The President Speaks on Middle-Class Economics

The President:
Hello, Boise State! (applause) Oh, it’s good
to be back! (applause) Can everybody
please give Camille a big round of applause
for that introduction? (applause) I love young people
who are doing science. And I especially love seeing
young women in sciences. And so, a great job
that Camille is doing. (applause) A couple other people
I want to mention. Your Mayor, Mayor
Bieter, is here. (applause) Where is he? Where is he? There he is. Flew back with me
on Air Force One. (applause) And he didn’t
break anything. (laughter) It was amazing, though. When we were coming back he
was telling me the story about his grandfather,
an immigrant from the Basque Region,
coming here and how he would herd sheep. And for five years, he would
be up in the mountains and the hills, and then
come down to town for like two months a year,
and the rest of the time he was up there. And I figured his dad
was a pretty tough guy, because I’ll bet it gets
kind of cold up in the hills. (laughter) Another person I want to
mention — this is somebody who I actually have known
for a really long time. He was the lieutenant
governor in Illinois, now is your outstanding
president here at Boise State —
President Kustra. Give him a big
round of applause. (applause) There he is. It’s good to see
Illinoisans do something with their lives. (laughter) We’re proud of them. Thanks to all the
Broncos for having me. (applause) And thanks
for the balmy weather. I thought it was going to be
a little colder around here. (laughter) So, last night, I gave my
State of the Union address. (applause) Today, I’m going
to be shorter. I won’t be too short,
just a little shorter. (laughter) And I focused last
night on what we can do, together, to make sure
middle-class economics helps more Americans get
ahead in the new economy. And I said that I’d take these
ideas across the country. And I wanted my first
stop to be right here in Boise, Idaho. (applause) Now, there are a couple
reasons for this. The first is because, last
year, Michelle and I got a very polite letter
from a young girl named Bella Williams — who is here today. Where’s Bella? There she is
right there. Wave, Bella. (applause) Bella is 13 now, but
she was 12 at the time. So she wrote me a
letter and she said, “I know what you’re
thinking — Wow, what’s it like in Boise, Idaho?” (laughter) So she invited me
to come visit. And she also invited me
to learn how to ski or snowboard with her. (applause) Now, as somebody
who was born in Hawaii, where there’s not a lot
of snow — let me put it this way — you do
not want to see me ski. (laughter) Or at least the Secret
Service does not want to see me ski. (laughter) But what I do know about
Boise is that it’s beautiful. I know that because
I’ve been here before. I campaigned here in 2008. (applause) It was really fun. And the truth is, because
of the incredible work that was done here in Idaho, it
helped us win the primary. And I might not be
President if it weren’t for the good
people of Idaho. (applause) Of course, in the general
election I got whooped. (laughter) I got whooped
twice, in fact. But that’s okay — I’ve
got no hard feelings. (laughter) In fact, that’s exactly
why I’ve come back. Because I ended my speech last
night with something that I talked about in Boston
just over a decade ago, and that is there is not
a liberal America or a conservative America, but a
United States of America. (applause) And today, I know it can
seem like our politics are more divided than ever. And in places like Idaho,
the only “blue” turf is on your field. (applause) And the pundits in
Washington hold up these divisions in our existing
politics and they show, well, this is proof that any
kind of hopeful politics, that’s just naïve. But as I told you last
night, I still believe what I said back then. I still believe
that, as Americans, we have more in
common than not. (applause) I mean, we have an entire
industry that’s designed to sort us out. Our media is all segmented
now so that instead of just watching three
stations, we got 600. And everything is
market-segmented, and you got the
conservative station and the liberal stations. So everybody is only
listening to what they already agree with. And then you’ve got
political gerrymandering that sorts things out so that
every district is either one thing or the other. And so there are a lot of
institutional forces that make it seem like we have
nothing in common. But one of the great things
about being President is you travel all across the country
and I’ve seen too much of the good and generous
and big-hearted optimism of people, young and old —
folks like Bella. I’ve seen how deep down
there’s just a core decency and desire to make
progress together among the American people. (applause) That’s
what I believe. So I’ve got two years
left and I am not going to stop trying — trying
to make our politics work better. That’s what you deserve. That’s how we move
the country forward. (applause) And, Idaho, we’ve got big
things to do together. I may be in the fourth
quarter of my presidency, but here, at the home of
the team with the most famous “Statue of Liberty”
play in history — (applause) — I don’t need to
remind you that big things happen late
in the fourth quarter. (applause) So here’s where we’re
starting in 2015. Our economy is growing. Our businesses are creating
jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our deficits have been
cut by two-thirds. Our energy production
is booming. Our troops are coming home. (applause) We have risen from
recession better positioned, freer to write our own
future than any other country on Earth. But as I said last night,
now we’ve got to choose what future we want. Are we going to accept
an economy where only a few of us do
spectacularly well? Audience: No! The President: Or can we
commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising
incomes and opportunities for everybody who’s
willing to try hard? (applause) For six years, we’ve been
working to rebuild our economy on a new foundation. And what I want
people to know is, thanks to your hard work
and your resilience, America is coming back. And you’ll recall, when we
were in the midst of the recession, right after
I came into office, there was some arguments about
the steps we were taking. There were questions about
whether we were doing the right thing. But we believed we could reverse
the tide of outsourcing, and draw new jobs
back to America. And over the past five
years, our businesses have created more than
11 million new jobs. (applause) We believed that with
smart energy policies, we could reduce our
dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. Today, America is number
one in oil production and gas production
and wind production. (applause) And every three weeks,
we bring online as much solar power as
we did in all of 2008. (applause) And meanwhile, thanks
to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards,
the average family this year should save about
750 bucks at the pump. (applause) We believed we could
do better when it came to educating our kids
for a competitive world. And today, our younger
students have earned the highest math and
reading scores on record. Our high school graduation
rate has hit an all-time high. More young people like folks
right here at Boise State are finishing college
than ever before. (applause) We figured sensible regulations
could encourage fair competition and shield families
from ruin, and prevent the kind of crises that we
saw in 2007, 2008. And today, we have new tools to
stop taxpayer-funded bailouts. And in the past year
alone, about 10 million uninsured Americans finally
gained the security of health coverage, including
right here in Idaho. (applause) Now, sometimes you’d think
folks have short memories, because at every
step of the way, we were told that these
goals were too misguided, or they were too ambitious,
or they’d crush jobs, or they’d explode
deficits, or they’d destroy the economy. You remember those, right? Every step we took, this
is going to be terrible. And instead, we’ve seen the
fastest economic growth in over a decade. And we’ve seen the deficits,
as I said, go down by two-thirds. And people’s 401[k]s are
stronger now because the stock market
has doubled. And health care inflation
is at the lowest rate in 50 years. (applause) Lowest
rate in 50 years. Here in Boise, your
unemployment rate has fallen below 4 percent
— and that’s almost two-thirds from its
peak five years ago. (applause) So the verdict is clear. The ruling on the
field stands. (laughter) Middle-class
economics works. Expanding
opportunity works. These policies will
keep on working, as long as politics in
Washington doesn’t get in the way of
our progress. (applause) We can’t suddenly put the
security of families back at risk by taking away
their health insurance. We can’t risk another
meltdown on Wall Street by unraveling the new
rules on Wall Street. I’m going to stand
between working families and any attempt to roll
back that progress. (applause) Because today, thanks
to a growing economy, the recovery is touching
more and more lives. Wages are finally
starting to go up. More small business
owners plan to raise their employees’ pay than
at any time since 2007. So we need to
keep on going. Let’s do more to restore
the link between hard work and opportunity for
every single American. (applause) That’s our job. That’s our job. Let’s make sure all our
people have the tools and the support that
they need to go as far as their dreams and their
effort will take them. That’s what middle-class
economics is — the idea that this country does best when
everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing
their fair share, and everybody is playing
by the same set of rules. We don’t want to just make
sure that everybody shares in America’s success —
we actually think that everybody can contribute
to America’s success. (applause) And when everybody is
participating and given a shot, there’s
nothing we cannot do. (applause) So here’s what middle-class
economics requires in this new economy. Number one, it means
helping working families feel more secure in a
constantly changing economy. It means helping folks afford
child care, and college, and paid leave at work, and
health care, and retirement. (applause) And I’m sending Congress
a plan that’s going to help families with all of
these issues — lowering the taxes of working
families, putting thousands of dollars back into
your pockets each year. (applause) Giving you some help. Number two, middle-class
economics means that we’re going to make sure that folks
keep earning higher wages down the road, and that
means we’ve got to do more to help Americans
upgrade their skills. And that’s what all of
you are doing right here at Boise State. You heard Camille’s
story — she’s a Mechanical
Engineering major. She’s a great example of why
we’re encouraging more women and more minorities to study
in high-paying fields that traditionally they haven’t
always participated in — in math and science and
engineering and technology. (applause) Camille has done
research for NASA. She’s gotten real
job experience with industry partners. And, by the way,
she’s a sophomore. So by the time she’s done
— she might invent time travel by the time she’s
done here at Boise. (laughter) But the point is, I
want every American to have the kinds of
chances that Camille has. Because when we’ve got
everybody on the field, that’s when you win games. I mean, think about if we had
as many young girls focused and aspiring to be scientists
and astronauts and engineers. That’s a whole slew of
talent that we want to make sure is on the field. (applause) So we’ve been working to
help more young people have access to and afford college,
with grants and loans that go farther than before. And when I came into
office, we took action to help millions of students
cap payments on their loans at 10 percent of
their income — (applause) — so that they could
afford to, let’s say, take a research job after
graduation and not be overburdened by debt. That’s why I want to work
with Congress to make sure every student already
burdened with loans can reduce your monthly
payments by refinancing. (applause) But there are a lot of
Americans who don’t always have the opportunity to study
someplace like Boise State. They need something
that’s local; they need something
that’s more flexible. You’ve got older workers
looking for a better job. Or you got veterans coming
back and trying to figure out how they can get into
the civilian workforce. You got parents who are
trying to transition back into the job market,
but they’ve got to work and pay the rent and
look after their kids, but they still want to make
something of themselves. So they can’t
always go full-time at a four-year
institution. And that’s why I’m
sending Congress a bold, new plan to lower the cost of
community college to zero. (applause) To zero. The idea is, in the new
economy, we need to make two years of college as free
and as universal in America as high school is today. Because that was part of
our huge advantage back in the 20th century. We were the first out of
the gate to democratize education and put in place
public high schools. And so our workforce
was better educated than any other
country in the world. The thing is, other
countries caught up. They figured it out. They looked at America
and said, why is America being so successful? Their workers are
better educated. We were on the
cutting-edge then; now we’ve got to be
pushing the boundaries for the 21st century. And just like we pick up a
tool to build something new, we can pick up a
skill to do something new. And that’s something
that you’re doing right here at Boise. Every year, you
sponsor HackFort — (applause) — which is, for those of
you who are not aware, this is a tech festival that
brings the community together to share knowledge and new
skills with one another. And I know we’ve got
some folks from some of Boise’s dozen or so
tech “meetups” here today. Here at Boise State
innovation is a culture that you’re building. And you’re also partnering
with companies to do two things — you help students
graduate with skills that employers are looking for,
and you help employees pick up the skills they need
to advance on the job. So you’re working together. And you’re seeing progress,
and it’s contributing to the economic development
of the city and the state, as well as being good
for the students. And that’s why my
administration is connecting community colleges with local
employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs
like coding, or robotics, as well as traditional
fields like nursing. And today, we’re partnering
with business across the country to “Upskill
America” — to help workers of all ages earn a shot
at better, higher-paying jobs, even if they don’t
have a higher education. We want to recruit more
companies to help provide apprenticeships and other
pathways so that people can upgrade their skills. We’re all going to have to
do that in this new economy. But it’s hard to
do it on your own, especially if you’re
already working and supporting a family. Now, as we better
train our workers, we need the new economy
to keep churning out high-wage jobs for
those workers to fill. And that’s why the third part
of middle-class economics is about building the
most competitive economy in the world. We want good jobs being
created right here in the United States of
America, not someplace else. (applause) And we’ve got everything
it takes to do it. Just to go back to
Bella’s question — “Wow, what’s it like in
Boise, Idaho” — well, one of the answers is,
you’re the cutting-edge of innovation. I had a chance to tour your
New Product Development lab, and I’ve got to say
this was not the stuff I was doing in college. (laughter) So one group was showing
me how they 3D-printed a custom handle that a local
student with developmental disabilities could access
his locker independently, without anybody’s help. (applause) But this whole 3D-printing
concept was creating prototypes, so that if
you have a good idea you don’t have to have a
huge amount of money. You can come and students and
faculty are going to work with you to develop a
prototype that you may then be able to sell as a
product at much lower cost. Another group is working with
a local company, Rekluse, to manufacture parts for
high-performance motorcycles. Now, that excites
Vice President Biden. (laughter) I might bring him with me the
next time I come to Boise. (applause) Some of your faculty and
students are working with next-generation
materials like graphene, which is a material
that’s thinner than paper and stronger than steel. It’s amazing. And the work you do here is
one of the reasons why Boise is one of our top cities
for tech startups. (applause) And that means we shouldn’t
just be celebrating your work, we should
be investing in it. We should make sure
our businesses have everything they need to
innovate, expand in this 21st century economy. The research dollars that
leads to new inventions. The manufacturers who can
make those inventions here in America. The best infrastructure
to ship products, and the chance to
sell those products in growing
markets overseas. A free and open
Internet that reaches every classroom, and
every community — (applause) — so this young generation
of innovators and entrepreneurs can keep
on remaking our world. Now, those of you who were
watching last night know that I made these
arguments before Congress. Most of these are ideas that
traditionally were bipartisan. I was talking to Bob. Bob was a Republican
lieutenant governor, but I’m not sure he’d
survive now in a primary. (laughter) But the ideas
I just talked about, those are things that
traditionally all of us could agree to. I mean, after all, the state
we come from, Illinois, that’s the “land of
Lincoln,” and Lincoln was the first
Republican President. And he started
land-grant colleges, and he built railroads
and invested in the National
Science Foundation. And he understood that
this is what it takes for us to grow together. But watching last night,
some of you may have noticed, Republicans
were not applauding for many of these ideas. (laughter) They
were kind of quiet. But when it comes to issues
like infrastructure and research, I think
when you talk to them privately, when they’re
not on camera — (laughter) — they generally agree
that it’s important. Educating our young people,
creating good jobs, being competitive, those things
shouldn’t be controversial. But where too often
we run onto the rocks, where the debate starts
getting difficult, is how do we pay for
these investments. Because it
requires dollars. The labs here and the
infrastructure that we need, those things don’t
just pop up for free. And the private sector,
which is the heartbeat of our economy, it doesn’t
build roads; it doesn’t create ports; it
doesn’t lay down all the Internet lines —
or the broadband lines that are required to
reach remote communities. So we have to make
some investments; we’ve got to figure
out how to pay for it. And as Americans, we don’t
mind paying our fair share of taxes, as long
as everybody else does. (applause) Where we get frustrated
is when we know that lobbyists have rigged the
tax code with loopholes, so you’ve got some
corporations paying nothing while others are
paying full freight. You’ve got the super
rich getting giveaways they don’t need, and
middle-class families not getting the breaks
that they do need. (applause) So what I said last night
to Congress is we need to make these investments,
we need to help families, we need to build
middle-class economics. And here’s how we
can pay for it. Let’s close
those loopholes. Let’s stop rewarding companies
that keep profits abroad; let’s reward companies that
are investing here in America. (applause) Let’s close the
loopholes that let the top 1 or .1 or
.01 percent avoid paying certain taxes,
and use that money to help more Americans
pay for college and child care. The idea is, let’s have a
tax code that truly helps working Americans,
the vast majority of Americans, get a leg
up in the new economy. (applause) That’s what I
believe in. That’s what I
believe in. I believe in helping
hardworking families make ends meet. And I believe in giving all
of us the tools we need so that if we work hard we
can get good-paying jobs in this new economy. And I believe in making
sure that our businesses are strong and competitive
and making the investments that are required. That’s where
America needs to go. And I believe that’s where
Americans want America to go. (applause) And if we do
these things, it will make our economy
stronger — not just a year from now, or 10 years
from now, but deep into the next century. Now, I know there are
Republicans who disagree with my approach. I could see that from their
body language yesterday. (laughter) And if they do
disagree with me, then I look forward to
hearing from them how they want to pay for things like
R&D and infrastructure that we need to grow. (applause) They should put forward
some alternative proposals. I want to hear
specifically from them how they intend to help
kids pay for college. (applause) It is perfectly fair
for them to say, we’ve got a better way
of meeting these national priorities. But if they do, then
they’ve got to show us what those ideas are. (applause) And what you can’t do is
just pretend that things like child care or student
debt or infrastructure or basic research
are not important. And you can’t pretend
there’s nothing we can do to help middle-class
families get ahead. There’s a lot we can do. (applause) Some of the commentators
last night said, well, that was a pretty
good speech, but none of this can pass
this Congress. But my job is to put
forward what I think is best for America. The job of Congress,
then, is to put forward alternative ideas, but
they’ve got to be specific. They can’t just be, no. (laughter and applause) I’m happy to start
a conversation. Tell me how we’re going
to do the things that need to be done. Tell me how we
get to yes. (applause) I want to get to yes on
more young people being able to afford college. I want to get to yes
on more research and development funding. I want to get to yes
for first-class infrastructure to help
our businesses succeed. I want to get to yes! (applause) But you’ve got to
tell me, work with me here. (applause) Work with me! Come on! Don’t just say no! (applause) You can’t
just say no. Audience Member:
Si, se puede! The President: Si,
se puede! Yes, we can! (applause) Look, we may disagree
on politics sometimes. Not “may” — often. All the time disagree. That’s the nature of
a democracy but we don’t have to be
divided as a people. We’re on the same team. (applause) When the football team
divides up into offense and defense, they
probably go at it pretty hard during practice,
but they understand, well, we’re part
of the same team. We’re supposed to be
rooting for each other. If a quarterback
controversy arises and there’s a competition,
I’m going to be fighting real hard to get
that starting spot. But if I don’t get it,
I’m going to be rooting for the team. (applause) Whoever we are — whether we
are Republican, or Democrat, or independent, or young or
old, or black, white, gay, straight — we all share a
common vision for our future. (applause) We want a better country
for your generation, and for your
kids’ generation. And I want this country to
be one that shows the world what we still know to be true
— that we are not just a collection of red states
and blue states; we are still the United
States of America. (applause) That’s what we’re
fighting for. That’s what we’re
pushing for. And if you agree with me,
then join me, and let’s get to work. We’ve got a lot of stuff
to do in this new century. Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United
States of America. (applause)

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