By: Dale King
BOCA RATON – In a venue normally reserved for basketball players, President Barack Obama scored a slam dunk with a speech to students, invited guests, school and Boca city officials, faculty and staff of Florida Atlantic University Tuesday.
The chief executive squeezed the address to some 4,500 people into a day that included campaign fundraising stops in Palm Beach Gardens, Hollywood and Miami.
The president, who showed up without a suit coat, the sleeves of his white shirt rolled up to the elbows, talked on a number of topics – many student related – during his half-hour address to a packed house of community leaders and students who were selected by lottery.
The group of people standing around the raised podium in the center of the basketball court hooted and applauded the president frequently. After the address, Obama was literally pushed by Secret Service agents through the crowd as he tried to shake hands and greet them.
During his address, the president advocated for his tax-the-rich “Buffett Plan” and urged the crowd to call or “tweet” their senators and tell them to vote in favor when it comes up for a vote in the upper chamber April 15. The proposal seeks to tax those who earn more than $1 million annually at a 30 percent rate – “the same as the middle class.”
The plan is named after billionaire Warren Buffett, who has said he pays less in taxes than his secretary.
“In this country, prosperity has never trickled down from the wealthy. Prosperity has always come from the bottom up, from a strong and growing middle class,” said the president. “And yet we keep on having the same argument with folks who don’t seem to understand how America was built.”
Noting that many students in the arena are about to graduate, Obama said, “The future is uncertain. We have been through three difficult years where we have been economically on the line. The economy is recovering, but it is not where it should be. Too many of your friends and neighbors are looking for work, and too many are looking for security.”
In a speech that often seemed tailored to a student audience, Obama said that by taxing those with the hefty paychecks, student aid, computer labs and other educational tools and programs could be guaranteed.
He noted that many students attend FAU because they get financial aid. “That is how I got my education. That is how Michelle got her education. My grandfather got his education through the GI Bill,” said Obama.
Students reacted with a crescendo of applause when Obama raised his voice and swore that every child born in the U.S. can achieve the American dream by putting “blood, sweat and tears behind it. In America, we don’t give up. In America, we have a sense of common purpose.”