THE PRESIDENT: (In progress.) First of all, your outstanding congresswoman of this district, Carolyn Maloney, is here, and we want to give her a big round of applause. (Applause.) And my understanding is we also have the chairman of our convention effort in Charlotte, North Carolina, Jim Rogers. Where's Jim? (Applause.) Where is he? Jim Rogers, right here. (Applause.) Thank you, Jim. Here is working hard to make sure that is a good event and we're going to make sure that North Carolina is blue again. (Applause.)
So I'm not going to be long at the top. I'm just going to make a few brief remarks, and then what I want to do is save as much time as possible for us to have a conversation and to take questions.
Four years ago, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month; last month, we gained 250,000 jobs. (Applause.) Three years ago, the banking system had frozen up completely; today, credit is flowing again. Three years ago, the auto industry was on the verge of liquidation; today, GM not only is the number-one automaker in the world again, but also saw the highest profits in its entire history. Over the last two years, we've created 3.7 million jobs in the private sector. Manufacturing is the strongest it's been since the 1990s.
None of this argues that we're out of the woods. Many of you are in business and you know better than I do that there are a lot of folks out there who are still having a tough time. There are a lot of small businesses that still have trouble getting credit. The unemployment rate remains too high. We still have enormous challenges to make sure that we are the most competitive, most productive economy in the world in the 21st century. But the trend lines are good. The economy is stronger, we are more productive, and we are poised to be able to take advantage of a moment where all the things that we're good at -- innovation, dynamism, entrepreneurship -- all those things are going to be at a greater premium than ever before.
And the question then becomes, do we continue down the path that allows us to compete and create good jobs with good wages, and ensures that the essence of the American Dream -- which is everybody gets a fair shot, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like; if you work hard and you've got a good idea, you're able to succeed; that everybody does their fair share so that, in addition to this incredible individualism and enterprise that we rightly are proud of, we also are looking out for one another; and everybody is playing by the same set of rules, that the notion of fair play exists in all sectors of our economy -- the question is, is that going to be the vision that guides us over the next 10, 20, 50 years? Or are we going to pursue a vision that says it's okay for a few of us to do really well while the rest of America is struggling?
And this election is going to give us a starker choice than we have had in my lifetime. Now, if you agree with me that it's good for all of us to ensure everybody has a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share and fair play reigns, then that has to translate into some concrete policy. It means that we continue to make investments in education, and we follow the path that we've been following over the last three years, which is, yes, we put more money into education, but we also demand more reform.
It means we continue to make investments in American-made energy. But that doesn't just include oil production and gas production -- as much as we're promoting that. It also includes us preparing for the future by investing in clean energy.
It means we're investing in science and technology, recognizing that that's how we got here -- was we invented more stuff, and operationalized it and commercialized it better than anybody else in the world. And the federal government, historically, has had a role in that. It means we rebuild our infrastructure so that we can compete and move goods and services around the world better than anybody else can.
And it means that even as we are getting our fiscal house in order, that we're doing so in a way that doesn't just put the burden on the senior citizen on Medicare, or the student who is trying to finance their way through college, but those of us that have been incredibly blessed by this society, that we're doing our part as well.
Now, the proposals that I've put forward in terms of balancing our budget, making our government more efficient but making sure that it's still creating ladders of opportunity, making sure that we're still investing in those things that help us succeed economically, that made us an engine of economic growth and created this incredible middle class, that we have -- all those things that we've done are ideas that, traditionally, received Democratic and Republican support.
It's only in this environment that we've seen the other party suddenly say that that's socialism, that that, somehow, is un-American. That somehow the critical role that government has played as a partner with the marketplace to create opportunity for everybody, that somehow there's something wrong with that. I reject that vision, and I think the American people do, too.
Now, they've gone three tough years and so this is going to be a close election. Nobody is under any illusion that this isn't going to be a tight race for us. But as I travel around the country and I talk to folks, including people who don't support me, when you break down the individual items that are being debated right now -- how do we balance this budget, what our tax policy should be, should we be investing in education, should we make sure that science and basic research continue to be paramount in our economy, do we have an obligation to make sure that our seniors can retire with dignity and respect -- we win that argument every time.
And when it comes to foreign policy, I'm actually finding it very interesting. The other side, traditionally, seems to feel that Democrats are somehow weak on defense, and they've had a little trouble making that argument this year. (Applause.) Because I think that what we've shown is there's no contradiction between being tough and strong and protecting the American people, but also abiding by those values that make America great, and believing in diplomacy and believing in engagement and believing that it's not a sign of weakness when we try to resolve issues peacefully, even as we're prepared, when we need to for our own security, to act militarily.
So let me just close by saying this. So many people in this room were active in 2008. So many of you have had to defend me from your coworkers over the last three years. (Laughter.) And it's true that over the last three years I'm a little grayer than I was. Being an Obama supporter is not as trendy as it was. (Laughter.) Those old "Hope" posters that we had -- they're a little dog-eared. (Laughter.) But I am more determined and more confident than I have ever been that if we keep at it, that America is poised to be stronger, more unified, more competitive, bolder, more generous than we ever have been before.
And you will see me working harder and making those arguments as passionately as anything that I did in 2008. And if you guys are with me, then I'm pretty confident not only are we going to win, but more importantly, America is going to be in good stead for years to come.
Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.)