Hailing the report that 75 percent of the oil has been evaporated, dispersed and captured in the Gulf of Mexico, President Obama said the oil spill is at last nearing an end.
“The long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end,” the president told a conference of AFL-CIO union leaders in Washington.
The president said that overnight the static kill procedure to plug the well seems to be working, and the report suggests that the majority of the spilled oil has been skimmed or evaporated. Still, the president said there is a lot of work ahead to make the region whole.
“We have to reverse the damage that’s been done. We will continue to work to hold polluters accountable for the destruction they’ve caused. We’ve got to make sure that folks who were harmed are reimbursed. And we’re going to stand by the people of the region however long it takes until they’re back on their feet,” he said.
Mr. Obama then turned to the economy. He talked about the struggles for workers in manufacturing and construction jobs, hit doubly hard by the outsourcing of jobs overseas, and the collapse in the housing market.
“You have a perfect economic storm that’s hit our middle class directly in every region, every segment of this country,” he said. “And that pain goes beyond just the financial pain. It goes to who they are as a — as a person. It hits them in their gut. Having a conversation with your spouse and saying, you know, ‘Maybe we can’t afford this house anymore, maybe we’re going to have to give up on being able to save for our kid’s college education,’ that goes directly to people’s identities, to their cores.”
The president said that he is fighting to keep jobs in America and to foster “an economy that works for everybody, not just for a privileged few.”
Mr. Obama’s speech then shifted into campaign mode, relying on a familiar metaphor, saying that the Republicans drove the economy into a ditch and shouldn’t be given back the keys.
“And we’ve been shoving that car out of the ditch inch-by-inch, and they’ve been standing on the side the whole time watching, telling us, ‘No, you’re not pushing hard enough, and you’re not doing it the right way.’ Not lifting a finger to help. And now we finally got that car up on the — up on the blacktop there, about to drive, and they say they want the keys back,” he said, “Well, you can’t have the keys, because you don’t know how to drive.”
He continued with a laugh, “Somebody pointed out to me that when you’re in a car and you want to go forward, you put — you put it in ‘D.’ You want to go back in the ditch, you put it on ‘R.’ I just want everybody to think about that.”
- Yunji de Nies and Sunlen Miller