President Barack Obama
Paul R. Knapp
Animal Learning Center
May 24, 2012
[WHITE HOUSE TRANSCRIPT]
7:10 P.M. CDT
Hello, Iowa! (Applause.) I don't know about you, but I'm
fired up! (Applause.) I am definitely ready to go!
to go. We just had a chance to talk to the folks in
the overflow, and before that we were in Newton. And I was just
telling my team, there's something about coming to Iowa -- (applause)
-- it just gets me going! (Applause.) It's my home away
(Applause.) Just love this place! Even just all those
long drives. (Laughter.) Seeing all that corn -- makes me
So, listen, I want to
thank a couple of Iowa friends of mine -- first of all, your
outstanding former governor and now outstanding Secretary of
Agriculture, Tom Vilsack is in the house. (Applause.) Your
Frank Cownie is here. (Applause.) Your Congressman, Leonard
(Applause.) Your Attorney General and one of my campaign
Tom Miller. (Applause.) Your State Treasurer and one of my
supporters, Mike Fitzgerald. (Applause.)
And I also want to
thank some folks who've been keeping us fired up from the very
beginning -- the Isiserettes who are in the house.
were talking about when we had the J.J. dinner, we were all going
in together, and the Isiserettes were at the front. And Michelle
were dancing -- she was dancing, I was trying to dance.
So it's good to be
back. It's good to be back among friends. It's good to be
of you. (Applause.) Four or five years ago, it was you who
going when a lot of pundits in Washington had written
us off. You remember that. It was on your front porches, it
your backyards where our movement for change began.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Mr. President!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more
years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: You
know, it was here where we came together to reclaim the basic bargain
that built the largest middle class and the most prosperous nation on
Earth. We believe that in America success shouldn’t
be determined by the circumstances of your birth. If you're
work hard, you should be able to find a good job.
you're willing to meet your responsibilities, you should be able to own
a home, maybe start a business. You should be
able to give your children a better chance than you had -- no matter
where you came from, no matter what you look like, no matter who you
love. (Applause.) That's what we believe.
came together in 2008 because you could tell that our country -- or at
least the leadership in Washington -- had strayed away from these basic
values. We had a record surplus that
had been squandered on tax cuts for folks who didn’t need them and
weren’t even asking for them. Two wars had been waged on a credit
card. Wall Street speculators were reaching huge profits, making
with other people’s money, but it was destabilizing
our financial system. Manufacturing was moving offshore. A
number of Americans were doing fantastically well, but a whole lot of
people were struggling with falling incomes and rising costs and the
slowest job growth in half a century.
And it was a
house of cards, and we sensed that. And then right in the middle
the campaign we saw the most destructive crisis since the Great
Depression. In the last six months
of 2008, while we were still campaigning, nearly 3 million of our
neighbors lost their jobs; 800,000 lost their jobs the month I was
sworn in -- hadn't seen anything like it since the Great Depression.
And so it was tough.
But it turned out Americans were tougher. Folks in Iowa were
(Applause.) We don’t quit. We keep going. And
fighting our way back. (Applause.)
So when some said we
should just let Detroit go bankrupt, we put our money on American
workers and the ingenuity of American companies.
today, plants are adding new workers and new shifts, and
the American auto industry is firing on all cylinders. Our
manufacturers started investing in America again -- first time we
consistently added manufacturing jobs since the 1990s.
getting back to the basics, creating over 4 million new jobs in the
last 26 months -- more than 1 million in the last six months
(Applause.) Here in Iowa, farmers, food producers, manufacturers,
renewable energy producers -- they're all driving new job growth,
showing the resilience and strength of our rural economies.
Now, are we
satisfied? Of course not. We've still got friends out
family who are looking for work. All across America there are
that are still underwater, too many small businesses still struggling
to get financing. States are still laying off teachers and first
This was a deep
crisis; it didn’t happen overnight. And we never thought it was
to be solved overnight. We know we have more work to do.
But we also
know that the last thing we can afford to do is to return
to the very same policies that got us into this mess in the first
place. (Applause.) Not now. Not with so much at
stake. We have come
too far to abandon the change that we fought for over these past few
years. We've got to move forward. We can't go
We've got to move forward. (Applause.)
That's the choice in
this election. And that's why I’m running for a second term as
President of the United States -- to move this country forward.
Now, my opponent in this election, Governor Romney --
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Booo --
Governor Romney is a patriotic American. He's raised a wonderful
family. He should be proud of the great personal success he's had
CEO of a large financial firm. There are plenty of good
and honest people in that industry, and there’s an important, creative
role for it in the free market. But --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: But
Governor Romney has made his experience as a financial CEO the entire
rationale of his candidacy for president. Now, he doesn’t really
about what he did in Massachusetts. But he does talk
about being a business -- business guy. Right? He says this
a special understanding of what it takes to create jobs and grow the
economy -- even if he’s unable to offer a single new idea about how to
do that, no matter how many times he’s asked
about it, he says he knows how to do it. So I think it’s a good
to look at the way he sees the economy.
Now, the main goal of
a financial firm like Governor Romney’s is not to create jobs.
the way, the people who work at these firms will tell you that’s not
their goal. Their main goal is to create wealth
for themselves and their investors. (Applause.) That’s part of
American way. That’s fine.
Sometimes, jobs are
created in that process. But when maximizing short-term gains for
investors rather than building companies that last is your goal, then
sometimes it goes the other way. Workers get laid
off. Benefits disappear. Pensions are cut. Factories
go dark. In
some cases, companies are loaded up with debt -- not to make the
companies more productive, not to buy new equipment to keep them at the
cutting-edge, but just to pay investors. Companies
may go bankrupt as a result. Taxpayers may be on the hook to help
on those pensions. Investors walk off with big returns, and
folks get stuck holding the bag.
Now, that may be the
job of somebody who's engaged in corporate buyouts. That’s
that’s not the job of a President. (Applause.) That’s not
President's job. There may be value for that kind of experience,
but it’s not in the White House. (Applause.)
See, the job of a
President is to lay the foundation for strong and sustainable
broad-based growth -- not one where a small group of speculators are
cashing in on short-term gains. It’s to make sure that everybody
in this country gets a fair shake -- (applause) -- everybody gets a
fair shot, everybody is playing by the same set of rules.
When you’re the
President, your job is to look out for the investor and the worker; for
the big companies and the small companies; for the health of farmers
and small businesspeople and the nurse and the teacher.
(Applause.) You're supposed to be thinking about everybody -- and
health of the middle class, and what the future is going to hold for
our kids. That’s how I see the economy.
Of course, the
worldview that Governor Romney gained from his experience as a
financial CEO explains something. It explains why the last time
visited these very same fairgrounds, he famously declared that
AUDIENCE: Booo --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Corporations aren't people!
THE PRESIDENT: "Human beings, my friends." That’s what he
said. That’s what he called you. "Human beings, my
It also explains why,
when a woman right here in Iowa shared the story of her financial
struggles, he gave her an answer out of an economics textbook. He
said, "Our productivity equals our income." Well, as if
she’d have an easier time making it if she would just work harder.
Now, let me tell you
something. We believe in the profit motive. We believe that
risk-takers and investors should be rewarded. That's what makes
economy so dynamic. But we also believe everybody should have
opportunity. (Applause.) We believe -- we think everybody
the economy more productive or a company more productive should
And the problem with
our economy isn’t that the American people aren’t productive enough --
you’re working harder than ever. Productivity is through the
It's been going up consistently over the last decade.
The challenge we face right now -- the challenge we’ve faced for over a
decade -- is that harder work hasn’t led to higher incomes.
profits haven’t led to better jobs. And you can’t solve that
if you can’t even see that it's a problem. (Applause.)
And he doesn't see
it's a problem. And so this experience explains why he is
the exact same policies that we already tried in the last decade, the
very policies that got us into this mess. He sincerely
believes that if CEOs and wealthy investors are getting rich, then the
wealth is going to trickle down and the rest of us are going to do
well, too. And he is wrong.
You don’t build a
strong economy by proposing more tax cuts for corporations that ship
jobs and profits overseas. But that’s his plan.
don’t build a strong economy by repealing the rules that
are designed to prevent another taxpayer bailout of Wall Street
But that’s what he pledges to do, roll those things back. You
build a strong economy by offering another budget-busting tax cut
skewed to the wealthiest Americans, while raising
taxes on 18 million working families. But that’s what he’s
And then, he and his
folks, they’ve got the nerve to go around saying they're somehow going
to bring down the deficit. Economists who have looked at his plan
it would swell our deficits by trillions of dollars,
even with the drastic cuts he’s called for in things like education and
agriculture and Medicare; even with the drastic cuts to the basic
research and technology that have always been the strength of the
He promises to do that on day one. We don't need that.
THE PRESIDENT: That's a vision that's going backwards.
We're going forwards. (Applause.)
We're going forward.
We're not going to double down on the same bad ideas that we've tried
over the last decade. It's not as if we haven't tried these
We tried them. They didn't work. We're not going
to listen to folks who argue that somehow this time it's going to be
different. I'm here to tell you we were there when we tried
remember. We're not going back. We're moving this country
And I want to make
clear here, it's not like Democrats don't have work to do. We've
work to do. Government -- we have to acknowledge government can't
solve all our problems and it shouldn't try. I learned
from my mom no education policy can take the place of a parent's love
and attention -- and sometimes a scolding when you didn't do your
homework. (Applause.) As a young man, when I was working as
community organizer with Catholic churches, they taught
me no poverty program can make as much of a difference as neighbors
coming together and working together with kindness and
Not every regulation
is smart, not every tax dollar is spent wisely, not every person can be
helped who refuses to help themselves. But that's not an excuse
tell the vast majority of hardworking, responsible
Americans they're on their own; that unless you're lucky to have
parents who can lend you the money, you may not be able to go to
college; that even if you pay your premiums every month, you may be out
of luck if an insurance company decides to drop your coverage
just when you need it most. (Applause.)
That's not who we
are. That's not how we built America. We built this country
together. The Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge, GI Bill, the
landing, the Internet -- we did those things together. Not to
make some small group rich, not to help any single individual, but
because we knew that if we made those investments it would provide a
framework, a platform for everybody to do well, for everybody to
succeed. That’s the true lesson of our past.
That's the right vision for our future. And that's why I'm
President of the United States. (Applause.)
I’m running to make
sure that by the end of this decade, more of our citizens hold a
college degree than any other nation on Earth. (Applause.)
I want to
help our schools hire and reward the best teachers, especially
in math and science. (Applause.) I want to give 2 million
Americans the chance to go to community colleges and learn skills that
local businesses are looking for right now. (Applause.)
education can't be a luxury -- it is a necessity, and I
want everybody to be able to afford it.
That’s the choice in this election. That’s why I’m running for
I’m running to make
sure the next generation of high-tech innovation and manufacturing
takes root in places like Des Moines and Newton and Waterloo.
(Applause.) I want to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs
and profits overseas. I want to reward companies that are
jobs and bringing jobs back here to the United States of America.
(Applause.) That’s the choice in this election.
I’m running so we can
keep moving forward to a future where we control our own energy.
dependence on foreign oil is at the lowest point it's been in 16
years. (Applause.) By the middle of the next decade,
our cars will average nearly 55 miles per gallon.
Thousands of Americans have jobs -- including here in Iowa -- because
the production of renewable energy has nearly doubled in just three
years in this country. (Applause.)
Now is not the time to
cut these investments just to keep giving billions in tax giveaways to
oil companies. They’ve never been more profitable. Now is
the time to
double down on biofuels and solar and wind, clean
energy that’s never been more promising for our economy and our
security and for the safety of the planet. (Applause.)
choice in this election, Iowa.
Now, for the first
time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.
(Applause.) Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to this
(Applause.) Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and by 2014,
the war in Afghanistan will be over. (Applause.)
And all this was made
possible because of the courage and selflessness of our men and women
in uniform -- (applause) -- which is why, on Memorial Day, we're going
to remember them. And I'm going to actually be
talking especially about our Vietnam vets. They weren't honored
way they were supposed to when they came home. (Applause.)
not going to make that mistake again. So 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. (Applause.)
one who fights for this country should have to fight for a job, or a
roof over their heads when they come home. (Applause.)
That’s why I'm
running for President.
My opponent has got a
different view. He said it was "tragic" to end the war in
won’t set a timeline to end the war in Afghanistan. And I have,
intend to keep it. (Applause.) Because after a
decade of war that’s cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion
dollars, the nation we need to build is our own.
(Applause.) So I
want to use -- so we're going to use half of what we’re no longer
spending on war to pay down our deficit, and the rest
to invest in education and research, to repair our roads and bridges,
our runways, our wireless networks. (Applause.)
That’s the choice in this election, Iowa.
I’m running to pay
down our debt in a way that’s balanced and responsible. Now, I
Governor Romney came to Des Moines last week; warned about a "prairie
fire of debt." That’s what he said. (Laughter.) But
he left out some facts. His speech was more like a cow pie of
distortion. (Laughter.) I don’t know whose record he
twisted the most
-- mine or his. (Laughter.)
Now, listen, the debt
and the deficit are serious problems and it is true that the depth of
the recession added to the debt. A lot more folks were looking for
unemployment insurance. A lot fewer folks were paying
taxes because they weren't making money, so that added to the
Our efforts to prevent it from becoming a depression -- helping the
auto industry, making sure that not as many teachers were laid off --
all those things added to the debt.
But what my opponent
didn’t tell you was that federal spending since I took office has risen
at the slowest pace of any President in almost 60 years.
By the way, what generally happens -- what happens
is, the Republicans run up the tab, and then we're sitting there and
they've left the restaurant, and then they point and -- "Why did you
order all those steaks and martinis?" (Laughter.) What he
also tell you was that after inheriting a $1 trillion
deficit, I signed $2 trillion of spending cuts into law.
So now I want to
finish the job –- yes, by streamlining government -- we've got more
work to do; yes, by cutting more waste; but also by reforming our tax
code so that it is simpler and fairer, and so that it asks
the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more.
Oh, by the way,
something else he didn’t mention, something else he didn’t tell you --
he hasn't told you how he'd paid for a new $5 trillion tax cut which
includes a 25 percent tax cut for nearly every millionaire
in the country.
AUDIENCE: Boo --
THE PRESIDENT: Five
trillion dollars in new tax cuts -- that is like trying to put a fire
out -- a prairie fire with some gasoline. (Applause.)
So we're not going to
do that. I refuse to let that happen to our country. We're
to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut by eliminating medical
research that’s helping people with cancer and Alzheimer's
disease. We're not going to pay for it by shortchanging farmers
rural America. We're not going to pay for it by kicking some kids
of Head Start, or asking students to pay more for college, or
eliminating health insurance for millions of poor and elderly,
and Americans on disabilities who are all on Medicaid.
And as long as I’m
President, we're not going to allow Medicare to be turned into a
voucher that would end the program as we know it.
going to reform Medicare not by shifting the cost of care
to seniors -- that’s easy to do, but it's wrong. We're going to
it by reducing the actual costs of health care, reducing the spending
that doesn’t make people healthier. (Applause.) That’s the
thing to do.
That’s what at stake, Iowa. That’s why I'm running for
On issue after issue,
we can’t afford to spend the next four years just going
don’t need to re-fight the battle we just had over Wall Street
That was the right thing to do. We’ve seen how
important it is. We don’t need to re-fight the battle we just had
health care reform -- having 2.5 million young people stay on their
parent's health insurance -- that was the right thing to do.
(Applause.) Cutting prescription drug costs for seniors
-- right thing to do. We're not going to go back to the days when
insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policies, or
deny you coverage, or charge women differently from men. We’re
going back to that. (Applause.)
We don’t need another
political fight about ending a woman’s right to choose, or getting rid
of Planned Parenthood -- (applause) -- or taking away affordable birth
control. We don’t need that. (Applause.) I want
women to control their own health choices, just like I want my
daughters to have the same economic opportunities as my sons.
not turning back the clock. (Applause.) We're not going
We’re not going back
to the days when you could be kicked out of the military just because
of who you are and who you love. We’re moving forward as a country,
where everybody is treated with dignity and respect.
Moving forward. (Applause.)
We're not going to
just stand back while $10 million checks are speaking louder than the
voices of ordinary citizens in our elections. We recognize that’s
And it’s time to stop
denying citizenship to responsible young people just because they’re
the children of undocumented immigrants. (Applause.) Look,
what, this country is at its best when we harness
the God-given talents of every individual, when we hear every voice,
when we come together as one American family all striving for the same
American Dream. That’s what we’re fighting for. That’s why
running for a second term. That’s why I need your
You know, let me say
this -- this election is going to be even closer than the last
And by the way, the last one was close. People don’t remember --
was close. Everybody remembers Grant Park -- it was
close. We're going to have to contend with even more negative
We've got these super PACs and shadowy special interests, like the ones
you’ve been bombarded with. You guys just got hit here in
have to overcome more cynicism and nastiness
and just some plain foolishness even more than we did the last
But the outcome of
this election, it's entirely up to you. I’m going to be working
Michelle is out there working hard. (Applause.) But there’s
we learned -- there's nothing more powerful than
millions of voices calling for change.
Michelle and I, we
were talking the other night over dinner, and I told her we were coming
back to Iowa, and she said something -- it's absolutely true -- she
said, I remember back in the first campaign that we
would be reading all these news reports and watching the news, and
everything looked terrible and everybody was counting us out. And
I'd come to Iowa, and I'd see what was going on, on the ground and I'd
be meeting people and talking to people. It wasn't
necessarily that it was a sure thing that we were going to win.
what was being reflected out there, that wasn't what was happening
here. That wasn't what ordinary folks were thinking.
So she just stopped
watching TV -- or at least the news part of it. She still watches
and some other things -- "Dancing with the Stars."
this place taught us that not that we're always right,
not that we don't make mistakes, but that there's just a core decency
and strength and resilience to the American people, and that,
ultimately, the conversations that are going on around kitchen tables
and at the VFW hall and in churches, those conversations
aren't what's reflected in the cable news.
And so, when I look
out at this crowd, all these different faces -- different ages,
different races, different faiths -- I'm reminded of that. And
enough of you knock on enough doors and pick up enough phones,
and talk to your friends or your neighbors and your coworkers -- and
you're doing it respectfully and you're talking to folks who don't
agree with you, you're talking to people who are good people, but maybe
they don't have all the information -- when you
make that happen, when you decide it’s time for change to happen, you
know what, change happens. Change comes to America.
It's always easier to
be cynical. It's always easier to say nothing can change,
after we've gone through such a tough time. And despite all the
changes we've made, despite all the good things we've
done, things are still tough. And so, the other side, they are
to try and play on that sense that, well, things aren't perfect,
Congress is still arguing, the politics is still polarized. But
the antidote to that.
And that's the spirit
we need again. So if people ask you what this campaign is about,
tell them, yes, it’s still about hope. It is still about
still about ordinary folks who believe that in
the face of great odds, we can make a difference in the life of this
country. (Applause.) Don't let them tell you
You proved it in
2008. Without you -- I look around this place, I see folks who
out there knocking on doors and making things happen -- I would not
have had the privilege of being your President. You were
the first ones to make this country believe we could still come
together around a common purpose. (Applause.)
And I still believe
that today. I still believe that we're not as divided as our
suggest. I still believe we have more in common than the experts
us. I still believe we're not Democrats or Republicans
first, we are Americans first. (Applause.)
I still believe in
you. And I want you to keep believing in me.
(Applause.) Some of you
remember -- because I've spent a lot of time here, I used to go around
and I would tell you -- I warned you and if you weren't
listening, Michelle would tell you -- I warned you I’m not a perfect
man and I wouldn't be a perfect President. But what I told you
promised you I would always tell you what I thought and I'd always tell
you where I stood, even when it politically wasn't
convenient. And I would wake up every single day, fighting as
I know how for you and your families and your children's future.
And, Iowa, I have kept
that promise. I have kept that promise. (Applause.)
And I will keep
it as long as I have the honor of being your President. So if
willing to stick with me and fight with me and
press on with me, and if you’re willing to work even harder than you
did the last time, we'll move this country forward and we'll finish
what we started. And we'll remind the world just why it is
the greatest nation on Earth.
God bless you. God bless America.
7:50 P.M. CDT