Barack Obama: Slowly but surely, America is emerging from this financial crisis

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The Independent Online

We've got to do more than manage our way through this crisis, because long before the recession hit, many of our communities were struggling even when the economy was doing relatively well. Plants were closing. Jobs were leaving, especially in manufacturing. For too many families and communities, the recession wasn't a new challenge; it's a permanent one. It's been going on for a decade or more.

So in addition to dealing with the immediate crisis that we face today, we've got to face up to the challenges necessary to strengthen our economy for the long term. That's why I've taken on our broken health insurance system, so that families and businesses won't have to cope with double-digit premium increases year-after-year.

That's why my Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is taking on our education system so that our kids can compete in the 21st century economy. And that's why we are working to upgrade America's most under-appreciated asset - community colleges just like this one. That's why we're doing everything we can to spur new industries, like clean energy, to create good, new jobs that won't be sent offshore.

And that's why, when the current emergency passes, I'm committed to bringing down the deficits that loom as a threat to our future economic growth. Now, here's why we have to do all this: because for decades, Washington avoided doing what was right in favor of doing what was easy. And the middle class took a beating for it. It got papered over because there was a lot of cheap credit out there so people were just able to keep up by getting more credit cards and taking out more home equity loans, but the long-term trends were not good. That's what was happening decade after decade.

So here's the bottom line. I know times are tough. Michelle and I were talking the other day - there are members of our families that are out of work. We're not that far removed from struggling to pay the bills. Five, six years ago, we were still paying off student loans. Still trying to figure out if we pay this bill this month, what do we have to give up next month. We're not that far away from there. But I promise you this: I won't rest until things get better.

Taken from the American President's speech to Lehigh Carbon Community College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Friday