January 22nd, 2010
01:36 PM ET
8 years ago

Obama: Taking 'lumps' but will keep fighting

Elyria, Ohio (CNN) - Offering his most extensive public comments about the election debacle in Massachusetts, President Obama is acknowledging he's taking some "lumps" but is also trying to cast himself as a populist who will "never stop fighting" to bring health care reform and jobs to communities like this hard-hit manufacturing area outside Cleveland.

"Let me tell you - so long as I have the privilege of serving as your president, I'll never stop fighting for you," Obama said in prepared remarks at the beginning of a town hall meeting with voters. "I'll take my lumps, too. I'll never stop fighting to bring jobs back to Elyria. I'll never stop fighting for an economy where hard work is rewarded, where responsibility is honored, where accountability is upheld, where we're creating the jobs of tomorrow."

Obama said "folks in Washington are in a little bit of a frenzy" over Republican Scott Brown's election to the seat formerly held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), which has ended the President's 60-seat supermajority in the chamber. But the President vowed to keep battling for health reform, even as he bluntly conceded that he's facing major roadblocks.

"Now, we've gotten pretty far down the road, but I have to admit, we've run into a bit of a buzz saw along the way," Obama said. "The long process of getting things done runs headlong into the special interests, their armies of lobbyists, and partisan politics aimed at exploiting fears instead of getting things done."

Obama added, "I am not going to walk away just because it's hard. We're going to keep on working to get this done with Democrats, Republicans – anyone who is willing to step up. Because I am not going to watch more people get crushed by costs, or denied the care they need by insurance company bureaucrats, or partisan politics, or special interest power in Washington."

But Obama was not specific about what kind of health legislation he will now be backing. "I'm going to keep up the fight for real, meaningful health insurance reforms," he said. "That's why we expanded the children's health insurance program to include four million more kids. And that's why I'll continue fighting for reform that will hold the insurance industry accountable and bring more stability and security to folks in our health care system."

The president is facing competing pressures from liberal Democrats who are demanding that he not abandon the push for a major overhaul of health care in favor of a scaled-back bill, and conservative Democrats who have said the special election was a wake-up call that should force Obama to put a much heavier focus on job creation.

The economic problems are especially acute here in Ohio, where Obama was greeted Friday with new statistic showing unemployment in the state has gotten worse, rising from 10.6 percent to 10.9 percent - higher than the national average. That led the House Republican Leader John Boehner, who hails from the Buckeye State, to release a statement declaring the President's $787 billion stimulus has not worked.

"Ohio's unemployment report released this morning marks nine straight months of double-digit unemployment in our state," said Boehner. "Tens-of-thousands have lost their jobs since the 'stimulus' was enacted. Ohioans fed up with Washington Democrats' job-killing agenda are asking, 'Where are the jobs?'"

Obama fired back in his remarks that he entered office a year ago "in the middle of a raging economic storm," and that his actions have staved off a much worse cataclysm. "If the financial system had gone down, it would have taken the entire economy and millions more families and businesses with it," he said. "We would have been looking at a Second Great Depression."

Nevertheless, Obama acknowledged that communities like Elyria are still not feeling a recovery, and renewed his call for a second economic recoverage package to be passed by Congress - which aides say he will push hard for in State of the Union Address next Wednesday. The proposal includes more infrastructure spending, the so-called "cash-for-caulkers" program to make homes more energy efficient, and small business tax breaks. But advisers to the president have privately acknowledged that package will likely need to be sweetened with more tax cuts to win over Republican votes, given the new reality in the Senate.

Obama also mentioned in Ohio what will be another key part of his State of the Union Address, pushing for major reform of the financial regulatory system, repeating some of the same populist rhetoric he used Thursday in Washington to unveil plans to crack down on the risk that banks take on. Last week he proposed a tax on banks to recoup taxpayer bailout funds.

"These are some of the fights we've had," Obama said. "And I can promise you, there will be more fights in the days ahead. We're having one of them right now - because I want to charge Wall Street a modest fee to repay taxpayers in full for saving their skin in a time of need. You can rest assured, we're going to get that money – your money – back, each and every dime."

Obama concluded, "I didn't run for President to turn away from these challenges. I didn't run for President to kick them down the road. I ran for President to confront them – once and for all."

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. The One

    Maybe President Obama will stop all the special deals and giveaways. We don't need another Louisiana Purchase, another Cornhusker kickback, another special health care deal for unions. We are all in this together, and we need policies that apply to all and are paid by all. Like a public option paid for with a VAT.

    January 22, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  2. Katie B in NC

    Forge ahead, Mr. President. You have my full support.

    January 22, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  3. Right Leaning Independent

    Here's another financial reform you should consider. How about cracking down on idiots that take out mortgages they can not afford? Lets create regulation that bars them from ever borrowing money again...

    January 22, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. richp the poconos

    Lets see, the correct way, fix economy, create jobs, make money.
    The path followed, spend trillion bailing out poor mangers, work on a another trillion dollar project in health care. Jobs, what jobs, we're just watching as the job market goes in the trash. Tell me Mr President, besides NAFTA and CAFTA what has your party or the republican done to create a good business environment that makes companies want to stay here ?. Louder, we can't hear you.

    January 22, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. libs are funny little critters

    Did anyone else notice when he was lecturing Ohio, the market took a dump again? Thanks barry.

    January 22, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  6. felicia

    That's right Mr President, i still got your back. No matter what these people say you just keep on keeping on. They figyre they're driving down your poll numbers with negative comments. Now that your still popular they want to try to drive those numbers down.
    Mr. President i'm with you and you keep knocking these fools out.

    January 22, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  7. joe

    i am afraid our past has caught up to us. our country has been losing jobs for a long, long, long time. the problem is there is no easy fix. i hardly blame the president for this. and the solution is not as easy as the republicians claim. if simply cutting taxes for companies and the rich were the answer then we would not be in this position. i don't claim to have the answer but one thing i notice is that the president is blamed if he does too much and the same crowd blames him for not doing enough. the republicans say the president has to do more to create jobs but claims it is the private sector that creates jobs not the government. what would you have the president do? he meddles too much in the private sector he is called a socialist. he doesn't meddle enough he is called out of touch. remember, 35% of the stimulus was made up of a middle class tax cut. he has cut business taxes. still, no jobs. the problem is more complex than that. the things the president is doing now WILL pay off down the road. i have no doubt at all about that. but it will take time. God bless the president and his family. america is praying for you.

    January 22, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  8. Biff Lohman

    "I will never stop fighting to tax you and line the pockets of greedy corporations and unions, who of course will give me a little something for the effort."

    January 22, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  9. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Americans need to understand what a mess we all inherited from the Bush administration that was created in 8 years that only came to the forefront when Obama took office. I have confidence that President Obama is working hard to lead us out of this mess and into the future and I'm just as confident that there are those who want to take us back.

    January 22, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  10. Right Leaning Independent

    Special Interests and lobbyists... Get over it already! These groups have been in Washington forever on both sides. You are not fighting a new enemy! You just blame them because you are ineffective fighting them!! Same reason you still blame Bush... It really is getting old...

    January 22, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Keith in Austin

    LISTEN to the American People rather than defying them Barry!

    Your left wing Agenda is overwhelmingly rejected by those you serve!

    Get a clue and at the very least, govern from a moderate position rather than the Socialistic Agenda you love!

    January 22, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  12. tainopower

    Well obamacare didn’t work! Let’s try the obamajob plan? That will hit everyone in the eye? I can tell from this administration that they will try anything to see if it sticks. is like hit or miss kind of deal. If it hits let’s stick whit it. if misses let’s move on. This is what you get wen you hire someone whit no experience to do a job that are not qualified to do.

    January 22, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  13. Obama Just Doesn't Get It

    Obama is just not able to hear and comprehend. He just does not have common sense. The people are not interested in his radical ideas. The people realize, too late, that they made a mistake when they voted for him.

    January 22, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  14. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Thank you President Obama,and dont forget to use Teddy Roosevelts stick on them,he was the only President before you who had the guts to take the banks and big moneychangers on.

    January 22, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  15. IS IT 2012 YET ??

    Obama says his agenda ran into a "buzzsaw" !? More like a political guillotine !

    January 22, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  16. MJ

    I listened to his speech in Ohio. What amazed me was the elderly woman who asked about no COLA for Seniors, no H1N1 vaccines for Seniors, and why Congress got a raise .. After skirting around that the young were more at risk (or maybe more worth saving), he never did answer why Congress received a raise. My opinion .. Congress is not worth saving!

    January 22, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  17. Seawife

    Good for you President Obama. You are on the right track and will become a great president. Most people do not get it that one cannot right the world in only one year for all the previous eight years of pollution the Bushies got us into .

    I stand by you 100 percent!

    January 22, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  18. demmie2

    speaking of 'some lumps' what is going on with the market, obama? seems the market is not happy with some of your intentions... perhaps you should reconsider some of hte fees and regulations you are proposing....

    January 22, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  19. RM

    I honestly think Obama is the "Bubbleboy". He has no clue as to what the American people really think. His handlers, Rahmbo and Axelrod, only feed Obama "good news spin" in order to keep him in his "Happy Place".

    These "Town Hall" meetings are nothing more than staged "feel-good, rah-rah" diversions from the harsh realities that Obama himself has brought on.

    January 22, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  20. Concerned Canadian

    Obama has somehow convinced the left that this is George Bush's third term while at the same time he has the right believing he is a radical socialist monster. Quite an achievement I'd say.

    January 22, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  21. Enough is Enought

    Obama said,"Let me tell you – so long as I have the privilege of serving as your president, I'll never stop fighting for you," I guess there were only job destroying unions and trial lawyers in the audience. Obama has gone overboard for those at everyone elses expense.

    January 22, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  22. R.B.

    Mr. Obama is America's best hope for modernization, schooling, infrastructure, social and human rights progression, and PEACE.

    For the GOP, it's all about the PAST. Cutting back. Staying stuck. Going nowhere. Saying NO to people about their rights, their beliefs, their differences, their money, their education assistance; the list is too long....

    Mr. Obama, please take into account the priorities of all of the people, including those of conservatives, and remember the Dems and Independents who voted for you. Times are tough right now. We don't want people's frustration to lead us back to the hole the GOP dug for us as a nation. But we need action. We need proof of yes-we-can. The spirit is still there. The Democratic Congress has not given this country the action we expected form a vast majority victory. Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid have not come through. Maybe it's better for Congress to have new Democratic leadership for 2010. It would help us move forward.

    January 22, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. Mike

    nobama has not seen lumps yet, all he has seen is bumps in the road. MORE CHANGE IS COMING.

    January 22, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  24. Steve in North Carolina

    We are the ones taking the lumps. Go fight for someone else so they can be losers instead of us.

    I like how he penalizes the winners and rewards the losers. Yeah go ahead and tax the businesses that have pulled themselves somewhat out of the economic doldrums so you can keep propping up failed businesses like GM, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Go get the money back from those guys, not the guys who are paying (or have already paid) the govt back.

    We're never going to have a recovery with continued increases of government spending on failure programs and continued penalties on success.

    January 22, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  25. Steve-Illinois

    Lobbyists and special interests? You mean like the SEIU leader who is entertained at the White House more than any other person? Coincidently getting unions an exemption from taxes in the health care reform package that, thank God, has now been scuttled. How about the exemptions from the "bail out" tax for GM, Chrysler, Fannie and Freddie? Yet the banks that paid the money back (some never wanted it in the first place) get to pay for those that continue to fail? Funny how "jobs" wasn't a priority until this week. Oh yeah, he held a jobs summit, in December, leaving out the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and any Small Business organizatios that may have had different ideas than his "yes" men. He himself, spent about as much time at the "jobs summit" as he did at the "beer summit!"
    Common Sense!!! This administration needs to get some!
    Otherwise many of these Democratic leaders will be "all fired up and ready to go" find a new job!!!

    January 22, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
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