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tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  December 6, 2011 1:00pm-3:00pm EST

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>> reporter: the activists who favor slaughter say with the lifting of the ban, a slaughterhouse could be up and running as soon as a few weeks from now. they estimate up to 200,000 horses could be slaughtered for human consumption with most of the meat going to europe and asia. brian todd, cnn. cnn newsroom continues right now with randi kaye. >> president obama is calling on a republican predecessor to help him pass an extension of payroll tax cuts. he is due to speak this hour, site of the 1910 address by roosevelt. you're looking at the live picture of the podium where the president will speak. the sticking point with republicans is how to pay for them. you'll hear the president live at 1:55 eastern time right here on cnn. overseas the pressure on the
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eu eurozone is growing, ahead of another summit, standard and porr's is threatening to down grade the credit ratings, including france and germany that now plan to call for enforcement caps on deficits. greek bonds are already junk. gop presidential front-runner mitt romney has more than newt gingrich on his back. according to a report, the former massachusetts govern ers's office spent $100,000 in state funds to remove records from his four years in office. the money was used to replace computers in his office months before romney launched his unsuccessful campaign for the nomination back in 2008. in addition, his staff had e-mails and other communication from state servers. they say the move was legal but certainly unusual. the supreme court has agreed to hear the case of a man who was detained by the secret
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service after yelling at and possibly touching then vice president dick cheney. he was released after the incident in 2006. he is suing two secret service agents for allegedly violating his first and fourth amendment rights. a lower court said his arrest was justified. obama administration attorneys have joined the defense for the agents. bp is accusing halliburton of destroying evidence relating to the explosion that caused the gulf oil spill. they maintain that two halliburton employees have admitted under only that notes relating to cement testing were destroyed. faulty cement was found to be a key cause of the explosion that killed 11 people and dumped 200 million gallons of oil into the gulf of mexico. last year's west virginia mine disaster that killed 29 men was one of the worst in decades and now the owner of the coal mine will have to shell out $209
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million. alpha national resources will not be charged with crimes. company executives could face prosecution. $40 million of the settlement will go to the miner's families. a record run without a government is now over in belgium. a new prime minister bringing to an end 589 days of political deadlock. it all started when the last prime minister resigned in april of last year. the delay in forming a new government was triggered by disputes between the dutch speaking north and the french speaking south. a new domain made its debut on internet. more than 100,000 websites went up in the triple x domain, that means they are ending with .xxx. it. crime we know is a danger to everyone and that includes even
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criminals. police say this is what it looks like when the man you pick to rob at gun point is a mixed martial arts fighter of the anthony miranda has been charged with armed robbery and also charged for firing his gun. look at that. chicago police say the robber mistakingly shot himself in the ankle. >> oops. innocent until proven guilty is at the heart of our legal system, right? new legislation has a lot of people wondering, how it could allow the military to detain u.s. citizens indefinitely just ahead. plus, right now, president obama getting ready to address the crowd in kansas. he's expected to speak about the economy. live pictures right there from kansas. what the white house calls a quote make or break moment for the middle class. we'll bring that speech to you live. but first, the fight against breast cancer for rancic that battle has taken a drastic turn. she'll undergo a double
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president obama is threatening to veto a military
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spending bill and for a change it's not the money. it's a few lines amid more than 900 pages of administration that critics call an attack on the constitution itself. the senate version of the national defense authorization act includes, authority for the armed forces of the united states to detain a person who was a part or substantially supported al qaeda, the taliban or associated forces without trial until the end of the hostilities. to civil libertarians and tea party conservatives as well, that is a nightmare scenario. akin to the internment of japanese americans in world war ii. i'm joined by matthew waxman, a law professor and fellow at the council on foreign relations. professor nice to see you. apart from the philosophical debate there is consider bl
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agreement over what the clauses actually mean. what is your take? >> there is a lot of debate about what these clauses mean. essentially this act does two things. it affirms or tries to clarify that congress has given the president authority to capture and detain enemy fighters in an ongoing war with al qaeda. and it also puts restrictions on the president's flexibility to use different legal tools for detaining, arresting, inkpat tating. >> someone could be in their backyard and you're saying this means the military could come haul them away until who knows when? >> i would not go that far. i think that grossly oversimplifies this act. what this act tries to do is say that the united states is engaged in an armed conflict
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with al qaeda, and that that armed conflict includes the power to detain enemy fighters as the government would do in a war against another state. you detain enemy combat ents and hold them until the end of hostilities. this act tries to clarify what the definition of an enemy fighter in this war is. >> so how does it differ from the existing law? because many of us remember jose padilla, she was held without charge by the military for years until he was finally charged and went to trial. what's different? >> well, what this law does, in a sense it puts a stamp of approval on some of the actions that the president -- both president bush and president obama have taken. that is the idea as you refer to of detaining some enemy fighter and al qaeda suspects not
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subject to criminal trial but pursuant to the laws of war and holding them without trial until the end of hostilities. and this is an effort by congress to say we agree with that interpretation and we're going to provide some additional clarity to it. but the other thing that this bill does is it even removes some flexibility, some discretion that the president currently has to choose among different legal tools for handling individual al qaeda suspects. >> and just very quickly, about 20 seconds left. how do you think this will affect and impact counter terrorism operations? >> well, a number of current and former counterterrorism officials have weighed in saying that restrictions on the president's discretion, the flexibility to choose among different tools, including criminal justice and law enforcement tools could damage
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our counter terrorism operation. >> matthew waxman, thank you very much, professor. the vietnam war is long over but thousands are still dying. that is our undercover story. we'll bring it to you next. accept it. you can't change the way banking works. just accept it, man. free ? doesn't close at five ? try nature. it's a bank. what do you want, a hug ? just accept it. hidden fees, fine print, or they'll stick it to you some other way. stay with the herd, son. accept it. just accept it. accept it. just accept it. accept it. if we miss this movie, you're dead.
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the war in vietnam split the united states among idealogical and generational lines and now 36 years after the war ended, the country of vietnam is also split. more than 16 million acres are still to this day contaminated with war era landmines and explosives. nearly 20% of the country. if the same percentage of the u.s. were affected, we're talking about a huge chunk of the nation, more than 100,000 vietnamese have been occurred or
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injured by landmines and explosives four decades after the war ended. welcome to you both. first, justin, you were at the u.n. sponsored conference in cambodia is enough being done to clear these old explosives? >> i don't think anyone is enough when we look at the impact of these devices on the social economic setting in vietnam and other countries, we're looking at 42 victims per year in vietnam. that's the equivalent of what we see in afghanistan. much more can be done and the faster we do it, the faster the land can be returned to productive use. >> is the u.s. doing enough to help in this cause, in this effort? >> well, the u.s. has been actively engaged in mine action in vietnam since 1989 and the
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total amount is about 62 million u.s. dollars. it has been a great cooperation but a lot more needs to be done. on average only below $3 million a for mine action in vietnam and the problem is huge. >> justin, why does the u.s. have an interest in this? why is this important to the u.s.? these old land mines and bombs are affecting vietnam's economic growth but why should the u.s. care? >> vietnam could be an excellent partner of the united states in the region and certainly cultivating that relationship in addition to the legacy from the war that the united states was an active participant in leads to a natural conclusion that cooperation would be beneficial both to the vietnamese as well as the united states. >> tell me what you think needs to be done now. you're there and on the ground. what's happening? what needs to be done there?
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>> i think that as we see the stas ticks that come out, almost four decades after the war, we still have a lot of victims on a daily monthly basis. to move forward, three particular actions we can take. first of all, we hope that the u.s. government being our number one donor in mine action in vietnam would be able to increase its assistance to vietnam together with other donor agencies and international development organizations. and second of all, the vietnamese needs to include the mine action into its over all developments plan so that's not a stand alone program. instead it is brought into the mainstream development forum to discuss with all of the international development partners. and lastly, i think that vietnamese government needs to look at how to improve the technology and methodology to
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de-mine more effectively and efficiently. they have done very well but a lot more can be done. >> an important topic. we'll continue to follow it. thank you both for your time. an escaped convict is on the loose and seeking revenge. who police say he's out to get. crime and consequence is next. plus, president obama expected to speak about the economy and middle class. wolf blitzer will join us for live coverage when that happens juc just before the top of the hour. everyone have their new blackberry from at&t?
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really? 25 grams of protein. what do we have? all four of us, together? 24. he's low fat, too, and has 5 grams of sugars. i'll believe it when i--- [ both ] oooooh... what's shakin'? [ female announcer ] as you get older, protein is an important part of staying active and strong. new ensure high protein... fifty percent of your daily value of protein. low fat and five grams of sugars. see? he's a good egg. [ major nutrition ] new ensure high protein. ensure! nutrition in charge! time now for crime and consequence. we want you to take a close look at this man who was put away on burglary charges and has escaped from a new hampshire prison. police say he's armed and dangerous and out for revenge. the 33-year-old is believed to be in maine, police say on the hunt for two people he has a
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grudge against. hob son's father was arrested for helping his son by leaving a bunch of supplies outside his home. there's a reward for information that leads to his cap tour. jerry sandusky has claimed he is innocent. more alleged victims have been identified. several victims mentioned in the grand jury report are expected to testify against sandusky at a hearing next week. this comes after sandusky gave two interviews, most recently with the new york times as he appeared fifth etty as at the attempted to clear his quote that on his attraction to boys. >> that's not the truth because i'm attracted to young people, boys, girls -- >> but not sexually, you're atracked -- >> right, i was trying to say. i enjoy spending time about young people. i enjoy spending time with people.
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my two favorite groups are the elderly and the young. >> sandusky's lawyer says he's looking forward to confronting the alleged victims about their claims sandusky molested and even raped some of them of the an attorney representing some of the alleged victims say they are appalled by the fact he can't answer a single question. >> today is a day four of the hearings if the man who tried to assassinate ronald reagan, will be freed to a mental hospital. the 56-year-old currently spends ten days a month visiting his mom in williamsburg, the mental hospital where he's been treated since being found not guilty by reason of insanity. prosecutors say hinckley is still a danger and he has been seen browsing store shelves that had books about reagan and presidential assassinations when he was supposed to be at a
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movie. rod blagojevich will learn how much time he has to spend in prison for corruption. his sentencing hearing begins today. he was con vicked of 17 public corruption charges six months ago. his conviction centers around trying to sell or trade the seat held by president obama. federal prosecutors are asking he be sentenced 15 to 20 years in prison. investigators are calling the vicious death of a 7-year-old gorge georgia girl a horrific murder. she was kidnapped from a playground. the gbi revealed that they believe her killer lives at the complex. her wounds were so severe, the gbi director would only say this. >> the autopsy revealed that the victim died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, that the victim had been stabbed and that the child had been sexually
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assaulted. there were also other injuries to the child which i'm not going to describe. >> investigators are actively pursuing leads but have no one in custody and no suspects. well, he was governor of massachusetts, mitt romney's staff deleted files before he left office. does he have have something to hide? nancy pelosi takes a shot at newt gingrich. it is fair game and coming your way next. our political junkie question of the day. which presidential candidate did donald trump endorse in 2008? the answer is just ahead. if you know it, send a tweet to me at randi kaye cnn, i'll give a shoutout to you if you get it right. ♪ so who ordered the cereal that can help lower cholesterol and who ordered the yummy cereal? yummy. [ woman ] lower cholesterol. [ man 2 ] yummy. i got that wrong didn't i? [ male announcer ] want great taste and whole grain oats that can help lower cholesterol? honey nut cheerios.
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before the break we asked which candidate donald trul p endorsed in 2008. the answer is john mccain. he picked mccain six weeks before the november election. our political junkie of the day is matt from columbus, ohio, who tweeted me first the right answer. congratulations to you, matt. time now for the part of the show where we look past the partisan talking points to the heart of the debate where all sides are fair game. we've got a lot of really good topics today. let's get to it, joining me now is republican strategist sherry jacobus and robert zimmerman. thanks both for coming on the show. let's go to the story about romney's staff getting rid of records when he was wrapping up
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as governor. the roar says they even removed the hard drives from state-issued computers that cost $100,000 of taxpayer money to replace those computers. let me ask you first, is this a big deal? >> oh, my goodness, i think it's a serious story. i personally think mitt romney would have been off had he shredded his public interviews so we wouldn't have a record of him flipping on so many records, gay rights, climate change and payroll tax cut extension. when you have theresa dole an who served 23 years representing different governors say this without precedent that the hard drives were bought by mitt romney's staff and documents were shredded and it cost the taxpayers $100,000, it's a serious issue about accountability and what they are trying to hide. >> sherry, what do you think? >> he did nothing illegal. but you have to look at where things were at that point in time. he's looking at the democrat
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coming in to replace him who's good friends with barack obama and look what the clintons did when they were in the white house in terms of taking fbi records of republicans and trying to use that information against them. when you look at how al gore was trying to sweep e-mails under the rug. i'm probably going to take a hit on this from democrats and people like robert out there slamming this but overall it's legal and makes good political sense so you don't have people poring through the e-mails. you see what the "washington post" did with sarah palin, given what the people on left had beenvying to do to republicans, i don't blame them one bit. they take a hit but overall they made the right call. >> you know, sherry, i need dramamine to go with that spin. at the end of the day it won't be good for romney to say i bet the rap it wasn't illegal. there's an issue of ethics. >> i think the democrats settled that with what they tried to do
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to republicans. >> let's move onto the dust-up between nancy pelosi and newt gingrich. she has information of gingrich back in the 1990s then last night the obama campaign chief david axelrod was on piers morgan saying this. >> she's really the godfather of gridlock. he was the one who really created an environment in which people started treating oech other as enemies and not as opponents here in washington. >> so robert, does this strike you as a little odd that now it seems as thoep the obama campaign is going after gingrich and not so much focusing on romney? >> if it's any measure, i must receive about 30 e-mails a day from the obama campaign and democratic national committee discussing mitt romney and his record of taking both sides of every issue. obviously as he has emerged in
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the front-runner status, you'll have more talk from democrats. what's worth noting here, gingrich very shrewdly flipped the topic. pelosi is referring to a public record where the speaker was reprimanded and faced an unprecedented fine of $300,000. he ducked that issue and tried to make the focus on nancy pelosi. that won't hold up for a long time but it worked in the short term. >> do you think the administration will focus on gingrich more? >> i think they are terrified of him. she gave a great gift to newt gingrich, any damage sitting on the sofa doing the global warming ad with her, especially she doesn't say what it is. she is trying to stacare conservatives. every gop candidate could wish they had nancy pelosi going after them. in terms of him causing gridlock, he brought republicans into the majority for the first
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time and it's hilarious that the democrats think we have opposition for the first time in 40 years and all of a sudden that's gridlock because republicans -- there's a difference, though sherry. >> wait a minute, that was unbelievable because republicans had been in the minority been ruled by the democrats for so long. the money there's push back that rises from the electorate they call that gridlock. most people think it's a success. >> if i could point out, it's important to have a very aggressive debate on different issues. what gingrich did is produce the demonization of politics and took it beyond partisanship when he started calling democrats nazis and socialists. you don't see too many supporting newt gingrich. many have said, if he's the nominee he wouldn't be endorsed. >> remember last fall, obama care. >> thank you robert zimmerman, and sherry, good to be with you
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both for the day. a programming note, newt gingrich will join wolf blitzer tomorrow coming your way at 4:00 p.m. eastern time. we're waiting for president obama to deliver a speech in kansas. yes, that is the same place where teddy roosevelt gave his nationalism speech in 1910. there you see it waiting for the president. the president is expected to address economic concerns. we'll bring it to you live here on cnn as it happens. a country long at war where dozens are killed in rare suicide bombing attacks against a religious group. do you know where this happened? we'll tell you in a live report coming up next imagine living your life with less chronic osteoarthritis pain. imagine you, with less pain. cymbalta can help. cymbalta is a non-narcotic treatment that's fda-approved to manage chronic musculoskeletal pain. one pill a day, every day, can help reduce this pain. tell your doctor right away if your mood worsens, you have unusual changes in mood or behavior
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there's been another deadly attack in the heart of kabul. >> jesus! >> the target shiite muslim pilgrims. one other suicide bomber struck north of kabul. dozens were killed and many other wounded. attacks against religious groups have been rare in the ten-year long war against the taliban. nick, what is the latest on the death toll at this hour? has anyone claimed responsibility for today's attacks? >> we are hearing from health ministry officials in the kabul blast, 56 people have died and 193 injured making it one of the most severe attacks i can recall
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in recent times here in kabul. no claim of responsibility as yet. we do interestingly have the l taliban issuing a statement to condemn the attack both there in kabul and in the north. shar i have suggesting they don't want to publicly be associated with this sectarian violence. they believe it is the taliban to blame or the affiliates or al qaeda. but this happened in a really densely packed area full of shia pull grimes attending a shrine on this key religious holiday. the pictures you're about to see do quite distressingly show the moment the blast struck. >> what does it say about afghan security forces there then? >> reporter: as the main question they have control of much of the security in the center of kabul with nato always
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waiting in the wings to assist. nobody is entirely sure how the suicide bomber penetrated or how to prevent this from happening in the future. kabul has been penetrated over the past several months many times. >> nick, thank you. troops are coming home from iraq but did they leave iraq a better place than when they arrived? the cost of war in depth next. plus, president obama is getting ready to address a crowd in kansas. he's expected to speak about the economy coming up in just about 15 minutes. we'll bring to you live on cnn. first, dan quayle is back in the spotlight today. the former vice president is set to endorse mitt romney for the republican nomination later this afternoon. quayle's link to politics is his son who is a freshman congressman. but now an endorsement and personal visit from mitt romney? after that, back to the shadows.
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dan quayle, your 15 minutes are up.
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by the end of the month just about all american troops will be gone from iraq bringing to an end a war that lasted nearly nine years. more than 1 million u.s. troops in total everybodied in that war. more than 4,480 were killed and the iraqi toll higher, 600,000 according to some accounts, the cost to american taxpayers more than $800 billion. but iraq remains an unstable place. iraqi officials say a car bomb
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attack was named at nuri al maliki and there are concerns whether iraq can ever become a stable democracy. michael schmit joins us from baghdad. michael, u.s. military commanders and iraqi leaders don't think that this is actually a good time for american troops to be leaving. what's your take on this? >> it's a tough call. in some ways iraq is ready to walk alone. but the past few years its own military and police have been in the streets protecting and trying to keep order here. although, security here is not great, the security has improved and life has sort of gotten back to normal. at the same time though, iraq can't protect its own air space and its borders and its military needs training and assistance from the united states. >> when you look at the numbers, a couple of them we just ran through, more than 4,000 americans killed and more than $8 billion spent. what is the general feeling from those that you've spoken with.
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was this the right call? was this worth it? >> well, iraqis have a very sort of mixed mindset and very complicated feelings about this. on one hand they are very happy that saddam hussein and his regime are gone. but at the same time, it came with an enormous cost. they still haven't gotten over that. so in some ways they really want to stand by themselves and have their own country and for the united states to leave. but i think they also realize that the united states brings a level of order to the country that may not exist after the first of the year. >> in terms of the mood there among iraqis, are they pleased to see the americans leaving or is there concern? >> i think that among the minorities across the country, there's a lot of concern because even though the united states wasn't actively doing security in the streets and protecting the streets, they were sort of
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this like added benefit of having them here because everyone is sort of afraid if anything happened the united states would come in and stop any violence. when they leave that won't be the case anymore. what will happen and how will that affect the government and the way it treats minorities is a really big question. >> the real question is, is iraq a safer place than it was all those years ago? is the threat from insurgent attacks any less? >> there's still attacks here on a daily basis and still explosions and still assassinations. every few weeks there's a really big attack but yes it is better than it was a few years ago. things have improved significantly but at the same time iraq is not a safe place. >> all right, michael schmit from "the new york times." we want to let our viewers know, billy graham has been released from the hospital. we've been reporting that he was
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under the weather, not feeling well and he has now been released from the hospital. plus, right now president obama is getting ready to address a crowd in kansas. he's expected to speak about the economy, live pictures right there coming from kansas. wolf blitzer and gloria borger join us live after the break. the president's speech on the economy coming your way next. ♪ i'm burning out this useless telephone ♪ ♪ my hair is gone ♪ cheap cologne ♪ motor home ♪ i'm the rocket man! [ both ] ♪ rocket man
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the president of the united states is getting ready to have a major address on the economy. he's gone to heartland, to kansas. he will mention teddy roosevelt. he delivered an important speech there and that's why the president has selected this site. we want to welcome our viewers here. we have special coverage. i'm wolf blitzer along with gloria borger and jessica yellen is standing by. set the scene for us. what's the theory behind this address in kansas for the president today? >> reporter: this is the opportunity for the president and the white house to set the stage for the kind of economic message the president wants to define the campaign around and the economic themes going forward. he has, for many months, through
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the debt talks and even going back to his campaign in 2008, to some extent talked about opportunities in america. but we have increasingly heard about democratic party, the democratic base in particular, economic wealth in this country and the problems on the haves and have-nots and the shrinking middle class. for the president, this is a time and place for him to talk about what he believes are the right values as a nation to rectify those issues. but he's chosen kansas, essentially a red state, and a republican president, teddy roosevelt, who recognized in the white house's view that america could only succeed by banding together and the middle class and wealthy corporations finding a way to work together to level out wealth and equality more than 100 years ago. teddy roosevelt delivered a speech in this town more than
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100 years ago and spoke about fairness, making sure that everybody got a fair chance, used the word fair play and equalizing opportunity. that's what teddy roosevelt used. you'll hear the president echoing those themes today. again, meaningful that it was a republican that used that phrase back then. obviously the president tipping his hand and saying, these aren't just democratic themes, wolf. >> he's going to revive a lot of those themes in this speech that he's going to be deliver momentarily. he's still the president of the united states but he's also the candidate, running for re-election. politics always very much on the minds of everyone right now. as he's getting ready to face one of these republican candidates. >> you know, it's no coincidence, wolf, that this speech today comes one day after the president again set out a definitional issue on the extension of the payroll tax for the middle class. there are republicans who have voted against this and the president has said yesterday, if
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you're for tax cuts, which we know you are and you're extending tax cuts for the wealthy, could how could you be extending the tax cuts for the middle class. he is in kansas and goes against teddy roosevelt who spoke about equality and a square deal for the american people and the fact that special interests are too influential and about the fact that the country is best when it works together rather than it works separately and when the special interests take control. so you can see, as jessica was saying, the emergence of a strong campaign theme here identify with a certain degree with the theme of occupy wall street, if not with the occupy protesters themselves and trying to identify himself with the very important mid-kell class. >> and this is not as much as a
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political speech as a campaign speech. this is the president's ability to go out and address the american people on important issues. is that the way they are billing this? >> reporter: sure. and to some extent, look, that's legitimate. the senate, the congress is still yet to vote on a payroll tax extension and what will happen with the budget and there are still elements of the america's jobs act and there is the consumer protection bureau, what the white house pressed for to be included in the financial reform package that congress passed and this is the agency that is standing up for consumer
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rights, that sort of thing. and the head of that bureau, that his nomination will be voted on by the u.s. senate on thursday and expected to be blocked. that's another fight that the president is expected to stand up for in his speech today. but there's no denying, wolf, that there is politics all over this and this is really about framing the discussion, the debate that the president would like to have during the campaign as opposed to it being about a reverend doesn't and whether the economy is in a good place, whether americans are doing well and whether he needs another four years to finish doing the job that he started doing and that's what this conversation, this speech will be about shortly. and it's also a little bit about really reframing the focus that they are having in a language that is more palate table to most americans than the way
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occupy wall street types are framing it themselves. that's not what the white house would say but you and i can acknowledge that is what is behind it to some extent, wolf. >> gloria, if you look at the speech that the president is about to deliver, he will lay out some themes that no doubt he will be using in the course of this general election campaign. >> i think the notion of a wealth gap, the fact that the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer and the middle class has really been squeezed is going to be something key in this campaign and the white house believes that it's on equal footing. six out of ten americans say they want to extend the payroll tax deduction. the support for that is broad. it's also bipartisan and the republicans find themselves in a little bit of a pickle here because there's disagreement within the republican party
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about whether you should extend the tax cut and if you do how do you pay for it. the republicans say they don't want to do that. and i should point out that the republican presidential candidates are largely now supporting the payroll tax cut. there was a question about whether mitt romney in fact did or didn't and now he does support the payroll tax cut while he also says it is too small and will not solve the problems. >> and we'll see in the course of this speech, jessica, if there's any director implied criticism of any of his potential republican challengers. you and our viewers know the president has been visiting a lot of those so-called battle ground states, pennsylvania, michigan, ohio, florida states that could be in play, obviously, north carolina, virginia in the next election.
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kansas, no one really thinks is in play but he does have a personal connection. he'll talk a little bit about it. he may have been born in hawaii, father from kenya, but his mother was born in kansas and his mother has roots in kansas. we'll hear a little bit of that in the course of this presidential address. >> >> reporter: that's right. he'll being knowledge that he is tied to kansas through his mom and it's something that we've heard a lot about in the 2008 election as well. his own personal narrative it such a central piece of the story he tells of america, in a sense, because he is so much a story of his -- his own story is such a story of the melting pot of america. even though he's not likely to win cans stas because of the voting history there, we know that because he has these roots there, going back to kansas is a reminder of how american -- how the american story has evolved
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and so it's sort of reclicking -- it's clicking him back into the 2008 candidate obama mode that we're so familiar with and bringing us back to that person he was in 2008. and then, of course, tieing him back into teddy roosevelt who gave a speech in this very same town, more than 100 years ago, wolf. >> and we know he's bringing kathleen sebelius, health and human services along with him. she obviously has a strong kansas root. >> sure. and what's interesting to me is the link to teddy roosevelt. don't forget, teddy roosevelt may have wound up on mt. rush more, which he did. but in 1912 he did not win the presidency again when he tried because he was tagged very largely because of as a result of this speech as too socialist, some folks were calming him, and his notion at that time seemed pretty radical and
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anti-corporate for republicans to swallow. >> you can see the president now walking into this event. the president is being well-received, has a lot of supporters there. and even though it's not a place where he will likely go as a presidential candidate in 2012. let's listen to the president. he's going to welcome some of this special guests this will set the stage. a lot of the things that he's going to outline will be themes that we'll hear over the next couple of months. >> please, please, have a seat. thank you so much. thank you. good afternoon, everybody. i want to start by thanking a few folks that joined us today. we have the mayor of osawatomie. phil dudley is here.
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[ applause ] >> we have your superintendent soup, gary french in the house. and we have the principal of osawatomie high, doug chism. and i have brought your former governor who is doing now an outstanding job as secretary of health and human services, kathleen sebelius is in the house. [ applause ] we love kathleen. well, it is great to be back in the state of tex -- nope.
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state of kansas. hifs i was giving bill self a hard time. as many of you know, i have roots here. i'm sure you're all familiar with the obamas of osawatomie. actually, i like to say that i got my name from my father but i got my accent and my values from my mother. [ applause ] she was born in wichita. her mother grew up in augusta. her father was from he will el
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dorado. so my kansas roots run deep. and my grandfather and she was a worker on an assembly line. together they shared the optimism of a nation that triumphed over the great depression and they believe that hard work paid off and responsibility was rewarded and anyone could make it if they tried. no matter who you were, no matter where you came from, no matter how you started out. [ applause ] and these values gave rise to the largest middle class and the
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strongest economy that the world has ever known. it was here in america that the most productive workers, the most innovative companies turned out the best products on earth. and america shared in that pride and in that success. from those in the executive suites, to those in middle management, to those on the factory floor. [ applause ] so you can have some confidence that if you gave it your all, you've taken enough home to raise your family and send your kids and have your health care covered, put a little away for retirement. and today we're still home to the world's most productive workers. we're still home to the world's most innovative companies. but for most americans, the basic bargain that made this country great has eroded.
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long before the recession hit, hard work stopped paying off for too many people. fewer and fewer of the folks who contributed to the success of our economy actually benefited from that success. those at the very top grew wealthier from their incomes and their investments, wealthier than ever before. but everybody else struggled with costs that were growing and paychecks that weren't. and too many families found themselves racking up more and more debt just to keep up. now, for many years, credit cards and home equity loans papered over this harsh reality but in 2008, the house of cards collapsed. and we all know the story by now. mortgages sold to people who
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couldn't afford them or even sometimes understand them, banks and investors allowed to keep packaging the risk from selling it off. huge bets and huge bonuses made with other people's money on the line. regulators who were supposed to warn us about the dangers of all this but looked the other way. the ward didn't have the authority to look at it all. it was wrong. it combined the breath taking greed of a few with irresponsibility all across the system. and it plunged our economy and the world into a crisis from which we're still fighting to recover. it claimed the jobs and the homes and the basic security of millions of people, innocent hardworking americans who had met their responsibilities but
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who were still left holding the bag. and ever since there's been a raging debate over the best way to restore growth and prosperity, restore balance, restore fairness. throughout the country it sparked protests and political movements from the tea party to the people who had been occupying the streets of new york and other cities. it's left washington in a near constant state of gridlock. it's been the topic of heated and sometimes colorful discussion among the men and women running for president. but osawatomie, this is not just another political debate. this is the defining issue of our time. this is a make or break moment for the middle class and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.
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because what's at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement. now, in the midst of this debate, there are some who seem to be suffering from a collective collective am please yeah. after all that's happened, since the worst crisis since the great depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. in fact, they want to go back to the same policies that stacked the deck against middle class americans for way too many years. and their philosophy is simple. we are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules. i am here to say, they are wrong. [ applause ]
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i am here in kansas to reaffirm my deep conviction that we're greater together than we are on our own. i believe he that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair share. when everyone does their fair share. when everyone plays by the same rules. [ applause ] these aren't democratic values or republican values.
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these aren't 1% values or 99% values. they are american values. and we have to reclaim them. [ applause ] you see, this isn't the first time america has faced this choice. at the turn of the last century, when a nation of farmers was transitioning to become the world's industrial giant, we had to decide, will we settle for a country where most of the rail roads and factories are being controlled by a few monopolies that kept prices high and wages low, where children worked in ungodly hours and in conditions that were unsafe and unsanitary? who we restrict education to the privileged few? because there were people who thought massive inequality and
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exploitation of people was just the price you pay for progress. theodore roosevelt disagreed. he was the republican son of a we wealthy family. he praised what the titan of industry had done, to create jobs and grow the economy. he believed then what we know is true today, that the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history. it's led to a prosperity and a standard of living unmatched by the rest of the world. but roosevelt also knew that the free market has never been a free license to take whatever you can from whomever you can. [ applause ]
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he understood that the free market only works when there are rules of the road that ensure competition is fair and open and honest. and so he busted up monopolies, forcing those companies to compete with better services and better prices and today they still must. he fought to make sure businesses could not profit by exploiting children or selling food or medicine that wasn't safe. and today they still can't. and in 1910, teddy roosevelt came here to osawatomie, and he laid out his vision for what he called a new nationalism. our country, he said, means nothing unless it means the triumph of a real democracy, of
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an economic system under which each man should be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that there is in him. [ applause ] now, for this, roosevelt was called a rad call, he was called a social list, even a communist. but today we are a richer nation and stronger democracy because of what he fought for in his last campaign. an eight-hour workday and a minimum wage for women, insurance for the unemployed. and for the elderly. and for those with disabilities. political reform. and a progressive income tax.
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today, over 100 years later, our economy has gone through another transformation. huge advances in technology have allowed businesses to do more with less. and it's made it easier for them to set up shop and hire workers anywhere that they want in the world. and many of you know firsthand the painful disruption that this has caused for a lot of americans. factories where people thought they would retire suddenly picked up and went overseas where workers were cheaper. ste steel mills that needed 100 or 1,000 employees are now able to do the same work with 100 employees. so layoffs too often became
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permanent, not part of the business cycle. and these changes didn't just affect blue collar workers. if you were a bank teller or a phone operator or a travel agent, you saw many in your profession replaced by atms and the internet. today even accountants can be outsourced to places like china or india. and if you're somebody whose job can be done cheaper by a computer or someone in another country, you don't have a lot of leverage with your employer when it comes to asking for better wages or better benefits. especially since fewer americans are part of a union. now, just as there was in teddy roosevelt's time, there is a certain crowd in washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let's respond to this economic challenge with the same
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old tune. the market will take care of everything, they tell us. if we just cut more regulations and more taxes, especially for the wealthy, our economy will grow stronger. sure, they say, there will be winners and losers, but if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. and they argue, even if prosperity doesn't trickle down, well, then, that's the price of liberty. now, it's a simple theory and we have toed a milt, it's one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. that's in america's dna. and that there is fits well on a
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bumper sticker. but here is the problem. it doesn't work. it has never worked. [ applause ] it didn't work when the decade before the depression. it's not what led to the incredible post world war booms of the '50s and '60s, and it didn't work when we tried it during the last decade. i mean, understand that it's not as if we haven't tried this theory. remember in those years, in 201 and 2003, congress passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history.
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and what did it get us? the slou west job growth in half a century. massive deficits that have made it much harder to pay for the investments that provided the basic security that helped millions of americans reach and stay in the middle class. thanks like education and infrastructure. science and technology, medicare and social security. remember, thanks to some of the same folks who are now running congress, we had weak regulation. we had weak oversight. and what did it get us? insurance companies that jacked up people's premiums with impune tea and denied care to patients who were sick, mortgage lenders that tricked families into buying homes they couldn't afford, a financial sector where irresponsibility and basic
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oversight nearly destroyed our entire economy. we simply cannot return to this brand, you're on your own economics if we're serious about rebuilding the economics in this country. [ applause ] we know that it doesn't result in a strong economy. it results in an economy that invests too little in its people and in its future. we know it doesn't result in a prosperity that trickles down it results in a prosperity that is enjoyed by fewer and fewer of our citizens. look at the statistics. in the last few decades, the average income of the top 1% has gone up by more than 250%.
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to $1.2 million per year. i'm not talking about millionaires, people who have a million dollars. i'm saying people who make a million dollars every single year. for the top 100th of 1%, the average income is now $27 million per year. the typical ceo who used to earn 30 times more than his or her worker now earns 110 times more. and yet over the last decade, the incomes of most americans have actually fallen by 6%. now, this kind of inequality a level that we haven't seen since the great depression, hurts us
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all. when middle class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, when people are slipping out of the middle class, it drags down the entire economy from top to bottom. america was built on the broad base of consumers all across the country. that's why a ceo like henry ford made the amount that he could to buy the cars he made. it shows why countries less in equality send to have steadier, economic growth over the long run. inequality also distorts our democracy. it gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford unlimited campaign contributions and it
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runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder. [ applause ] it leaves everyone else, rightly suspicious, that the system in washington is rigged against them, that our elected representatives aren't looking out for the interests of most americans. but there is an even more fundamental issue. this kind of gaping inequality gives promise to what is at the heart of america. that this is a place where you can make it if you try. we tell people, we tell our kids that in this country, even if you're born with nothing, work
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hard and you can get into the middle class. we tell them that your children will have a chance to do even better than you do. that's why immigrants from around the world have historically flocked to our shores. and yet over the last through decades, the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart. the middle class has shrunk. you know, a few years after world war ii, a child who was born into poverty had a slightly better than 50/50 chance of becoming middle class as an adult. by 1980, that chance had fallen to around 40%. and if the trend in the rising inequality continues, it's estimated that a child born today will only have a one in three chance of making it to the
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middle class. 33%. it's heartbreaking enough that there are millions of working families in this country who are now forced to take their children to food banks for a decent meal. but the idea that those children might not have a chance to climb out of that situation and back into the middle class, no matter how hard they work, that's inexcusable. it is wrong. it flies in the face of everything that we stand for. [ applause ]
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now, fortunately, that's not a future that we have to accept. because there's another view about how we build a strong middle class in this country. a view that is truer to our history. a vision that's been embraced in the past by people of both parties for more than 200 years. it's not a view that we should somehow turn back technology or put up walls around america. it's not a view that says we should punish profit or success or pretend that government knows how to fix all of society's problems. it is a view that says in america we are greater together when everyone engages in fair play and everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair share.
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[ applause ] so what does that mean for restoring the middle class and the economy? that's by making sure that everyone gets a fair shot at success. the truth is, we'll never be able to compete with other countries when it comes to who's best at letting their businesses pay the lowest wages. who's best at busting unions? who's best at letting companies pollute as much as they want. that's a race to the bottom that you can't win and we shouldn't want to win that race. those countries don't have a strong middle class. they don't have our standard of
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living. the race we want to win. the race we can win is a race to the top. the race for good jobs that pay well and offer middle class security. businesses will create those jobs in countries with the highest skills, highest educated workers, the most advanced transportation and communication, the strongest commitment to research and technology. the world is shifting to an innovation economy and nobody does innovation better than america. [ applause ] nobody does it better. no one has better colleges, no one has better universities, nobody has talent or ingenuity. no one's workers are more
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daring. the things that have always been our strength match up perfectly with the demands of the moment. but we need to meet the moment. we've got to up our game. we need to remember that we can only do that together. it starts by making education a national mission. a national mission. [ applause ] government and businesses, parents and citizens in this
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economy, a higher education is the surest root to the middle class. the unemployment rate for americans with a college degree or more is about half of the national average. and their incomes are twice as high as those who don't have a high school diploma. which means we shouldn't be laying off the teachers right now. we should be hiring them. we shouldn't be expecting less of our schools. we should be demanding more. we shouldn't be making it harder to afford college. we should be making it a chance where everyone can go and not rack up $100,000 in debt just
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because they went. [ applause ] in today's innovation economy, we also need a world class commitment to science and research. the next generation of high-tech manufacturing. our factories and our workers shouldn't be idle. we should be giving people the chance to get new skills and training at community colleges so they can learn how to make wind turbines and semiconductors and high-powered batteries. and by the way, if we don't have an economy that's built on bubbles and financial speculation, our best and brightest won't all gravitate towards careers in banking and finance. [ applause ]
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because if we want an economy that is built to last, we need more of those people in science and engineering. this country should not be known for bad debt and phony profits. we should be known for creating and selling products all around the world that are stamped with three proud words, "made in america." [ applause ] today manufacturers and other countries are setting up shop with infrastructures that communicate with the rest of the
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world and that's why the over one million construction workers who lost their jobs when the housing market collapsed, they shouldn't be sitting at home with nothing to do. they should be rebuilding our roads and bridges, laying down faster rail roads and broad band and modernizing our schools. all the things other countries are already doing to attract good jobs and businesses to their shores. yes, business, and not government, will always be the generator of good jobs that lift people into the middle class and keep them there. but as a nation we've always come together through our government to help create the conditions where both workers and businesses can succeed. [ applause ]
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and historically that hasn't been a partisan idea. teddy roosevelt worked with veterans of world war ii, including my grandfather, the chance to go to college on the g.i. bill. it was a republican president, dwight eisenhower, proud son of kansas who started the interstate highway system and doubled down owe science and research to stay ahead of the soviets. of course, those productive investments cost money. so we've also paid for those investments by asking everybody to do their fair share. look, if we had unlimited resources, no one would ever
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have to pay any taxes and we would never have to cut any spending. but we don't have unlimited resources. and so we have to set priorities. if we want a strong middle class, then our tax code must reflect our values. we have to make choices. today that choice is very clear. to reduce our deficit i've already signed nearly $1 tril kren of cuts into law and i propose trillions more, including programs that would lower the costs of medicare and medicaid. but in order to struck sturl close the deficit, we have to decide what our priorities are. now, most immediately, short term, we need to extend a payroll tax cut that's set to
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expire at the end of in month. if we -- [ applause ] if we don't do that, people will see their taxes go up by $1,000 starting in january and it would badly weaken our recovery. that's the short term. in the long term, we have to rethink our tax system more fundamentally. we have to ask ourselves, do we want to make the investments we need in things like education and research and high-tech manufacturing, all those things that helped make us an economic superpower. or because we can't afford to do both, that is not politics. that's just man. [ applause ]
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now, so far most of my republican friends in washington have refused under any circumstance to ask the wealthiest americans to go to the same tax rate they were paying when bill clinton was president. so let's just do a trip down memory lane here. keep in mind, when president clinton first proposed these tax increases, folks in congress predicted they would kill jobs and lead to another recession. instead, our economy created nearly 23 million jobs and we eliminated the deficit. today, the wealthiest americans are paying the lowest taxes in over half a century.
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this isn't like in the early 50s when the top tax rate was over 90%. this isn't even like the early '80s when the top tax rate was about 70%. under president clinton, the top rate was only about 39%. today, thanks to loopholes and shelters, a quarter of all millionaires now pay lower tax rates than millions of you. millions of middle class families. some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1%. 1%. that is the height of unfairness. it is wrong. [ applause ] it's wrong that in the united
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states of america a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker maybe earns $50,000 a year should pay a higher tax rate than somebody raking in $50 million. it's wrong for warren buffett's secretary to pay a higher tax rate than war remember buffett. [ applause ] and by the way, warren buffett agrees with me. so do most americans. democrats, independents, and republicans. and i know that many of our wealthiest citizens would agree to contribute a little more if it meant reducing the deficit and strengthening the economy that made their success
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possible. this isn't about class warfare. this is about the nation's welfare. it's about making choices that benefit not just the people who have done fantastically well over the last few decades but that benefits the middle class. and those fighting to get into the middle class. and the economy as a whole. finally, a strong middle class can only exist in an economy where everyone plays by the same rules, from wall street to main street. [ applause ] as infuriating as it was for all of us, we rescued our major banks from collapse. not only because the full-blown
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financial meltdown would have sent us into a second depression, but because we need a healthy, strong financial sector in this country. but part of the deal was that we wouldn't go back to business as usual. and that's why last year we put in place new rules of the rope. that refocused the financial sector on what should be their core purpose. getting capital to the entrepreneurs with the best ideas and financing millions of families who want to buy a home or send their kids to college. now, we're not all the way there yet and the banks are fighting us every inch of the way. but already some of these reforms are being implemented. if you're a big bank or a risky financial institution, you now have to write out a living will
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that details exactly how you'll pay the bills if you fail so the taxpayers are never again on the hook for wall street's mistakes. [ applause ] there are also limits for the size of banks and reform for the bank going under. the new law bans banks from making risky bets with the customer deposits and takes away big bonuses from failed ceos while giving shareholders a say on executive salaries. this is the law that we passed. we are in the process of implementing it now. all of this is being put into place as we speak.
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now, unless you make risky bets that could damage the entire economy, you should have nothing to fear from these new rules. some of you may know, my grandmother worked as a banker for most of her life, worked her way up, started as a secretary and ended up being vice president of a bank. and i know from her and i know from all of the people that i've come in contact with, that the vast majority of bankers and financial service professionals, they want to do right by their customers. they want to have rules in place that don't put them at a disadvantage for doing the right thing. and yet republicans in congress are fighting as hard as they can to make sure that these rules aren't enforced. i'll give you a specific example. for the first time in history, the reforms that we passed put
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in place a consumer watch dog who is charged with protect americans who are targeted by debt collectors and the man we nominated for the post, richard cordray is a former attorney general of ohio who has the support of most attorney generals, both democrat and republican throughout the country. nobody claims he's not qualified. but the republicans in the senate refuse to confirm him for the job. they refuse to let him do his job. why? does anybody here think that the problem that led to our financial crisis was too much oversight of mortgage lenders and debt collectors? of course not. every day we go without a consumer watch dog is another day when a student or a senior citizen or a member of our armed
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forces because they are very vulnerable to some of this stuff, could be tricked into a law that they can't afford. something that happens all the time. and the fact is that financial institutions have plenty of lobbyists looking out for their interests. consumers deserve to have someone whose job it is to look out for them. [ applause ] and i intend to make sure that they do. and i want to you hear me kansas, i will veto any effort to delay, dismantle the new rules that we put in place. [ applause ]
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we shouldn't be weakening oversight and accountability. we should be strengthening oversight and accountability. give you another example. too often we've seen wall street firms violating anti-fraud laws because the penalties are too weak and there's no price for being a repeat offender. no more. i'll be calling for legislation that makes those penalties count so the firms don't see punishment for breaking the law as just the price for doing business. you know the fact is, this crisis has left a huge deficit of trust between main street and wall street. the major banks rescued by the taxpayers have an obligation to
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go the extra mile in helping to close that deficit of trust. you know, at a minimum they should be remedying mortgage abusers. they should be working to keep homeowners in their homes. we're going to push for more time for unemployed workers to stay in their home without immediately having to worry about losing their house. the big banks should increase access to refinancing opportunities, to borrowers who haven't yet benefited from historically low interest rates. and the big banks should recognize that precisely because she's steps are in the interest of middle class families and the broader economy, it will also be in the banks own long-term financial interest. what will be good for consumers over the long term will be good for the banks. [ applause ]
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investing in things like education that give everybody a chance to succeed. a tax code that makes sure everybody pays their fair share and laws that make sure everybody follows the rules. that's what will transform our economy. that's what will grow our middle class again. in the end, rebuilding this economy based on fair play, a fair shot, and a fair share will require all of us to see that we have a stake in each other's success. and it will require all of us to take some responsibility. it will require parents to get more involved in their children's education. it will require students to study harder. [ applause ]
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it will require some workers to start studying all over again. it will require greater responsibility from homeowners not to take out mortgages they can't afford. they need to remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. it will require those of us in public service to make government more efficient and more effective. more consumer-friendly, more responsive to people's needs. that's why we are cutting programs that we don't need to pay for those we do. that's why we've made hundreds of regulatory reforms that will save businesses billions of dollars. that's why we're not just throwing money at education. we're challenging schools to come up with the most innovative reforms and the best results. and we'll require american business leaders to understand
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that their obligations don't just end with their shareholders. you know, andy grove, the legendary former ceo of intel, put it best. he said, there is another obligation i feel personally, given that everything i've achieved in my career and a lot of what intel has achieved were made possible by a climate of democracy, an economic climate and investment climate provided by the united states. this broader obligation can take many forms. you know, at a time when the cost of hiring workers in china is rising rapidly, it should mean more ceos deciding that it's time to bring jobs back to the united states.
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[ applause ] not just because it's good for business, but because it's good for the country that made their business and personal success possible. i think about the big three auto companies, who during recent negotiations, agreed to create more jobs and cars here in america and then decided to give bonuses not just to their executives but to all of their employees so that everyone was invested in the company's success. [ applause ] i think about a company based in marvin windows and doors, in minnesota. during the recession, marvin's competitors closed dozens of plants, let hundreds of workers
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go, but marvin's did not lay off a single one of their 4,000 or so employees. not one. in fact, they've only laid off workers once in over 400 years. mr. marvin's grandfather even kept employees during the great depression. now, at marvin's when times get tough, the workers agree to give up some perks and some pay and so did the owners. as one owner said, you can't grow if you're cutting your life blood. and that's the skills and experience your works force delivers. [ applause ] for the ceos of marvin's, it's
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about community. he said, these are people that we went to school with. we go to church with them. we see them in the same restaurants. indeed, a lot of us have married local girls and boys. we could be anywhere but we are in warroad. that's how america was built. that's why we're the greatest nation on earth. that's what our greatest companies understand. our success has never just been about the survival of the fittest. it's about building a nation of where we're all better off. we pull together. we pitch in. we do our part. we believe that hard work will pay off, that responsibility will be rewarded and that our children will inherit a nation where those values live on. [ applause ]
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and it is that belief that rallied thousands of americans to osawatomie. [ applause ] maybe even some of your ancestors on a rain-soaked day more than a century ago, by train, by wagon, on buggy, on bicycle, on foot, they came to hear the vision of a man who loved this country and was determined to perfect it. we are all americans, teddy roosevelt told them that day. our common interests are as broad as the economy. in the final years of his life,
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roosevelt took that message all across the country, from tiny osawatomie to new york city. believing that no matter where he went or who he was talking to, he believed that everyone gets a fair chance. [ applause ] and well into our third century as a nation, we have grown and we have changed in many ways since roosevelt's time. the world is faster and the playing field is larger and the challenges are more complex. but what hasn't changed? what can never change are the values that got us this far. we still have a stake in each
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other's success. we still believe that this should be a place where you make it if you try and we still believe in the words of a man who called for a new nationalism all those years ago, the fundamental rule of our national life, he said. the rule which underlies all others is that on the whole we shall go up or down together. and i believe america is on the way up. thank you. god bless you. god bless the united states of america. [cheers and applause ] >> president obama speaking there in osawatomie, kansas, speaking for just about an hour there. this was obviously an economy speech. osawatomie is two american tribes out of kansas and he
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picked this spot because 101 years ago teddy roosevelt made a speech there calling for a new nationalism, the idea of leveling the playing field. in equality, opportunity, middle class leveling the playing field. let's talk about this. i've got the a-team standing by. gloria borger is standing by in washington and jessica yellin as we continue to watch these pictures. alison kosik is standing by in kn new york. jessica yellin, if i may, i want to begin with -- i don't know if it was a gaffe or not, but off the tip top, did you hear president obama say hello texas, and then he said kansas and then he mentioned bill self. was that purposeful or not? >> reporter: i think that the
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president was just rifting with the crowd there. i don't know if he made a gaffe or not. but i think it was a pretty big speech for the president and sort of his natural forte. what his specialty is, we all know he is good at speeches, weaving big themes and threads together and reframing discussions and he looked not on only comfortable but at ease and seemed to be enjoying himself. you heard the theme, the big topic, he believes that restoring opportunity for the middle class is the defining issue of our time. and it's not only the defining issue of our time, in his view, but he would like it to be the defining issue of the campaign because i'll tell you something, this is the campaign in a nutshell. that theme is what the white house would like to be the defining issue of the campaign. at the same time he was speaking, i got an e-mail from a republican operative who said
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that the president was here in kansas, not the same town, but in january 2008 and he said we need to restore fairness to the economy and balance to our economy and look what he's done. has he done enough in the last few years? the republicans would like the next election to be referendum on his presidency and right there in a nutshell is the tug-of-war you're seeing between the two parties. republicans would like it to be about the president. the president would like it to be about two different visions of what our government should do. >> okay. so that's a republican reaction that you got in during that speech. gloria borger, let me jump over to you. as jessica mentioned, he had a narrative, mom born in kansas and also the speech that he injoked president clinton in that top tax rate when he raised taxes back in the '90s.
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>> well, first of all, president clinton is probably the most popular politician in america's history and so any time you can harken back to a time when there was no deficit and jobs were created and he's your friend and wife is secretary of state, that's probably not a bad political move. but i agree with jess. i think that he is really trying to define the campaign. the first thing you do in a presidential campaign is you try and define your opponents before they get to define who you are. and what he is saying is -- >> do you think he did that successfully? >> i think he -- well, see, what republicans have to say about it but i do think this was a good speech in this sense. that he tried to sort of simplify the republican philosophical position on tacks and tax cuts and the economy. and his sim


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