Mandelman’s Reluctant Analysis of Obama’s Speech – The American Jobs Act
President Obama gave a speech last night on how his administration plans to save the American economy from sinking even further into its already depressed state, and I didn’t watch it. Actually, I’m under doctor’s orders not to watch the president’s speeches… I turned 50 this past year and there’s not enough baby aspirin on the planet to protect my heart under such stressful conditions.
The last time I watched Obama deliver one of his “Here I Come to Save the Day” speeches, I almost put my head through the sliding glass door in my bedroom just to make the pain stop.
However, this morning I woke up and the television in our bedroom had been left on throughout the night. Seeing that CNN was on, I dove towards the remote in an effort to shut it off before it was too late, but I stubbed my toe and fell to the floor. As I lay there in my boxers writhing in pain and unable to reach the remote, I couldn’t escape hearing CNN spew out some of the highlights from Obama speech.
And so here we are. I’ve watched the speech in its entirety… and I read it too… all on WhiteHouse.gov… or, as I like to call it… “The Transparency Channel.”
I only tell you all of this background because I want it to be clear that I didn’t want to do this. I was perfectly content ignoring his idiotic drivel as I’ve been doing pretty successfully for over a year. Or, maybe it’s because he hasn’t said anything in over a year, I’m not sure which is the case.
Before I begin, however, I just want to show everyone what is emblematic of why I cannot stand to listen to his economic nonsense. Go to WhiteHouse.gov and on the home page, in the right side column, they list “Categories,” and for your convenience, I copied and pasted them in below…
- Civil Rights
- Energy & Environment
- Fiscal Responsibility
- Foreign Policy
- Health Care
- Homeland Security
- Seniors & Social Security
- Urban Policy
- Additional Issues
See where it lists the “Foreclosure Crisis?” Or the “Credit Crisis?” No? You don’t see either of those things, I hear you cry? That’s exactly my point… and neither does he… the president, I mean. He doesn’t see it either. The foreclosure crisis doesn’t even appear as a category! Like it’s not even happening, and somehow we’re supposed to believe that we can fix what’s broken in this country while ignoring it. It’s simply preposterous.
And at this point there’s only one possible explanation for the president’s blindness… it’s willful. He doesn’t care about the free fall in the housing markets, or if he does care, he cares more about the bankers being allowed to do whatever they want to do regardless of the economic pain and social unrest that’s fast approaching.
Okay, so here goes… Ladies and Gentlemen… the President of the United States as he addresses a joint session of congress to explain how he plans to grow the American economy through passage of his proposed American Jobs Creation Act. If you’re not already drinking, or you haven’t already popped a Xanax today, I’d suggest you take a moment to pour yourself something stronger than soda before going any further.
It’s September 8, 2011 at 7:09 PM EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, and fellow Americans:
Tonight we meet at an urgent time for our country. We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that’s made things worse.
MANDELMAN: Um, Mr. President… what about the foreclosure crisis?
THE PRESIDENT: Shut up, Mandelman.
MANDELMAN: Okay, sorry… you’re right… I didn’t mean to pounce like that… I’ll wait. Go on…
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MANDELMAN: No problem. My bad.
THE PRESIDENT: This past week, reporters have been asking, “What will this speech mean for the President? What will it mean for Congress? How will it affect their polls, and the next election?”
But the millions of Americans who are watching right now, they don’t care about politics. They have real-life concerns. Many have spent months looking for work. Others are doing their best just to scrape by — giving up nights out with the family to save on gas or make the mortgage; postponing retirement to send a kid to college.
These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work and responsibility paid off. They believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share — where if you stepped up, did your job, and were loyal to your company, that loyalty would be rewarded with a decent salary and good benefits; maybe a raise once in a while. If you did the right thing, you could make it. Anybody could make it in America.
For decades now, Americans have watched that compact erode. They have seen the decks too often stacked against them. And they know that Washington has not always put their interests first.
The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours. The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy. (Applause.) The question is — the question is whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.
Those of us here tonight can’t solve all our nation’s woes. Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses and our workers. But we can help. We can make a difference. There are steps we can take right now to improve people’s lives.
MANDELMAN: Okay, wait. You see, here’s a fundamental problem… he doesn’t think the executive and legislative branches of our government can solve our “nation’s woes,” as he chose to phrase it. He doesn’t think Washington will ever be able to drive our recovery… he thinks the banks will do it on their own… in a “free market way.” But, you see… that’s some seriously flawed thinking, right there.
The bankers will only drive plans that maximize their own profits and the profits of big corporations because that’s where the most money is the fastest. Driving Main Street America would take too long… the bankers want as much money as they can get as fast as they can get it. And they’re not going to achieve that goal by helping small business or middle class Americans. Allowing this flawed thinking to drive our economic policy will only make the rich get richer, while the rest of us wait for prosperity to trickle down… like it hasn’t done for the last 20 years.
THE PRESIDENT: Are you going to let me continue, or do you not even want to hear what I’m proposing?
MANDELMAN: I’m sorry, sir… please continue… I’ll shut up.
THE PRESIDENT: I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It’s called the American Jobs Act. There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans — including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything. (Applause.)
The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working. It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for long-term unemployed. (Applause.)
It will provide — it will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business. (Applause.)
It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and if they hire, there will be customers for their products and services. You should pass this jobs plan right away. (Applause.)
Everyone here knows that small businesses are where most new jobs begin. And you know that while corporate profits have come roaring back, smaller companies haven’t. So for everyone who speaks so passionately about making life easier for “job creators,” this plan is for you. (Applause.)
Pass this jobs bill — pass this jobs bill, and starting tomorrow, small businesses will get a tax cut if they hire new workers or if they raise workers’ wages. Pass this jobs bill, and all small business owners will also see their payroll taxes cut in half next year. (Applause.)
If you have 50 employees — if you have 50 employees making an average salary, that’s an $80,000 tax cut. And all businesses will be able to continue writing off the investments they make in 2012.
It’s not just Democrats who have supported this kind of proposal. Fifty House Republicans have proposed the same payroll tax cut that’s in this plan. You should pass it right away. (Applause.)
MANDELMAN: Okay, hold your horses, Mr. President. First of all, we’re facing an economic collapse the likes of which we have NEVER seen before, and if we have, then we haven’t seen anything like it for over 70 years. And it’s a GLOBAL CRISIS, sir, not a domestic one.
So, whatever legislation you’re going to propose, I’d say it should be at least a little bit controversial if it’s going to have the slightest chance of fixing anything. The status quo type of response, Mr. President, is not going to cut it. I know you dislike making anyone’s feathers ruffle, but seriously, sir, you can’t hope to fix a global catastrophe with milk toast type legislation.
Now, everyone’s in favor of creating jobs, after all unemployment continues to go nowhere but up and is at least 16% nationwide. And you’re saying that your plan will create such jobs by giving companies that hire new workers a tax break and by reducing the payroll taxes paid by workers and small businesses by 50%.
Mr. President, you are pandering to the Republicans here, hoping they’ll like you as a result. They won’t, sir. No matter what you say or do, they won’t like you. Sorry about that, sir, but if you wanted Republicans to like you then you should have lost to McCain in ’08. Outside of that, they’re the other team, sir, and the other team never roots for their opposition.
The economic problems we’re dealing with today are not “SUPPLY SIDE” problems. They’re “DEMAND SIDE” problems. The supply side is business… the demand side is consumers, got it?
Giving business a tax cut won’t matter here because business won’t expand until people can buy things from them. Best Buy won’t build another store or hire another worker until people can start buying stuff at Best Buy in larger numbers than exist today. And that won’t happen until not only are more jobs created… a lot more, like millions more… but also until the credit markets allow borrowing again. A tax cut for businesses that hire new workers will not make businesses that weren’t planning to hire… hire.
Now, let’s turn to cutting payroll taxes by 50%. You claim that such a move will save the average small to mid-size business 80,000 a year. And what do you suppose that average business owner will do with that money… that $6666 a month? Is he or she more likely to spend it expanding a business whose sales have fallen and are continuing to fall, or do you think he or she might consider using it to replace the income he or she has lost over the last few years?
Give it some thought… you don’t have to answer right away… perhaps you ask some small business owners instead of the billionaires you’ve surrounded yourself with, they may be able to help you get the picture.
Now… go on with your speech… I’m glued, I swear…
THE PRESIDENT: It’s not just Democrats who have supported this kind of proposal. Fifty House Republicans have proposed the same payroll tax cut that’s in this plan. You should pass it right away. (Applause.)
Pass this jobs bill, and we can put people to work rebuilding America. Everyone here knows we have badly decaying roads and bridges all over the country. Our highways are clogged with traffic. Our skies are the most congested in the world. It’s an outrage.
Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us a economic superpower. And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads? At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America? (Applause.)
There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work. There’s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America. A public transit project in Houston that will help clear up one of the worst areas of traffic in the country. And there are schools throughout this country that desperately need renovating. How can we expect our kids to do their best in places that are literally falling apart? This is America. Every child deserves a great school — and we can give it to them, if we act now. (Applause.)
The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools. It will put people to work right now fixing roofs and windows, installing science labs and high-speed Internet in classrooms all across this country. It will rehabilitate homes and businesses in communities hit hardest by foreclosures. It will jumpstart thousands of transportation projects all across the country. And to make sure the money is properly spent, we’re building on reforms we’ve already put in place. No more earmarks. No more boondoggles. No more bridges to nowhere. We’re cutting the red tape that prevents some of these projects from getting started as quickly as possible. And we’ll set up an independent fund to attract private dollars and issue loans based on two criteria: how badly a construction project is needed and how much good it will do for the economy. (Applause.)
This idea came from a bill written by a Texas Republican and a Massachusetts Democrat. The idea for a big boost in construction is supported by America’s largest business organization and America’s largest labor organization. It’s the kind of proposal that’s been supported in the past by Democrats and Republicans alike. You should pass it right away. (Applause.)
MANDELMAN: Okay, now Mr. President… do you think my memory is shot? I mean, I may not be able to remember what I had for breakfast a few hours ago, but I assure you that my longer-term memory is rock solid, sir.
And I’ve heard this speech before, Mr. President. Remember when you first took office… the very first piece of legislation you passed… the one you referred to as the “economic stimulus,” although that term may seem quaint today… the one that was supposed to provide funding for those “shovel ready projects” that were going to re-build our bridges and other things you referred to as “infrastructure?”
Is that ringing any bells with you, Mr. President?
So, now you’re proposing we do whatever we did before again? Or didn’t we do it before? What did we do with the money if we didn’t use it as it was intended before, sir? Oh, that’s right… we gave it to the bankers, didn’t we Mr. President?
And just how is your new proposed bill going to unclog our highways or decongest our skies? What are you talking about, sir? China’s faster railroads and newer airports have something to do with cutting payroll taxes? I’m having trouble making the connection, sir.
Mr. President… government spending on fixing bridges, roads and schools won’t create jobs… it’ll employ people temporarily, I’ll grant you that, but it won’t fix what’s broken in this and other countries. We’re facing a global financial and credit crisis, sir… have you forgotten about that, sir? The banking system is still insolvent, there is no lending to speak of outside of Fannie, Freddie and FHA, and they are all nationalized, although I know you hate that word. How will any of this “new” or rather recycled proposal fix any of that, Mr. President? The toxic assets that clog bank balance sheets are still right where they were in the fall of 2008… how does your new proposal impact that situation? The answer is it doesn’t. And that’s a real problem, sir. A real problem.
Why not start hiring people to dig ditches on one side of the road and use the dirt to build hills on the other? That will put people to work too, right Mr. President? Now where have I heard that idea before… oh yeah, during the Great Depression they did that sort of thing, didn’t they? And did it work… did it create any new jobs, improve productivity… stop the Great Depression in the least? No, sir… it did not.
Okay, back to you, sir…
THE PRESIDENT: Pass this jobs bill, and thousands of teachers in every state will go back to work. These are the men and women charged with preparing our children for a world where the competition has never been tougher. But while they’re adding teachers in places like South Korea, we’re laying them off in droves. It’s unfair to our kids. It undermines their future and ours. And it has to stop. Pass this bill, and put our teachers back in the classroom where they belong. (Applause.)
Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get extra tax credits if they hire America’s veterans. We ask these men and women to leave their careers, leave their families, risk their lives to fight for our country. The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home. (Applause.)
Pass this bill, and hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged young people will have the hope and the dignity of a summer job next year. And their parents — (applause) — their parents, low-income Americans who desperately want to work, will have more ladders out of poverty.
Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get a $4,000 tax credit if they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job. (Applause.) We have to do more to help the long-term unemployed in their search for work. This jobs plan builds on a program in Georgia that several Republican leaders have highlighted, where people who collect unemployment insurance participate in temporary work as a way to build their skills while they look for a permanent job. The plan also extends unemployment insurance for another year. (Applause.) If the millions of unemployed Americans stopped getting this insurance, and stopped using that money for basic necessities, it would be a devastating blow to this economy. Democrats and Republicans in this chamber have supported unemployment insurance plenty of times in the past. And in this time of prolonged hardship, you should pass it again — right away. (Applause.)
Pass this jobs bill, and the typical working family will get a $1,500 tax cut next year. Fifteen hundred dollars that would have been taken out of your pocket will go into your pocket. This expands on the tax cut that Democrats and Republicans already passed for this year. If we allow that tax cut to expire — if we refuse to act — middle-class families will get hit with a tax increase at the worst possible time. We can’t let that happen. I know that some of you have sworn oaths to never raise any taxes on anyone for as long as you live. Now is not the time to carve out an exception and raise middle-class taxes, which is why you should pass this bill right away. (Applause.)
This is the American Jobs Act. It will lead to new jobs for construction workers, for teachers, for veterans, for first responders, young people and the long-term unemployed. It will provide tax credits to companies that hire new workers, tax relief to small business owners, and tax cuts for the middle class. And here’s the other thing I want the American people to know: The American Jobs Act will not add to the deficit. It will be paid for. And here’s how. (Applause.)
The agreement we passed in July will cut government spending by about $1 trillion over the next 10 years. It also charges this Congress to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas. Tonight, I am asking you to increase that amount so that it covers the full cost of the American Jobs Act. And a week from Monday, I’ll be releasing a more ambitious deficit plan — a plan that will not only cover the cost of this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run. (Applause.)
MANDELMAN: Why will cutting payroll taxes or giving a tax cut to businesses who hire new workers put teachers back to work, Mr. President? Does it have anything to do with the faster trains in China or their new airports? It’s all very confusing, sir. Or, are broken bridges, highways and schools somehow connected with the reason the teachers aren’t working now? Did we lay off the teachers because the schools were broken? I’m lost, sir, and I’m starting to get all fidgety…
Extra tax-credits for hiring American veterans? Okay, so it’s sort of like an affirmative action plan for American vets? Great… I’m sure that will make all the difference in the world, sir.
And summer jobs for young people? Seriously, sir? Do you have any concept at how deep a hole we’re in today, Mr. President? Summer jobs for young people… the kind that pay minimum wage? What’s that supposed to do for our economic future? I have an idea you could add onto that one… let’s put children back to work starting at age seven or eight. Child labor won’t help jumpstart our economy, but like your plan, it could stop some families from starving to death.
And a $4,000 tax credit for hiring someone out of work for more than six months? You’re kidding, right, Mr. President? Isn’t the reason we don’t count them in the headline unemployment numbers you’re so fond of using that they’ve stopped looking for work? Look, there’s just so much wrong with this line of thinking, I’d have to lower my IQ just to continue the dialog.
But, by all means… go ahead an extend unemployment insurance indefinitely. I’m serious. We’d have millions of families going hungry without it, and they’d all just switch over to Welfare if you let the unemployment benefits expire anyway, so what the heck… extend away.
Pretty soon, with economic plans like the ones you’ve described so far, we’ll have 25% of America on unemployment, so as they say in N’awlins… laissez les bon temps rouler! (It means… Let the good times roll!)
Lastly, you’re now talking “don’t repeal the Bush tax cuts,” isn’t that right, sir? As to the $1500 a year in reduced payroll taxes, I can only say… COOL! With that extra Benjamin each month, parents will be able to do one of two things: 1. Take their kids to Wal-Mart so they can buy stuff made in China. Or… 2. Get drunk a few more times a month, which is the way I’m going to use mine, by the way.
Oh, and one more thing about the deficit… no one cares, Mr. President, except those on the right that want you out of office in 2012, and can’t think of a better sound bite than that one to hit you with. It’s not even a real issue, sir. The Republicans have done more than their share of damage to our deficit, as if that distinction made any difference whatsoever, so… deficit-schmechifit. Give it a rest, sir… we don’t care about the deficit, we’re losing our homes, our jobs, and our hope for the future… fix the economy… and let the economic growth fix the deficit.
THE PRESIDENT: This approach is basically the one I’ve been advocating for months. In addition to the trillion dollars of spending cuts I’ve already signed into law, it’s a balanced plan that would reduce the deficit by making additional spending cuts, by making modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and by reforming our tax code in a way that asks the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share. (Applause.) What’s more, the spending cuts wouldn’t happen so abruptly that they’d be a drag on our economy, or prevent us from helping small businesses and middle-class families get back on their feet right away.
Now, I realize there are some in my party who don’t think we should make any changes at all to Medicare and Medicaid, and I understand their concerns. But here’s the truth: Millions of Americans rely on Medicare in their retirement. And millions more will do so in the future. They pay for this benefit during their working years. They earn it. But with an aging population and rising health care costs, we are spending too fast to sustain the program. And if we don’t gradually reform the system while protecting current beneficiaries, it won’t be there when future retirees need it. We have to reform Medicare to strengthen it. (Applause.)
MANDELMAN: Yawn. Whatever.
THE PRESIDENT: I am also — I’m also well aware that there are many Republicans who don’t believe we should raise taxes on those who are most fortunate and can best afford it. But here is what every American knows: While most people in this country struggle to make ends meet, a few of the most affluent citizens and most profitable corporations enjoy tax breaks and loopholes that nobody else gets. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — an outrage he has asked us to fix. (Laughter.) We need a tax code where everyone gets a fair shake and where everybody pays their fair share. (Applause.) And by the way, I believe the vast majority of wealthy Americans and CEOs are willing to do just that if it helps the economy grow and gets our fiscal house in order.
I’ll also offer ideas to reform a corporate tax code that stands as a monument to special interest influence in Washington. By eliminating pages of loopholes and deductions, we can lower one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. (Applause.) Our tax code should not give an advantage to companies that can afford the best-connected lobbyists. It should give an advantage to companies that invest and create jobs right here in the United States of America. (Applause.)
MANDELMAN: Yawn. Yeah… like any of that might happen… LOL. Time for a little square dancing is it, sir? “Just pander to the left and then pander to the right… swing your partner round and round ‘till they’re too dizzy to fight.” Is that about right, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: So we can reduce this deficit, pay down our debt, and pay for this jobs plan in the process. But in order to do this, we have to decide what our priorities are. We have to ask ourselves, “What’s the best way to grow the economy and create jobs?”
MANDELMAN: No, Mr. President… that’s what we’re asking YOU. Not “ourselves,” we’re asking YOU that question, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Should we keep tax loopholes for oil companies? Or should we use that money to give small business owners a tax credit when they hire new workers? Because we can’t afford to do both. Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs? (Applause.) Right now, we can’t afford to do both.
This isn’t political grandstanding. This isn’t class warfare. This is simple math. (Laughter.) This is simple math. These are real choices. These are real choices that we’ve got to make. And I’m pretty sure I know what most Americans would choose. It’s not even close. And it’s time for us to do what’s right for our future. (Applause.)
MANDELMAN: Okay, look… just so we’re all clear on where we stand today… the Obama Administration took over four years ago and so far they have preserved the tax loopholes for the oil companies and the tax breaks for the billionaires. Can we talk about the Wall Street bankers and their ever-increasing bonus checks that we’re forced to hear about every year? So, thus far… the Obama Administration has shown that it doesn’t care about what the American people think in the least.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, the American Jobs Act answers the urgent need to create jobs right away. But we can’t stop there. As I’ve argued since I ran for this office, we have to look beyond the immediate crisis and start building an economy that lasts into the future — an economy that creates good, middle-class jobs that pay well and offer security. We now live in a world where technology has made it possible for companies to take their business anywhere. If we want them to start here and stay here and hire here, we have to be able to out-build and out-educate and out-innovate every other country on Earth. (Applause.)
And this task of making America more competitive for the long haul, that’s a job for all of us. For government and for private companies. For states and for local communities — and for every American citizen. All of us will have to up our game. All of us will have to change the way we do business.
MANDELMAN: All of us, sir? Does that mean you too, Mr. President? How will you be changing how you do business exactly? I think many Americans would like to hear the answer to that question.
THE PRESIDENT: My administration can and will take some steps to improve our competitiveness on our own. For example, if you’re a small business owner who has a contract with the federal government, we’re going to make sure you get paid a lot faster than you do right now. (Applause.) We’re also planning to cut away the red tape that prevents too many rapidly growing startup companies from raising capital and going public.
MANDELMAN: LMAO… That’s really precious, sir. Like… yay… LOL.
THE PRESIDENT: And to help responsible homeowners, we’re going to work with federal housing agencies to help more people refinance their mortgages at interest rates that are now near 4 percent. That’s a step — (applause) — I know you guys must be for this, because that’s a step that can put more than $2,000 a year in a family’s pocket, and give a lift to an economy still burdened by the drop in housing prices.
MANDELMAN: Wow… that’s it on the housing crisis? This whole speech and that’s all you’ve got on the housing crisis? Refi the same people we’ve been refinancing annually in an attempt to pretend that we still have a need for mortgage brokers. Talk about a non-event. And can you say diminishing returns? Won’t stop a single foreclosure… just so everyone knows… I just put some vodka in my pomegranate juice and I’m going to need to lie down in a minute…
THE PRESIDENT: So, some things we can do on our own. Other steps will require congressional action. Today you passed reform that will speed up the outdated patent process, so that entrepreneurs can turn a new idea into a new business as quickly as possible. That’s the kind of action we need. Now it’s time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama and Colombia and South Korea -– while also helping the workers whose jobs have been affected by global competition. (Applause.)
If Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais, I want to see folks in South Korea driving Fords and Chevys and Chryslers. (Applause.) I want to see more products sold around the world stamped with the three proud words: “Made in America.” That’s what we need to get done. (Applause.)
And on all of our efforts to strengthen competitiveness, we need to look for ways to work side by side with America’s businesses. That’s why I’ve brought together a Jobs Council of leaders from different industries who are developing a wide range of new ideas to help companies grow and create jobs.
Already, we’ve mobilized business leaders to train 10,000 American engineers a year, by providing company internships and training. Other businesses are covering tuition for workers who learn new skills at community colleges. And we’re going to make sure the next generation of manufacturing takes root not in China or Europe, but right here, in the United States of America. (Applause) If we provide the right incentives, the right support — and if we make sure our trading partners play by the rules — we can be the ones to build everything from fuel-efficient cars to advanced biofuels to semiconductors that we sell all around the world. That’s how America can be number one again. And that’s how America will be number one again. (Applause.)
MANDELMAN: Yawn… what’d he say? Sorry, I got distracted by a hangnail.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, I realize that some of you have a different theory on how to grow the economy. Some of you sincerely believe that the only solution to our economic challenges is to simply cut most government spending and eliminate most government regulations. (Applause.)
Well, I agree that we can’t afford wasteful spending, and I’ll work with you, with Congress, to root it out. And I agree that there are some rules and regulations that do put an unnecessary burden on businesses at a time when they can least afford it. (Applause.) That’s why I ordered a review of all government regulations. So far, we’ve identified over 500 reforms, which will save billions of dollars over the next few years. (Applause.) We should have no more regulation than the health, safety and security of the American people require. Every rule should meet that common-sense test. (Applause.)
But what we can’t do — what I will not do — is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades. (Applause.)
I reject the idea that we need to ask people to choose between their jobs and their safety. I reject the argument that says for the economy to grow, we have to roll back protections that ban hidden fees by credit card companies, or rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury, or laws that prevent the health insurance industry from shortchanging patients. I reject the idea that we have to strip away collective bargaining rights to compete in a global economy. (Applause.) We shouldn’t be in a race to the bottom, where we try to offer the cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards. America should be in a race to the top. And I believe we can win that race. (Applause.)
In fact, this larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everybody’s money, and let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own — that’s not who we are. That’s not the story of America.
Yes, we are rugged individualists. Yes, we are strong and self-reliant. And it has been the drive and initiative of our workers and entrepreneurs that has made this economy the engine and the envy of the world.
MANDELMAN: Mr. President… no one with any real credibility is seriously suggesting that we cut government spending and/or eliminate government regulations. Oh sure, there may be a few fringe types who are not at risk of not being re-elected that spout just bunk, but you can bet your boots that were the Republicans to win the White House, along with control of the House and Senate, they’d be spending exactly like you’ve been spending. From an economics perspective there’s simply no choice at the moment.
All that sort of talk is political campaign rhetoric, nothing more.
THE PRESIDENT: But there’s always been another thread running throughout our history — a belief that we’re all connected, and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.
We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. Founder of the Republican Party. But in the middle of a civil war, he was also a leader who looked to the future — a Republican President who mobilized government to build the Transcontinental Railroad — (applause) — launch the National Academy of Sciences, set up the first land grant colleges. (Applause.)
MANDELMAN: Yay, President Lincoln! Can we get him back in 2012?
THE PRESIDENT: And leaders of both parties have followed the example he set.
MANDELMAN: Perhaps in the broadest sense, but what’s your point, Mr. Predsident?
THE PRESIDENT: Ask yourselves — where would we be right now if the people who sat here before us decided not to build our highways, not to build our bridges, our dams, our airports? What would this country be like if we had chosen not to spend money on public high schools, or research universities, or community colleges? Millions of returning heroes, including my grandfather, had the opportunity to go to school because of the G.I. Bill. Where would we be if they hadn’t had that chance? (Applause.)
MANDELMAN: I’m not sure where we’d be… maybe living in an episode of Little House on the Prairie? Will you be making a point anytime soon, sir? I’d really like to watch the Season Finale of “Rescue Me” that I’ve got saved on Tivo.
THE PRESIDENT: How many jobs would it have cost us if past Congresses decided not to support the basic research that led to the Internet and the computer chip? What kind of country would this be if this chamber had voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do? (Applause.) How many Americans would have suffered as a result?
MANDELMAN: I’d guess quite a few. Your point, sir?
No single individual built America on their own. We built it together. We have been, and always will be, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all; a nation with responsibilities to ourselves and with responsibilities to one another. And members of Congress, it is time for us to meet our responsibilities. (Applause.)
MANDELMAN: But, we’re not connected anymore, sir. There’s now the bankers and the rest of us. Your blank check to bankers, while completely ignoring the unspeakable plight of America’s middle class homeowners has helped to disconnect us, Mr. President. And no amount of patriotic rhetoric is going to fix that, sir. You’ve ensured that it’s US against THEM… Main Street vs. Wall Street.
Sorry, as far as doing “it” together, well… as the song goes… “It seems to me I’ve heard that song before…”
THE PRESIDENT: Every proposal I’ve laid out tonight is the kind that’s been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past. Every proposal I’ve laid out tonight will be paid for. And every proposal is designed to meet the urgent needs of our people and our communities.
MANDELMAN: Yes sir… you’re a bi-partisan slut, there’s no question about that. You’ve flagrantly pandered right down the middle of the court… I don’t think that point has been lost on anyone, sir. If that’s what you were going for, I think you’ve achieved your objective.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, I know there’s been a lot of skepticism about whether the politics of the moment will allow us to pass this jobs plan — or any jobs plan. Already, we’re seeing the same old press releases and tweets flying back and forth. Already, the media has proclaimed that it’s impossible to bridge our differences. And maybe some of you have decided that those differences are so great that we can only resolve them at the ballot box.
But know this: The next election is 14 months away. And the people who sent us here — the people who hired us to work for them — they don’t have the luxury of waiting 14 months. (Applause.) Some of them are living week to week, paycheck to paycheck, even day to day. They need help, and they need it now.
I don’t pretend that this plan will solve all our problems. It should not be, nor will it be, the last plan of action we propose. What’s guided us from the start of this crisis hasn’t been the search for a silver bullet. It’s been a commitment to stay at it — to be persistent — to keep trying every new idea that works, and listen to every good proposal, no matter which party comes up with it.
Regardless of the arguments we’ve had in the past, regardless of the arguments we will have in the future, this plan is the right thing to do right now. You should pass it. (Applause.) And I intend to take that message to every corner of this country. (Applause.) And I ask — I ask every American who agrees to lift your voice: Tell the people who are gathered here tonight that you want action now. Tell Washington that doing nothing is not an option. Remind us that if we act as one nation and one people, we have it within our power to meet this challenge.
President Kennedy once said, “Our problems are man-made –- therefore they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants.”
These are difficult years for our country. But we are Americans. We are tougher than the times we live in, and we are bigger than our politics have been. So let’s meet the moment. Let’s get to work, and let’s show the world once again why the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)
MANDELMAN: Good luck with that Mr. President. My guess is you won’t be taking any message to every corner of this country because you’ll never be able to keep out all of the homeowners and unemployed people… all of the people that you’ve spent the last four years ignoring while you allowed the bankers to play the role of the Third Reich’s Storm Troopers… you’ll find them in every corner of America, sir, and they’re plenty upset with you.
So, my guess would be that you’ll give your planned rally type speeches, the kind where no one gets to say much of anything, and the demonstrators are kept many blocks away from where CNN’s cameras are set up to broadcast.
And you’ll win in 2012 because you’re essentially running unopposed by such powerhouses as Bachman, Perry, Romney and Paul… oh, and maybe Nader, we can’t forget Nader. You’ll win because you’re God’s gift to the RNC. They’ll run to take the Senate and keep the House and we’ll get to watch them turn you slowly over a spit until 2016 when America will vote for any Republican that doesn’t defecate on the state during the debates.
I’m also sure that something called The American Jobs Act will pass… it just won’t pass until it’s so watered down and ambiguous that it’s chances of being noticed by average Americans are, well… meager. Except the $15 billion handout/bailout you’re promising to the banks… that part I’m sure will sail right through both Houses like you-know-what through a goose.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
MANDELMAN: Shalom, Mr. President.
END 7:43 P.M. EDT