Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
On the American Jobs Act
September 27, 2011
Hello, Denver! It is great to be back in Colorado. It is an honor to be here at Lincoln High School. And I want to give Amelia a special thank you for that introduction. Amelia’s a great example of how smarter courses and better technology can help guarantee our kids the foundation they need to learn, and graduate, and compete in this economy.
And that’s what I came here to talk about today – the economy. I came to talk about how we can get to a place where we’re creating good, middle-class jobs again – jobs that pay well and offer some security. We have a lot to do to make sure everyone in this country gets a fair shake, a fair shot, and a chance to get ahead. That’s the number one thing I think about each day – your lives. Your opportunities. That should be the number one thing every public servant in Washington thinks about. There is so much we could all accomplish together if we can finally get Washington to act – if we can get folks in that city to stop worrying so much about their jobs and start worrying more about yours.
That’s why I sent Congress the American Jobs Act. This is a plan that does two things: it puts more people back to work and more money in the pockets of working Americans. Everything in the American Jobs Act is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by Democrats and Republicans before. Everything in it will be paid for. It’s been two weeks since I sent it to Congress. And now I want it back. I want to sign this jobs bill so we can start putting people to work. I’ve got the pens all ready. And every one of you can make it happen by sending a message to Congress that says “Pass this jobs bill.”
Pass this jobs bill, and right here in Colorado, thousands of construction workers will have a job again. This is one of the most common-sense ideas out there. All over the country, there are roads and bridges and schools just like this one in need of repair. Now, this is a fast-growing school in one of the fastest-growing school districts in Colorado. And you guys have been adding new AP courses, and language courses, and doing your best to make sure your kids have the upgraded computers and learning software necessary to prepare them for the jobs and economy of the future. But things like science labs, for example, take money to upgrade. And the ones here at Lincoln High were built decades ago, back in the 1960s. Science and technology have changed just a little bit since then. The world has changed since then. We need to do everything we can to prepare our kids for it. We need to do everything we can to make sure our students can compete with any student, anywhere in the world.
Every child deserves a great school – and we can give it to them. We can rebuild our schools for the 21st century, with faster internet, smarter labs, and cutting-edge technology. And that won’t just create a better, safer learning environment for the students – it’ll create good jobs for local construction workers right here in Denver, across Colorado, and throughout the country. There are schools all throughout Colorado that need this kind of renovation. Last week, I visited a bridge in Cincinnati connecting Ohio to Kentucky that needs this kind of renovation. There are construction projects like these all across this country just waiting to get started. And there are millions of unemployed construction workers who are looking for jobs.
So my question to Congress is: what on Earth are we waiting for? Why should our children be allowed to study in crumbling or outdated schools? How does that give them the sense their education is important? We should build them the best schools! That’s what I want for my kids; that’s what I want for your kids; that’s what I want for all our children. Why should we let China build the newest airports and fastest railroads? We should build them here! There is work to be done; there are workers ready to do it; so let’s tell Congress: pass this jobs bill right away.
Let’s pass this jobs bill and put teachers back in the classroom where they belong. While places like South Korea are adding teachers to prepare their kids for the global economy, we’re laying ours off left and right. All across the country, budget cuts are forcing superintendents to make choices they don’t want to make. I can tell you the last thing a governor like John Hickenlooper wants to do is lose schools and teachers. It’s unfair to our kids, it undermines their future, and it has to stop. Tell Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, and there will be funding to save the jobs of thousands of Colorado teachers – and cops and firefighters, too.
If Congress passes this jobs bill, companies will get new tax credits for hiring America’s veterans. We ask these men and women to leave their careers, leave their families, and risk their lives to fight for their country. The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home. And that’s why Congress needs to pass this bill.
Pass this bill, and it will help hundreds of thousands of young people find summer jobs next year that help them build new skills. It’s also got a $4,000 tax credit for companies that hire anyone who’s spent more than six months looking for a job. The American Jobs Act extends unemployment insurance, but it also says that if you’re collecting benefits, you’ll get connected to temporary work as a way to build your skills while you look for a permanent job.
Congress needs to pass this jobs bill so that we can help the people who create most of the new jobs in this country: America’s small business owners. It’s all well and good that corporate profits have come roaring back, but smaller companies haven’t. So let’s give them a boost. Pass this jobs bill, and every small business owner in America gets a tax cut. If they hire new employees, or raise wages for current employees, they get another tax cut. So let’s tell Congress that instead of just talking about America’s job creators, they should actually help America’s job creators. Let’s pass this jobs bill right away.
Finally, if we get Congress to pass this bill, the typical working family in Colorado will get a more than seventeen hundred dollar tax cut next year. Seventeen hundred dollars that would have been taken out of workers’ paychecks will go right into your pocket. But if Congress doesn’t act – if Congress refuses to pass this bill – middle-class families will get hit with a tax increase at the worst possible time. We can’t let that happen. Republicans say they’re the party of tax cuts. Tell them to prove it. Tell them to fight as hard for tax cuts for working Americans as they do for the wealthiest Americans. Tell them it’s time to pass this jobs bill.
The American Jobs Act will lead to new jobs for construction workers, jobs for teachers, jobs for veterans, jobs for young people and the unemployed. It will provide tax relief for every worker and small business in America. And it will not add to the deficit. It will be paid for.
Last week, I laid out a plan to not only pay for this jobs bill, but begin to pay down our debt over time. It’s a plan that says if we want to create jobs and close this deficit, we have to ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share.
It reforms our tax code based on a simple principle: Middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher tax rates than millionaires and billionaires. Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. A teacher or nurse or construction worker making $50,000 a year shouldn’t pay higher tax rates than somebody making $50 million. That’s just common sense.
We’re not doing this to punish success. This is the land of opportunity. What’s great about our country is our enduring belief that anyone can make it and everyone should try. But what’s also an American idea is that those of us who have done well should pay our fair share to contribute to the upkeep of the nation that made our success possible. None of us got here on our own. We got here because others invested in us. We need to make sure this generation of students can go to college on student aid or scholarships, like I did. We need to make sure we keep investing in the kind of government research that helped create the internet, which countless private sector companies then used to create tens of millions of jobs. And I think most wealthy Americans would agree with that.
Of course, the Republicans in Congress call this class warfare. Well you know what? If asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or teacher makes me a warrior for the working class, I’ll wear that charge as a badge of honor. Because the only class warfare I’ve seen is the battle that’s been waged against the middle class in this country for a decade.
This is about priorities. This is about choices. If we want to pay for this jobs plan, and close this deficit, and invest in our future, the money has to come from somewhere. Would you rather keep tax loopholes for oil companies? Or do you want construction workers to have a job rebuilding our schools and roads and bridges? Would you rather keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or do you want to put teachers back to work, and help small businesses, and cut taxes for middle-class families?
It is time to build an economy that creates good, middle-class jobs in this country. It’s time to build an economy that honors the values of hard work and responsibility. It’s time to build an economy that lasts.
Denver, that starts now. That starts with your help. Democrats and Republicans have supported every kind of proposal that’s in the American Jobs Act – and we need to tell them it’s time to support those proposals now. I know some Republicans in Washington have said that some of this might have to wait for the next election; that maybe we should just stretch this out rather than work together right now. Some even said that even if they agree with the proposals in the American Jobs Act, they shouldn’t pass it because it would give me a win.
Give me a win? Give me a break! That’s why folks are fed up with Washington. This isn’t about giving me a win. This isn’t about giving Democrats or Republicans a win. This is about giving people who are hurting a win. This is about giving small business owners and entrepreneurs a win. This is about giving students and working families a win. This is about giving the American people – all of us – a win.
The next election is nearly 14 months away. And the American people don’t have the luxury of waiting that long. A lot of folks are living week to week; paycheck to paycheck; even day to day. They need action, and they need it now.
So I’m asking all of you to lift your voice – not just you here in Denver, but anyone watching, listening, or following online – to call, e-mail, tweet, fax, visit, and tell your congressperson that the time for gridlock and games is over. The time for action is now.
Tell them that if you want to create jobs – pass this bill.
If you want construction workers modernizing schools like this one – pass this jobs bill.
If you want to put teachers back in these classrooms – pass this jobs bill.
If you want tax cuts for middle-class families and small business owners – pass this jobs bill.
If you want to help our veterans share in the opportunity they defend – pass this jobs bill.
Now is the time to act. Because we are not a people who just watch things happen. We make things happen. We are Americans. We are tougher than the times we live in, and bigger than our politics have been. We are a people who write our own destiny. And it is fully within our power to write it once more. So let’s meet this 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.
Thank you, Colorado. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.