bet on American workers. (Applause.) And three and a half years later, the auto industry has come roaring back.

So now, I want to make sure that American manufacturing, advanced hi-tech manufacturing, is taking root right here in America -- not in China, not in Germany -- right here in Iowa, right here in Oskaloosa, right here in the United States of America. (Applause.)


THE PRESIDENT: You know, Governor Romney, he likes to brag about his private sector experience. His main private sector experience -- he did make a lot of money -- was investing in companies, some of which were called "pioneers" of outsourcing. I don't want a pioneer of outsourcing. I want somebody who is fighting for insourcing. I want to bring business back to America. (Applause.)

I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas. Let's give them to companies that are investing right here in Iowa and right here in the United States of America, hiring American workers, making American products that we're selling around the world stamped with three proud words: Made in America. That's what I believe in. That's why I'm running. (Applause.)

Let me give you another example. We're at a moment right now when homegrown energy, like wind energy, is creating new jobs all across Iowa and all across the country. And guess what, Governor Romney said let's end the tax credits for wind energy production. Let's get rid of them.

He said that new sources of energy like wind are "imaginary". His running mate calls them a "fad." During a speech a few months ago, Governor Romney even explained his energy policy this way -- I'm quoting here -- "You can't drive a car with a windmill on it." (Laughter.) That's what he said about wind power. "You can't drive a car with a windmill on it." Now, I don't know if he has actually tried that. I know he has had other things on his car. (Laughter and applause.)

But if he wants to learn something about wind, all he has got to do is pay attention to what you've been doing here in Iowa. (Applause.) If he saw what you've been doing, he'd see that there are places like Newton, where a few years ago the Maytag plant closed down, jobs dried up. Folks are now back to work manufacturing these enormous new towers and blades for some of the most sophisticated, high-tech wind turbines on the planet. The wind industry now supports 7,000 jobs here in Iowa -- 75,000 jobs across the country. (Applause.) These jobs aren't a "fad". These are good jobs, and they're a source of pride that we need to fight for.

And if Governor Romney understood what you've been doing, he'd know that we used to have to import most of the parts were used for wind turbines -- they're now being made here in America, by American workers in American factories. That's not "imaginary" -- that's real. (Applause.) That's part of what we're fighting for in this election.

If he knew what you've been doing, he'd know that 20 percent of Iowa's electricity now comes from wind, powering our homes and our factories and our businesses in a way that is clean and renewable. In fact, over the past 4 years, we've doubled the amount of electricity America generates for wind. Across America, we've built the equivalent of 12 new Hoover Dams' worth of wind energy. Think about that. Think about that. (Applause.)

So Governor Romney may have figured out that you can't drive a car with a windmill on it, but he doesn't seem to know that America now has enough wind turbines installed to generate enough electricity from wind to power nearly 13 million homes with clean energy. That's how we leave something better for the next generation. That's worth fighting for. That's what's at stake right now. (Applause.)

So I want to stop giving $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies that are going to oil companies that are making huge profits and have been subsidized for a hundred years, and let's keep on investing in the new homegrown energy that's creating jobs right here in Iowa. That's a difference in this election. That's why I'm running for President of the United States of America. (Applause.)

We've got a whole lot of differences between me and Governor Romney.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: You're better! You are better! You are better!

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I've got to say I agree with that. (Laughter.) My ideas are, at least.

Look, in 2008, I said we'd end the war in Iraq -- we did. (Applause.) We said that we'd go after al Qaeda and bin Laden -- we did. (Applause.) We are now bringing troops home from Afghanistan. (Applause.) America is safer and more secure than when I came into office, because of the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. (Applause.)

That's why we've invested so much in making sure that the VA is doing its job, making sure that our veterans get the benefits that they have earned. Because they shouldn't have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads after they've fought for us. We've got to serve them as well as they've served us. (Applause.)

But as they're now coming home, I want to take about half the money that we're saving after a decade of war and let's help put veterans and Americans back to work rebuilding America, doing some nation-building here at home. (Applause.) Let's rebuild our ports and our roads and our bridges and our airports. We can put folks back to work right now. It's good for the economy now. It will be good for the economy 10 years from now and 20 years from now.

I want to set up a Veterans Jobs Corps that helps local communities hire veterans for firefighters and cops in communities that need them most. (Applause.) Those are smart investments in the future. Governor Romney may have a different idea. I want to put folks back to work rebuilding America. And now is the time to do it.

His other idea is, let's get rid of Obamacare; he says, I'm going to "kill it." Well, let me tell you something, it's true I do care. So I don't mind folks calling it Obamacare. (Applause.) And what I've said is that in a country as rich as ours, we should not see anybody going bankrupt when they get sick. (Applause.)

The Supreme Court has now spoken. We are moving forward with this law. Six and a half million young people can now stay on their parent's plan. (Applause.) Insurance companies can't deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition. (Applause.) Insurance companies can't drop your coverage when you need it the most. (Applause.) For a lot of rural communities, a lot of farmers, it's hard buying health insurance on your own -- you're now going to be able to pool with other folks so you can get discounted rates just like people who work for big companies. That will help a lot of communities all across Iowa. (Applause.)

So we're not going to go backwards and refight the same fights we had over the last three years. We're going forward. We're not going backwards. We don't need to have those same arguments in Washington. What we need to do is go ahead and implement this law, and make sure it works. And if anybody has got good ideas to help further lower health care costs, I'm happy to work with them. But we're not going backwards. We're going forwards. That's what America needs right now. (Applause.)

I'm running to make sure that we've got the best education system in the world. I want to help local communities hire the best teachers -- especially in math and science -- give 2 million more slots available in community colleges so people can get trained for the jobs that businesses are hiring for right now. And I want to make college more affordable for every single young person in America. (Applause.) We've already done a lot of work making sure that they're getting help, but I'm also going to work with the colleges and universities to lower tuition once and for all. Because a higher education is not a luxury in this economy, it is an economic necessity and I want to make sure opportunities are open for everybody, not just for the few. (Applause.)

All these issues -- bringing manufacturing back, helping young people go to school, giving you more health care security -- all these issues tie together. It goes back to what made this country great. And when I think about my own life, when I think about Michelle's life -- we didn't come from wealth. We didn't come from fame. But we were lucky enough to be born in a country where here, everybody gets a fair shot, everybody does their fair share, everybody plays by the same set of rules -- no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name is, you can make it here if you try. That's the story of America. That's your story.

Your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents -- they went through struggles. They went through hardship. Nothing was given to them. But they did live in a country where you had a shot. And we now have an obligation to pass that on to the next generation. That's what we have to fight for.

And over the next three months, you're going to see more TV advertising than you've ever seen in your life. And these folks are spending more money -- they've got people writing $10 million checks. And almost all the ads are the same; they basically say, the economy is not where it needs to be and it's Obama's fault. They just kind of repeat that over and over and over again.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: And it's not!

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know what, let me tell you something. That may be a plan to win an election, but it's not a plan to create jobs. It's not a plan to make our future better. It's not a plan to revive the middle class. They don't have that plan. I do have that plan. (Applause.)

But I'm going to need your help. I'm going to need everybody here registering to vote. I'm going to need you to get your friends and neighbors to register to vote. You can get forms online. You can go to gottaregister.com -- that's gotta, g-o-t-t-a. (Laughter.)

But what I learned from you here in Iowa in 2008 is other folks may outspend me, folks may write me off, but when you've got ordinary folks pulling together, cutting through the nonsense and focuses on what's important -- when you guys get involved -- you can't be stopped. Nothing can stop you. (Applause.)

You will decide the future of this country. And I'm asking for your help. Because we've got more schools to build, we've got more teachers to hire. We've got more troops who have got to come home. We've got more manufacturing plants that we've got to build. We've got more Americans we need to put back to work, and we've got more doors of opportunity that we have to open for all Americans.

And if you're willing to stand with me and work with me and make phone calls with me and knock on some doors with me, then we can finish what we started in 2008. (Applause.) We can make this middle class strong again. We can make sure that the future is bright for our kids again. And we can remind the world just why it is the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you. (Applause.)



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