Friday, September 23, 2011

Obama: 'I Am A Warrior For The Middle Class'

In a fiery political — and personal — speech in front of the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati, President Barack Obama called on Speaker of the House John Boehner twelve times on his home turf to "Pass this jobs bill."
Speaking in front of a "functionally obsolete" Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati,just few miles from Boehner's home district that connects to the home state of the Senate's top Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Obama was critical of House Republicans for failing to act on his jobs plan.

Making a point to choose a bridge linking House Speaker John Boehner's home state of Ohio with Kentucky, the home of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, Obama challenged, "Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge . . . Help us rebuild America. Help us put construction workers back to work. Pass this bill."

The president's incursion into northern Kentucky and southern Ohio is one of his most direct and defiant challenges to leaders of the opposition party as he said:

'We used to have the best infrastructure in the world here in America. We’re the country that built the Intercontinental Railroad, the Interstate Highway System. We built the Hoover Dam. We built the Grand Central Station. So how can we now sit back and let China build the best railroads? And let Europe build the best highways? And have Singapore build a nicer airport? At a time when we've got millions of unemployed construction workers out there just ready to get on the job, ready to do the work to rebuilding America.

So, Cincinnati, we are better than that. We're smarter than that. And that’s why I sent Congress the American Jobs Act 10 days ago. This bill is not that complicated. It's a bill that would put people back to work rebuilding America -- repairing our roads, repairing our bridges, repairing our schools. It would lead to jobs for concrete workers like the ones here at Hilltop; jobs for construction workers and masons, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, architects, engineers, ironworkers -- put folks back to work."

In a shift from the president's outreach to Boehner this summer, when the two men tried to work out a deal that would extend the nation's borrowing authority and cut long-term deficits as well, Obama said: "So my question is, what's Congress waiting for... Why is it taking so long?"
"Now, the bridge behind us just so happens to connect the state that’s home to the Speaker of the House with the state that’s home to the Minority Leader of the Senate. Sheer coincidence, of course. But part of the reason I came here is because Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell are the two most powerful Republicans in government. They can either kill this jobs bill, or they can help us pass it."

"I know these men care about their states. And I can’t imagine that the Speaker wants to represent a state where nearly one in four bridges is classified as substandard. I know that when Senator McConnell visited the closed bridge in Kentucky, he said that “roads and bridges are not partisan in Washington.” I know that Paul Ryan, the Republican in charge of the budget process, recently said you can’t deny that “infrastructure does create jobs.”

"Well if that’s the case, then there’s no reason for Republicans in Congress to stand in the way of more construction projects. There’s no reason to stand in the way of more jobs. Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge. Help us rebuild America. Help us put this country back to work. Pass this jobs bill!"
Obama criticized Republicans for attacking his jobs and tax plan as "class warfare," but said if protecting the middle class made him guilty of that, "I'll wear that charge as a badge of honor."

The American Jobs Act won’t add a dime to the deficit. It includes specific offsets that will more than fully pay for the cost of the Jobs Act. The President said:

"It’s paid for as part of my larger plan to pay down our debt. And that's why I make some additional cuts in spending. We already cut a trillion dollars in spending. This makes an additional hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts in spending, but it also asks the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.

Now, that should not be too much to ask. And by the way, it wouldn’t kick in until 2013. So when you hear folks say, oh, we shouldn’t be raising taxes right now -- nobody is talking about raising taxes right now. We’re talking about cutting taxes right now. But it does mean that there’s a long-term plan, and part of it involves everybody doing their fair share.

This isn’t to punish success. What’s great about this country is our belief that anyone can make it – the idea that any one of us can open a business or have an idea that could make us millionaires. All I’m saying is that those who have done the best in this country should contribute to its success. All I’m saying is that Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t be paying a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. In the United States of America, a construction worker making $50,000 shouldn’t pay higher taxes than somebody pulling in $50 million. That’s not fair. It’s not right. And it has to change.

This is about priorities. This is about choices. If we want to pay for this jobs plan, and close this deficit, and invest in our future, the money has to come from somewhere. Would you rather keep tax loopholes for oil companies? Or do you want construction workers to have a job rebuilding our bridges? Would you rather keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or do you want to put teachers back to work, and help small businesses, and cut taxes for middle-class families?

Now the Republicans, you know when I, I talked about this earlier in the week. They said 'well, this is class warfare.' You know what? If asking a billionaire to pay their fair of taxes. To pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher is class warfare, then you know what? I, I, I, I, I'm, I'm a warrior for the middle class. I'm happy to fight for the middle class."

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