Political Buzz October 31, 2011: President Obama & First Lady Celebrate Halloween at the White House

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Trick-or-Treat with the President and First Lady

Source: WH, 10-31-1

Download Video: m4v (50MB)

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed area students and the children of military families to the White House for the annual Halloween celebration and trick-or-treating on Saturday night.

The President and First Lady handed out cookies, White House M&M’s and dried fruit mix to trick-or-treaters at the North Portico of the White House. Check out these videos for the behind the scenes preparations and watch the main event with the President, Mrs Obama and all the costumed kids.

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The White House and the surrounding grounds were decorated in celebration of Halloween. As the trick-or-treaters made their way across the North Lawn to the North Portico they were entertained by the Marine Band playing Halloween music and spooked by in-costume actors from Washington-area theatres, brought together by theatreWashington.

White House Recap October 21-28, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Created Executive Action to Grow the Economy & Create Jobs — Ended the War in Iraq & Urged Congress to Pass the American Jobs Act

White House Recap October 21-28, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Created Exceutive Action to Grow the Economy & Create Jobs — Ended the War in Iraq & Urged Congress to Pass the American Jobs Act

 

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: OCTOBER 21-28, 2011

This week, the President kept his promise and announced the end of the war in Iraq, headed west to urge Congress to pass the American Jobs Act while announcing new executive actions that will help middle class families.

West Wing Week

Weekly Wrap Up: “We Can’t Wait”

Source: WH, 10-28-11
Helping Homeowners After Republicans in the Senate blocked the jobs bill yet again, President Obama hit the road with a new message,“We Can’t Wait.” The President decided to take executive action to create jobs and put money back in the pockets of Americans. While in Las Vegas, the President announced steps to make it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages, helping responsible borrowers with little or no equity in their homes take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates.

Modifying Student Loans On a snowy day in Colorado, President Obama announced a new effort that will help borrowers better manage their student loan debt. He said he will move forward with A “Pay As You Earn” program that will reduce monthly payments for more than 1.6 million people. Starting in 2014, borrowers will be able to reduce their monthly student loan payments from 15 percent to 10 percent of their discretionary income.

Hiring Veterans The Obama Administration challenged each of the 8,000 Community Health Centers around the country to hire one veteran, effectively opening up 8,000 jobs to our unemployed veterans. These health centers, which provide primary care services in typically underserved areas, are a major piece of President Obama’s historic health care reform law.

We The People On Wednesday, President Obama’s top education advisors issued the first response to a petition created through the online petition site, We The People. The response addressed the petition “Taking Action to Reduce the Burden of Student Loan Debt”. The Administration recognized the high cost of education and moved forward to reduce monthly loan payments formore than1.6 million people. The online tool that allows Americans to voice their opinions to the government has had around755,000 people use the platform to create or sign more than 12,400 petitions.

Tonight Show The President flew to L.A. to appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The two talked about Libya, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and reality television — including a show on C-SPAN called ‘Congress.’

Full Text October 29, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address on Not Waiting for Congress to Grow the Economy & Create Jobs

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: We Can’t Wait to Create Jobs

President Obama says that we can’t wait for Congress to take action to grow the economy and create jobs — and highlights actions he took to help families refinance their mortgages, put veterans to work, and lower the cost of student loans.

President Barack Obama tapes his Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 10/28/11
Source: WH, 10-29-11

President Obama says that we can’t wait for Congress to take action to grow the economy and create jobs — and highlights actions he took to help families refinance their mortgages, put veterans to work, and lower the cost of student loans.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: “We Can’t Wait” to Strengthen the Economy and Create Jobs

In this week’s address, President Obama told the American people that we can’t wait for Congress to take action to grow the economy and create jobs, and highlighted the executive actions he took this week to help families save thousands of dollars by refinancing their mortgages, put veterans to work, and lower the cost of student loans.  The President continued to urge Congress to do its part and pass the American Jobs Act now, which will put more money in the pockets of middle class families, create jobs and strengthen our economy right away.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
Saturday, October 29, 2011

This week, a new economic report confirmed what most Americans already believe to be true: over the past three decades, the middle class has lost ground while the wealthiest few have become even wealthier.  In fact, the average income for the top one percent of Americans has risen almost seven times faster than the income of the average middle class family.  And this has happened during a period where the cost of everything from health care to college has skyrocketed.

Now, in this country, we don’t begrudge anyone wealth or success – we encourage it.  We celebrate it.  But America is better off when everyone has had the chance to get ahead – not just those at the top of the income scale.  The more Americans who prosper, the more America prospers.

Rebuilding an economy where everyone has the chance to succeed will take time.  Our economic problems were decades in the making, and they won’t be solved overnight.  But there are steps we can take right now to put people back to work and restore some of the security that middle-class Americans have lost over the last few decades.

Right now, Congress can pass a set of common-sense jobs proposals that independent economists tell us will boost the economy right away.  Proposals that will put more teachers, veterans, construction workers and first responders back on the job.  Proposals that will cut taxes for virtually every middle class family and small business in America. These are the same kinds of proposals that both Democrats and Republicans have supported in the past.  And they should stop playing politics and act on them now.

These jobs proposals are also paid for by asking folks who are making more than a million dollars a year to contribute a little more in taxes.  These are the same folks who have seen their incomes go up so much, and I believe this is a contribution they’re willing to make.  One survey found that nearly 7 in 10 millionaires are willing to step up and pay a little more in order to help the economy.

Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress aren’t paying attention.  They’re not getting the message.  Over and over, they have refused to even debate the same kind of jobs proposals that Republicans have supported in the past – proposals that today are supported, not just by Democrats, but by Independents and Republicans all across America.  And yet, somehow, they found time this week to debate things like whether or not we should mint coins to celebrate the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Meanwhile, they’re only scheduled to work three more weeks between now and the end of the year.

The truth is, we can no longer wait for Congress to do its job.  The middle-class families who’ve been struggling for years are tired of waiting.  They need help now.  So where Congress won’t act, I will.

This week, we announced a new policy that will help families whose home values have fallen refinance their mortgages and save thousands of dollars.  We’re making it easier for veterans to get jobs putting their skills to work in hospitals and community health centers.  We reformed the student loan process so more young people can get out of debt faster.  And we’re going to keep announcing more changes like these on a regular basis.

These steps will make a difference.  But they won’t take the place of the bold action we need from Congress to get this economy moving again.  That’s why I need all of you to make your voices heard.  Tell Congress to stop playing politics and start taking action on jobs.  If we want to rebuild an economy where every American has the chance to get ahead, we need every American to get involved.  That’s how real change has always happened, and that’s how it’ll happen today.

Thank you.

Full Text October 26, 2011: President Barack Obama Unveils in Speech Student Loan Debt-Relief Plan

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama talks students loans at University of Colorado Denver

President Barack Obama waves to the crowd after arriving at the University of Colorado Denver campus, in Denver, Colo., Oct. 26, 2011. The President delivered remarks on the steps the Administration is taking to increase college affordability by making it easier to manage student loan debt. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Source: WH, 10-26-11
In this globally competitive, knowledge-based economy, higher education has never been more important. Simply put, America cannot lead in the 21st century without the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world. Nations that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow, which is why some form of higher education is an absolute must.

We also know that college costs have never been higher — or more difficult to manage. The Administration has already provided aid to millions of students with historic investments in programs like Pell Grants and the American Opportunity Tax Credit. But we realize that many borrowers are struggling to both pay off their loans and make ends meet every month. And fear of being saddled with debt in the long run may deter many potential students from enrolling in college. They need help now.

That’s why today, President Obama announced new efforts to make college more affordable by helping millions of borrowers better manage their federal student loan debt. We’re taking executive action with two measures that will bring relief to borrowers by lowering their monthly loan payments – at no cost to taxpayers.

First, for some students we are proposing to cap student loan repayment at 10 percent of a borrower’s discretionary income, starting next year. For many who worry about managing their debt while working in lower-paying fields — including teachers, nurses, public defenders, and social workers — this could reduce their payments by hundreds each month.

We also want to provide immediate relief to borrowers already repaying their loans. While the pay-as-you-earn proposal would only apply to some current students and recent graduates, millions more borrowers may already be eligible for our current income-based repayment plan, which caps payments at 15 percent of a borrower’s discretionary income. We know there are folks who are struggling in repayment now — and for them the current Income Based Repayment (IBR) plan may be a great option. To learn more about this plan to see if it makes sense for you, visit www.studentaid.ed.gov/ibr….

President Obama has made historic investments in making college more affordable for millions of students. But many people who took out loans to pay for their education are struggling to make monthly payments on those loans, making our tough economic times a little bit more challenging. We can’t wait to help these people keep up with their student loans.

Today, the Obama Administration announced steps we are taking to help borrowers better manage their student loan debt by moving forward with a new “Pay As You Earn” proposal that will reduce monthly payments for more than 1.6 million people. Starting in 2014, borrowers will be able to reduce their monthly student loan payments from 15 percent to 10 percent of their discretionary income. But President Obama realizes that many students need relief sooner than that. The new “Pay As You Earn” proposal will fast track the initiative to begin next year.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on College Affordability

Auraria Events Center
University of Colorado – Denver Campus
Denver, Colorado

10:25 A.M. MDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  Well, it is great to be back in Colorado.  (Applause.)  And it is great to be here at CU Denver. (Applause.)

I tend to have some pretty good memories about Denver.  (Applause.)  We had a little gathering here a few years ago, at Mile High.  (Applause.)  So coming here gets me fired up.  Even when it’s snowing outside, I’m fired up.  (Applause.)  I don’t know where else you can go sledding in Halloween.  (Laughter.)  It’s like, what’s up with the snow this soon?  I mean, is this actually late?  This is late for Denver, huh?

I want to start by thanking Mahala for the wonderful introduction and for sharing her story, which I know resonates with a lot of young people here.  I want to thank your outstanding Governor, who’s here — John Hickenlooper is in the house.  (Applause.)  There he is.  The Mayor of Denver, Michael Hancock, is in the house.  (Applause.)  The Lieutenant Governor, Joe Garcia, is in the house.  (Applause.)  And one of the finest public servants, somebody you were wise enough to elect and then reelect as United States Senator — Michael Bennet is in the house.

You guys do a good job when it comes to elected officials in Colorado, I just want you to know.  (Applause.)  You have a good eye for talent.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  I do.  (Applause.)

Now, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately.  And the reason I’ve been hitting the road so much is because the folks I’m talking to in cities and small towns and communities all across America, they’re — let’s face it, they’re making a little more sense than the folks back in Washington.  (Applause.)

Here in Colorado, you’ve got folks who are spending months  — some, years — looking for work.  We’ve got families who are making tough sacrifices just to pay the bills, or the mortgage, or college tuition.  And Americans know we need to do something about it.  (Applause.)  And I know this is especially hard for a lot of young people.

You guys came of age at a time of profound change.  Globalization and technology have all made the world much more competitive.  Although this offers unmatched opportunity — I mean, the way that the world is now linked up and synched up means that you can start a business that’s global from your laptop.  But it also means that we are going to have to adapt to these changes.

And for decades, too many of our institutions — from Washington to Wall Street — failed to adapt, or they adapted in ways that didn’t work for ordinary folk — for middle-class families, for those aspiring to get into the middle class.  We had an economy that was based more on consuming things and piling up debt than making things and creating value.  We had a philosophy that said if we cut taxes for the very wealthiest, and we gut environmental regulations, and we don’t enforce labor regulations, and somehow if we let Wall Street just write the rules, that somehow that was going to lead to prosperity.  And instead what it did was culminate in the worst financial crisis and the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

For the last three years, we’ve worked to stabilize the economy, and we’ve made some progress.  An economy that was shrinking is now growing, but too slowly.  We’ve had private sector job growth, but it’s been offset by layoffs of teachers and police and firefighters, of the public sector.  And we’ve still got a long way to go.

And now, as you young people are getting ready to head out into the world, I know you’re hearing stories from friends and classmates and siblings who are struggling to find work, and you’re wondering what’s in store for your future.  And I know that can be scary.  (Applause.)  So the –

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  — Mother Earth — backs of our children and our future.

THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  Thank you, guys.  We’re looking at it right now, all right?  No decision has been made.  And I know your deep concern about it.  So we will address it.

So here’s what I also know — and I know that’s true for folks who are concerned about the environment, folks who are concerned about foreign policy, but also folks who are concerned about the economy.

When I look out at all of you, I feel confident because I know that as long as there are young people like you who still have hope and are still inspired by the possibilities of America, then there are going to be better days for this country.  (Applause.)  I know that we are going to come through this stronger than before.

And when I wake up every single morning, what I’m thinking about is how do we create an America in which you have opportunity, in which anybody can make it if they try, no matter what they look like, no matter where they come from, no matter what race, what creed, what faith.  (Applause.)  And the very fact — the very fact that you are here, investing in your education, the fact that you’re going to college, the fact that you’re making an investment in your future tells me that you share my faith in America’s future.  (Applause.)  You inspire me — your hopes and your dreams and your opportunities.

And so the truth is the economic problems we face today didn’t happen overnight, and they won’t be solved overnight.  The challenges we face on the environment, or on getting comprehensive immigration reform done — on all these issues we are going to keep on pushing.  And it’s going to take time to restore a sense of security for middle-class Americans.  It’s going to take time to rebuild an economy that works for everybody — not just those at the top.  (Applause.)  But there are steps we can take right now to put Americans back to work and give our economy a boost.  I know it.  You know it.  The American people know it.

You’ve got leaders like Michael Bennet and Mark Udall and Diana DeGette that are looking out for you.  But the problem is there are some in Washington — (audience interruption) — there are some in Washington who don’t seem to share this same sense of urgency.  Last week, for the second time this month, Republicans in the Senate blocked a jobs bill from moving forward.

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, this is a jobs bill that would have meant nearly 400,000 teachers and firefighters and first responders back on the job.  (Applause.)  It was the kind of proposal that in the past has gotten Democratic and Republican support.

It was paid for by asking those who have done the best in our society, those who have made the most, to just do a little bit more.  And it was supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people.  But they still said no.  And it doesn’t make sense.  How can you say no to creating jobs at a time when so many people are looking for work?  It doesn’t make any sense.

So the truth is the only way we can attack our economic challenges on the scale that’s necessary — the only way we can put hundreds of thousands of people, millions of people, back to work is if Congress is willing to cooperate with the executive branch and we are able to do some bold action — like passing the jobs bill.  That’s what we need.  (Applause.)

And that’s why I am going to keep forcing these senators to vote on common-sense, paid-for jobs proposals.  And I’m going to need you to help send them the message.  You don’t need to tell Michael Bennet — he’s already on the page.  (Laughter.)  But I’m going to need you guys to be out there calling and tweeting and all the stuff you do.  (Laughter.)

But, listen, we’re not going to wait, though.  We’re not waiting for Congress.  Last month, when I addressed a joint session of Congress about our jobs crisis, I said I intend to do everything in my power right now to act on behalf of the American people — with or without Congress.  (Applause.)  We can’t wait for Congress to do its job.  So where they won’t act, I will.  (Applause.)

And that’s why, in recent weeks, we’ve been taking a series of executive actions.  We decided we couldn’t stop — we couldn’t just wait for Congress to fix No Child Left Behind.  We went ahead and decided, let’s give states the flexibility they need to meet higher standards for our kids and improve our schools.  (Applause.)

We said we can’t wait for Congress to help small businesses.  We’re going to go ahead and say to the federal government, pay small businesses faster if they’re contractors so they’ve got more money and they can start hiring more people.  (Applause.)

We said we’re not going to wait for Congress to fix what’s going on in our health care system.  We eliminated regulations that will save hospitals and patients billions of dollars.  (Applause.)  And yesterday we announced a new initiative to make it easier for veterans to get jobs, putting their skills to work in hospitals and community centers.  (Applause.)

On Monday, we announced a new policy that will help families whose home values have fallen, to refinance their mortgages and to save up to thousands of dollars a year.

All these steps aren’t going to take the place of the needed action that Congress has to get going on — they’re still going to have to pass this jobs bill, they’ve got to create jobs, they’ve got to grow the economy — but these executive actions we’re taking can make a difference.

And I’ve told my administration we’re going to look every single day to figure out what we can do without Congress.  What can we do without them?  (Applause.)  Steps that can save you money, and make government more efficient and responsive, and help heal this economy.  So we’re going to be announcing these steps on a regular basis.  And that’s why I came to Denver today — to do something that will be especially important to all of you here at CU Denver and millions of students — and former students — all across America.  (Applause.)

Now, I mentioned that we live in a global economy, where businesses can set up shop anywhere where there’s an Internet connection.  So we live in a time when, over the next decade, 60 percent of new jobs will require more than a high school diploma. And other countries are hustling to out-educate us today, so they can out-compete us tomorrow.  They want the jobs of the future.  I want you to have those jobs.  (Applause.)  I want America to have those jobs.  (Applause.)  I want America to have the most highly skilled workers doing the most advanced work.  I want us to win the future.  (Applause.)

So that means we should be doing everything we can to put a college education within reach for every American.  (Applause.)  That has never been more important.  It’s never been more important, but, let’s face it, it’s also never been more expensive.  There was a new report today, tuition gone up again, on average — much faster than inflation; certainly much faster than wages and incomes.

Over the past three decades, the cost of college has nearly tripled.  And that is forcing you, forcing students, to take out more loans and rack up more debt.  Last year, graduates who took out loans left college owing an average of $24,000.  Student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt, for the first time ever.

Now, living with that kind of debt means making some pretty tough choices when you’re first starting out.  It might mean putting off buying a house.  It might mean you can’t start a business idea that you’ve got.  It may mean that you’ve got to wait longer to start a family, or certainly it means you’re putting off saving for retirement because you’re still paying off your student loans.

And when a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards student loans instead of being spent on other things, that’s not just tough for middle-class families, it’s painful for the economy and it’s harmful to our recovery because that money is not going to help businesses grow.

And let me say this — this is something Michelle and I know about firsthand.  I’ve been in your shoes.  We did not come from a wealthy family.  (Applause.)  I was raised mostly by a single mom and my grandparents.  And Michelle, she had sort of a “Leave it to Beaver” perfect family, but — (laughter) — she did.  They’re wonderful.  (Laughter.)  But her dad was a blue-collar worker, and her mom stayed at home.  But then when she did go to work, she worked as a secretary.  So our folks didn’t have a lot of money.  We didn’t even own our own home; we rented most of the time that we were growing up.

So by the time we both graduated from law school, we had, between us, about $120,000 worth of debt.  We combined and got poorer together.  (Laughter.)  So we combined our liabilities, not our assets.  (Laughter.)  So we were paying more for our student loans than we paid on our mortgage each month.

Look, obviously we were lucky to have gotten a great education and we were able to land good jobs with a steady income.  But it still took us almost 10 years to finally pay off all our student debt.  And that wasn’t easy, especially once we had Malia and Sasha, because now we’re supposed to be saving for their college, but we’re still paying for ours.  (Laughter.)

So the idea is, how do we make college more affordable, and how do we make sure you are burdened with less debt?  Now, college — keep in mind, college isn’t just one of the best investments you can make in your future.  It’s one of the bets investments America can make in our future.  (Applause.)  So we want you in school.  We want you in school.  But we shouldn’t saddle you with debt when you’re starting off.

So that’s why, since taking office, we’ve made it a priority to make college more affordable, reduce your student loan debt.  Last year we fought to eliminate these taxpayer subsidies that were going to big banks.  They were serving as middlemen in the student loan program — some of you may have heard about this.  So even though the loans were guaranteed by the federal government, we were still paying banks billions of dollars to be pass-throughs for the student loan program.

And we said, well, that’s not a good idea.  (Laughter.)  That’s not a good — now, of course, there were some in Washington who opposed me on this — that’s surprising.  (Laughter.)  I know — shocking.  (Laughter.)  So you had some Republicans in Congress who fought us tooth and nail to protect the status quo and to keep these tax dollars flowing to the big banks instead of going to middle-class families.  One of them said changing it would be “an outrage.”  The real outrage was letting banks keep these subsidies while students were working three jobs just to try to get by.  That was the outrage.  (Applause.)  And that’s why we ended the practice once and for all, to put a college education within reach of more Americans.

Then in last year’s State of the Union address, I asked Congress to pass a law that tells 1 million students they won’t have to pay more than 10 percent of their income toward student loans.  And we won that fight, too — (applause) — and that law will take effect by the time — that law is scheduled to take effect by the time freshmen graduate.

But we decided, let’s see if we can do a little bit more.  So today, I’m here to announce that we’re going to speed things up.  (Applause.)  We’re going to make these changes work for students who are in college right now.  (Applause.)  We’re going to put them into effect not three years from now, not two years from now — we’re going to put them into effect next year,  (Applause.)  Because our economy needs it right now and your future could use a boost right now.  (Applause.)

So here is what this is going to mean.  Because of this change, about 1.6 million Americans could see their payments go down by hundreds of dollars a month — and that includes some of the students who are here today.  (Applause.)  What we’re also going to do is we’re going to take steps to consolidate student loans so that instead of paying multiple payments to multiple lenders every month — and let me tell you, I remember this.  I remember writing like five different checks to five different loan agencies — and if you lost one that month, you couldn’t get all the bills together, you missed a payment, and then suddenly you were paying a penalty.  We’re going to make it easier for you to have one payment a month at a better interest rate.  (Applause.)  And this won’t cost — it won’t cost taxpayers a dime, but it will save you money and it will save you time.  (Applause.)

And we want to start giving students a simple fact sheet.  We’re going to call it “Know Before You Owe” — (applause) — “Know Before You Owe” — so you have all the information you need to make your own decisions about how to pay for college.  And I promise you, I wish Michelle and I had had that when we were in your shoes.

So these changes will make a difference for millions of Americans.  It will save you money.  It will help more young people figure out how to afford college.  It can put more money in your pocket once you graduate.  And because you’ll have some certainty, knowing that it’s only a certain percentage of your income that is going to pay off your student loans, that means you will be more confident and comfortable to buy a house or save for retirement.  And that will give our economy a boost at a time when it desperately needs it.  (Applause.)  So this is not just important to our country right now, it’s important to our country’s future.

When Michelle and I tuck our girls in at night, we think about how we are only where we are because somewhere down the line, somebody decided we’re going to give everybody a chance.  It doesn’t matter if you’re not born wealthy; it doesn’t matter if your dad is disabled or doesn’t own his own home; it doesn’t matter if you’re a single mom who had to take food stamps — you’re still going to get a shot.  You’re still going to get an education.  (Applause.)  This country gave us a chance.  And because our parents and their generation worked and sacrificed, they passed on opportunity to us.  And they didn’t do it alone.  It was something that we as a country did together.

And now it’s our turn — because the dream of opportunity is what I want for you, and I want for my daughters, and I want them for your children.  I want them for all young people, because no matter how tough times are, no matter how many obstacles stand in our way, we are going to make the dream that all Americans share real once again.  And that starts right now.  It starts with you. (Applause.)  It starts with you.

I am going to keep doing everything in my power to make a difference for the American people.  But, Denver, I need your help.  (Applause.)  Some of these folks in Washington still aren’t getting the message.  I need your voices heard.  I especially need your young — young people, I need you guys involved.  I need you active.  I need you communicating to Congress.  I need you to get the word out.  Like I said, tweet them.  Tweet them — they’re all tweeting all over the place.  (Laughter.)  You tweet them back.  Whatever works for you.

Tell them, do your job.  Tell them, the President has ideas that in the past have been supported by Democrats and Republicans — there’s no reason not to support them just to play politics.  (Applause.)  It’s time to put country ahead of party.  It’s time to put the next generation ahead of the next election.  (Applause.)  It’s time for all of us in Washington to do our job. It’s time for them to do their job.  (Applause.)  Too many people out there are hurting.  Too many people are out there hurting for us to sit around and doing nothing.

And we are not a people who just sit around and wait for things to happen.  We’re Americans; we make things happen.  We fix problems.  (Applause.)  We meet our challenges.  We don’t hold back, and we don’t quit.  (Applause.)  And that’s the spirit we need right now.

So, Denver, let’s go out and meet the moment.  Let’s do the right thing, and let’s go, once again, show the world just why it is the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)

God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

END
10:51 A.M. MDT

FACT SHEET: “Help Americans Manage Student Loan Debt”

Source: WH, 10-25-11

The Administration has made historic investments in Pell Grants and the American Opportunity Tax Credit to help make college more affordable for millions of current and future students. While college remains an excellent investment for most students, debt may discourage some potential students from enrolling, keeping them from getting the skills they need to compete in the global economy. Some borrowers may struggle to manage their bills and support their families.  The need for enough income to make large monthly payments may discourage some graduates from starting a new job-creating business or entering teaching or another lower-paying public service career.

Today, the President announced a series of additional steps that the Administration will take to make college more affordable and to make it even easier for students to repay their federal student loans:

Help Americans Manage Student Loan Debt by Capping Monthly Payments to What They Can Afford 

  • Allow borrowers to cap their student loan payments at 10% of discretionary income.  In the 2010 State of the Union, the President proposed – and Congress quickly enacted – an improved income-based repayment (IBR) plan, which allows student loan borrowers to cap their monthly payments at 15% of their discretionary income. Beginning July 1, 2014, the IBR plan is scheduled to reduce that limit from 15% to 10% of discretionary income.
  • Today, the President announced that his Administration is putting forth a new “Pay As You Earn” proposal to make sure these same important benefits are made available to some borrowers as soon as 2012. The Administration estimates that this cap will reduce monthly payments for more than 1.6 million student borrowers.

For example:

  • A nurse who is earning $45,000 and has $60,000 in federal student loans. Under the standard repayment plan, this borrower’s monthly repayment amount is $690. The currently available IBR plan would reduce this borrower’s payment by $332 to $358.  President Obama’s improved ‘Pay As You Earn’ plan will reduce her payment by an additional $119 to a more manageable $239 — a total reduction of $451 a month.
  • A teacher who is earning $30,000 a year and has $25,000 in Federal student loans.  Under the standard repayment plan, this borrower’s monthly repayment amount is $287 .  The currently available IBR plan would reduce this borrower’s payment by $116, to $171.  Under the improved ‘P ay As You Earn’ plan, his monthly payment amount would be even more manageable at only $114.   And, if this borrower remained a teacher or was employed in another public service occupation, he would be eligible for forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program after 10 years of payments .
  •  Continues to provide help for those already in the workforce. Recent graduates and others in the workforce who are still struggling to pay off their student loans can immediately take advantage of the current income-based repayment plan that caps payments at 15% of the borrower’s discretionary income to help them manage their debt. Currently, more than 36 million Americans have federal student loan debt, but fewer than 450,000 Americans participate in income-based repayment. Millions more may be eligible to reduce their monthly payments to an amount affordable based on income and family size. The Administration is taking steps to make it easier to participate in IBR and continues to reach out to borrowers to let them know about the program .

Borrowers looking to determine whether or not income-based repayment is the right option for them should visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/ibr.

The CFPB also released the Student Debt Repayment Assistant, an online tool that provides borrowers, many of whom may be struggling with repayment, with information on income-based repayment, deferments, alternative payment programs, and much more.  The Student Debt Repayment Assistant is available at ConsumerFinance.gov/students/repay

Improve Ease of Making Payments and Reduce Default Risk by Consolidating Loans

  • Provide a discount on consolidation loans.  While all new federal student loans are now Direct Loans thanks to the historic reforms in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, there are still $400 billion outstanding in old Federal Family Education Loans.  These loans offer fewer repayment options and are unnecessarily expensive for taxpayers.  In addition, about 6 million borrowers have at least one Direct Loan and at least one FFEL loan, which requires them to submit two separate monthly payments, a complexity that puts them at greater risk of default.

To ensure borrowers are not adversely impacted by this transition and to facilitate loan repayment while reducing taxpayer costs, the Department of Education is encouraging borrowers with split loans to consolidate their guaranteed FFEL loans into the Direct Loan program. Borrowers do not need to take any action at this time.  Beginning in January 2012, the Department will reach out to qualified borrowers early next year to alert them of the opportunity.

This special consolidation initiative would keep the terms and conditions of the loans the same, and most importantly, beginning in January 2012, allow borrowers to make only one monthly payment, as opposed to two or more payments, greatly simplifying the repayment process. Borrowers who take advantage of this special, limited-time consolidation option would also receive up to a 0.5 percent reduction to their interest rate on some of their loans, which means lower monthly payments and saving hundreds in interest.  Borrowers would receive a 0.25 percent interest rate reduction on their consolidated FFEL loans and an additional 0.25 percent interest rate reduction on the entire consolidated FFEL and DL balance.

For example:

  • A borrower about to enter repayment with two $4,500 FFEL Stafford loans (at 6.0%) and a $5,500 Direct Stafford loan (at 4.5%). Under Standard Repayment, the borrower can expect to pay a total of $4,330 in interest until the loans are paid in full. If this borrower consolidates their FFEL loans under this initiative they would save $376 in interest payments, and make only one payment per month, instead of two.
  • A borrower in repayment with a $32,000 FFEL Consolidation loan (at 6.25%) and a $5,500 Direct Unsubsidized Stafford loan (at 6.8%). Under Standard Repayment, the borrower can expect to pay a total of $13,211 in interest until the loans are paid in full. If this borrower consolidates the FFEL loan under this initiative they would save $964 in interest payments, and make only one payment per month instead of two.

Provide Consumers with Better Information to Make College Selection Decisions

“Know Before You Owe” Financial Aid Shopping Sheet.

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Education have teamed up to launch a new “Know Before You Owe” project aimed at creating a model financial aid disclosure form, which colleges and universities could use to help students better understand the type and amount of aid they qualify for and easily compare aid packages offered by different institutions. This “Financial Aid Shopping Sheet” makes the costs and risks of student loans clear upfront – before students have enrolled – outlining their total estimated student loan debt, monthly loan payments after graduation and additional costs not covered by federal aid.  Ultimately, this provides students and their families with useful information that can help them make a more informed decision about where to attend college and help them better understand the debt burden they may be left with.

The CFPB is soliciting feedback on how to further improve the form, especially looking for input from college students and their families. They can go to the CFPB’s website ( http://consumerfinance.gov/students/knowbeforeyouowe ) where an online ranking tool will provide the public with an opportunity to weigh in on the financial aid shopping sheet.

Political Buzz October 25, 2011: President Barack Obama on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama on the Tonight Show

Source: WH, 10-26-11
President Barack Obama talks with Jay Leno

President Barack Obama talks with Jay Leno during an interview on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” at the NBC Studios in Burbank, Calif., Oct. 25, 2011 (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Yesterday, President Obama stopped by the Tonight Show to sit down for an interview with Jay Leno. The two talked about Libya, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and reality television — including a show on C-SPAN called Congress.

Watch!

Full Text October 25, 2011: President Barack Obama & Federal Housing Finance Agency Introduce Home Affordable Refinance Program for “Underwater” Homeowners & Mortgages

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

We Can’t Wait

Since we can’t wait for Congress to act, President Obama speaks with homeowners in Las Vegas to highlight steps he’s taking to create jobs and improve the economy.

President Obama delivers a statement on housing
President Obama delivers a statement on housing in Las Vegas, Nevada, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 10/24/11

We Can’t Wait: President Obama in Nevada

Source: WH, 10-24-11

Last week, Republicans in the Senate blocked a jobs bill that would have meant jobs for around 400,000 teachers and first responders. Twice.

This week, President Obama is back on the road with a new message, which today, he shared with a crowd in Nevada:

So I’m here to say to all of you — and to say to the people of Nevada and the people of Las Vegas — we can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will.

Instead of waiting for Congress to fix No Child Left Behind, the President directed his administration to move forward with a plan to give states the flexibility they need to help students meet higher standards. The Administration acted to cut dramatically the time it takes for small businesses who contract with the federal government to get paid. And last week, the President eliminated outdated regulations that will save hospitals and patients billions of dollars in the years ahead.

Now, President Obama is taking on housing.

President Obama participates in a kitchen table discussion regarding the American Jobs Act

President Barack Obama participates in a kitchen table discussion regarding the American Jobs Act, with Jose and Lissette Bonilla at their home in Las Vegas, Nevada, Oct. 24, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In addition to a new set of rules announced this morning that has the potential to allow millions of homeowners to refinance their mortgages, President Obama discussed Project Rebuild:

A lot of homeowners in neighborhoods like this one have watched the values of their home decline not just because the housing bubble burst, but also because of the foreclosure sign next door, or the vacant home across the street. Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of vacant homes like these and more than a million unemployed construction workers. That doesn’t make any sense when there’s work to be done and there are workers ready to do it.

So Project Rebuild connects the two by helping the private sector put construction workers to work rehabilitating vacant or abandoned homes and businesses all across the country. That will help stabilize home prices in communities like this one.

Project Rebuild is a step that Congress can take right away. The time for inaction has passed.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on the Economy and Housing

Private Residence, Las Vegas, Nevada

2:15 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.

AUDIENCE:  Good afternoon!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you for letting me block your driveways.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  You’re welcome.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it is wonderful to be with all of you.  And I want to thank Jose and Lissette and their wonderful children for letting us set up right in front of their house, and we just had a wonderful visit.

Without a doubt, the most urgent challenge that we face right now is getting our economy to grow faster and to create more jobs.  I know it; the people of Nevada know it; and I think most Americans also understand that the problems we face didn’t happen overnight and so we’re not going to solve them all overnight either.  What people don’t understand, though, is why some elected officials in Washington don’t seem to share the same sense of urgency that people all around the country are.

Last week, for the second time this month, Republicans in the Senate blocked a jobs bill from moving forward — a bill that would have meant nearly 400,000 teachers, firefighters, and first responders being back on the job.  It was the kind of proposal that in the past, at least, Republicans and Democrats have supported.  It was paid for, and it was supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people.  But they still said no.

Your senator, Majority Leader Harry Reid, he’s been fighting nonstop to help get the economy going.  But he’s not getting some help from some of the members of the Nevada delegation.  So we need them to get their act together.  Because the truth is, the only way that we can truly attack our economic challenges, the only way we can put hundreds of thousands of people back to work right now is with bold action from Congress.

That’s why I’m going to keep forcing these senators to vote on common-sense, paid-for jobs proposals.  But last month, when I addressed a joint session of Congress about our jobs crisis, I also said that I intend to do everything in my power to act on behalf of the American people — with or without Congress.

So I’m here to say to all of you — and to say to the people of Nevada and the people of Las Vegas — we can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job.  Where they won’t act, I will.

In recent weeks, we decided to stop waiting for Congress to fix No Child Left Behind, and decided to give states the flexibility they need to help our children meet higher standards. We took steps on our own to reduce the time it takes for small businesses to get paid when they have a contract with the federal government.  And without any help from Congress, we eliminated outdated regulations that will save hospitals and patients billions of dollars.

Now, these steps aren’t substitutes for the bold action that we need to create jobs and grow the economy, but they will make a difference.  So we’re not going to wait for Congress.

I’ve told my administration to keep looking every single day for actions we can take without Congress — steps that can save consumers money, make government more efficient and responsive, and help heal the economy.  And we’re going to be announcing these executive actions on a regular basis.

Now, today what I want to focus on is housing, which is something obviously on the minds of a lot of folks here in Nevada.  Probably the single greatest cause of the financial crisis and this brutal recession has been the housing bubble that burst four years ago.  Since then, average home prices have fallen by nearly 17 percent.  Nationwide, more than 10 million homeowners are underwater.  That means that they owe more on their homes than those houses are worth.  And here in Las Vegas, the city that’s been hit hardest of all, almost the entire housing market is under severe stress.

Now, this is a painful burden for middle-class families.  And it’s also a drag on our economy.  When a home loses its value, a family loses a big chunk of their wealth.  Paying off mortgage debt means that consumers are spending less and businesses are making less and jobs are harder to come by.  And as long as this goes on, our recovery can’t take off as quickly as it would after a normal recession.

So the question is not whether or not we do something about it — we have to do something about it.  The question is, what do we do and how fast do we move?  One idea that I’ve proposed is contained in the jobs act that is before Congress right now, and it’s called Project Rebuild.

A lot of homeowners in neighborhoods like this one have watched the values of their home decline not just because the housing bubble burst, but also because of the foreclosure sign next door, or the vacant home across the street.  Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of vacant homes like these and more than a million unemployed construction workers.  That doesn’t make any sense when there’s work to be done and there are workers ready to do it.

So Project Rebuild connects the two by helping the private sector put construction workers to work rehabilitating vacant or abandoned homes and businesses all across the country.  That will help stabilize home prices in communities like this one.  And it will help families like the Bonillas to buy a new home and build a nest egg.

This is something that Congress can pass right now, because it’s in the jobs bill.  We will put construction workers back to work and we will rebuild homes all across Nevada and all across the country.

If Congress passes this jobs bill, we can get Project Rebuild moving right away.  If Congress acts, then people in Nevada and all across the country can get significant relief.  But remember what I said.  We can’t just wait for Congress.  Until they act, until they do what they need to do, we’re going to act on our own, because we can’t wait for Congress to help our families and our economy.

Over the past two years, we’ve already taken some steps to help families refinance their mortgages.  Nearly one million Americans with little equity in their homes have gotten assistance so far.  And we’ve also made it easier for unemployed homeowners to keep their homes while they’re looking for a job.  And we’re working to turn vacant properties into rental housing, which will help reduce the supply of unsold homes and stabilize housing prices here in Las Vegas and all across the country.

But we can do more.  There are still millions of Americans who have worked hard and acted responsibly, paying their mortgage payments on time.  But now that their homes are worth less than they owe on their mortgage, they’re having trouble getting refinancing even though mortgage rates are at record lows.

So that’s going to soon change.  Last month, I directed my economic team to work with the Federal Housing Finance Agency — or FHFA — and their partners in the housing industry to identify barriers to refinancing, knock those barriers down, and explore every option available to help many American homeowners to refinance.

And today, I am pleased to announce that the agency that is in charge is going to be taking a series of steps to help responsible homeowners refinance and take advantage of low mortgage rates.  So let me just name those steps.

Number one, the barrier will be lifted that prohibits responsible homeowners from refinancing if their home values have fallen so low that what they owe on their mortgage is 25 percent higher than the current value of their home.  And this is critically important for a place like Las Vegas, where home values have fallen by more than 50 percent over the past five years.

So let me just give you an example.  If you’ve got a $250,000 mortgage at 6 percent interest rates, but the value of your home has fallen below $200,000, right now you can’t refinance.  You’re ineligible.  But that’s going to change.  If you meet certain requirements, you will have the chance to refinance at lower rates, which could save you hundreds of dollars a month, and thousands of dollars a year on mortgage payments.

Second, there are going to be lower closing costs, and certain refinancing fees will be eliminated — fees that can sometimes cancel out the benefits of refinancing altogether, so people don’t bother to refinance because they’ve got all these fees that they have to pay.  Well, we’re going to try to knock away some of those fees.

Third, there’s going to be more competition so that consumers can shop around for the best rates.  Right now, some underwater homeowners have no choice but to refinance with their original lender — and some lenders, frankly, just refuse to refinance.  So these changes are going to encourage other lenders to compete for that business by offering better terms and rates, and eligible homeowners are going to be able to shop around for the best rates and the best terms.

So you take these things together, this is going to help a lot more homeowners refinance at lower rates, which means consumers save money, those families save money, it gets those families spending again.  And it also makes it easier for them to make their mortgage payments, so that they don’t lose their home and bring down home values in the neighborhood.

And I’m going to keep on doing everything in my power to help to stabilize the housing market, grow the economy, accelerate job growth, and restore some of the security that middle-class families have felt slipping away for more than a decade.

Now, let me just say this in closing.  These steps that I’ve highlighted today, they’re not going to solve all the problems in the housing market here in Nevada or across the country.  Given the magnitude of the housing bubble and the huge inventory of unsold homes in places like Nevada, it’s going to take time to solve these challenges.  We still need Congress to pass the jobs bill.  We still need them to move forward on Project Rebuild so we can have more homes like this, and wonderful families having an opportunity to live out the American Dream.

But even if we do all those things, the housing market is not going to be fully healed until the unemployment rate comes down and the inventory of homes on the market also comes down. But that’s no excuse for inaction.  That’s no excuse for just saying “no” to Americans who need help right now.  It’s no excuse for all the games and the gridlock that we’ve been seeing in Washington.

People out here don’t have a lot of time or a lot of patience for some of that nonsense that’s been going on in Washington.  If any member of Congress thinks there are no unemployed workers or no down-on-their-luck neighborhoods in their district that would benefit from the proposals in the jobs bill, then they better think again.  They should come and talk to the families out here in Nevada.  These members of Congress who aren’t doing the right thing right now, they still have a chance to take meaningful action to put people back to work, and to help middle-class families and homeowners like the Bonillas.

But we can’t wait for that action.  I’m not going to wait for it.  So I’m going to keep on taking this message across the country.  Where we don’t have to wait for Congress, we’re just going to go ahead and act on our own.  And we’re going to keep on putting pressure on Congress to do the right thing for families all across the country.  And I am confident that the American people want to see action.  We know what to do.  The question is whether we’re going to have the political will to do it.

All right?  So thank you so much, everybody.  God bless you. God bless the United States of America.  Thanks for welcoming me to your neighborhood.  (Applause.)

END 2:28 P.M. PDT

Campaign Buzz October 25, 2011: Republican Presidential Candidate Gov. Rick Perry Unveils his “Cut, Balance and Grow” Flat Tax plan

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

 

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas outlined his proposal for a 20 percent flat tax and deficit reduction plan at the ISO Poly Films factory in Gray Court, S.C. Tuesday.

Richard Ellis/Getty ImagesGov. Rick Perry of Texas outlined his proposal for a 20-percent flat tax and deficit reduction plan on Tuesday at the ISO Poly Films factory in Gray Court, S.C.

IN FOCUS: GOV. RICK PERRY UNVEILS HIS FLAT TAX PLAN

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry officially announces flat tax plan: In Greenville, South Carolina, Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry formally unveiled his economic plan Tuesday. The proposal includes long-held conservative goals, including personal accounts for Social Security, an optional flat tax, major spending cuts and a series of tax cuts.
The plan would dramatically reduce taxes, particularly on wealthy Americans and corporations. It would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent, eliminate taxes on dividends and many capital gains and essentially cap individual tax rates at 20 percent.

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 25, 2011: Republican Presidential Candidate Gov. Rick Perry Unveils in a Speech his “Cut, Balance and Grow” Flat Tax plan in South Carolina — Transcript

Campaign Buzz October 25, 2011: Republican Presidential Candidate Gov. Rick Perry Previews “Cut, Balance and Grow” Flat Tax plan — Wall Street Journal Op-ed

  • Perry calls for sweeping tax cuts, benefit changes: Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry proposed dramatic tax and spending changes Tuesday, saying he would let Americans choose between a 20 percent flat tax and the current system, allow private Social Security accounts and slash government spending and regulation.
    Perry, seeking to regain the momentum he enjoyed in late August, said his plan would significantly spur economic growth. But analysts from the left and right said he would need draconian federal budget cuts to avoid massive deficits.
    In a pitch to conservatives, the Texas governor said his “Cut, Balance and Grow” plan was bolder than what his Republican rivals or President Barack Obama would do. His proposal calls for gradually increasing eligibility ages for Social Security and Medicare and for amending the Constitution to require balanced budgets…. – AP, 10-25-11
  • Perry Plan Would Grant Big Tax Break to Wealthiest: The plan, which includes a new flat tax, would eliminate capital gains taxes, and lower the rate richest Americans pay…. – NYT, 10-25-11
  • Perry Offers Plan to ‘Save Social Security’: Rick Perry offered his most detailed response yet to criticism that he views Social Security as a Ponzi scheme and spelled out changes to the federal retirement program…. – NYT, 10-25-11
  • Rick Perry unveils tax plan in bid to jump-start campaign: Returning to South Carolina, a state key to reviving his presidential candidacy, Gov. Rick Perry unveiled what he said was a “bold” tax plan to revive the nation’s economy.
    The Texas governor, speaking at the warehouse of a specialty plastics company south of Greenville, proposed a flat tax plan that critics said would worsen the federal deficit.
    Perry’s plan includes an optional 20% flat tax for individuals and corporations. But he would allow anyone to remain with the current tax system, insuring that no one’s taxes would go up and threatening to cut federal revenue by hundreds of billions of dollars a year…. – LAT, 10-25-11
  • Perry Wants Flat Tax With Some Popular Deductions: Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry proposed a sweeping economic plan Tuesday that includes a flat tax proposal, private retirement accounts for Social Security, a lower corporate tax rate and reforms aimed at keeping Medicare…. – ABC News, 10-25-11
  • Rick Perry joins flat tax parade – a hot idea fresh from the 1860s: Rick Perry follows Herman Cain in proposing a flat tax. Ron Paul has endorsed the idea before, too. But the hot new idea among GOP presidential candidates is as old as the Civil War…. – CS Monitor, 10-25-11
  • Perry rolls out flat tax plan: Rick Perry, whose presidential campaign to date has largely focused on his accomplishments as Texas governor, expanded his scope Tuesday in South Carolina, where he formally unveiled a flat tax proposal designed to stimulate the economy and cut taxes…. – Politico, 10-25-11
  • Perry unveils flat-tax plan: Gov. Rick Perry this morning proposed a sweeping tax overhaul whose centerpiece is an optional, 20 percent flat tax on all income, plus a number of changes to Social Security and other entitlements…. – Austin American-Statesman, 10-25-11
  • Struggling Perry Proposes Flat Tax and Spending Plan: Gov. Rick Perry, struggling in the polls as he pursues the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, released a tax and spending reform plan today aimed at luring away business-minded voters from Mitt Romney and Tea Party…. – Texas Tribune, 10-25-11
  • Rick Perry lays out tax reform proposal calling for a 20% flat tax rate: Under Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s plan, taxpayers could pay the new 20% flat rate, or keep their current tax rate. Do you think Rick Perry’s flat tax proposal is a good solution for Americans? Republican hopeful Rick Perry laid out a tax plan…. – New York Daily News, 10-25-11
  • Perry Tax Cut Plan Offers Simplicity Layered Atop Complexity: Texas Governor Rick Perry’s flat-tax fiscal plan would provide broad tax cuts to households that embrace it while retaining the existing system’s complexity as a choice for others. The plan, announced today in a speech in South Carolina…. – San Francisco Chronicle, Bloomberg, 10-25-11
  • Rick Perry readies assault on Mitt Romney: The Rick Perry relaunch has finally arrived. After weeks battling questions about how he plans to salvage his listing presidential bid, the Texas governor has finally started spelling out an answer. It involves opening his $15 million campaign war chest, hitting Mitt Romney harder and moving to reclaim the role of the populist conservative outsider in the race.
    Perry will deliver a policy address Tuesday in South Carolina outlining his support for a national flat tax — a proposal that for the first time extends beyond his record in Texas. His campaign has reserved statewide television airtime in Iowa to start as early as this week…. – Politico, 10-25-11
  • Perry’s tax plan faces quick attack from Democrats: South Carolina Democrats today attacked GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry’s tax reform plan before his unveiling…. – Greenville News, 10-25-11

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 25, 2011: Republican Presidential Candidate Gov. Rick Perry Unveils in a Speech his “Cut, Balance and Grow” Flat Tax plan in South Carolina — Transcript

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas outlined his proposal for a 20 percent flat tax and deficit reduction plan at the ISO Poly Films factory in Gray Court, S.C. Tuesday.

Richard Ellis/Getty ImagesGov. Rick Perry of Texas outlined his proposal for a 20-percent flat tax and deficit reduction plan on Tuesday at the ISO Poly Films factory in Gray Court, S.C.

Gov. Rick Perry Unveils Plan to Cut Taxes and Spending, Balance the Budget and Grow the Economy

“Cut, Balance and Grow” plan offers optional 20% flat tax; cuts federal spending, repeals job-killing regulations, sets path to balanced budget

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Texas Gov. Rick Perry today unveiled his Cut, Balance and Grow plan, which provides taxpayers with the choice of a simple, 20 percent flat tax rate, cuts federal spending, ends earmarks and includes a federal Balanced Budget Amendment.  He announced his plan at ISO Poly Films near Greenville.

The governor’s plan addresses five primary areas of reform, which include replacing the current tax code with an optional 20 percent flat tax for individuals and corporations, simplifying our regulatory system by freezing new and auditing pending regulations, fixing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid entitlement programs, balancing the federal budget by 2020, and repealing job-killing federal laws like Obamacare, Dodd-Frank and parts of Sarbanes-Oxley…. READ MORE

To view Gov. Perry’s entire Cut, Balance and Grow plan, please visit http://www.rickperry.org/cut-balance-and-grow-html/, and to view an outline of the plan, please visit http://www.rickperry.org/content/uploads/2011/10/Cut-Balance-and-Grow-Summary.pdf. To view a sample tax return, please visit http://www.rickperry.org/content/uploads/2011/10/sample-tax-return.pdf.

To view the governor’s remarks, please visit http://www.rickperry.org/news/text-of-gov-rick-perry-cut-balance-grow-speech/

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Text of Gov. Rick Perry’s Cut, Balance, Grow Speech

ISO Poly Films, Greenville, S.C., 10/25/11

*Gov. Perry sometimes deviates from prepared remarks

Thank you. It is great to be in the stomping grounds of a great conservative senator, Jim DeMint. I want to thank ISO Poly Films CEO John McClure for opening his business as we discuss my plan to get America working again.

Today I lay before the American People my cut, balance and grow plan. It cuts taxes and spending. It balances the budget by 2020. And it grows jobs and the economy.

It neither reshuffles the status quo, nor does it expand the ways Washington can reach into our pocketbooks.

It reorders the way they do business in Washington by reinventing the tax code and restoring our nation to fiscal health through balanced budgets and entitlement reform.

Central to my plan is giving every American the option of throwing out the three million words of the current tax code, and the costs of complying with that code, in order to pay a 20 percent flat tax on their income.

The size of the current code, which is more than 72,000 pages, is represented by this pallet and its many reams of paper.

The best representation of my plan is this post card, which taxpayers will be able to fill out to file their taxes.

Each individual taxpayer will have a choice: you can continue to pay taxes, as well as accountants and lawyers under the current system, or, you can file your taxes on a postcard, with deductions only for interest on a mortgage, charitable giving, and state and local tax payments.

Under my plan, you will no longer have to worry about paying taxes on social security when you retire, or your family members paying the death tax when you die. And you can wave goodbye to the capital gains tax, as well as the tax on dividends.

We will increase the standard exemption for individuals and dependents to $12,500, meaning families in the middle on the lower end of the economic scale will have the opportunity to get ahead. Taxes will be cut across all income groups in America. The net benefit will be more money in Americans’ pockets, with greater investment in the private economy instead of the federal government.

On the corporate tax side, I am offering equally bold reform. My plan closes corporate loopholes, ends the special breaks for special interests, and stops the gravy train of lobbyists and tax lawyers at the Washington trough.

In exchange for a corporate tax free of carve-outs and exclusions, I offer a much lower rate of 20 percent that represents the average corporate rate among the developed nations, and that will make our corporations more competitive on a global scale.

We will shut down the cottage industry of corporate tax evasion by creating a tax that is broad, fair and low.

And my plan offers incentives for corporations to invest in America again, with two major reforms. First, we will transition to a territorial tax system on corporate income earned overseas. This means companies pay the appropriate corporate tax in the country where income was earned, but aren’t taxed a second time when that income is moved back into the United States.

Second, for all corporate profits currently languishing overseas, I will offer a one-time reduced tax rate of five and a quarter percent for a limited period of time on repatriated earnings.

The U.S. Chamber estimates this one-time tax reduction would bring more than $1 trillion in capital back to the U.S, create up to 2.9 million jobs, and increase economic output by $360 billion.

In other words, it’s the kind of economic stimulus President Obama could have achieved if he wasn’t hell-bent on passing big government schemes that have failed American workers.

Today, America’s combined corporate tax rate of 39.2 percent is the second highest in the developed world. It is time to overhaul our tax code so companies like ISO Poly Films can invest more in their people and their products.

Tax rates have consequences. The liberals myopically ignore the realities of human nature. They think in raising rates they will raise revenue. But they don’t understand large employers have choices, as do wealthy individuals, and that includes moving money off-shore. When they try to take too much, they end up hurting the very people they seek to help: the working class.

We need tax policy that embraces the world as it is, and not what liberal ideologues wish it to be.

The goal of my cut, balance and grow plan is to unleash job creation to address the current economic crisis, while generating a stable source of revenue to address our record deficit and put our fiscal house in order.

My plan should not be viewed in a vacuum, but in comparison to the continuation of the status quo. It provides employers and investors certainty, which is critical to getting capital back into the economy. The president’s plan provides temporary tax relief, which does nothing to encourage long-term investment because it doesn’t provide the private sector certainty.

The way to stimulate the economy is not through temporary tax relief or government spending; it is to stimulate private spending through permanent tax relief.

The flat tax will unleash growth. But growth is not enough. We must put a stop to the entitlement culture that risks the financial solvency of this country for future generations.

The red flags are alarming. Our children are born into $46,000 of federal debt. Our credit was downgraded for the first time this past August, in part because of a lack of seriousness about deficit reduction. According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, by year’s end our debt will exceed the size of America’s economy for the first time in 65 years. We are on the road to ruin paved by state serfdom.

Freeing our children from financial disaster requires the courage to reform entitlements. My plan establishes firm principles to preserve Medicare and Social Security for today’s beneficiaries, while saving it for tomorrow’s.

I am putting forward five principles to save Social Security for the long-term. First, we will protect existing benefits for current retirees, and work with Congress on the exact age where those nearing retirement are grandfathered out of changes to the program.

Second, we will end the current pillaging of the Social Security Trust Fund by Washington politicians. Here is the hard truth: the trust fund is full of IOU’s, without a single dime of money left over from what workers have paid in. The politicians have borrowed against it for years. And in order to redeem the IOU’s in the fund, they will have to either raise taxes or cut spending on other programs to replenish it.

Here is the other hard truth: if we don’t act, in 25 years benefits will be slashed 23 percent overnight. Protecting Social Security benefits begins with protecting the solvency of the fund, and stopping all current borrowing from the fund, just as we have done with the highway trust fund.

The third principle of reform is to allow young workers to invest a portion of their payroll taxes into private accounts if they so choose.

I am not naïve. I know this idea will be attacked. But a couple of facts are worth stating: one, the return on investment in Social Security is so small it is like an interest bearing savings account. Over the long-term, the markets generate a much higher yield.

Second, opposition to this simple measure is based on a simple supposition: that the people are not smart enough to look out for themselves. The liberals think the American people cannot be trusted to safeguard even a portion of their own retirement dollars. It is time to end the nanny state and empower our people to exercise greater control over their money.

The fourth principle is to return to pre-1983 law and allow state and local governments to newly opt out of Social Security and instead allow their employees to pay solely into state or locally run retirement programs. This has been done around the country, with better results. We ought to allow it again.

Lastly, we ought to work to raise the retirement age for younger workers – on a gradual basis – to reflect the longer life-span of today’s Americans. I will work with Congress to determine the right formula, beginning at the right age. But this is common sense, and it can help save Social Security for future generations.

We will also reform Medicare to save it for future generations of Americans.  We will do this by working with Congress on several options, including giving patients greater flexibility in choosing the plan that best fits their unique needs through bundled premium support payments to the individual, or as a credit against purchase of health insurance.

Second, we should look at gradually raising the age of Medicare eligibility. Third, we should consider adjusting Medicare benefits to be paid on a sliding scale based on the income of the recipient. And lastly, we must tackle the $100 billion in annual waste and fraud to save this valuable program as Americans live longer.

My plan also restructures Medicaid, returning control over the program and the dollars needed to administer it to states. One-size-fits-all health care doesn’t work for people on private plans in the form of Obamacare, and it doesn’t work with public plans, such as Medicaid. Washington has broken it, and shown no will to fix it. We must give state leaders the flexibility to fix Medicaid and control its costs.

These reforms are essential to balancing the budget. My plan balances the budget as fast as any serious plan offered, in the year 2020, with reforms to entitlements, with greater economic growth, and with cuts to discretionary spending.

I do not take the tack of the current President, with arbitrary cuts to defense spending. The question we must ask is not what we can afford to spend on our national defense, but what does it cost to keep America secure.

At the same time, we will reform the way we spend money in Washington so we can balance the budget in eight years. But to truly protect taxpayers, we need the extra protection of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution.

I will reduce spending in the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the EPA, and a whole host of other agencies, returning greater control to the states.

My plan reduces non-defense discretionary spending by $100 billion in year one, and builds on those savings in the years to come.

I will also institute several principle reforms to the budgetary process, which are contained in my Cut, Balance and Grow Plan on my website.

It is not the length of a “War and Peace” novel, and is easy to understand, yet bold in its approach.

Included in my budget reforms are elimination of baseline budgeting that assumes previous expenditures are sacrosanct, an end to non-emergency spending in emergency bills, and a permanent stop to “bridge to nowhere” projects through the elimination of earmarks. I will couple these budgetary reforms with an overhaul of the regulatory process.

When federal agencies like the NLRB are dictating to companies where they can create jobs and where they cannot, they have over-stepped their bounds and undermined our free market system. On my first day in office, I will freeze all pending federal regulations and immediately begin a review of all new regulations since January of 2008.

Today the Federal Register contains 165,000 pages. The index alone is eleven hundred pages long. And somehow, despite not having any of these new regulations for our first 219 years, America not only survived, we thrived.

The federal nanny state’s heavy-handed regulations are keeping our economy in the ditch. It is time to review and scrap regulations that harm jobs and growth.

Lastly, one of the greatest impediments to investment in America are the Dodd-Frank banking regulations, and I will lead the charge to eliminate them.

Dodd-Frank is killing small banks, and freezing access to credit just when small businesses need it most. It enshrines bailouts and the notion of “too big to fail” in federal law, benefitting Wall Street while killing Main Street. It’s wrong. It’s unfair. It must go.

My plan does not trim around the edges. And it does not bow down to the established interests. But it is the kind of bold reform needed to jolt this economy out of its doldrums, and renew American prosperity. Those who oppose it will wrap themselves in the cloak of the status quo.

America is under a crushing burden of debt, and the president simply offers larger deficits and the politics of class division. Others simply offer microwaved plans with warmed-over reforms based on current ingredients.

Americans, however, aren’t searching for a reshuffling of the status quo, which simply empowers the entrenched interests. This is a change election, and I offer a plan that changes the way Washington does business.

The great issue facing this nation is whether we have the courage to confront spending and the vision to get our economy growing again. We need a tax code that unleashes growth instead of preventing it; that promotes fairness, not class warfare; that sparks investment in America instead of overseas interests.

It is time to create incentives for American companies to invest in American workers. It is time to end the corporate loopholes, end the special tax breaks for special interests, end the gravy train for lobbyists and tax lawyers.

It is time to pass a tax that is flat and fair, that frees our employers and our people to invest, grow and prosper.

We will set our employers and our people free by slashing the cost of government, cutting taxes for middle class families, balancing our budget and growing our economy.

The future of America is too important to be left to the Washington politicians. To get America working again, we must cut taxes and spending, balance the federal budget, and grow our economy and jobs.

My plan unleashes American ingenuity for a new American Century.  Restores the hopes and dreams of our people. Renews our great promise. And entrusts the fate of this nation into the hands of our People, setting them free.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Campaign Buzz October 25, 2011: Republican Presidential Candidate Gov. Rick Perry Previews “Cut, Balance and Grow” Flat Tax plan in Wall Street Journal Op-ed

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Rick Perry: My Tax and Spending Reform Plan

Individuals will have the option of paying a 20% flat-rate income tax and I’ll cap spending at 18% of GDP.

Source: WSJ, 10-25-11

The folks in Washington might not like to hear it, but the plain truth is the U.S. government spends too much. Taxes are too high, too complex, and too riddled with special interest loopholes. And our expensive entitlement system is unsustainable in the long run.

Without significant change quickly, our nation will go the way of some in Europe: mired in debt and unable to pay our bills. President Obama and many in Washington seem unable or unwilling to tackle these issues, either out of fear of alienating the left or because they want Americans to be dependent on big government.

On Tuesday I will announce my “Cut, Balance and Grow” plan to scrap the current tax code, lower and simplify tax rates, cut spending and balance the federal budget, reform entitlements, and grow jobs and economic opportunity.

The plan starts with giving Americans a choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20% or their current income tax rate. The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents.

This simple 20% flat tax will allow Americans to file their taxes on a postcard, saving up to $483 billion in compliance costs. By eliminating the dozens of carve-outs that make the current code so incomprehensible, we will renew incentives for entrepreneurial risk-taking and investment that creates jobs, inspires Americans to work hard and forms the foundation of a strong economy. My plan also abolishes the death tax once and for all, providing needed certainty to American family farms and small businesses.

My plan restores American competitiveness in the global marketplace and provides strong incentives for U.S.-based employers to build new factories and create thousands of jobs here at home.

First, we will lower the corporate tax rate to 20%—dropping it from the second highest in the developed world to a rate on par with our global competitors. Second, we will encourage the swift repatriation of some of the $1.4 trillion estimated to be parked overseas by temporarily lowering the rate to 5.25%. And third, we will transition to a “territorial tax system”—as seen in Hong Kong and France, for example—that only taxes in-country income.

The mind-boggling complexity of the current tax code helps large corporations with lawyers and accountants devise the best tax-avoidance strategies money can buy. That is why Cut, Balance and Grow also phases out corporate loopholes and special-interest tax breaks to provide a level playing field for employers of all sizes.

To help older Americans, we will eliminate the tax on Social Security benefits, boosting the incomes of 17 million current beneficiaries who see their benefits taxed if they continue to work and earn income in addition to Social Security earnings.

We will eliminate the tax on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains to free up the billions of dollars Americans are sitting on to avoid taxes on the gain.

All of these tax cuts will be meaningless if we do not control federal spending. Last year the government spent $1.3 trillion more than it collected, and total federal debt now approaches $15 trillion. By the end of 2011, the Office of Management and Budget expects the gross amount of federal debt to exceed the size of America’s entire economy for the first time in over 65 years.

Under my plan, we will establish a clear goal of balancing the budget by 2020. It will be an extremely difficult task exacerbated by the current economic crisis and our need for significant tax cuts to spur growth. But that growth is what will get us to balance, if we are willing to make the hard decisions of cutting.

We should start moving toward fiscal responsibility by capping federal spending at 18% of our gross domestic product, banning earmarks and future bailouts, and passing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. My plan freezes federal civilian hiring and salaries until the budget is balanced. And to fix the regulatory excess of the Obama administration and its predecessors, my plan puts an immediate moratorium on pending federal regulations and provides a full audit of all regulations passed since 2008 to determine their need, impact and effect on job creation.

ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank and Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley must be quickly repealed and, if necessary, replaced by market-oriented, common-sense measures.

America must also once and for all face up to entitlement reform. To preserve benefits for current and near-term Social Security beneficiaries, my plan permanently stops politicians from raiding the program’s trust fund. Congressional IOUs are no substitute for workers’ Social Security payments. We should use the federal Highway Trust Fund as a model for protecting the integrity of a pay-as-you-go system.

Cut, Balance and Grow also gives younger workers the option to own their Social Security contributions through personal retirement accounts that Washington politicians can never raid. Because young workers will own their contributions, they will be free to seek a market rate of return if they choose, and to leave their retirement savings to their dependents when they die.

Fixing America’s tax, spending and entitlement cultures will not be easy. But the status quo of byzantine taxes, loose spending and the perpetual delay of entitlement reform is a recipe for disaster.

Cut, Balance and Grow strikes a major blow against the Washington-knows-best mindset. It takes money from spendthrift bureaucrats and returns it to families. It puts fewer job-killing regulations on employers and more restrictions on politicians. It gives more freedom to Americans to control their own destiny. And just as importantly, the Cut, Balance and Grow plan paves the way for the job creation, balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility we need to get America working again.

Mr. Perry, a Republican, is the governor of Texas and a candidate for president.

Campaign Buzz October 22, 2011: Republican Bobby Jindal Reelected Governor of Louisiana in State Gubernatorial Election

Campaign Buzz October 22, 2011: Republican Bobby Jindal Reelected Governor of Louisiana in State Gubernatorial Election

CAMPAIGN BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ

Gov. Bobby Jindal re-elected

Gov. Bobby Jindal re-elected

Saturday, October 22, 2011 10:07 PM

MICHAEL DeMOCKER / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal thanks supporters during his re-election victory party at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge on Saturday, October 22, 2011.

GOVERNORSHIPS CANMPAIGNS & ELECTIONS: LOUISIANA REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL WINS RE-ELECTION

Louisiana Gov. Jindal declares victory in election: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, seen as a rising star in the Republican Party, declared victory Saturday in his state’s gubernatorial election.
“You’ve chosen to give me another four years as your governor,” he told supporters less than an hour after polls closed. “We’ve got a lot more work to do over these next four years.”
Jindal had been viewed as a potential vice presidential contender in 2012 but has said he would serve out his term if re-elected…. – Reuters, 10-22-11

Gov. Bobby Jindal re-elected in landslide: Gov. Bobby Jindal rolled to easy re-election Saturday, defeating nine little-known and under-financed candidates in a record-setting landslide. Jindal’s total was hovering 68 percent on a day when turnout was considerably lighter than the 46.6 percent who voted in the 2007 statewide race, then the smallest turnout in the open gubernatorial primary era.
The outcome was so overwhelming that Jindal was able to deliver his victory speech a little more than 45 minutes after polls closed at 8 p.m…. – The Times-Picayune, 10-22-11

“Every time I run for governor the LSU Tigers win the national championship. I’m not putting any pressure on them. I’m just saying.
I am truly humbled, honored by the privilege you have bestowed on me.
Louisiana has made great strides in the last four years. Louisiana is on the move. Anything that happened wasn’t something I did. It was something we did as a state. … I mean all of us. I truly believe our best days are ahead of us. We’ve got a lot more work to do the next four years. I truly believe our best days are ahead of us. We’ve got a lot more work to do the next four years.” — Gov. Bobby Jindal

  • Jindal Wins Second Term as Governor of Louisiana: Gov. Bobby Jindal easily coasted to a second term on Saturday, winning in a landslide after failing to attract any well-known or deep-pocketed opposition. Mr. Jindal, 40, a Republican, overwhelmed nine competitors in the race…. – AP, 10-22-11
  • Jindal poised to claim re-election win in Louisiana governor’s race: Bobby Jindal appeared poised for victory Saturday night, as early results looked promising for his re-election bid to a second term as Louisiana’s Republican governor. “You’ve chosen me to be your governor,” Jindal told supporters Saturday … – CNN, 10-22-11
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal wins reelection: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) was easily reelected to a second term on Saturday avoiding a November runoff. Jindal was winning nearly 70 percent of the vote, according to the Associated Press, leading teacher Tara Hollis (D) among others. … – WaPo, 10-22-11
  • Louisiana Gov. Jindal wins re-election easily: Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has easily coasted to a second term, winning in a landslide election after failing to attract any well-known or deep-pocketed opposition.
    The 40-year-old son of immigrants from India overwhelmed nine competitors in the open primary Saturday. In Louisiana, a candidate wins the race outright if he or she receives more than 50 percent of the vote…. – CBS News, 10-22-11
  • As polls open in Louisiana, Jindal seen as shoo-in: Voters headed to the polls on Saturday in Louisiana, where Republican Governor Bobby Jindal was expected to easily win reelection without having to compete in a run-off vote. Polls were due to stay open until 8 pm, when Louisiana voters … – Reuters, 10-22-11
  • Jindal likely to win second term in Louisiana: Louisiana voters head to the polls Saturday in the state’s gubernatorial primary, an election Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal is widely expected to win. The state holds a nonpartisan blanket primary…. – CNN International, 10-22-11
  • Louisiana voters to wade through lengthy ballot: While Gov. Bobby Jindal is expected to coast to an easy re-election, lawmakers across the state are in tight contests with term-limited folks seeking to keep themselves in office by switching jobs and others long gone from the Legislature trying to … – WWL First News, 10-22-11
  • More candidates explain why they should be Governor: The race for governor includes nine candidates who are all trying to unseat current governor Bobby Jindal. In a recent poll those candidates combined getting less than ten percent. That compared to Jindal’s near 60 percent. … – WVLA-TV, 10-21-11
  • What’s on the ballot in Saturday’s elections: Despite a low-key contest for governor, the last few days of the fall campaign have picked up, and a higher than expected number of early votes cast may mean higher turnout Saturday for state and local elections…. – WWL, 10-20-11

White House Recap October 15-21, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Barack Obama’s Bus Tour to NC & VA Supporting the American Jobs Act — Obama Addresses Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dedication & Announces End of Iraq War & Return of All Troops

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: OCTOBER 15-21, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up: Bringing Home the Troops

Source: WH, 10-21-11

This week, the President traveled to Detroit with the President of South Korea, dedicated the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, embarked on a three day American Jobs Act bus tour, bestowed the Presidential Citizens Medal.

West Wing Week
Download Video: mp4 (202MB)

Home for the Holidays Friday afternoon the President announced that the remaining  troops in Iraq will be officially coming back home, thus ending the war in Iraq. “Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq—tens of thousands of them—will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home. The last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq—with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops. That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.”

Road Trip President Obama embarked on a three day bus tour to spread the word about the American Jobs Act. Starting the journey in Asheville, NC and ending in North Chesterfield, VA, he also made stops in Millers Creek, NC, Jamestown, NC, Emporia, VA and Hampton, VA.The President visited schools, an airport, a military base, and a fire station along the way all of which will benefit from the American Jobs Act. On the last day of the tour, the First Lady joined the President at Joint Base Langley-Eustis announcing a commitment from the private sector to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses. The jobs bill would put Americans back to work, upgrade our country’s infrastructure, and keep teachers and emergency responders on the job.

Citizens Award Tuesday in the East Room, the President honored 13 Americans with the Citizens Medal, one of the highest honors a civilian can receive. The award is given to Americans who have “performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.” The recipients chosen to receive this year’s medal were nominated by the public, and then carefully selected by the White House. Click here to learn more about the recipients and to watch a video showing their reactions to the news that they’d been chosen.

“We Will Overcome” Tens of thousands came to the National Mall Sunday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Dedication. President Obama, joined by the First Family, toured the memorial and then spoke at the dedication ceremony in honor of Dr. King’s work. During his speech, President Obama reminded us that the progress towards Dr. King’s vision has not come easily and there is still more to do to expand opportunity and make our nation more just:“We can’t be discouraged by what is.  We’ve got to keep pushing for what ought to be, the America we ought to leave to our children, mindful that the hardships we face are nothing compared to those Dr. King and his fellow marchers faced 50 years ago, and that if we maintain our faith, in ourselves and in the possibilities of this nation, there is no challenge we cannot surmount.”

MLB support U.S. Veterans As a part of their Joining Forces Initiative, the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, for Game One of the World Series to meet with military families and to recognize Major League Baseball’s support of those who serve and their families. Earlier that day, the First Lady announced at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia a commitment from the private sector to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses.

Cutting Waste As a part of the Campaign to Cut Waste, the White House recently updated the Excess Property map that uses new data to pinpoint the location and status of federal properties that agencies have targeted for closure and consolidation. Ending this waste and improving the management of the government’s real estate will save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

Full Text October 22, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address on Strong US World Leadership, the Death of Libyan Dictator Moammar Qaddafi & End of Iraq War

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama discusses how the death of Moammar Qadhafi in Libya and the announcement that troops from Iraq will return home by the end of the year are strong reminders that the United States has renewed its leadership in the world.

President Barack Obama tapes his Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 10/21/11

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Renewing America’s Global Leadership

In this week’s address, President Obama said that the death of Moammar Qadhafi in Libya and the announcement that troops from Iraq will return home by the end of the year are strong reminders that the United States has renewed its leadership in the world.  The role of our brave pilots and crews has given the Libyan people a chance to seek a democratic future for their children, and after a decade of war in Iraq, the United States is moving forward and focusing on strengthening the economy and security at home.  This is why the President is calling on Congress to pass the American Jobs Act to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, give working families a tax break, and put teachers back in our classrooms and cops on the beat.  We must bring the same sense of urgency to revitalizing our economy that our troops took to their fight, which is why President Obama is urging Republicans and Democrats to work together to pass the American Jobs Act now to put the American people back to work.

Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House October 22, 2011

This week, we had two powerful reminders of how we’ve renewed American leadership in the world.  I was proud to announce that—as promised—the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of this year.  And in Libya, the death of Moammar Qadhafi showed that our role in protecting the Libyan people, and helping them break free from a tyrant, was the right thing to do.

In Iraq, we’ve succeeded in our strategy to end the war.  Last year, I announced the end of our combat mission in Iraq.  We’ve already removed more than 100,000 troops, and Iraqi forces have taken full responsibility for the security of their own country.  Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, the Iraqi people have the chance to forge their own future.  And now the rest of our troops will be home for the holidays.

In Libya, our brave pilots and crews helped prevent a massacre, save countless lives, and give the Libyan people the chance to prevail.  Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives.  Soon, our NATO mission will come to a successful end even as we continue to support the Libyan people, and people across the Arab world, who seek a democratic future.

These successes are part of a larger story.  After a decade of war, we’re turning the page and moving forward, with strength and confidence.  The drawdown in Iraq allowed us to refocus on Afghanistan and achieve major victories against al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.  As we remove the last of our troops from Iraq, we’re beginning to bring our troops home from Afghanistan.

To put this in perspective, when I took office, roughly 180,000 troops were deployed in these wars.  By the end of this year that number will be cut in half, and an increasing number of our troops will continue to come home.

As we end these wars, we’re focusing on our greatest challenge as a nation—rebuilding our economy and renewing our strength at home.  Over the past decade, we spent a trillion dollars on war, borrowed heavily from overseas and invested too little in the greatest source of our national strength—our own people.  Now, the nation we need to build is our own.

We have to tackle this challenge with the same urgency and unity that our troops brought to their fight.  That’s why we have to do everything in our power to get our economy moving again.  That’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, so we can rebuild our country – our schools, our roads, our bridges – and put our veterans, construction workers, teachers, cops and firefighters back to work.   And that’s why I hope all of us can draw strength from the example of our men and women in uniform.

They’ve met their responsibilities to America.  Now it’s time to meet ours.  It’s time to come together and show the world why the United States of America remains the greatest source for freedom and opportunity that the world has ever known.

Full Text October 21, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech Announcing The End of the War in Iraq & the Pullout of all American Troops by the End of the Year

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Keeping his promise to responsibly end the war in Iraq, President Obama announces that our troops will be home from Iraq by the holidays.

President Obama on ending the war in Iraq President Obama delivers remarks on ending the war in Iraq, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 10/21/11

President Obama Has Ended the War in Iraq

Source: WH, 10-21-11

In 2008, in the height of the presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama made a promise to give our military a new mission: ending the war in Iraq.

As the election unfolded, he reiterated this pledge again and again — but cautioned that we would be “as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in.”

Last year, the President made progress toward achieving that goal. He brought an end to the combat mission in Iraq, and through the course of the past 14 months, more than 100,000 troops have returned to their families.

Now, that promise will be wholly fulfilled. Today, President Obama announced that the rest of our troops will be home by the holidays:

Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq—tens of thousands of them—will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home. The last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq—with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops. That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.

But this moment represents more than an accomplishment for the President. It marks a monumental change of focus for our military and a fundamental shift in the way that the our nation will engage in the world:

The United States is moving forward, from a position of strength. The long war in Iraq will come to an end by the end of this year. The transition in Afghanistan is moving forward, and our troops are finally coming home. As they do, fewer deployments and more time training will help keep our military the very best in the world. And as we welcome home our newest veterans, we’ll never stop working to give them and their families the care, the benefits, and the opportunities that they have earned.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on Ending the War in Iraq

 

Remarks by the President on Ending the War in Iraq

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

CORRECTION:  “Now, even as we remove our last troops from Iraq, we’re beginning to bring our troops home from Afghanistan, where we’ve begun a transition to Afghan security and leadership.”
12:49 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end — for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world.  After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011.

As Commander-in-Chief, ensuring the success of this strategy has been one of my highest national security priorities.  Last year, I announced the end to our combat mission in Iraq.  And to date, we’ve removed more than 100,000 troops.  Iraqis have taken full responsibility for their country’s security.

A few hours ago I spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki.  I reaffirmed that the United States keeps its commitments.  He spoke of the determination of the Iraqi people to forge their own future.  We are in full agreement about how to move forward.

So today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.  After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.

Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq — tens of thousands of them — will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home.  The last American soldier[s] will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops.  That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.

But even as we mark this important milestone, we’re also moving into a new phase in the relationship between the United States and Iraq.  As of January 1st, and in keeping with our Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq, it will be a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect.

In today’s conversation, Prime Minister Maliki and I agreed that a meeting of the Higher Coordinating Committee of the Strategic Framework Agreement will convene in the coming weeks.  And I invited the Prime Minister to come to the White House in December, as we plan for all the important work that we have to do together.  This will be a strong and enduring partnership.  With our diplomats and civilian advisors in the lead, we’ll help Iraqis strengthen institutions that are just, representative and accountable.  We’ll build new ties of trade and of commerce, culture and education, that unleash the potential of the Iraqi people.  We’ll partner with an Iraq that contributes to regional security and peace, just as we insist that other nations respect Iraq’s sovereignty.

As I told Prime Minister Maliki, we will continue discussions on how we might help Iraq train and equip its forces — again, just as we offer training and assistance to countries around the world.  After all, there will be some difficult days ahead for Iraq, and the United States will continue to have an interest in an Iraq that is stable, secure and self-reliant.  Just as Iraqis have persevered through war, I’m confident that they can build a future worthy of their history as a cradle of civilization.

Here at home, the coming months will be another season of homecomings.  Across America, our servicemen and women will be reunited with their families.  Today, I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays.

This December will be a time to reflect on all that we’ve been though in this war.  I’ll join the American people in paying tribute to the more than 1 million Americans who have served in Iraq.  We’ll honor our many wounded warriors and the nearly 4,500 American patriots — and their Iraqi and coalition partners — who gave their lives to this effort.

And finally, I would note that the end of war in Iraq reflects a larger transition.  The tide of war is receding.  The drawdown in Iraq allowed us to refocus our fight against al Qaeda and achieve major victories against its leadership — including Osama bin Laden.  Now, even as we remove our last troops from Iraq, we’re beginning to bring our troops home from Afghanistan, where we’ve begun a transition to Afghan security and leadership.  When I took office, roughly 180,000 troops were deployed in both these wars.  And by the end of this year that number will be cut in half, and make no mistake:  It will continue to go down.

Meanwhile, yesterday marked the definitive end of the Qaddafi regime in Libya.  And there, too, our military played a critical role in shaping a situation on the ground in which the Libyan people can build their own future.  Today, NATO is working to bring this successful mission to a close.

So to sum up, the United States is moving forward from a position of strength.  The long war in Iraq will come to an end by the end of this year.  The transition in Afghanistan is moving forward, and our troops are finally coming home.  As they do, fewer deployments and more time training will help keep our military the very best in the world.  And as we welcome home our newest veterans, we’ll never stop working to give them and their families the care, the benefits and the opportunities that they have earned.

This includes enlisting our veterans in the greatest challenge that we now face as a nation — creating opportunity and jobs in this country.  Because after a decade of war, the nation that we need to build — and the nation that we will build — is our own; an America that sees its economic strength restored just as we’ve restored our leadership around the globe.

Thank you very much.

END           12:55 P.M. ED

Full Text October 21, 2011: President Barack Obama Signs Trade Agreement Legislation with Korea, Colombia & Panama

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama Signs Historic Legislation Signaling Progress on Trade and Jobs

Source: WH, 10-21-11
President Barack Obama signs the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act

President Barack Obama signs the “United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act,” in the Oval Office, Oct. 21, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This morning, President Obama signed legislation implementing three job-supporting trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama. These trade agreements will help put Americans back to work and grow America’s economy.

At the same time, the President signed legislation renewing Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) that helps workers who have been hurt by increased global competition. He also signed legislation to renew trade preference programs that sustain the United States’ commitment to trade and economic development that lifts up some of the world’s poorest people.

With all the stories and speculation flying around the news these days, I know it’s hard to separate fact from fiction sometimes. So let me share three quick points that I hope will help you understand why this is good news for all American workers and families.

First, these agreements will increase U.S. exports and American jobs. The Korea agreement will support an estimated 70,000 U.S. jobs and increase U.S. GDP by at least $11 billion due to increased exports of goods alone. Chances are you’ll benefit from these agreements if you work for or with anyone who makes, grows, or provides goods and services to Korea, Colombia, or Panama. These agreements make it easier and more cost-effective to sell Made-in-the-USA products to consumers in each of these countries. In turn, increased exports of U.S. goods and services will support more and better jobs for farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, service providers, workers, and businesses all across the United States. And all three agreements have groundbreaking protections for labor rights, the environment, and intellectual property, so American workers and businesses will be able to compete on a level playing field.

Second, the President worked to improve these agreements when he came into office. All three faced significant opposition from Congress. But instead of surrendering to the status quo, the President told me to get to work. With Korea, he sent me back to the negotiating table to secure additional market access for U.S. automobile manufacturers. With Colombia, he stood firm on the principle that U.S. trade agreements must reflect American values, including respect for and protection of workers’ rights. And with Panama, he made sure that we addressed key concerns related to tax transparency and labor conditions. In each case, the President held out for a better, more balanced deal.

That brings me to the third and final point: President Obama also signed today legislation that strengthens and streamlines TAA, and renews key preference programs –- the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA). Both TAA and our preference programs are key elements of President Obama’s balanced approach to trade. TAA helps those workers whose jobs are displaced by trade by providing job re-training programs, lower health insurance premiums, and assistance that keeps families on their feet. And GSP and ATPA uphold our commitment to support trade and economic growth that lifts up some of the world’s poorest people while helping American businesses get inputs they need and American consumers.

It’s important to note that Congress approved these trade measures with significant support in record time. In fact, the Korea agreement received more recorded votes than any free trade agreement in history. I think that’s a good indication that the President’s principled and pragmatic leadership has created a more balanced trade policy –- one that holds the promise of open markets and a level playing field with increased U.S. exports and better American jobs for many years to come. And since President Obama has prioritized enforcement of America’s trade agreements since day one, Americans can also be assured that we’ll hold our trading partners accountable for their obligations moving forward.

President Obama’s historic action today is a big step forward on trade and jobs. We look forward to working with Congress and the American people to continue pursuing a balanced trade policy that keeps American producers competitive abroad and supports jobs for more hard-working Americans here at home.

Full Text October 20, 2011: President Barack Obama Honors 2011 Citizens Medal Recipients

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Honors 2011 Citizens Medal Recipients

Source: WH, 10-20-11
citizens medal ceremony

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 20, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama recognized the 13 recipients of the Presidential Citizens Medal, one of the highest honors a civilian can receive. The award is given to Americans who have “performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.” At a ceremony in the East Room, the President praised the honorees’ commitment to service:

The 13 Americans that we honor today have all faced that … moment when you see a neighbor in need and you have to ask yourself the question. They come from different backgrounds and they’ve devoted their lives to different causes, but they are united by the choice that they’ve made. They could have made excuses for doing nothing. Instead, they chose to help.

This year’s winners truly included Americans from all walks of life. John Keaveney, a Scottish immigrant, served two tours in Vietnam before coming back to establish a home for homeless and disabled veterans with addiction and mental health problems. Janice Langbehn of Lacey, Washington went to court to fight for hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples after being denied the chance to say goodbye as her partner of 18 years lay dying in a hospital.

Dr. Michelle Martin, a Los Angeles resident, founded an organization that connects kids in underserved communities with instruments and music lessons after watching gang members stop to watch a young boy play his violin at the farmer’s market. Roberto Perez is an ordained Methodist pastor who counsels inmates and is president of a nonprofit organization that has taught more than 7 million people to read worldwide.

The 13 people chosen to receive this year’s medal were nominated by the public, and then carefully selected by the White House. Click here to learn more about the recipients and to watch a video showing their reactions to the news they’d been chosen. President Obama explained that the nomination process was not an easy one:

I’m happy to say that there was a pretty stiff competition for these medals. Citizens … submitted nearly 6,000 nominations online, and it took us four months to select the winners.  In the end, these 13 individuals were chosen not just for the work they do, but for the example that they set.

The honorees, their families, and the people who nominated them attended the ceremony this afternoon, followed by a reception in the State Dining Room.

Remarks by the President at Presentation of the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medals

Remarks by the President at Presentation of the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medals

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at Presentation of 2011 Presidential Citizens Medals

East Room

2:25 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause.) Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the White House. This is one of my favorite events. We are here to recognize the winners of the Citizens Medal, one of the highest honors a civilian can receive. This is the second year the nomination process has been open to the public, and I notice that once again the women outnumber the men. (Laughter.) I’m beginning to see a pattern here.

You know, on Sunday, I helped dedicate the National Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. And this afternoon, as I’m spending time with these extraordinary people, I’m reminded of the fact that during the last speech that Dr. King ever gave, he retold the story of the Good Samaritan. And most of you know the story. We know it begins with a man lying injured on a road. And Dr. King said that the first people who saw him asked themselves, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” So they made excuses for not stopping. They said the man was faking his injury, or it wasn’t their problem.

But according to Dr. King, the Good Samaritan reversed the question. “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

The 13 Americans that we honor today have all faced in their own ways the moment that Dr. King described — that Good Samaritan moment when you see a neighbor in need and you have to ask yourself the question. They come from different backgrounds and they’ve devoted their lives to different causes, but they are united by the choice that they’ve made. They could have made excuses for doing nothing. Instead, they chose to help.

For many of them, a lifelong mission began with a small act of kindness. In 1987, a single mom and her child — her children — moved in across the street from Ida Martin. Ida saw their refrigerator was empty, except for a bottle of water, so she brought them groceries. And I guess once she got started, she couldn’t stop. (Laughter.) So last year, the organization she founded answered nearly 22,000 requests for aid.

Then there’s Milly Bloomquist, from Penn Yan, New York. And for decades, she has personified the phrase, “above and beyond.” At her 90th birthday party, one speaker said that Penn Yan has its own special system for handling emergencies. “If you’re out of food, call Milly. If your heat has gone out, call Milly. If you can’t pay your electricity bill, call Milly. If you need a winter coat, call Milly.”

The right choice is rarely the easy one. And for some of those we honor here today, the choice to help was especially hard because it came in the wake of tragedy. Steve and Liz Alderman lost their son Peter on 9/11. Roger Kemp’s daughter, Ali, was murdered nearly a decade ago. Janice Langbehn was denied the right to visit her partner, Lisa, as she lay dying in the hospital.

As a father and husband, I can’t begin to imagine the grief that they must have felt in that moment — their anger and their sense that the world was not fair. But they refused to let that anger define them. They each became, in Janice’s words, an “accidental activist.” And thanks to their work, there are parents and partners who will never have to go through what they went through.

Now, I’m happy to say that there was a pretty stiff competition for these medals. Citizens from all walks of life submitted nearly 6,000 nominations online, and it took us four months to select the winners. In the end, these 13 individuals were chosen not just for the work they do, but for the example that they set.

Over the past year, we’ve been reminded time and time again that our lives can be altered by events beyond our control. A tornado or a hurricane can devastate a community. An earthquake halfway around the world can threaten businesses here at home. An economic crisis that begins in one corner of the housing market can spread to leave millions of Americans out of work.

So we don’t always get to choose the challenges that we face. But how we respond is entirely up to us. We are each on that Good Samaritan road, the road that Dr. King spoke of more than 40 years ago. We can see that there are people who need our help. And while we come from different backgrounds, we all face the same, simple question: Will we help them, or will we not?

In some ways, in these difficult times, it’s easier than ever to walk on by. We can tell ourselves: “I’ve got enough problems of my own.” “I can’t make a big enough difference.” “If my neighbors are less fortunate, maybe it’s their fault.” But as Americans, that’s not who we are. Because while, yes, we are a nation of individuals, we’re also a community. I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper. That’s a creed we all share.

So this afternoon, I am proud to share the stage with these extraordinary citizens. I also know that for our government to truly honor them, we have to do more than hand out medals. We have to follow their example. And that won’t always be easy. As individuals, as communities, and as a country, we all face the temptation to find excuses not to help. In these decisive moments, then, we need to choose between doing something and doing nothing. And I hope we will remember the stories of these extraordinary men and women as we make that choice. I hope they inspire us to put ourselves in another person’s shoes. And I hope that years from now, when they retell the story of our time, they will say that we, too, lent a hand to our neighbor in need.

I should just point out that a few people — like Molly — when I said we could not be prouder of what they’ve accomplished, bristled a little bit and said, “I’m not done yet.” (Laughter.) So these guys are still out there making a difference. And they’ll be right there with us if we end up doing the right thing. All right?

So congratulations to all of the winners of the Citizens Medal. I’ve got some outstanding military aides here, and one of them is going to read the citations, one at a time, and then I’ll present a medal to each of the honorees. (Applause.)

(The citations are read and the medals are presented.)

MILITARY AIDE: The Presidential Citizens Medal recipients:

Stephen and Elizabeth Alderman: When Stephen and Elizabeth Alderman lost their youngest child, Peter, on September 11, 2001, they resolved to make his legacy one of peace. They established a foundation in Peter’s name to mend the emotional wounds of terrorism and mass violence. Together they have trained health workers around the world and provided trauma treatment to the people of post-conflict nations, giving a face to American compassion. The United States honors Stephen and Elizabeth Alderman for their work to replace hatred with hope and healing. (Applause.)

Clarence Lee Alexander: A dedicated patriot and conservationist, Clarence Lee Alexander has helped lead the charge in protecting the Yukon River Watershed. In addition to working to save our waterways, he has been instrumental in saving lives through the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments, which provides health care to some of the most remote villages in North America. He exemplifies the difference one person can make in preserving our natural resources and cherished traditions for the next generation of Americans. For his work to protect our precious national treasures, the United States honors Clarence Lee Alexander. (Applause.)

Camilla Bloomquist: Camilla Bloomquist’s mission to alleviate hunger in her community began more than 40 years ago, when she helped start a breakfast program at a local elementary school. Since then, she has founded Food for the Needy to provide assistance to the less fortunate, and Christmas for the Needy to supply families with food, gifts, toys, and coats during the holiday season. She has been a life-sustaining and legendary force in her community, and her efforts embody the enduring American spirit of generosity. The United States honors Milly Bloomquist for her extraordinary dedication to taking on poverty in our nation. (Applause.)

Dr. Judith Broder: After Dr. Judith Broder attended a play produced and performed by active duty Marines, she left the theatre with a new calling. Moved by the realistic portrayals of the traumas of war, she founded The Soldiers Project to help service members and their families address the overwhelming effects of service-related mental health issues. Today, Dr. Broder’s work supports the well-being of our nation’s heroes and ensures they have access to important mental health services. For answering the call to honor our troops and their families, the United States honors Dr. Judith Broder. (Applause.)

John Keaveney: After serving our country in Vietnam, John Keaveney faced setbacks that affect too many American veterans. With the help of a Department of Veterans Affairs program, he overcame addiction and homelessness, turned away from crime, and committed himself to providing a support system for others returning from war. He founded New Directions, and since 1992, has devoted himself to lifting up the lives of thousands of veterans in Los Angeles County. The United States honors John Keaveney for helping America fulfill its promise to serve our veterans as well as they have served us. (Applause.)

Roger Kemp: Roger Kemp lived every father’s worst nightmare when his daughter, Ali, was taken at a young age. Through immeasurable pain and grief, Roger devoted his energy to building a safer world for future generations. His foundation has provided women of all ages with valuable self-defense training, and his billboard campaign to post the faces of wanted criminals has led to multiple arrests, including the conviction of Ali’s killer. The United States honors Roger Kemp for his unwavering efforts to ensure the safety of his fellow citizens. (Applause.)

Janice Langbehn: Janice Langbehn transformed her own profound loss into a resounding call for compassion and equality. When the woman she loved, Lisa Pond, suddenly suffered a brain aneurysm, Janice and her children were denied the right to stand beside her in her final moments. Determined to spare others from similar injustice, Janice spoke out and helped ensure that same-sex couples can support and comfort each other through some of life’s toughest trials. The United States honors Janice Langbehn for advancing America’s promise of equality for all. (Applause.)

Ida Martin: When Ida Martin realized the needs of working families and senior citizens in her community were not being met, she took matters into her own hands. Out of her garage, she founded Bluffton Self Help to provide aid to community members in urgent need of food, clothing, and short-term assistance. Over 20 years later, she continues to be guided by her devotion to helping those who desire to help themselves, and her organization remains a vital resource for those in need. For her remarkable efforts on behalf of those less fortunate, the United States honors Ida Martin. (Applause.)

Dr. Margaret Martin: Believing in the notion that every child should have the chance to learn and grow through the power of music, Dr. Margaret Martin founded Harmony Project. For 10 years, she has provided free instruments and music lessons, and built neighborhood youth orchestras for some of the most underserved areas of Los Angeles. The United States honors Dr. Margaret Martin for shining a light on the tremendous talents and potential of young Americans and for empowering our children to reach for a brighter tomorrow. (Applause.)

Michelle McIntyre-Brewer: The wife of a soldier and mother of two, Michelle McIntyre-Brewer represents the best of our country. As an advocate for military families, she supports our men and women in uniform through numerous organizations, including Soldier’s List, which she founded in 2002 to send packages to thousands of deployed troops. Despite the many challenges she has faced in her own life, Michelle remains focused on her mission to improve the lives of others. For ensuring we uphold our obligation to those who defend our freedoms, the United States honors Michelle McIntyre-Brewer. (Applause.)

Roberto Perez: For more than four decades, Roberto Perez has dedicated his time and passion to bringing the gift of literacy to communities around the world. Through his leadership of Alfalit International, he has helped provide basic education opportunities to underserved youth and adults in 23 countries on three continents. From the barrios of Miami to the villages of Africa and the pueblos of South America, he has guided a force of more than 6,000 volunteers in delivering independence through education. For his caring spirit and dedication to serving others, the United States honors Roberto Perez. (Applause.)

Sujata and Nirmala Emani, accepting on behalf of their mother, Vijaya Emani: Breaking long-held taboos, Vijaya Emani lent her voice to protect Indian-American women from domestic violence. Taken from us far too soon, she was a trailblazer who shared her personal story to help other battered women overcome abusive relationships. With boundless energy and an insatiable drive to serve her community, she threw herself into numerous causes, from supporting single parents to honoring India’s cultural heritage. The United States honors Vijaya Emani for her many contributions to the people of Cleveland and our nation. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: What a remarkable group of Americans.

I want to thank all of you for joining us here today. All the friends and family who are here to celebrate our Citizens Medal winners, because I think that — not to speak for them, but I suspect they’d say that they couldn’t have done what they did without the incredible support of all the people who are here. The colleagues and the loved ones who submitted nominations online — I’m sure they’re appreciative. And obviously you made a pretty convincing case.

I think our honorees recognize that our work is not yet done. And so I just want to repeat, I hope that their incredible work ends up setting an example for all of us, both in public service and in our daily lives.

And I know that some folks today who are here also represent the Corporation for National and Community Service. Every day, you help Americans make their country a better place, and I want to thank all of you for your hard work.

So, with that, we’ve got, my understanding is, some pretty good food here — (laughter) — maybe even a little music — as we celebrate these extraordinary individuals. Please give them one more big round of applause. (Applause.)

END
2:37 P.M. EDT

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