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Obama's Labor Day Speech On Healthcare Reform (Full Text)

President Barack Obama is speaking to the AFL-CIO today about health care. These are his remarks as prepared for delivery.

President Obama is addressing the AFL-CIO picnic today about health care. Below is the full text of Obama's speech as prepared for delivery.
Hello Cincinnati. Hello Ohio. I can't think of a better place to be on Labor Day than at America's biggest Labor Day picnic-with the workers and families of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO.

First, give a big round of applause to Charlie. Charlie reminds us that in these tough times, America's working men and women are ready to roll up their sleeves and get back to work.

I want to salute your AFL-CIO local leaders: Executive Secretary-Treasurer Doug Sizemore, President Joe Zimmer and state President Joe Rugola (roo-GO-la). And your outstanding national

leaders: a man who we thank for devoting his life to working Americans-President John Sweeney. And the man who will pick up the mantle of leadership-who we need to succeed because a strong labor movement is part of a strong economy-

Secretary-Treasurer Rich Trumka.

Although Ohio's terrific Governor Ted Strickland couldn't be here, we have Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, Attorney General Richard Cordray, Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, and Hamilton County Commission President David Pepper.

We're joined by members of Ohio's congressional delegation: Congressman Steve Driehaus (DREE-house) and my great friend-who is at the forefront of every fight for Ohio's working men and women, including the battle for health insurance reform-Senator Sherrod Brown.

And I'm proud to be here with a leader who is re-energizing the Department of Labor-and a daughter of union members-Secretary Hilda Solis. And my director of recovery for auto communities and workers-Ed Montgomery.

Now, like a lot of Americans, you're having some fun today. Taking the day off. Spending time with the kids. Enjoying some good music and good food-some famous Cincinnati chili. But today we also pause. To remember. To reflect. To reaffirm.

We remember that the rights and benefits we enjoy today were not simply handed out to America's working men and women. They had to be won.

They had to be fought for, by men and women of courage and conviction, from the factory floors of the Industrial Revolution to the shopping aisles of today's superstores. They stood up and spoke out to demand a fair shake; an honest day's pay for an honest day's work. Many risked their lives. Some gave their lives. Some made it a cause of their lives-like Senator Ted Kennedy, who we remember today.

So let us never forget: much of what we take for granted-the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, health insurance, paid leave, pensions, Social Security, Medicare-they all bear the union label. It was the American worker-union men and women-who returned from World War II to make our economy the envy of the world. It was labor that helped build the largest middle class in history. So even if you're not a union member, every American owes something to America's labor movement.

As we remember this history, let us reflect on its meaning in our own time. Like so many Americans, you work hard and meet your responsibilities. You play by the rules and pay your bills. But in recent years, the American Dream seemed to slip away, because from Washington to Wall Street, too often a different culture prevailed.

Wealth was valued over work, selfishness over sacrifice, greed over responsibility, the right to organize undermined rather than strengthened.

That's what we saw. And while it may have worked out well for a few at the top, it sure didn't work out well for our country. That culture-and the policies that flowed from it-undermined the middle class and helped create the greatest economic crisis of our time.

So today, on this Labor Day, we reaffirm our commitment. To rebuild.

To live up to the legacy of those who came before us. To combine the enduring values that have served us so well for so long-hard work and responsibility-with new ideas for a new century. To ensure that our great middle class remains the backbone of our economy-not just a vanishing ideal we celebrate at picnics once a year as summer turns to fall.

That's what we've been working to do every day since I took office.

Now, some people have already forgotten how bad it was just seven months ago. A financial system on the verge of collapse. About 700,000 workers losing their jobs each month. The worst recession of our lifetimes threatening to become another Great Depression.

That's why we took bold, swift action-passing an unprecedented Recovery Act, and doing it without the usual Washington earmarks and pork-barrel spending. And, Ohio, it's working.

We've given 95 percent of America's working families a tax cut-4.5 million families in Ohio, including here in Cincinnati. We've cut taxes for small businesses, and made new loans to more than 1,000 small businesses in Ohio so they can grow and hire more workers.

We've extended unemployment benefits for 12 million Americans, including Charlie and nearly 570,000 Ohio citizens. Across America, we've saved the jobs of tens of thousands of state and local workers-including teachers and first responders here in Ohio. We're rebuilding America's infrastructure, including the improvements to I-75 in Hamilton County-led by a local Cincinnati contractor-and more than 200 other highway projects across Ohio.

And we're making an historic commitment to innovation-much of it still to come in the months and year ahead: doubling our capacity to generate renewable energy; building a new smart grid to carry electricity from coast to coast; laying down broadband lines and high-speed rail lines; and providing the largest boost in basic research in history.

So our Recovery plan is working. The financial system has been saved from collapse. Home sales are up. We're seeing signs of life in the auto industry. Business investment is starting to stabilize. For the first time in 18 months, we're seeing growth in manufacturing.

On Friday, we learned that the economy lost another 216,000 jobs in August. And whenever Americans are losing jobs-especially so many-that's simply unacceptable. But for the second straight month, we lost fewer jobs than the month before and it was the fewest jobs lost in a year. So make no mistake. We're moving in the right direction.

Ohio, we're on the road to recovery.

But we've still got a long way to go. So we will not rest, we will not let up. Not until workers looking for jobs can find them-good jobs that sustain families and sustain dreams. Not until responsible mortgage-owners can stay in their homes. Not until we have a full economic recovery and all Americans have their shot at the American Dream.

But we can't do that if we go back to that old economy-overleveraged banks, inflated profits and maxed-out credit cards. An economy of bubbles and bursts, where your wages and incomes stagnate while corporate profits soar. So even as we recover from the recession and work to cut the deficit in half, we have to build a new foundation for prosperity in America.

An America with a reformed financial regulation system that protects consumers and the entire financial system so we never have a crisis like this again.

An America where energy reform creates green jobs that can never be outsourced and that finally frees America from the grip of foreign oil.

An America that commits to education-because the countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow and the best jobs will go to the best educated-whether they live in Cincinnati or Shanghai. So we've got to do a better job educating our sons and daughters.

An America that once again invests in the middle class, which is why I've created our Task Force on Middle Class Working Families, led by Vice President Joe Biden, to make sure that our policies always benefit you-America's workers.

And today we're taking another step. I'm naming Ron Bloom to lead our efforts to revitalize the sector that helped build the middle class:

American manufacturing. Ron has worked with steelworkers, service employees and management to create new jobs. He's helped guide my auto task force. And as my new point person on manufacturing, he'll help us craft the policies that will create the next generation of manufacturing jobs and ensure American competitiveness in the 21st century.

 

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