SPEAKER: PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
[*] OBAMA: Thank you.
Hello, Hudson Valley.
Thank you very much. Thank you so much. Thank you.
Everybody, please have a seat. Thank you.
Thank you very much. What a wonderful reception. It is great to be here. Thanks for whoever organized the weather.
I want to first of all say thank you to Jill Biden, who has been a teacher for almost three decades, and she spent most of that time in community colleges. She understands, as all of you do, the power of these institutions to prepare students for 21st century jobs, and to prepare America for a 21st century global economy.
And that's what's happening right here at Hudson Valley Community College. So give yourselves a big round of applause.
We've got some special guests here that I want to acknowledge in addition to Jill. First of all, wonderful man, the governor of the great state of New York, David Paterson is in the house.
Your shy and retiring attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, is in the house.
Andrew's doing great work enforcing the laws that need to be enforced.
I want to thank the comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli is in the house.
Speaker Sheldon Silver is in the house.
The Democratic Conference leader, State Senator John Sampson.
Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings.
We've got three outstanding members of Congress who are just doing great work every single day, Maurice Hinchey, Paul Tonko, Scott Murphy. Please give them a big round of applause.
(APPLAUSE) President of Hudson Valley Community College Andrew Matonak is in the House.
Did I pronounce that right, Andrew?
OBAMA: And Joe Shorubi, executive director of TEC-SMART, who did a -- gave me a wonderful tour starting off.
Now, you may ask, why are we here at Hudson Valley?
We're here because this is a place where anyone with the desire to take their career to a new level or start a new career all together has the opportunity to pursue that dream.
This is a place where people of all ages and backgrounds, even in the face of obstacles; even in the face of very difficult personal challenges, can take a chance on a brighter future for themselves and for their family.
I was just talking to the mayor of Troy, who was talking -- we were in a room and he was saying how he had studied calculus in the room where we were taking a picture.
And I had to inform him I didn't take calculus.
But he was testimony; he was an example of what you can do, because of an institution like this.
And I know that, here in Troy, you want and need that chance after so many years of hard times.
Now, communities like this one were once the heart of America's manufacturing strength. But over the last few decades, you've borne the brunt of a changing economy which has seen many manufacturing plants close in the face of global competition.
So while all of America has been gripped by the current economic crisis, folks in Troy and upstate New York have been dealing with what amounts to almost a permanent recession for years, an economic downturn that's driven more and more young people from their hometowns.
I also know that, while a lot of people have come here promising better news, that news has been hard to come by, despite the determined efforts of the leaders who are here today and many who are not.
And part of the reason is that, while the people of this city work hard to meet their responsibilities, I have to confess that some in Washington haven't always lived up to theirs.
For too long, as old divisions and special interests reigned, Washington has shown neither the inclination nor the ability to tackle our toughest challenges.
Meanwhile, businesses were saddled with ever-rising health care costs; the economy was weakened by ever-growing dependence on foreign oil; our investments in cutting-edge research declined; our schools fell further short; growth focused on short-term gains and, fueled by debt and reckless risk led to cycles of precipitous booms and painful busts.
OBAMA: And meanwhile, too many in Washington stood by and let it happen.
Now, after so many years of failing to act, there are those who now suggest that there's really not much the government can or should do to make a difference; that what we've seen in places like Troy is inevitable; that somehow the parts of our country that helped us lead in the last century don't have what it takes to help us lead in this one.
And I'm here to tell you that that is just flat-out wrong. What we have here in this community is talented people, entrepreneurs, world-class learning institutions.
The ingredients are right here for growth and success and a better future. These young people are testimony to it. You are proving that right here in the Hudson Valley.