We put in place policies to help students with loans and protect consumers from fraud. We passed the strongest Wall Street reforms in history so that the excesses and abuses that triggered the global financial crisis never happen again — or at least don’t start on Wall Street.
And today, our businesses have created more than 15 million new jobs. Incomes last year in America rose faster than any time since 1968. Poverty fell at the fastest rate since 1968. Inequality is being narrowed. And we’ve also begun to close the pay gap between men and women.
We declared that health care in America is a privilege not for the few, but a right for everybody. Today our uninsured rate is at the lowest levels on record. And we’ve done all this while doubling our production of clean energy, lowering our carbon pollution faster than any advanced nation. So we’ve proven that you can grow the economy and reduce the carbon emissions that cause climate change at the same time. (Applause.)
Now, I say all this not because we’ve solved every problem. Our work is far from complete. There are still too many people in America who are worried about their futures. Still too many people who are working at wages that don’t get them above the poverty line. Still too many young people who don’t see opportunity. But the policies I describe point the direction for where we need to go in building inclusive economies. And that’s how democracies can deliver the prosperity and hope that our people need. And when people have opportunity and they feel confidence the future, they are less likely to turn on each other and they’re less likely to appeal to some of the darker forces that exist in all our societies — those that can tear us apart.
Here in Greece, you’re undergoing similar transformations. The first step has been to build a foundation that allows you to return to robust economic growth. And we don’t need to recount all the causes of the economic crisis here in Greece. If we’re honest, we can acknowledge that it was a mix of both internal and external forces. The Greek economy and the level of debt had become unsustainable. And in this global economy, investment and jobs flow to countries where governments are efficient, not bloated, where the rules are clear. To stay competitive, to attract investment that creates jobs, Greece had to start a reform process.
Of course, the world, I don’t think, fully appreciates the extraordinary pain these reforms have involved, or the tremendous sacrifices that you, the Greek people, have made. I’ve been aware of it, and I’ve been proud of all that my administration has done to try to support Greece in these efforts. (Applause.) And part of the purpose of my visit is to highlight for the world the important steps that have been taken here in Greece.
Today, the budget is back in surplus. Parliament passed reforms to make the economy more competitive. Yes, there is still much more work to do. I want to commend Prime Minister Tsipras for the very difficult reforms his government is pursuing to put the economy on a firmer footing. Now, as Greece works to attract more investment, and to prevent old imbalances from re-emerging, and to put your economy on a stronger foundation, you’ll continue to have the full support of the United States.