Newscast Media WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama gave one of his several big speeches for the summer, by focusing on the economy. The speech was given at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. where he gave his first big speech on the economy as a newly elected U.S. senator in 2005.
On the recession, Obama said, “Today, five years after the start of that Great Recession, America has fought its way back. Together, we saved the auto industry, took on a broken health-care system and invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil and double wind and solar power. Together, we put in place tough new rules on big banks, and protections that cracked down on the worst practices of mortgage lenders and credit card companies.”
The president also commended the American people for enduring the financial crisis and laying a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth.
“In our personal lives, we tightened our belts, shed debt, and refocused on the things that really matter,” he said. “As a country, we’ve recovered faster and gone further than most other advanced nations in the world. With new American revolutions in energy, technology, manufacturing, and health care, we are actually poised to reverse the forces that have battered the middle class for so long, and rebuild an economy where everyone who works hard can get ahead,” Obama added.
Despite businesses creating new jobs and breaking record profits, Obama said nearly all the income gains of the past 10 years have continued to flow to the top 1 percent. He also pointed out that the average CEO has gotten a raise of nearly 40 percent since 2009, but the average American earns less than he or she did in 1999, and companies continue to hold back on hiring those who have been out of work for some time.
“Today, more students are earning their degree, but soaring costs saddle them with unsustainable debt,” the president said. “Health-care costs are slowing, but many working families haven’t seen the savings yet. And while the stock market rebound has helped families get back much of what they lost in their 401ks, millions of Americans still have no idea how they’ll ever be able to retire. In many ways, the trends that I spoke of here in 2005 – of a winner-take-all economy where a few do better and better, while everybody else just treads water – have been made worse by the recession,” Obama added.
“This growing inequality isn’t just morally wrong; it’s bad economics. When middle-class families have less to spend, businesses have fewer customers. When wealth concentrates at the very top, it can inflate unstable bubbles that threaten the economy. When the rungs on the ladder of opportunity grow farther apart, it undermines the very essence of this country.
“That’s why reversing these trends must be Washington’s highest priority. It’s certainly my highest priority. Unfortunately, over the past couple of years in particular, Washington hasn’t just ignored the problem; too often, it’s made things worse.
“With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball, and I am here to say this needs to stop.”
Obama concluded his speech by saying, “Our economy will grow, though slower than it should; new businesses will form, and unemployment will keep ticking down. Just by virtue of our size and our natural resources and the talent of our people, America will remain a world power, and the majority of us will figure out how to get by.”