President Obama gave these remarks at a campaign event in Durham, New Hampshire on June 25, 2012.
[Editor's Note: Click here for more CFR 2012 campaign resources, which examine the foreign policy and national security dimensions of the presidential race.]
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, New Hampshire! (Applause.) Hello, Durham! (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody. It is great to be back in New Hampshire. (Applause.)
A couple of people I want to acknowledge. First of all, wasn't Scott outstanding? Give Scotty a big round of applause for his introduction. (Applause.) I want to thank Todd Allen, who is the principal here at Oyster River High School. (Applause.) And I want to thank our outstanding Senator from New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen. (Applause.) And I want to thank all of you. (Applause.)
I know it's a little warm in here. (Laughter.) That's okay. That's okay. It is wonderful to be back. And I just have so many good memories here in New Hampshire, and I see some familiar faces and folks who were with me when people were still figuring out how to pronounce my name. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you guys back. I really do. (Applause.)
Now, I am back here in New Hampshire not just because I need your help -- although I do. But more importantly, I'm here because your country needs your help.
In 2008, we came together to reclaim the basic bargain that built this country -- the basic ideal of this country, the thing that created the largest middle class, the most prosperous nation in the history of the world. We came together because we believe that in America, your success shouldn't be determined by the circumstances of your birth. (Applause.)
Here in the United States of America, if you are willing to work hard, you should be able to find a good job. If you're willing to meet your responsibilities, you should be able to take care of your family, and own a home, maybe start a business, give your kids a better chance than you had -– no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, no matter who you love. (Applause.) That's what we believe. That's what America is about. (Applause.)
That's why we came together. That's why so many of you got involved in 2008. It wasn't because you thought my election was a sure thing -- when you support a guy named Barack Obama -- (laughter) -- you know that's not a guarantee. But we shared that common sense of what America has been, and is, and must be for the future. (Applause.)
I ran for this office because for more than a decade, that basic bargain, that profound American Dream had been slipping away from too many people. Before I took office, the worst economic crisis of our lifetime made it even worse.
So, Durham, the debate in this election is not whether we need to do better -- everybody understands that our economy isn't where it needs to be. There are too many people out there who are struggling, too many folks out of work, too many homes that are still underwater. Of course, we need to do better. The debate is not whether; it is how. (Applause.) How do we grow the economy faster? How do we create more jobs? How do we pay down our debt? How do we reclaim that central American promise that no matter who you are, you can make it here if you try?
And this is not just the usual run-of-the-mill political argument. This is not the usual Washington chatter -- there's a lot of that. But this, this is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for our middle class, and folks who are aspiring to get into the middle class. The next President and the next Congress will face a set of decisions -- on the economy, on deficits, on taxes -– that will have a profound impact not only on the country we live in today, but the country that we pass on to our kids.
And here's why you're so important -- because what's holding us back from meeting the challenges we face is not the lack of big ideas, it's not the lack of technical solutions. Just about every policy and proposal, by now, has been put on the table; everybody knows what the options are. What's holding us back is a stalemate in Washington between two fundamentally different visions of which direction we should go. (Applause.)
And, New Hampshire, this election is your chance to break the stalemate. This election is your chance to move this country forward instead of seeing it go backwards. That's why I'm here. That's why I need your help. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Governor Romney and his allies in Congress, they believe -- they have a certain idea about how they would proceed if they're in power. They think that we should go back to the top-down economic policies of the last decade.
THE PRESIDENT: They believe that if we eliminate regulations and we cut taxes by trillions of dollars, that the market will solve all of our problems on its own. They argue that if we help corporations and wealthy investors maximize their profits by whatever means necessary -- whether it's through layoffs or outsourcing or whatever steps it takes to maximize those profits -- that that automatically translates into jobs and prosperity for you.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Now, just last week, it was reported that Governor Romney's old firm owned companies that were "pioneers" in the business of outsourcing American jobs to places like China and India. Now --
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: So yesterday, his advisors were asked about this and they tried to clear this up by telling us there's actually a difference between "outsourcing" and "off-shoring." (Laughter.) That's what they said. You cannot make this stuff up. (Laughter.)
Now, what Governor Romney and his advisors don't seem to understand is this: If you're a worker whose job went overseas, you don't need somebody trying to explain to you the difference between outsourcing and offshoring. You need somebody who's going to wake up every single day and fight for American jobs and investment here in the United States. (Applause.) That's what you need. That's why I'm running. (Applause.)
Unlike Governor Romney, I want to close the outsourcing loophole in our tax code. I want to give tax breaks to companies who create jobs and manufacturing here in New Hampshire, here in the United States of America. (Applause.)
But what's important to understand is Governor Romney's commitment to outsourcing is not just part of his record, it's part of an overall economic vision that he and Republicans in Congress want to implement if they win this election.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hell, no! (Laughter and applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: And, look, their plan is pretty simple. It's been voted on in Congress. It's right there on Governor Romney's website. First of all, they promise to roll back all kinds of regulation on banks and polluters and insurance companies and oil companies.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: So that's step number one. And then, second, they promise not only to keep all of the Bush tax cuts in place -- not just the ones for the middle class, but for everybody, for the wealthiest Americans -- but they also then want to add another $5 trillion in tax cuts on top of that, including a 25 percent tax cut for every millionaire in the country.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Now, you may be wondering -- because I can tell -- (laughter) -- you're scratching your head here -- you may be wondering how do they spend $5 trillion on new tax cuts and still keep a straight face when they say that their plan would reduce our deficit? This is a good question. (Laughter.) Well, they say that they'll start by proposing $1 trillion in cuts to things like education and training --
THE PRESIDENT: -- and medical research and clean energy. But that's only $1 trillion. They've got $5 trillion that they want to pay for, right? So that's not enough. So they also propose eliminating health care for about 50 million Americans and turning Medicare into a voucher program.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: But that's still not enough. Still haven't gotten to the $5 trillion yet. So then they'll also have to raise taxes on the middle class by taking away tax benefits for everything from health care to college to retirement to home ownership, and this could cost some families thousands of dollars.
So think about this. To pay for another $250,000 tax cut for the average millionaire, they're going to ask you to foot the bill.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We can't afford it!
THE PRESIDENT: I figure you can't afford it. (Laughter and applause.) Is there anybody here who can afford to pay thousands of dollars to give folks like Mr. Romney or me another tax cut?
THE PRESIDENT: Unfortunately, that is their entire economic plan. That's it. When Mr. Romney tells us he's some sort of financial wizard who can fix our economy, that's exactly how he intends to do it.
Now, there may be some people -- in fact, I know there are some people -- who think this kind of plan is a good idea. They want to give the policies of the last decade another try. And if they do, they should vote for Mr. Romney. They should reelect the Republicans who've been running Congress. Together, they will take America back down this path that we tried.
I believe they're wrong. I believe their policies were tested, and they failed. (Applause.) And that -- my belief is not just based on some knee-jerk partisan reaction. It's based on the fact that we tried it. And you look at our economic history. In this country, prosperity has never come from the top down. It comes from a strong and growing middle class. (Applause.) It comes from successful, thriving small businesses. (Applause.)
We don't need more top-down economics. (Applause.) What we need is a better plan for education and training -- (applause) -- and energy independence and infrastructure and innovation that rebuilds America. What we need is a tax code that encourages companies to create jobs and manufacturing here in the United States -- (applause) -- and that asks the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more to help pay down our deficit. (Applause.)
Listen, we don't expect government to solve all our problems, and it shouldn't try to solve all our problems. I learned from my mom no education policy can take the place of a parent's love and attention -- and sometimes scolding. (Laughter.) As a young man, I worked with a group of Catholic churches who taught me that no poverty program can make as much of a difference as the kindness and commitment and involvement of caring neighbors and friends and fellow parishioners. (Applause.)
Over the last three years, I cut taxes for the typical working family by $3,600. (Applause.) I cut taxes for small businesses 18 times. (Applause.) I don't believe every regulation is smart, or that every tax dollar is spent wisely. I don't believe we should be in the business of helping people who refuse to help themselves. (Applause.) But let me tell you what I do believe.
I share the belief of our first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, that through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves. (Applause.)
And that's how we built this country –- together. We built railroads and highways, and the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. We did that together. We did big things together. We sent my grandfather's generation to college on the GI Bill. We did that together. (Applause.)
We invented amazing scientific technologies and medical breakthroughs because we invested in basic research and science. We did those things together. We didn't do those things for any particular individual, any particular group, but we understood that by making these common investments, everybody would have the platform, everybody would have the capacity to do better. It would make us all richer -- together. It gave all of us opportunity -- together. (Applause.)
We moved forward together, as one nation and as one people. And that is the right lesson for our future. That's why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States -- because I want us all to move forward together. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: I'm running to make sure that every American has a chance to get the skills and training that today's jobs require. My plan would recruit an army of new teachers, pay those teachers better. (Applause.) I want to hire more teachers in areas like math and science. I want to give 2 million more Americans the chance to go to community colleges and learn the skills that local businesses are looking for right now. (Applause.) And I want to make higher education affordable for every American who's willing to work for it –- not just by offering more loans and financial aid, but by holding down the costs of a college tuition. (Applause.)
A college education can't be a luxury. It's a vital necessity for everybody. It may not be a four-year college; it may be a two-year college, it may be a technical school. But everybody is going to need the skills they need to compete. And that's the choice in this election. That's why I'm running for President. (Applause.)
Now, I'm running so that we have a future where we control our own energy, and that's good for our economy, our security. It's good for our environment. (Applause.) So my plan would end government subsidies to oil companies that are making plenty of profits. Let's double down on clean energy -- (applause) -- wind power and solar power, next generation of biofuels, fuel-efficient cars. That's the choice in this election.
I'm running to make sure that the United States of America is the best place on Earth for innovation and discovery, which is why my plan would give companies a permanent tax credit for research and development that they do here in America, and we double down on the public research that's helped lay the foundation for the Internet and GPS and Google, and the countless companies and jobs that follow.
I'm running so that after a decade of war, we can start doing some nation-building here at home. (Applause.) So we've ended the war in Iraq. We are transitioning in Afghanistan. My plan would take half the money we're no longer spending on war, use it to put people back to work rebuilding our roads and our runways and our ports and our wireless networks. (Applause.) That's the choice in this election.
I'm running so that we can reduce our deficit in a responsible way, by $4 trillion, doing it in a balanced, responsible way --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: The way it was done before.
THE PRESIDENT: The way it was done before. (Applause.) I put forward a detailed plan. It will cut spending we can't afford. And there's some programs that don't work -- we can eliminate that money -- strengthen programs like Medicare for the long haul, reform our tax code so that the wealthiest Americans pay a little bit more, just like they did when Bill Clinton was President -- (applause) -- just like they did when our economy created 23 million new jobs. (Applause.)
I mean, think about it, we created 23 million new jobs, the biggest budget surplus in history -- and, by the way, we produced a lot of millionaires, too. There's no contradiction here. And there are plenty of patriotic, successful Americans, a lot of business leaders, a lot of folks who'd be willing to make this contribution again if they were asked to help pay down the deficit and they saw it as part of a responsible, balanced plan.
This is about choices. I don't believe that giving millionaires and billionaires a $250,000 tax cut is going to do more for our future than hiring transformative teachers, or providing financial aid to the children of middle-class families. (Applause.) I don't believe a poorly designed tax cut like that is more likely to create jobs than providing loans to new entrepreneurs, or tax credits to small businesses who hire veterans. I don't think it's more likely to spur economic growth than investments in clean energy and medical research, and new roads and bridges and runways.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Eldercare.
THE PRESIDENT: Or eldercare.
So Governor Romney, he fundamentally disagrees with my vision. That's what elections are about. His allies in Congress disagree with my vision. Neither of them will endorse any policy that asks the wealthiest Americans to pay even a nickel more in taxes.
THE PRESIDENT: That's the reason we haven't reached an agreement on our deficit. It's the reason my jobs bill that would put more than 1 million people back to work has been voted down by Republicans in the Congress again and again and again. It's been the biggest source of gridlock in Washington for the last three years.
And, New Hampshire, the only thing that can break this stalemate is you. (Applause.) Is you. In this election, on every single challenge that we face, you've got the final say. That's the amazing thing about our democracy.
You can decide whether we keep our brave men and women in Afghanistan indefinitely, like Mr. Romney wants to do, or whether we stick to the timeline that I've set to finally bring our troops home. That's up to you. (Applause.)
You can decide that instead of restricting access to birth control or defunding Planned Parenthood, we should make sure that in this country, women control their own health care choices. That's up to you. (Applause.)
You can decide whether we keep Wall Street reform; whether ending taxpayer bailouts for Wall Street banks was the right thing to do; whether preventing insurance companies from discriminating against people who are sick is the right thing to do; whether over 3 million young people being able to stay on their parent's health insurance plan is the right thing to do. (Applause.)
You can decide whether or not we go back to the days when you could be kicked out of the United States military just because of who you are and who you love. (Applause.) You can decide whether or not it's time to stop denying citizenship to responsible young people just because they're the children of undocumented workers -- (applause) -- who have been growing up with our kids and want to contribute to this country.
It's going to be up to you whether we continue seeing these elections where multimillion-dollar donations, one person writing a $10 million check -- whether that speaks louder than the voices of ordinary citizens. It's all up to you. (Applause.)
This is going to be a close election. And from now until November, the other side will spend more money than at any time in American history. And almost all of it will be on ads that tell you the economy is bad -- it's all Obama's fault. He can't fix it because he thinks government is always the answer; because he doesn't have the experience of making a lot of money in the private sector; or because he is in over his head; or because he thinks everything is just fine. (Laughter.)
That's what the scary voices in the ads will tell you over and over and over again. That's what Mitt Romney will say. That's what the Republicans in Congress will say. And I give them credit -- they have a lot of message discipline. They just repeat over and over and over again the same thing. (Laughter.) Doesn't matter if it's true, they'll just keep on repeating. That's what they do.
But you know what, that may be a plan to win the election; it's sure not a plan to create jobs. It's not a plan to grow the economy. It's not a plan to pay down our debt. It's not a plan to revive the middle class and restore the American Dream.
So, Durham, if you believe we need a plan for education and energy, for infrastructure and innovation; if you believe that our economy grows best when everybody has a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules -- (applause) -- then I'm going to need you to stand with me as I run for a second term as President. (Applause.) I'm going to need you. The country is going to need you. (Applause.)
And here in New Hampshire, I know you guys have a tradition -- a lot of independents out here. Listen, I'm asking you -- vote for anybody else -- Democrat, independent, Republican -- anybody who shares your views about how this country should move forward. I will work with anyone of any party who believes that we are in this together, that we rise or fall as one nation, and as one people. (Applause.)
It's fashionable right now for people to be cynical. We go in cycles like this, and right now a lot of people are saying, oh, America is doing terribly and this and that, and what are we going to do. Let me tell you something. There's no problem out there, no challenge we face, that we do not have the capacity to solve. (Applause.) We are Americans, and we are tougher than whatever tough times may bring us. And what's lacking right now is our politics. What's lacking right now is that some of the worst impulses in our politics have been rewarded. And that's something entirely within your power to solve.
And in 2008, we made a commitment to each other. We said, together, he can bring about change -- even against opposition, even against all kinds of nonsense going on in the campaigns. What we saw, what we witnessed, was that when Americans, as citizens, come together nothing can stop them.
And I made a commitment to you. I said, you know what, I'm not going to be a perfect President. I'm not a perfect man -- Michelle can tell you that. (Laughter.) But you know what I did say? I said -- some of you may remember this -- I said I will always tell you where I stand, I will always tell you what I think, what I believe. And I will wake up every single day, fighting as hard as I can for you -- (applause)-- fighting as hard as I know how for American families who are out there working hard, who are out there striving, who are doing what they're supposed to be doing. (Applause.)
And you know what, New Hampshire, I've kept that promise, because I still believe in you. I believe in the American people. (Applause.) And I need you to keep believing in me. I need you to hit some doors and make some phone calls and register your friends. Talk to your neighbors. Get on Facebook. Get on Twitter. (Applause.) Let's get to work. Let's finish what we started. Let's remind the world how a strong economy is built, and remind them why America is the greatest nation on Earth.
Thank you, everybody. God bless you. God bless America.