Remarks at a Town Hall with General Motors Employees in Warren, Ohio


Spoken by

Hillary Clinton

Remarks as prepared for delivery below:

I am so pleased to be with all of you. As some of you may know, I grew up in the Midwest, so being here today sure feels good.

This state has always held a special place at the heart of our nation. Ohio was one of our first frontiers – and has always led us to new ones. You gave us the airplane that first graced the skies and the astronauts who explored the heavens – including my friend and hero, Senator John Glenn. The steel from these mills armed America through two World Wars, put cars in our garages, and built our cities rushing skyward.

For so many years, this state has defined our values, expanded our horizons, and kept the American Dream alive. But at the beginning of this new century – here in Youngstown and across this state – the American Dream is being tested.

Some jobs have left, others pay less, so you just work harder. Health care, energy and college costs are up – so you stretch your budget further.

Maybe you’re a working mom or dad raising your kids – and also a working son or daughter caring for your parents – and you feel overwhelmed. Maybe your kids grew up, had to leave the state to find work, and took the grandkids with them.

Some days, it probably feels like the perfect storm. You fill up your tank, and that’s two twenties from your wallet. You pick up a gallon of milk and a few other things – and there goes another. You try to fill your child’s prescription, and they tell you, “Sorry, that’s no longer covered.” After a while, you feel like a human ATM – with all the money going the wrong way.

That’s why I’m here in Youngstown – because that’s what this election is about: It’s about you. It’s about your lives, your dreams, your future. I know that here at GM, you’ve had serious losses. But we can’t ever give up on our manufacturers and manufacturing jobs. No one should ever have to leave their family to earn a living.

In the end, it comes down to just one question: When the bright lights are off and the speeches are over, who can you count on to listen to you, to stand up for you, to deliver solutions for you?

For the past seven years, we’ve seen this President’s answer. He delivers perks for the special interests on a silver platter – one that was probably made in China. With President Bush, every day is Valentine’s Day for the special interests. They’ve grabbed tax breaks at every turn, exploited every loophole, and turned federal departments into their revolving doors.

And while you pinched pennies to stay within your budget, the President has blown the bank on tax breaks for his friends and no-bid contracts for his cronies – borrowing hundreds of billions from China to pay for it. He’s essentially signed a subprime mortgage on America’s economy. So when people ask me, “Why can’t we get tough on China,” I ask them, “When was the last time you got tough on your banker?”

China’s steel comes here – our jobs go there. We play by the rules – they manipulate their currency. And we get tainted fish, lead-laced toys, and poisoned pet food in return.

For seven long years, we’ve had a government of, by, and for the special interests – and we’ve had enough. It’s time to get real about our future. It’s time to level the playing field against the special interests and deliver 21st century solutions to rebuild the middle class. It’s time we made the solutions business America’s business.

Today, I’m announcing an agenda to reign in the special interests and save the American people at least $55 billion a year. Money that can go back into your pockets. Money we can use to create new jobs, rebuild our infrastructure, make college affordable and so much more.

We’ll take on the oil companies and harness their record profits to create millions of clean energy jobs – high-wage jobs you can raise a family on. I’ll end their special tax breaks and give them a choice: invest some of your profits in alternative energy, or we’ll do it for you. People have been paying through the roof at the pump, and it’s time the companies paid their fair share.

We’ll take on the credit card companies so that you and your families aren’t drowning in debt. Here in Ohio, payday lenders are actually taking Social Security checks from our elderly. That’s outrageous. I’ve proposed real consumer protections against abusive interest rates – capping them at no more than 30% and working to get them far lower. And I’ll ban those hidden fees and sudden rate hikes, because credit card companies shouldn’t be able to bait and switch you and your family.

We’ll take on the insurance companies and tell them they can no longer discriminate against the sickest people who need care the most. They spend more than $50 billion a year trying to figure out how not to cover people. Well, I’m going to save them a fortune and a whole lot of time, because here’s the new policy: No more discrimination period. So even if you have a pre-existing condition, you can get the health insurance you need – no questions asked. And I’ll go after drug companies and insurance companies that are overcharging consumers and the government – it’s time to end their profiteering at our expense.

We’ll take on Wall Street and tell them: you’re going to finally pay your fair share in taxes. Because it’s outrageous that a teacher making $50,000 pays a higher tax rate than some Wall Street investment managers making $50 million. And I’ll create a bi-partisan Corporate Waste Commission to review all those corporate subsidies – and propose a comprehensive way to end them. We can save billions of dollars a year and put it to work for you.

We’ll take on the student loan companies and tell them no more ripping off our sons and daughters. I’m proposing a Student Borrower Bill of Rights – no more deceptive advertising and outrageous fees. And we’ll end the inefficient subsidies for private student loan companies. Because we should be making it easier for our kids to go to college – not harder.

We’ll send a loud, clear message to all those companies shipping our jobs overseas. If you’re trying to take jobs away from Ohio, no more loopholes and no more tax rewards. I think we’ve had enough of this Administration using our tax dollars to encourage companies to outsource our jobs.

And let’s support the people who work those jobs. Let’s raise the minimum wage. Let’s support our unions by standing up for the right to organize and appointing people to the Department of Labor and National Labor Relations Board who are actually pro-labor.

I’m proud of what our unions do to serve this country every day. I commend the Building Trade Unions for their “Helmets to Hardhats” program that places our veterans in all kinds of jobs – here in Ohio and across the country. That is truly patriotism in action.

I am proud to have the support of more than a dozen unions representing six million working families nationwide: sheet metal workers, sanitation workers, stage hands, machinists, bus drivers, farm workers, letter carriers, painters, teachers, nurses, childcare workers, law enforcement officers, bricklayers and so many more. I’m proud to be labor’s candidate.

When my opponent puts out a mail piece with all sorts of false claims about my position on NAFTA, working men and women know the truth. You know I’ve been working to help create good jobs in New York and across America. That I have plans to create five million new, green collar jobs. And that my opponent doesn’t have much experience creating jobs at all.

And you know that I’ll crack down on unfair trade with countries like China. I’ve already proposed legislation to assess trade agreements every five years to see if they’re meeting their goals or if they need adjustments. And when I’m President, we will take a timeout from new agreements in order to create a new approach: One that is genuinely pro-American, pro-worker, pro-environment — and vigorously enforced.

I think it’s time for a President who works as hard for you as you work for America. A President who knows what manufacturing means to America.

Let’s be honest about something. When President Bush and Vice President Cheney say the economy is booming even though 3 million manufacturing jobs have been lost; when they propose to cut the Manufacturing Extension Partnership; when they cut assistance to small manufacturers; when Senator McCain tells you business as usual on trade is just fine and tells neighboring Michigan workers that we can’t bring new manufacturing jobs back to the United States – they are sending you a clear message: They do not believe America needs a strong manufacturing base.

They think America doesn’t need to make anything anymore. They think those of us who remember how our manufacturers helped defend our freedoms in the great wars are just quaint and nostalgic. They think it would be just fine if every plane, every piece of machinery, every computer, every car were made somewhere else.

Well let me be clear: I believe manufacturing matters. I believe we should be restoring the Manufacturing Extension Partnership – not cutting it. I believe a strong America needs a strong American manufacturing base – and I intend to fight for one as President.

Some may call this the “rust belt,” but that’s not what I see. I see some of the hardest workers in the world. I see great universities and strong communities. I see a 21st century manufacturing belt. An innovation belt. An opportunity belt.

I see a middle class comeback that starts right here, right now – in places like this.

Now, over the years, you’ve heard plenty of promises from plenty of people in plenty of speeches. And some of those speeches were probably pretty good. But speeches don’t put food on the table. Speeches don’t fill up your tank, or fill your prescription, or do anything about that stack of bills that keeps you up at night.

That’s the difference between me and my Democratic opponent. My opponent gives speeches, I offer solutions. It’s one thing to get people excited, I want to empower you to live your dreams so we can all go forward together.

There’s a lot of talk in this campaign about what kind of change we’ll bring. Well, change is going to happen whether we want it or not. The question is who will make progress.

My opponent says that he’ll take on the special interests. Well, he told people he stood up to the nuclear industry and passed a bill against them. But he actually let the nuclear industry water down his bill – the bill never actually passed. On top of that, the same company that watered down that bill lobbied for Dick Cheney’s energy bill. And my opponent voted for the energy bill, with its billions of dollars of breaks for the oil industry. I voted against it.

My opponent says he’ll stand up for workers. He often talks about the plight of Maytag workers in his home state. But the union at that plant supports me because when 1,600 jobs were being lost, they say he didn’t do a thing to help.

My opponent says to cut health care costs more aggressively than I do. But as an independent analysis from The Commonwealth Fund shows, the most effective way to lower costs is to truly cover everyone. His health care plan does”t. Mine does.

I was, however, glad to see that yesterday, my opponent adopted the goal of five million green collar jobs – months after I announced I would create five million green collar jobs. I was also glad to see that he modeled his $60 billion infrastructure bank on a bill I co-sponsored last summer to create a $60 billion infrastructure bank. Now, if only he would just copy my health care plan and provide coverage for every single American!

So there’s the difference between us – speeches versus solutions. Talk versus action.

In all seriousness, while some may think that words are change – I know that it takes work. You can’t just talk about the special interests – you have to take them on. I always have, and I always will.

If you want universal health care, you have to take on the insurance companies – that’s exactly what I did as First Lady. And when we weren’t successful, I kept on fighting until we got health care for six million children. I took on the drug companies to get vaccines for children – and today, childhood immunizations are at an all time high.

So I’ve stood my ground against the special interests. But I also know how to find common ground in the Senate, bringing together Democrats and Republicans to solve our toughest problems. I’m the co-founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Manufacturing Caucus, where we’ve worked to revitalize America’s manufacturing base. I created new partnerships to breathe economic life into struggling cities and towns in Upstate New York. We brought new investors, new capital, and funds for infrastructure and economic development.

That’s how I measure my life – not by applause or headlines – but by whether I’m helping people. I’m in this race because this nation gave me every opportunity, and I believe we can do the same for every family. That’s been the purpose of my life – standing up for people who weren’t getting a fair shake, people aspiring for a better future, people who need government on their side. And it will be the purpose of my presidency.

So yes, today the American Dream is being tested. But it’s been tested before. Tested by war and Depression. Communism and terrorism. Discrimination, division, and fear.

And that dream has always triumphed. It has grown stronger as each generation has made it their own and made it more real for more people.

It takes leadership and hard work. But we’ve never been short on either. So I hope you will join me in delivering the solutions we need for our nation’s economy and making sure our best days are yet to come. When the people of Ohio and America work hard and work together, there is nothing we can’t accomplish.

Thank you and God bless you.