By Aaron Blevins, 10/11/2012
Campaign prepares for election with fundraiser in DTLA
Fresh off of what some considered to be a subpar debate performance, President Barack Obama visited Los Angeles for a fundraiser on Sunday, hoping to re-energize his California supporters.
Held at the Nokia Theatre in downtown L.A., the fundraiser offered performances and appearances from several celebrities, such as George Clooney, Jon Bon Jovi, Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind and Fire, who Obama thanked in his introduction.
“They just perform flawlessly night after night. I can’t always say the same,” he said, garnering a large applause.
The president lauded his administration’s accomplishments during his first term: ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, punishing the true culprits of 9/11, cutting middle class families’ taxes by $3,600 and offering tax breaks for small businesses.
“We got every dime back that was used to rescue the banks,” Obama said. “We passed a law to end taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts for good. We passed healthcare reform, also known as ‘Obamacare’.”
He also celebrated the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the resurgence of U.S. auto manufacturing.
“Gov. [Mitt] Romney tried to give us his business advice about the economy, and said we should let Detroit go bankrupt,” Obama said. “We said, ‘No thanks, we’re not going to take that business advice.’ And we reinvented a dying auto industry that’s back on top of the world.”
He said that, when he took office, the country was in the “worst economic crisis of our lifetimes.” Since then, businesses have created 5 million jobs and, last week, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent, Obama said.
“Manufacturing is coming back to America,” he said. “Home values are on the rise. Now, we’re not there yet. We’ve still got too many Americans looking for work. Too many families who can’t pay the bills. Too many homes underwater. Too many young people graduating with too much debt. But if there’s one thing I know, we’ve come a long way. And we’ve come too far to turn back now.”
The country cannot afford to undergo four years of the “same policies that led to the crisis in the first place,” Obama said.
“I cannot allow that to happen,” he added. “I will not let it happen. …I have seen too much pain and too much struggle to let this country go through another round of top-down economics.”
The president said one of the main culprits of the recession was big banks making bets with other people’s money. He said regulations have been implemented to prevent a re-occurrence, though Romney would roll them back.
Obama said that, under President Bill Clinton, the country enjoyed record surpluses, only to fall into record deficits under President George Bush. He implied that Romney would return to those failed policies, opting to push $5 trillion in tax cuts that would result in the middle class picking up the tab.
“When he was asked what he’d actually do to cut spending, he said he’d go after public television,” Obama said. “So for all you moms and kids out there, don’t worry. Somebody’s finally cracking down on Big Bird. Elmo’s made a run for the border.”
He said that he and the Republican presidential hopeful have fundamentally different views of how to fix the economy. Obama said Romney would reduce regulations on Wall Street and oil and insurance companies.
“That’s not change. That’s a relapse,” he said. “We’ve been there; we’ve tried that. We’re not going back. We are moving forward. That’s why I’m running again. That’s why I need your help.”
The president said that he and Romney have fundamentally different views on how to fix the economy and return to prosperity.
“We succeed when the middle class is getting bigger and people have ladders of opportunity to live out their dreams,” he added. “Our economy doesn’t grow from the top-down. It grows from the middle out and the bottom up. …No one is entitled to success, but we do believe in opportunity and hard work.”
Obama proposed changing the tax code so that companies that ship jobs overseas are not rewarded. He also suggested rewarding small businesses and manufacturers that make products with “three proud words: Made in America.” The country should also amp up its efforts to produce clean energy, and ensure that it offers the best education system in the world, Obama said.
“We can meet those goals,” he said. “We can make sure that every person here in Los Angeles, here in California, here in the United States of America — no matter what they look like, no matter where they come from … if they’re willing to work hard, they can succeed too. That’s our goal. That’s what we’re fighting for.”
Obama also advised that the U.S. use war savings to pay down the deficit, retain the strongest military the world has ever known and make jobs more accessible to military veterans. He said the country can’t cut its way to prosperity, and proposed higher taxes on incomes that are more than $250,000, which would bring the tax rate for those individuals back to where it was during the Clinton era.
“I refuse to ask the middle class to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut,” Obama said. The crowd booed when he recited Romney’s plan, to which he replied, “Don’t boo, vote.”
The president said that, if people buy into the “cynicism,” then change won’t happen. If people give up on the idea that their voices can make a difference, then special interests and lobbyists will fill the void, Obama said.
“Only you have the power to move us forward,” he added. “Real change takes time. It takes more than one term or one president. It takes more than one party. It can’t happen if you write off half the nation before you even take office.”
Seemingly alluding to the debate, Obama said his 2008 campaign had “bumps in the road.”
“Things always look good in retrospect,” he said. “In the middle of it, we made all kinds of mistakes. We goofed up. I goofed up. But, the American people carried us forward.”
Obama said that, even with all the momentum the 2008 campaign had, 47 percent of the population didn’t vote for him. However, he assured the crowd that he would hear their voices regardless, adding that he is not fighting for Democrat or Republican values.
“They are American values; they belong to all of us,” Obama said. “I still believe we’re not as divided as our politics suggest. I still believe we’ve got more in common than the pundits tell us.”
However, the president said everything that he and his supporters fought for in 2008 is on the line this year.
“And I need your help to finish what we started,” he said.
Dona Dirlam, of West Los Angeles, attended the fundraiser and said she thought the event was “incredible.” She praised Obama’s words on jobs, healthcare rights, veterans and women’s issues.
“I thought they were timely, perfect,” Dirlam said, adding that she believed his debate performance was over-scrutinized. “I’m sure we’ll really see him in the next debates.”