You are one of the few sources of job growth in the U.S. in the past year. I'm particularly grateful for that.
Since I left the White House, unless a family member of mine is involved, I'm not much into politics.
I spend my time trying to work with the private sector and government and non-profit groups to solve problems.
However much money you spend on whatever you're going to do, how are you going to turn your good intentions into results? It's the 'how' question, not what are you going to do and how much are you going to spend that's important.
Is the recession over? Yes, no, and maybe. If you're an economic professor, the answer is yes. The textbook definition of a recession is two quarters of negative economic growth. If you're an ordinary American businessperson or worker, the answer is no. Unemployment is still going up, the economy is strapped, the foreclosure rate is still going up. Most people think this thing is nowhere near over. The maybe answer is this: we can come out of this and one thing can happen and spook people and they'll quit spending and it'll throw us right back in.
What if unemployment stops and things start up again and then oil spikes over $100 per barrel again? How will we deal with that?
We should think about what are our long-term challenges. What do we want the American economy to look like? How does that relate to the rest of the world?
It is clearly the most interdependent time in history. There is much more international trade, much more international investment, much more international travel, much more exchange of information because of the internet now and within societies there is much more diversity.
All interdependence means is our fates are bound up together. It can be good or bad or both and in this case, it's both.
Since we went off the gold standard in the early '70s, we've had periods of real growth but only four years when income and equality both went up.
It's too unequal. Before September 15, 2008 when Lehman Brothers failed and the government decided not to throw them a lifeline...there were consequences. You could make an argument that September 15, 2008 was the date that the Presidential election was held.
Before September 15, 2008, this country was already in deep trouble. Housing foreclosures were picking up speed. Officials did nothing about it. And 2/3 of the American peole had real incomes that were lower on September 15, 2008 than the day I left office. The median income was $2000 less on September 15, 2008 than in January 2001.
Maxed out credit cards, second mortgages on homes, is a very narrow base on which to grow a great middle class economy. You can't have it based on housing, finance, and consumer credit.
We made ourselves depend on countries with economic and political interests very different than ours. We borrowed money from China to fund Bill Clinton's tax cuts. That's not what they said but that's what happened.
China has $2 trillion in cash reserves. They've invested $280 billion in America's debt. If they get tired of doing it, the dollar will collapse.
We got ourselves in a pickle and all this aggravated the inequality. Now a lot of people in finance have lost a lot of money so there's more equality but that's not the way we want to do this.
We have not dealt rapidly enough with two educational challenges. K-12 needs to perform better. We need to turn our schools into care centers, keep them open at night, and take out all limits on charter schools.
In every year from 1946 to 2001 the U.S. ranked first in the world every single year with the percentage of adults 25-34 with college degrees. Today, college costs have gone up 75%. In one decade, your nation fell from first to 10th. That is a devastating omen for the future. And we need to change that.
In public education K-12, the highest dropout rate is from Hispanic Americans. 3/4 who drop out drop out to support their families. It is for a noble reason. I think every area in America with a large Hispanic population — why shouldn't we have one high schoool that operates like a community college? Need to work at noon? Come in the morning and come back and night. So you don't punish people for supporting their families.
We've got to get back to first place, especially when our government and Congress say we should make it harder to bring educated immigrants in to work in the United States.
There is room for raucous debate about health care. But you can't have a debate without the facts.
Americans spend 16 1/2 to 17% of their income on health care. The next most expensive rich country is Switzerland. They spend 11 1/2%. We have only managed to provide care for 83% of our people.
2/3 of all medical costs are spent on 10% of patients that are the sickest.
We've got great cancer diagnosis and care. We've got great cardiac care — otherwise, someone else would be giving this speech today.
We have to look at the job killing aspects of our economy where we're not competitive. I think the deal that you have with the credit card companies is terrible. The fact that they have an anti-trust exemption is wrong.
I believe the biggest threat to your future might be a good thing to society and you have to figure out how to make it a good thing for yourself. We have to change our global energy system.
You're going to see water wars and food wars that make wars in the Middle East look tame.
If you change the way we produce and distribute energy, it will create a lot of new business and jobs. It is the mother lode time of new economic opportunities. What are you going to do if everyone starts driving an electric car in five years? You need to plan for this. You can put in recharging stations. If I were you, I'd get wired to do that.
If the dollar gets weaker, there will be more demand to stop spending so much on foreign oil.
We live in a world that is highly unstable. Ask an Australian about global warming. They ask the way to fix it because there is no question down there. They are the first nation who has really been hit by global warming. Swine flu. Financial crises. Terrorism. Proliferation of weapons. All of this means we're living in a world that is too unequal and too unstable.
On balance, I am wildly optimistic about the future. I'm not big on denial. This country has some serious challenges if we are going to remain the leading nation for peace and freedom. Can we do it? I believe so.
I have to reveal that people have been betting against the United States for over 200 years. Predicting America's demise has been a pastime for a long time. But whoever has done it has lost. It's up to us to make sure they keep losing.
The right kind of lobbyist is essential. There is no way that every member of Congress has a preset ideology on everything — like those interchange fees. And you shouldn't believe you can't change people and minds with the facts.
Most members of Congress should be treated like they're honest, open, and they don't know this stuff.
The Congress is really sensitive right now. They know most jobs are created by small business.
There is a feeling in Washington that we made a terrible mistake not having any oversight at the SEC. In government, the pendulum seems to swing. It doesn't stay in the middle.
There are a huge number of Congressmen from small towns in rural America. You need to get them to carry water for you.
You've really got to stay awake. Stay on top of trends in energy, regulatory trends, figure out where the market is going. Before the economic downturn, savings was at a negative number. Now it's around 5%. The more you know about the larger economy, the more you'll know about how to stock your stores.
I believe this world will reward those who stay alert.
If I were running a business I would wake up every day asking myself what was coming a month from now as well as how to pay my bills.
You cannot run a successful country if you don't believe tomorrow is going to be better than yesterday.
The whole test of public service is what happens to people today and tomorrow.
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