Obamination: Labor Day
GM Plant Parking Lot
1:30 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Detroit! (Applause.) Thank you, Michigan! (Applause.) Oh, this is a --
AUDIENCE: Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. It is --
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, everybody. I can tell Ghana got you fired up. (Applause.) Thank you, Ghana, for that introduction. Thank you all for having me. It is good to be back in Detroit. (Applause.) I'm glad I was able to bring a friend -- a proud daughter of the Teamsters, your Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, in the house. (Applause.)
We’re thrilled to be joined by so many other friends. I want to acknowledge, first of all, two of the finest senators in the country -- Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow are in the house. (Applause.) Outstanding members of the congressional delegation -- John Bingham, John Conyers, Sandy Levin, Gary Peters, and Hansen Clarke. (Applause.)
The president of the Metropolitan Detroit Central Labor Council, our host, Saundra Williams. (Applause.) AFL-CIO president, Rich Trumka. (Applause.) President of the Michigan AFL-CIO, Mark Gaffney. (Applause.) And some proud sons and daughters of Michigan representing working people here and across the country -- SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa, UAW President Bob King, Utility Workers President Mike Langford. (Applause.) We are proud of them and we're proud of your congressional delegation who are working every single day with your state and local elected officials to create jobs and economic growth and prosperity here in Michigan and all across the country1.
I am honored, we are honored, to spend this day with you and your families -- the working men and women of America. This day belongs to you. You deserve a little R&R, a little barbecue -- (laughter) -- little grilling -- because you’ve been working hard. (Applause.) You’ve been working hard to make ends meet. You’ve been working hard to build a better life for your kids. You’ve been working hard2 to build a better Detroit. (Applause.) But that’s not all I’m going to talk to you about.
I also want to talk about the work you’ve been doing for decades: Work to make sure that folks get an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work3. (Applause.) Work to make sure that families get a fair4 shake. The work you've done that helped build the greatest middle class the world has ever known. (Applause.) I’m talking about the work that got us a 40-hour workweek and weekends, and paid leave and pensions, and the minimum wage5 and health insurance, and Social Security and Medicare6 -- (applause) -- the cornerstones of middle-class security. That's because of your work. (Applause.)
If you want to know who helped lay these cornerstones of an American middle class you just have to look for the union label. (Applause.)
That’s the bedrock this country is built on. Hard work. Responsibility. Sacrifice. Looking out for one another. Giving everybody a shot, everybody a chance to share in America’s prosperity7, from the factory floor to the boardroom. That’s what unions are all about. (Applause.)
And that’s something that’s worth keeping in mind today. We’ve come through a difficult decade in which those values were all too often given short shrift. We’ve gone through a decade where wealth was valued over work8, and greed was valued over responsibility9. And the decks were too often stacked against ordinary folks10 in favor of the special interests11. And everywhere I went while I was running for this office, I met folks who felt their economic security12 slipping away, men and women who were fighting harder and harder just to stay afloat. And that was even before the economic crisis hit, and that just made things even harder.
So these are tough times for working Americans13. They’re even tougher for Americans who are looking for work –- and a lot of them have been looking for work for a long time14. A lot of folks have been looking for work for a long time here in Detroit, and all across Michigan, and all across the Midwest, and all across the country. So we’ve got a lot more work to do to recover fully from this recession.
But I’m not satisfied just to get back to where we were before the recession; we’ve got to fully restore the middle class in America. (Applause.) And America cannot have a strong, growing economy without a strong, growing middle class and without a strong labor movement15. (Applause.)
That’s the central challenge that we face in our country today. That’s at the core of why I ran for President. That’s what I’ve been fighting for since I’ve been President. (Applause.) Everything we’ve done, it’s been thinking about you. We said working folks deserved a break -- so within one month of me taking office, we signed into law the biggest middle-class tax cut in history16, putting more money into your pockets. (Applause.)
We said working folks shouldn’t be taken advantage of -- so we passed tough financial reform that ended the days of taxpayer bailouts17, and stopped credit card companies from gouging you with hidden fees and unfair rate hikes, and set up a new consumer protection agency with one responsibility: sticking up for you. (Applause.)
We said that if you’re going to work hard all day to provide a better life for your kids, then we’re going to make sure that those kids get the best education possible. So we helped keep teachers on the job18. (Applause.) We’re reforming our public schools, and we’re investing in community colleges and job-training programs. (Applause.) And we ended wasteful giveaways that went to the big banks and used the savings to make college more affordable for millions of your kids19. (Applause.)
We said that every family in America should have affordable, accessible health care20. (Applause.) We said you shouldn’t be discriminated against because you’ve got a preexisting condition21. We said young adults without insurance should be able to stay on their parents’ plans. We got that done -- for you. (Applause.)
And here’s what else we said, Detroit. We said that American autoworkers could once again build the best cars in the world. (Applause.) So we stood by the auto industry22. And we made some tough choices that were necessary to make it succeed. And now, the Big Three are turning a profit and hiring new workers, and building the best cars in the world right here in Detroit, right here in the Midwest, right here in the United States of America. (Applause.)
I know it. I’ve seen it. I’ve been to GM’s Hamtramck plant. (Applause.) I’ve been to Chrysler’s Jefferson North Plant. (Applause.) I’ve seen Detroit prove the cynics and the naysayers wrong.
We didn’t just stop there. We said American workers could manufacture the best products in the world. So we invested in high-tech manufacturing and we invested in clean energy23. And right now, there’s an advanced battery industry taking root here in Michigan that barely existed before. (Applause.) Half of the workers at one plant in Detroit were unemployed before a new battery company came to town. And we’re growing our exports so that more of the world buys products that are stamped with three simple words: “Made in America.” (Applause.)
So that’s what we’re fighting for, Michigan. We’re fighting for good jobs with good wages. We’re fighting for health care when you get sick. We’re fighting for a secure retirement even if you’re not rich. We’re fighting for the chance to give our kids a better life than we had. That’s what we’re doing to restore middle-class security and rebuild this economy the American way -- based on balance and fairness and the same set of rules for everybody from Wall Street to Main Street. (Applause.) An economy where hard work pays off and gaming the system doesn’t pay off, and everybody has got a shot at the American Dream. That’s what we’re fighting for. (Applause.)
On Thursday, we’re going to lay out a new way forward on jobs to grow the economy and put more Americans back to work right now. I don’t want to give everything away right here, because I want you all to tune in on Thursday -- (applause) -- but I'll give you just a little bit. (Applause.)
We’ve got roads and bridges24 across this country that need rebuilding. We’ve got private companies with the equipment and the manpower to do the building. We’ve got more than 1 million unemployed construction workers25 ready to get dirty right now. There is work to be done and there are workers ready to do it. Labor is on board. Business is on board. We just need Congress to get on board. Let’s put America back to work26. (Applause.)
Last year, we worked together, Republicans and Democrats, to pass a payroll tax cut27. And because of that, this year the average family has an extra $1,000 in their pocket because of it.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you!
THE PRESIDENT: But that’s going to expire in a few months if we don’t come together to extend it. And I think putting money back in the pockets of working families is the best way to get demand rising, because that then means business is hiring, and that means the government28 -- that means that the economy is growing. (Applause.)
So I’m going to propose ways to put America back to work29 that both parties can agree to, because I still believe both parties can work together to solve our problems. And given the urgency of this moment, given the hardship that many people are facing, folks have got to get together30.
But we’re not going to wait for them. (Applause.) We’re going to see if we’ve got some straight shooters31 in Congress. We’re going to see if congressional Republicans will put country before party32. (Applause.) We’ll give them a plan33, and then we’ll say, do you want to create jobs34? Then put our construction workers back to work rebuilding America35. (Applause.) Do you want to help our companies succeed36? Open up new markets for them to sell their products37. You want -- you say you’re the party of tax cuts? Well then, prove you’ll fight just as hard for tax cuts for middle-class families as you do for oil companies and the most affluent Americans38. (Applause.) Show us what you got. (Applause.)
The time for Washington games is over39. (Applause.) The time for action is now. No more manufactured crises40. No more games. Now is not the time for the people you sent to Washington to worry about their jobs41; now is the time for them to worry about your jobs. (Applause.)
Now, let me say a word about labor in particular. Now, I know this is not going to be an easy time. I know it’s not easy when there's some folks who have their sights trained42 on you. After all that unions have done to build and protect the middle class, you’ve got people trying to claim that you’re responsible for the problems middle-class folks are facing.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: You’ve got Republicans saying you’re the ones exploiting working families. Imagine that.
Now, the fact is, our economy is stronger when workers are getting paid good wages and good benefits. (Applause.) Our economy is stronger when we've got broad-based growth and broad-based prosperity. That’s what unions have always been about -- shared prosperity.
You know, I was on the plane flying over here, and Carl Levin was with me, and he showed me a speech that Harry Truman had given on Labor Day 63 years ago, right here in Detroit -- 63 years ago. And just to show that things haven't changed much, he talked about how Americans had voted in some folks into Congress who weren’t very friendly to labor. And he pointed out that some working folks and even some union members voted these folks in. And now they were learning their lesson. And he pointed out that -- and I'm quoting here -- “the gains of labor were not accomplished at the expense of the rest of the nation. Labor’s gains contributed to the nation’s general prosperity.” (Applause.)
What was true back in 1948 is true in 2011. When working families are doing well, when they're getting a decent wage and they're getting decent benefits, that means they're good customers for businesses. (Applause.) That means they can buy the cars that you build. (Applause.) That means that you can buy the food from the farmers. That means you can buy from Silicon Valley. You are creating prosperity when you share in prosperity. (Applause.)
So when I hear some of these folks trying to take collective bargaining rights away, trying to pass so-called “right to work”43 laws for private sector workers --
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: -- that really mean the right to work for less and less and less -- when I hear some of this talk I know this is not about economics. This is about politics.
And I want everybody here to know, as long as I’m in the White House I’m going to stand up for collective bargaining. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: That’s why we’ve reversed harmful decisions that were designed to undermine those rights. That's why we passed the Fair Pay Act to stop pay discrimination. (Applause.) That's why we appointed people who are actually fulfilling their responsibilities to make sure that the offices and factories and mines workers that clock in each day, that they're actually safe on the job.
And we’re going to keep at it. Because having a voice on the job and a chance to organize and a chance to negotiate for a fair day’s pay after a hard day’s work, that is the right of every man and woman in America -- not just the CEO in the corner office, but also the janitor who cleans that office after the CEO goes home. (Applause.) Everybody has got the same right. (Applause.)
And that’s true for public employees as well. Look, the recession had a terrible effect on state and local budgets -- we all understand that. Unions have recognized that; they’ve already made tough concessions. In the private sector, we live in a more competitive global economy44 -- so unions like the UAW understand that workers have to work with management to revamp business models, to innovate so we can sell our products around the world. We understand that the world is changing; unions understand that the world is changing. Unions understand they need to help drive the change, whether it’s on the factory floor, or in the classroom, or in the government office. (Applause.)
But what unions also know is that the values at the core of the union movement, those don’t change. Those are the values that have made this country great. (Applause.) That’s what the folks trying to undermine your rights don’t understand. When union workers agree to pay freezes and pay cuts -- they’re not doing it just to keep their jobs. They’re doing it so that their fellow workers -– their fellow Americans -- can keep their jobs. (Applause.)
When teachers agree to reforms in how schools are run at the same time as they’re digging into their pockets to buy school supplies for those kids, they do so because they believe every child can learn. (Applause.) They do it because they know something that those who seek to divide us45 don’t understand: We are all in this together. That’s why those crowds came out to support you in Madison and in Columbus. We are one nation. We are one people. We will rise and we will fall together. (Applause.)
Anyone who doesn’t believe it should come here to Detroit. It’s like the commercial says: This is a city that’s been to heck and back. (Applause.) And while there are still a lot of challenges here, I see a city that’s coming back. (Applause.)
You ask somebody here if times are tough, they’ll say, yeah, it’s tough, but we’re tougher. (Applause.) Look at what we’re doing to overcome. Look at what we’re doing to rebuild and reinvent and redefine what it means to live in this great city. Look at our parents who catch the first bus to work, and our students who stay up late to earn a degree. Look at our workers on the line at Hamtramck and Jefferson North who are building the best cars in the world. Look at our artists who are revamping our city, and our young people who are thinking up new ways to make a difference that we never dreamed of. Look how we look out for one another. (Applause.)
That’s why we chose Detroit as one of the cities that we’re helping revitalize in our “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” initiative. (Applause.) We’re teaming up with everybody -- mayors, local officials, you name it -- boosting economic development, rebuilding your communities the best way, which is a way that involves you. Because despite all that’s changed here, and all the work that lies ahead, this is still a city where men clocked into factories. This is the city that built the greatest middle class the world has ever known. (Applause.) This is the city where women rolled up their sleeves and helped build an arsenal for democracy to free the world. (Applause.) This is a city where the great American industry has come back to life and the industries of tomorrow are taking root. This is a city where people, brave and bold, courageous and clever, are dreaming up ways to prove the skeptics wrong and write the next proud chapter in our history. (Applause.)
That’s why I wanted to be here with you today. Because for every cynic and every naysayer running around talking about how our best days are behind us -- for everybody who keeps going around saying, “No, we can’t" --
AUDIENCE: Yes, we can!
THE PRESIDENT: -- for everybody who can always find a reason why we can’t rebuild America, I meet Americans every day who, in the face of impossible odds they’ve got a different belief. They believe we can. You believe we can. (Applause.)
Yes, times are tough. But we’ve been through tough times before. I don’t know about you, but I’m not scared46 of tough times. (Applause.) I’m not scared of tough times because I know we’re going to be all marching together and walking together and working together and rebuilding together. And I know we don’t quit. (Applause.) I know we don’t give up our dreams and settle for something less. We roll up our sleeves -- and we remember a fundamental truth of our history: We are strong when we are united. (Applause.) We’re firing all cylinders.
The union movement is going to be at the center of it. And if all of you are committed to making sure that the person standing next to you, and their kids and their grandkids -- that everybody in this city and everybody in this country can unleash his or her potential, if you work hard and play by the rules, you will get a fair shake and get a fair shot. That’s the country I want for my kids47. (Applause.) That’s the country you want for your kids. That’s the country we’re going to build together. (Applause.)
Thank you very much, Detroit. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
- So the President takes pride in the government officials who work every day to create jobs and economic growth--what a great job they have done! Gov. Jennifer Granholm told us we would be "blown away" after her second term. She was so right.
- They've been working hard to build a better Detroit? They've been working hard to destroy Detroit, and they are succeeding.
- Try to define an "honest day's pay" or an "honest day's work"; how do you measure those terms? Like "fair", those are loaded expressions with no real meaning.
- Define "fair", what does it mean? How do you measure and evaluate it?
- The minimum wage is a drag on the economy, raising prices and keeping many people unemployed. Health insurance as an employee benefit came about because of government wage-price controls, an unjust and foolish interference in the free market. Health and pension costs are major factors in legacy costs which are bankrupting corporations and local governments across the nation.
- Social Security & Medicare are Ponzi schemes, designed, maintained and expanded for the purpose of buying votes. They are major contributors to the federal government's money woes.
- Prosperity is not America's, it belongs to those who produce goods and services in high volumes, at low cost and make a profit. Prosperity is not something to be shared, it is something to be earned. Unions are all about extorting the maximum possible wages & benefits for the least possible work. They strangulated the golden goose, raising prices and killing opportunity for the rest of us.
- Wealth is the result of work; accumulated surplus. Without accumulated surplus, there is nothing to invest in growth, innovation and productivity.
- Union & partisan political greed was valued over responsibility, making major contributions to the ruination of the economy
- Decks were stacked against ordinary folks in the '70s, when escalating union demands pushed prices beyond the reach of ordinary folks.
- Special interests: UAW, AFL, CIO, SIEU & Democrat Party.
- "Economic security:' a phrase used only by liars. Security does not and can not exist in the real world.
- Prices are up, wages are down, hours are down; all because union goons strangled the golden goose and government inflated the currency.
- I have been looking for work since the government and a large corporation screwed me out of business in '80. I was gainfully employed for about three of those years. Unions and government policies drove the jobs out of Michigan. You made things tougher for us, and you promise more of the same. No thanks!
- I found 12 instances of "class" in this spew of malicious malarkey. Middle class, my ass! Barack & Michele have been living like jetset, beautiful people; limousine liberals in the lap of luxury for the last two years, on our dimes. We do not need classes, we need productivity; we need opportunity. We need to get the government out of the way and tear down the blockades it has erected in the path of progress. And we need to stop the inflationary spiral generated by union goons and their whipsawing strikes. Instead of uniting the nation, Obama is dividing us with class warfare. Its time to wise up and tell him to shut up; tell him to do the best thing he can for the country: to resign.
- Brag about signing a tax cut into law, while bitterly bitching about tax cuts "for the rich". Its called class warfare, and there is no place for it in an honest society. That kind of demagoguery is for tin horn dictators, not Presidents. Obama wanted Shrub's tax cuts to sunset; he demands tax increases. With his forked tongue, he speaks out of both sides of his mouth.
- So you ended tax payer bailouts? Tell us about that... while you brag about saving a few jobs at Chrysler & G.M. How about the automobile dealers and their employees who are now unemployed because they contributed to the wrong party?
- You tried to keep a few teachers on the job so that their union dues would keep flowing into your campaign treasury. We are the losers in your game of circle jerk. You are going to be the pivot man November 6, 2012 if we have any say in the matter.
- You ended "wasteful giveaways", Like TARP? Which was bigger, the subsidy to student loans or TARP? Is it easier or harder to obtain and pay back a student loan now?
- "Accessible, affordable health care", but every promise you made was a damned lie, and more of your lies are being exposed every month. You can not possibly keep any of those promises you made, and blessed near everybody knows it. Your entire program is conter productive, in the worst possible way.
- "Preexisting condition": got cancer, get insurance. Died already, get life insurance just before your funeral; buy flood insurance after the hurricane hits. Same principle, different applications; all of them impossible in the real world.
- To make the industry succeed, you need to get rid of the legacy costs. That means exorbitant wages & benefits and work rules. You also need to eliminate idiotic regulations and impossible fuel economy demands.
- You "invested" in "clean energy"; how many windmill firms did you invest in? How many of them went bankrupt? How many of them shipped jobs to China? Aren't you a great investment broker; so successful! Why don't you take over for Warren Buffet?
- :"Roads and bridges", yeah, right. You have been singing the same tune since you took office. "Shovel ready jobs", how did that turn out for everybody? With forty million people out of work, you will solve the problem with road building projects that will employ a few thousand. Of course those few thousand will be union members whose dues will blow right into your campaign chest.
- Construction workers are out of work because government policies and human greed built a construction bubble, which burst. The game of musical chairs is over, the housing market is bust. Carpenters & brick layers are going to build reads & bridges. Yeah, right.
- Public works projects are not the solution to the unemployment problem. The interest on the federal debt is mounting rapidly. When interest rates rise, we are going to be in deep excrement. Putting America back to work requires the prospect of making a profit and predictable risks. Those require eliminating your health care plan, energy and environmental plans and taxes. They also require eliminating artificial barriers todomestic oil & gas exploration, production and refining. Eliminating Obama Don't Care. Cap & Trade, fuel economy & emissions standards and the drilling ban ain't enough. You must also remove the threat of tax increases. That means permanently ditching the death tax and permanently extending Shrub's tax rate cuts. if you won't do those things, resign and clear the way for someone who will.
- Only those currently employed are directly benefiting from that temporary tax cut. Does that $1000 offset the increased cost of gasoline, food, clothing and electricity for those directly benefiting from it?
- Growing government does not equate to a growing economy. Resources wasted by government can not be productively invested. Money borrowed by profligate government can not be invested in productive enterprises. If you want to grow the economy, put the government on a strict diet.
- To put us back to work, you must be put out of work, along with the left wing Congressmen and Senators who vote for your destructive policies.
- Hardship has nothing to do with it. Rational and honest statesmen must resist your counter productive policies with all the force they can muster. They must learn to say "HELL NO!!!". If the Republicans do not tell you to go to Hell, we will tell them in the next election. There will be a RINO hunt.
- Those RINOs who accede to your unreasonable demands shoot themselves in the foot and the nation in the back. We will see to it that they have Conservative, competent, articulate and well financed primary opponents.
- Putting the country's welfare before party is up to the Democrats. Republicans, with the exception of the RINOs, already do that.
- It is obvious that your plan is more of the same poison that is killing us.
- Republicans want to see job creation, that is why they reject your job destroying, counter productive idiotic schemes.
- "Rebuilding America" is a code phrase for destroying the Constitution, replacing it with Communism. We are not stupid enough to accept that.
- "Help our companies succeed" is a code phrase for crony capitalism, also known as National Socialism. How did that work out for Germany?
- "Open up new markets" means one of two things: foreign trade or legislation to mandate purchasing those products. Trade requires balance, meaning that when we export, we also import. It works both ways, so in the long term, there will be no real gain. The other meaning translates to fascism. No thanks!
- Your class warfare tactic sticks out like a sore thumb. Time to cut it off. It is high time for you to resign in disgrace. "Show us what you got": We call your bluff: show us your entire jobs plan, put it out on the table, in the open immediately, instead of dribbling it out in a series of campaign tours.
- "Washington games"?? The arrogance of that statement is astounding. The gamesman in chief says the time for game playing is over.
- Excuses?? "Inherited from Bush"! "Earthquake". "Tsunami". "Arab spring". The arrogance of this narcissist can not be topped. It is time for him to go!!!
- How in Hell can you say that while you are campaigning for re-election? You are worried about your sinecure, not our jobs. Your counter productive policies are destroying jobs and wrecking the country. Obama is the new synonym for hypocrisy.
- "Sights trained on you"? Whatever happened to the new emphasis on "civility"? We have been told to "go straight to Hell" and had war declared upon us by your surrogates,. without condemnation from you.
- The right to work means not being coerced into feeding fat cat union thugs and your campaign treasury as a minimum requirement for employment. God blessed right, I am all for it. We want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
- The golden goose is dead; no more golden eggs. Unions played a primary role in the death of the goose. Does anyone remember why Jimmy Carter was a one term President?
- Who seeks to divide us? "The wealthy:,,,"private jet owners"... "billionaires"; you have been busy telling your congregants whom to hate. Obama: the great divider.
- You do not fear tough times because you desire them. Creating economic chaos is part of the Cloward-Piven strategy for the Communist takeover.
- You want for your kids a country so deep in debt that it can never get out, perpetually refinancing at ever higher rates of interest so that all the tax revenue will go to debt service. That may be your only success.