President Obama in his weekly address discussed his experience on returning to Elkhart, Indiana, the first town he visited as President and one that was among the hardest-hit by the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes.
“Elkhart, Indiana was the first town I visited as President. I’d been on the job for three weeks, and we were just a few months into the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. Elkhart was hit harder than most. Unemployment there peaked at nearly twenty percent shortly after my visit. Nearly one in five people there were out of work,” the President stated.
He said today the unemployment in Elkhart has fallen to about four percent, more families are better off, covered by health insurance, and kids are graduating from high school in greater numbers.
He commended the people for their hard work, and the tremendous sacrifice they have made over the years.
He also lauded his administration for contributing to the success that the people of the community enjoyed today. He ascribed this to the smart decisions his administration made in rescuing the auto industry, helping families refinance their homes, invest in things like high-tech manufacturing, clean energy, and the infrastructure that creates good new jobs as well as job training that helps folks earn new skills to fill those jobs.
“The results are clear. America’s businesses have created 14.5 million new jobs over 75 straight months. We’ve seen the first sustained manufacturing growth since the nineties. We’ve cut unemployment by more than half. Another 20 million Americans have health insurance. And we’ve cut our deficits by nearly 75 percent,” the President declared.
He noted that his administration has not fixed everything as there are still numerous economic disconnect within the country.
He lamented the slow growth in wages, gap between the rich and everyone else, pussyfooting of Congress and their repeated blocking of investments and initiatives that would have created jobs faster.
The President argued that “the middle class isn’t getting squeezed because of minorities, or immigrants, or moochers, or anyone else we’re told to blame for our problems. If we’re going to fix what needs fixing, we can’t divide ourselves. We’ve got to come together, around our common economic goals. We’ve got to push back against policies that protect powerful special interests, and push for a better deal for all working Americans.”
He further explained that the choice one will get to make this year will be,“Between policies that raise wages, and policies that won’t. Between strengthening Social Security and making it more generous, or making it harder to help people save and retire. Between strengthening the rules we put on Wall Street to prevent another crisis, or dismantling them. Between a tax code that’s fair for working families, or wasteful tax cuts for a fortunate few at the very top.”
He said that over the past seven years his administration has proven that progress is possible. However, he noted that for a brighter future, the onus rest with the American people to rally “around our common values, and our belief in opportunity for everyone who puts in the effort.”
Davy Desmond, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan