Full transcript of President Obama’s June 14 speech on the economy at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio:
OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much. Thank you so much.
Well, good afternoon, everybody. It is great to be back in Cleveland. (APPLAUSE)
It is great to be back here at Cuyahoga Community College.
I -- I want to first of all thank Angela (ph) for her introduction and sharing her story. I know her daughter is very proud of her. I know her daughter’s here today. So give her a big round of applause.
I want to thank your president, Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton.
And I want to thank some members of Congress who made the trip today, Representatives Marcia Fudge...
... Representative Betty Sutton...
... and Representative Marcy Kaptur.
Now, those of you who have a seat, feel free to sit down.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Obama!
OBAMA: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!
OBAMA: Thank you.
So, Ohio, over the next five months, this election will take many twists and many turns, polls will go up and polls will go down, there will be no shortage of gaffes and controversies that keep both campaigns busy and give the press something to write about.
You may have heard I recently made my own unique contribution to that process.
It wasn’t the first time. It won’t be the last.
And in the coming weeks, Governor Romney and I will spend time debating our records and our experience, as we should. But though we will have many differences over the course of this campaign, there is one place where I stand in complete agreement with my opponent: This election is about our economic future.
Yes, foreign policy matters, social issues matter. But more than anything else, this election presents a choice between two fundamentally different visions of how to create strong, sustained growth; how to pay down our long-term debt; and most of all, how to generate good, middle-class jobs so people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead.
Now, this isn’t some abstract debate. This is not another trivial Washington argument. I have said that this is the defining issue of our time and I mean it. I said that this is a make-or-break moment for America’s middle class, and I believe it.
OBAMA: The decisions we make in the next few years, on everything from debt to taxes to energy and education, will have an enormous impact on this country, and on the country we pass on to our children.
Now, these challenges are not new. We’ve been wrestling with these issues for a long time. The problems we’re facing right now have been more than a decade in the making.
And what is holding us back is not a lack of big ideas. It isn’t a matter of finding the right technical solution. Both parties have laid out their policies on the table for all to see.
What’s holding us back is a stalemate in Washington between two fundamentally different views of which direction America should take. And this election is your chance to break that stalemate.
At stake is not simply a choice between two candidates or two political parties, but between two paths for our country. And while there are many things to discuss in this campaign, nothing is more important than an honest debate about where these two paths would lead us.
Now, that debate has an understanding of where we are and how we got here.
Long before the economic crisis of 2008 the basic bargain at the heart of this country has begun to erode.
For more than a decade, it had become harder to find a job that paid the bills, harder to save, harder to retire, harder to keep up with rising costs of gas and health care and college tuitions.
You know that. You lived it.
OBAMA: During that decade there was a specific theory in Washington about how to meet this challenge.
We were told that huge tax cuts, especially for the wealthiest Americans, would lead to faster job growth. We were told that fewer regulations, especially for big financial institutions and corporations, would bring about widespread prosperity. We were told that it was OK to put two wars on the nation’s credit card; that tax cuts would create a enough growth to pay for themselves.
That’s what we were told.
So how did this economic theory work out?
OBAMA: For the wealthiest Americans it worked out pretty well.
Over the last few decades the income of the top 1 percent grew by more than 275 percent, to an average of $1.3 million a year. Big financial institutions, corporations saw their profits soar.
But prosperity never trickled down to the middle class. From 2001 to 2008 we had the slowest job growth in half a century. The typical family saw their incomes halt.