Richard Montgomery High School
(August 25, 2022)
THE PRESIDENT: Wes, thank you for that introduction. And Wes is the real deal. (Applause.) The real deal. Folks, he’s a combat veteran. Only drawback is he’s a Rhodes Scholar. (Laughter.) Former CEO of one of the biggest anti-poverty organizations in America. And if we all do our part, the next governor of Maryland! (Applause.)
It’s been said many times before and been said here today — and excuse my back, my mother would kill me — but my back to you all. Excuse my back. The fact of the matter is, you have literally two of the best senators in the United States Senate: Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen. (Applause.)
As a matter of fact, were it not Chris being my debate partner, getting me prepared in the general election for President, I wouldn’t be standing here. So, if you don’t like me, blame Chris. (Applause.) He’s up for reelection this year. And I told him, I’ll come campaign for him or against him, whichever will help the most. (Laughter.)
Folks, look, both Ben, as well — they’re strong and they’re principled. They’re effective. Keep them. You need them. Hell, I need them. (Applause.)
You’ve got a great congressional delegation, including Steny Hoyer, who has been a friend for a long time.
And how about that Jamie Raskin? Hasn’t he stepped up? The man has stepped up. He’s done an incredible job. I like it. He’s done an incredible job, coming out of a tragic circumstance with his family.
You know, you got to keep them. You need them. And as I said, heck, I need them.
Folks, we’re just 76 days away from the midterm election — 76 days. And to state the obvious, there’s a lot at stake. So, I want to be crystal clear about what’s on the ballot this year.
Your right to choose is on the ballot this year. (Applause.)
The Social Security you paid for from the time you had a job is on the ballot. (Applause.)
The safety of your kids from gun violence is on the ballot. (Applause.)
And it’s not hyperbole, the very survival of our planet is on the ballot. (Applause.)
Your right to vote is on the ballot. (Applause.) Even the democracy.
Are you ready to fight for these things now? (Applause.) Well, then you need to do one thing: vote. Vote.
AUDIENCE: Vote! Vote! Vote!
THE PRESIDENT: You got it.
In 2020, you and 81 million Americans voted to save our democracy. (Applause.) That’s why Donald Trump isn’t just a former president, he is a defeated former president. (Applause.)
And it’s not hyperbole. Now you need to vote to literally save democracy again.
Look, I believe America is at a genuine inflection point that occurs every six or seven generations in world history — one of the moments — one of the moments that changes everything. And Americans are going have to choose. You must choose. Will be it — will we be a country that moves forward or backward? Will we build a future or obsess over the past? Will we be a nation of unity, of hope, of optimism — not a nation of anger, violence, hatred, and division?
Trump and the extreme MAGA Republicans have made their choice: to go backwards, full of anger, violence, hate, and division.
But we’ve chosen a different path: forward, the future, unity, hope, and optimism. (Applause.) I mean it sincerely. We choose to build a better America.
This fall, there will be a choice between these two visions. And we must take our case to the American people and be crystal clear about it.
There’s no question it’s been a hard few years. When I came to office, we were facing a once-in-a-century pandemic. A hundred — a million people died. A million people. And over 9 million people get up in the morning and sit at that breakfast table or the dinner table with an empty chair because of that. Historic joblessness. Businesses struggling to stay open. So much lost learning for our kids in school.
But we’ve come a long way in 18 months. COVID no longer controls our lives. (Applause.) A record number Americans are working — 10 million since I came to office. (Applause.) Businesses are growing. Our schools are open.
And folks, it just didn’t happen; it took a lot of hard work. It took a plan that we stuck to, even in the face of unrelenting attacks from the most powerful special interests in the country. And the whole notion of the “burn it all down” politics of MAGA Republicans continues to be a drumbeat.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You stole the election! You stole it! You stole it!
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: That’s all right. No, no, no, no — let him go. Let him go. Let him go. That’s okay.
Folks — folks — folks, ignorance knows no boundaries. (Applause.) But we never gave up. We never gave in. And we’re delivering for the American people now.
And now, even our critics have been forced to acknowledge real progress. (Applause.) A record of big accomplishments matched by few administrations in history: 10 million new jobs, more than we’ve ever created before at this point in anyone’s presidency; 3.5 percent unemployment rate — a near record low in the history of this country. (Applause.) A 50 percent drop in child poverty compared to two years ago, and more than 220 million Americans vaccinated. (Applause.) Record — record small-business creation.
A big reason for all this is the American Rescue Plan that I signed into law shortly after I took office with the help of your members of Congress. (Applause.) That plan took America from an economic crisis to an economic recovery. And not a single Republican — not one single one voted for it. Not one.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: Not a single Republican.
We also passed the once-in-a-generation investments in our nation’s roads, highways, bridges, railroads, ports, airports, clean water systems, high-speed rail, Internet — (applause) — the biggest investment in America since President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway Act.
We got a little help. We did get some help from some Republicans who passed the bill, and I’m thankful for that. But the truth is, there’s a lot more Republicans taking credit for a bill that they actually voted against. You see it all over America.
Right here in Maryland, you got a Republican congressman named Andy Harris.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: Now, ol’ Andy is out there touting funding for a key dredging project in his district that he voted against.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: It’s happening all over. Maybe he’ll — as we say in Southern Delaware, “Maybe the boy will get some religion.” (Laughter.)
Look, folks, we passed the CHIPS and Science act, a groundbreaking law. (Applause.) We’re going to once again manufacture semiconductors — that we invented — that power everything in our lives, right here in America. (Applause.)
This law will create tens of thousands of construction jobs, bring billions of dollars in investment to America, and revitalize American manufacturing.
Look, folks, it means — it means we’re going to build the future in America — (applause) — with American workers, in American factories, producing American-made products. (Applause.)
We took on the NRA.
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE PRESIDENT: We took on the NRA, and we beat them. (Applause.)
We just passed the first significant gun safety legislation in 30 years in this country. (Applause.)
And I promise you, we’re not stopping here. I’m determined to ban assault weapons in this country. (Applause.) I did it once before, and we will do it again. (Applause.)
We’re going to do it for those families in Buffalo, Uvalde, Newtown, El Paso, Parkland, Charleston, Las Vegas, Orlando. I’ve been almost every one of those places to meet with those parents. We all got to do it. We’re going to do it for all our kids gunned down on our streets every single day — every day that never make the national news.
Folks, we’re going to do it for your kids who are learning how to read and write in school instead of learning how to duck and cover. (Applause.)
So this November — this November, you have to ask every candidate, “Are you for banning assault weapons or not?” And if you’re not, we’re not going to vote for you. Period. (Applause.)
In my State of the Union Address, I put forward a Unity Agenda that included taking care of our veterans. (Applause.) Especially our veterans who had been exposed to burn pits like my son, who got the Conspicuous Service medal as well as —
Well, I don’t want to start talking about my son, but he spent a year in Iraq. He was only about 200 yards from one of the burn pits. These pits the size of football fields — 8, 9, or 10 feet deep — in Afghanistan and Iraq, incinerated — that incinerates wastes of war: tires, poisonous chemicals, jet fuels, and so much more. So much more. Our soldiers breathed in that toxic smoke and came home with headaches, numbness, dizziness, cancer.
I just signed into law the PACT Act to take care of those veterans who were exposed to those burn pits. (Applause.) It’s the least — it’s the least we could do for them.
Army Captain Wes Moore understands that. He saw it like my son saw it.
We’ve done all this, but then our critics say “inflation.” You mean the global inflation caused by the worldwide pandemic and Putin’s war in Ukraine?
We’re making progress since I took office. This year, gas prices are down more than a dollar this summer, and we’re going to keep it going down. (Applause.)
I just signed into law the historic Inflation Reduction Act. (Applause.) And it wasn’t easy. We had to take on the big drug companies to pass this bill, and we did. (Applause.)
For decades, Big Pharma fought to block giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices. And for decades, Big Pharma won, but not this year. The American people won and Big Pharma lost. (Applause.) Medicare now has the power to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. Seniors will see their out-of-pocket costs for drugs limited to no more than $2,000 a year no matter how many drugs they need take for cancer or other diseases. (Applause.) Limit.
If you’re on Medicare and have diabetes, your cost of insulin will be capped at $35 a month. (Applause.) We also included a provision that would have allowed anyone with diabetes, including those kids and their families that should get charged somewhere between $600 and $1,000 a month.
How would you feel like being a parent, looking at your kid and knowing you didn’t have the insurance, and knowing if they did not get that insulin, they may die. There’s thousands of people in America going through that. And these Republicans rip that out of the bill, but we’re coming back. (Applause.)
Look, this law also keeps down the cost of healthcare. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan and this new law, we’re saving families of four an average of $2,400 a year on their healthcare premiums. They are big savings for someone making $70-, $80-, $100,000 a year as a family. It’s a big deal. Some might even say it’s a “BFD.” (Applause.)
We also had to take on the climate deniers. And guess what? We beat them. (Applause.) We beat them. For decades, these climate deniers blocked any meaningful progress in dealing with climate crisis, but not this year. This year, the American people won and the climate deniers lost. (Applause.) And consequently, we’re taking the most aggressive action to confront climate crisis ever — $368 billion.
We created more than a million jobs, and it will help us triple our solar power, unleash American manufacturing to own the global market in electric cars. (Applause.) That’s the future made in America. (Applause.)
For decades — for decades, the biggest corporations and the wealthiest Americans who fought to block a fairer tax code. And for decade after decade, they won. That’s why 55 of the largest Fortune 500 companies in America in 2020 paid zero in tax after making $40 billion.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, I’m not making this up. It’s the God’s truth. Forty billion dollars.
But this year — this year, some of the biggest companies in America flooded Capitol Hill with lobbyists and money and campaign contributions. And they lost. The American people won. (Applause.)
Now, corporations have to pay a minimum corporate tax, God love them, of 15 percent. Isn’t that painful? (Laughter.) The days of billion-dollar companies paying zero is over. (Applause.)
And guess what? You hear — you hear Republicans always talking about the deficit — right? — about big-spending Democrats. Well, guess what? When the last guy was President, he increased the debt by $2 trillion in tax cuts, not a penny of it paid for. Okay?
Well, guess what we did?. We’ve reduced the deficit. (Applause.) The Inflation Reduction Act lowers the deficit by $300 billion over the next 10 years. (Applause.) And that’s on top of the $350 billion I reduced the deficit last year and the $1.5 trillion dollars reducing it this year. (Applause.)
You’d think if the Republicans really cared about reducing inflation, they would have vote for the Inflation Reduction Act. But every single Republican voted against it. Even I know at least a dozen of them thought they should vote for it but they would be primaried.
Every single Republican in the House, every single Republican in the Senate, every single one — hear this, America: Every single Republican voted against lowering prescription drug prices, against lower healthcare costs, against tackling the climate crisis, against lower energy costs, against creating good-paying jobs, against fairer taxes. Every single one.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: That’s not hyperbole. Every — every single American needs to return the favor when we vote. (Applause.)
And thanks to our historic deficit reduction, we can afford to cancel $10,000 in student debt and $20,000 if you’re on a Pell Grant for tens of millions of Americans making under $125,000. This is a gamechanger.
Look, every election is a choice. My dad used to have a saying. He said, “Joey, don’t compare me to the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative.” Well, the alternative to the Democrats are the MAGA Republicans.
Wes knows all about MAGA Republicans. He’s running against one of them. That’s why Wes described him as so far outside the mainstream that it’ll be dangerous in the governor’s office. Well, you’re absolutely right. And your current Republican governor — your Republican governor agrees with that. Just go check out what your Republican governor said about Wes’s opponent.
So how extreme are these MAGA Republicans? Just take a look what happened since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In red states after red state, there’s a race to pass the most restrictive abortion limitations imaginable, even without exception for rape or incest.
But these MAGA Republicans won’t stop there. They want a national ban. They want to pass a legislative national ban in the Congress.
If the MAGA Republicans win control the Congress, it won’t matter where you live; women won’t have the right to choose anywhere, anywhere.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: Let me tell you something. If they take it back and they try and pass it, I will veto it. (Applause.) Next —
We’re going to go, all right. And by the way, as Clarence Thomas said in the opinion, he said that the right to privacy doesn’t exist for the right to have — use contraception, marriage equality, the whole right to privacy.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: We can’t let that happen. You got it, kid. (Applause.) You can’t let that happen. Not today. Not tomorrow, not ever. And I don’t believe we will.
The MAGA Republicans have awakened to the powerful force in America: the women of this nation. (Applause.)
The Court, in its opinion, used a phrase that women have a right to vote and change this. Well, guess what? MAGA Republicans don’t have a clue about the power of women. (Applause.) Let me tell you something: They are about to find out. (Applause.) Oh — oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
And by the way — look, I served in the Congress since I was 29 years old. I got — I had to wait 17 days to be eligible to be sworn in. (Laughter.) I’ve served with a lot of great Republicans, and I mean it. A lot of great Rep- —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, man. Thank you, man. You got it.
Well, here’s the deal. Here’s the deal: What’s happened is — what’s happened is there are no — there are not many real Republicans anymore.
By the way, your sitting governor — he’s a Republican you can deal with. We disagree — no, no, I’m serious. But at least he’s within the mainstream of the Republican Party.
I respect conservative Republicans. I don’t respect these MAGA Republicans. (Applause.)
And, folks, everybody thinks I’m exaggerating when I say this, but they’re coming after your Social Security as well. And you think I’m kidding? Go read the only election-year plan the Republicans have put out. Look up on these — on these — there you go.
This is — this is the Republican plan that is about what they want to do with regard to Social Security. Flip the — go ahead to the next slide.
There you go. Here’s what they said: Rick Scott, the Republican chairman of the re-elect committee for the Senate — Republican senators, said Social Security and Medicare should be the chopping blo- — here’s the — they — this is what they put out: “All federal legislation sunsets every five years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.” Translated: Your Social Security, every five years, will be eliminated unless it’s voted back into existence.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: That’s our money!
THE PRESIDENT: That’s your money. You paid for it. You paid for it.
But I’m not joking. Think about this. Think about what they’re doing.
It’s all — it’s all there in black and white. He wants to require Congress to vote on the future of Social Security every five years. So, every five years, Congress can vote to change, cut, reduce, or entirely eliminate Social Security. How’s that make you feel?
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: Do you want to put your Social Security into the hands of Ted Cruz and Marjorie Taylor Greene?
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: I mean it.
But it’s not just Social Security. Senator Scott wants everything in the federal budget voted on, de novo, every five years or it goes out of existence. That includes Medicare, veterans’ benefits, and everything else.
And then comes along Ron — Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: This is what — they put this in writing now. This is their plan.
He thinks five years is too long. I’m not joking. You think I’m making this up. He wants to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every single year.
This is the same guy who said if Republicans get control of the United States Congress, they’re coming after the Affordable Care Act again, denying health insurance to anyone with a preexisting condition. Because if you don’t have — if you don’t have the Affordable Care Act, people without a pre-existing — with a pre-existing cannot get insurance.
Again, just think of it as a parent or a brother or sister looking at a brother, sister, son, daughter, and you can’t take care of them because they have a pre-existing condition.
These guys never stop. And we’re never going to stop either. (Applause.)
Look, my friends, we offer a starkly different version and vision of this country — a vision of a better America that’s within our reach, that’s within our hands if we just vote. (Applause.)
If we elect two more senators, we keep the House — and Democrats, we’re going to get a lot of unfinished business we’re going to get done.
Folks, look, we’ll codify Roe v. Wade. (Applause.) We’ll ban — we’ll ban assault weapons. (Applause.) We’ll protect Social Security and Medicare. (Applause.) We’ll pass universal pre-K. (Applause.) We’ll restore the Childcare Tax Credit. (Applause.) We’ll protect voting rights. We’ll pass election reform and make no — make sure no one — no one — ever has the opportunity to steal an election again. (Applause.)
And we’ll continue — we’ll continue to build an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, an economy built from the bottom up and the middle out, not the top down.
An economy that rewards work, not wealth; finally stops billionaires who pay an average of 8 percent federal tax — less tax than a teacher or a firefighter.
I think they should be able to be a billionaire, but pay your fair share, damn it. (Applause.)
Because we understand something MAGA Republicans don’t: Wall Street did not build this country, you did. (Applause.) Working people. Middle class built this nation. And unions built the middle class. (Applause.) And we’re not going to let anyone or anything tear America apart.
I’ll close with this: We’re at a serious moment in our nation’s history. The MAGA Republicans don’t just threaten
our personal rights and economic security, they’re a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace — embrace — political violence. They don’t believe in democracy.
This is why, in this moment, those of you who love this country — Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans — we must be stronger, more determined, and more committed to saving America than the MAGA Republicans are to destroying America. (Applause.)
“We the People” are the first words of our Constitution, and “We the People” will still determine the destiny of America. If “We the People” stand together, we will prevail as “We the People.” (Applause.)
We just have to keep the faith. We just have to persevere. We just have to vote. Vote. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Vote! Vote! Vote!
THE PRESIDENT: Folks, we just have to remember who we are. We are the United States of America, and there is nothing — nothing — beyond our capacity if we do it together, so let’s get it done. (Applause.)
God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. (Applause.) Thank you, thank you, thank you.