This morning at Nelson Mandela’s state memorial, attended by dozens of world leaders and thousands of supporters of the late former President of South Africa, President Barack Obama delivered arguably the most important speech of his political career outside of the United States. Here is a video and the full transcript of his speech as delivered.
- Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. To Graça Machel and the Mandela family; to President Zuma and members of the government; to heads of states and government, past and present; distinguished guests — it is a singular honor to be with you today, to celebrate a life like no other. To the people of South Africa — people of every race and walk of life — the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us. His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and your hope found expression in his life. And your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy.
It is hard to eulogize any man — to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of a person — their private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone’s soul. How much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world.
Born during World War I, far from the corridors of power, a boy raised herding cattle and tutored by the elders of his Thembu tribe, Madiba would emerge as the last great liberator of the 20th century. Like Gandhi, he would lead a resistance movement — a movement that at its start had little prospect for success. Like Dr. King, he would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed and the moral necessity of racial justice. He would endure a brutal imprisonment that began in the time of Kennedy and Khrushchev, and reached the final days of the Cold War. Emerging from prison, without the force of arms, he would — like Abraham Lincoln — hold his country together when it threatened to break apart. And like America’s Founding Fathers, he would erect a constitutional order to preserve freedom for future generations — a commitment to democracy and rule of law ratified not only by his election, but by his willingness to step down from power after only one term.
Given the sweep of his life, the scope of his accomplishments, the adoration that he so rightly earned, it’s tempting I think to remember Nelson Mandela as an icon, smiling and serene, detached from the tawdry affairs of lesser men. But Madiba himself strongly resisted such a lifeless portrait. Instead, Madiba insisted on sharing with us his doubts and his fears; his miscalculations along with his victories. “I am not a saint,” he said, “unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”
It was precisely because he could admit to imperfection — because he could be so full of good humor, even mischief, despite the heavy burdens he carried — that we loved him so. He was not a bust made of marble; he was a man of flesh and blood — a son and a husband, a father and a friend. And that’s why we learned so much from him, and that’s why we can learn from him still. For nothing he achieved was inevitable. In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness, and persistence and faith. He tells us what is possible not just in the pages of history books, but in our own lives as well.
Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals. Perhaps Madiba was right that he inherited, “a proud rebelliousness, a stubborn sense of fairness” from his father. And we know he shared with millions of black and colored South Africans the anger born of, “a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments…a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people,” he said.
But like other early giants of the ANC — the Sisulus and Tambos — Madiba disciplined his anger and channeled his desire to fight into organization, and platforms, and strategies for action, so men and women could stand up for their God-given dignity. Moreover, he accepted the consequences of his actions, knowing that standing up to powerful interests and injustice carries a price. “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I’ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and [with] equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Mandela taught us the power of action, but he also taught us the power of ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those who you agree with, but also those who you don’t agree with. He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet. He turned his trial into an indictment of apartheid because of his eloquence and his passion, but also because of his training as an advocate. He used decades in prison to sharpen his arguments, but also to spread his thirst for knowledge to others in the movement. And he learned the language and the customs of his oppressor so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depend upon his.
Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough. No matter how right, they must be chiseled into law and institutions. He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history. On core principles he was unyielding, which is why he could rebuff offers of unconditional release, reminding the Apartheid regime that “prisoners cannot enter into contracts.”
But as he showed in painstaking negotiations to transfer power and draft new laws, he was not afraid to compromise for the sake of a larger goal. And because he was not only a leader of a movement but a skillful politician, the Constitution that emerged was worthy of this multiracial democracy, true to his vision of laws that protect minority as well as majority rights, and the precious freedoms of every South African.
And finally, Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There is a word in South Africa — Ubuntu — a word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.
We can never know how much of this sense was innate in him, or how much was shaped in a dark and solitary cell. But we remember the gestures, large and small — introducing his jailers as honored guests at his inauguration; taking a pitch in a Springbok uniform; turning his family’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS — that revealed the depth of his empathy and his understanding. He not only embodied Ubuntu, he taught millions to find that truth within themselves.
It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well — to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion and generosity and truth. He changed laws, but he also changed hearts.
For the people of South Africa, for those he inspired around the globe, Madiba’s passing is rightly a time of mourning, and a time to celebrate a heroic life. But I believe it should also prompt in each of us a time for self-reflection. With honesty, regardless of our station or our circumstance, we must ask: How well have I applied his lessons in my own life? It’s a question I ask myself, as a man and as a President.
We know that, like South Africa, the United States had to overcome centuries of racial subjugation. As was true here, it took sacrifice — the sacrifice of countless people, known and unknown, to see the dawn of a new day. Michelle and I are beneficiaries of that struggle. But in America, and in South Africa, and in countries all around the globe, we cannot allow our progress to cloud the fact that our work is not yet done.
The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality or universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before, but they are no less important. For around the world today, we still see children suffering from hunger and disease. We still see run-down schools. We still see young people without prospects for the future. Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs, and are still persecuted for what they look like, and how they worship, and who they love. That is happening today.
And so we, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many people who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. And there are too many of us on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.
The questions we face today — how to promote equality and justice; how to uphold freedom and human rights; how to end conflict and sectarian war — these things do not have easy answers. But there were no easy answers in front of that child born in World War I. Nelson Mandela reminds us that it always seems impossible until it is done. South Africa shows that is true. South Africa shows we can change, that we can choose a world defined not by our differences, but by our common hopes. We can choose a world defined not by conflict, but by peace and justice and opportunity.
We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. But let me say to the young people of Africa and the young people around the world — you, too, can make his life’s work your own. Over 30 years ago, while still a student, I learned of Nelson Mandela and the struggles taking place in this beautiful land, and it stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities to others and to myself, and it set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be a better man. He speaks to what’s best inside us.
After this great liberator is laid to rest, and when we have returned to our cities and villages and rejoined our daily routines, let us search for his strength. Let us search for his largeness of spirit somewhere inside of ourselves. And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, when our best-laid plans seem beyond our reach, let us think of Madiba and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of his cell: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
What a magnificent soul it was. We will miss him deeply. May God bless the memory of Nelson Mandela. May God bless the people of South Africa.
(Currently looking for a full video clip; this one starts about 5-10 minutes into the address. ~AP)
Here is the text of the President’s speech, released by the White House earlier today.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON CLIMATE CHANGE
1:45 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you! (Applause.) Thank you, Georgetown! Thank you so much. Everybody, please be seated. And my first announcement today is that you should all take off your jackets. (Laughter.) I’m going to do the same. (Applause.) It’s not that sexy, now. (Laughter.)
It is good to be back on campus, and it is a great privilege to speak from the steps of this historic hall that welcomed Presidents going back to George Washington.
I want to thank your president, President DeGioia, who’s here today. (Applause.) I want to thank him for hosting us. I want to thank the many members of my Cabinet and my administration. I want to thank Leader Pelosi and the members of Congress who are here. We are very grateful for their support.
And I want to say thank you to the Hoyas in the house for having me back. (Applause.) It was important for me to speak directly to your generation, because the decisions that we make now and in the years ahead will have a profound impact on the world that all of you inherit.
On Christmas Eve, 1968, the astronauts of Apollo 8 did a live broadcast from lunar orbit. So Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, William Anders — the first humans to orbit the moon -– described what they saw, and they read Scripture from the Book of Genesis to the rest of us back here. And later that night, they took a photo that would change the way we see and think about our world.
It was an image of Earth -– beautiful; breathtaking; a glowing marble of blue oceans, and green forests, and brown mountains brushed with white clouds, rising over the surface of the moon.
And while the sight of our planet from space might seem routine today, imagine what it looked like to those of us seeing our home, our planet, for the first time. Imagine what it looked like to children like me. Even the astronauts were amazed. “It makes you realize,” Lovell would say, “just what you have back there on Earth.”
And around the same time we began exploring space, scientists were studying changes taking place in the Earth’s atmosphere. Now, scientists had known since the 1800s that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide trap heat, and that burning fossil fuels release those gases into the air. That wasn’t news. But in the late 1950s, the National Weather Service began measuring the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, with the worry that rising levels might someday disrupt the fragile balance that makes our planet so hospitable. And what they’ve found, year after year, is that the levels of carbon pollution in our atmosphere have increased dramatically.
That science, accumulated and reviewed over decades, tells us that our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all of humankind.
The 12 warmest years in recorded history have all come in the last 15 years. Last year, temperatures in some areas of the ocean reached record highs, and ice in the Arctic shrank to its smallest size on record — faster than most models had predicted it would. These are facts.
Now, we know that no single weather event is caused solely by climate change. Droughts and fires and floods, they go back to ancient times. But we also know that in a world that’s warmer than it used to be, all weather events are affected by a warming planet. The fact that sea level in New York, in New York Harbor, are now a foot higher than a century ago — that didn’t cause Hurricane Sandy, but it certainly contributed to the destruction that left large parts of our mightiest city dark and underwater.
The potential impacts go beyond rising sea levels. Here at home, 2012 was the warmest year in our history. Midwest farms were parched by the worst drought since the Dust Bowl, and then drenched by the wettest spring on record. Western wildfires scorched an area larger than the state of Maryland. Just last week, a heat wave in Alaska shot temperatures into the 90s.
And we know that the costs of these events can be measured in lost lives and lost livelihoods, lost homes, lost businesses, hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency services and disaster relief. In fact, those who are already feeling the effects of climate change don’t have time to deny it — they’re busy dealing with it. Firefighters are braving longer wildfire seasons, and states and federal governments have to figure out how to budget for that. I had to sit on a meeting with the Department of Interior and Agriculture and some of the rest of my team just to figure out how we’re going to pay for more and more expensive fire seasons.
Farmers see crops wilted one year, washed away the next; and the higher food prices get passed on to you, the American consumer. Mountain communities worry about what smaller snowpacks will mean for tourism — and then, families at the bottom of the mountains wonder what it will mean for their drinking water. Americans across the country are already paying the price of inaction in insurance premiums, state and local taxes, and the costs of rebuilding and disaster relief.
So the question is not whether we need to act. The overwhelming judgment of science — of chemistry and physics and millions of measurements — has put all that to rest. Ninety-seven percent of scientists, including, by the way, some who originally disputed the data, have now put that to rest. They’ve acknowledged the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it.
So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late. And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren.
As a President, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act. (Applause.)
I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing. And that’s why, today, I’m announcing a new national climate action plan, and I’m here to enlist your generation’s help in keeping the United States of America a leader — a global leader — in the fight against climate change.
This plan builds on progress that we’ve already made. Last year, I took office — the year that I took office, my administration pledged to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 percent from their 2005 levels by the end of this decade. And we rolled up our sleeves and we got to work. We doubled the electricity we generated from wind and the sun. We doubled the mileage our cars will get on a gallon of gas by the middle of the next decade. (Applause.)
Here at Georgetown, I unveiled my strategy for a secure energy future. And thanks to the ingenuity of our businesses, we’re starting to produce much more of our own energy. We’re building the first nuclear power plants in more than three decades — in Georgia and South Carolina. For the first time in 18 years, America is poised to produce more of our own oil than we buy from other nations. And today, we produce more natural gas than anybody else. So we’re producing energy. And these advances have grown our economy, they’ve created new jobs, they can’t be shipped overseas — and, by the way, they’ve also helped drive our carbon pollution to its lowest levels in nearly 20 years. Since 2006, no country on Earth has reduced its total carbon pollution by as much as the United States of America. (Applause.)
So it’s a good start. But the reason we’re all here in the heat today is because we know we’ve got more to do.
In my State of the Union address, I urged Congress to come up with a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one that Republican and Democratic senators worked on together a few years ago. And I still want to see that happen. I’m willing to work with anyone to make that happen.
But this is a challenge that does not pause for partisan gridlock. It demands our attention now. And this is my plan to meet it — a plan to cut carbon pollution; a plan to protect our country from the impacts of climate change; and a plan to lead the world in a coordinated assault on a changing climate. (Applause.)
This plan begins with cutting carbon pollution by changing the way we use energy — using less dirty energy, using more clean energy, wasting less energy throughout our economy.
Forty-three years ago, Congress passed a law called the Clean Air Act of 1970. (Applause.) It was a good law. The reasoning behind it was simple: New technology can protect our health by protecting the air we breathe from harmful pollution. And that law passed the Senate unanimously. Think about that — it passed the Senate unanimously. It passed the House of Representatives 375 to 1. I don’t know who the one guy was — I haven’t looked that up. (Laughter.) You can barely get that many votes to name a post office these days. (Laughter.)
It was signed into law by a Republican President. It was later strengthened by another Republican President. This used to be a bipartisan issue.
Six years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases are pollutants covered by that same Clean Air Act. (Applause.) And they required the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, to determine whether they’re a threat to our health and welfare. In 2009, the EPA determined that they are a threat to both our health and our welfare in many different ways — from dirtier air to more common heat waves — and, therefore, subject to regulation.
Today, about 40 percent of America’s carbon pollution comes from our power plants. But here’s the thing: Right now, there are no federal limits to the amount of carbon pollution that those plants can pump into our air. None. Zero. We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury and sulfur and arsenic in our air or our water, but power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air for free. That’s not right, that’s not safe, and it needs to stop. (Applause.)
So today, for the sake of our children, and the health and safety of all Americans, I’m directing the Environmental Protection Agency to put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants, and complete new pollution standards for both new and existing power plants. (Applause.)
I’m also directing the EPA to develop these standards in an open and transparent way, to provide flexibility to different states with different needs, and build on the leadership that many states, and cities, and companies have already shown. In fact, many power companies have already begun modernizing their plants, and creating new jobs in the process. Others have shifted to burning cleaner natural gas instead of dirtier fuel sources.
Nearly a dozen states have already implemented or are implementing their own market-based programs to reduce carbon pollution. More than 25 have set energy efficiency targets. More than 35 have set renewable energy targets. Over 1,000 mayors have signed agreements to cut carbon pollution. So the idea of setting higher pollution standards for our power plants is not new. It’s just time for Washington to catch up with the rest of the country. And that’s what we intend to do. (Applause.)
Now, what you’ll hear from the special interests and their allies in Congress is that this will kill jobs and crush the economy, and basically end American free enterprise as we know it. And the reason I know you’ll hear those things is because that’s what they said every time America sets clear rules and better standards for our air and our water and our children’s health. And every time, they’ve been wrong.
For example, in 1970, when we decided through the Clean Air Act to do something about the smog that was choking our cities — and, by the way, most young people here aren’t old enough to remember what it was like, but when I was going to school in 1979-1980 in Los Angeles, there were days where folks couldn’t go outside. And the sunsets were spectacular because of all the pollution in the air.
But at the time when we passed the Clean Air Act to try to get rid of some of this smog, some of the same doomsayers were saying new pollution standards will decimate the auto industry. Guess what — it didn’t happen. Our air got cleaner.
In 1990, when we decided to do something about acid rain, they said our electricity bills would go up, the lights would go off, businesses around the country would suffer — I quote — “a quiet death.” None of it happened, except we cut acid rain dramatically.
See, the problem with all these tired excuses for inaction is that it suggests a fundamental lack of faith in American business and American ingenuity. (Applause.) These critics seem to think that when we ask our businesses to innovate and reduce pollution and lead, they can’t or they won’t do it. They’ll just kind of give up and quit. But in America, we know that’s not true. Look at our history.
When we restricted cancer-causing chemicals in plastics and leaded fuel in our cars, it didn’t end the plastics industry or the oil industry. American chemists came up with better substitutes. When we phased out CFCs — the gases that were depleting the ozone layer — it didn’t kill off refrigerators or air-conditioners or deodorant. (Laughter.) American workers and businesses figured out how to do it better without harming the environment as much.
The fuel standards that we put in place just a few years ago didn’t cripple automakers. The American auto industry retooled, and today, our automakers are selling the best cars in the world at a faster rate than they have in five years — with more hybrid, more plug-in, more fuel-efficient cars for everybody to choose from. (Applause.)
So the point is, if you look at our history, don’t bet against American industry. Don’t bet against American workers. Don’t tell folks that we have to choose between the health of our children or the health of our economy. (Applause.)
The old rules may say we can’t protect our environment and promote economic growth at the same time, but in America, we’ve always used new technologies — we’ve used science; we’ve used research and development and discovery to make the old rules obsolete.
Today, we use more clean energy –- more renewables and natural gas -– which is supporting hundreds of thousands of good jobs. We waste less energy, which saves you money at the pump and in your pocketbooks. And guess what — our economy is 60 percent bigger than it was 20 years ago, while our carbon emissions are roughly back to where they were 20 years ago.
So, obviously, we can figure this out. It’s not an either/or; it’s a both/and. We’ve got to look after our children; we have to look after our future; and we have to grow the economy and create jobs. We can do all of that as long as we don’t fear the future; instead we seize it. (Applause.)
And, by the way, don’t take my word for it — recently, more than 500 businesses, including giants like GM and Nike, issued a Climate Declaration, calling action on climate change “one of the great economic opportunities of the 21st century.” Walmart is working to cut its carbon pollution by 20 percent and transition completely to renewable energy. (Applause.) Walmart deserves a cheer for that. (Applause.) But think about it. Would the biggest company, the biggest retailer in America — would they really do that if it weren’t good for business, if it weren’t good for their shareholders?
A low-carbon, clean energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come. And I want America to build that engine. I want America to build that future — right here in the United States of America. That’s our task. (Applause.)
Now, one thing I want to make sure everybody understands — this does not mean that we’re going to suddenly stop producing fossil fuels. Our economy wouldn’t run very well if it did. And transitioning to a clean energy economy takes time. But when the doomsayers trot out the old warnings that these ambitions will somehow hurt our energy supply, just remind them that America produced more oil than we have in 15 years. What is true is that we can’t just drill our way out of the energy and climate challenge that we face. (Applause.) That’s not possible.
I put forward in the past an all-of-the-above energy strategy, but our energy strategy must be about more than just producing more oil. And, by the way, it’s certainly got to be about more than just building one pipeline. (Applause.)
Now, I know there’s been, for example, a lot of controversy surrounding the proposal to build a pipeline, the Keystone pipeline, that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands down to refineries in the Gulf. And the State Department is going through the final stages of evaluating the proposal. That’s how it’s always been done. But I do want to be clear: Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. (Applause.) The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward. It’s relevant.
Now, even as we’re producing more domestic oil, we’re also producing more cleaner-burning natural gas than any other country on Earth. And, again, sometimes there are disputes about natural gas, but let me say this: We should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer because, in the medium term at least, it not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions.
Federally supported technology has helped our businesses drill more effectively and extract more gas. And now, we’ll keep working with the industry to make drilling safer and cleaner, to make sure that we’re not seeing methane emissions, and to put people to work modernizing our natural gas infrastructure so that we can power more homes and businesses with cleaner energy.
The bottom line is natural gas is creating jobs. It’s lowering many families’ heat and power bills. And it’s the transition fuel that can power our economy with less carbon pollution even as our businesses work to develop and then deploy more of the technology required for the even cleaner energy economy of the future.
And that brings me to the second way that we’re going to reduce carbon pollution — by using more clean energy. Over the past four years, we’ve doubled the electricity that we generate from zero-carbon wind and solar power. (Applause.) And that means jobs — jobs manufacturing the wind turbines that now generate enough electricity to power nearly 15 million homes; jobs installing the solar panels that now generate more than four times the power at less cost than just a few years ago.
I know some Republicans in Washington dismiss these jobs, but those who do need to call home — because 75 percent of all wind energy in this country is generated in Republican districts. (Laughter.) And that may explain why last year, Republican governors in Kansas and Oklahoma and Iowa — Iowa, by the way, a state that harnesses almost 25 percent of its electricity from the wind — helped us in the fight to extend tax credits for wind energy manufacturers and producers. (Applause.) Tens of thousands good jobs were on the line, and those jobs were worth the fight.
And countries like China and Germany are going all in in the race for clean energy. I believe Americans build things better than anybody else. I want America to win that race, but we can’t win it if we’re not in it. (Applause.)
So the plan I’m announcing today will help us double again our energy from wind and sun. Today, I’m directing the Interior Department to green light enough private, renewable energy capacity on public lands to power more than 6 million homes by 2020. (Applause.)
The Department of Defense — the biggest energy consumer in America — will install 3 gigawatts of renewable power on its bases, generating about the same amount of electricity each year as you’d get from burning 3 million tons of coal. (Applause.)
And because billions of your tax dollars continue to still subsidize some of the most profitable corporations in the history of the world, my budget once again calls for Congress to end the tax breaks for big oil companies, and invest in the clean-energy companies that will fuel our future. (Applause.)
Now, the third way to reduce carbon pollution is to waste less energy — in our cars, our homes, our businesses. The fuel standards we set over the past few years mean that by the middle of the next decade, the cars and trucks we buy will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. That means you’ll have to fill up half as often; we’ll all reduce carbon pollution. And we built on that success by setting the first-ever standards for heavy-duty trucks and buses and vans. And in the coming months, we’ll partner with truck makers to do it again for the next generation of vehicles.
Meanwhile, the energy we use in our homes and our businesses and our factories, our schools, our hospitals — that’s responsible for about one-third of our greenhouse gases. The good news is simple upgrades don’t just cut that pollution; they put people to work — manufacturing and installing smarter lights and windows and sensors and appliances. And the savings show up in our electricity bills every month — forever. That’s why we’ve set new energy standards for appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers. And today, our businesses are building better ones that will also cut carbon pollution and cut consumers’ electricity bills by hundreds of billions of dollars.
That means, by the way, that our federal government also has to lead by example. I’m proud that federal agencies have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by more than 15 percent since I took office. But we can do even better than that. So today, I’m setting a new goal: Your federal government will consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources within the next seven years. We are going to set that goal. (Applause.)
We’ll also encourage private capital to get off the sidelines and get into these energy-saving investments. And by the end of the next decade, these combined efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings will reduce carbon pollution by at least three billion tons. That’s an amount equal to what our entire energy sector emits in nearly half a year.
So I know these standards don’t sound all that sexy, but think of it this way: That’s the equivalent of planting 7.6 billion trees and letting them grow for 10 years — all while doing the dishes. It is a great deal and we need to be doing it. (Applause.)
So using less dirty energy, transitioning to cleaner sources of energy, wasting less energy through our economy is where we need to go. And this plan will get us there faster. But I want to be honest — this will not get us there overnight. The hard truth is carbon pollution has built up in our atmosphere for decades now. And even if we Americans do our part, the planet will slowly keep warming for some time to come. The seas will slowly keep rising and storms will get more severe, based on the science. It’s like tapping the brakes of a car before you come to a complete stop and then can shift into reverse. It’s going to take time for carbon emissions to stabilize.
So in the meantime, we’re going to need to get prepared. And that’s why this plan will also protect critical sectors of our economy and prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change that we cannot avoid. States and cities across the country are already taking it upon themselves to get ready. Miami Beach is hardening its water supply against seeping saltwater. We’re partnering with the state of Florida to restore Florida’s natural clean water delivery system — the Everglades.
The overwhelmingly Republican legislature in Texas voted to spend money on a new water development bank as a long-running drought cost jobs and forced a town to truck in water from the outside.
New York City is fortifying its 520 miles of coastline as an insurance policy against more frequent and costly storms. And what we’ve learned from Hurricane Sandy and other disasters is that we’ve got to build smarter, more resilient infrastructure that can protect our homes and businesses, and withstand more powerful storms. That means stronger seawalls, natural barriers, hardened power grids, hardened water systems, hardened fuel supplies.
So the budget I sent Congress includes funding to support communities that build these projects, and this plan directs federal agencies to make sure that any new project funded with taxpayer dollars is built to withstand increased flood risks.
And we’ll partner with communities seeking help to prepare for droughts and floods, reduce the risk of wildfires, protect the dunes and wetlands that pull double duty as green space and as natural storm barriers. And we’ll also open our climate data and NASA climate imagery to the public, to make sure that cities and states assess risk under different climate scenarios, so that we don’t waste money building structures that don’t withstand the next storm.
So that’s what my administration will do to support the work already underway across America, not only to cut carbon pollution, but also to protect ourselves from climate change. But as I think everybody here understands, no nation can solve this challenge alone — not even one as powerful as ours. And that’s why the final part of our plan calls on America to lead — lead international efforts to combat a changing climate. (Applause.)
And make no mistake — the world still looks to America to lead. When I spoke to young people in Turkey a few years ago, the first question I got wasn’t about the challenges that part of the world faces. It was about the climate challenge that we all face, and America’s role in addressing it. And it was a fair question, because as the world’s largest economy and second-largest carbon emitter, as a country with unsurpassed ability to drive innovation and scientific breakthroughs, as the country that people around the world continue to look to in times of crisis, we’ve got a vital role to play. We can’t stand on the sidelines. We’ve got a unique responsibility. And the steps that I’ve outlined today prove that we’re willing to meet that responsibility.
Though all America’s carbon pollution fell last year, global carbon pollution rose to a record high. That’s a problem. Developing countries are using more and more energy, and tens of millions of people entering a global middle class naturally want to buy cars and air-conditioners of their own, just like us. Can’t blame them for that. And when you have conversations with poor countries, they’ll say, well, you went through these stages of development — why can’t we?
But what we also have to recognize is these same countries are also more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than we are. They don’t just have as much to lose, they probably have more to lose.
Developing nations with some of the fastest-rising levels of carbon pollution are going to have to take action to meet this challenge alongside us. They’re watching what we do, but we’ve got to make sure that they’re stepping up to the plate as well. We compete for business with them, but we also share a planet. And we have to all shoulder the responsibility for keeping the planet habitable, or we’re going to suffer the consequences — together.
So to help more countries transitioning to cleaner sources of energy and to help them do it faster, we’re going to partner with our private sector to apply private sector technological know-how in countries that transition to natural gas. We’ve mobilized billions of dollars in private capital for clean energy projects around the world.
Today, I’m calling for an end of public financing for new coal plants overseas — (applause) — unless they deploy carbon-capture technologies, or there’s no other viable way for the poorest countries to generate electricity. And I urge other countries to join this effort.
And I’m directing my administration to launch negotiations toward global free trade in environmental goods and services, including clean energy technology, to help more countries skip past the dirty phase of development and join a global low-carbon economy. They don’t have to repeat all the same mistakes that we made. (Applause.)
We’ve also intensified our climate cooperation with major emerging economies like India and Brazil, and China — the world’s largest emitter. So, for example, earlier this month, President Xi of China and I reached an important agreement to jointly phase down our production and consumption of dangerous hydrofluorocarbons, and we intend to take more steps together in the months to come. It will make a difference. It’s a significant step in the reduction of carbon emissions. (Applause.)
And finally, my administration will redouble our efforts to engage our international partners in reaching a new global agreement to reduce carbon pollution through concrete action. (Applause.)
Four years ago, in Copenhagen, every major country agreed, for the first time, to limit carbon pollution by 2020. Two years ago, we decided to forge a new agreement beyond 2020 that would apply to all countries, not just developed countries.
What we need is an agreement that’s ambitious — because that’s what the scale of the challenge demands. We need an inclusive agreement -– because every country has to play its part. And we need an agreement that’s flexible — because different nations have different needs. And if we can come together and get this right, we can define a sustainable future for your generation.
So that’s my plan. (Applause.) The actions I’ve announced today should send a strong signal to the world that America intends to take bold action to reduce carbon pollution. We will continue to lead by the power of our example, because that’s what the United States of America has always done.
I am convinced this is the fight America can, and will, lead in the 21st century. And I’m convinced this is a fight that America must lead. But it will require all of us to do our part. We’ll need scientists to design new fuels, and we’ll need farmers to grow new fuels. We’ll need engineers to devise new technologies, and we’ll need businesses to make and sell those technologies. We’ll need workers to operate assembly lines that hum with high-tech, zero-carbon components, but we’ll also need builders to hammer into place the foundations for a new clean energy era.
We’re going to need to give special care to people and communities that are unsettled by this transition — not just here in the United States but around the world. And those of us in positions of responsibility, we’ll need to be less concerned with the judgment of special interests and well-connected donors, and more concerned with the judgment of posterity. (Applause.) Because you and your children, and your children’s children, will have to live with the consequences of our decisions.
As I said before, climate change has become a partisan issue, but it hasn’t always been. It wasn’t that long ago that Republicans led the way on new and innovative policies to tackle these issues. Richard Nixon opened the EPA. George H.W. Bush declared — first U.S. President to declare — “human activities are changing the atmosphere in unexpected and unprecedented ways.” Someone who never shies away from a challenge, John McCain, introduced a market-based cap-and-trade bill to slow carbon pollution.
The woman that I’ve chosen to head up the EPA, Gina McCarthy, she’s worked — (applause) — she’s terrific. Gina has worked for the EPA in my administration, but she’s also worked for five Republican governors. She’s got a long track record of working with industry and business leaders to forge common-sense solutions. Unfortunately, she’s being held up in the Senate. She’s been held up for months, forced to jump through hoops no Cabinet nominee should ever have to –- not because she lacks qualifications, but because there are too many in the Republican Party right now who think that the Environmental Protection Agency has no business protecting our environment from carbon pollution. The Senate should confirm her without any further obstruction or delay. (Applause.)
But more broadly, we’ve got to move beyond partisan politics on this issue. I want to be clear — I am willing to work with anybody –- Republicans, Democrats, independents, libertarians, greens -– anybody — to combat this threat on behalf of our kids. I am open to all sorts of new ideas, maybe better ideas, to make sure that we deal with climate change in a way that promotes jobs and growth.
Nobody has a monopoly on what is a very hard problem, but I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real. (Applause.) We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society. (Applause.) Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm. And ultimately, we will be judged as a people, and as a society, and as a country on where we go from here.
Our founders believed that those of us in positions of power are elected not just to serve as custodians of the present, but as caretakers of the future. And they charged us to make decisions with an eye on a longer horizon than the arc of our own political careers. That’s what the American people expect. That’s what they deserve.
And someday, our children, and our children’s children, will look at us in the eye and they’ll ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world? And I want to be able to say, yes, we did. Don’t you want that? (Applause.)
Americans are not a people who look backwards; we’re a people who look forward. We’re not a people who fear what the future holds; we shape it. What we need in this fight are citizens who will stand up, and speak up, and compel us to do what this moment demands.
Understand this is not just a job for politicians. So I’m going to need all of you to educate your classmates, your colleagues, your parents, your friends. Tell them what’s at stake. Speak up at town halls, church groups, PTA meetings. Push back on misinformation. Speak up for the facts. Broaden the circle of those who are willing to stand up for our future. (Applause.)
Convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution. Push your own communities to adopt smarter practices. Invest. Divest. (Applause.) Remind folks there’s no contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth. And remind everyone who represents you at every level of government that sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote. Make yourself heard on this issue. (Applause.)
I understand the politics will be tough. The challenge we must accept will not reward us with a clear moment of victory. There’s no gathering army to defeat. There’s no peace treaty to sign. When President Kennedy said we’d go to the moon within the decade, we knew we’d build a spaceship and we’d meet the goal. Our progress here will be measured differently — in crises averted, in a planet preserved. But can we imagine a more worthy goal? For while we may not live to see the full realization of our ambition, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that the world we leave to our children will be better off for what we did.
“It makes you realize,” that astronaut said all those years ago, “just what you have back there on Earth.” And that image in the photograph, that bright blue ball rising over the moon’s surface, containing everything we hold dear — the laughter of children, a quiet sunset, all the hopes and dreams of posterity — that’s what’s at stake. That’s what we’re fighting for. And if we remember that, I’m absolutely sure we’ll succeed.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
END 2:32 P.M. EDT
University of Hartford
5:45 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Connecticut. (Applause.) Thank you. Well, thank you so much, everybody. Let me begin by thanking Nicole, and Ian, for your brave words. (Applause.) I want to thank them and all the Newtown families who have come here today, including your First Selectman, Pat Llodra. (Applause.) Nobody could be more eloquent than Nicole and the other families on this issue. And we are so grateful for their courage and willingness to share their stories again and again, understanding that nothing is going to be more important in making sure the Congress moves forward this week than hearing from them.
I want to thank all the educators from Sandy Hook Elementary who have come here as well — (applause) — the survivors —
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: We love you, Obama!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. I do. (Applause.)
— the survivors who still mourn and grieve, but are still going to work every day to love and raise those precious children in their care as fiercely as ever.
I want to thank Governor Malloy for his leadership. (Applause.) Very proud of him. I want to thank the University of Hartford for hosting us this afternoon. (Applause.) Thank you, Hawks. (Applause.) And I want to thank the people of Connecticut for everything you’ve done to honor the memories of the victims — (applause) — because you’re part of their family as well.
One of your recent alumni, Rachel D’Avino, was a behavioral therapist at Sandy Hook. Two alumni of your performing arts school, Jimmy Greene and Nelba Marquez-Greene, lost their daughter, Ana — an incredible, vibrant young girl who looked up to them, and learned from them, and inherited their talents by singing before she could talk.
So every family in this state was shaken by the tragedy of that morning. Every family in this country was shaken. We hugged our kids more tightly. We asked what could we do, as a society, to help prevent a tragedy like that from happening again.
And as a society, we decided that we have to change. We must. We must change. (Applause.)
I noticed that Nicole and others refer to that day as “12/14.” For these families, it was a day that changed everything. And I know many of you in Newtown wondered if the rest of us would live up to the promise we made in those dark days — if we’d change, too; or if once the television trucks left, once the candles flickered out, once the teddy bears were carefully gathered up, that the country would somehow move on to other things.
Over the weekend, I heard Francine Wheeler, who lost her son Ben that day, say that the four months since the tragedy might feel like a brief moment for some, but for her, it feels like it’s been years since she saw Ben. And she’s determined not to let what happened that day just fade away. “We’re not going anywhere,” she said. “We are here. And we are going to be here.” And I know that she speaks for everybody in Newtown, everybody who was impacted.
And, Newtown, we want you to know that we’re here with you. We will not walk away from the promises we’ve made. (Applause.) We are as determined as ever to do what must be done. In fact, I’m here to ask you to help me show that we can get it done. We’re not forgetting. (Applause.)
We can’t forget. Your families still grieve in ways most of us can’t comprehend. But so many of you have used that grief to make a difference — not just to honor your own children, but to protect the lives of all of our children. So many of you have mobilized, and organized, and petitioned your elected officials “with love and logic,” as Nicole put it — as citizens determined to right something gone wrong.
And last week, here in Connecticut, your elected leaders responded. The Connecticut legislature, led by many of the legislators here today, passed new measures to protect more of our children and our communities from gun violence. And Governor Malloy signed that legislation into law. (Applause.)
So I want to be clear. You, the families of Newtown, people across Connecticut, you helped make that happen. Your voices, your determination made that happen. Obviously, the elected leaders did an extraordinary job moving it forward, but it couldn’t have happened if they weren’t hearing from people in their respective districts, people all across the state. That’s the power of your voice.
And, by the way, Connecticut is not alone. In the past few months, New York, Colorado, Maryland have all passed new, common-sense gun safety reforms as well. (Applause.)
These are all states that share an awful familiarity with gun violence, whether it’s the horror of mass killings, or the street crime that’s too common in too many neighborhoods. All of these states also share a strong tradition of hunting, and sport shooting, and gun ownership. It’s been a part of the fabric of people’s lives for generations. And every single one of those states — including here in Connecticut — decided that, yes, we can protect more of our citizens from gun violence while still protecting our Second Amendment rights. Those two things don’t contradict each other. (Applause.) We can pass common-sense laws that protect our kids and protect our rights.
So Connecticut has shown the way. And now is the time for Congress to do the same. (Applause.) Now is the time for Congress to do the same. This week is the time for Congress to do the same. (Applause.)
Now, back in January, just a few months after the tragedy in Newtown, I announced a series of executive actions to reduce gun violence and keep our kids safe. And I put forward common-sense proposals — much like those that passed here in Connecticut — for Congress to consider. And you’ll remember in my State of the Union address, I urged Congress to give those proposals a vote. And that moment is now.
As soon as this week, Congress will begin debating these common-sense proposals to reduce gun violence. Your senators, Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy — they’re here — (applause) — your Representatives, John Larson, Rosa DeLauro, Elizabeth Esty, Jim Hines, Joe Courtney, they are all pushing to pass this legislation. (Applause.) But much of Congress is going to only act if they hear from you, the American people. So here’s what we have to do.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate that. (Laughter.) Here’s what we’ve got to do. We have to tell Congress it’s time to require a background check for anyone who wants to buy a gun so that people who are dangerous to themselves and others cannot get their hands on a gun. Let’s make that happen. (Applause.)
We have to tell Congress it’s time to crack down on gun trafficking so that folks will think twice before buying a gun as part of a scheme to arm someone who won’t pass a background check. Let’s get that done. (Applause.)
We have to tell Congress it’s time to restore the ban on military-style assault weapons, and a 10-round limit for magazines, to make it harder for a gunman to fire 154 bullets into his victims in less than five minutes. Let’s put that to a vote. (Applause.)
We have to tell Congress it’s time to strengthen school safety and help people struggling with mental health problems get the treatment they need before it’s too late. Let’s do that for our kids and for our communities. (Applause.)
Now, I know that some of these proposals inspire more debate than others, but each of them has the support of the majority of the American people. All of them are common sense. All of them deserve a vote. All of them deserve a vote. (Applause.)
Consider background checks. Over the past 20 years, background checks have kept more than 2 million dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun. A group of police officers in Colorado told me last week that, thanks to background checks, they’ve been able to stop convicted murderers, folks under restraining orders for committing violent domestic abuse from buying a gun. In some cases, they’ve actually arrested the person as they were coming to purchase the gun.
So we know that background checks can work. But the problem is loopholes in the current law let so many people avoid background checks altogether. That’s not safe. It doesn’t make sense. If you’re a law-abiding citizen and you go through a background check to buy a gun, wouldn’t you expect other people to play by the same rules? (Applause.)
If you’re a law-abiding gun seller, wouldn’t you want to know you’re not selling your gun to someone who’s likely to commit a crime? (Applause.) Shouldn’t we make it harder, not easier for somebody who is convicted of domestic abuse to get his hands on a gun? (Applause.)
It turns out 90 percent of Americans think so. Ninety percent of Americans support universal background checks. Think about that. How often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything? (Laughter.) And yet, 90 percent agree on this — Republicans, Democrats, folks who own guns, folks who don’t own guns; 80 percent of Republicans, more than 80 percent of gun owners, more than 70 percent of NRA households. It is common sense.
And yet, there is only one thing that can stand in the way of change that just about everybody agrees on, and that’s politics in Washington. You would think that with those numbers Congress would rush to make this happen. That’s what you would think. (Applause.) If our democracy is working the way it’s supposed to, and 90 percent of the American people agree on something, in the wake of a tragedy you’d think this would not be a heavy lift.
And yet, some folks back in Washington are already floating the idea that they may use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms. Think about that. They’re not just saying they’ll vote “no” on ideas that almost all Americans support. They’re saying they’ll do everything they can to even prevent any votes on these provisions. They’re saying your opinion doesn’t matter. And that’s not right.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: That is not right.
AUDIENCE: We want a vote!
THE PRESIDENT: We need a vote.
AUDIENCE: We want a vote! We want a vote!
THE PRESIDENT: We need a vote.
AUDIENCE: We want a vote!
THE PRESIDENT: Now, I’ve also heard some in the Washington press suggest that what happens to gun violence legislation in Congress this week will either be a political victory or defeat for me. Connecticut, this is not about me. This is not about politics. This is about doing the right thing for all the families who are here that have been torn apart by gun violence. (Applause.)
It’s about them and all the families going forward, so we can prevent this from happening again. That’s what it’s about. It’s about the law enforcement officials putting their lives at risk. That’s what this is about. This is not about politics. (Applause.) This is not about politics.
This is about these families and families all across the country who are saying let’s make it a little harder for our kids to get gunned down.
When I said in my State of the Union address that these proposals deserve a vote — that families of Newtown, and Aurora, and Tucson, and a former member of Congress, Gabby Giffords, that they all deserved a vote -– virtually every member of that chamber stood up and applauded. And now they’re going to start denying your families a vote when the cameras are off and when the lobbyists have worked what they do? You deserve better than that. You deserve a vote.
Now, look, we knew from the beginning of this debate that change would not be easy. We knew that there would be powerful interests that are very good at confusing the subject, that are good at amplifying conflict and extremes, that are good at drowning out rational debate, good at ginning up irrational fears, all of which stands in the way of progress.
But if our history teaches us anything, then it’s up to us –- the people -– to stand up to those who say we can’t, or we won’t; stand up for the change that we need. And I believe that that’s what the American people are looking for.
When I first ran for this office, I said that I did not believe the country was as divided as our politics would suggest, and I still believe that. (Applause.) I know sometimes, when you watch cable news or talk radio, or you browse the Internet, you’d think, man, everybody just hates each other, everybody is just at each other’s throats. But that’s not how most Americans think about these issues. There are good people on both sides of every issue.
So if we’re going to move forward, we can’t just talk past one another. We’ve got to listen to one another. That’s what Governor Malloy and all these legislative leaders did. That’s why they were able to pass bipartisan legislation. (Applause.)
I’ve got stacks of letters from gun owners who want me to know that they care passionately about their right to bear arms, don’t want them infringed upon, and I appreciate every one of those letters. I’ve learned from them. But a lot of those letters, what they’ve also said is they’re not just gun owners; they’re also parents or police officers or veterans, and they agree that we can’t stand by and keep letting these tragedies happen; that with our rights come some responsibilities and obligations to our communities and ourselves, and most of all to our children. We can’t just think about “us” –- we’ve got to think about “we, the people.”
I was in Colorado. I told a story about Michelle. She came back from a trip to rural Iowa; we were out there campaigning. Sometimes it would be miles between farms, let alone towns. And she said, you know, coming back, I can understand why somebody would want a gun for protection. If somebody drove up into the driveway and, Barack, you weren’t home, the sheriff lived miles away, I might want that security. So she can understand what it might be like in terms of somebody wanting that kind of security.
On the other hand, I also talked to a hunter last week who said, all my experiences with guns have been positive, but I also realize that for others, all their experiences with guns have been negative.
And when he said that, I thought about the mom I met from suburban Chicago whose son was killed in a random shooting. And this mom told me, I hate it when people tell me that my son was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was on his way to school. He was exactly where he was supposed to be. He was in the right place at the right time, and he still got shot. (Applause.)
The kids at Sandy Hook were where they were supposed to be. So were those moviegoers in Aurora. So were those worshippers in Oak Creek. So was Gabby Giffords. She was at a supermarket, listening to the concerns of her constituents. (Applause.) They were exactly where they were supposed to be. They were also exercising their rights — to assemble peaceably; to worship freely and safely. They were exercising the rights of life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So surely, we can reconcile those two things. Surely, America doesn’t have to be divided between rural and urban, and Democrat and Republican when it comes to something like this.
If you’re an American who wants to do something to prevent more families from knowing the immeasurable anguish that these families here have known, then we have to act. Now is the time to get engaged. Now is the time to get involved. Now is the time to push back on fear, and frustration, and misinformation. Now is the time for everybody to make their voices heard from every state house to the corridors of Congress.
And I’m asking everyone listening today, find out where your member of Congress stands on this. If they’re not part of the 90 percent of Americans who agree on background checks, then ask them, why not? Why wouldn’t you want to make it easier for law enforcement to do their job? Why wouldn’t you want to make it harder for a dangerous person to get his or her hands on a gun? What’s more important to you: our children, or an A-grade from the gun lobby? (Applause.)
I’ve heard Nicole talk about what her life has been like since Dylan was taken from her in December. And one thing she said struck me. She said, “Every night, I beg for him to come to me in my dreams so that I can see him again. And during the day, I just focus on what I need to do to honor him and make change.” Now, if Nicole can summon the courage to do that, how can the rest of us do any less? (Applause.) How can we do any less?
If there is even one thing we can do to protect our kids, don’t we have an obligation to try? If there is even one step we can take to keep somebody from murdering dozens of innocents in the span of minutes, shouldn’t we be taking that step? (Applause.) If there is just one thing we can do to keep one father from having to bury his child, isn’t that worth fighting for?
I’ve got to tell you, I’ve had tough days in the presidency — I’ve said this before. The day Newtown happened was the toughest day of my presidency. But I’ve got to tell you, if we don’t respond to this, that will be a tough day for me, too. (Applause.) Because we’ve got to expect more from ourselves, and we’ve got to expect more from Congress. We’ve got to believe that every once in a while, we set politics aside and we just do what’s right. (Applause.) We’ve got to believe that.
And if you believe that, I’m asking you to stand up. (Applause.) If you believe in the right to bears arms, like I do, but think we should prevent an irresponsible few from inflicting harm — stand up. Stand up. (Applause.)
If you believe that the families of Newtown and Aurora and Tucson and Virginia Tech and the thousands of Americans who have been gunned down in the last four months deserve a vote, we all have to stand up. (Applause.)
If you want the people you send to Washington to have just an iota of the courage that the educators at Sandy Hook showed when danger arrived on their doorstep, then we’re all going to have to stand up.
And if we do, if we come together and raise our voices together and demand this change together, I’m convinced cooperation and common sense will prevail. We will find sensible, intelligent ways to make this country stronger and safer for our children. (Applause.)
So let’s do the right thing. Let’s do right by our kids. Let’s do right by these families. Let’s get this done. Connecticut, thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
END 6:13 P.M. EDT
(UPDATED) Barack H. Obama, Sworn in as 44th President of the United States, Addresses the Nation (VIDEO; Transcript)
INAUGURAL ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
United States Capitol
11:55 A.M. EST
- THE PRESIDENT: Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice,
members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Each time we gather to inaugurate a President we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. (Applause.) The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.
And for more than two hundred years, we have.
Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.
Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers.
Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.
Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.
Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character.
But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people. (Applause.)
This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. (Applause.) An economic recovery has begun. (Applause.) America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together. (Applause.)
For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. (Applause.) We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own. (Applause.)
We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. So we must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. (Applause.) For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.
We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. (Applause.) They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great. (Applause.)
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. (Applause.) Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.
The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow-capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. (Applause.) Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. (Applause.) Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war; who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends — and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.
We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully –- not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. (Applause.)
America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice –- not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice.
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth. (Applause.)
It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law –- (applause) — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity — (applause) — until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.
That is our generation’s task — to make these words, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time. (Applause.)
For now decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. (Applause.) We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years and 40 years and 400 years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.
My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction. And we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.
They are the words of citizens and they represent our greatest hope. You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course. You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time — not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals. (Applause.)
Let us, each of us, now embrace with solemn duty and awesome joy what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.
Thank you. God bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America. (Applause.)
END 12:10 P.M. ESTRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
On Tuesday, America went to the polls. And the message you sent was clear: you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours.
That’s why I’ve invited leaders of both parties to the White House next week, so we can start to build consensus around challenges we can only solve together. I also intend to bring in business, labor and civic leaders from outside Washington to get their ideas and input as well.
At a time when our economy is still recovering from the Great Recession, our top priority has to be jobs and growth. That’s the focus of the plan I talked about during the campaign. It’s a plan to reward businesses that create jobs here in America, and give people access to the education and training that those businesses are looking for. It’s a plan to rebuild our infrastructure and keep us on the cutting edge of innovation and clean energy. And it’s a plan to reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way.
This is even more important because at the end of this year, we face a series of deadlines that require us to make major decisions about how to pay down our deficit – decisions that will have a huge impact on the economy and the middle class, now and in the future.
Last year, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars’ worth of spending, and I intend to work with both parties to do more. But as I said over and over again on the campaign trail, we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. If we’re serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue – and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes. That’s how we did it when Bill Clinton was President. And that’s the only way we can afford to invest in education and job training and manufacturing – all the ingredients of a strong middle class and a strong economy.
Already, I’ve put forward a detailed plan that allows us to make these investments while reducing our deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. Now, I’m open to compromise and new ideas. But I refuse to accept any approach that isn’t balanced. I will not ask students or seniors or middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people making over $250,000 aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes. This was a central question in the election. And on Tuesday, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach – that includes Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.
Now we need a majority in Congress to listen – and they should start by making sure taxes don’t go up on the 98% of Americans making under $250,000 a year starting January 1. This is something we all agree on. Even as we negotiate a broader deficit reduction package, Congress should extend middle-class tax cuts right now. It’s a step that would give millions of families and 97% of small businesses the peace of mind that will lead to new jobs and faster growth. There’s no reason to wait.
We know there will be differences and disagreements in the months to come. That’s part of what makes our political system work. But on Tuesday, you said loud and clear that you won’t tolerate dysfunction, or politicians who see compromise as a dirty word. Not when so many of your families are still struggling.
Instead, you want cooperation. You want action. That’s what I plan to deliver in my second term, and I expect to find leaders from both parties willing to join me.
Thanks, and have a great weekend.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
World Leaders React to President Obama’s Re-Election; Photo and List of Calls Released by White House
Via White House Press Office:
Readout of the President’s Phone Calls with World Leaders
Since Tuesday evening, the President has been receiving messages from his counterparts around the world congratulating him on winning re-election to a second term in office. The President appreciates all of these messages and looks forward to continuing to work with all of his fellow leaders to address the serious challenges we face together in the world.
This morning the President was able to return some of these messages personally, by phone. In each call, he thanked his counterpart for their friendship and partnership thus far and expressed his desire to continue close cooperation moving ahead.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia
President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil
Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada
President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia
President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt
President Francois Hollande of France
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
King Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey
Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom
Newly released clip from the Obama For America campaign. Watch this.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
THE PRESIDENT: Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward. (Applause.)
It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression; the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope — the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family, and we rise or fall together, as one nation, and as one people. (Applause.)
Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come. (Applause.)
I want to thank every American who participated in this election. (Applause.) Whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time — (applause) — by the way, we have to fix that. (Applause.) Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone — (applause) — whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard, and you made a difference. (Applause.)
I just spoke with Governor Romney, and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign. (Applause.) We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply, and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service, and that is a legacy that we honor and applaud tonight. (Applause.)
In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward. (Applause.)
I want to thank my friend and partner of the last four years, America’s happy warrior — (applause) — the best Vice President anybody could ever hope for — Joe Biden. (Applause.)
And I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago. (Applause.) Let me say this publicly — Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation’s First Lady. (Applause.) Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes, you’re growing up to become two strong, smart, beautiful young women, just like your mom. (Applause.) And I’m so proud of you guys. But I will say that for now, one dog is probably enough. (Laughter.)
To the best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics — (applause) — the best. The best ever. (Applause.) Some of you were new this time around, and some of you have been at my side since the very beginning. But all of you are family. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together, and you will have the lifelong appreciation of a grateful President. Thank you for believing all the way, through every hill, through every valley. (Applause.) You lifted me up the whole way. And I will always be grateful for everything that you’ve done and all the incredible work that you put in. (Applause.)
I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics who tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos, or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies, and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym, or saw folks working late at a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you’ll discover something else.
You’ll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organizer who’s worked his way through college, and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity. (Applause.) You’ll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who’s going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift. (Applause.) You’ll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse who’s working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job, or a roof over their head when they come home. (Applause.)
That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small; it’s big. It’s important.
Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won’t change after tonight — and it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty, and we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today. (Applause.)
But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America’s future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers — (applause) — a country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow.
We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt; that isn’t weakened by inequality; that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. (Applause.)
We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world; a nation that is defended by the strongest military on Earth and the best troops this world has ever known — (applause) — but also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being.
We believe in a generous America; in a compassionate America; in a tolerant America, open to the dreams of an immigrant’s daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag. (Applause.) To the young boy on the South Side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner. (Applause.) To the furniture worker’s child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a President. That’s the future we hope for. That’s the vision we share. That’s where we need to go. Forward. (Applause.) That’s where we need to go.
Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It’s not always a straight line. It’s not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock, or solve all our problems, or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus, and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin.
Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over. (Applause.) And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you. And you’ve made me a better President. With your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do, and the future that lies ahead. (Applause.)
Tonight, you voted for action, not politics as usual. (Applause.) You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together: reducing our deficit; reforming our tax code; fixing our immigration system; freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do. (Applause.)
But that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America has never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. (Applause.) That’s the principle we were founded on.
This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our university, culture are the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on Earth — the belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations; that the freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for comes with responsibilities as well as rights, and among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great. (Applause.)
I am hopeful tonight because I have seen this spirit at work in America. I’ve seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbors, and in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job.
I’ve seen it in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb, and in those SEALs who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them, watching their back. (Applause.)
I’ve seen it on the shores of New Jersey and New York, where leaders from every party and level of government have swept aside their differences to help a community rebuild from the wreckage of a terrible storm. (Applause.)
And I saw it just the other day in Mentor, Ohio, where a father told the story of his eight-year-old daughter, whose long battle with leukemia nearly cost their family everything, had it not been for health care reform passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop paying for her care. (Applause.) I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father, but meet this incredible daughter of his. And when he spoke to the crowd, listening to that father’s story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes, because we knew that little girl could be our own. And I know that every American wants her future to be just as bright.
That’s who we are. That’s the country I’m so proud to lead as your President. (Applause.) And tonight, despite all the hardship we’ve been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I’ve never been more hopeful about our future. (Applause.) I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope.
I’m not talking about blind optimism — the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I’m not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us, so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting. (Applause.)
America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made, and continue to fight for new jobs, and new opportunity, and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founding — the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or where you love — it doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white, or Hispanic or Asian, or Native American, or young or old, or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight — you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try. (Applause.)
I believe we can seize this future together — because we are not as divided as our politics suggest; we’re not as cynical as the pundits believe; we are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions; and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America. (Applause.) And together, with your help, and God’s grace, we will continue our journey forward, and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)
Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States. (Applause.)
12:58 A.M. CSTRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
This video was created by the President’s re-election team from footage gathered over a 48 hour period of intensive campaign stops across the country last week. It should be noted that these trips were all scheduled and completed prior to Hurricane Sandy making landfall, which prompted President Obama to immediately suspend his campaign. He is in New Jersey today with Governor Chris Christie, surveying the damage first-hand, and will resume the campaign trail later this week.
The accompanying descriptive of the clip:
- Gotta vote? Go here: http://OFA.BO/Tm1aUv
What’s it like to travel non-stop across the country with the President of the United States? Watch this video to find out then share it with your friends:
President Obama went on a two-day, non-stop “America Forward!” tour with grassroots events in Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, Florida, Virginia and Ohio. The President talked about the critical choice in this election — moving America forward toward an economy built to last with a strong middle class versus going back to the same policies that crashed our economy in the first place.
This past Saturday, President Obama took one last trip to New Hampshire. I went down to Manchester and got some footage myself; photos are all available here. Here are a few of my clips.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Since then, we’ve fought our way back. Our businesses have added more than 5 million new jobs. The unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest level since I took office. Home values are rising again. And our assembly lines are humming once more.
And to make sure America never goes through a crisis like that again, we passed tough new Wall Street reform to end taxpayer-funded bailouts for good.
Wall Street reform also created the first-ever independent consumer watchdog, whose sole job is to look out for you.
That means making sure you’ve got all the information you need to make important financial decisions like buying a home or paying for college. And it means going after anyone who tries to take advantage of you, or rip you off.
Starting this month, that includes the folks who come up with your credit score.
If you haven’t checked out your credit score recently, you should. It can have a major impact on your life. It can determine whether or not you qualify for a loan or what kind of interest you have to pay. It can even affect your chances at renting an apartment or getting a job.
But here’s the thing: the companies that put your credit score together can make mistakes. They may think you had a loan or a credit card that was never yours. They may think you were late making payments when you were on time. And when they mess up, you’re the one who suffers.
Until this week, if you had a complaint, you took it to the company. Sometimes they listened. Sometimes they didn’t. But that was pretty much it. They were your only real hope.
Not anymore. If you have a complaint about your credit score that hasn’t been properly addressed, you can go to consumerfinance.gov/complaint and let the consumer watchdog know.
Not only will they bring your complaint directly to the company in question, they’ll give you a tracking number, so you can check back and see exactly what’s being done on your behalf.
And fixing your credit score isn’t the only thing they can help with.
If you’re opening a bank account, trying to get a student loan, or applying for a credit card and something doesn’t seem right, you can let them know and they’ll check it out.
If you’re looking to buy a home, and you want to know if you’re getting a fair deal on your mortgage, you can give them a call and they’ll get you an answer.
Their only mission is to fight for you. And when needed, they’ll take action.
For example, alongside other regulators, they recently ordered three big credit card companies to return more than $400 million to folks who were deceived or misled into buying things they didn’t want or didn’t understand.
That’s what Wall Street reform is all about – looking out for working families and making sure that everyone is playing by the same rules.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t been enough to stop Republicans in Congress from fighting these reforms. Backed by an army of financial industry lobbyists, they’ve been waging an all-out battle to delay, defund and dismantle these new rules.
I refuse to let that happen.
I believe that the free market is one of the greatest forces for progress in human history, and that the true engine of job creation in this country is the private sector, not the government.
But I also believe that the free market has never been about taking whatever you want, however you can get it. Alongside our innovative spirit, America only prospers when we meet certain obligations to one another, and when we all play by the same set of rules.
We’ve come too far – and sacrificed too much – to go back to an era of top-down, on-your-own economics. And as long as I’m President, we’re going to keep moving this country forward so that everyone – whether you start a business or punch a clock – can have confidence that if you work hard, you can get ahead.
Thanks and have a great weekend.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
« Previous Entries