President Obama talks jobs, budget in Cleveland

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CLEVELAND- President Barack Obama put emphasis on middle-class economics during his visit to Cleveland on Wednesday.

The President  flew to Cleveland  with Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Marcy Kaptur and Rep. Marcia Fudge. Air Force One landed at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport at 12:59 p.m.

Before the President's speech, he visited MAGNET, the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network at Cleveland State University, where he checked out bourbon being bottled.

"I’m not sampling any before the speech. But I may take a bottle home with me as a taste test," Obama said, according to press pool reports.

The President addressed the City Club of Cleveland just before 3 p.m. at the Global Center for Health Innovation. Only City Club members could reserve tickets.

Once with the City Club, the President talked about job growth, unemployment, increases in middle-class wages and the Affordable Care Act. He said those achievements are because of the American public.

“I’m going to take a little credit,” Obama said to applause. “It’s also the result of decisions made by my administration.”

The President criticized the Republican budget proposal, which he says increases tax cuts to the wealthy, and would not preserve cuts to middle-class families and students.

"Everyone does better when the middle class does better," the President told the City Club.

In City Club tradition, President Obama answered questions from the audience on topics like community college and legal aid.

Given the time of his address, Cleveland police said drivers should expect rush-hour delays. There is also a home Cavs game Wednesday night.

Statement from the RNC:

If President Obama was serious about helping the middle class achieve their American Dream he would have submitted a serious budget that would streamline the tax code, balance the budget, and  repeal and replace ObamaCare. Republicans have a forward looking budget that fosters growth for the middle class, sadly the same cannot be said for the President  who continues to hold campaign style speeches instead of governing. Ohio has seen the negative impact of Obama-style policies when Ted Strickland was governor. Neither the middle class in Ohio nor America can afford to suffer through more of the same failed policies.—RNC spokesman, Raffi Williams

Jen Steer March 18, 20152:48 pm

President Obama began speaking earlier than expected. In City Club tradition, he will be taking questions.

Jen Steer March 18, 20152:52 pm

President discusses record job growth, unemployment at 5.5 percent, fastest unemployment rate decline, increase of middle-class wages.

Jen Steer March 18, 20152:53 pm

Obama says growth is because of the American public. “I’m going to take a little credit,” Obama says to applause. “It’s also the result of decisions made my administration.”

Jen Steer March 18, 20152:53 pm

President says there are more job openings in the country since 2001. Over the last five years, manufacturers have added jobs in a rate not seen since the 1980s.

Jen Steer March 18, 20152:55 pm

“Last year was the biggest year for solar power in our history,” the President says.

Jen Steer March 18, 20152:57 pm

President says Affordable Care Act not only provided insurance to people who didn’t have any, but lower premiums and put more money in people’s pockets.

Jen Steer March 18, 20152:59 pm

“I’m not satisfied and I know you aren’t either,” Obama says. “But we emerged from a once-in-a-lifetime crisis better than any of our competitors.”

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:02 pm

President pokes fun at critics who said his policies would tank stock prices and raise gas to $6.60 a gallon.

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:03 pm

Obama disagrees with trickle-down economics because of history. “Everyone does better when the middle class does better.”

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:03 pm

“We’ve now got evidence there is a better way,” Obama says of middle-class economics.

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:06 pm

“We need to go forward in an economy with rising incomes,” Obama says. “The budget is not just numbers on a page. It reflects our values and our priorities.”

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:11 pm

Obama now speaking on the Republicans budget proposal. Says the average millionaire would take in tax cuts that are more than the average middle-class worker makes in a year. He says it lets tax cuts expire to middle-class families and students. “You can’t call it a ticket to the middle class.”

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:15 pm

The President says the new Republican budget would cut the military budget to the lowest levels in a decade. It would kick tens of millions of their health insurance, which would end Medicare.

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:17 pm

President says every Republican prediction about Obamacare was wrong. “It’s working better than I expected… Evidence be damned. It’s still a disaster,” he says to laughs.

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:19 pm

President says he did not sample the whiskey at MAGNET, but he’s taking the sample home. He adds Republican budget would cut that program completely.

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:23 pm

President Obama receives a standing ovation before starting question portion of address.

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:28 pm

Superintendent of Shaker Heights schools asks about the community college initiative and how can we promote that to people who don’t think community colleges have value. “I’m doing my darnest to advertise… There are places like Lorain that are doing great work.” He says they are underutilized and not properly linked with high schools, universities and businesses.

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:35 pm

President Obama asked about his March Madness bracket and what has surprised him the most. He has Kentucky winning it all. He says he’ll start with what doesn’t surprise him, and that’s the grit of the American public. Says people are not nearly as divided as Congress would indicate.

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:38 pm

Obama now speaking about infrastructure; the importance of roads, bridges, smart grid and broadband. He says if you speak privately to Republican members of Congress they will agree that it needs to get done, but doesn’t vote to fund these projects.

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:39 pm

Obama: “I think it’s hard for voters to see why things in Washington aren’t working.”

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:43 pm

“If we know what the issues are and who’s taking what positions, then our democracy works well.” When people are disatisfied, it encourages special interests and the status quo, the President says.

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:43 pm

High school student asks about young people getting involved in politics. “Worry more about what you want to do than what you want to be.”

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:45 pm

“I think politics and public service is extremely noble profession,” President says. Adds politicians work long hours, are constantly criticized, sleepless nights. “The only reason to do it is if you’re getting something done.”

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:47 pm

“I always tell young people, don’t wait until you get there to do something. You can do something right now.”

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:48 pm

Student from Hawkin asks why Republicans always propose tax cuts as a solution.

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:51 pm

President says the country works best when both parties are evolving. The problem right now is that we live in a big, complicated, global society so what makes sense on paper doesn’t always make sense in real life, Obama says.

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:54 pm

Two more questions. Man asks about citizens united and campaign spending. Obama attributes part of the disfunction in Washington to the emphasis on getting re-elected.

Jen Steer March 18, 20153:59 pm

“It would be transformative if everyone voted.” Obama says it would completely outweigh the money involved in campaigns.

Jen Steer March 18, 20154:00 pm

Last question: If you could go back to the first day of your first term, what advice would you give yourself?

Jen Steer March 18, 20154:01 pm

“I would have told myself to anticipate that because the recession was so bad and so tough for so many people that I would going to have to be more aggressive in explaining to the public how long the recovery would take place.”

Jen Steer March 18, 20154:04 pm

Obama says he would have closed Guantanamo on the first day. He says there was a bipartisan agreement before to close it, but the politics and the rhetoric got tough, and the path of least resistance was to leave it open. He says they were left to chip away at it.

Jen Steer March 18, 20154:05 pm

Obama’s final remarks, wants people to know how well positioned the country is for the future.

Jen Steer March 18, 20154:07 pm

“As troubling as what has happened in Ferguson, in Cleveland and in New York,” Obama says while reflecting on time in Selma, “Progress has never been a straight line… The longer I’m in this office the more proud I am of the things the American people do everyday.”

Jen Steer March 18, 20154:08 pm

“There is nothing this country cannot do. There is nothing Cleveland cannot do. And that’s because of you.”