President Obama delivered quite the barn-burner speech to the UAW today.
We were not going to give up on your jobs and your families and your communities. So in exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We said to the auto industry, you're going to have to truly change, not just pretend like you're changing. And thanks to outstanding leadership like Bob King, we were able to get labor and management to settle their differences.
We got the industry to retool and restructure, and everybody involved made sacrifices. Everybody had some skin in the game. And it wasn’t popular. And it wasn’t what I ran for President to do. That wasn’t originally what I thought I was going to be doing as President. But you know what, I did run to make the tough calls and do the right things -- no matter what the politics were.
And I want you to know, you know why I knew this rescue would succeed?...
It wasn’t because of anything the government did. It wasn’t just because of anything management did. It was because I believed in you. I placed my bet on the American worker. And I’ll make that bet any day of the week...
And who knows, maybe the naysayers would finally come around and say that standing by America's workers was the right thing to do. Because, I've got to admit, it's been funny to watch some of these folks completely try to rewrite history now that you're back on your feet. The same folks who said, if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, "you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye." Now they're saying, we were right all along.
Or you've got folks saying, well, the real problem is -- what we really disagreed with was the workers, they all made out like bandits -- that saving the auto industry was just about paying back the unions. Really? I mean, even by the standards of this town, that’s a load of you know what.
About 700,000 retirees had to make sacrifices on their health care benefits that they had earned. A lot of you saw hours reduced, or pay or wages scaled back. You gave up some of your rights as workers. Promises were made to you over the years that you gave up for the sake and survival of this industry -- its workers, their families. You want to talk about sacrifice? You made sacrifices. This wasn't an easy thing to do.
Let me tell you, I keep on hearing these same folks talk about values all the time. You want to talk about values? Hard work -- that’s a value. Looking out for one another -- that’s a value. The idea that we're all in it together, and I'm my brother's keeper and sister's keeper -- that’s a value...
We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got a long way to go before everybody who wants a good job can get a good job. We’ve got a long way to go before middle-class Americans fully regain that sense of security that’s been slipping away since long before this recession hit. But you know what, we’ve got something to show -- all of you show what’s possible when we pull together...
See, that’s what America is about. America is not just looking out for yourself. It’s not just about greed. It’s not just about trying to climb to the very top and keep everybody else down. When our assembly lines grind to a halt, we work together and we get them going again. When somebody else falters, we try to give them a hand up, because we know we’re all in it together.
I got my start standing with working folks who’d lost their jobs, folks who had lost their hope because the steel plants had closed down. I didn’t like the idea that they didn’t have anybody fighting for them. The same reason I got into this business is the same reason I’m here today. I’m driven by that same belief that everybody -- everybody -- should deserve a chance.
So I promise you this: As long as you’ve got an ounce of fight left in you, I’ll have a ton of fight left in me. We’re going to keep on fighting to make our economy stronger; to put our friends and neighbors back to work faster; to give our children even more opportunity; to make sure that the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth.
Here's video of the whole speech:
Earlier this week as I was feeling a bit of despair listening to the selfishness, greed and hatred coming from Republicans, I began to hope that President Obama would once again return to his eloquence about our shared responsibility to one another - that we are our brother's/sister's keeper. I needed to hear that today. Perhaps I'm not the only one.
To be honest, when the speech was over I found myself getting a little teary-eyed. Its one of those moments I've had ever so often over the last 3 years when it dawns on me that we actually have a smart, committed, ethical man in the White House. I'm very well aware of the fact that President Obama is not perfect. But I've been a political junkie for most of my life. And for all those years, this is what I feel like I've been dreaming about as a possibility. Sometimes I feel like I need to pinch myself to make sure I really am awake. The tears were about realizing that I was.