Monday, April 30, 2012

TEXT of President Obama's Remarks at the White House Correspondent's Dinner of April 28, 2012

Washington Hilton Hotel Washington, D.C. 9:57 P.M. EDT THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Good evening, everybody. Good evening. I could not be more thrilled to be here tonight -- (laughter) -- at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. This is great crowd. They’re already laughing. It’s terrific. Chuck Todd -- love you, brother. (Laughter.) I’m delighted to see some of the cast members of Glee are here. (Laughter.) And Jimmy Kimmel, it’s an honor, man. (Laughter.) What’s so funny? My fellow Americans, we gather during a historic anniversary. Last year at this time -- in fact, on this very weekend -- we finally delivered justice to one of the world’s most notorious individuals. (Applause.) Now, this year, we gather in the midst of a heated election season. And Axelrod tells me I should never miss a chance to reintroduce myself to the American people. So tonight, this is how I’d like to begin: My name is Barack Obama. My mother was born in Kansas. My father was born in Kenya. And I was born, of course, in Hawaii. (Laughter and applause.) In 2009, I took office in the face of some enormous challenges. Now, some have said I blame too many problems on my predecessor, but let’s not forget that’s a practice that was initiated by George W. Bush. (Laughter.) Since then, Congress and I have certainly had our differences; yet, I’ve tried to be civil, to not take any cheap shots. And that’s why I want to especially thank all the members who took a break from their exhausting schedule of not passing any laws to be here tonight. (Laughter.) Let’s give them a big round of applause. (Applause.) Despite many obstacles, much has changed during my time in office. Four years ago, I was locked in a brutal primary battle with Hillary Clinton. Four years later, she won’t stop drunk-texting me from Cartagena. (Laughter.) Four years ago, I was a Washington outsider. Four years later, I’m at this dinner. Four years ago, I looked like this. Today, I look like this. (Laughter.) And four years from now, I will look like this. (Laughter and applause.) That’s not even funny. (Laughter.) Anyway, it’s great to be here this evening in the vast, magnificent Hilton ballroom -- or what Mitt Romney would call a little fixer-upper. (Laughter and applause.) I mean, look at this party. We’ve got men in tuxes, women in gowns, fine wine, first-class entertainment. I was just relieved to learn this was not a GSA conference. (Laughter.) Unbelievable. Not even the mind reader knew what they were thinking. (Laughter.) Of course, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is known as the prom of Washington D.C. -- a term coined by political reporters who clearly never had the chance to go to an actual prom. (Laughter.) Our chaperone for the evening is Jimmy Kimmel -- (applause) -- who is perfect for the job since most of tonight’s audience is in his key demographic -- people who fall asleep during Nightline. (Laughter.) Jimmy got his start years ago on The Man Show. In Washington, that’s what we call a congressional hearing on contraception. (Laughter and applause.) And plenty of journalists are here tonight. I'd be remiss if I didn’t congratulate the Huffington Post on their Pulitzer Prize. (Applause.) You deserve it, Arianna. There's no one else out there linking to the kinds of hard-hitting journalism that HuffPo is linking to every single day. (Laughter and applause.) Give them a round of applause. And you don’t pay them -- it's a great business model. (Laughter.) Even Sarah Palin is getting back into the game, guest hosting on The Today Show -- which reminds me of an old saying: What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? A pit bull is delicious. (Laughter and applause.) A little soy sauce. (Laughter.) Now, I know at this point many of you are expecting me to go after my likely opponent, Newt Gingrich. (Laughter.) Newt, there's still time, man. (Laughter.) But I'm not going to do that -- I'm not going to attack any of the Republican candidates. Take Mitt Romney -- he and I actually have a lot in common. We both think of our wives as our better halves, and polls show, to a alarmingly insulting extent, the American people agree. (Laughter.) We also both have degrees from Harvard; I have one, he has two. What a snob. (Laughter and applause.) Of course, we've also had our differences. Recently, his campaign criticized me for slow jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon. In fact, I understand Governor Romney was so incensed he asked his staff if he could get some equal time on The Merv Griffin Show. (Laughter.) Still, I guess Governor Romney is feeling pretty good about things because he took a few hours off the other day to see The Hunger Games -- some of you have seen it. It's a movie about people who court wealthy sponsors and then brutally savage each other until only one contestant is left standing. I'm sure this was a really good change of pace for him. (Laughter.) I have not seen The Hunger Games; not enough class warfare for me. (Laughter.) Of course, I know everybody is predicting a nasty election, and thankfully, we've all agreed that families are off limits. Dogs, however, are apparently fair game. (Laughter.) And while both campaigns have had some fun with this, the other day I saw a new ad from one of these outside groups that, frankly, I think crossed the line. I know Governor Romney says he has no control over what his super PACs do, but can we show the ad real quick? (Video is played.) (Applause.) That’s pretty rough -- (laughter) -- but I can take it, because my stepfather always told me, it's a boy-eat-dog world out there. (Laughter.) Now, if I do win a second term as President, let me just say something to all the -- (applause) -- let me just say something to all my conspiracy-oriented friends on the right who think I'm planning to unleash some secret agenda: You're absolutely right. (Laughter.) So allow me to close with a quick preview of the secret agenda you can expect in a second Obama administration. In my first term, I sang Al Green; in my second term, I'm going with Young Jeezy. (Laughter.) MRS. OBAMA: Yeah. THE PRESIDENT: Michelle said, yeah. (Laughter.) I sing that to her sometimes. (Laughter.) In my first term, we ended the war in Iraq; in my second term, I will win the war on Christmas. (Laughter.) In my first term, we repealed the policy known as "don't ask, don't tell" -- (applause) -- wait, though; in my second term, we will replace it with a policy known as, it's raining men. (Laughter.) In my first term, we passed health care reform; in my second term, I guess I'll pass it again. (Applause.) I do want to end tonight on a slightly more serious note -- whoever takes the oath of office next January will face some great challenges, but he will also inherit traditions that make us greater than the challenges we face. And one of those traditions is represented here tonight: a free press that isn't afraid to ask questions, to examine and to criticize. And in service of that mission, all of you make sacrifices. Tonight, we remember journalists such as Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin -- (applause) -- who made the ultimate sacrifice as they sought to shine a light on some of the most important stories of our time. So whether you are a blogger or a broadcaster, whether you take on powerful interests here at home or put yourself in harm's way overseas, I have the greatest respect and admiration for what you do. I know sometimes you like to give me a hard time -- and I certainly like to return the favor -- (laughter) -- but I never forget that our country depends on you. You help protect our freedom, our democracy, and our way of life. And just to set the record straight, I really do enjoy attending these dinners. In fact, I had a lot more material prepared, but I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew. (Laughter.) Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.) END 10:13 P.M. EDT ----- Unsubscribe The White House · 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW · Washington DC 20500 · 202-456-1111

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Governor Quinn Announces Plan to Stabilize Illinois’ Medicaid System


SPRINGFIELD – April 19, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today announced a plan to stabilize Illinois’ Medicaid system and prevent collapse of the program, one of his top priorities this session. The Governor’s plan creates $2.7 billion in Medicaid savings – which includes more than $2 billion in Medicaid reductions and federal matching funds from additional revenues on tobacco products. Today’s proposal follows weeks of productive talks led by the governor’s office with a working group comprised of members from all four legislative caucuses, as well as meetings with numerous provider groups.

“We must act quickly to save the entire Medicaid system from collapse, and protect providers and the millions of Illinois residents that depend upon Medicaid for their healthcare,” Governor Quinn said. “This proposal will fundamentally restructure our Medicaid system, alleviate the pressures on the rest of our budget, and ensure the program is sustainable for years to come.”

Medicaid provides healthcare to 2.7 million people in Illinois and coverage for half of all births. In his February budget address, the Governor highlighted the urgent need for a $2.7 billion reduction in the Medicaid program to prevent systemic collapse. At the end of the current fiscal year (FY 2013), Illinois will have $1.9 billion in unpaid Medicaid bills. The Civic Federation projects $21 billion in unpaid Medicaid bills by 2017 if Illinois’ Medicaid system is not fundamentally and immediately restructured.

The Governor convened a working group – comprised of members from each of the four legislative caucuses – to explore all options and develop a framework to save our Medicaid system. The working group met with and incorporated suggestions from many provider groups, including: hospitals, podiatrists, durable and disposable medical equipment companies, long-term care providers, dentists, pharmacists, and hospice providers.

Governor Quinn’s proposal reduces Illinois’ Medicaid liability by $2.7 billion, with three-quarters of the plan comprised of cuts, reductions and efficiencies, one-eighth in state revenue, and one-eighth in federal matching funds:

· Cuts, reductions and efficiencies to 58 separate items totaling $1.35 billion (50 percent)

· Rate reduction to providers totaling $675 million – (25 percent)

· Additional revenue through a $1 per pack increase in the cigarette tax totaling $337.5 million (12.5 percent)

· 100 percent federal match funding from the increased cigarette tax totaling $337.5 million (12.5 percent)

“The status quo is not an option, and I want to thank the members of the working group, who have worked diligently with us to find real solutions to this problem, “Julie Hamos, Department of Healthcare and Family Services director, said. “What we are presenting today is a balanced approach that targets fraud and abuse, continues our move to coordinated care for Medicaid clients, and takes advantage of federal matching funds to make every dollar go further.”

The cuts, reductions and efficiencies across 58 separate items in the Governor’s proposal include:

· Program integrity to prevent client and provider fraud

· Elimination or reduced coverage of certain optional populations and services

· Controls on use of Medicaid services to prevent over-use or waste

· Adjustments to rates that are outdated or do not reflect budget realities

· Expanded cost-sharing by clients

· Redesigned healthcare delivery system through Coordinated Care

· Complete implementation of all reforms in 2011 Medicaid reform law

To access more funds from the federal government, the Governor’s plan to limit Medicaid liability includes a tobacco revenue increase. By including a tobacco revenue increase, which amounts to just one-eighth ($337.5 million per year) of the $2.7B savings we must find in the Medicaid program, the state will be eligible for an additional 100 percent in federal matching funds ($337.5 million per year).

In addition to the direct revenue, raising the cost of cigarettes by a dollar will improve the health of the people of Illinois, reducing tobacco-related Medicaid and health care costs over the long-term. According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco use cost Illinois $1.5 billion in Medicaid spending last year. Increasing the cigarette tax by a dollar a pack will prevent more than 70,000 children from becoming addicted adult smokers, decrease youth smoking by 11 percent and save more than 38,000 Illinois residents from premature, smoking-caused death.

"The American Cancer Society is pleased to see the Governor combining smart fiscal and public health policy with this proposal,” said Katherine L. Griem, M.D., President of the American Cancer Society, Illinois Division. “Smoking remains the leading cause of cancer and this proposal will not only reduce the burden on the state’s Medicaid program for years to come, but more importantly, it will save lives and improve the health of people across Illinois, particularly in curtailing youth smoking."


Illinois Republican Legislative Leaders Statement on Governor’s Medicaid Announcement

On February 22, Governor Quinn said in his Budget Address, “To rescue Illinois' Medicaid program, we must reduce expenditures in the program by $2.7 billion in the coming year.” We agreed with him and will hold him to his words.

This afternoon, Governor Quinn put out a proposal that includes a tax increase. We stand with our members on the Medicaid working group against any tax increases to solve our Medicaid crisis. We are encouraging the working group to continue working in a bi-partisan way to come up with $2.7 billion In Medicaid reforms and cuts, NOT revenue enhancements.

This will continue to be a challenging job, but we are confident that the working group can come up with substantive solutions that will truly tackle our massive Medicaid problems.

-Sen. Christine Radogno -Rep. Tom Cross

IL Senate Republican Leader IL House Republican Leader

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Partial Text of President Obama's Remarks on the Economy, April 10, 2012

Text from President Obama's remarks on the economy at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, April 10, 2012.

I know this is a busy time of year. Some of you are less than a month away from graduation. (Applause.) Some seniors in the house. (Applause.) Pretty soon, you’ll be closing the books at Wimberly for the last time. Maybe you’ll be making that one last trip to the beach or Coyote Jack’s. (Applause.) You’ll be picking up that diploma that you worked so hard for. Your parents will be there -- they'll be beaming, full of pride. And then comes what folks call the real world.

Now, I actually think college is part of the real world. But obviously there's a transition that will take place as you leave college. And some of you may go on to post-graduate degrees, but some of you are going to be out there looking for work. College is the single-most important investment you can make in your future. (Applause.) So I'm proud that you've made it and you've seen it through.

But I also know that the future can be uncertain. Now, we've gone through the three toughest years in our lifetimes, economically -- worst financial crisis, worst economic crisis. Our economy is now recovering but it's not yet where it needs to be. Too many of your friends and too many of your neighbors are still hurting out there. They're still looking for work. Too many of your families are still searching for that sense of security that started slipping away long before this recession hit.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Amen! (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Got the "Amen" corner here. (Laughter.)

So at a time like this, we've got to ask ourselves a central, fundamental question as a nation: What do we have to do to make sure that America is a place where, if you work hard, if you're responsible, that that hard work and that responsibility pays off? (Applause.) And the reason it's important to ask this question right now is because there are alternative theories.

There's a debate going on in this country right now: Could we succeed as a nation where a shrinking number of people are doing really, really well, but a growing number are struggling to get by?


THE PRESIDENT: Or are we better off when everybody gets a fair shot -- (applause) -- and everybody does a fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules? (Applause.)

That’s what the debate in America is about right now. This is not just another run-of-the-mill gabfest in Washington. This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class and everybody who's aspiring to get into the middle class. And we’ve got two very different visions of our future. And the choice between them could not be clearer.

Now keep in mind, I start from the belief that government cannot and should not try to solve every single problem that we've got. Government is not the answer to everything. My first job in Chicago, when I wasn't much older than most of you, was working with a group of Catholic churches on the South Side of Chicago in low-income neighborhoods to try to figure out how could we improve the schools, and how could we strengthen neighborhoods and strengthen families. And I saw that the work that some of these churches did did more good for people in their communities than any government program could. (Applause.)

In those same communities, I saw that no education policy, no matter how well crafted it is, no matter how well funded it is, can take the place of a parent’s love and attention. And I also believe that since government is funded by you that it has an obligation to be efficient and effective. (Applause.) And that's why we’ve eliminated dozens of programs that weren’t working, announced hundreds of regulatory reforms to save businesses and taxpayers billions of dollars. We’ve put annual domestic spending on a path to become the smallest share of our economy since Eisenhower was in the White House, which is before I was born much less you being born. (Laughter.)

I believe the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history. (Applause.) But here’s the thing. I also agree with our first Republican President -- a guy from my home state, a guy with a beard, named Abraham Lincoln. (Applause.) And what Lincoln said was that through our government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves. (Applause.) That's the definition of a smart government.

And that’s the reason why we have a strong military, to keep us safe -- because I suppose each of us could just grab whatever is around the house and try to defend our country, but we do better when we do it together. And we’ve got the best military in the history of the world, with the greatest men and women in uniform. We pay for that. (Applause.)

That's why we have public schools to educate our children. (Applause.) If we didn't have public schools, there would still be some families who would do very well. They could afford private schools or some would home-school. But there would be a lot of kids who would fall through the cracks. So we do that together.

It’s one of the reasons that we’ve laid down railroads and highways. We can't build a highway for ourselves. We got to get our neighbors and our friends to say let’s go build a road. That's why we supported the research and the technology that saved lives and created entire industries. The Internet, GPS -- all those things were created by us together, not by ourselves.

It’s the reason why we contribute to programs like Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security and unemployment insurance. (Applause.) Because we understand that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, we know that eventually we’re going to get older. We know that at any point, one of us might face hard times, or bad luck, or a crippling illness, or a layoff. And the idea that together we build this safety net, this base of support, that allows all of us to take risks and to try new things, and maybe try -- get a new job -- because we know that there’s this base that we can draw on.

So these investments -- in things like education and research and health care -- they haven’t been made as some grand scheme to redistribute wealth from one group to another. This is not some socialist dream. They have been made by Democrats and Republicans for generations, because they benefit all of us and they lead to strong and durable economic growth. That’s why we’ve made these investments. (Applause.)

If you’re here at FAU because you got financial aid -- (applause) -- or a student loan, a scholarship -- which, by the way, was how I was able to help finance my college education. That’s how Michelle got her college education. That doesn’t just benefit you. It benefits whatever company might end up hiring you and profiting from your skills. If one of you goes on to become the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, or one of you discovers the next medical breakthrough, think about all the people whose lives will be changed for the better. We made an investment in you; we’ll get a return on the investment. (Applause.)

When we guarantee basic security for the elderly or the sick or those who are actively looking for work, that doesn’t make us weak. What makes us weak is when fewer Americans can afford to buy the products that businesses are selling, when fewer people are willing to take risks and start their new business, because if it doesn’t work out they worry about feeding their families. What drags our entire economy down is when the benefits of economic growth and productivity go only to the few, which is what’s been happening for over a decade now, and gap between those at the very, very top and everybody else keeps growing wider and wider and wider and wider.

In this country, prosperity has never trickled down from the wealthy few. Prosperity has always come from the bottom up, from a strong and growing middle class. (Applause.) That’s how a generation who went to college on the GI Bill -- including my grandfather -- helped build the most prosperous economy that the world has ever known. That’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made a point to pay his workers enough money so that they could buy the cars that they were building. (Applause.) Because he understood, look, there’s no point in me having all this and then nobody can buy my cars. I’ve got to pay my workers enough so that they buy the cars, and that in turn creates more business and more prosperity for everybody.

This is not about a few people doing well. We want people to do well. That’s great. But it’s about giving everybody the chance to do well. (Applause.) That’s the essence of America. That’s what the American Dream is about. That’s why immigrants have come to our shores, because the idea was, you know what, it doesn’t matter what your name is, what you look like -- you can be named Obama -- (laughter) -- you can still make it if you try. (Applause.)

And yet, we keep on having the same argument with folks who don’t seem to understand how it is that America got built. And let me just say, the folks that we have political arguments with, they’re Americans who love their country. Democrats, Republicans, independents, everybody -- we all love this country. But there is a fundamental difference in how we think we move this country forward.

These folks, they keep telling us that if we just weaken regulations that keep our air or our water clean or protect our consumers, if we would just convert these investments that we’re making through our government in education and research and health care -- if we just turned those into tax cuts, especially for the wealthy, then somehow the economy is going to grow stronger. That’s the theory.

And here’s the news: We tried this for eight years before I took office. We tried it. (Applause.) It’s not like we didn’t try it. (Laughter.) At the beginning of the last decade, the wealthiest Americans got two huge tax cuts -- 2001, 2003. Meanwhile, insurance companies, financial institutions -- they were all allowed to write their own rules, or find their way around rules. We were told the same thing we’re being told now -- this is going to lead to faster job growth. This is going to lead to greater prosperity for everybody.

Guess what -- it didn’t. (Laughter.) Yes, the rich got much richer. Corporations made big profits. But we also had the slowest job growth in half a century. The typical American family actually saw their incomes fall by about 6 percent even though the economy was growing, because more and more of that growth was just going to a few, and the average middle-class American wasn't seeing it in their paychecks. Health care premiums skyrocketed. Financial institutions started making bets with other people's money that were reckless. And then our entire financial system almost collapsed. You remember that?


THE PRESIDENT: It wasn't that long ago. I know you guys are young, but it was pretty recent. (Laughter.)

Now, some of you may be science majors in here. (Applause.) I like that. We need more scientists, need more engineers. Now, I was not a science major myself, but I enjoyed science when I was young. And if I recall correctly, if an experiment fails badly -- (laughter) -- you learn from that, right? Sometimes you can learn from failure. That’s part of the data that teaches you stuff, that expands our knowledge. But you don’t then just keep on doing the same thing over and over again.


THE PRESIDENT: You go back to the drawing board. You try something different. But that’s not what's been happening with these folks in Washington.


THE PRESIDENT: A lot of the folks who were peddling these same trickle-down theories -- including members of Congress and some people who are running for a certain office right now, who shall not be named -- (laughter and applause) -- they're doubling down on these old broken-down theories. Instead of moderating their views even slightly, instead of saying, you know what, what we did really didn’t work and we almost had a second Great Depression, and maybe we should try something different, they have doubled down.

They proposed a budget that showers the wealthiest Americans with even more tax cuts, and then pays for these tax cuts by gutting investments in education and medical research and clean energy, in health care.


THE PRESIDENT: Now, these are the facts. If the cuts they're proposing are spread out evenly across the budget, then 10 million college students -- including some of you -- would see your financial aid cut by an average of more than $1,000 each.


THE PRESIDENT: Now, thousands of medical research grants for things like Alzheimer’s and cancer and AIDS would be eliminated. Tens of thousands of researchers and students and teachers could lose their jobs. Our investments in clean energy that are making us less dependent on imported oil would be cut by nearly a fifth.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: That's wrong!

THE PRESIDENT: By the time you retire, instead of being enrolled in Medicare like today’s seniors are, you’d get a voucher to pay for your health care plan. But here’s the problem. If health care costs rise faster than the amount of the voucher, like they have been for decades, the rest of it comes out of your pockets. If the voucher isn’t enough to buy a plan with the specific doctors and care that you need, you’re out of luck. And by the middle of the next century -- by the middle of this century -- excuse me -- by about 2050, at a time when most of you will have families of your own, funding for most of the investments I’ve talked about today would have been almost completely eliminated altogether.

Now, this is not an exaggeration. This is math. And when I said this about a week ago, the Republicans objected. They said, we didn't specify all these cuts. Well, right, you didn't because you knew that people wouldn’t accept them. So you just gave a big number and so what we’ve done is we’ve just done the math. This is what it would it mean.

They say, well, we didn't specifically propose to cut student loans. Okay, if you don't cut student loans, then that means you’ve got to cut basic research even more. The money has got to come from somewhere. You can't give over $4 trillion worth of additional tax cuts, including to folks like me who don't need them and weren’t asking for them, and it just comes from some magic tree somewhere. (Laughter.)

So if you hear them saying, well, the President is making this stuff up -- no, we’re doing the math. If they want to dispute anything that I’ve said right now, they should show us specifically where they would make those cuts. (Applause.) They should show us. They should show us. Because, by the way, they're not proposing to cut defense, they're actually proposing to increase defense spending, so it’s not coming out of there. So show me.

Look, America has always been a place where anybody who's willing to work and play by the rules can make it. A place where prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top, it grows from the bottom; it grows outward from the heart of a vibrant middle class. (Applause.)

And I believe that we cannot stop investing in the things that help create that middle class; that create real, long-lasting, broad-based growth in this country. And we certainly shouldn’t be doing it just so the richest Americans can get another tax cut. (Applause.) We should be strengthening those investments. We should be making college more affordable. (Applause.) We should be expanding our investment in clean energy. (Applause.)

Now, here’s the other thing that the Republicans will tell you. They’ll say, well, we’ve got to make all these drastic cuts because our deficit is too high. Our deficit is too high. And their argument might actually have a shred of credibility to it if you didn’t find out that they wanted to spend $4.6 trillion on lower tax rates. I don’t know how many of you are math majors, business majors -- you can’t pay down a deficit by taking in $4.6 trillion of less money, especially when you’re denying that you’re going to be making all these cuts. It doesn’t add up. It doesn’t make sense.

And keep in mind, more than a trillion dollars of the tax cuts they propose would be going to people who make more than $250,000 a year. That is an average of at least $150,000 -- again, we’re just taking the numbers with the details they’ve given us and you spread it out -- that averages to at least $150,000 for every millionaire, billionaire in the country. Each millionaire and billionaire, on average, would get $150,000. Some folks would get a lot more.

So we did some math of our own. We added up all the investments $150,000 could pay for. All right? So let’s say a tax break that I might get that I really don’t need -- I’ve got -- treated pretty well in this life. (Laughter.) So right now, I’m going to be okay. Malia, Sasha, they’re going to be able to go to college. (Applause.) Michelle is doing fine. (Applause.) So understand what this means.

Here's what $150,000 means -- $150,000, this is what each millionaire and billionaire would get, on average. This could pay for a tax credit that would make a year of college more affordable for students like you. (Applause.) Plus a year's worth of financial aid for students like you. (Applause.) Plus a year's worth of prescription drug savings for one of your grandparents. (Applause.) Plus a new computer lab for this school. (Applause.) Plus a year of medical care for a veteran in your family who went to war and risked their lives fighting for this country. (Applause.) Plus a medical research grant for a chronic disease. (Applause.) Plus a year's salary for a firefighter or police officer -- $150,000 could pay for all of these things combined. Think about that.

So let me ask you what's the better way to make our economy stronger? Do we give another $50,000 [sic] in tax breaks to every millionaire and billionaire in the country?


THE PRESIDENT: Or should we make investments in education and research and health care and our veterans? (Applause.)

And I just want to emphasize again -- look, I want folks to get rich in this country. I think it's wonderful when people are successful. That’s part of the American Dream. It is great that you make a product, you create a service, you do it better than anybody else -- that’s what our system is all about. But understand, the share of our national income going to the top 1 percent has climbed to levels we haven't seen since the 1920s. The folks who are benefitting from this are paying taxes at one of the lowest rates in 50 years.

You might have heard of this, but Warren Buffett is paying a lower tax rate than his secretary. Now, that’s wrong. That’s not fair. And so we've got to choose which direction we want this country to go in. Do we want to keep giving those tax breaks to folks like me who don’t need them, or give them to Warren Buffet -- he definitely doesn’t need them -- (laughter) -- or Bill Gates -- he's already said, I don’t need them. Or do we want to keep investing in those things that keep our economy growing and keep us secure? That’s the choice. (Applause.)

And, Florida, I’ve told you where I stand. So now it’s time for members of Congress to tell you where they stand. In the next few weeks, we’re going to vote on something called the Buffett Rule -- very simple: If you make more than $1 million a year -- now, I’m not saying you have a million dollars -- right? I’m not saying you saved up all your money and you made smart investments and now you’ve got your nest egg and you’re preparing for retirement. I’m saying, you’re bringing in a million bucks or more a year. Then, what the rule says is you should pay the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle-class families do. (Applause.) You shouldn’t get special tax breaks. You shouldn’t be able to get special loopholes. (Applause.)

And if we do that, then it makes it affordable for us to be able to say for those people who make under $250,000 a year -- like 98 percent of American families do -- then your taxes don’t go up. (Applause.) And we can still make those investments in things like student loans and college and science and infrastructure and all the things that make this country great.

And this is where you come in. This is why I came to see you. I mean, it’s nice to see you. The weather is nice; you guys have been a wonderful audience. (Applause.) I learned about the burrowing owl. (Applause.) So there were all kinds of reasons for me to want to come down here. But one of the reasons I came was I want you to call your members of Congress. I want you to write them an email. I want you to tweet them. (Laughter.) Tell them don’t give tax breaks to folks like me who don’t need them. Tell them to start investing in the things that will help the economy grow. Tell them if we want to bring down our deficit sensibly, then we’ve got to do it in a balanced way that’s fair for everybody. Remind them who they work for. Tell them to do the right thing. (Applause.)

As I look out across this gymnasium, everybody here -- from all different backgrounds, from all different parts of the country -- each of us is here because somebody, somewhere, felt responsibility for other people. Our parents, obviously, our grandparents, great grandparents, the sacrifices they made -- some of them took enormous risks coming to this country with nothing because they wanted to give a better life to their kids and their grandkids. (Applause.) A lot of them did without so that you could benefit. But they weren't just thinking about their families. They were thinking about their communities. They were thinking about their country.

That's what responsibility means. It means that as you have greater and greater opportunity, then the scope of you being able to help more people and think about the future expands. And so you’re not just thinking about yourself; you’re thinking about your kids, your spouse, your family, your grandkids, your neighborhood, your state, your nation. You’re thinking about the future.

And now it’s our turn to be responsible. Now it’s our turn to preserve the American Dream for future generations. Now it’s our turn to rebuild, to make the investments that will assure our future, to make sure that we’ve got the most competitive workforce on Earth, to make sure that we’ve got clean energy that can help clean the planet and help fuel our economy. (Applause.)

It’s our turn. It’s our turn to rebuild our roads and our bridges and our airports and our ports. It’s our turn to make sure that everybody here, every child born in whatever neighborhood in this country it is, that if they're willing to dream big dreams and put some blood, sweat and tears behind it, they can make it. (Applause.)

I know we can do that. I know we can do it because of you. You’re here because you believe in your future. (Applause.) You’re working hard. Some of you are balancing a job or a family on the side.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT: You have faith in America. You know it’s not going to be easy, but you don't give up. That's the spirit we need right now, because here in America we don’t give up. (Applause.) Here in America, we look out for one another. Here in America, we help each other get ahead. Here in America, we have a sense of common purpose. Here in America, we can meet any challenge. Here in America, we can seize any moment. We can make this century another great American century. (Applause.)

Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END 3:39 P.M. EDT

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