President Barack Obama addressed a crowd fire officials estimated at 2,800 Saturday at Morningside College in Sioux City. The president said his economic policies are aimed at lifting the middle class. <span style="font-size: xx-small;"><em>Daily Times Herald photo by Douglas Burns</em></span>
President Barack Obama addressed a crowd fire officials estimated at 2,800 Saturday at Morningside College in Sioux City. The president said his economic policies are aimed at lifting the middle class. Daily Times Herald photo by Douglas Burns
Tuesday, September 4, 2012

SIOUX CITY — Carroll High School alum Jasmine Dirks, a junior at Morningside College, said President Barack Obama clearly connected with a middle-class message during a campaign speech on the Sioux City campus Saturday evening.

Obama spoke to a crowd fire officials estimated at 2,800 — many of them Morningside students like Dirks, who is double-majoring in corporate communications and photography.

“I think that today in his speech, what really got me, is that he’s about the people and the middle class,” said Dirks, who described herself as a Democrat. “The way Obama wants to go about it is working from the middle out. That really stuck with me.”

The president sought to cast the November election with Republican White House candidate Mitt Romney as a competition between two visions for the nation.

“You can choose their plan to give massive new tax cuts to folks who’ve already made it,” Obama said.  “Or you can go with my plan, which is to keep the tax cuts on every American who is still trying to make it.”

Obama said the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., last week  revealed much about his political opponents.

“You heard them talk a lot about me,” Obama said.  “You heard them talk a lot about Mitt (Romney). They didn’t talk a lot about you. They didn’t talk about the challenges you face and how we could actually solve some of these challenges. They spent less time talking about their plan than just about anything else”

Obama said he delivered on a 2008 campaign promise to cut taxes for middle-class families.

“I’ve cut taxes by a total of about $3,600 for the typical family,” Obama said.  “And now I’m running to make sure that taxes aren’t raised a single dime on your family’s first $250,000 of income — which, by the way, means for 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses, they won’t see their income taxes go up. That’s my path.  That’s a different choice than where these other guys want to go.”

According to the non-partisan factcheck.org., the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that Obama signed into law in February 2009 provided up to a $400 tax credit for working singles and an $800 tax credit for working couples. Obama also signed a bill in 2010 that cut payroll taxes paid by American workers by 2 percentage points.

“They have been trying to sell us these tired, trickle-down, you’re-on-your-own policies before,” Obama said.  “They did not work.  They didn’t work then, they won’t work now.  They won’t create jobs.  They won’t lower our deficit.  They’re not going to strengthen the middle class.”

Another Carroll High School alum at Morningside, Drew Paulsen, 20, a sophomore majoring in nursing, said the president was wise to hold an event on the college campus and reach a variety of voters.

“I just thought it was a good experience for me as a sophomore to see the actual politics world,” he said.

Paulsen, an independent, said he remains undecided.

“Nothing closed the deal,” Paulsen said. “I’m always open to new things.”

Speaking in a leafy outdoor setting wedged between campus halls, Obama said his administration would protect Medicare as Americans know it.

“We’re sure not going to be better off if suddenly, instead of having Medicare that you can count on, we’ve got some sort of voucher program that Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are proposing that leaves seniors to pay any additional costs out of their own pocket,” Obama said.

The president also strongly defended the Affordable Care Act, health-insurance reform often referred to as Obamacare by both political opponents and supporters.

“They call it Obamacare,” Obama said.  “I like that name, because I do care. I care about all the people that are being helped, all the folks who are going to be helped. And maybe they want to run on their ‘don’t care’ plan.  But because of this law, nearly 7 million young people are able to stay on their parents’ plans.”

Obama challenged Romney for paying scant attention to foreign affairs in the GOP acceptance speech last Thursday.

“Now, this November, you get to decide the future of this war in Afghanistan,” Obama said.  “Governor Romney had nothing to say about Afghanistan last week – didn’t mention it, didn’t offer a plan in terms of how he might end the war or if he’s not going to end it.  He’s got to let the American people know — because by the end of this month, we will have brought 33,000 of our troops home.”

The president said he delivered on two of the more high-profile promises he made in the foreign-policy arena.

“I promised I was going to end that war — and we did.” Obama said. “I said we’d take out al Qaeda and go after bin Laden — and we did.  I put forward a specific plan to bring our troops home from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.  We are in the process of doing that right now.  And when I say I’m going to bring them home, you know they’re going to come home.”