Obama remarks on small businesses and health insurance reform

Courtesy of the White House
Thursday, October 29, 2009; 4:40 PM

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody. Please, have a seat. Before I begin, I want to just acknowledge two people who are working extraordinarily hard on behalf of small businesses. First of all, the administrator of our Small Business Administration, Karen Mills, is here. (Applause.)

The other individual who is on his way and will be here in a hot second but we didn't want to keep everybody waiting is a dear friend of mine, a great former governor of Virginia, is now the senator from the great state of Virginia, and a huge supporter of small business and trying to figure out how to help all of you control your costs, and that's Senator Mark Warner. So when he comes in, please give him a smile. (Applause.)

I asked you here today to talk about health insurance reform and why it's so critical to the success of small businesses across our country. But before I do, let me talk a minute just briefly about the new economic numbers that were released this morning.

I am gratified that our economy grew in the third quarter of this year. We've come a long way since the first three months of 2009, when our economy shrunk by an alarming 6.4 percent. In fact, the 3.5 percent growth in the third quarter is the largest three-month gain we have seen in two years. This is obviously welcome news and an affirmation that this recession is abating and the steps we've taken have made a difference.

But I also know that we got a long way to go to fully restore our economy and recover from what's been the longest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression. And while this report today represents real progress, the benchmark I use to measure the strength of our economy is not just whether our GDP is growing, but whether we're creating jobs, whether families are having an easier time paying their bills, whether our businesses are hiring and doing well. And that's what I'm here to talk with you about today.

I know many of you have come from different corners of our country to be here, and looking out at all of you I'm reminded of the extraordinary diversity of America's small businesses. You're owners of coffee shops, and diners, and hotels. You're florists, exterminators, builders. Each of your shops and firms reflects different passions, and different ideas, and different skills.

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