Obama Delivers Remarks in Kansas City, Mo.

CQ Transcripts Wire
Tuesday, August 26, 2008; 9:13 PM

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-Ill.): Thank you. Thank you, everybody.


Thank you. Thank you. Please, everybody, have a seat. Relax.

I'm going to take off my jacket, get a little less formal here.

Thank you so much.

A couple of people I want to acknowledge. First of all, can everybody please give Ron a big round of applause for the outstanding introduction. Thank you so much. Thank you.


You wouldn't know it from looking at us, but Ron and I have a couple of things in common. First of all, my grandmother worked on a bomber assembly line in World War II. She was an inspector. And so, when I hear Ron's stories about his family working in the industry, I can relate to that.

More importantly, we both have two daughters. And Ron was bragging about them, as fathers are supposed to do with their daughters. And he's got a daughter who is a singer-songwriter in Nashville, and had a number one hit with the Wreckers. Is that right?

So, I'm going to have to pick up that CD. I recommend all of you go out and buy it.


He's got a daughter who's studying journalism at Mizzou. So, he is a great father, as well as a great co-worker. And we appreciate him.


I want to thank Reverend Jim Gordon for the invocation and pledge. I want to thank Gordon Clark, president of Transport Workers Union. They were just great supporters of mine in the primary, and I'm so thankful to all of you...


... for standing up with me.


And I want to acknowledge somebody who's very special to this facility, as well as to this city. When she was mayor, she helped to negotiate the agreement with American Airlines, that ensured that this facility stayed open. She has always been looking out for working families all throughout Kansas City.

She is no longer the mayor, but she's soon going to be the congresswoman from the 6th Congressional District -- Kay Barnes.


Give Kay a big round of applause.


So, first of all, what did you all think about my wife last night?


She was good. Wasn't she good?


Puts a little pressure on me.


But I've always said, I am not the star of the Obama family. I rank fourth after Malia, Sasha and Michelle.

But I could not have been more proud of her. And as I said on television last night, she also looked cute.


Which doesn't hurt.


It does not hurt.

And Michelle and I have been on this journey for almost 19 months now. And that's a long time. That means there are babies that have been born, and are now walking and talking since I started this campaign.

And so, people have asked me, well, what have you learned about America in traveling these last 19 months?

And I say, well, number one, America is big.

When you travel to all 48 states in the continental United States, and then, you know, you're crisscrossing -- East Coast, West Coast, North, South -- you realize what a magnificent country this is. From sea to shining sea, we've got spectacular mountains and spectacular oceans, and deserts and -- it's just an amazing land that we have. It's a true blessing from God.

The second thing that you learn is how wonderful the American people are. I mean, you know, any politician is going to say that. But I have special credentials, because I have talked to people from every walk of life, all across America.

And what you realize is the American people are decent. They are generous. They are hard-working. They are sacrificing for their families. They are contributing to their communities.

They are self-reliant. They take pride in their work. It just -- it makes you optimistic when you meet the American people.

And we have a set of common values as Americans. Regardless of race or age or station in life, everybody believes in some core things -- in liberty, in opportunity and community and responsibility, in hard work and honesty.

So, it makes you feel encouraged meeting the American people.

The third thing, though -- and that's part of what I want to talk about briefly, before we turn to questions -- the third thing you learn from traveling across the country is that people are anxious.

People are scared about the future. And you know something about this in this facility.

We had a meeting before we came in here with some of the officials from the airlines, as well as the union. And American Airlines is the only U.S. carrier that still does its maintenance work right here in the United States. And this is...


You know, they have forged a cooperative effort with labor to keep this facility open, and to try to make sure that the good-paying union jobs, with benefits, are still here for the future.

But the fact is, is that the airlines are getting clobbered. They're having a tough time, because of rising fuel rises, because of the same things that are creating a tough time for individual families who are trying to fill up their gas tank or buy groceries.

The truth is that this economy is not working for ordinary Americans. And we just had some statistics today that were issued, that show you what's been going on. Now, I just want to read a couple of these to you.

Since 2000, since George Bush took office, the average, typical family income has gone down $2,000. Typical family income has gone down $2,000. When Bill Clinton was president, the typical family income went up $6,200.

Up under Democrats, down under this administration.


Eight hundred and sixteen thousand new people fell into poverty in 2007, including 500,000 more children.

Under this president, more than seven million people are newly uninsured, don't have health benefits.

And those are the statistics. Those are the facts. And that's before you start realizing that we have more home foreclosures than at any time since the Great Depression.

Housing prices have gone down 15 percent, so that even if you didn't lose your home, you're seeing your wealth, your equity that you've built up, diminished under this president, partly because nobody was minding the store when the financial institutions were giving out predatory loans and teaser interest rates that shot up, and people couldn't afford to pay.

I don't have to tell you about gas prices. If you work here at this facility, you know what the rising cost of oil has done, and the fact that we still do not have an energy policy in this country.

And for the individual family, not only does that mean that you can't fill up the gas tank, it means everything's gone up. You go shop in the grocery store, eggs are up 20 percent, bread is up 30 percent.

Home heating oil, when winter comes, is going to be sky-high. And if you're on a fixed income, if you're a senior citizen, how do you make that up?

Not only have people lost health insurance, but if you've got health insurance, what's happened? Your premiums and your co-payments and deductibles have gone up and up and up. And that's not just affecting workers, it's affecting businesses as well, because they're less competitive now than they used to be.

And meanwhile, we keep on seeing more and more American jobs being shipped overseas.

That's the record of the last eight years.

So, you'd think that both parties would be scrambling to try to figure out how do we move in a new direction.

But that's not what John McCain's doing.

He said that this economy under George Bush had made great progress economically. That's what he said. That's a quote.

One of his top economic advisers said that the economy is doing fine. It's -- the American people are in a mental recession, he said.

And he said that Americans had become a nation of whiners, had to stop whining.

This is a guy who's got the inside track to be secretary of the Treasury.

Then, John McCain just last week said that the fundamentals of the economy were sound.

The fundamentals of the economy were sound.

And this is when we also heard that John McCain's definition of middle class is anybody making under $5 million a year. So, if you're making $4 million, you know, you're struggling.

(LAUGHTER) And this, of course, is before we found out that John McCain didn't know how many houses he had.


You know, if you don't know how many houses you have, then no wonder you think we've made great progress economically.


No wonder you think that the economy is sound.

I don't think John McCain says these things because he's a bad person. I just don't think he gets it. He is out of touch.

I don't think he realizes what ordinary American families are going through.


I don't think the Bush administration understands what ordinary Americans are going through.


But I do, and that's why I'm running for president of the United States of America...


... to move this country in a new direction.


Now, it's not going to be easy to dig ourselves out of the hole we're in. And one of the things I try to do is not make promises that I can't keep.

But I am absolutely convinced that, if we start getting some leadership in the White House, that we can begin the process of restoring the American Dream to families here in Kansas City, here in Missouri, and all across America. I am convinced of that.


So, here's what we're going to do. Here's what we're going to do.

We're going to change our tax code. We're going to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, and give them to companies that invest right here in the United States of America.


We're going to make sure that we close tax loopholes and tax havens going to corporations that are making billions of dollars, like ExxonMobil, and we're going to give a tax break to 95 percent of American families.

The average family sitting here would get an additional $1,000 a year in tax relief that they could spend on saving for their kids' college education...


... or buying groceries, or buying the new coat, or buying a computer for the child who is about to go to school.

Now, this is a very different deal than you're going to be getting under John McCain. John McCain proposes $300 billion in tax cuts, including making -- in addition to renewing the Bush tax cuts, he wants to give $300 billion in new tax cuts to companies and the wealthy that don't need it.

He leaves 100 million people out of tax relief. So, when you see those commercials saying Barack Obama is going to raise your taxes, just look at the independent analysts who say that middle class families would get three times the amount of tax relief under Barack Obama's tax plan than with John McCain.


But we're not going to stop there. We're not going to stop there. We're going to finally have an energy policy that's worth of American innovation.


I saw some signs on the way in here, some McCain people were standing outside. They said, "Drill Here, Drill Now."

Listen. I don't know if there are any oilfields right out there.


But, I think we need to increase domestic production. There are untapped oil reserves here in the United States, we should tap them.

But here's the truth. Some of you have seen this ad from T. Boone Pickens. You know, he and I don't agree on a lot of things, but we agree on one thing. If you've got three percent of the world's oil reserves and you use 25 percent of the world's oil, then you can't drill your way out of the problem.

So, we want to do everything. But the main way that we are going to solve this energy crisis -- and that is the main thing that is going to keep this airplane flying, and keep these jobs right here in the United States -- is if we start developing a whole series of plans to create a clean energy future.

It means that we are investing in solar and wind...


... and tapping nuclear energy and natural gas.


It means that we're making our cars more fuel efficient. If we increased our fuel efficiency on cars, that's 30 percent of oil is used in the transportation sector.

If we just made our trucking fleets more efficient, that could save enormous amounts. That drives down world oil prices and puts this airplane back in the air.

And that's why I've consistently supported higher fuel efficiency standards on cars, and tax credits for industries that are developing solar and wind and biodiesel.

And that's why I have said that we are going to put $15 billion a year, every single year, in developing these new alternative energies.

We're going to have an Apollo project. Just like Kennedy said we're going to go to the moon in 10 years, we are going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil in 10 years' time, so that we don't have to import oil from the Middle East.


That is the kind of goal that America needs right now. That's what I'm going to do when I'm president of the United States of America.


I want to make sure that our trade agreements are fair.

I believe in competition.


I believe that the U.S. worker is the best worker on earth. There's no country that can compete with us on an even playing field.

But I don't want a situation where we only send 4,000 cars into South Korea, while they're sending hundreds of thousands of cars here into the United States of America.


We want to make sure that there are no barriers to us being able to sell American products and American goods into the United States of America.

I want to have a health care system that works for all Americans.

Look, if you've got health care through your employer, keep it. I'm going to work with your employer to lower your premiums by $2,000, $2,500 a year.

If you don't have health insurance...


... if you're one of those millions of people who have lost health insurance since George Bush went into office, you're going to be able to buy a health insurance plan similar to the plan I have as a member of Congress.

And if you can't afford it, we're going to subsidize you, because we want to make sure that everybody's getting regular check-ups and regular screenings.

If we put more money into prevention, the whole system saves money. Employers save money. Workers save money.


The American people are healthier. That's common sense that we need in the White House. And that's what I'm going to do when I'm president of the United States.


I want to make our education system work for every child. Invest in early childhood education. Pay our teachers more.

Make sure that college is affordable for every young person who wants to go, by giving them -- saying to them -- if you provide community service or national service, we will guarantee that you can go to college, that you can afford it. We will provide the money that you need.


Because we want the next generation of engineers that are building jet planes, we want them to be building them here. And that means our kids are going to have to learn math and science.

And I want to make sure that we're reinvesting in our infrastructure here in America -- our roads, our bridges, broadband lines, a new electricity grid, sewer systems, levees.

Look, with all the people that have been laid off from construction industries, imagine if we put people back to work right now...



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