Transcript for Obama Re-Focuses Agenda on the American Economy
This is a special report from ABC news. Hello everyone anti Hernandez in New York with -- ABC news digital special report. President Obama pivots to the economy again the push for control immigration legislation. Not much of the president's second term but today -- first in a series of speeches about what the White House plans to do to shake up these stagnant economy. -- -- for -- ABC's political director Rick Klein. To give us a preview -- Out why this week for the president to. Unveil his economic proposals. And maybe he has he's got nothing better to do want jobs this dean -- seems to me like in an effort to try to restart the the conversation around jobs because they know that nothing is happening in congress. They've got another week or so before congress goes on its August recess of you're going to re frame the debate. It's a good time to do it. It also happens to mark just the latest and many speeches they've done in the eight years worth by the president's council reference the fact that. He first gave a speech at this location back in 2005 as a senator from Illinois. And the White House use it is a way to bring the argument full circle to remind people. He's been talking about the need to grow the middle class for some time the progress that's been made to get people to -- we are told -- not to expect a raft of new ideas and policy proposals reflecting in part. The reality in congress he's not -- anything any of those things done anyway. Eight you know it's an interesting point because no matter what he lives people know that the reality out there is that it's very difficult time particularly when it comes to economic change. That's exactly right -- you know its -- -- the Republicans will not agree to anything that resembles a tax increase. And the Democrats will not agree to anything. That -- that involves serious cuts the social spending and entitlement programs -- you have this -- this logjam that continues to -- everything around the economy. You have that sequester that terrible policy that all sides agree never should have happened those automatic indiscriminate budget cuts that are the policy now of the United States government they are the law of the land. Pres Obama would like to -- do that he'd like to be able to move some things. But the only way he can do it is to -- to the public and that's what you see speeches like this he's hoping that can move the needle remind people of his leadership. Of his focus he has lost some popularity last couple months under 50% in our latest full for the first time since two months before. Last year's election -- -- -- regain that a bit -- to get people focused on his economic proposals he has any hope of accomplishing something. And whereas the president expected to take this message yet -- describe this is just the first in a series of talks about the economy. Missouri is next and I think he's going to be sticking to the midwest in the upper midwest lot of those are battleground states states that he. -- extensively during the campaign in states that that are key to his vision of how to grow the middle class manufacturing. A key part of it places that have been battered in the in the current. Economic environment and need to have some -- new growth and some of them have some glimmers of hope and have seen Obama policies work for them. Others of them horrible -- left behind. Now you know you did mention we did get a preview of this speech -- -- I thought the president might -- a finer line and but he saw on admits he's not very happy with where the economy is now -- the administration has. Push the idea that it is improving but it's slow and we -- know what's. I think he he. Always is careful in his language around the economy -- to make a nod to the fact that things are not getting -- better as fast as people hoped they would because if you're listening at home for what do you set on the economy. And you don't have a job your friend or your cousin doesn't have a job you're not gonna believe the rosy outlooks that economist come forward with so. Even though there has been sustained growth the White House likes -- how they are very careful -- saying every time. It's not happening as fast as we need. And that's -- the blame game begins and that's where I think we'll hear him today. Talk about the need for congress to act on some of those proposals and at least begin to it to break this this longstanding freeze we've had on any legislation. Should be friendly crowd he's talking to folks in Illinois -- ecology said this is where he delivered. A speech not so long -- well now along time ago when he realized Senator Clinton -- -- -- But a friendly crowd we can expect here. I think that's right in in it will feel campaign -- in a lot of ways I think -- -- to some of the rhetoric that we heard from him. On the campaign in a return to the idea of energizing from from the bottom and energizing from people his supporters again that's what's critical to him in terms of getting this done. -- -- -- as I mentioned this month long recess that we'll have an August and be the Obama campaign army that's been -- organize -- to organize a fraction. They'll be out there we're trying to make themselves heard at Republican events across the country. In everything mention his dipping in our latest poll what are some of the major reasons why. There's a -- the drag of Washington is probably the largest one people feel like the country generally right direction but not entirely. But but wouldn't -- be their -- -- Washington is deeply unpopular and people are sick of the paralysis. There's actually been a tiny uptick in popularity of congress it's up to 20% popularity has in the single digits. -- along by some measures. But I think he's just suffering from the fact that people are tuning out Washington and feeling frustrated by everything that seems to happen in this city. So he has overcome that position insult against it again I'll tell you the White House is that a lot of time talking about how critical it's. This this series of speeches will be. But so far they seem like they're just speeches they're just words that quote Hillary Clinton back in the campaign. There isn't a lot there in terms of new policy so for people that are looking for concrete answers solutions. This is that going to be a push that referred for Republicans consistently over the last few days. You thank you for welcoming what returning to this conversation that -- -- jobs we've been there for some time. The idea the White House would admit that Washington took its eye off the ball around jobs is is rather stunning when you realize that he is the president the United States. You know you talked about the poll and the fact that he's sat down in part because of the that feeling of people have about Washington -- six it's a vicious cycle because he needs his popularity up in order to move this act that congress. That's exactly right. In the only way he is said this before Washington has the war from the outside and it has to -- for the public pressure that's brought to bear -- to break. This this house -- vacation we've had in in congress in Washington because both sides every time immediately after an election they say the -- -- work together -- -- -- in for the next election we're seeing already. With the mid term elections that are still a year and a half out. And the president only has a few chances left to break that to break that fever that Washington has suffered under for so long. He does need to -- returns the popularity he had before -- I've heard some Republican members of congress. That they were. Putting off some of the debates earlier in the year because the president was so popular one even told me look. You know he's at 60% now you'll be fifty he'll be -- forty at some point and that's gonna give us more of -- more of an opportunity to shape. The forward progress that -- the Republicans they'll -- there were elected in Washington to do. You know the same time the president keeps going back to the IDF public pressure to push policy -- -- really has not. Worked in many instances where is try to gun control comes to mind first. You guys -- almost no instances actually I don't know that there's anything the White House can point to and say look the we got this done because of public pressure even health care bill. That was done purely with democratic votes and -- is the tiniest of of of margins it was not because the public rose up and said we want this to get done. That would have to happen on gun control. Immigration still is out there -- a possibility immigration does happen I think it will be a large part because the public is just open up and -- enough we want this done. But that is a big question mark in the house right now anything -- on the economy and realistically. Any animals that we hear today you're gonna run into the same answer in just about every one of those not going anywhere. You know one more question because we're hearing held of the -- but I -- want to ask -- You know the president coming back to this issue of the economy -- really haven't heard much in the second term. Yeah that's right in it -- The president has continually been sidetracked -- -- lost a little scandals and bigger scandals along the way. His legislative push has been sidetracked around guns that are on immigration he always says my number one priority is job for their -- seems to be. Something else that's -- the -- that priority. All right make your timing is excellent here. -- Well it is good to -- I want to I want a personal thing. Knox College. Knox College in your president. To -- For having me here today give -- is a big round of applause. Your congresswoman. -- whose -- was very. -- lieutenant governor Sheila Simon. -- actually a bunch of my former colleagues. Some some folks who lives in years -- what importance and I too. One in particular I've got to mention one of my favorites from Illinois senator John Sullivan them out. -- -- one of my. Earliest supporters want to run for. For the US senate and it came -- really -- because he's got like ten Brothers and his wife and sisters and and his wife got ten Brothers and sisters of precincts just in their -- went. And -- looked like to. The Brothers do so you know he doesn't have to go to every event he -- -- one. It is good to see them. Dick Durbin couldn't make it today but he -- bass. One of my favorite neighbors. Senator drama. Missouri Claire McCaskill in the house that we're going. And all of you -- here and it's great to see. Everybody -- wonderful summer the weather's perfect. Whoever was in charge of that good job. So. Eight years ago. I came here to deliver the commencement address for the class of 2005. Things -- all different back then. For example I have no gray hair. Or motorcade. -- even have a prompt. In fact there was a problem in terms of putting out the speech because the record at work here and we had to drive and and from somewhere. But it was my first big speech as your newest senator. And and a on the way here of telling period. Claire about. How important this area was. One of the areas that I spent the most time in outside of Chicago. And how much it represented what's best in America. And folks who -- -- work hard. And do right by their families. And I came here to talk about what a changing economy. Was doing to the middle class. And what we as a country needed to do to give every American a chance to get ahead in the -- percent. -- I had just spent a year traveling the state. And listening to your stories. -- problem Maytag workers losing their jobs when the the plant moved down to Mexico. -- teachers whose salaries weren't keeping up with the rising cost of groceries. A young people. -- the drive and energy. But not the money to afford a college education. These were stories of families would worked hard. Believe in the American dream. But they felt like the odds were increasingly stacked against. And they were right. Things have changed. In the period after World War II a growing middle class with the engine of our -- fair. -- you won't accompany or swept explores or worked anywhere between this country -- your basic mark. A sense that your hard work would be rewarded. With fair wages. And decent benefits. The chance to buy a home -- to save -- retirement. And and most of all a chance to hand out a better life. For your kids. But over time that engine began to stall and a lot of folks here -- That bargain. Began to -- Technology made some jobs obsolete. Global competition since. A lot of jobs overseas. It became harder for unions to fight. For the middle class. Washington doled out bigger tax cuts. To the very wealthy. And smaller minimum wage increases. For. The working poor. And so what happened was that. But the link between higher productivity. And people's wages and salaries was broke. Used to -- that as companies did better as profits. -- hire workers also. Got a better deal. And that started changing. -- calm of the top 1%. Nearly quadruple. From 1979. To 2000 -- But the typical family's incomes barely budged. And towards the end of those three decades. Housing bubble. Credit cards. A churning financial sector with keeping the economy artificially -- up to sometimes that -- paper over. Some of these long term trends. But by the time I took office in 2009 as your president. We all know the bubble had burst. And it cost millions of Americans their jobs and their homes. And their savings and I -- a lot of folks in this area. Were hurt pretty bad. And the decades long erosion that had been taking place. The erosion of middle class security was suddenly laid bare for everybody to -- -- today five years after the start of that Great Recession. America has fought its way back. Together -- -- we save the auto industry. Took on a broken health care system. -- -- -- American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil. We doubled wind and solar power. -- we put in place tough new. -- rules on the big banks. And protections to crack down on the worst practices of mortgage lenders and credit card company. We change the tax code to skewed in favor of the wealthiest. At the expense of working families. So we change that we locked in tax cuts for 98% of Americans and we -- -- with the top pay a little bit more. They -- all up. And over the past forty months our businesses have created. Seven point two million new jobs. This year were off to our strongest private sector job growth since 1999. And because we met on this country. Suddenly foreign companies are took. Right now more -- more. More Honda's cars are made in American anyplace else on -- Airbus. The European. Aircraft company they're building new planes and Alabama. An American company is like war. Are replacing outsourcing within sourcing they're bringing jobs back home. -- sell more products made in America for the rest of the world than ever before. We produce more natural gas than any country on -- We're about to produce more -- oil that we buy from abroad for the first time in nearly twenty years. The cost of health care. Is growing at its slowest rate in fifty years. And our deficit they're following at the fastest rate in sixty years. So. Thanks. To the grit and resilience. And determination of the American people. Folks like you. We've been able to clear away the rubble from the financial crisis. We start to -- a new foundation for stronger more durable economic growth. And you know it's happening in her own personal lives as well -- lot of us tighten our belts. Shed that may be cut up couple credit cards. Refocused on most things that really matter. As a country we've recovered faster and gone further. Than most other advanced nations in the world. -- new American revolutions in -- in energy and technology and manufacturing. And health care. Were actually poised to reverse the forces that battered the middle class for so long and start building an economy. Where everyone who works hard can get ahead. And here's the big but. I'm here to tell you today that. We're not there yet. We all know that. We're not there yet we've got more work to do. Even though our businesses are creating new jobs that are broken record profits. Nearly all the income gains of the past ten years have continued to flow to the top 1%. The average CEO has gotten a raise of nearly 40% since 2000 -- The average American earns less than he or she did in 1999. And companies continue to hold back on hiring those. Who have been out of work for some time. Today more students are earning their degree. But soaring cost saddled them -- unsustainable debt. Health care costs are slowing down but. A lot of working families haven't seen any of those savings yet. The stock market rebound. Helped a lot of families get back much of what they have lost -- there or one -- But millions of Americans still have no idea how they're going to be able to retire. So many ways the trends but I spoke about here in 2000 and bond. Eight years ago. The trend of a winner take all economy where a few are doing better and better and better -- everybody else just treads water. Those trends have been made worse by the recession. And that's a problem. This growing inequality not just a result. -- equality of opportunity. There's growing inequality it's not just morally wrong it's bad economics. Because when middle class families have less to spend. Guess what. Businesses have fewer consumers. When wealth concentrated very tough it can inflate unstable -- that threaten the economy. When the -- On the ladder of opportunity -- farther and farther apart. It undermines the very essence of America. That idea that if you if you work hard you can make it here. And that's why we're bursting these trends. Has to be Washington's highest priority. It's certainly my highest priority. Unfortunately over the past couple years. In particular. Washington hasn't just ignored. This problem. Too often. Washington's made things worse. And I have to save it. They -- because I'm looking around the room. I've got some friends here not just were Democrats I've got some friends there were problems and who worked. Work within the state legislature and they did great work. But right now what we've got to Washington we've seen a sizable group of Republican lawmakers. Suggested they would vote to pay the very bills that congress rang up. And that fiasco harmed a fragile recovery in 2011. And we can't afford to repeat that. Then rather than reduce our deficits with a scalpel. By cutting out programs we don't need fixing ones that we do believe that -- -- Are in need of reform making government more -- and instead of doing Matt. We've got folks who have insisted on leaving in place -- meat cleaver call the sequester. That's cost jobs it's harm growth it's hurt our military it's -- and investment. Almost every credible economists will tell you it's been a huge drag on. This recovery. And it means that we're under investing in the things that. This country needs to make -- a magnet for good jobs. Then over the last six months. There's gridlock got worse I didn't think that was possible. There's a growing number of Republican senators. Are looking to join their democratic counterparts and try to get things done in the -- That's good. For example they. They work together on an immigration bill that economists say will boost our economy by -- trillion dollars strengthen border security. Make the system work. We you've got to faction of Republicans in the house who won't even get that -- -- That same group -- at a farm bill. That America's farmers depend on but also America's most vulnerable children depend -- Asked some of these folks some areas. -- mostly in the house about their economic agenda. How it is bill. Strengthen the middle class. Will shift the topic out of control government spending. Despite the fact that we've cut the deficit by nearly half the share of the economy since I took office. Or they'll talk about government assistance for the poll. Despite the fact that they've already cut early education for vulnerable -- -- -- to cut insurance for people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Or. They'll bring up obamacare. This is tried and true. Despite the fact that our businesses have created nearly twice as many jobs in this recovery. As businesses head of the same point in the last recovery. When there was no obamacare. So. I appreciate that. That's what we've been fighting -- But -- endless parade of distractions. And political posturing and phony scandals. Washington's taken its -- the ball. And I'm here -- say this needs to stop. This moment does not require short term thinking it does not require have the same mold stale debates. Our focus has to be on the basic economic issues. That matter most to you the people we represent. That's what we have to spend our time on. Of Washington prepares to enter another budget debate. The stakes for our middle class and her body is fighting to get in the middle class could not -- -- The countries that are -- Best in the face. A global economy. Those countries will lose the competition for good jobs we will lose the competition for -- -- stands. That's why America has to make the investments necessary to promote. Long term growth and -- process fair rebuilding our manufacturing base educating our workforce. Upgrading our -- -- -- -- That's what we need to be talking about. That's what Washington. Needs to be focused on. And that's why over the next several weeks. In towns across this country. I will be engaging the American people in this debate. -- -- my ideas for how we build on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class in America. And what it takes to work your way into the middle class in America. Job security with good wages and durable -- A good educate. A home to call your wrong. Affordable health care when you get sick. A secure retirement even if you're not -- Some of these. Years I've talked about before. Some of the ideas opera will be no. Some will require congress. Some I will pursue on my own. Some odd ideas will benefit folks right away. Some will take years to fully implement. But the key is to break through the tendency in Washington. -- just bounced from crisis to crisis. What we need is not a three month plan. Or even a three year plan. We need -- long term American strategy based on steady. Persistent effort to reverse the forces of the fire. Of course what will keep pressing on other key priorities. I want to -- this immigration bill done. We still need to work on reducing gun violence. We've we've got to. We've got to continue to in the war in Afghanistan rebalance our fight against al-Qaeda. We need to combat climate change we've got to stand up for civil rights we've got to -- All those issues are important. And what we might not -- one of those issues. But if we don't have a growing thriving middle class. And we won't have the resources. To solve a lot of these problems. We want it. Have the resolved the optimism the sense of unity. That we need to solve many of these other issues. In this effort I will -- to work with Republicans. As well as Democrats we're striking. And I I sincerely believe that there are members of both parties who understand this moment understand what's at stake. And I will welcome ideas from anybody across the political spectrum. I will not allow gridlock. Or inaction. Or willful indifference to get in our way. That means whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class I'll use it. -- I can't act on my own congress isn't cooperating I'll pick up the phone alcohol CEO of alcohol philanthropist Paul Paul college -- alcohol labor leaders I'll call anybody who can help. Because the choices that we the people make right now. We'll determine whether or not every American has a fighting chance in the point for surgery. And away the foundation. For our children's future our grandchildren's future. For all Americans. So let me get your quick preview of what. I'll be fighting for and one. The first cornerstone of the strong growing middle class has to be. As I said before an economy that generates more good jobs in durable growing industries. -- -- This area Roosevelt. That's -- America prospered. Because. Anybody would want to work bigger brother in the find themselves up. And they could build a life for themselves and their fans. Over the past four years. For the first time since the 1990s. The number of American manufacturing jobs has actually gone up instead of down. But we. We can do more. Some -- the push new initiatives to help more manufacturers. Bring more jobs back to the United States. Were gonna continue to focus. On strategies. To make sure our tax -- rewards companies that are. Not ship jobs overseas but creating jobs right here in the United States of America. We're gonna create. A strategy is to make sure the good jobs in wind and solar and natural gas that are lower cost and at the same time reducing. Dangerous carbon pollution happened right here in the United States. And something that sure that we're talking about on the way over here I'm gonna be pushing. To open more manufacturing. Innovation institute to -- regions left behind by global competition. In the global centers and cutting edge jobs. So let's tell the world that America is open for business. I know there's an old -- -- and Ellsberg -- Monmouth boulevard. What does put some folks to work. -- also -- The port of Jacksonville floor. To offer new ideas for doing what Americans always done best which is building things. -- that now we're talking before I came Mexico equities talking about talking more than Don -- bridge. -- But -- other. -- all across the country we've got -- that aren't ready for the new super tankers that are -- begin. Passing through the new Panama Canal and two years' time if we don't get that done. Those tankers are going to go someplace else. We got more than a 100000. Bridges that are old enough to qualify for Medicare. On our transportation systems on our power grids are communications networks and rebuilding them creates. Jobs right now -- can't be outsourced. And by the -- -- this is not democratic idea that Republicans don't want to stop them the land of Lincoln. Michael is all about building stuff. And -- had -- serve our economy. We invest less in our infrastructure that we did two decades ago. And that's inefficient at a time when it's as cheap as it's been since the 1950s to build things. It's inexcusable at a time when so many of the workers. Who build stuff for eleven. Are sitting at home. Waiting for a call. The longer we put this off the more expensive it will be. And the less competitive -- will be. Businesses of tomorrow will not locate their old roles and -- -- -- relocate to places with high speed Internet. And high tech schools and systems that -- air and auto traffic faster. And not to mention we'll get parents home quicker. From work. The mobile eliminating some of these traffic jams. And we don't watch all of that happen in other countries and start fallen behind. Or we can choose to make it happened right here in the United States. In an age when jobs know no borders. Companies are also gonna seek out the countries that boast the most talented citizens. And no reward folks who. -- the skills in the -- -- No reward those folks with good -- Of the days when the wages for worker with a high school degree could keep pace with the earnings -- somebody. Who got some sort of higher education those days are over. Everybody here knows -- -- whole bunch of folks here whose dads -- -- months -- worked at a plant. -- -- need a high school education you can just go and error if you wanna work hard you might be able to get to jobs. And you could support your family have a vacation. Own your home. But technology and global competition they're not going away. Those old days are coming back. So we can either throw up our -- to resign ourselves -- diminishing living standards. Or we can do what America's always done which is a debt and pulled together and fight back and win that. That brings me to the second cornerstone of -- strong middle class. Nobody here knows. An education that prepares our children and our workers for the global copper. You think education is expensive. Wait until you see how much ignorance -- -- -- percent. If we don't make this investment. We're gonna put our kids our workers and our country at a competitive disadvantage. For decades. So we. Have to begin in the earliest years and that's why I'm gonna keep pushing to make high quality preschool available for every -- -- We know -- works for our kids but because it provides the vital support system for working parents. I'm gonna take action in the education area to spur innovation. -- don't require congress sold today for example -- we -- We speak federal agencies are moving on my plan to connect. 99%. Of America's students to high speed Internet over the next five years. With -- business leaders and tech entrepreneur awards and innovative educators to identify the best ideas for redesigning our high schools. Did they teach the skills required for a high tech economy. And we're also gonna keep pushing new efforts to train workers for changing jobs. So here Gilbert for example. Allowed the workers were laid off the Maytag chose to enroll and retraining programs like -- one of Carl Sandburg college. And -- -- didn't pay off for every one. A lot of the folks who were retrained found out that suited them even better and paid even more than once they have lost. And that's why I've asked congress to start a community college to career -- so that workers can learn the skills that high tech jobs demand. Without leaving their hometown. And I'm -- challenge CEOs. I'm going to tell CEOs from -- America's best companies. To hire more Americans who got what it takes to fill that job openings. But have been laid off for so long that nobody is giving the -- man -- -- slow. True that too. I'm also gonna use the power of my office. Over the next few months. To highlight a topic that's straining the budgets of just about every American -- and that's the soaring cost of higher education. Everybody is touched by this. Including your president read a whole bunch -- did -- Three years ago. I work -- Democrats to reform the student loan system. So the taxpayer dollars stop padding the pockets of big banks and instead help more kids for college. Man I can't. Long repayments at 10%. Of monthly incomes. For responsible borrowers so that. It's somebody who graduated may -- take a teaching job for example in the pay a lot of money. They knew that they were never gonna pay more than 10% other income. And they could afford. To. -- into a profession -- bailout. That's in place right now. And this week we're working we're both parties. The -- what both parties to reverse the doubling of student loan rates that happened a few weeks ago. Call a good start. But it isn't enough. Family -- taxpayers can't just keep paying more and more and more. Into an on discipline system -- cost just keep on going up and up and up we'll never have enough loan money. We'll never have -- grant money to keep up with -- that are going up 567%. A year. We've got to get more out of what we pay -- -- some colleges are testing new approaches to shorten the path to a degree. Or blending teaching with online learning to help students master material and earned credits in last time. In some states are testing new ways to fund college based not just on how many students enroll but how many of graduate how while they do. So this afternoon I'll -- that the university of central Missouri to highlight their efforts -- -- bang for the buck to their students. In the coming months I will lay out an aggressive strategy. To shake up the system. Tackle rising costs and improve value for middle class students and their families. It is critical that we make sure the college is affordable for every single American home. They got a good job. Get a good education. -- -- always been the key stepping stones into the middle class. But a home of your own has always been the clearest expression. A middle class secure. For most families that's your biggest asset. Most families that's where. Your life's work has been. Invested. And that change during the crisis when we saw millions of middle class families. Experience -- home values plummet. The good news is over the past four years we've helped more responsible homeowners stay in their homes and today sales are up. And prices are up and fewer Americans see their homes underwater. But we're not done yet. The key now want is to encourage homeownership and isn't based on unrealistic bubbles. But instead of based on a solid foundation where buyers and lenders play by the same set of rules. Rules that are clear and transparent and fair. So already I've asked congress to pass. A really good bipartisan -- one that was championed by the way by Mitt Romney's economic advisor. And this is -- idea to give every homeowner the chance to refinance their mortgage. While rates are still low. They can save thousands of dollars a year. I'm also -- Acting on my own to cut red tape are responsible families who want to get a mortgage but the banks and now. -- work with both parties to turn the page on. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And and -- the housing finance system -- rock solid future generations. So we've got more to do to strengthen homeownership. In this country. But along with -- homeownership. The fourth -- -- -- what it means to be middle class in this country is a secure retirement. I hear from too many people across the country. Face to face -- in letters they send me. That they feel -- if retirement is just receiving from their grasp. It's getting farther and farther away they they can't see it. Today -- rising stock market. Has millions of retirement balances going up. And some of the losses that would take place and financial press prices have been recovered. But we still live -- upside down system where most of the top folks like me. Get generous tax incentives to save. While tens of millions -- hardworking Americans. Who are struggling. Big enough those breaks at all. So as we work to reform our tax code. We should find new ways to make it easier for workers to put away money and free middle class family from the. From the time. And if congress is looking for a bipartisan place to get started. I should just say they've been -- have to look far. We mentioned immigration reform before economists show that immigration reform. Makes undocumented workers pay their full fair share of taxes and that actually shores up the Social Security system -- you. Good job. Good education for your kids. Home -- -- Secure retire. Bit. And keep focusing on health care because middle class families and small business owner. The security of knowing. -- -- this is gonna threaten the dreams that. You've worked a lifetime to bill. As we speak. We're well on our way to fully implementing the affordable care. If -- one -- -- 85% of Americans who already have health insurance either through job of Medicare Medicaid. You got to do anything. New benefits and better protections than you did before you may not know what. But you -- free checkups. Mammograms. Discounted medicines if you're on Medicare. That's we'll be Affordable Care Act means you're already getting a better deal no lifetime limits. If you don't have health insurance. And starting on October 1 private plans will actually compete for your business and you'll feel the comparison shop on line. There will be a marketplace online just like you buy flat screen T -- Plane tickets or anything else -- doing on line. And your meal don't buy an insurance package that fits your budget and is right for you. And if you're. One of -- up to half of all Americans who've been sick or have a preexisting condition. If you look at this auditorium but happened to -- have preexisting condition that insurance companies could use. To not give your insurance if you lost your job -- lost -- insurance. While this all means the beginning January 1 insurance companies will finally have to cover you. And charge you the same rates as everybody else even if you have a preexisting. -- I I know. Have been other folks out there who. Are actively working. To make this law office. -- -- I don't always understand exactly what their logic is here. Why they're -- -- an insurance. Folks don't have it -- folks with insurance to a more secure -- -- think that's a bad thing. But despite the politically motivated misinformation campaign. The states that have committed themselves to making this all work are finding the competition and choice are actually pushing costs down. So just last week New York. Announcement premiums for consumers. Who buy their insurance in these online marketplaces. Will be. At least 50% lower than. -- -- -- -- Folks premiums in the individual market would drop by 50%. And for them and for the millions of Americans. We've been able to cover their sick kids for the first time like this gentleman who just and his daughters got health insurance. Or been able to cover their employees. More -- Or. Are able to have their kids who -- younger than. We're -- 2.5 point six stay on the parents plan. -- all those folks you'll have. The security of knowing that everything you've worked hard for. Is no longer one illness away from being wiped out. Finally and as we work to strengthen these cornerstones of middle class secure. Good job. Would be some way to -- Good education. -- -- -- Retirement security health care secure. I'm gonna make the case for why we've got to rebuild. Ladders of opportunity for all those Americans. Who haven't quite made. We're working hard but are still. Suffer in poverty wages. A lot of folks were still struggling out here. Too many people in poverty. Now here in America. We've never guaranteed success that's not what we do. More than some other countries we expect people to be self reliance. I was gonna do some important. We've tolerated little more in -- call. For the sake of a more dynamic more adaptable economy. That's all for the good. But that. Idea is always been combined with a commitment. To equality of opportunity to upward mobility the idea that no matter how poor -- started. If you want to work hard and discipline yourself and defer gratification. You can make until. That's the American -- Unfortunately opportunities for upward mobility in America have gotten harder to find over the past thirty years. And that's a betrayal of the American idea. That's why we have to do. A lot more to give every American the chance to work their way into the middle class. The best defense against all of the sport's global competition economic polarization. Is the strength of the community. So we need -- we need a new push to rebuild rundown -- -- We need new partnership. Partnerships -- some of the hardest hit towns in America to get them back on their feet. And because no one who works full time America's -- -- -- -- -- I'm gonna keep making the. -- go up. We're not a people who allow. Chance of birth. To decide life's biggest winners -- losers. And after years in which. We -- now -- can be for any of most of all on hard times. Spokesman bill -- -- some quad cities you know they're good people who work hard. Sometimes they got a bad break. -- -- Somebody gets sick. -- -- The home. We've seen and our family and our friends and our neighbors. We've seen. It happen and that means we cannot turn our backs when. Bad breaks -- any of our fellow citizens. It's a good jobs. The better bargain for middle class and the folks who -- working to get into the middle class. An economy that grows from the middle out not the top down that's -- I will focus Miami. Well focus my energy is not just for the next few months. But for the remainder of my presidency. The -- the -- but I'll lay out across this country. But I won't be -- do it alone so I'm going to be calling on all of us to take up this costs. We'll -- our businesses where. Some of the best in the world to pressure congress to invest in our future. And I'll be asking our businesses to set an example by providing -- wages and salaries to their own employees. And -- the highlight the ones. That do just that. -- other companies like like hospital. Which pay good wages and offers the better. Other -- -- the Container Store that the prides itself on training its employees and and on. Employee satisfaction. Because these companies prove that. It's not just good for the employees has -- from -- businesses. -- -- Workers well it's good for America. I won't be saying the Democrats. We got a question some -- old assumptions. We gotta be willing to redesign. Or get rid of programs that that don't work as well -- -- Embraced changes. To cherished priorities so that they work better in this new way. We can't just Democrats can't just. Stand pat just defend. Whatever governments don't. If we believe the government. Can't give the middle class a fair shot in this new century and I believe that. An obligation to prove it. And that means. There we've got to be open. To new ways of doing things. And -- only Republicans in congress. To set. Aside short term politics and work -- me to find common ground. Health centers -- in the run up to the speech. Lot of reporters say that. You know. This premiers are all good ideas but. Some of you said before some -- sound great but. You can't get -- through congress. Republicans won't agree with the and -- say look the fact is there are Republicans in congress right now. Who privately agree with -- lot of the ideas -- -- proposed. I know because -- -- so. But they worry they'll face -- political retaliation. For cooperating with. Now there are others who will dismiss every idea put forward. Either because. They're playing to their most strident supporters. -- some things because sincerely they have a fundamentally different vision for America. Woman says in equality is both inevitable and jobs. -- that says and I'm better free market without any restraints. Inevitably produces the best outcomes regardless of the pain and uncertainty imposed on ordinary families. And governments the problem and it. We should just -- it. As the smallest weekend. In either case. I say to these -- accounts. I'm laying out my idea is to give the middle class a better. So now it's time for you to lay out your idea. It's live just be against them than. -- -- The -- I just talked about. Were happening. Well before I took office. So it's not enough for you just oppose me you gotta be for something. What are your ideas. If you want -- work will mean to strengthen American manufacturing and rebuild this country's infrastructure let's go. Ideas. To bring down the cost of college for working families. Lets -- -- If if you think you have a better plan for making sure that every American has the security. Appalling affordable health care. Stop taking meaningless repeal vote and -- your concrete idea. Repealing obamacare and cutting spending is not an economic plan. It's not. If you're serious about a balanced long term fiscal plan. The replaces the mindless cuts currently in place. War if you're interest and tax reform the closes corporate loopholes and gives working families a better deal I'm ready to work. Except deals that don't meet the basic task of strengthening. The prospects of hardworking families this is the agenda -- We've come a long way since I first took office. You know on the contrary. As -- country were older and wiser. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- you don't as long as congress doesn't. Manufacture another crisis. As long as we don't shut down the government. Has because I'm for keeping an open. As long as -- What a -- don't risk a US default. Over paying bills that we've already racked up something that we've never done. We can probably model along without taking bold action. If we stand -- We don't do any of the things I talked about. Our economy will -- Although slower than -- -- New businesses will form the unemployment rate will. Probably ticked down a little bit. Just -- virtue of our size and -- natural resources and most of all because the talent of our people. America will remain a world power. And the majority of us will figure out how to get by. You know that's -- -- If we just stand by and do nothing in the face of immense change. Understand that. The part of our character will be lost. Our founding -- about. Wide open opportunity. Each generation doing better than last. It'll be a -- Not reality. The position of the middle class. Will erode further. Inequality will continue. To increase. Money's power won't distort our politics even more. Social tensions won't rise. As various groups fight to hold on what they head start blame them. Somebody else for why their position is an improvement. In the fundamental optimism that's always propel this forward we'll give way to services. -- -- -- That's -- vision I have for this country. It's -- the vision you have for this country that's not. The America we know. That's not the vision we should be settling for that's not a vision we should be passing onto our children. I have not run my last campaign. I do not intend to wait until the next campaign. Or the next president before tackling the issues that matter I care about one thing and one thing -- And that's how -- you. Know that care about how to use every minute of the remaining. 1276. Days of my term. To make this country work for working -- -- -- -- America needs to go. I believe that's where the American people want to go. It may seem hard today. But if we're going to take a few bold steps. If Washington we'll just shake up its complacent. And set aside the kind of slash and burn partisanship. That. We've just -- -- wait too long we just make some common sense decisions our economy will be stronger a year from now. He'll be stronger five years from now. Stronger candidate. If we focus on what matters and more Americans will know the pride -- that first paycheck. More Americans -- the satisfaction of flipping assigned to open on their own business. More Americans have the joy of -- -- and the height of their pit on that door -- brand new home. What makes a special. It's not the ability to generate. Incredible well for for the -- -- ability to give everybody a chance to pursue their -- true measure happiness. We haven't just one of success. For ourselves. We -- for our neighbors don't. Than what we think about our own communities. We're we're we're not we're not a mean people -- not a selfish people. We're -- people that just looks out for. Number one. Why should our politics reflect those kinds of values. That's why we don't call John Street pursues these dream or Barack stream of -- -- we call it the American dream. And that's what makes this country specially the idea that no matter who you are what you look like -- where you come from -- we love. You can make it if you try. Yes congress is tough right now but that's not gonna stop me. We're gonna. Do everything we can wherever we can't -- without congress to make things happen. Work we're gonna take go on the road and talk to you and you'll have ideas and we want to see which ones we can we can implement what we're gonna focus on this thing that matters. And one of America's greatest writers -- -- More right here in Gilbert over a century. He saw the railroads bring the world. To the prayer. And then -- send out its founding to the world. He saw the advent of new industries and new technologies. -- -- population shift. You saw fortunes made and lost. And he saw how change could be painful. -- -- -- could unsettle. Long. Long held customs and ways of life. But he added. That frontier optimism. And so he saw something more on the horizon. And he wrote. I speak of new cities and new people. The pass is a bucket of -- Yesterday as the wind gone down. The sun dropped in the west. There is only an ocean of tomorrows. A sky of tomorrow's. America we've we've made it through the worst of yesterday's winds. We -- -- have the courage to keep moving -- we -- set our eyes on the horizon we will find an ocean of tomorrow. We'll find -- I have tomorrows for the American people. For this great country that we want. Thank you god bless you and -- by. President Obama's -- hit Knox College in Illinois talking about the economy for joining us now Yahoo! finance columnist Rick Newman. His impressions of presidents Dietrich president. Laid out some proposals nothing terribly new but this is signaling and renewed focus. -- President Obama is basically saying I'm still paying attention the economy I know you people are struggling out there. And that I wish I could do something about it. As you pointed out I think a lot of these things he talked about the right issues talked about before him he -- many of these are in his state of the union speech. He's trying to get -- through congress there's there's almost no chance he's going to get any any of the ideas through congress. -- talk about you know it's something she might be able to do by executive order from the White House doesn't -- very minor and I think most people want. Won't notice any of those things so I think the main message from President Obama today is simply I'm still paying attention to the economy. I'm guessing your answers Kennedy now but -- ask anyway head is this something that might make markets. -- it all in one direction or another. I don't -- and naysayers just like that but -- I didn't I didn't hear anything that. Will impact the markets in any kind of media way. If the government were to spend some new money it would affect in certain types of industries. That type of thing -- if there were any new regulations coming back to he didn't really talk about anything specific like that -- know -- -- All these proposals get through -- when they do come to fruition in most of these lots are now I don't think don't have any mark him. -- you know one example we're still waiting for a done deal on keeping around. Lowering the federal interest on federal student loans -- that is still on resolves. So a lot of slow going. -- in Washington. I imagine that is something that Wall Street actually responds to well those sudden changes. Well for if you're Wall Street you're not paying attention to -- -- -- paying attention the Federal Reserve. And we know that with a guy you can move markets with just a few words is obviously Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's interest in. Ben Bernanke has a lot more power but the economy at this point in President Obama. And I think -- not even hearing. Many on Wall Street talk about. Fiscal policy or matters and why in congress -- -- in me. A few months ago from I was worried about the a pistol clips -- -- was the sequester -- those things really did affect the markets. Not much is coming in in the next couple weeks simulated wolf thank markets. When we do get to the question of whether. Congress will extend the debt debt ceiling later in the fall that will be a big when the markets will be watching. The president talked a lot about health care as part of his plan to boost America economically and of course right now we're hearing -- the president is speaking. You have Republicans in Washington looking to make sure that not a dime is spent on that Health Care Reform bill. Obviously. You know when people are playing brinksmanship with things like the economy or the debt ceiling perhaps that has got to -- people uneasy. Yeah that was a losing proposition for the Republicans when they did that in 2011 so we're hearing some -- some talk now about. Republicans really being willing to go to the -- And you know threaten the government shut down then after that. Threaten not to extend the borrowing limit I think that is more talk than organized fact that they won't be followed up by action. Because that has not worked out so well for Republicans -- for the most part got blamed with the fiasco that happened in 2011. They blinked on the fiscal cliff that they end of 2012 because the politics are just working against them and Democrats are doing a pretty good job of painting them as the villains. So we are gonna hear a lot of this draconian toxic threats. Of severe sounding things in Washington. It will probably get resolved at the last second and maybe they'll actually get resolved at the last minute so we'll have a few more seconds of breathing room at the end that's my guess. You know -- you're talking about the bed and that is almost -- you know how much more important that comments from -- said art to moving the markets that the president let's talk about pitcher Ben Bernanke's leaving and the possible. Replacement of Larry Summers -- tell us about -- company's. I think Larry Summers has indicated he's proved pretty much in line with Ben Bernanke he seems like he would be. A a dog fish on the economy as they say in other words. He would continue monetary stimulus policies that are favorable to stock markets he wouldn't tighten up money quickly and of course the White House. Is not likely to. It nominating -- for that job who would make it dramatic reversal of policy course once. Once the Fed Chairman is is it in the job he's independent he or she because it is a woman candidate we should point out. Who knows about Larry Summers -- he's kind of controversial. Big ego. Really likes to speak his mind that it's not necessarily considered. But the best attribute a Federal Reserve Chairman usually these guys are -- -- for their reserve. In -- there reluctance to speak publicly we've almost seen Bernanke. It's almost like he's had to force himself to be a little more talkative and a little -- more transparent and even then. He doesn't always say all that much we actually -- to leave -- more confused than informed -- Larry Summers will be a great choice for the media I -- -- we would love him because she would give us a lot to write and talk about I think. I'm not so sure he's -- -- -- guy gets the job. I'm we shall see -- and I want to thank you so much for joining us columnist Yahoo! finance. Thanks for staying with us we had just finished watching President Obama about his latest. Economic push. The first look at today's series of large scale speeches get a complete recap on action news -- -- for now retired and is in New York. This has been an ABC news digital special reports. This has been a special. Report from me.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.