Rebuilding the Economy, Creating New Jobs

President Obama:
Hello, hello, hello! Hey! (applause) It’s good to see you. Thank
you. Thank you, everybody. Everybody please have a seat. Let me first of all just say
thank you to some people who are doing outstanding work,
beginning with somebody who I think is one of the best
governors we’ve got in this country and just a great guy. Give it up for Ted
Strickland, your governor. (applause) You’ve got an outstanding young
mayor, Mayor Jay Williams. (applause) The mayor of Girard, Jim
Melfi is here as well. (applause) Secretary of State,
Jennifer Brunner. (applause) And three terrific members
of Congress: Tim Ryan, Charlie Wilson, John Boccieri. Give them all a big
round of applause. (applause) It is good to be back in Ohio. And it is good to be
back in Mahoning Valley. I appreciate the chance to
tour this unbelievable facility. You know, sometimes
when you’re President, you get kind of jaded. You know, you’ve
seen a lot of stuff, you go through these factories. This one, when you walk
through, is just unbelievable. It’s like off of a movie set. And so it was exciting to see,
but what was especially exciting was to see all the people who
are working here and to see the work that you’re doing here. So I saw the 85-ton
electric arc furnace. I didn’t see any evidence, but
I know that you’re building Iron Man’s suits somewhere in here. (laughter) I appreciate the time that I’ve
had to spend with all of you, partly because it’s just nice
to get out of Washington. Washington is a wonderful place,
beautiful, nice monuments. I have this nice home office,
live right above the store so I don’t have a commute. But sometimes in Washington,
everybody is spending all their time arguing about politics and
you lose track of the folks who sent you there in
the first place. And so it’s important for me
to meet you directly and hear your concerns and your
hopes and your dreams. And I’ve been trying to make
a habit out of doing this. About once a week I try to take
a trip like this just to talk to folks who are working in various
parts of our economy and to find out what’s going
on in communities. And obviously the issue that’s
front and center on everybody’s minds is the state
of our economy. In the two years I was
running for President, I wasn’t any stranger
to this state. These guys know I came
here an awful lot. And I saw firsthand what years
of failed policies have done to working families, and I saw how
hard these guys were working to put Ohio back to work. And the Mahoning Valley is a
place that doesn’t need an economist to tell you when a
recession begins or when a recession ends, because plenty
of folks here have known their own private recessions
for 10, 20, 30 years. Now, they may not have seen
one like the one we just had, with an unemployment rate
here that’s at 14 percent and families having a tougher
time than they’d ever imagined. And a lot of people — let’s
just be blunt — aren’t always real impressed when a governor
or a President comes swooping in and talking about the
economy, because the only headline they want to see
is the headline that says “You’re hired.” But I do want to talk about a
piece of encouraging news for a change, something concrete,
not just a lot of talk, because for a lot of
the last two years, you didn’t always get
a lot of good news. A year ago, we took significant
action to jumpstart economic growth and job creation. That action included making
investments in sectors with the greatest potential for private
sector job growth — areas like clean energy and infrastructure. And one of those investments is
going towards revitalizing the site right next door, preparing
it for new construction, and building a rail spur that
connects to the Norfolk Southern line that runs through town. So as a result of
this investment, V&M Star’s parent company
decided to invest $650 million of its own money
— its own money — (applause) — to build a new
one-million-square-foot mill right here in Youngstown,
the largest industrial plant built in the valley since
GM built its plant over in Lordstown in the 1960s. Think about that — biggest
investment since the 1960s — 50 years. (applause) So right here, in the heart
of the old steel corridor, where some never thought we’d
see an investment like this again, they’re placing a bet
on American manufacturing and on this community. And that bet is going to pay off
for 400 construction jobs once they break ground this summer;
350 new manufacturing jobs once the mill comes online, which
doubles the current workforce. And, as everybody here
knows, every time a new factory or plant opens
or expands in America, it doesn’t just employ the
people who are working at the plant, everybody here, suddenly,
they’ve got a little more money to go buy lunch somewhere or
buy a computer for their kids or do something else, and so it
becomes an economic lifeline for the whole community, capable
of supporting hundreds or even thousands of jobs indirectly. And so that’s a success story
that all of you are part of. Now, I don’t want to suggest
this one plant and the jobs it’ll create are going
to make the difference for the entire community. It took us decades to
get to where we are; it’s going to take some
time to get to the point where we need to be. But just think about
where we were a year ago: Our economy was collapsing. Our businesses were losing
750,000 jobs every month. Economists across the spectrum
were warning very seriously of the possibility of
another Great Depression. And all of this was on
top of one of the toughest decades for America’s middle
class that we’ve ever seen. So that was the situation
just a year ago. Everybody has got kind of
a selective memory here, but nobody was sure whether the
economy was going to hold up. So we had to make a choice:
We could sit back, do nothing, make a bunch of
excuses, play politics, and watch America’s decline
— or we could stand up and fight for our future. And I ran for
President, Youngstown, because I believe that
we’re at a defining moment in our history. And if we’re going to keep the
American Dream alive — not just for us, but for the next
generation — then we couldn’t just sit back and put off
solving these big problems. We had to tackle them head on. Job one was rescuing
our economy. And that required some
steps that were, frankly, unpopular — steps like
stabilizing a financial system that was on the
brink of collapse, and intervening in an auto
industry that was on the brink of extinction. I knew those steps
would be unpopular. Even in Ohio, even in Michigan,
even in auto-making states, if you polled, people
said, don’t do anything about the auto companies. And I knew politics
being what it is, that some people would try
to score political points off our decisions. But I think it’s fair to say —
any fair-minded person would say that if we hadn’t acted,
more people in the Valley, more people in Ohio, more
people across America would be out of work today. I mean, I can just give you a
very concrete example — the GM plant over in Lordstown
would not be there. Because GM would
have liquidated. Instead, GM is paying
back its debts, turned a profit for the
first time in three years, and a third shift is about to
come back to work in Lordstown, putting that plant
at maximum capacity. (applause) Right next door. (applause) And by the way, it was in part
because of the decisions that these three guys
made in Congress. That’s not easy. They’ve been knocked — they’ve
got bumps all over the backs of their heads — some on top. (laughter) But it was the
right thing to do. Today my administration is
announcing a landmark agreement to help dozens of communities
like Youngstown revitalize and redevelop old,
shuttered GM facilities, preparing them for new
industries, new jobs, and new opportunity. These steps were the
right thing to do. And it was the right thing to
do to give tax relief to small businesses and working families
right in the middle of this enormous recession — 4.5
million working families in Ohio alone got tax breaks. Most of you guys didn’t
know it, didn’t notice it in your paycheck. We didn’t go around
advertising it. But each paycheck was a little
bit bigger because of the steps that we took, and that meant
that you could recirculate that money into the
economy and keep demand up, which helped avert a depression. That was the right thing to do. It was the right thing to do to
give loans to small businesses to keep their doors
open — more than 2,400 right here in Ohio
got small business loans, because of the Recovery Act,
because of the work that these guys did. It was the right thing to do to
extend unemployment benefits and make COBRA cheaper for people
caught up in the recession until they could get
back on their feet. There’s probably not a single
person here who doesn’t know somebody who either got
unemployment benefits or used COBRA to make sure they could
keep health insurance for their families when they
lost their job. That was the right thing to do. It was the right thing to do to
help governors like Ted avoid massive cuts to Medicaid
and layoffs to teachers and police officers. And it was the right
thing to do to invest in this town’s infrastructure. We put all of that stuff in the
recovery package because it was the right thing to do. Now, we’ve got a long way to go
before this recovery is felt in the lives of our neighbors and
in all the communities that have lost so much ground in this
recession and in years before. But despite that
sobering reality, despite all the
naysayers in Washington, who are always looking for the
cloud in every silver lining, the fact is our economy
is growing again. Last month, we
gained 290,000 jobs. (applause) So think about this. We gained more jobs last month
than any time in four years. And it was the fourth month in a
row that we’ve added jobs — and almost all those jobs are
in the private sector. Everybody talks about
government was doing this, government was doing that. Now, what we did was we
encouraged the private sector, gave them the funding, the
financing, the support, the infrastructure support
in order to invest and get the economy moving again. And last month also
brought the largest increase in manufacturing
employment since 1998 — (applause) — 1998, because I believe in
manufacturing and I believe in manufacturing right here in
the United States of America. We can compete against anybody. Youngstown can compete
against anybody. You got the best workers. There’s no reason why we can’t
compete with anybody if you guys have the support that you need. And you know what? I think those critics who
have been trying to badmouth these efforts — they
know it’s working. These folks who opposed
this every step of the way, predicting nothing but failure,
they know it’s working because — this always puts a smile on
my face — even as they’ve tried to score political points
attacking these members of Congress, a lot of them go home
and then they claim credit for the very things
they voted against. They’ll show up at the
— to cut the ribbons. They’ll put out a press release. They’ll send the
mailings touting the very projects that they
were opposing in Washington. They’re trying to
have it both ways. I know that’s hard to
imagine in politics, that a politician might
try to have it both ways, but here’s the fact: If the
“just say no” crowd had won out, if we had done things the
way they wanted to go, we’d be in a deeper world of
hurt than we are right now. Families wouldn’t have
seen those tax cuts. Small businesses wouldn’t have
gotten those loans or those health care tax credits that
they’re now eligible for. Insurance companies would still
be deciding who they want to cover and when they
want to cover them, and dropping your health
care coverage whenever they felt like it. The steady progress we’re
beginning to see across America would not exist. And neither would the plant
that you’re about to build. So I invite anybody who thinks
we shouldn’t have taken those actions that we took last year,
or made those investments, to come to Youngstown and
explain to us why that plant shouldn’t be built. (applause) Come talk to Ted
Strickland and the mayor. Come tell us why companies like
this in towns like Youngstown shouldn’t be given every chance
to expand and add new jobs. Tell us why small businesses
shouldn’t receive tax credits so they can help purchase health
insurance for their employees. Explain why seniors shouldn’t
get help paying for their medications when they hit that
gap called the doughnut hole. Explain why we should tell
families that children with preexisting conditions aren’t
going to be able to get health insurance because we decided
that insurance companies should be able to do
whatever they want. They need to explain why they
would be nothing to make — doing nothing to solve some of
these problems that have been plaguing America for
years now, decades. So I’m here to say, that’s
not how we deal with crises. That’s not what
America is about. We did not become the greatest
economic power that the world has ever known by
avoiding problems. The United States of America
does not play for second place. We step up. We face our
challenges. We compete. And we win. And that’s something
we should all agree on. (applause) But everybody should be
able to agree on that, for all the things we’ve gotten
done despite the unified, determined opposition
of one party, imagine how much further we
could have gotten if I’d gotten a little help. (applause) If people decided to step up. It doesn’t mean they have to
agree with me on everything, but step up, take
responsibility, don’t just play political games. Audience Member:
Thank you, Mr. President. President Obama:
You’re welcome. Audience Member:
We got your back. President Obama:
I truly — it is not
too late to work together, not when there’s so
much progress to make, so many more success stories
like this one to write — because we’re not Democrats
first or Republicans first, we are Americans first. That’s what we’re about. (applause) So I know it’s still tough. I know a lot of times the
future still feels uncertain. And I’m not going to stand here
and pretend that things are back to normal, or even close
to where they need to be. I read too many letters each
night from people who are hurting, who are
still out of work. So I know things are
still tough out there. But I will tell you one
thing: It’s people like you, people in towns like Youngstown
all across America that I’m thinking about every single day
when I go to the Oval Office. I ran for office to make sure
not just you but your kids and your grandkids have a shot at
the American Dream because I wouldn’t be in office if
somebody hadn’t worked hard to give me a shot at
the American Dream. I didn’t come from money. I didn’t come from
a powerful family. I got a name nobody
could pronounce. (laughter) But somebody gave me a shot. Somebody made an
investment in me. That’s why I ran for President. That’s why I wake up every
morning insisting to everybody who works for me that we’re not
going to rest until the future brightens for middle-class
Americans all across this country, hardworking people. And I’m absolutely convinced
that the steps that we’re taking are going to help us bring about
a better future for America. (applause) I believe that seeking new
markets for our exports is the right thing to do, and that
enforcing the rules of free and fair trade is the right
thing to do for our workers and for our companies. (applause) I believe that investing in
a clean energy economy to create good jobs of the future,
building pipe for natural gas, but also building windmills
and steel — and turbines and advanced batteries for the new
generation of electric cars, that’s the right thing
to do for our economy and for our environment. I believe that raising standards
in our schools and making college more affordable and
upgrading our community colleges is the right thing to do so that
every child has a chance to live out their dreams. (applause) I believe that reforming our
health care system to crack down on the worst practices of the
insurance companies and giving everybody a decent shot at
getting health insurance is the right thing to do. (applause) And trying to control
costs on premiums is the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do for
families and it’s the right thing to do for businesses. So we’re going to keep up every
effort to rebuild our economy and restore some security for
the middle class — a middle class forged in plants just like
this one — so that places like Youngstown don’t just
survive year after year, but they are thriving
year after year. (applause) And as long as I have the
privilege of being your President, I’m going to keep
fighting for a future that is brighter for this
community, and for Ohio, and for the United
States of America, the country that we love. God bless you. God
bless all the work here. God bless the United
States of America. Appreciate you. (applause)

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