President Obama Speaks at the Baseball Hall of Fame

The President: Thank you. (applause) Thank you. There must be some White
Sox fans here somewhere. (laughter) It is great to
be here in Cooperstown. And I have to say that in
addition to just wonderful people, those of you all
across America and around the world who have
not been here, this is a gorgeous place. We came in by helicopter
and had a chance to see the landscape and it
looks like a spectacular place to spend a few days, a
week — however long you want to stay. I’ll bet people will
be happy to have you. And although he is not
here yet, I want to acknowledge the
Governor of New York. He had a conflict and
he’s on his way up. But he is really focused
on jobs in Upstate New York — your Governor,
Andrew Cuomo. I want to thank your
Mayor, Jeff Katz, for having me, and his great
hospitality, and everybody who was involved in
arranging the visit. We’ve also got, by the
way, our Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Ali
Mayorkas, who is here. And he’s important because
he’s helping bring travelers to America. (applause) It is a great
honor to be the first sitting President ever to
visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. (applause) The timing
could not be better. First off, summer marks
the 75th anniversary of the Hall of Fame. I also promised Frank
Thomas I’d check the place out before he’s
inducted in July. (laughter) And
I’m so glad I did. Obviously I didn’t have a
chance to roam around as long as I wanted, but
thanks to the wonderful hospitality here, I saw
the ball that William Howard Taft threw
at the first-ever Presidential opening day pitch. I saw the “White Sox
locker” of memorabilia, and got to bask
in the glory of the 2005 World Series win. (applause) Yes! At the Hall’s request, I
contributed something of my own, which was the
jacket I wore when I threw out the first pitch at
the 2009 All-Star Game. I hear that with all the
media attention about it, there was also some
interest in the jeans I wore that night. (laughter) But Michelle
retired those jeans quite a while back. (laughter) So I love
baseball; America loves baseball. It continues to be
our national pastime. And for any baseball fan
out there, you’ve got to make a trip here. But as much as I’d love to
talk baseball all day — and with a Chicago legend,
Andre Dawson, the “Hawk,” here today, it’s
hard not to want to talk baseball all day long —
I’m actually here to talk about jobs — good,
middle-class jobs. And believe it or
not, places like this institution, the Hall of
Fame, have something to do with jobs and
economic growth. It’s been about five and a
half years since the worst economic crisis of
our lifetimes hit. And thanks to the grit
and determination of the American people, we’ve
been steadily fighting our way back. Over the last four years,
our businesses have created 9.2
million new jobs. We had an auto industry
that was flat-lining; it’s come roaring back. A manufacturing sector
that had lost about one-third of its jobs in
the last decade is now adding jobs for the first
time since the 1990s. And rather than create
jobs in other countries, more and more companies
are recognizing that it makes sense to invest
right here in America. We’ve got great workers. We’ve got the largest
market in the world. We’ve got a whole bunch
of stuff going for us and we’re starting to see
insourcing rather than outsourcing of jobs. So we’ve made progress,
but here’s the thing — too many Americans out
there are still working harder than ever and
can’t seem to get ahead. And so we have to do
more to spur growth and economic development, and
create more jobs that pay a good wage. We should be making it
easier, not harder, for businesses to invest and
create jobs here in the United States. We should be making sure
that people are rewarded for hard work and
responsibility, rather than see their wages
and salaries stagnate. And we should be making it
easier, not harder, for striving young students
to afford the higher education that’s
going to be the key to a lot of 21st century jobs,
and make sure that they can repay that loan debt that
too often they’re taking on when they
go to college. There’s a new bill, by the
way, being introduced in Congress in the coming
weeks that’s going to really do more to make
sure that college students are getting a fair shot. Of course, unfortunately,
we’ve got a Congress that all too often spends a few
days blocking initiatives to create jobs and
raise wages and help young people go to college. They seem to be more
interested in politics right now than
performance. And that’s a challenge. I’ll work with anybody
who’s focused on what we need to be focused on and
what all the people who sent us to Washington are
focused on, and that is how do we improve the
economy and create more jobs. But if Congress isn’t
going to act, then I’m going to do whatever
and any steps I can take to create jobs and
opportunity for more working families. So far, we’ve seen,
for example, the House Republicans blocked
legislation that would raise America’s
minimum wage. So I’ve been working with
states and cities and businesses to go ahead and raise their minimum wage anyway. And I issued an executive
order making sure that if you are contracting with
the federal government, you’ve got to pay your
workers a higher minimum wage — at least $10.10 an
hour — because I believe that if you
work full-time you shouldn’t be in poverty. We saw Senate Republicans
block an up-or-down vote on ensuring equal
pay for women. I went ahead and took
action on my own to make it easier for women to
find out whether they’re being treated fairly at
the workplace and to be able to take action. And when it comes to
creating jobs, last week I was down in Tarrytown,
where workers were able to break ground on the
replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge ahead
of schedule because my administration
fast-tracked that project and a lot of major
projects across the country. On Tuesday, I met with
CEOs from around the world who are investing and
hiring in America because we’ve made our country
more competitive. And today, I’m here in
Cooperstown to talk about some new steps
that will lead to more tourism not just within America but
getting more folks to come and visit the treasures,
the national treasures that we have all across
this country, including the Baseball Hall of
Fame right here in Cooperstown — because
tourism translates into jobs and it translates into
economic growth. When visitors come here,
they don’t just check out the Hall. They rent cars; they stay
in hotels; they eat at restaurants. And that means for Upstate
New York, the Baseball Hall of Fame is
a powerful economic engine. Last year alone, travel
and tourism were responsible for $1.5
trillion in economic activity across
the country. Think about that — $1.5
trillion supporting nearly 8 million jobs in
communities like this one. And when tourists come
from other countries and spend money here, that’s
actually considered a type of export. We don’t always think
about it that way, but we should. Nothing says “Made in
America” better than the Empire State Building
or the Hoover Dam. Folks who work at
restaurants and hotels that serve fans in
Cooperstown have the kinds of jobs that
can’t be offshored. And obviously it’s
tough to ship the Rocky Mountains or the Grand
Canyon overseas. You can’t do it. When it comes to tourism,
the good news is we’ve got a great product to
sell. People want to come here. I was reminded of
that yesterday. I took a walk from the
White House to the Department of the
Interior building. Keep in mind, I don’t get
a chance to take walks very often. (laughter) Secret Service
gets a little stressed. But every once in a while
I’m able to sneak off. I’m sort of like the
circus bear that kind of breaks the chain, and I
start taking off, and everybody starts
whispering, the bear is loose! (laughter) So I got out,
take a walk — it was a beautiful day. And even though I went for
several blocks — it was probably about a
10-minute walk — in that little span of time, I
met tourists from Germany, and Israel, and Brazil, and
China, and Ukraine on the National Mall. The fact that people come
from all over the world to see our parks, to
see our monuments, is something we should take
great pride in as Americans. And it’s good
for our economy. So just like we’re helping
our businesses to sell more goods made in
America in markets all across the world, we’re spending a
lot of time and focus trying to make it
easier for folks from around the world to come see America
and spend money here. Four years ago, I signed
a law that set up a nonprofit organization
with one mission, and that is to pitch America as
a travel destination. And two years ago, I went
down to Disney World to announce new action to
make it simpler for travelers to visit
America, without compromising security
at our borders. And those efforts
are paying off. Since its low point after
the recession, our travel and tourism industry
has added nearly 580,000 new jobs. Last year, a record 70
million tourists visited America from other
countries — more than the populations of
Texas, Florida, and New York combined. And they spent
their money here. No country on Earth
earns more money from international
tourism than we do. And the growth of
international tourism created about 175,000 new
jobs over the last five years, and helped drive
American exports to an all-time high. So we’re making great
strides in welcoming more visitors to America in
places like Cooperstown, but we can do even better. I want to turn the 70
million tourists that came last year into 100 million
each year by the beginning of the next
decade. (applause) And meeting
that goal is going to help create jobs here
in New York. And that’s why, earlier
today, I took new actions to meet that goal. I met with several CEOs
of travel and tourism companies, and building on
the progress that we’ve made, I directed my
administration to work with airports, airlines,
hotel groups, states, and cities to do more to
improve the traveler experience, and reduce
wait times for folks entering into the United
States, all without compromising our security. We have some folks here
today who are already showing us
what’s possible. Scott Donohue is the CEO of the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. Where’s Scott? There he is, right here. We’ve got, from my own
hometown, Rosie Andolino, the Aviation Commissioner
from Chicago. Rosie is right there. The two of them are
responsible for two of the busiest airports
in America. But the average wait
times through customs and passport control at DFW
and O’Hare has fallen to just 15 minutes. You get off your plane,
it’s takes you 15 minutes to get through if you’re
an international traveler. And that is a big deal. If folks spend less time
at the airport, they’re more likely to come
back for a return trip. And when they go back home
they tell their friends, you know what, America
was there to greet us. And I’ve made it clear
that national security remains our top priority,
and that’s not going to change. But there’s no reason
we can’t replicate the success stories of places
like Dallas and Chicago all around the country. We can automate
passport controls. We can bring in top talent
from the private sector to find best practices to
help move lines faster. We can add new
staff at customs. We want to bring in more
visitors faster and more jobs faster. If they come into JFK
faster, they come into La Guardia faster, then they can get to Cooperstown faster. (applause) And they
can start seeing Joe DiMaggio’s glove faster. They can see Babe
Ruth’s bat faster. (applause) So creating
good jobs isn’t always easy. But standing here and
looking back on more than 150 years of our country’s
history, baseball describes our history
in so many ways. We’re reminded of all
the obstacles that we’ve overcome to get there. This Hall has memories of
two world wars that we fought and won. It has memories of color
barriers being broken; Jackie Robinson’s uniform,
the record of his first season as a Dodger. It shows us the history of
communities that we built across a new continent
and the ways that we connected with our country and our
world, and how women athletes started
getting the recognition that they deserved. So we’ve faced challenges
before, but we don’t respond with
cynicism and we can’t respond with gridlock. Every generation
faces tough times. But, in the words
attributed to the great Yogi Berra, they’re just
“déjà vu all over again.” (laughter) We know we are
up to these challenges. And just as our parents
and our grandparents faced challenges a lot tougher
than the ones we face, and just as they went ahead
and built an economy where hard work was rewarded
and responsibility was rewarded, and opportunity
was open to all people, we can do the same. They passed those values
on down through the generations. They passed
them down to us. And when you come to the
Baseball Hall of Fame, part of what you’re
learning is that there is some eternal, timeless
values of grit and determination and hard
work and community, and not giving up,
and working hard. Those are American values
— just like baseball. And there’s no reason
we can’t do the same. That’s what I’m going to
be working on as long as I’m President of
the United States. I’m going to be fighting
to make sure that those values live out in better
jobs, higher wages, stronger economy,
stronger communities. And I hope you’ll join me. Thank you, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (applause)

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