President Obama's remarks from Ft. Myers, Florida
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I promised you back then that if elected President, I would do everything I could to help our communities recover. That’s why I’ve come back today – to tell you how I intend to keep that promise.Skip to next paragraph
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The situation we face could not be more serious. We have inherited an economic crisis as deep and as dire as any since the Great Depression. Economists from across the spectrum have warned that if we don’t act immediately, millions more jobs will disappear, and national unemployment rates will approach double digits. More people will lose their homes and their health care. And our nation will sink into a crisis that, at some point, will be much tougher to reverse.
So we simply can’t afford to wait and see and hope for the best. We can’t afford to posture and bicker and resort to the same failed ideas that got us into this mess in the first place. After all, that’s what this election was about. You rejected those ideas because you know they haven’t worked. You didn’t send us to Washington because you were hoping for more of the same, you sent us there to change things, and that is exactly what I intend to do as President of the United States.
Now, the problems that led us into this crisis are deep, and they are widespread. We need to stabilize and repair our financial system. We need to get credit flowing again to families and businesses. We need to stem the spread of foreclosures that are sweeping this country. My Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, outlined a plan to address these challenges this morning.
We know that in order to address our economic crisis, we must address our foreclosure crisis. I know Fort Myers had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation last year. I know entire neighborhoods are studded with foreclosure signs, and families across this city feel like they’re losing their foothold in the American Dream. So we are going to do everything we can to help responsible homeowners here in Fort Myers and other hard-hit communities stay in their homes.
If we want to fully turn this crisis around, the starting point is to get people back to work right now.
Last week, we saw 1,000 men and women stand in line for only 35 Miami firefighter jobs. It’s a story repeated across the country – there’s so much demand for jobs that just aren’t there. That is both the paradox and the promise of this moment: at a time when so many Americans are looking for work, there is so much work America needs done.
That is why I put forth a recovery and reinvestment plan, and that is the simple idea at its core. It’s a plan that will save or create up to four million jobs over the next two years, ignite spending by business and consumers alike, and make the investments necessary for lasting economic growth and prosperity.
We’ll begin by ensuring that Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own can receive greater unemployment benefits and continue their health care coverage. That means an additional $100 per month to more than 760,000 Florida workers who have lost their jobs in this recession, and extended unemployment benefits for another 170,000 folks who’ve been laid off and can’t find work.
That is not only our moral responsibility – to lend a helping hand to our fellow Americans in times of emergency – but it also makes good economic sense. If you don’t have money, you can’t spend it. And if you don’t spend it, our economy will continue to decline.