Obama said the 2012 election is "more important than 2008" because the election offers two "fundamentally different visions for America -- two fundamentally different paths for our future."
"Four years ago, we came together -- as Democrats, but also independents and some Republicans -- to restore that basic bargain that built this country, what made us an economic superpower, what made us the most prosperous economy that the world has ever known," Obama said at Rollins College in Winter Park.
"It's a deal that says if you put in enough effort, you should be able to find a job that pays the bills. You should be able to afford a job -- you should be able to afford a home that you call your own. You should be able to count on healthcare if you get sick, and retire with dignity and respect. And most of all, you should be able to give your kids an education that allows them to dream even bigger than you did and do even better than you ever imagined."
Noting the country had gone through "a decade of sluggish job growth and jobs being shifted overseas, and going from surpluses to deficits, all culminating in a financial crisis on Wall Street," Obama said restoring that "basic American promise" would take more than one term, or even one president.
"What's standing in our way still is our politics. What's standing in our way is a group of folks in Washington with some uncompromising views, folks who believe that the only way we can get back on track is to go back to the same top-down economics that got us into this mess in the first place," Obama said, slamming likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney for wanting to return to the what he said were the failed policies of the past.
"Mr. Romney, his friends in Congress, they basically believe that if we just give more tax cuts, on top of the Bush tax cuts, to the wealthiest Americans, and we get rid of regulations that we've placed on Wall Street banks, for example, to make sure we don't have another crisis, or on the healthcare industry to make sure that they don't discriminate against you because you've got a pre-existing condition -- the idea is that somehow, if we cut taxes for folks at the top and get rid of regulations, this will lead to more jobs and more prosperity for everybody."
He said a non-partisan analysis of Romney's proposals found "if Romney wants to keep his word and pay for his plan so that he does not increase the deficit even more, the average middle-class family with children would be stuck with a tax increase of more than $2,000."
"He's not asking you to pay an extra $2,000 to reduce our deficit; he's not asking you to pay an additional $2,000 to help care for our seniors; he's not asking to pay an additional $2,000 in order to rebuild America or to fight a war. He's asking you to pay more so that people like him can pay less. ...
"They have tried to sell us this trickle-down tax cut fairy dust before. And guess what -- it didn't work then; it will not work now," Obama said.