Source: White House Press Office
Our first question is from LinkedIn member Chuck Painter. And, Chuck we’re going to get you a mic —
Q Good morning, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning.
Q I’m from Austin, Texas. I’ve been in sales in the plastics industry for 20 years. I lost my job in 2009 and fortunate enough to have found another position, become reemployed. My question is what can we do as American citizens to unite ourselves and help the economy?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, are you a native of Austin? Because that’s one of my favorite cities in the country.
Q Actually, I’m a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, but just relocated to Austin, and I love it there.
THE PRESIDENT: Austin is great. Charlotte is not bad. (Laughter.)
Q Thank you, thank you, thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s the reason why I’m having my convention in Charlotte, because I love North Carolina as well. But how long did it take you to find a new job after you had gotten laid off?
Q It took nine months.
THE PRESIDENT: It took nine months?
Q Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: And that’s one of the challenges that a lot of folks are seeing out there. You’ve got skilled people with experience in an industry. That industry changes, and you were fortunate enough to be able to move. Some folks, because of the decline in the housing industry, are having trouble with mobility in finding new jobs and relocating in pursuit of opportunity.
Q Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: The most important thing that we can do right now is to help jumpstart the economy, which has stalled, by putting people back to work. And so, not surprisingly, I think the most important thing we can do right now is pass this jobs bill.
Think about it. Independent economists have estimated that, if we pass the entire package, the American Jobs Act, we would increase GDP by close to 2 percent; we would increase employment by 1.9 million persons. And that is the kind of big, significant move in the economy that can have ripple effects and help a recovery take off.
There’s been a lot of dispute about the kind of impact that we had right after the financial crisis hit. But the fact is, the vast majority of economists who looked at it have said that the Recovery Act, by starting infrastructure projects around the country, by making sure that states had help on their budgets so they didn’t have to lay off teachers and firefighters and others, by providing tax cuts to small businesses — and by the way, we’ve cut taxes about 16 times since I’ve been in office for small businesses to give them more capital to work with and more incentives to hire — all those things made a big difference.
The American Jobs Act is specifically tailored to putting more of those folks back to work. It’s not going to solve all our problems. We’ve still got a housing situation in which too many homes are underwater. And one of the things that we’ve proposed as part of the American Jobs Act is, is that we’re going to help reduce the barriers to refinancing so that folks can get record-low rates. That will put more money into people’s pockets. It will provide tax cuts to not only small businesses, but almost every middle-class family. That means they’ve got more money in their pockets, and that means that they’re going to be able to spend it on products and services, which provide additional incentives for business to hire folks like you.
So it’s the right step to take right now. Long term, we’re going to have to pull together around making sure our education system is the best in the world, making sure our infrastructure is the best in the world, continuing to invest in science and technology. We’ve got to stabilize our finances, and we’ve got to continue to drive down health care costs, which are a drag on our whole economy. And we’ve got to continue to promote trade, but make sure that that trade is fair and that intellectual property protection, for example, is available when we’re doing business in other countries, like China.
So there are a lot of long-term agendas that we’ve got to pursue. Right now, though, the most important thing I can do for you, even if you already have a job, is to make sure that your neighbors and your friends also have jobs, because those are ultimately the customers for your products.