Washington, DC - In this week's address, the President discussed his return to Elkhart, Indiana, the first town he visited as President and one that was among the hardest-hit by the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. Seven years later, unemployment in Elkhart has fallen from a high of nearly 20 percent to around four percent; more families are back on sturdy ground; more are covered by health insurance; and more students are graduating from high school.
Elkhart is symbolic of America’s recovery, and that progress is due to the sacrifices of hardworking Americans and a series of smart decisions the President made early in his presidency, such as rescuing the auto industry, helping families refinance their homes, and investing in job training, high-tech manufacturing, clean energy, and the infrastructure that creates good new jobs. The President emphasized that we must continue to come together around common economic goals and push back against policies that protect powerful interests instead of working Americans. That’s the choice America will make this year, and the President believes the future will be brighter if this country works together to build on the progress this country has made in the months and years ahead.
Remarks of President Barack Obama as Delivered
The White House
June 4, 2016
Elkhart, Indiana was the first town I visited as President. I’d been on the job for three weeks, and we were just a few months into the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. Elkhart was hit harder than most. Unemployment there peaked at nearly twenty percent shortly after my visit. Nearly one in five people there were out of work.
This week, I returned to Elkhart. Unemployment there has now fallen to around four percent. More families are back on sturdy ground; more are covered by health insurance; more of their kids are graduating from high school. And it’s no accident – it’s because people there worked hard, and sacrificed, and looked out for each other.
But it’s also because we made a series of smart decisions early in my presidency. To rescue the auto industry. To help families refinance their homes. To invest in things like high-tech manufacturing, clean energy, and the infrastructure that creates good new jobs – not to mention the job training that helps folks earn new skills to fill those jobs.
The results are clear. America’s businesses have created 14.5 million new jobs over 75 straight months. We’ve seen the first sustained manufacturing growth since the nineties. We’ve cut unemployment by more than half. Another 20 million Americans have health insurance. And we’ve cut our deficits by nearly 75 percent.
We haven’t fixed everything. Wages, while growing again, need to grow faster. The gap between the rich and everyone else is still way too wide. Republicans in Congress have repeatedly blocked investments and initiatives that would have created jobs faster. But the middle class isn’t getting squeezed because of minorities, or immigrants, or moochers, or anyone else we’re told to blame for our problems. If we’re going to fix what needs fixing, we can’t divide ourselves. We’ve got to come together, around our common economic goals. We’ve got to push back against policies that protect powerful special interests, and push for a better deal for all working Americans.
That’s the choice you’ll get to make this year. Between policies that raise wages, and policies that won’t. Between strengthening Social Security and making it more generous, or making it harder to help people save and retire. Between strengthening the rules we put on Wall Street to prevent another crisis, or dismantling them. Between a tax code that’s fair for working families, or wasteful tax cuts for a fortunate few at the very top.
Over the past seven years, we’ve proven that progress is possible. But it’s not inevitable. It depends on us. It depends on the choices we make. And if we come together, around our common values, and our belief in opportunity for everyone who puts in the effort – then we’ll deliver on a brighter future for all of us. Thanks, and have a great weekend.