“Today, on my 100th day in office, I’ve come back to report to you, the American people, that we have begun to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, and we’ve begun the work of remaking America,” President Obama said today at an Arnold, Missouri, Town Hall, which is still ongoing. His full introductory remarks after the jump.
The last time I was in Missouri was just under six months ago at a high school a lot like this one. We were in Springfield. It was two days before the election, and I was making my final case to the American people. And it was just an unbelievable crowd, bigger than anything anybody had expected.
And so we’re here in Missouri to — we were here in Missouri at the end of a long journey to the White House, and so now I want to come back and speak to you at the beginning of another long journey.
Today marks 100 days since I took the oath of office to be your president…
… 100 days. That’s a good thing.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Now, back — back in November, some folks were surprised that we showed up in Springfield at the end of our campaign. But, then again, some folks were surprised that we even started our campaign in the first place.
They didn’t give us much of a chance; they didn’t think we could do things differently; they didn’t know if this country was ready to move in a new direction.
OBAMA: But here’s the thing: My campaign wasn’t born in Washington. My campaign was rooted in neighborhoods just like this one, in towns and cities all across America, rooted in folks who work hard and look after their families and seek a brighter children — future for their children and for their communities and for their country.
It was driven by workers who were tired of seeing their jobs shipped overseas, their health care costs go up…
… their dreams slip out of reach. It was grounded in a sense of unity and common purpose with every single American, whether they voted for me on Election Day or voted for somebody else. It was energized by every citizen who believed that the size of our challenges had outgrown the smallness of our politics.
My campaign was possible because the American people wanted change. I ran for president because I wanted to carry those voices, your voices, with me to Washington.
So I just want everybody to understand you’re who I’m working for every single day in the White House. I’ve heard your stories. I know you sent me to Washington because you believed in the promise of a better day. And I don’t want to let you down.
You believed that after an era of selfishness and greed that we could reclaim a sense of responsibility on Wall Street and in Washington as well as on Main Street. You believed that instead of huge inequalities and an economy that’s built on a bubble we could restore a sense of fairness to our economy and build a new foundation for lasting growth and prosperity.
You believed that a time of war we could stand strong against our enemies and stand firmly for our ideals and show a new face of American leadership to the world. That’s the change you believed in. That’s the trust you placed in me. It’s something I will never forget, the fact that you made this possible.
So, today, on my 100th day in office, I’ve come back to report to you, the American people, that we have begun to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, and we’ve begun the work of remaking America.
We’re working to remake America.
Now, we’ve got a lot of work to do because on our first day in office, we found challenges of unprecedented size and scope. Our economy was in the midst of the most serious downturn since the Great Depression. Banks had stopped lending. The housing market was crippled. The deficit was at $1.3 trillion. And meanwhile, families continued to struggle with health care costs, too many of our kids couldn’t get the education they needed. The nation remains trapped by our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.
Now, these challenges could not be met with half measures. They couldn’t be met with the same, old formulas. They couldn’t be confronted in isolation. They demanded action that was bold and sustained. They demand action that is bold and sustained. They call on us to clear away the wreckage of a painful recession but also, at the same time, lay the building blocks for a new prosperity. And that’s the work that we’ve begun over these first 100 days.
To jumpstart job creation, get our economy moving again, we passed the most ambitious economic recovery plan in our nation’s history. And already, we’re beginning to see this change take hold.
In Jefferson City, over 2500 jobs will be created on Missouri’s largest wind farm so that American workers are harnessing clean, American energy.
Across the state, roughly 20,000 transportation jobs will be supported by the Recovery Act so that Missourians rebuilding your roads, your bridges, your rails. To restore fairness to our economy, we’ve taken several steps with Congress to strengthen the middle class. We cut taxes for 95 percent of American households through a tax cut that will put $120 billion directly into your pockets.
We finally assigned a law long overdue that will protect equal pay for equal work for American women.
We extended health care to million of children across this country.
OBAMA: We launched — we launched a housing plan that’s already contributed to a spike in the number of homeowners who are refinancing their mortgages, which is the equivalent of another tax cut for them.
And if you haven’t refinanced, you might want to take a look and see if it’s possible, because that can save people a lot of money.
We’ve taken steps to unfreeze the market for auto loans, and student loans, and small-business loans. And we’re acting with the full force of the federal government to ensure that our banks have the capital and the confidence to lend money to the families and business owners who keep this economy running.
Now, even as we cleared away the wreckage, I’ve also said that we can’t go back to an economy that’s built on a pile of sand, on inflated home prices and maxed out — maxed out credit cards, on overleveraged banks and outdated regulations that allow the recklessness of just a few people to threaten the prosperity of all of us.
That’s why I introduced a budget and other measures that build on the recovery act to lay a new foundation for growth, a foundation that’s built on five pillars that will strengthen our economy and help us compete in the 21st century.
Number one, new investments in education that will equip our workers with the right skills and training. Number two, new investments in renewable energy that will create millions of jobs and new industries.
Number three, new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses. Number four, new savings that will bring down our deficit. And, number five, new rules for Wall Street that reward drive and innovation.
Now, I’ve got to say that — that some of the people in Washington have been surprised. They said, “Boy, he’s so ambitious. He’s been trying to do so much.”
Now, maybe they’re not accustomed to this, but there’s no mystery to what we’ve done. The priorities that we’ve acted upon were the things that we said we’d do during the campaign.
I mean, it’s not — it’s not like anybody should be surprised. The policies we proposed were plans we talking about for two years, in places like this all across the country with ordinary Americans. The changes that we’ve made are the changes we promised. That’s what you should expect from a president.
You may not always agree with me, but if you take a look at what I said I was going to do when I was running for office and you now look at what we are in the middle of doing, we’re doing what we said we’d do. So…
Now — now, after 100 days, I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made, but I’m not satisfied. I’m confident in the future, but I’m not content with the present, not when there are workers who are still out of — out of jobs, families who still can’t pay their bills, not when there are too many Americans who can’t afford their health care, so many of our children being left behind, our nation’s not leading the world in developing 21st-century energy.
I’m not satisfied, and I know you aren’t either.
The crisis that we’re confronting was many years in the making. It will take us time to overcome it. We’ve come a long way. We can see the light on the horizon, but we’ve got a much longer journey ahead.
And one of the encouraging things for me is the fact that the American people know this. You know that our progress has to be measured in the results that we achieve over many months and years, not the minute-by-minute talk in the media.
And you know that progress comes from hard choices and hard work, not miracles. I’m not a miracle worker. We’ve got a lot of tough choices, and hard decisions, and hard work ahead of us.
The 100th day might be a good time to reflect on where we are, but it’s more important to where we’re going that — that we focus on the future, because we can’t rest until our economy is growing and we’ve built that new foundation for our prosperity.
We can’t rest until we reform those outdated rules and regulations that allowed this crisis to happen in the first place. And that’s why I’ve called for tough, new, common-sense rules of the road that punish abuse and reward drive and innovation in the financial sector.
OBAMA: I expect a bill to arrive on my desk for signature before this year is out. We are going to make sure this kind of crisis does not happen again.
We can’t rest until we have schools to prepare our children for the challenges of the 21st century, and we’ve already made historic investments in education and college affordability. I was talking to your superintendent about all the wonderful things that she’s going to be able to do with some of the money that came of the recovery package.
We’re going to continue to help our schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we’re going to reward teachers for performance and give them new pathways for advancement. And we will seek the goal of…
… once again — we are going to seek the goal of, once again, having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. We’re going to do it by 2020.
We can’t rest until we harness the renewable energy that can create millions of new jobs in new industries. You know, the recovery act will double the supply of renewable energy, but the only way to truly spark an energy transformation is through a gradual market-based cap on carbon pollution so that energy — clean energy — is the profitable kind of energy. And we can do that any way that creates jobs. That’s how we can grow our economy, enhance our security, and protect our planet at the same time.
I don’t think we can rest until we have a 21st century health care system that makes sense.
One that cuts costs for families and businesses across America.
That’s why we invested in preventive care. We invested in electronic records. That’s why my budget makes a down payment on reform that will finally make quality health care affordable for every American. And I look forward to working with both parties in Congress to make this reform a reality in the months to come.
And we can’t rest until we restore the fiscal discipline that will keep us from leaving our children with a mountain of debt. And working with people like Claire McCaskill, we have already put forward a budget that will cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term. We’ve launched a procurement reform effort that will greatly reduce no-bid contracts and will save $40 billion.
We’re going through the budget line by line, page by page. We’ve already identified more than 100 programs that reduce or eliminate because they don’t work. And I personal asked the leadership in Congress to pass into law rules that fall the simple principle: You pay for what you spend so that government acts the same way any responsible family does.
If you want a tax cut, you’ve got to pay for it.
If you want to new program, you’ve got to pay for it.
Tell the American people the truth. How are you going to pay for it?
And finally, we can’t rest until America is secure and our leadership is restored. And that’s why I’ve begun to end the war in Iraq through a responsible transition to Iraqi control.
It is their country. They need to take control.
That’s why we have a new strategy to disrupt and dismantle and defeat Al Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That’s why we’ve renewed our diplomacy to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons, to speak directly to our adversaries, and strengthen relations in the hemisphere.
And that’s why we have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals. That’s why I ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo.
That’s why I’ve prohibited the use of torture.
(APPLAUSE) Because America is stronger than any enemy, and we always have been, precisely because we do what’s right not just when it’s easy but when it’s hard. That’s what sets us apart.
And we’re living through extraordinary times. We didn’t ask for all the challenges that we face, but we’re determined to answer the call to meet them. That’s the spirit I see everywhere I go. That’s the spirit we need to sustain because the answer to our problems will, ultimately, be found in the character of the American people.
We need soldiers and diplomats, scientists, teachers, workers, entrepreneurs. We need your service. We need your active citizen ship. And that’s why I recently assigned a bill that will create hundreds of thousands of opportunities for the American people to serve. That’s why I will continue to ask for your help and your ideas and your support to make the changes that we need.
OBAMA: I want to warn you there will be setbacks. It will take time. But I promise you I will always tell you the truth about the challenges that we face and the steps that we are taking to meet them. I will continue to measure my progress by the progress that you see in your own lives.
And I believe that, years from now, we are going to be able to look back at this time as the moment when the American people once again came together to reclaim their future. That’s what this is about.
So thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you.