In case you missed it.
President Obama lays out his plan to help the middle class in a speech at Knox College.
Some excerpts from the transcript, courtesy of WaPo. I'm not sure how he gets past all that obstruction, but if he does, let's celebrate together:
But by the time I took office in 2009 as your president, we all know the bubble had burst.
Together we saved the auto industry, took on a broken health care system. (Cheers, applause.) We invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil. We doubled wind and solar power. (Cheers, applause.)
Together we put in place tough new rules on big banks and protections to crack down on the worst practices of mortgage lenders and credit card companies. (Applause.) We changed a tax code too skewed in favor of the wealthiest at the expense of working families. So we changed that. We locked in tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans, and we asked those at the top to pay a little bit more. (Applause.)
So you add it all up, and over the past 40 months our businesses have created 7.2 million new jobs.
But -- and here's the big "but" -- I'm here to tell you today that we're not there yet.
When the rungs on the ladder of opportunity grow farther and farther apart, it undermines the very essence of America, that idea that if you -- if you work hard, you can make it here.
And that's why reversing these trends has to be Washington's highest priority.
Too often, Washington's made things worse.
[W]e've seen a sizable group of Republican lawmakers suggest that they wouldn't vote to pay the very bills that Congress rang up... [W]e've got folks who have insisted on leaving in place a meat cleaver called the sequester that's cost jobs. It's harmed growth, it's hurt our military, it's gutted investments in education and science and medical research.
Then over the last six months, this gridlock's gotten worse. I didn't think that was possible. (Laughter.) The good news is a growing number of Republican senators are looking to join their Democratic counterparts and try to get things done in the Senate. So that's good news. (Applause.)
And if you ask some of these folks, some of these folks mostly in the House, about their economic agenda, how it is that they'll strengthen the middle class, they'll shift the topic to out-of-control government spending, despite the fact that we've cut the deficit by nearly half as a share of the economy since I took office. (Cheers, applause.)... Or they'll bring up "Obamacare" -- this is tried and true -- despite the fact that our businesses have created nearly twice as many jobs in this recovery as businesses had at the same point in the last recovery, when there was no "Obamacare."
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (My daughter ?) has insurance now.
But with this endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals, Washington's taken its eye off the ball. And I'm here to say this needs to stop. (Applause.) This needs to stop. (Cheers, applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible) -- Boehner. ...
That's why America has to make the investments necessary to promote long-term growth and shared prosperity, rebuilding our manufacturing base, educating our workforce, upgrading our transportation systems -- (cheers, applause) -- upgrading our information networks. That's what we need to be talking about. That's what Washington needs to be focused on.
I'll lay out my ideas for how we build on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle-class in America and what it takes to work your way into the middle class in America: job security with good wages and durable industries, a good education, a home to call your own, affordable health care when you get sick, a secure retirement even if you're not rich -- (cheers, applause) -- reducing poverty, reducing inequality, growing opportunity. That's what we need. (Cheers, applause.) That's what we need. That's what we need right now. (Cheers, applause.)
Now, in this effort, I will look to work with Republicans as well as Democrats wherever I can. And I -- I sincerely believe that there are members of both parties who understand this moment, understand what's at stake, and I will welcome ideas from anybody across the political spectrum. But I will not allow gridlock or inaction or willful indifference to get in our way. (Cheers, applause.)
That means whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class, I'll use it. (Cheers, applause.) Where I can't act on my own and Congress isn't cooperating, I'll pick up the phone, I'll call CEOs, I'll call philanthropists, I'll call college presidents, I'll call labor leaders, I'll call anybody who can help and enlist them in our efforts -- (cheers, applause)
[He then goes on to list his ideas, including investing in education] And if you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century. (Applause.)
[B]eginning January 1st, insurance companies will finally have to cover you and charge you the same rates as everybody else, even if you have a pre-existing condition. (Cheers, applause.) That's what the Affordable Care Act does. ...
We need new partnerships with some of the hardest-hit towns in America to get them back on their feet. (Applause.)And because no one who works full-time in America should have to live in poverty, I am going to keep making the case that we need to raise the minimum wage, because it's lower right now than it was when Ronald Reagan took office. (Cheers, applause.) It's time for the minimum wage to go up. (Cheers, applause.)...
In the run-up to this speech, a lot of reporters say, well, you know, Mr. President, these are all good ideas, but some of them, you've said before, some of them sound great, but you can't get those through Congress; Republicans won't agree with you. And I say, look, the fact is there are Republicans in Congress right now who privately agree with me on a lot of the ideas I'll be proposing.
I know because they've said so. But they worry they'll face swift political retaliation for cooperating with me. Now, there are others who will dismiss every idea I put forward -- (laughter) -- either because they're playing to their most strident supporters or, in some cases, because sincerely they have a fundamentally different vision for America -- one that says inequality is both inevitable and just; one that says an unfettered free market without any restraints inevitably produces the best outcomes, regardless of the pain and uncertainty imposed on ordinary families. And government's the problem and we should just shrink it as -- as small as we can....
[S]top taking meaningless repeal votes and share your concrete ideas with the country. (Cheers, applause.) Repealing "Obamacare" and cutting spending is not an economic plan...
I have now run my last campaign. I do not intend to wait until the next campaign or the next president before tackling the issues that matter. I care about one thing and one thing only, and that's how to use every minute -- (applause) -- the only thing I care about is how to use every minute of the remaining 1,276 days of my term to make this country work for working Americans again. (Cheers, applause.) That's all I care about. I don't have another election....
That's why we don't call it John's dream or Susie's dream or Barack's dream or Pat's dream. We call it the American Dream. And that's what makes this country special, the idea that no matter who you are or what you look like or where you come from or who you love, you can make it if you try. (Applause.) That's what we're fighting for. (Cheers, applause.)