Weekly remarks: Obama 'confident in our future'; John Kasich urges real presidential leadership
Hello from the Country Corner Farm in Alpha, Illinois! For the past few days, I’ve been traveling to small towns and farm towns here in the heartland of this country. I sat down with small-business owners in Gutenberg, Iowa; and ranchers and farmers in Peosta. I had lunch with veterans in Cannon Falls, Minnesota; and talked to plant workers at a seed distributor in Atkinson, Illinois. And to the girls volleyball team at Maquoketa High School, let me just say one thing: Go Cardinals.
Now, I’m out here for one reason: I think Washington, D.C., can learn something from the folks in Atkinson and Peosta and Cannon Falls. I think our country would be a whole lot better off if our elected leaders showed the same kind of discipline and integrity and responsibility that most Americans demonstrate in their lives every day.
Because, the fact is, we’re going through a tough time right now. We’re coming....
There are things we can do right now that will mean more customers for businesses and more jobs across the country. We can cut payroll taxes again, so families have an extra $1,000 to spend. We can pass a road construction bill so construction crews – now sitting idle – can head back to the work site, rebuilding roads, bridges and airports.
We’ve got brave, skilled Americans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Let’s connect them with businesses that could use their skills. And let’s pass trade deals to level the playing field for our businesses. We have Americans driving Hyundais and Kias. Well, I want to see folks in Korea driving Fords, Chevys and Chryslers. I want more products sold around the globe stamped with three words: Made in America.
These are commonsense ideas – ideas that have been supported by both Democrats and Republicans. The only thing holding them back is politics. The only thing preventing us from passing these bills is the refusal by some in Congress to put country ahead of party. That’s the problem right now. That’s what’s holding this country back. That’s what we have to change.
Because, for all the knocks we’ve taken, despite all the challenges we face, this is still the greatest country on Earth. We still have the best workers and farmers, entrepreneurs and businesses, students and scientists. And you can see that here in Alpha. You can see it along the country roads that connect these small towns and farmlands.
These past few days, I’ve been seeing little kids with American flags and grandparents in lawn chairs. I’ve shaken hands with folks outside machine shops and churches, corner stores and farms. It reminds me why I got into public service in the first place. Getting out of Washington and spending time with the people of this country – seeing how hard you’re working, how creative you are, how resourceful you are, how determined you are – that only makes me more determined to serve you as best I can as President. And it only makes me more confident in our future.
That’s why it’s so important that folks in Washington put country before party. That’s why it’s so important that our elected leaders get past their differences to help grow the economy and put this nation back to work. Because here in Alpha it couldn’t be more clear: If we can come together, there’s no stopping the United States of America. There’s no doubt that our future is bright.
Thanks, and have a great weekend. ####
Hello, I’m Ohio Governor John Kasich. This week, the president traveled through the Midwest. He didn’t stop in Ohio this time around, but if he had, I’d have told him the same story I’m about to share with you.
When I entered office in January, Ohio was facing the largest budget shortfall in our history and an economy suffering from the same uncertainty that’s hurting small businesses across the country. My administration worked with members of the General Assembly to reduce our shortfall to zero, all the while cutting taxes for every Ohioan.
How did we do it?
Well in the past, our state, like many others, relied heavily on one-time federal ‘stimulus’ dollars to fill the budget gap and used tricks and gimmicks to do the rest. But over time, that approach created a massive shortfall, caused job creators to lose confidence in Ohio, and led to increased unemployment.
We looked our problems square in the eye and we didn't blink. With our budget, we’ve achieved real savings and made long-overdue reforms to provide better value to Ohioans without raising their taxes; to the contrary, we cut their taxes and eliminated the death tax, which was driving successful entrepreneurs out of Ohio.
We’re privatizing economic development in my state by creating JobsOhio – it’s an innovative and new nonprofit organization run by successful business people and entrepreneurs, an entity that can move at the speed of business (not at the speed of statute) and bring businesses and jobs to Ohio, and give the Buckeye State the economic competitive advantage it needs.
Of course, we have a long way still to go. These are difficult times for Ohio families, and despite our recent success, Ohio was in a very deep hole and we are digging our way out. We faced an unprecedented $8 billion deficit, and we were among the highest taxed states in the nation.
We knew we had to get Ohioans working again, so raising taxes – that was not the answer, as even the president has said before. Because that would have made Ohio even less competitive. Instead, we chose to reform programs that politicians had shied away from touching for decades – programs like Medicaid and prisons – so we wouldn’t have to raise taxes and drive out more jobs.
For all the good we’re trying to do here, our success in Ohio and in a number of other states will be thwarted if Washington continues its spending spree and its punitive taxes on success. You know, if we’ve learned anything from the federal ‘stimulus,’ it’s that government can’t tax, spend and regulate its way to prosperity.
Government shouldn’t be making promises it can’t keep – especially when it’s more than $14.5 trillion in the hole. Make no mistake, our national debt represents a claim on your future hard-earned tax dollars. And if we don’t tackle it - and soon - it will tackle us, and erode our economy and our children’s future.
So when I hear the president and his allies in Washington say we need more spending and higher taxes, it is a real cause for concern. As we’ve proven in Ohio, there is a better way.
And Americans can learn from Ohio. We need to start thinking about what we can do to help our children have a great future. Reform the behemoth that is the federal government to create the space so that businesses can invest and create jobs.
Let’s look at what has worked throughout history: government is not THE answer, but it can be part of the answer. Rather, it’s the ability to provide for a robust private sector where people want to invest and take risks – that’s what’s going to get this country moving again. Republicans in Congress get this, and they have offered these kinds of solutions that deserve the president’s consideration, if not his full support.
You know, I’m also encouraged to see that Republicans fought to ensure that both houses of Congress will vote this fall on the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. As a former chairman of the House Budget Committee, I can tell you there is no better way to control future spending and give our job creators long-term certainty than through a Balanced Budget Amendment.
Fifteen years ago, a Balanced Budget Amendment came within one vote of passing Congress and going to the states for ratification. One of the votes to pass it in the House 15 years ago was mine. I can’t help but wonder how different things would be had we succeeded. Both parties should come together this fall to send a balanced budget amendment to us right here in our states.
Divided government is no excuse for inaction. Sure, we had our fair share of gridlock back in the 1990s. Our differences may have been stark, but President Clinton and his team worked with us so that we could do what was best for the country. There’s just no substitute for leadership from the President of the United States.
Where is it written that Washington can’t do it again? Where is it written that both parties can’t cut through the scar tissue and find consensus? Nowhere.
It’s my hope President Obama will listen to the people and partner with Republicans to get our economy back to creating jobs and producing growth. And it's just as important that Republicans not be stiff-necked about working across the aisle when important work must be done.
It's OK to compromise on policy, as long as you don't compromise on your principles. The playbook we’re following here in Ohio is simple: To grow more, you have to tax less, spend less, and regulate less. If we can do it here in Ohio, Washington can - and should - do it also. Together, we can get it done.
On behalf of all the people of the great state of Ohio, thank you for listening. ####
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Photos: Pete Souza / White House; Ohio State Govt. (Gov. John Kasich and family, Karen, and twins Emma and Reese); Terry Gilliam (Kasich in his office.