This morning, the last jobs report before the elections is out. In October, the US economy added 161,000 jobs, bringing the total to 15.5 million since the beginning of the Obama recovery. That continues the longest stretch of private sector job creation in history. The unemployment rate ticked down slightly to 4.9%, and the recent trend of incomes finally rising in a meaningful way kept pace. In fact, real wages are now rising faster than at any business cycle since the 1970s. Finally, the percentage of those working part-time for economic reasons or marginally attached to the workforce or discouraged have dropped to near pre-Great Recession lows.
Those numbers would be impressive under any circumstance, but take a moment and consider, one last time before next Tuesday's election, just how far we have come under the leadership of that skinny kid with the big ears, a funny name, and deep patriotism. No one can say it hasn't been an exciting ride, and no one can discount the grit, dedication and perseverance despite universal and unprecedented obstruction from those who found their political fortunes more important than rebuilding our country after they caused economic calamity not since since the Great Depression.
Exactly eight years ago tonight, we made history and elected Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Eight years ago tonight, we began to right the ship in a country in the middle of a Great Recession, a country bleeding 800,000 jobs a month, every month, savings being wiped out, homes being lost, credit drying up. In the middle of the greatest despair in living memory, we chose hope.
Hope, not as in blind optimism. Hope, as in the determination to work hard and bring our country out of the devastation brought on by deregulation and supply side economics. Hope, as in the belief that we could, with our works, our voices and our determination, we would build a better economy and a better country.
No one personified that hope better than the then President-elect, who still had all black hair. The president went to work as his opponents plotted a political coup of sorts by opposing him on everything for the sake of making his presidency a failure. The president began, with Democrats in Congress, the long, hard work of putting back together an economy in tatters, and a country on the verge of ruin, as Republicans sought to polish their political fortunes by promoting the ugliest, most vulgar, most racist elements of their base.
But the President would not be stopped. He passed the largest economic stimulus package in history. He made sure that unemployment benefits would be extended to provide a floor for people to start rebuilding their lives. He passed the farthest reaching re-regulation of Wall Street since Franklin Roosevelt. He passed Equal Pay legislation for women. He expanded children's health insurance. And he passed historic health care reform that outlawed discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, expanded Medicaid, provided subsidies for low and moderate income people to buy insurance, and relieved seniors of the Medicare prescription drug donut hole. 20 million Americans who did not have health insurance now know its security, and hundreds of millions can no longer be thrown off their insurance because they get sick.
The president almost single-handedly save the American auto industry. The president's administration took China to international trade courts for violating international standards and agreements, and won every single time. The president took all the hits from the Left and the Right and ensured that the law that prevented gay soldiers to serve openly in the military was repealed by Congress, closing the door to bringing it back the executive fiat of a future president.
Barack Obama's tenure was not without setbacks. Republicans' political extremism paid off in 2010 as too many "liberals and progressives" sat home pouting that the President had not done enough or that he had not done it their way. Since then, Republicans have effectively ground legislative progress to a halt and periled the operation of government itself.
Yet, President Obama won a crushing re-election victory in 2012, and he quickly moved to make permanent middle class tax breaks that helped keep so many people afloat during and after the Great Recession while finally raising taxes on the richest Americans so that millionaires and billionaires pay a fairer share.
Even as the 2016 political season started in earnest after another Republican mid-term victory in 2014 thanks again partly to our liberal friends' ideological dogmatism against the most progressive president in history and the media sought to delegitimize his status as "lame-duck" two years too early, the President was not about to give up.
With executive actions, the president instituted overtime pay reform, raising wages for 4.2 million Americans. The president provided protection for DREAMers, children of immigrants who were brought here at a young age and know no other home. The president expanded background checks for firearm sales. The Home Affordable Refinance Program, created in 2009 in the midst of the housing crisis is not only already helping 3.4 million homeowners, thanks to the the budget stewardship of this administration, it has now been extended to 2017. Thanks to this president, we have kicked our addiction to foreign oil while investing in renewable energy and bringing down gas prices.
We have come so far under President Obama. We have done so much, we have lifted our economy up so much, thanks all to the tireless service of a small but dedicated group of public servants led by Barack Obama. The last eight years have been truly transformative.
And yet, the job we began eight years ago tonight - to put our country back together one job, one home, one person's dignity at a time - is not complete. The legacy that began with the shattering of one glass ceiling must now continue with the shattering of another. The work that President Obama began must now be carried on by Hillary Clinton.
America is going to need that. America is going to need a public servant who has the same dedication, patriotism, strength and grit as our current president to be our next. America is going to need a president who can build and expand on the path to progress of the last eight years.
America is going to need Hillary Rodham Clinton.