The President didn’t throw out “raw meat” like Newt, Mitt or the any of the others in Republican field vying to become the next President, he spoke to the problems and while the R’s are quibbling and kissing the rings of the one percenters (Donald Trump , President Obama gave a inclusive speech. He gave a challenge to be more not less. He wasn’t telling unemployed, homeless and indebted people to “take a bath and get a job.”
The speech was billed as him presenting an historical perspective on Teddy Roosevelt‘s speech, but it was much more than that, it was The President’s , the majority of the countries, belief that we can do better together than divided.
Posted to watch, read ,critique or cite your favorite passage.
GAME ON, Republicans
President Obama Discusses Economy in Kansas
Remarks by the President on the Economy in Osawatomie, Kansas
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Please, please have a seat. Thank you so much. Thank you. Good afternoon, everybody.
AUDIENCE: Good afternoon.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to start by thanking a few folks who’ve joined us today. We’ve got the mayor of Osawatomie, Phil Dudley is here. (Applause.) We have your superintendent Gary French in the house. (Applause.) And we have the principal of Osawatomie High, Doug Chisam. (Applause.) And I have brought your former governor, who is doing now an outstanding job as Secretary of Health and Human Services — Kathleen Sebelius is in the house. (Applause.) We love Kathleen.
Well, it is great to be back in the state of Tex — (laughter) — state of Kansas. I was giving Bill Self a hard time, he was here a while back. As many of you know, I have roots here. (Applause.) I’m sure you’re all familiar with the Obamas of Osawatomie. (Laughter.) Actually, I like to say that I got my name from my father, but I got my accent — and my values — from my mother. (Applause.) She was born in Wichita. (Applause.) Her mother grew up in Augusta. Her father was from El Dorado. So my Kansas roots run deep.
My grandparents served during World War II. He was a soldier in Patton’s Army; she was a worker on a bomber assembly line. And together, they shared the optimism of a nation that triumphed over the Great Depression and over fascism. They believed in an America where hard work paid off, and responsibility was rewarded, and anyone could make it if they tried — no matter who you were, no matter where you came from, no matter how you started out. (Applause.)
And these values gave rise to the largest middle class and the strongest economy that the world has ever known. It was here in America that the most productive workers, the most innovative companies turned out the best products on Earth. And you know what? Every American shared in that pride and in that success — from those in the executive suites to those in middle management to those on the factory floor. (Applause.) So you could have some confidence that if you gave it your all, you’d take enough home to raise your family and send your kids to school and have your health care covered, put a little away for retirement.
Today, we’re still home to the world’s most productive workers. We’re still home to the world’s most innovative companies. But for most Americans, the basic bargain that made this country great has eroded. Long before the recession hit, hard work stopped paying off for too many people. Fewer and fewer of the folks who contributed to the success of our economy actually benefited from that success. Those at the very top grew wealthier from their incomes and their investments — wealthier than ever before. But everybody else struggled with costs that were growing and paychecks that weren’t — and too many families found themselves racking up more and more debt just to keep up.
Now, for many years, credit cards and home equity loans papered over this harsh reality. But in 2008, the house of cards collapsed. We all know the story by now: Mortgages sold to people who couldn’t afford them, or even sometimes understand them. Banks and investors allowed to keep packaging the risk and selling it off. Huge bets — and huge bonuses — made with other people’s money on the line. Regulators who were supposed to warn us about the dangers of all this, but looked the other way or didn’t have the authority to look at all.
It was wrong. It combined the breathtaking greed of a few with irresponsibility all across the system. And it plunged our economy and the world into a crisis from which we’re still fighting to recover. It claimed the jobs and the homes and the basic security of millions of people — innocent, hardworking Americans who had met their responsibilities but were still left holding the bag.
And ever since, there’s been a raging debate over the best way to restore growth and prosperity, restore balance, restore fairness. Throughout the country, it’s sparked protests and political movements — from the tea party to the people who’ve been occupying the streets of New York and other cities. It’s left Washington in a near-constant state of gridlock. It’s been the topic of heated and sometimes colorful discussion among the men and women running for president. (Laughter.)
But, Osawatomie, this is not just another political debate. This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what’s at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement.
Now, in the midst of this debate, there are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia. After all that’s happened, after the worst economic crisis, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for way too many years. And their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.
I am here to say they are wrong. (Applause.) I’m here in Kansas to reaffirm my deep conviction that we’re greater together than we are on our own. I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. (Applause.) These aren’t Democratic values or Republican values. These aren’t 1 percent values or 99 percent values. They’re American values. And we have to reclaim them. (Applause.)
You see, this isn’t the first time America has faced this choice. At the turn of the last century, when a nation of farmers was transitioning to become the world’s industrial giant, we had to decide: Would we settle for a country where most of the new railroads and factories were being controlled by a few giant monopolies that kept prices high and wages low? Would we allow our citizens and even our children to work ungodly hours in conditions that were unsafe and unsanitary? Would we restrict education to the privileged few? Because there were people who thought massive inequality and exploitation of people was just the price you pay for progress.
Theodore Roosevelt disagreed. He was the Republican son of a wealthy family. He praised what the titans of industry had done to create jobs and grow the economy. He believed then what we know is true today, that the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history. It’s led to a prosperity and a standard of living unmatched by the rest of the world.
But Roosevelt also knew that the free market has never been a free license to take whatever you can from whomever you can. (Applause.) He understood the free market only works when there are rules of the road that ensure competition is fair and open and honest. And so he busted up monopolies, forcing those companies to compete for consumers with better services and better prices. And today, they still must. He fought to make sure businesses couldn’t profit by exploiting children or selling food or medicine that wasn’t safe. And today, they still can’t.
And in 1910, Teddy Roosevelt came here to Osawatomie and he laid out his vision for what he called a New Nationalism. “Our country,” he said, “…means nothing unless it means the triumph of a real democracy…of an economic system under which each man shall be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that there is in him.” (Applause.)
Now, for this, Roosevelt was called a radical. He was called a socialist — (laughter) — even a communist. But today, we are a richer nation and a stronger democracy because of what he fought for in his last campaign: an eight-hour work day and a minimum wage for women — (applause) — insurance for the unemployed and for the elderly, and those with disabilities; political reform and a progressive income tax. (Applause.)
Today, over 100 years later, our economy has gone through another transformation. Over the last few decades, huge advances in technology have allowed businesses to do more with less, and it’s made it easier for them to set up shop and hire workers anywhere they want in the world. And many of you know firsthand the painful disruptions this has caused for a lot of Americans.
Factories where people thought they would retire suddenly picked up and went overseas, where workers were cheaper. Steel mills that needed 100 — or 1,000 employees are now able to do the same work with 100 employees, so layoffs too often became permanent, not just a temporary part of the business cycle. And these changes didn’t just affect blue-collar workers. If you were a bank teller or a phone operator or a travel agent, you saw many in your profession replaced by ATMs and the Internet.
Today, even higher-skilled jobs, like accountants and middle management can be outsourced to countries like China or India. And if you’re somebody whose job can be done cheaper by a computer or someone in another country, you don’t have a lot of leverage with your employer when it comes to asking for better wages or better benefits, especially since fewer Americans today are part of a union.
Now, just as there was in Teddy Roosevelt’s time, there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes — especially for the wealthy — our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty.
Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ‘50s and ‘60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this theory.
Remember in those years, in 2001 and 2003, Congress passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history. And what did it get us? The slowest job growth in half a century. Massive deficits that have made it much harder to pay for the investments that built this country and provided the basic security that helped millions of Americans reach and stay in the middle class — things like education and infrastructure, science and technology, Medicare and Social Security.
Remember that in those same years, thanks to some of the same folks who are now running Congress, we had weak regulation, we had little oversight, and what did it get us? Insurance companies that jacked up people’s premiums with impunity and denied care to patients who were sick, mortgage lenders that tricked families into buying homes they couldn’t afford, a financial sector where irresponsibility and lack of basic oversight nearly destroyed our entire economy.
We simply cannot return to this brand of “you’re on your own” economics if we’re serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country. (Applause.) We know that it doesn’t result in a strong economy. It results in an economy that invests too little in its people and in its future. We know it doesn’t result in a prosperity that trickles down. It results in a prosperity that’s enjoyed by fewer and fewer of our citizens.
Look at the statistics. In the last few decades, the average income of the top 1 percent has gone up by more than 250 percent to $1.2 million per year. I’m not talking about millionaires, people who have a million dollars. I’m saying people who make a million dollars every single year. For the top one hundredth of 1 percent, the average income is now $27 million per year. The typical CEO who used to earn about 30 times more than his or her worker now earns 110 times more. And yet, over the last decade the incomes of most Americans have actually fallen by about 6 percent.
Now, this kind of inequality — a level that we haven’t seen since the Great Depression — hurts us all. When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, when people are slipping out of the middle class, it drags down the entire economy from top to bottom. America was built on the idea of broad-based prosperity, of strong consumers all across the country. That’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough so that they could buy the cars he made. It’s also why a recent study showed that countries with less inequality tend to have stronger and steadier economic growth over the long run.
Inequality also distorts our democracy. It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and it runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder. (Applause.) It leaves everyone else rightly suspicious that the system in Washington is rigged against them, that our elected representatives aren’t looking out for the interests of most Americans.
But there’s an even more fundamental issue at stake. This kind of gaping inequality gives lie to the promise that’s at the very heart of America: that this is a place where you can make it if you try. We tell people — we tell our kids — that in this country, even if you’re born with nothing, work hard and you can get into the middle class. We tell them that your children will have a chance to do even better than you do. That’s why immigrants from around the world historically have flocked to our shores.
And yet, over the last few decades, the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart, and the middle class has shrunk. You know, a few years after World War II, a child who was born into poverty had a slightly better than 50-50 chance of becoming middle class as an adult. By 1980, that chance had fallen to around 40 percent. And if the trend of rising inequality over the last few decades continues, it’s estimated that a child born today will only have a one-in-three chance of making it to the middle class — 33 percent.
It’s heartbreaking enough that there are millions of working families in this country who are now forced to take their children to food banks for a decent meal. But the idea that those children might not have a chance to climb out of that situation and back into the middle class, no matter how hard they work? That’s inexcusable. It is wrong. (Applause.) It flies in the face of everything that we stand for. (Applause.)
Now, fortunately, that’s not a future that we have to accept, because there’s another view about how we build a strong middle class in this country — a view that’s truer to our history, a vision that’s been embraced in the past by people of both parties for more than 200 years.
It’s not a view that we should somehow turn back technology or put up walls around America. It’s not a view that says we should punish profit or success or pretend that government knows how to fix all of society’s problems. It is a view that says in America we are greater together — when everyone engages in fair play and everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair share. (Applause.)
So what does that mean for restoring middle-class security in today’s economy? Well, it starts by making sure that everyone in America gets a fair shot at success. The truth is we’ll never be able to compete with other countries when it comes to who’s best at letting their businesses pay the lowest wages, who’s best at busting unions, who’s best at letting companies pollute as much as they want. That’s a race to the bottom that we can’t win, and we shouldn’t want to win that race. (Applause.) Those countries don’t have a strong middle class. They don’t have our standard of living.
The race we want to win, the race we can win is a race to the top — the race for good jobs that pay well and offer middle-class security. Businesses will create those jobs in countries with the highest-skilled, highest-educated workers, the most advanced transportation and communication, the strongest commitment to research and technology.
The world is shifting to an innovation economy and nobody does innovation better than America. Nobody does it better. (Applause.) No one has better colleges. Nobody has better universities. Nobody has a greater diversity of talent and ingenuity. No one’s workers or entrepreneurs are more driven or more daring. The things that have always been our strengths match up perfectly with the demands of the moment.
But we need to meet the moment. We’ve got to up our game. We need to remember that we can only do that together. It starts by making education a national mission — a national mission. (Applause.) Government and businesses, parents and citizens. In this economy, a higher education is the surest route to the middle class. The unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average. And their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma. Which means we shouldn’t be laying off good teachers right now — we should be hiring them. (Applause.) We shouldn’t be expecting less of our schools –- we should be demanding more. (Applause.) We shouldn’t be making it harder to afford college — we should be a country where everyone has a chance to go and doesn’t rack up $100,000 of debt just because they went. (Applause.)
In today’s innovation economy, we also need a world-class commitment to science and research, the next generation of high-tech manufacturing. Our factories and our workers shouldn’t be idle. We should be giving people the chance to get new skills and training at community colleges so they can learn how to make wind turbines and semiconductors and high-powered batteries. And by the way, if we don’t have an economy that’s built on bubbles and financial speculation, our best and brightest won’t all gravitate towards careers in banking and finance. (Applause.) Because if we want an economy that’s built to last, we need more of those young people in science and engineering. (Applause.) This country should not be known for bad debt and phony profits. We should be known for creating and selling products all around the world that are stamped with three proud words: Made in America. (Applause.)
Today, manufacturers and other companies are setting up shop in the places with the best infrastructure to ship their products, move their workers, communicate with the rest of the world. And that’s why the over 1 million construction workers who lost their jobs when the housing market collapsed, they shouldn’t be sitting at home with nothing to do. They should be rebuilding our roads and our bridges, laying down faster railroads and broadband, modernizing our schools — (applause) — all the things other countries are already doing to attract good jobs and businesses to their shores.
Yes, business, and not government, will always be the primary generator of good jobs with incomes that lift people into the middle class and keep them there. But as a nation, we’ve always come together, through our government, to help create the conditions where both workers and businesses can succeed. (Applause.) And historically, that hasn’t been a partisan idea. Franklin Roosevelt worked with Democrats and Republicans to give veterans of World War II — including my grandfather, Stanley Dunham — the chance to go to college on the G.I. Bill. It was a Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower, a proud son of Kansas — (applause) — who started the Interstate Highway System, and doubled down on science and research to stay ahead of the Soviets.
Of course, those productive investments cost money. They’re not free. And so we’ve also paid for these investments by asking everybody to do their fair share. Look, if we had unlimited resources, no one would ever have to pay any taxes and we would never have to cut any spending. But we don’t have unlimited resources. And so we have to set priorities. If we want a strong middle class, then our tax code must reflect our values. We have to make choices.
Today that choice is very clear. To reduce our deficit, I’ve already signed nearly $1 trillion of spending cuts into law and I’ve proposed trillions more, including reforms that would lower the cost of Medicare and Medicaid. (Applause.)
But in order to structurally close the deficit, get our fiscal house in order, we have to decide what our priorities are. Now, most immediately, short term, we need to extend a payroll tax cut that’s set to expire at the end of this month. (Applause.) If we don’t do that, 160 million Americans, including most of the people here, will see their taxes go up by an average of $1,000 starting in January and it would badly weaken our recovery. That’s the short term.
In the long term, we have to rethink our tax system more fundamentally. We have to ask ourselves: Do we want to make the investments we need in things like education and research and high-tech manufacturing — all those things that helped make us an economic superpower? Or do we want to keep in place the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans in our country? Because we can’t afford to do both. That is not politics. That’s just math. (Laughter and applause.)
Now, so far, most of my Republican friends in Washington have refused under any circumstance to ask the wealthiest Americans to go to the same tax rate they were paying when Bill Clinton was president. So let’s just do a trip down memory lane here.
Keep in mind, when President Clinton first proposed these tax increases, folks in Congress predicted they would kill jobs and lead to another recession. Instead, our economy created nearly 23 million jobs and we eliminated the deficit. (Applause.) Today, the wealthiest Americans are paying the lowest taxes in over half a century. This isn’t like in the early ‘50s, when the top tax rate was over 90 percent. This isn’t even like the early ‘80s, when the top tax rate was about 70 percent. Under President Clinton, the top rate was only about 39 percent. Today, thanks to loopholes and shelters, a quarter of all millionaires now pay lower tax rates than millions of you, millions of middle-class families. Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1 percent. One percent.
That is the height of unfairness. It is wrong. (Applause.) It’s wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker, maybe earns $50,000 a year, should pay a higher tax rate than somebody raking in $50 million. (Applause.) It’s wrong for Warren Buffett’s secretary to pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. (Applause.) And by the way, Warren Buffett agrees with me. (Laughter.) So do most Americans — Democrats, independents and Republicans. And I know that many of our wealthiest citizens would agree to contribute a little more if it meant reducing the deficit and strengthening the economy that made their success possible.
This isn’t about class warfare. This is about the nation’s welfare. It’s about making choices that benefit not just the people who’ve done fantastically well over the last few decades, but that benefits the middle class, and those fighting to get into the middle class, and the economy as a whole.
Finally, a strong middle class can only exist in an economy where everyone plays by the same rules, from Wall Street to Main Street. (Applause.) As infuriating as it was for all of us, we rescued our major banks from collapse, not only because a full-blown financial meltdown would have sent us into a second Depression, but because we need a strong, healthy financial sector in this country.
But part of the deal was that we wouldn’t go back to business as usual. And that’s why last year we put in place new rules of the road that refocus the financial sector on what should be their core purpose: getting capital to the entrepreneurs with the best ideas, and financing millions of families who want to buy a home or send their kids to college.
Now, we’re not all the way there yet, and the banks are fighting us every inch of the way. But already, some of these reforms are being implemented.
If you’re a big bank or risky financial institution, you now have to write out a “living will” that details exactly how you’ll pay the bills if you fail, so that taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes. (Applause.) There are also limits on the size of banks and new abilities for regulators to dismantle a firm that is going under. The new law bans banks from making risky bets with their customers’ deposits, and it takes away big bonuses and paydays from failed CEOs, while giving shareholders a say on executive salaries.
This is the law that we passed. We are in the process of implementing it now. All of this is being put in place as we speak. Now, unless you’re a financial institution whose business model is built on breaking the law, cheating consumers and making risky bets that could damage the entire economy, you should have nothing to fear from these new rules.
Some of you may know, my grandmother worked as a banker for most of her life — worked her way up, started as a secretary, ended up being a vice president of a bank. And I know from her, and I know from all the people that I’ve come in contact with, that the vast majority of bankers and financial service professionals, they want to do right by their customers. They want to have rules in place that don’t put them at a disadvantage for doing the right thing. And yet, Republicans in Congress are fighting as hard as they can to make sure that these rules aren’t enforced.
I’ll give you a specific example. For the first time in history, the reforms that we passed put in place a consumer watchdog who is charged with protecting everyday Americans from being taken advantage of by mortgage lenders or payday lenders or debt collectors. And the man we nominated for the post, Richard Cordray, is a former attorney general of Ohio who has the support of most attorney generals, both Democrat and Republican, throughout the country. Nobody claims he’s not qualified.
But the Republicans in the Senate refuse to confirm him for the job; they refuse to let him do his job. Why? Does anybody here think that the problem that led to our financial crisis was too much oversight of mortgage lenders or debt collectors?
THE PRESIDENT: Of course not. Every day we go without a consumer watchdog is another day when a student, or a senior citizen, or a member of our Armed Forces — because they are very vulnerable to some of this stuff — could be tricked into a loan that they can’t afford — something that happens all the time. And the fact is that financial institutions have plenty of lobbyists looking out for their interests. Consumers deserve to have someone whose job it is to look out for them. (Applause.) And I intend to make sure they do. (Applause.) And I want you to hear me, Kansas: I will veto any effort to delay or defund or dismantle the new rules that we put in place. (Applause.)
We shouldn’t be weakening oversight and accountability. We should be strengthening oversight and accountability. I’ll give you another example. Too often, we’ve seen Wall Street firms violating major anti-fraud laws because the penalties are too weak and there’s no price for being a repeat offender. No more. I’ll be calling for legislation that makes those penalties count so that firms don’t see punishment for breaking the law as just the price of doing business. (Applause.)
The fact is this crisis has left a huge deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. And major banks that were rescued by the taxpayers have an obligation to go the extra mile in helping to close that deficit of trust. At minimum, they should be remedying past mortgage abuses that led to the financial crisis. They should be working to keep responsible homeowners in their home. We’re going to keep pushing them to provide more time for unemployed homeowners to look for work without having to worry about immediately losing their house.
The big banks should increase access to refinancing opportunities to borrowers who haven’t yet benefited from historically low interest rates. And the big banks should recognize that precisely because these steps are in the interest of middle-class families and the broader economy, it will also be in the banks’ own long-term financial interest. What will be good for consumers over the long term will be good for the banks. (Applause.)
Investing in things like education that give everybody a chance to succeed. A tax code that makes sure everybody pays their fair share. And laws that make sure everybody follows the rules. That’s what will transform our economy. That’s what will grow our middle class again. In the end, rebuilding this economy based on fair play, a fair shot, and a fair share will require all of us to see that we have a stake in each other’s success. And it will require all of us to take some responsibility.
It will require parents to get more involved in their children’s education. It will require students to study harder. (Applause.) It will require some workers to start studying all over again. It will require greater responsibility from homeowners not to take out mortgages they can’t afford. They need to remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
It will require those of us in public service to make government more efficient and more effective, more consumer-friendly, more responsive to people’s needs. That’s why we’re cutting programs that we don’t need to pay for those we do. (Applause.) That’s why we’ve made hundreds of regulatory reforms that will save businesses billions of dollars. That’s why we’re not just throwing money at education, we’re challenging schools to come up with the most innovative reforms and the best results.
And it will require American business leaders to understand that their obligations don’t just end with their shareholders. Andy Grove, the legendary former CEO of Intel, put it best. He said, “There is another obligation I feel personally, given that everything I’ve achieved in my career, and a lot of what Intel has achieved…were made possible by a climate of democracy, an economic climate and investment climate provided by the United States.”
This broader obligation can take many forms. At a time when the cost of hiring workers in China is rising rapidly, it should mean more CEOs deciding that it’s time to bring jobs back to the United States — (applause) — not just because it’s good for business, but because it’s good for the country that made their business and their personal success possible. (Applause.)
I think about the Big Three auto companies who, during recent negotiations, agreed to create more jobs and cars here in America, and then decided to give bonuses not just to their executives, but to all their employees, so that everyone was invested in the company’s success. (Applause.)
I think about a company based in Warroad, Minnesota. It’s called Marvin Windows and Doors. During the recession, Marvin’s competitors closed dozens of plants, let hundreds of workers go. But Marvin’s did not lay off a single one of their 4,000 or so employees — not one. In fact, they’ve only laid off workers once in over a hundred years. Mr. Marvin’s grandfather even kept his eight employees during the Great Depression.
Now, at Marvin’s when times get tough, the workers agree to give up some perks and some pay, and so do the owners. As one owner said, “You can’t grow if you’re cutting your lifeblood — and that’s the skills and experience your workforce delivers.” (Applause.) For the CEO of Marvin’s, it’s about the community. He said, “These are people we went to school with. We go to church with them. We see them in the same restaurants. Indeed, a lot of us have married local girls and boys. We could be anywhere, but we are in Warroad.”
That’s how America was built. That’s why we’re the greatest nation on Earth. That’s what our greatest companies understand. Our success has never just been about survival of the fittest. It’s about building a nation where we’re all better off. We pull together. We pitch in. We do our part. We believe that hard work will pay off, that responsibility will be rewarded, and that our children will inherit a nation where those values live on. (Applause.)
And it is that belief that rallied thousands of Americans to Osawatomie — (applause) — maybe even some of your ancestors — on a rain-soaked day more than a century ago. By train, by wagon, on buggy, bicycle, on foot, they came to hear the vision of a man who loved this country and was determined to perfect it.
“We are all Americans,” Teddy Roosevelt told them that day. “Our common interests are as broad as the continent.” In the final years of his life, Roosevelt took that same message all across this country, from tiny Osawatomie to the heart of New York City, believing that no matter where he went, no matter who he was talking to, everybody would benefit from a country in which everyone gets a fair chance. (Applause.)
And well into our third century as a nation, we have grown and we’ve changed in many ways since Roosevelt’s time. The world is faster and the playing field is larger and the challenges are more complex. But what hasn’t changed — what can never change — are the values that got us this far. We still have a stake in each other’s success. We still believe that this should be a place where you can make it if you try. And we still believe, in the words of the man who called for a New Nationalism all those years ago, “The fundamental rule of our national life,” he said, “the rule which underlies all others — is that, on the whole, and in the long run, we shall go up or down together.” And I believe America is on the way up. (Applause.)
Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
- POTUS’ Day Ahead: Channeling Teddy Roosevelt (whitehouse.blogs.cnn.com)
- In Kansas, Obama Seeks Teddy Roosevelt Comparisons – NPR (npr.org)
- President Obama invoking Teddy Roosevelt in Kansas (whitehouse.blogs.cnn.com)
- Full text: President Obama’s remarks in Kansas (thegrio.com)
- Watch Live & Respond: President Obama’s Economy Speech in Osawatomie, Kansas (whitehouse.gov)
- Remarks by the President on the Economy in Osawatomie, Kansas (whitehouse.gov)
Excellent speech, thanks so much for posting it bito, I might have missed it otherwise.
I have no problem believing that he means every word of it, he inspires me to be better. Even from many thousands of miles away, I still hold out much hope for a better America for all my friends, and for all who are suffering there.
I’ve turned off the talking heads for a while but watching the Ed Show tonight he is on fire supporting the president, ACA and destroying the GOP. Of course he had some guy on who said Obama’s speech was a start he should have said ‘blah blah blah’. Yeah because they all know better. If he had been watching the president has been pushing jobs and a populist message since the jobs bill speech. 🙄
agreed. Thomas Frank was the guest, a liberal idealist, whose has done some very good work. He writes for Harper’s. I have read his book “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” and “What’s the Matter with America? The Resistible Rise of the American Right”. He tends to think in terms of lofty goals and like you I found his tepid response to Obama’s landmark address to be disappointing, but Ed pushed him.
What a wonderful speech.
I spent my first hour home from work reading and re-reading it.
And how wise to channel Teddy Roosevelt, as well as Franklin, at this point in time. To take a considerable amount of time to praise the virtues of a Republican president. A Republican who wasn’t a lunatic. And to contrast him with today’s blockheads who refuse to confirm Richard Cordray’s appointment because they want banks to go right back to doing the same things that got us where we are now.
He spoke truth when he said this:
It was clear, understandable without being patronizing, yet eloquent. I wish I’d been there to hear it.
Teddy was the first progressive and back then the party labels were not as set in stone with right and left as they are now.
😆 Yes, if you could call a party “Bull Moose,” by god, you could call it anything! Invigorating!
Kes, I think TR was for many reasons one of our worst Presidents, but he did have his moments later in his presidency.
By the way, I thought it was a great speech too!
Bully for you, Funk!
I have to admit when I think of Teddy Roosevelt I think of the Teddy character charging up the stairs in “Arsenic and Old Lace”.
“CHARGE!” KQ, you made me laugh thinking of that! Now he can go to Africa on safari. No more fever victims from Panama Canal.
There’s always the legend and the reality with regards to a president and a person for that matter. Teddy’s legend was way bigger than his actual accomplishments.
Teddy was such an amazingly complex guy, wasn’t he, funk?
I actually don’t think I would have wanted to have a beer with him to be honest.
Trust-busting was a terrific idea, though, I gotta admit.
Kes, I don’t think Teddy would ask you to have a beer. He didn’t drink. Maybe a cup of coffee or go hunting with him. I wouldn’t do either. I would have waited for FDR and PARTY, PARTY! He asked everybody to have a drink and we were able to again!
Coffee, okay, Sally, but the hunting thing would have been right out as the Monty Python boys would have put it.
It’s kind of a fun question to wonder which prez it would have been the most amusing and/or interesting to hang out with, isn’t it? Andrew Jackson would have been a riot I suspect.
Kes, I don’t think I could go with you to Andrew Jackson’s. My ancestry was on the Trail of Tears thanks to him. Now, Harry Truman I could have had a drink with. He was from my home state and lived only 50 miles away.
😆 I was kidding, of course, on Jackson, Sally. I really don’t admire him. But he and his buddies were kinda legendary for their White House parties that went on forever and spilled out the windows and on to the lawn, as legend would have it.
HST would have been interesting to talk to, no? A basically decent guy, but question #1 would have to have been: “What the f*** was the rationale for dropping those bombs on cities with innocent civilians in them?”
Yes, Kes, that would be Harry’s big question. Pick a Prez and you could find something to ask, “What were you thinking!” I know we could have gotten drunk with Grant because he usually was. But, I think I would have liked to have tea with Abigail Adams and tell her about the ladies now and how we got them boys to remember us. (In a letter to John she wrote him to “remember the ladies” but I think she was thinking of pins and needles and thread.)
He was a mass of contradictions. But a progressive vision definitely took hold as he aged. When he saw what a mess his anointed successor was making of the presidency, he tried to take him down from the Left….without success.
I don’t think it’s surprising. The voters who decide elections are indies and they want a President who is bipartisan. So, from a campaign standpoint, it’s in step with Obama invoking Ronald Reagan previously.
This is intentional and intended to send a message in subtext. “I don’t hate Republicans, I look up to some of them, I want to work with them to help you.”
Contrast that with whoever wins the GOP nom, coming out demonizing Dems, Progressives, Liberals, The Poor, Blacks, Latinos, Gays, The Unemployed, etc.
Smart strategy and it’s honest, Obama does want to work with the Repubs while any Repub nom who claims the same would be doing so while demonizing Dems and proving to be an abject liar.
Now, AdLib, Dan Quayle did compare the length of his congressional service with that of former President John F. Kennedy. Of course, Bentsen’s response “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” subsequently place that right up Quayle’s butt. But, you are right, AdLib, he wasn’t really complimenting Kennedy. The Republs seem to have a real problem with that. However, I feel the Dems tend to quote Reagan too much to show they are different.
Quoting Reagan is also a way of saying, “Remember when Republicans weren’t batshit crazy like they are now?”
Okay, AdLib, you are right. But, I am one of those that think Reagan was batty!
Reagan was the prototype for the current crop of nutters. He was an B-movie actor who co-starred with a monkey. He didn’t lift a finger for some time to respond to AIDS because he thought it would just kill gays. He put the country in enormous debt, threw the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the streets then resisted aid for the homeless and poor.
Going back to his Hollywood days, he became a good friend to the McCarthy witch hunt and turned in a number of his “friends” in Hollywood as being communists.
Reagan wasn’t a good guy but compared to what the Baggers want done by a Repub President and Congress, he seems almost mild!
AdLib, and the destruction of the family farm. Turned it over to big corporate farming and allowed them the farm subsidies that were intended for the small farmer.
Somewhat agree Adlib. As much as I disliked and still dislike PRR, he did not come out and say “let’s kill Social Security , let’s alter child labor laws or the NLRB….” He did change the environment and began the anti-Union.worker movement, but he almost sounds sane compared to what he begat-spawned.
RR was more or less the beginning of the end of any semblance of sanity on the right,imho.
Firing all the air traffic controllers and replacing them with scabs should have been a huge tip-off to all of us. I still remember feeling that “Can-he-do-that?” reaction to that event, thinking that at any moment that decision would be reversed by some court ruling or something. But no. It stood. And it was the beginning of the long descent into madness we know as the current Republican party.
With you, Kes! The admiration of RR brings that all to mind for me, too. I think the TBaggers drank too much of his tea and now they are drunk on it.
I suspect there will be an address when he invokes Ike who warned of the the economic and diplomatic dangers in militarization, support high taxes for the top two brackets to pay down the debt from the New Deal, WWII, Marshall Plan and Cold War start-up, invested heavily in the national transportation infrastructure, believed in unions and expanded Social Security to cover four exempted categories.
Have you ever read the GOP platform from Ike’s two candidacies…..talk about progressive!
Hello k’es, I thought it was a very good speech and I’m glad that you were able to view/read it. Odd as it may sound, some people have to work, damnit,!
Your observation was very close to Doris Kearns Goodwin’s when Tweety said it was too “professorial” (a MSM line when they don’t get the handout of bullet points?)
Must be the love of history that you and Ms. Kearns-Goodwin that you both share.
I usually like to read President Obama’s speeches, but viewing this one really showed some very remarkable and purposeful pauses. His pause at ….”I’m here to say they are wrong.” was perfection. The pause doesn’t read as well, not even close.
Well, b’ito, you just made my day by putting me in the same sentence with Doris Kearns Goodwin!
Don’t you think that PBO actually personally authored this speech, too? (Every once in a while Dubya would give a decent one, but you could definitely tell it was written by someone else.) I do.
Well, k’es, you made the choice to get into that RN giving/helping thing. Think of it, you have probably helped more people than Ms. Goodwin has sold books, no offense Ms, Goodwin.
Did PBO write the speech? If he didn’t he had a huge amount of input into it, I think. Some time ago I posted some passages of his from his books, and speeches and left an open question on whether his convictions had changed. The PL and the RW think he both a pawn of the bankster’s or a commie. Which is it?
Any doubts about Mr. Obama’s convictions? I invite you to watch/read: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/convention2004/barackobama2004dnc.htm
Wow is this ever the like Mitt and Newt, eh, quite the flip-flopper. [snark] This man has convictions for a better and more just country and the world. Find me any huge difference of what he said in 2004 and what he said today. What did Mitt and Newt say in 2004, same conviction?
Pretty consistent fella there, I would have to say, b’ito.
I think people like The Newt and Goodhair Perry don’t have a clue about what makes a person like PBO tick. They’re so jaded and cynical that I think they can only react with a “What’s his angle?” bewilderment or a sullenly hostile envy. They don’t “get” altruism. There is no joy factor in their lives.
Guess that’s why they appeal to ignorant, furious TeaBaggers?
Bito….did my response to your earlier question make sense to you. I just finished watching the speech again – long, intense, serious, and totally enthralling. Very important I think and a very clear marker for his campaign and second term. Audience reactions were especially interesting. Odd moments when there was sustained applause that seemed to surprise him.
Like you, the moment when he said “I’m here to say they are wrong” paused and the applause went on and on and on. Oh my. Chilling.
Watched the entire address today, the moments of sustained applause were extraordinary. Barack seemed to be in tune with his audience in ways I saw on the campaign trail time and again.
This could have been an address to the Occupy crowd.
I was pleased to see that the Prez did give a tip of the hat to the Occupy movement, Murph. Granted, he included the Tea Party as a dissenting group as well, but he pretty much validated the notion that there’s plenty to feel disgruntled about in the current situation.
I know we’ve said it here before, but he really is at his best before a large live audience, isn’t he?
Yes, he gave a nod to the TP but his address was about Occupy issues. I really think we saw his heart today.
Whenever I see him with a crowd, knowing how much of every speech is HIS through and through, and aware of how effective he is one to one, or one to group or one to crowd, I think of the teleprompter nonsense. For those who hate him, they NEED to make a case for Obama as a hollow man, an empty shell…but addresses like today’s puts that to flight.
President Obama knows how important this election is, we are literally at an inflection point in our history whether it’s up or down depends on the country coming together or going down the same path or worse doubling down on failed conservatism.
Obama and the Dems don’t want more people on government assistance. We want less but that won’t happen until business reinvests in America instead of going for the quick buck. Of course the rich and big business need to pay more, pay their fair share because big business can’t provide a safety net, can’t teach our children, can’t make our streets safe or build roads and bridges.
But IDK people are so stuck in the continued malaise and hoping the country fails because their leader is not in office and the 1% is so caught up in their own greed that it will be much more difficult take this country forward rather than continually decline. As long as conservatives whether in business or government put power and greed before country we are doomed.
KQ, I think one of the biggest hurdles that Obama and the Dems have struggled to overcome is the hurdle of conventional wisdom about how to solve problems.
I think OWS has helped change the dynamic of that thought process. Just my impression
I agree with your impression, it’s mine as well.
I agree, Funk. The OWS has cause the nation to turn its head and look. Now to get the actions needed to turn the nation around is, I believe, just beginning. My hopes have not deminished. There is a fire in the belly again.
Teddy Gave a Great Speech, and Lost the Election
His agenda had to wait for the Great Depression
Teddy was not president when he gave this speech. He had been president from 1901 to 1909. When he gave this hallmark speech in Osawatomie in 1910 he was about the launch a bid for the Presidency as the Bull Moose Party candidate. The Oswatomie address was the most radical of his career and openly marked his break with the Taft administration and the conservative Republicans.
But Teddy lost in 1912. And that pretty much ended his career. Much of his reformist agenda had to be enacted later by Democratic presidents mostly as a result of the Great Depression…..Sound familiar you survivors of the Great Recession?
And then there is the plague of money and the political culture. Roosevelt once gathered together the titans of industry to bully them about one of his initiatives. Imagine Obama doing that? Key contributors in an age of billion dollar races work on Wall Street- they will not be bullied.
The power that neo cons and the backers of Tea Party thinking coupled with Citizens United has made leverage from within the government very difficult.
And then there is temperament. Roosevelt found it easy and effective to bully. Obama is more likely to lead quietly behind the scenes, use surrogates or delegate leadership to Congress, than seize the spotlight. He plays a very sly game.
Let’s face it: seizing the spotlight rarely works any magic these days. It just makes one an easier to spot target.
I think I may be missing something in your remarks, Murph. Of course the times were different, but I think President Obama was “channeling” the income inequality and the dim future many have at the hands of the banks and corporations. They both gave a populist speech and even though times may have changed, a sense of fairness existed in TR as it does in President Obama. I think that was the jist of the speech. It is/was a faith in the country to right our wrongs, together to make a us a a better country and people.
While I have seen you say you are a professor, well, Prof., Your point escapes this student. Is it “4) Roosevelt had a blank slate upon which to write. His proposals were bold and new. Obama can’t propose that social safety net; his mission is hold on to the one developed in the years following the Great Depression.” that you object to with PBO’s speech?
Are they not saying close to the same thing?
Are you being critical or just making a comparison/observation?
Obama’s speech was great. My comment was not about what he said. I am for it.
My points are about the context. Obama and TR are in very different places. I pray that Obama’s words are not recalled just as good oratory but as agenda setting.
TR failed. The GOP turned further to the right as a result of his third party run. He lost the 1912 election and drifted into irrelevancy. I don’t want either for Barack.
Obama identified many of the common themes linking then and now, but he got a lot of criticism for not spelling out what needs to be done. Those critics missed the point. The social safety net that TR, FDR dreamed of, has been in place and it works. Obama is leading a crusade to hold on to it.
Lastly, there have been lots of calls today for Obama to really go on the offensive and use the bully pulpit more fully and forcefully. I point out limitations built into our current political/social/economic system; and the power of money to influence everyone in politics today because it has become so overwhelmingly important to have lots of it.
Lastly, I note that while Barack and TR have words and beliefs that are similar, their styles make their approach to the bully pulpit very, very different. I suggest Barack as a sitting president may prove to be far more effective than TR IF he can capitalize on what appears to be a building momentum in support of his message.
Sorry if I was not clear. I am a Barack backer…..have been since 2002 when I lived in Illinois.
Well, Murph, I’m with you. Hope these words work better for President Obama than Teddy in getting re-elected. Bully for the Presidents that chose them and used them to address the people.
SallyT….Obama is working from a real base, TR was not (and did not realize it).
Some say this is an issue of fairness, some say it is an issue of personal choices, some say an issue of tax policy, trade policy etc etc
What is very clear is that 40% of a nation’s income flowing into the hands of 1% of a nation’s population does not work. (If the goals of our nation are still the goals that they have been historically that is).
There are ZERO 1st-world industrialized countries with such a gap between rich and poor.
50% of America “retires” below the poverty level
65% of those on welfare in the US are children
Some would consider these important warning signs. Too many dismiss it as “junk science”
Hear! Hear! funk
Delicious. Simply delicious.
I LOVE MY PRESIDENT.
Hey empi great to see you! X2 that remark.
Thanks KQuark. I check in every day. I don’t comment every day but the President always evokes passion in me. Hope you are well and thanks for the email.
I DO TOO……..NO DOUBT FOR A MOMENT
Same here, empi.
Me as well (and he has also frustrated me).
That’s because governing ain’t easy my friend and especially when you are working with slimy scum bags whose only desire is to destroy you and screw the country in the process. I voted for a pragmatic president and got one. I have felt frustrated at times too but I never stopped believing in his integrity.