January 22nd, 2010
01:36 PM ET
10 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. Larry

    President Obama has done great. It took 8 years of Bush's incompetence to destroy this country. Obama isn't going to fix it in one year.

    Keep up the good work Mr. President.

    January 22, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  2. Bruce

    His "fighting for the working people" is what has 60% of the American people angry at him and the Democraic congress. He should quit fighting and start listening. More government is not the answer.

    January 22, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  3. Dar

    Odumbo sure makes it sound good, I hope and pray that he can turn things around but IM afraid that he is in way deep over his head and everyone is going to let him sink.
    I truly beleive that if he wasnt so arrogant and full of him self that all of congress would stand beside him. But he wants them to stand behind him and that dog isn't going to hunt anymore.
    He showed all of this when he allowed the Dems to shut out the republicans and told them to move forward with the HC bill. Very dumb move on his part, very dumb.
    We hired a person with no experiance and we were in the middle of an economic crisis. Most people beleived him when he said he would bring in people that knew what they were doing and all he did was bring in his friends that are as dumb as he is.

    Now he wants another stimulas package??????????????????
    Where did all the money go from the 1st stimulas package????
    Bet he comes up with some good lies about that.

    2010/2012 REAL Change is coming

    January 22, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  4. Mike in MN

    As for fighing for job creation, so far Obama's policies have not helped create jobs.
    Not sure what he is talking about raising taxes and fees on banks to make sure they pay back every penny of the help they got. He's going to do this to the banks that have already paid back TARP. They have already paid back every penny plus interest and dividends. What more do they owe?
    As for health care the people don't want the present bills that cost a trillion dollars and are a big government solution to running health care. They don't want to be forced to buy health care or pay a fine, they don't like all the special deals made to certain states or unions and government workers. A less expensive, less intrusive bill can be written. The people know congress can do better if they stop seeing big government as the only solution to everything.

    January 22, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  5. Dale

    Go Obama. The Republicans claim that being poor is a choice. But I ask, even if this is true is it a choice that is deserving of the death penalty? Because right now if you are poor in America, you will die from treatable diseases since you don't have health care. Would you right wingers be so cavalier about denying health care if you were looking into the eyes of the mother of the dying child you are denying health care for?

    BTW, I am not poor. Just someone who cares about my fellow citizens.

    January 22, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  6. WrongKindofChange

    Wow, looks like Obama and the Dems are running scared. He is already out campaigning again for 2012. Looks like he'll be touring a lot of major cities in hopes of rounding up support for his broken politics. Run Dems, run!

    January 22, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  7. Bedtime for Obonzo

    The Perpetual Campaign continues.....

    "The long process of getting things done [i.e., Obamacare] runs headlong into the special interests, their armies of lobbyists, and partisan politics..."

    Wrong again. Obamacare ran headlong into the Massachusetts voters who didn't want it. If Obama doesn't understand this, great. The mid term elections will be all the bloodier for it.

    January 22, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  8. Jessica, TX

    And I will keep fighting with him. I love President Obama and I will support him financially and politically. He is the right man at the right time for this country and I will fight hard to keep him in the White House.

    This man has been up against unbridled jealousy and mean-spiritness, and yes racism. He has done a yeoman's job considering the fact that he has to deal with stupid people 24/7.

    In case the rest of America has amnesia, let me remind them that George W. 7th Worst President Ever Bush left this country in a mess, and President Obama has to clean it up. When he is able to wade out of the garbage he found when he took the office, we will see some improvements. Until then, I'll stand by him.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    January 22, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  9. Four and The Door

    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.
    No no no...you are going to START working with Republicans now because you have to! The American people are demanding it. The lousy, expensive, back room billions for special interests bill that you were getting ready to cram down our throats was all Democrats because the Republicans were locked out. We will not stand for that brand of politics in our Federal government.

    You will be surprised how much support Republicans will give you for a responsible health care reform bill that lowers costs and provides full access without bankrupting the national treasury.

    January 22, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. Padraig

    The President needs to refocus and reset his priorities. Now he may do it beause his health care insurance reform may not make it – so he has to quickly divert to something else.

    The first priority should have been to our economy, getting the unemployed jobs. He did thow money into the economy but it went to the big bankers and financiers and now he is made at them. By reducing unemployment he would of increased revenue through taxes to work on his other programs that he favors – i.e. health care

    This is what you get when you have a junior senator become President. He was not ready for the job. He needed to understand the bigger picture. Now we all are going through pain when he receives on the job training

    January 22, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
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