President Obama: Over the past year it has become amply clear that targeting most of the Federal Government’s assistance toward Wall Street rather than Main Street has done nothing to help pull our economy out of the deepest downturn since the Great Depression. I have become convinced that the single most important thing Washington can do to help America is to create jobs–and to create them on an unprecedented scale. I am talking about millions of jobs, maybe tens of millions.
So here is what I propose to do. I am directing my administration to come up with a plan that will guarantee a decent job at decent pay for any American who wants to work–regardless of race, regardless of gender, regardless of education or training, and regardless of previous work experience. I want these to be productive jobs–jobs that will enhance the well-being of everyone in our country. Among the areas that ought to be targeted I would include education, care for our aging population, cleaning up our environment and retrofitting buildings to make them energy efficient, and repairing and improving our nation’s infrastructure.
It is time that we take seriously the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees the right to a job–which was actually one of the key components of the Second Bill of Rights proposed by my predecessor, Franklin Roosevelt more than 65 years ago. I am ashamed that our nation has not lived up to its commitment to human rights, and I aim to change that.
This program will be permanent, and it will ensure that from this day forward, the United States economy will operate with true, full employment. We will look to the New Deal job creation programs for inspiration, but we will go further because we will end forever the horror of involuntary unemployment. Eliminating the scourge of unemployment is good politics, it is good social policy, and it is good economics.
Now, I am not an expert in esoteric economic theories that are common in the ivory towers of some universities. But I can tell what is nonsense. And any economist who tells you that it makes sense to keep tens of millions of people unemployed is spouting nonsense.
Our nation faces many challenges, today and in the years to come. But we can solve these by working together–and it will take all of us, working, together, to meet those challenges. The truth is that we can no longer afford to keep people out of work. The job is too big. So I ask my administration, and I ask you, the American people, to put our minds together to create those jobs and I will commit the Federal Government budget to provision of decent wages for all of those who want to fill them.