Best Speeches of
Barack Obama
through his 2009 Inauguration

Most Recent Speeches are Listed First

• Barack Obama -
Election Night Victory / Presidential Acceptance Speech - Nov 4 2008

Barack Obama - Night Before the Election - the Last Rally - Manassas Virginia - Nov 3 2008

• Barack Obama - Democratic Nominee Acceptance Speech
2008 National Democratic Convention

Barack Obama - "A World that Stands as One" - Berlin Germany - July 2008

• Barack Obama - Final Primary Night:
Presumptive Nominee Speech

• Barack Obama - North Carolina Primary Night

• Barack Obama - Pennsylvania Primary Night

• Barack Obama - AP Annual Luncheon

• Barack Obama - A More Perfect Union
“The Race Speech”

• Barack Obama - Texas and Ohio Primary Night

• Barack Obama - Potomac Primary Night

• Barack Obama - Super Tuesday

Barack Obama - Iowa Caucus Night

Barack Obama - California Democratic Convention - April 28, 2007

Barack Obama - Announcement For President - Feb 10 2007

Barack Obama - Floor Statement on Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007

Barack Obama - The Time Has Come for Universal Health Care

Barack Obama - Floor Statement on President's Decision to Increase Troops in Iraq

Barack Obama - Race Against Time - World AIDS Day Speech

Barack Obama - A Way Forward in Iraq

Barack Obama - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Groundbreaking Ceremony

Barack Obama - Military Commission Legislation

Barack Obama - Floor Statement on the Habeas Corpus Amendment

Barack Obama - Energy Independence: A Call for Leadership

Barack Obama - An Honest Government, A Hopeful Future

Barack Obama - Xavier University Commencement Address

Barack Obama - AFSCME National Convention

Barack Obama - Vote against the Gulf of Mexico Energy Bill

Barack Obama - Support of H.R. 9, the Voting Rights Act

Barack Obama - Statement of Support for Stem Cell Research

Barack Obama - Campus Progress Annual Conference

Barack Obama - “Call to Renewal” Keynote Address

Barack Obama - Iraq Debate

Barack Obama - Northwestern University Commencement Address

Barack Obama - Katrina Reconstruction

Barack Obama - Take Back America

Barack Obama - Network Neutrality

Barack Obama - Federal Marriage Amendment

Barack Obama - University of Massachusetts at Boston Commencement Address

Barack Obama - General Michael Hayden Nomination

Barack Obama - Opposition to the Amendment Requiring a Photo ID to Vote

Barack Obama - Employment Verification Amendment for the Immigration Bill

Barack Obama - Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Commencement Address

Barack Obama - Honoring Our Commitment to Veterans

Barack Obama - EMILY's List Annual Luncheon

Barack Obama - A Real Solution for High Gas Prices

Barack Obama - Immigration Rallies

Barack Obama - Amendment to Stop No-Bid Contracts for Gulf Coast Recovery and Reconstruction

Barack Obama - Updates on Darfur, Immigration, Gas Prices

Barack Obama - Immigration Reform

Barack Obama - Energy Independence and the Safety of Our Planet

Barack Obama - Immigration Reform

Barack Obama - Improving Chemical Plant Security

Barack Obama - 21st Century Schools for a 21st Century Economy

Barack Obama - Meals Amendment

Barack Obama - Debate on Lobbying and Ethics Reform

Barack Obama - Energy Security is National Security - Governor's Ethanol Coalition

Barack Obama - Floor Statement S.2271 - PATRIOT Act Reauthorization

Barack Obama - Darfur: Current Policy Not Enough

Barack Obama - Foreign Relations Committee regarding Lugar-Obama legislation S.1949

Barack Obama - Hurricane Katrina Child Assistance Amendment

Barack Obama - Supreme Court Nomination of Samuel Alito - Podcast

Barack Obama - Confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito, Jr. - Speech

Barack Obama - Lobbying Reform Summit National Press Club

Barack Obama - Meeting on Iraq with President Bush

Barack Obama - Remarks: Honest Leadership and Open Government

Barack Obama - From the Road: Israel and the Palestinian territories

Barack Obama - From the Road: Speaking with American Troops in Iraq

Barack Obama - The PATRIOT Act

Barack Obama - Moving Forward in Iraq - Chicago Council on Foreign Relations

Barack Obama - Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award Ceremony

Barack Obama - National Women's Law Center

Barack Obama - "Sex on TV 4" Report

Barack Obama - Non-Proliferation and Russia: The Challenges Ahead

Barack Obama - Chicago White Sox

Barack Obama - Death of Rosa Parks

Barack Obama - Teaching Our Kids in a 21st Century Economy

Barack Obama - Avian Flu

Barack Obama - Confirmation of Judge John Roberts

Barack Obama - Resources for the Future

Barack Obama - Statement on Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

Barack Obama - AFL-CIO National Convention

Barack Obama - Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill and the Avian Flu

Barack Obama - American Legion Conference

Barack Obama - Literacy and Education in a 21st-Century Economy

Barack Obama - Pritzker School of Medicine Commencement

Barack Obama - Nomination of Justice Janice Rogers Brown

Barack Obama - Knox College Commencement

Barack Obama - Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery

Barack Obama - America’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Policy Remarks

Barack Obama - Rockford Register Star Young American Awards

Barack Obama - NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner

Barack Obama - National Press Club

Barack Obama - SIUC College of Agriculture's 50th Anniversary

Barack Obama - Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Barack Obama - Amendment for Meals/Phone Service to Wounded Veterans

Barack Obama - The Nuclear Option

Barack Obama - Confirmation Hearing of John Bolton

Barack Obama - Herblock Foundation Annual Lecture

Barack Obama - American Legion Legislative Rally

Barack Obama - CURE Keynote Address

Barack Obama - Remarks of TechNet

Barack Obama - S256, the Bankruptcy Abuse & Prevention Act of 2005

Barack Obama - John Lewis's 65th Birthday Gala

Barack Obama - Keynote Address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention

Barack Obama - 2002 Speech Against the Iraq War


Monday, February 28, 2005

Floor Statement of Senator Barack Obama on
S.256, the Bankruptcy Abuse and Prevention Act of 2005
Complete Text

Mr. President, I have come to the floor today to address this pending legislation.

This issue should force us to face a fundamental question about who we are as a country, how we progress as a society, and where our values lie as a people:

How do we treat our fellow Americans who have fallen on hard times, and what is our responsibility to cushion those falls when they occur?

Proponents claim this bill is designed to curb the worst abuses of our bankruptcy system. That's a worthy goal, and we can all agree that bankruptcy was never meant to serve as a Get Out of Jail Free Card, for use when you've foolishly gambled away all your savings and don't feel like taking responsibility for your actions. Business owners and creditors deserve the money they're owed, and anyone who tries to scam the system just because they can should be stopped and forced to pay their debt.

But to accomplish that, this bill would take us from a system where judges weed out the abusers from the honest to a system where all the honest are presumed to be abusers. Where declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy is made prohibitively expensive for people who already have suffered financial devastation. With this bill, it doesn't matter if you ran up your debt on a trip to Vegas or a trip to the Emergency Room, you're still treated the same under the law and you still face the possibility that you'll never get the chance to start over.

Now, it would be one thing if most people were abusing the system and falling into bankruptcy because they were irresponsible with their finances. But we know that's not the case. We know that most people fall into bankruptcy as a result of bad luck. And we know that a recent Harvard study showed that nearly half of all bankruptcies occur because of an illness that ends up sticking families with medical bills they just can't keep up with.

Take the case of Suzanne Gibbons. A few years back, Suzanne had a good job as a nurse and a home on Chicago's Northwest Side. Then she suffered a stroke that left her hospitalized for five-days. And even though she had health insurance through her job, it only covered $4,000 of her $53,000 hospital bill.

Because of her illness, she was soon forced to leave her full-time nursing job and take a temp job that paid less and didn't offer health insurance. Then the collection agencies started coming after her for hospital bills that she just couldn't keep up with. She lost her retirement savings, she lost her house, and eventually, she was forced to declare bankruptcy.

If this bill passes as written, Suzanne would be treated by the law the same as any scam artist who cheats the system. The decision about whether or not she can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy would never take into account the fact that she fell into financial despair because of her illness. With all that debt, she would have had to hire a lawyer and pay hundreds of dollars more in increased paperwork. And after all that, she still may have been told that she was ineligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

And so, as much as we'd like to believe that the face of this bankruptcy crisis is credit card addicts who spend their way into debt, the truth is that it's the face of people like Suzanne Gibbons. It's the face of middle-class America. Over the last thirty years bankruptcies have gone up 400% -- and we've had more than 2,100 in Illinois just last year. We also know what else has gone up: the cost of child care and the cost of college, the cost home ownership and the cost of health care - which is now at a record high. People are working harder and longer for less, and they're falling further and further behind.

And we're not talking about the poor or even just the working poor here. As bankruptcy professor Elizabeth Warren has noted, these are middle-class families with two parents who both work at good-paying jobs that put a roof over their heads. They're saving every extra penny they have so that their children can someday do better than they did. But with just one illness, emergency, or divorce, those dreams can be wiped out. This bill does a great job helping the credit card industry recover the profits they're losing, but what are we doing to help middle-class families recover the dreams they're losing?

This bill does a great job protecting credit card companies from the few bad apples who try to escape their debt, but what does it do to protect the American public from the credit card companies who try to take advantage of them?

Mr. President, the bankruptcy crisis this bill should address is not just the one facing credit card companies who are enjoying record profits. We should be addressing middle-class families who are dealing with record hardships.

As Senator Dodd, Senator Feinstein, and others have pointed out, this bill also fails to deal with the aggressive marketing practices and hidden fees credit card companies have used to raise their profits and our debt. Charging a penalty to consumers who make a late payment on a completely unrelated credit card is just one example of these tactics. We need to end these practices so that we're making life easier not just for the credit card companies, but for honest, hardworking middle-class families.

And if we're going to crack down on bankruptcy abuse, we should make it clear that we intend to hold the wealthy and the powerful accountable too. As it is now, this bill makes it easier for a company like Enron who just bilked their employees out of their life savings to declare bankruptcy than for the employees themselves. In my own state, we even had a mining company by the name of Horizon declare bankruptcy and then refuse to pay its employees the health benefits it owed them.

The Mine Workers involved had provided a total of 100,000 years of service and dedication and sacrifice to this company. They spent their lives working hard. They did their part. But Horizon didn't do its part, and it was allowed to hide behind bankruptcy laws to leave these workers without the care they had earned.

This is wrong. It's wrong that this bill would make it harder for these unemployed workers to declare bankruptcy, while doing nothing to prevent the bankrupt company that put them there from shirking its responsibility entirely.

What kind of a message does it send when we tell hardworking, middle-class Americans, "You have to be more responsible with your finances, but the corporations you work for can be as irresponsible as they want with theirs"?

We must reform our bankruptcy code so that corporations keep their promises and meet their obligations to their workers. And while I remain hopeful that our companies want to do the right thing for their workers, doing so should not be a choice - it should be a mandate.

Senator Rockefeller has two amendments to do this that I have co-sponsored and urge my colleagues to support. One would increase the required payments of wages and employee benefit plans to $15,000 per individual from the current level of $4,925. And it would also require companies that emerge from bankruptcy to immediately pay each retiree who lost health benefits an amount of cash equal to what a retiree would be expected to have to pay for COBRA coverage for 18 months. The second amendment would prevent bankruptcy courts from dismissing companies' coal act obligations to pay their workers the benefits they promised them. These companies made a deal to their mine workers, and they should be forced to honor that deal.

Mr. President, this bill gives us a rare chance to ask ourselves who we're here to protect - who we're here to stand up and speak out for. We should curb bankruptcy abuse and to demand a measure of personal responsibility from people. We all want that.

But there are also millions of middle-class families out there who are struggling to get by. They work hard, they love their children, and they're willing to do anything to give them the best possible shot in life. And in the ten minutes since I've been talking, about thirty of them have filed for bankruptcy.

We live in a rapidly changing world with an economy that's moving just as fast. We can't always control this and we can't promise that the changes will always leave everyone better off.

But we can do better than one bankruptcy every nineteen seconds. We can do better than forcing people to choose between the cost of health care and the cost of college. We can do better than big corporations using bankruptcy laws to deny health care and benefits to their employees. And we can give people the basic tools and protections they need to believe that in America, your circumstance is no limit to the success you may achieve and the dreams you may fulfill.

And so, while I cannot support this bill the way it is written, I do look forward to working with my colleagues in amending this bill so that we can still keep that promise alive. Thank you.


You can only imagine how many different ways people type the name Barack Obama. Here is a sampling for his first name: Barac, Barach, Baracks, Barak, Baraka, Barrack, Barrak, Berack, Borack, Borak, Brack, Brach, Brock even, Rocco. There are just as many for his last name: Abama, Bama, Bamma, Obma, Obamas, Obamma, Obana, Obamo, Obbama, Oboma, Obomba, Obombma, Obomha, Oblama, Omaba, Oblamma and (ready for this?) Ohama. And of course there's Barack Obama's middle name, Hussein. Here are some of the ways it comes out: Hissein, Hussain, Husein, Hussin, Hussane and Hussien.