It is great to be here. It is especially happy formy staff. They love coming to New Orleans. But wedid schedule the event early because Ifigure there’s alimit to how much trouble they could get into. (Laughter.) They can’t get over to Bourbon Street fast enough if we did a daytimeevent. And Iknow that there areprobably a couple of my staff that are LSU fans. I wouldn’t mind staying forthe game tomorrownight. I know we’ve got the presidenthere -- I just saw him a minute agoand I wished him all the best.
I also want to acknowledge acouple of other people who are here. You’vegot yourGovernor -- Bobby Jindal is here. (Applause.) We’ve got theSecretary of TransportationAnthony Foxx, who is here. (Applause.) We have Cedric Richmond, your outstandingCongressman. (Applause.) Cedric then brought down a whole bunch of his colleagues fromtheCongressional Black Caucus for some important work that they’re doing -- notthat they’regoing to enjoy themselves at all while they’re here. (Laughter.) But we are thrilled to see themall here.
You have one of the best mayorsin the country in Mitch Landrieu. (Applause.) And I justflew downwith your Senator, who, by coincidence, has the same name -- Mary Landrieu. (Applause.) She’s traveling around the state today and doing unbelievable work on behalfof thepeople of Louisiana. And I justwant to say nobody is a tougher advocate on behalf of theworking people ofLouisiana than Mary Landrieu. So we’revery, very proud of the work that shedoes. (Applause.)
Finally, I want to thank Mr. GaryLaGrange, Keith Palmisano, and Chris Hammond. Theyshowed me around the port. (Applause.) And this is one ofthe -- by the way, anybody who’sgot a seat, feel free. I noticed that a few folks are standingup. If you don’t have a seat thenkeepon standing. I don’t want you hurtingyourself.
This is one of the busiest portcomplexes in the entire world. You movemillions of tons ofsteel and chemicals and fuel and food every singleyear. I just found out you also handle alot ofthe country’s coffee, which means you’re responsible for keeping theWhite House awake at alltimes. (Applause.) Got some coffee folkshere.
And, in so many ways, this portis representative of what ports all around the country do:They help to keep our economy going -- movingproducts, moving people, making sure thatbusinesses are working. You’ve got corn and wheat that’s coming downfrom my home stateof Illinois down the river, ending up here, and then goingall around the world. And it’s partofthe reason why we’ve been able to increase exports so rapidly, is because we’vegot some ofthe best natural resources and waterways and facilities in theworld.
Now, growing our economy,creating new jobs, helping middle-class families regain a senseof stabilityand security so they can find good jobs and make sure that their kids are doingevenbetter than they did -- that’s always been what America is about, but fortoo many people, thatsense that you can make it here if you try, that sensehas been slipping away. And mydrivingfocus has been to restore that sense of security, and it should be Washington’sfocus,regardless of party. That’s whateverybody in Washington should be thinking about every day.
So today, I want to just offer acouple of ideas about what we could do right now togetherthat would help oureconomy -- right now. Now, the good newsis, over the past 44 months ourbusinesses have created 7.8 million newjobs. Since I took office, we’ve cut thedeficits in half. (Applause.) That’s right. By the way, you wouldn’t know this sometimes listening to folks onTV,but the deficits are going down, they’re not going up. They’ve been cut in half. (Applause.)And they keep on going down.
Over the past three years, healthcare costs have risen at the slowest pace on record.Exports are up. The housing market is up. The American auto industry is roaring back. Sowe’ve got a lot of good things to buildon, but we’ve got a lot more work to do. And what weshould start doing, the first thing we should do is stopdoing things that undermine ourbusinesses and our economy over the past fewyears -- this constant cycle of manufacturedcrises and self-inflicted woundsthat have been coming out of Washington.
For example, we learned yesterdaythat over the summer, our economy grew at its fastestpace in a year. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the very day that theeconomicquarter ended, some folks in Washington decided to shut down thegovernment and threatenedto default on America’s obligations for the firsttime in more than 200 years. And it’slike thegears of our economy, every time they are just about to take off,suddenly somebody taps thebrakes and says, “Not so fast.”
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Tell it! (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Now, our businesses are resilient. We’ve got great workers. And so, asa consequence, we added about200,000 new jobs last month. But there’sno question that theshutdown harmed our jobs market. The unemployment rate still ticked up. And we don’t yetknow all the data for thisfinal quarter of the year, but it could be down because of whathappened inWashington. Now, that makes nosense. These self-inflicted wounds don’thave tohappen. They should not happenagain.
We should not be injuringourselves every few months -- we should be investing inourselves. We should be building, not tearing thingsdown. Rather than refighting the sameoldbattles again and again and again, we should be fighting to make sureeverybody who workshard in America and hard right here in New Orleans, thatthey have a chance to get ahead.That’swhat we should be focused on. (Applause.)
Which brings me to one of thereasons I’m here at this port. One ofthe things we should befocused on is helping more businesses sell moreproducts to the rest of the world. Andthe onlyway those products get out is through facilities like this. Right now, exports are one of thebrightestspots in our economy. Thanks in part tonew trade deals that we signed with countrieslike Panama and Colombia andSouth Korea, we now export more goods and services than everbefore. And that means jobs right here in the UnitedStates of America.
Last year, every $1 billion inexports supports nearly 5,000 jobs, including jobs right here atthis port. So we’re working on new trade deals that willmean more jobs for our workers, andmore business for ports like this one.