THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Oh, it is good to be in L.A.! (Applause.) It is colder in D.C.at the moment, colder in Chicago, and 70-degree weather is something to bethankful for.
And it is great to be atDreamWorks Animation. I would like towork here. (Laughter.) I have asked Jeffrey. The only concern I had was the lights werekind of dim in the offices and — (laughter) — I’m pretty sure I’d fallasleep. But there’s a natural connectionbetween me and DreamWorks. I don’t knowif you know this, but my ears were one of the inspirations for “Shrek.” (Laughter.) That’s true. True story.
Mellody was being very modestwhen she said she had a front-row seat. Mellody was one of my earliest supporters back when nobody couldpronounce my name. And her and JohnRogers at Arial Capital helped to co-chair some of my first fundraisers. Andthey’d have to drag some straggly group in, kicking and screaming, and write acheck and listen to this young senator who had a lot of ideas but notnecessarily any realistic prospects to win. And she went through a lot of ups and downs with me and my career and isjust a great, great friend. So I want tothank her publicly for all the support that she’s given us. (Applause.)
We’ve got some folks here who arefighting for the people of Southern California every single day and I just wantto acknowledge them. We’ve got the Mayorof Glendale, Dave Weaver. (Applause.) We’vegot three of your outstanding members of Congress — Brad Sherman, Adam Schiff,Karen Bass. They are all doing a greatjob. (Applause.)
I want to thank all of you forbeing here. And I want to thank yourCEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg, for inviting me. (Applause.) Jeffrey, like Mellody, has been a friend and a supporterthrough thick and thin. And I think hisplace in the entertainment industry is legendary — I don’t need to puff him uptoo much. (Laughter.) He has a healthy sense of self. (Laughter.) But he is a great friend and somebody whose counsel and advice I value.And I’m incredibly grateful to be here at this wonderful institution that hehelped to build
And I’ve come here today becausethis is one of America’s economic engines. Not just DreamWorks, but this whole cluster of companies thatgenerations have grown up knowing — Disney and Warner and Universal andothers. When you think about it, whatfinance is to New York, what the auto industry is to the Midwest, what technologyis to Northern California, entertainment is to this part of the country.
And most of us have spent a lotof time thinking about our favorite movies or TV shows, but we don’t oftenthink about the entire infrastructure and industry behind the scenes. Hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs –they’re not always on the marquee — jobs for electricians, and carpenters, andsound mixers, and makeup artists, and designers, and animators depend on thisincredible industry here in southern California.
Entertainment is one of America’sbiggest exports. And every day, you sella product that’s made in America to the rest of the world. Every time somebody buys movie tickets, orDVDs, or distribution rights to a film, some of that money goes back to thelocal economy right here.
And believe it or not,entertainment is part of our American diplomacy. It’s part of what makes us exceptional, partof what makes us such a world power. Youcan go anywhere on the planet and you’ll see a kid wearing a “Madagascar”T-shirt. (Laughter.) You can say, “Maythe Force be with you” — they know what you’re talking about. (Laughter.)
Hundreds of millions of peoplemay never set foot in the United States, but thanks to you, they’ve experienceda small part of what makes our country special. They’ve learned something about our values. We have shaped a world culture through you.
And the stories that we telltransmit values and ideals about tolerance and diversity and overcomingadversity, and creativity that are part of our DNA. And as a consequence of what you’ve done, youhelped shape the world’s culture in a way that has made the world better.
They might not know theGettysburg Address, but if they’re watching some old movie, maybe “Guess Who’sComing to Dinner,” or “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” or “Will and Grace” and“Modern Family,” they’ve had a front-row seat to our march towards progress,even if their own nations haven’t made that progress yet. And young people in countries all around theworld suddenly make a connection and have an affinity to people who don’t looklike them and maybe originally they might have been fearful of, and nowsuddenly they say, oh, this person is like me — which is one of the powers ofart, but that’s what you transmit.
And that is a remarkablelegacy. Now, it’s also a bigresponsibility. When it comes to issueslike gun violence, we’ve got to make sure that we’re not glorifying it, becausethe stories you tell shape our children’s outlook and their lives. Earlier this year, leaders from this town satdown with Vice President Biden to talk about what Hollywood could do to helpkeep our kids safe. This was in the wakeof Sandy Hook. And those conversationsneed to continue. The stories we tellmatter. And you tell stories morepowerfully than anybody else on the Earth.
But I want to make clear, even aswe think long and hard about the messages we send, we should never waver fromour commitment to the freedom that allows us to tell those stories sowell. Protecting our First Amendmentrights are vital to who we are. And it’salso good business, because in the global race for jobs and industries, thething we do better than anybody else is creativity. That’s something that can’t be copied. It’s one of the reasons why even with newmarkets and new technologies, there’s still no better place to make movies andtelevision and music than right here in the United States.
Entertainment is one of thebright spots of our economy. The gapbetween what we can do and what other countries can do is enormous.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Woo!
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, that’s worth cheering for. (Applause.) And that means that we’ve got todo what it takes to make sure that this industry, and every great Americanindustry, keeps that competitive edge so that more folks can find career pathslike many of you have, and get good middle-class jobs that allow you to supporta family and get ahead.
Nothing is more important thanthat right now. And as Mellodymentioned, when I came into office, we were going through a severe crisis. Five years later, America has largely foughtour way back. We’ve made the toughchoices required not just to help the economy recover, but to rebuild it on anew foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth.
We refocused on manufacturing andexports, and today, our businesses sell more goods and services made in thiscountry to the rest of the world than ever before. Our manufacturers are adding jobs for thefirst time since the 1990s, led by an American auto industry that’s comeroaring back. American cars are reallygood now. (Laughter.)
We decided to reverse ourdependence on foreign oil. So today, wegenerate more renewable energy than ever — doubled our renewable energy –more natural gas than anybody. For thefirst time in nearly 20 years, America now produces more of our own oil than webuy from other countries. It’s goodnews. (Applause.)
When I took office, Americainvested far less than countries like China did in wireless infrastructure andwe’ve now narrowed that gap, and we have helped companies unleash jobs andinnovation and become a booming app economy that’s created hundreds ofthousands of jobs. Six years ago, only 5percent of the world’s smartphones ran on American operating systems. Today, more than 80 percent do. (Applause.)
And, yes, we decided to fix abroken health care system. (Applause.) And it’s interesting– I was talking to some of the studio execs here, and I said, look, therollout of the new health care marketplace was rough and nobody was morefrustrated about the problems with our website than I am. And yet, here in Southern California and hereacross this state, there are thousands of people every single day who are gettinghealth care for the first time — for the first time — because of this. (Applause.) And, by the way, the website is continually working better, so check itout. (Laughter.)
But as a country, we’re nowpoised to gain health coverage for millions of Americans, starting on January1st, and that includes more than 350,000 here in California who have alreadysigned up. And thanks in part to theAffordable Care Act, health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50years. Employer-based health care costsare growing at about one-third the rate of a decade ago. And that means that if the studios here oryour employers aren’t having to spend as much on health care, they can hiremore folks and reinvest more in the business, and come up with those cooltechnologies that — I don’t exactly understand how they work, but –(laughter) — were really neat to look at. (Laughter.)
And, by the way, we’ve done allthis while bringing down our deficits. (Applause.) After years oftrillion-dollar deficits, we reined in spending. You would think sometimes listening to folksin Washington that we haven’t made any progress on that front. We wound down two wars. We changed a tax code that was too skewedtowards the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class. You add it all up, we’ve cut our deficits bymore than half, and they continue to go down faster than any time since WorldWar II. (Applause.)
So all told, our businessescreated 7.8 million new jobs over the past 44 months. America has gone farther, recovered fasterthan most other industrialized nations. But, as Mellody said, we’ve got more work to do. The stock market is doing great, corporateprofits soaring, but too many Americans aren’t sharing in that success. And everybody here who works at DreamWorks –a really good place to work. I’m goingto ask Jeff if maybe I can work here. (Applause.) But all of you havefriends and family and neighbors who aren’t as lucky. And you know there are still a lot of folkswho are struggling out there. And my top priority is making sure that thiscountry remains a country where everybody who is willing to work hard can getahead.
And we’d be a lot further alongwithout some of the dysfunction and obstruction we’ve seen in Washington. (Applause.) We would be a lot further along if we could just get folks to act withsome sense — (laughter) — if we didn’t have one wing of one party that was alittle less obsessed with repealing health care for 40 million people, moreconcerned with making sure the law works. If they hadn’t spent 40 votes trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act,they might have actually taken some votes on rebuilding our infrastructure, orinstituting early childhood education for young people across this country, orinvesting more money in basic research that helps to create the amazingtechnologies that many of you utilize. Any of the serious proposals I’ve put forward that would be creatingjobs right now, they could have been taking votes on that.
Instead of rooting for failure,or refighting old battles, Republicans in Congress need to work with us toimprove those things about the Affordable Care Act that aren’t working as wellas they should, and implement policies to strengthen the middle class andcreate jobs. (Applause.)
A couple of weeks ago, HouseRepublican leaders handed out a piece of paper to their members and on the topit said, “Agenda 2014.” I’m not makingthis up. Below that, it was blank. (Laughter.) It was a blank sheet of paper — nothing to create jobs or grow theeconomy or strengthen the middle class.
And I’ve put forward my plans tocreate new jobs and even the odds for the middle class. And I’ve put forward plans that gives someRepublicans some of the things that they want in exchange for ideas that willcreate good jobs right now. And so far,they won’t consider them.
Some people have heard me say mylist of top five movies — “The Godfather,” one and two, have to be on it. But it turns out Marlon Brando had it easy,because when it comes to Congress, there’s no such thing as an “offer they can’trefuse.” (Laughter.) I mean, I just keep on coming back. (Laughter.) I’m going to keep on trying, though. (Laughter.) I am, because we’vegot no choice. (Applause.)
The American people agree with usthat jobs, growing the economy should be our number-one priority. And we’ve got to make some investments tomake that happen. And we’ve got to givea better bargain to the middle class and everybody who is working to join themiddle class. And that means building onthose cornerstones of what makes for a strong middle class — good jobs, a goodeducation, a home of your own, health care when you get sick, a secureretirement even if you’re not rich. Sowe can help manufacturers bring more jobs back to America by investing inAmerican clean-energy technology, and putting people to work building roads andbridges and schools and high-speed broadband networks that attract businessesfrom around the world.
We can prepare our children andour workers for the global competition that they’ll face — expandinghigh-quality preschool education, redesigning our high schools, investing incommunity colleges and job training, and tackling rising college costs, so thatyoung people can afford it. We can helpresponsible homeowners afford a mortgage or refinancing at today’s low rates,help build a rock-solid housing system for decades to come, instead of boom andbust.
We can bring the promise of asecure retirement back to reach for middle-class families, finding new ways tomake it easier for workers to save, and strengthening Social Security, andgetting immigration reform done so that undocumented workers are paying theirfair share of taxes, but they’re not living in the shadows — (applause) — andwe’re attracting the best and the brightest from all around the world.
As I was getting a tour ofDreamWorks, I didn’t ask, but just looking at faces, I could tell there weresome folks who are here not because they were born here, but because they wantto be here and they bring extraordinary talents to the United States. And that’s part of what makes Americaspecial. And that’s part of what, by theway, makes California special, because it’s always been this magnet of dreamersand strivers. And people coming fromevery direction saying to themselves, you know, if I work hard there I can havemy piece of the American Dream.
We’re going to continue to makeprogress on all those fronts. And, yes,we are going to continue to implement the health care law. The product is good. People want it. And we should not live in a country wherepeople are going bankrupt just because they get sick. And anybody who is going to keep on pushingagainst that, they will meet my resistance, because I am willing to fix anyproblems that there are, but I’m not going to abandon people to make sure thatthey’ve got health insurance in this country. That is not something we’re going to do. (Applause.) And the good news is,as I said, thousands of Californians are already signing up.
I read a really powerful storyover the weekend I just want to mention about uninsured folks in Kentucky whoare signing up in droves in one of the poorest counties in the country. Some of them can’t imagine what having healthinsurance would be like. And you read thesestories and you realize how important it is for folks in Kentucky — a state,by the way, that did not vote for me — (laughter) — and if Kentucky can doit, than every state should be able to do it.
We should be able to expandMedicaid all across the country. There are millions of people who, right now,even under the law, may not get health care that they deserve because theirgovernors have refused to do it just for political reasons — expandingMedicaid. Fortunately, California,obviously, is not one of them. But thisis a fight that we’re going to keep fighting, because it’s worth fighting. And that’s what Mellody referred to.
It’s true. I’m not an ideological guy, but there aresome things I really believe in. Andpart of what I believe in is that the essence of this country, what makes thisplace special, is this idea that Hollywood is glorified and held up, but Iactually think it’s true that here, more than anyplace else, no matter what youlook like, where you come from, what your last name is, who you love, youshould be able to make it if you’re willing to work hard. That’s what I believe. (Applause.)
And there’s certain values thatmake that a reality. I have my critics,obviously, but since were here in Hollywood, I want to think about somethingthat the late, great Chicago film critic, Robert [Roger] Ebert said — and Iwas fortunate to get to know Roger Ebert and was always inspired by how hehandled some really tough stuff. “Kindness,” he wrote, “covers all of my political beliefs.” Kindness covers all of my political beliefs.
And when I think about what I’mfighting for, what gets me up every single day, that captures it just about asmuch as anything. Kindness; empathy –that sense that I have a stake in your success; that I’m going to make sure,just because Malia and Sasha are doing well, that’s not enough — I want yourkids to do well also. And I’m willing tohelp to build good schools so that they get a great education, even if mine arealready getting a great education.
And I’m going to invest ininfrastructure and building things like the Golden Gate Bridge and the HooverDam and the Internet — (laughter) — because I’m investing for the nextgeneration, not just this one. And that’swhat binds us together, and that’s how we’ve always moved forward, based on theidea that we have a stake in each other’s success. And that’s what drives me. And that’s what will continue to drive me.
I believe that every kid shouldhave opportunity. I believe ourdaughters should have the same opportunities as our sons. I believe that Jeffrey’s kids should be ableto aspire to whatever they can dream of, but I also want to make sure that theperson who’s cleaning up Jeffrey’s office, that their kid has that samepossibility.
And we may have different ideasand different policies on how to do things, but that shouldn’t negate that thatcore vision is what we’re fighting for, and we should be able to sit downtogether and to keep dreaming and keep working, and to make sure that theAmerican Dream that’s been described here in Southern California is sustainedfor generations to come.
And what’s stopping us is notpolicy details; it’s not technical issues. It’s to summon the courage to put politics aside once in a while and rememberthat we’ve got more in common than our politics would suggest. And as long as I’ve got the privilege ofserving as your President, that’s what I’m going to keep on making sure that Ido — to put politics aside once in a while and work on your behalf. (Applause.)
So, thank you, DreamWorks, forwhat you do. (Applause.) Thank you, Jeffrey, for yourhospitality. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.) Can’t wait to see your next movie. (Applause.)