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Weekly Address: President Obama – “A Better Bargain for the Middle Class”

From the White House – Weekly Address

President Obama tells the American people about his speech at Knox College on Wednesday, where he discussed the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class, including having a good job, a home that is your own, quality education, a secure retirement, and affordable health care.

Transcript: A Better Bargain for the Middle Class

Hi everybody.  On Wednesday, I spoke about what we need to do as a country to build a better bargain for the middle class – to make sure everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead in the 21st century economy.

You see, over the past four and a half years, America has fought its way back from the worst recession of our lifetimes.  We saved the auto industry, took on a broken health care system, invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil, and changed a tax code too skewed in favor of the wealthiest at the expense of working families.

As a result, our businesses have created 7.2 million new jobs over the past 40 months.  We produce more renewable energy than ever, and more natural gas than anyone.  Health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years.  Our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years.

Thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, we’ve cleared away the rubble of crisis and begun to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth.

But as any middle-class family will tell you, we’re not yet where we need to be.  Trends that have been eroding middle-class security for decades – technology that makes some jobs obsolete, global competition that makes others moveable, growing inequality and the policies that perpetuate it – all these things still exist, and in some ways, the recession made them worse.

Reversing these trends must be Washington’s highest priority.  It sure is mine.  But over the past couple of years in particular, Washington has taken its eye off the ball.  An endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals shift focus from what needs to be done.  And as Washington prepares to enter another budget debate, the stakes could not be higher.  The choices we make now will determine whether or not every American has a fighting chance in the 21st century.

If we don’t make the investments necessary to make America a magnet for good jobs – in education, and manufacturing, and research, and our transportation and information networks – we might as well hit the “pause” button while the rest of the world forges ahead in a global economy.  And that’s certainly not going to fix what ails the middle class.

Here’s what will: a strategy that builds on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class in America, and what it takes to work your way into the middle class.  Good jobs that pay good wages.  An education that prepares our children and our workers for the global competition they’ll face.  Homeownership that’s based on a solid foundation, where buyers and lenders play by the same set of rules.  Affordable health care that’s there for you when you get sick.  A secure retirement even if you’re not rich.  More chances for folks to earn their way into the middle class as long as they’re willing to work for it.

Over the next several weeks, in cities and towns across the country, I’ll continue to lay out my ideas in each of these areas.  Because reversing the forces that have conspired against the middle class for decades will require more than short-term thinking; it will require a long-term American strategy, based on steady, persistent effort.

I know there are members of both parties who understand what’s at stake, and I’m open to ideas from across the political spectrum, as long as they meet the test of strengthening the prospects of hard-working families.  But repealing Obamacare, gutting critical investments in our future, threatening to default on the bills this country has already racked up, or shutting down the government just because I’m for keeping it open – none of those thing add up to an economic plan.  None of that will take this country where it needs to go.

We can do this if we work together.  It won’t be easy, but if we take a few bold steps – and if Washington is willing to shake off its complacency and set aside some of the slash-and-burn partisanship we’ve seen in recent years – our economy will keep getting stronger.

And as long as I have the privilege of holding this office, I will spend every minute of every day doing everything in my power to make this economy work for working Americans again; to build that better bargain for the middle class; to make sure that the American Dream is something that’s achievable for everybody – not just today, but for decades to come.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Bolding added.


Editor’s Note: The President’s Weekly Address diary is also the weekend open news thread. Feel free to leave links to other news items in the comment threads.


  1. The Obama Way: The Long Game and Common Sense/Pragmatism

    … when he was made aware right after his first inauguration that the Republican plan was to simply obstruct anything he tried to do, his response was to reach out to them with offers of compromise. Their failure to accept that offer left them no choice but to consistently marginalize themselves more and more into an extremist corner until some Republicans began to break ranks and be willing to deal with him.

    She goes on to mention the new alliance with John McCain, something being called a “governing coalition” in the Senate by TPM’s Brian Beutler. If the Senate is willing to pass bills that will keep the government running, all it will take is 17 House Republicans voting for those bills to finally get important legislation moving:

    The group of Senate Republicans working constructively on appropriations overlaps broadly with the Republicans who’ve backed immigration reform, helped confirm several presidential nominees, and have been working behind the scenes on a budget deal that, if enacted, would replace sequestration and end debt limit brinksmanship, perhaps permanently. They represent the significant minority of Senate Republicans who are opposed to sequestration and fed to the teeth with their party’s dysfunction. They have been courted by key Democrats and the White House who want to put the last Congress’ way of doing things behind them.[…]

    If the negotiations bear fruit, then come the fall, House Republicans will face a similarly bad, but much more consequential choice: Cave, punt, or reject their marginal status and, like insurrectionists, choose default over the broad majoritarian consensus.

  2. McConnell Challenger Grimes Previews Campaign Launch With Web Video. She talks about her opponent who has “wasted decades blocking legislation that would have helped Kentucky and our country.”

    “And it’s over the last few years, he’s done it for the worst possible reason: out of spite,” Grimes said. “I don’t always agree with the President but that doesn’t mean we can’t put the good of our people ahead of the bad that comes from acting petty and small.”

    The latest polls show an 8 point lead for Mitch McConnell which I can’t believe thrills him too much considering he is the incumbent in a deeply red state.

    The ad:

    When she talks about her grandmother Thelma, it is hard to not tear up.

  3. bill d

    and that format is so much better than the old weekly radio address which I never actually ever heard on the radio.

    I’m optimistic that things will get better since it appears that this time all of the threats doled out by the republicans are being met with a collective meh.

  4. An interesting passage in the story related to the president’ authority regarding delaying the employer mandate:

    When the interviewer, Jackie Calmes, asked Obama if he was acting within his executive power to unilaterally delay the employer mandate, Obama said he wasn’t concerned with Congress’ opinion on the matter, alluding to the fact that he is a constitutional lawyer.

    “If Congress thinks that what I’ve done is inappropriate or wrong in some fashion, they’re free to make that case,” Obama said. “But there’s not an action that I take that you don’t have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority. Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency. And I don’t think that’s a secret. But ultimately, I’m not concerned about their opinions — very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers.”

    I imagine he finds it amusing that the House of Representatives, which voted 39 times to repeal Obamacare, is complaining that one part of it will have its implementation delayed. It is not surprising that he is  unconcerned about what Congress thinks on the matter. Even Congress doesn’t know what it thinks.

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