“As tough as things are, all of us are incredibly blessed to have been born in the United States of America,” President Barack Obama told Iowans gathered at a 850-acre heritage farm in Decorah late Monday. “And that’s why we continue to attract people from all over the globe who see us as a beacon of hope.”
Saying that America has the best universities, entrepreneurs, scientists, market system — “the most dynamic in the world” — Obama talked up American exceptionalism, perhaps in response to widespread GOP criticism, especially among the 2012 candidates in Iowa, that he isn’t as proud or as patriotic about the country as he should be.
“There is not a country on earth that wouldn’t be willing to trade places with the United States of America,” he said.
Yet, even as America understands she is blessed, she must also realized that there are challenges, economic challenges, that must be met, Obama added.
“The problem we have is not with our country; the problem is that our politics is broken,” he charged, laying blame on those members of Congress who are willing to place their political party loyalty ahead of their loyalty for the country.
The recent downgrade of the nation’s credit rating, he added, “did not have to do with economics; it had to do with politics.”
“It was an assessment that our Congress is not able to come up with the kinds of compromises that move this country forward. And I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty frustrated about that,” he said, not reserving his criticism for one political party over the other and renewing his call for “shared sacrifice” as the nation works through its debt problems.
Democrats, he said, are going to have to give in on reductions of some government programs, and Republicans need to agree that the answer lies in both revenues and spending cuts.
“I am enlisting you,” he told those gathered on the hillside in front of him at picnic tables, on lawn chairs and blankets. Obama said the American people need to hold himself and Congress accountable for getting things done and for moving the nation forward.
“If you are letting people know that enough is enough, it is time to move forward, it is time for your voices to be heard, then sooner or later these guys have to start paying attention. And, if they don’t start paying attention, then they’re not going to be in office and we’ll have a new Congress in there that will start paying attention to what’s going on all across America,” he said. “I’m confident in the power of your voice. I’m confident in your values. … I don’t care whether you are Democrat, Republican or Independent, all of us here are patriots, all of us care about our country and puts it first.”
During a question and answer period, which made up the bulk of the town hall event at Seed Savers Exchange, Obama defended the fact that he has compromised on what some liberals consider core Democratic principles, and the slow implementation of health care reforms. He also discussed possible tax reforms, continued stimulus for infrastructure needs and ways to bring the country back together.
The White House recorded the event, and their video is embedded below.