The following is a transcript of President Obama's speech to workers at a GM plant:
It is good to be back in Ohio, and it's good to be at one of GM's flagship plants with all of you. I just finished having a productive discussion with some of your coworkers about the challenges you're facing, both here and in your communities, and how we can meet them.
We talked about the economic troubles you've been weathering here in Trumbull County since long before our current crisis. Over the years, you've seen factories close, your friends laid off, and your sons and daughters move away in search of jobs and opportunity. I know it was painful around here earlier this year, when three shifts at this plant were cut down to one. And today, the local unemployment rate is unacceptably high - the second-highest in Ohio. I know at times, it seems like this community is on the brink - again.
There are some who see this pain and suggest that it's all somehow inevitable - that the only way for America to get ahead is for communities like yours to be left behind. But we know better. We know that our success on a nation depends on the success of communities just like this one. We know that the battle for America's future will be fought and won not just in the big cities, not just on the coasts, but in towns like Elkhart and Pittsburgh; Warren and Youngstown.
That's why I'm proud to be here with all of you. You work hard. You meet your responsibilities. You deserve better. You deserve better than the attitude that's prevailed from Washington to Wall Street to Detroit for too long; an attitude that valued wealth over work, selfishness over sacrifice, and greed over responsibility. And that's why I want you to know that every day I step into the Oval Office, I am thinking about you, I am working for you, and I am fighting on your behalf.
Sometimes, that involves making tough decisions that have been put off for too long. Now, as I've said before, I didn't run for President to manage auto companies. It wasn't something on my to-do list. It wasn't even something on my want-to-do list. I wasn't going to put any more tax dollars on the line if it meant perpetuating the bad business decisions that led to this point. But in the midst of a deep recession and financial crisis, the collapse of the auto industry would have caused enormous damage to our economy. So we intervened for one simple and compelling reason: your survival and the success of our economy depended on it.
Our belief was that if GM retooled and reinvented itself for the 21st century, it would be good for American workers, good for American manufacturing, and good for America's economy. I'm pleased to report that's exactly what's begun to happen at this plant and at others. And I'll tell you what: I will double down on the American people and all of you any day of the week.
One of the other efforts we undertook was the Cash for Clunkers program. That program was good for automakers, consumers, and our environment - and the Chevy Cobalt that you build here was one of GM's most sought-after cars under that program. Dealers across the country started running out of it and needed you to build more.
One other thing. For too long, our auto companies faced uncertain and conflicting fuel economy standards. That made it difficult for you to plan down the road. That's why, today, we are launching - for the first time in history - a new national standard aimed at both increasing gas mileage and decreasing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in America. This action will give our auto companies some long-overdue clarity, stability, and predictability. In the past, an agreement like this would have been impossible - but this time was different. Unlikely allies came together - automakers, the UAW, environmental advocates, Democrats and Republicans, California and more than a dozen other states - all of them pledging to set aside the quarrels of the past for the sake of the future.
Because of the steps we have taken, this plant is about to shift into higher gear. 150 of your coworkers came back to work yesterday. More than 1,000 will be coming back to work in less than three weeks as production of the Cobalt ramps up. And next year, this plant will begin production of the Chevy Cruze, a new car that will get more than 40 miles per gallon.
So if you picked up a copy of the Youngstown Vindicator back in January, you would have seen a headline that read "Worries mount in wake of layoffs." But just a couple of weeks ago, you'd have read a different story - "Good news at Lordstown is good news for all." And today, you made some more good news: I understand that the one millionth Cobalt rolled off the assembly line late last night. So I want to not just congratulate, but thank each and every one of you. You're doing your part to move us forward and make sure that the high-quality, well-engineered, safe and fuel-efficient cars of the future will be built where they always have been - right here in Ohio, right here across the Midwest, right here in America.
But even though you're proving that American automakers are getting back in the game, you know that our economic troubles are far from over. You know that we have a lot of work to do to not just get this community moving again, and this economy moving again, but to build a stronger foundation for our future.
Some folks in Washington have already forgotten just what it was we walked into eight months ago. So let's just go through the facts of where we were. A financial system near collapse. 700,000 workers losing their jobs each month. A sudden decline in credit that made it very difficult to take out home loans, auto loans, student loans, or small business loans. It was so bad that experts of all political persuasions feared a second coming of the Great Depression.
So we took bold, swift action to make sure that didn't happen. We moved to keep responsible homeowners in their homes and jumpstart lending. And we passed a sweeping Recovery Act without any of the usual Washington earmarks or pork-barrel spending - and that plan is working.
Now this is important. One-third of that plan went to tax relief. We cut your taxes. We cut taxes for 95 percent of America's working families - 4.5 million families in Ohio alone - and we cut taxes for small businesses on the investments they make.
Another third was emergency relief. For Americans who were laid off, we extended unemployment benefits - a measure that made a difference for 12 million Americans, including 570,000 right here in Ohio. We made health insurance 65 percent cheaper for families relying on COBRA while looking for work. We saved the jobs of tens of thousands of state and local workers, including 336 police officers right here in Ohio.
The last third is investing in your towns and your future. Just as one example of many, over in Canfield, we awarded a competitive contract to a local company to repair a bridge on Route 11. That allowed them to avoid layoffs they were otherwise going to make. And that allowed local folks to keep coming to work, doing the work America needs done.
We still have a long way to go, Ohio. But there's little debate that the decisions we have made and the steps we have taken have helped stop our economic freefall. In some places, they've helped us turn the corner. Home sales are up, business investment is starting to stabilize, and for the first time in 18 months, we are seeing growth in manufacturing. I know that's small consolation when so many people you know are still out of work or have given up looking. It's going to take some time to achieve a complete recovery. But I will not rest until anyone looking for a job can find one - and I'm not talking about just any job; but good jobs that give every family a fair shot at the American Dream. That's what we're fighting for every day.
We're fighting for an America where your children will be armed with the skills they need to compete with any worker, anywhere in the world. We're making an historic commitment to strengthening and improving education from the cradle to a career. And I have set a goal that by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
We're fighting for an America where clean energy generates green jobs - jobs that can't be outsourced; jobs that help free us from the grip of foreign oil; jobs that make sure the cars of the future and the technologies that power them are made right here in the USA.
And yes, just in case you were wondering, we are fighting for an America where no American should have to worry about going without health insurance or fear that one illness could cost them everything. We're going to reform the system to provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance; offer quality, affordable choices to those who currently don't; and bring health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government under control.
That's what we're fighting for. To bring Lordstown and Youngstown and Warren back. To make sure that our towns and our middle class - a middle class forged in plants just like this one - don't just survive today, but thrive tomorrow. And I want you to deliver a message to the GM Team members who are manning the line and couldn't join us today: As long as you've still got an ounce of fight left in you, I'll have a ton of fight left in me. And as long as I have the privilege of being your President, I'm going to keep fighting for a future that is brighter for this community, for Ohio, and for the United States of America. Thank you.