“Four years ago, we went through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Millions of jobs were lost, the auto industry was on the brink of collapse. The financial system had frozen up. And because of the resilience and the determination of the American people, we've begun to fight our way back. Over the last 30 months, we've seen 5 million jobs in the private sector created. The auto industry has come roaring back. And housing has begun to rise. But we all know that we've still got a lot of work to do. And so the question here tonight is not where we've been, but where we're going.”
—President Barack Obama
Tonight, for the first time in this election, President Obama and Mitt Romney stood on the same stage, and the American people saw the clear choice between the two candidates. President Obama outlined his concrete plans to move America forward in the next four years, while Mitt Romney was on the defensive, unable to explain the math behind his $5 trillion tax cut favoring the wealthy or back up his claims with facts or specifics.
In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights and specifics the President outlined.
On restoring economic security for the middle class:
“Four years ago when I stood on this stage, I said that I would cut taxes for middle-class families. And that’s exactly what I did—we cut taxes for middle-class families by about $3,600. And the reason is because I believe that we do best when the middle class is doing well. And by giving them those tax cuts, they had a little more money in their pocket, so maybe they can buy a new car. They are certainly in a better position to weather the extraordinary recession that we went through. They can buy a computer for their kid who’s going off to college, which means they’re spending more money, businesses have more customers, businesses make more profits and then hire more workers.”
On Governor Romney’s plan to return to the top-down economics that got us into trouble in the first place:
“The approach that Governor Romney’s talking about is the same sales pitch that was made in 2001 and 2003. And we ended up with the slowest job growth in 50 years, we ended up moving from surplus to deficits, and it all culminated in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Bill Clinton tried the approach that I’m talking about. We created 23 million new jobs, we went from deficit to surplus, and businesses did very well. So in some ways, we’ve got some data on which approach is more likely to create jobs and opportunity for Americans, and I believe that the economy works best when middle-class families are getting tax breaks, so that they’ve got some money in their pockets, and those of us who have done extraordinarily well because of this magnificent country that we live in, that we can afford to do a little bit more to make sure that we’re not blowing up the deficit.”
On Obamacare, the President pointed out that Romney has provided no details about what he’d replace Obamacare with if he repealed it.
“He now says he’s going to replace Obamacare and assure that all the good things that are in it are going to be in there and you don’t have to worry. And at some point, I think the American people have to ask themselves, is the reason that Governor Romney is keeping all these plans to replace secret because they’re too good? Is it because that somehow middle-class families are going to benefit too much from them?”
When asked how each candidate would deal with partisan gridlock, Romney promised to sit down with Democrats on his first day. President Obama responded:
“I think Governor Romney is going to have to have a busy first day because he’s also going to repeal Obamacare, which will not be very popular among Democrats as you’re sitting down with them … My philosophy has been, I will take ideas from anybody, Democrat or Republican, as long as they’re advancing the cause of making middle-class families stronger and giving ladders of opportunity to the middle class.”
And in his closing statement, President Obama spoke directly to the American people and asked for their vote:
“Everything that I’ve tried to do, and everything that I’m now proposing for the next four years in terms of improving our education system or developing American energy or making sure that we’re closing loopholes for companies that are shipping jobs overseas and focusing on small businesses, companies that are creating jobs here in the United States, or closing our deficit in a responsible, balanced way that allows us to invest in our future—all those things are designed to make sure that the American people, their genius, their grit, their determination, is channeled and they have an opportunity to succeed. And everybody’s getting a fair shot and everybody’s doing a fair share, and everybody’s playing by the same rules.
“Four years ago I said that I’m not a perfect man and I wouldn’t be a perfect president, and that’s probably a promise that Governor Romney thinks I’ve kept. But I also promised that I’d fight every single day on behalf of the American people, the middle class, and all of those who are striving to get into the middle class. I have kept that promise. And if you vote for me, I promise I will fight just as hard in a second term.”
The debate doesn’t stop here—keep the conversation going on Twitter with the hashtag #TeamObama, get ready for the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan next week, and join the millions of Americans fighting to re-elect President Obama on November 6th.