Full Text February 13, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech as He Awards the 2011 National Medals of Arts and Humanities at the White House

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Awards the 2011 National Medals of Arts and Humanities at the White House

Source: WH, 2-13-12

President Barack Obama awards Robert Darnton a 2011 National Humanities Medal
President Barack Obama awards Robert Darnton, author and librarian, the National Humanities Medal for his determination to make knowledge accessible to everyone. President Obama awarded the 2011 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 13, 2012. 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The 2011 honorees of the National Medals of Arts and Humanities were at the White House today for an event that President Obama said he and First Lady Michelle Obama look forward to every single year. “It’s a moment when America has a chance to pay tribute to extraordinary men and women who have excelled in the arts and the humanities, and who, along the way, have left an indelible mark on American culture,” the President said before the ceremony in the East Room.

Today’s honorees represented the full spectrum of the arts and humanities, and included actors, poets, authors, singers, philosophers, sculptors, curators, musicians, historians and even an economist. President Obama praised the group for their contributions to the arts, and to American society:

You create new possibilities for all of us. And that’s a special trait.  And it assigns you a special task.  Because in moments of calm, as in moments of crisis; in times of triumph, as in times of tragedy:  you help guide our growth as a people.  The true power of the arts and the humanities is that you speak to everyone.  There is not one of us here who hasn’t had their beliefs challenged by a writer’s eloquence; or their knowledge deepened by a historian’s insights; or their sagging spirits lifted by a singer’s voice.  Those are some of the most endearing and memorable moments in our lives.

Equal to the impact you have on each of us every day as individuals is the impact you have on us as a society.  And we are told we’re divided as a people, and then suddenly the arts have this power to bring us together and speak to our common condition.

Mel Tillis shows off his 2011 National Medal of Arts
Performer Mel Tillis shows off his 2011 National Medal of Arts after being presented the award by President Barack Obama during a 2011 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 13, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

The full list of recipients is below:

2011 National Medal of Arts

  • Will Barnet
  • Rita Dove
  • Al Pacino
  • Emily Rauh Pulitzer
  • Martin Puryear
  • Mel Tillis
  • United Service Organization
  • André Watts

2011 National Humanities Medal

  • Kwame Anthony Appiah
  • John Ashbery
  • Robert Darnton
  • Andrew Delbanco
  • National History Day
  • Charles Rosen
  • Teofilo Ruiz
  • Ramón Saldívar
  • Amartya Sen

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at the 2011 National Medals of Arts and Humanities Ceremony

East Room

1:52 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  Hello, everybody.  (Applause.)   Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Thank you, everybody.  Please, please have a seat.  Thank you.

Thank you so much for joining us in this celebration of the arts and the humanities.  Two outstanding public servants and ambassadors for the arts are here:  Rocco Landesman.  Where’s Rocco?  There he is, right here — Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts.  And Jim Leach.  Where’s Jim?  Good to see you, Jim — the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

We also have two good friends and co-chairs of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities who are here:  Margo Lions and George Stevens.  And I also want to acknowledge one of our honorees who, unfortunately, could not make it.  Ever the artist, André Watts had a concert to give in Salt Lake City.  (Laughter.)  So give him a big round of applause in his absence.  (Applause.)

Michelle and I love this event.  This is something we look forward to every single year, because it’s a moment when America has a chance to pay tribute to extraordinary men and women who have excelled in the arts and the humanities, and who, along the way, have left an indelible mark on American culture.  That’s all the honorees we see here today.  We honor your talents, we honor your careers, and your remarkable contributions to this country that we love.

Throughout our history, America has advanced not only because of the will of our citizens, not only because of the vision of our leaders or the might of our military.  America has also advanced because of paintings and poems, stories and songs; the dramas and the dances that provide us comfort and instilled in us confidence; inspired in us a sense of mutual understanding, and a calling to always strive for a more perfect union.

Emily Dickinson wrote, “I dwell in possibility.”  “I dwell in possibility.”  And so does the American spirit.  That’s who we are as a people.  And that’s who our honorees are.  Each of you have traveled a unique path to get here.  And your fields represent the full spectrum of the arts and humanities.  With us are actors and poets, authors, singers, philosophers, sculptors, curators, musicians, and historians.  We even have an economist, which we don’t always get on stage.  (Laughter.)

But what connects every one of you is that you dwell in possibilities.  You create new possibilities for all of us.
And that’s a special trait.  And it assigns you a special task.  Because in moments of calm, as in moments of crisis; in times of triumph, as in times of tragedy:  you help guide our growth as a people.  The true power of the arts and the humanities is that you speak to everyone.  There is not one of us here who hasn’t had their beliefs challenged by a writer’s eloquence; or their knowledge deepened by a historian’s insights; or their sagging spirits lifted by a singer’s voice.  Those are some of the most endearing and memorable moments in our lives.

Equal to the impact you have on each of us every day as individuals is the impact you have on us as a society.  And we are told we’re divided as a people, and then suddenly the arts have this power to bring us together and speak to our common condition.

Recently, I’ve been reminded of Walt Whitman’s famous poem “I Hear America Singing.”  And it’s a poem that with simple eloquence spotlights our diversity and our spirit of rugged individualism — the messy, energized, dynamic sense of what it is to be an American.  And Whitman lifts up the voices of mechanics and carpenters; masons and boatmen; shoemakers, wood-cutters; the mother and the young wife at work, “each singing what belongs to him or her, and to none else.”

And it’s true that we all have songs in our souls that are only ours.  We all have a unique part in the story of America.  But that story is bigger than any one of us.  And it endures because we are all heirs to a fundamental truth:  that out of many, are one — this incredible multitude.
I hear America singing today.  I hear America singing through the artists and the writers that we honor this afternoon; the men and women who are following in the footsteps of Whitman and Hemingway, and Souza and Armstrong, and Eakins and Rockwell. But I also hear America singing through the artists and writers who will be sitting here a few decades from now with another President; the students in Denver who recently wrote a play about teenage homelessness; or the kids in Grand Rapids who designed a mural to bring joy to a struggling community.  They’re singing what Whitman called “strong melodious songs.”

And somewhere in America, the next great writer is wrestling with the first draft of an English paper.  (Laughter.)  Somewhere the next great actor is mustering up the courage to try out for that school play.  Somewhere the next great artist is doodling on their homework.  Somewhere the next great thinker is asking their teacher, “why not?”  They’re out there right now dwelling in possibility.

So as we honor the icons of today, we also have to champion the icons of tomorrow.  They need our support; we need them to succeed.  We need them to succeed as much as we need engineers and scientists.  We also need artists and scholars.  We need them to take the mantle from you; to do their part to disrupt our views and to challenge our presumptions, and most of all to stir in us a need to be our better selves.

The arts and the humanities do not just reflect America.  They shape America.  And as long as I am President, I look forward to making sure they are a priority for this country.  (Applause.)

It is now my distinct privilege to present these medals to the award winners who we have here today.  And as the citations are read, I’m sure you’ve gotten extensive instructions from our military aides.  (Laughter.)

MILITARY AIDE:  The National Medal of Arts recipients:

Will Barnet.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Medal of Arts to Will Barnet for his contributions as an American painter, printmaker, and teacher.  Widely celebrated for a lifelong exploration of abstraction, expressionism, and geometry that marry sophistication and emotion with beauty and form, Mr. Barnet has been a constant force in the visual arts world.  (Applause.)

Rita Dove.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Medal of Arts to Rita Dove for her contributions to American letters and her service as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1993 to 1995. Through works that blend beauty, lyricism, critique, and politics, Ms. Dove has illuminated American poetry and literature, and cultivated popular interest in the arts.  (Applause.)

Al Pacino.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Medal of Arts to Al Pacino for his iconic contributions to American film and theater as actor and director.  Recognized around the world for his signature intensity of the silver screen, Mr. Pacino stands among America’s most accomplished artists.  (Applause.)

Emily Rauh Pulitzer.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Medal of Arts to Emily Rauh Pulitzer for her contributions as a curator, art collector, and philanthropist.  The founder of the Pulitzer Prize for the Arts, Mrs. Pulitzer has broadened the impact of the arts in our national life by bringing great works into the public sphere.  (Applause.)

Martin Puryear.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Medal of Arts to Martin Puryear for his reflections on history, culture and identity through sculpture.  Mr. Puryear’s mastery of wood, stone and metal, and his commitment to manual skill offer a stirring counterpoint to an increasingly digital world.  (Applause.)

Mel Tillis.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Medal of Arts to Mel Tillis for his contributions to country music.  With over 1,000 songs and more than 60 albums to his name, Mr. Tillis’s unique blend of warmth and humor distinguishes him as one of the most inventive singer-songwriters of his generation.  (Applause.)

Accepting on behalf of the USO, United Service Organizations, Sloan Gibson.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Medal of Arts to United Service Organizations for lifting the spirits of service members and their families through the arts.  The USO continues to support members of our armed forces by bringing iconic American artists to share the sights and sounds of home with troops stationed around the world.  (Applause.)

The National Humanities Medal recipients:

Kwame Anthony Appiah.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to Kwame Anthony Appiah for his contributions to philosophy and the pursuit of truth in the contemporary world.  Dr. Appiah’s writing within and beyond his academic discipline sheds light on the idea of the individual in an era of globalization and evolving group identities.  (Applause.)

John Ashbery.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to John Ashbery for his contributions to American letters. One of the New York School of Poets, his work has profoundly influenced generation of writers and garnered awards spanning the Pulitzer Prize to the Grand Prix de Biennales Internationales de Poésie.  (Applause.)

Robert Darnton.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to Robert Darnton for his commitment to making knowledge accessible to everyone.  An eminent cultural historian and librarian, Dr. Darnton has illuminated the world of Enlightenment and Revolutionary France, and has pursued his vision for a national library of digitized books.  (Applause.)

Andrew Delbanco.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to Andrew Delbanco for his insight into the American character, past and present.  In writing that spans the literature of Melville and Emerson to contemporary issues in higher education, he has continually informed our understanding of what is means to live in America.  (Applause.)

Accepting on behalf of National History Day, Cathy Gorn.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to National History Day for sparking passion for history in students across our country.  Every year National History Day inspires more than half a million young Americans to write, perform, research, and document the human story.  (Applause.)

Charles Rosen.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to Charles Rosen for his contributions as a pianist and a scholar.  Demonstrating a rare ability to join artistry to the history of culture and ideas, his writings on Classical composers and the Romantic tradition highlight how music evolves and remains a vibrant, living art.  (Applause.)

Teofilo F. Ruiz.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to Teofilo F. Ruiz for his outstanding scholarship in history.  An accomplished teacher and author, Dr. Ruiz has captivated students and scholars by deepening our knowledge of medieval Spain and Europe, and exploring the role terror has played in society for centuries.  (Applause.)

Ramón Saldívar.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to Ramón Saldívar for his bold exploration of identity along the border separating the United States and Mexico.  In his studies of Chicano literature and the development of the novel in Europe and America, Dr. Saldívar highlights the cultural and literary markings that divide and unite us.  (Applause.)

Amartya Sen.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to Amartya Sen for his insights into the causes of poverty, famine, and injustice.  By applying philosophical thinking to questions of policy, he has changed how standards of living are measured and increased our understanding of how to fight hunger. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Let’s give a big hand to our award winners today.  (Applause.)

Well, we are just blessed to have this incredible array of talent and inspiration with us here today.  We are so glad we had the opportunity to make this small gesture of appreciation and thanks to all that you have contributed to us.

Each and every day you continue to inform who we are as a people, and we could not be prouder of everything that you’ve done, and we know you’ve got a lot more to do, so keep at it.

In the meantime, for everybody who is gathered here today, we have a wonderful reception.  So please enjoy.  The food is usually pretty good around here.  (Laughter.)  The music is even better.  I think the Marine Band will probably be out there playing a few tunes.  And again, we are very thankful to all the honorees here today for everything that you’ve done for our country.  Congratulations.  (Applause.)

END
2:16 P.M. EST

Full Text February 13, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Unveils 2013 Budget a Blueprint for an America Built to Last — Transcript

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the FY 2013 Budget (February 13, 2012)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks to students on the FY 2013 Budget at the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), Annandale, Va., campus, Feb. 13, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Obama budget: National debt will be $1 trillion higher in a decade than previously forecast:

President Obama on Monday unveiled a $3.8 trillion spending plan that seeks to pump billions of dollars into the economy while raising taxes on the rich to tame a soaring national debt now projected to grow significantly faster than previously forecast.

The president’s outlook for debt reduction has deteriorated markedly since September, when Obama told Congress that his proposals would hold annual deficits well under $600 billion after next year and permit the debt held by outside investors to rise to $17.7 trillion by 2021, or 73 percent of the overall economy.

The new 10-year blueprint shows annual deficits exceeding $600 billion every year except 2018. And the portion of the debt held by outside investors would grow to $18.7 trillion by 2021, or 76.5 percent of the economy — a full $1 trillion higher. — WaPo, 2-13-12

Obama Projects Lower Deficit by Taxing Rich: President Obama projected a deficit below $1 trillion and called for raising $1.5 trillion over 10 years by taxing the wealthiest and closing loopholes…. – NYT, 2-13-12

President Obama’s 2013 Budget is a Blueprint for an America Built to Last

Source: WH, 2-13-12

President Obama traveled to Annadale in northern Virginia this morning to talk about his budget for the 2013 fiscal year — and how it will boost job creation to speed our economic recovery.

A core set of themes helps to define this budget, and in talking to the crowd, the President laid out those ideas:

[An] economy built to last demands that we keep doing everything we can to help students learn the skills that businesses are looking for. It means we have to keep strengthening American manufacturing. It means we’ve got to keep investing in American energy. We’ve got to double down on the clean energy that’s creating jobs. But it also means we’ve got to renew the American values of fair play and shared responsibility.

To help reflect that shared responsibility, the President is proposing a new set of reforms that guarantees that millionaires don’t pay a lower rate in taxes than the middle class. He said:

Right now, we’re scheduled to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was intended to be a temporary tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. We’ve already spent about that much. Now we’re scheduled to spend another trillion. Keep in mind, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. You’ve heard me say it — Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. That’s not fair.  It doesn’t make sense at a time when we’ve got to pull together to get the country moving.

If you want to read the complete budget, you can download the PDF, or get a copy for your Barnes & Noble Nook. We’ll have a version for Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks soon.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on the Budget

Northern Virginia dale, Virginia

11:12 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Virginia!  Thank you, NOVA!  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Everybody who has a chair please have a seat.  I know not everybody has a chair.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Laughter.)  Great to be here.

First of all, I want to thank Mike for the wonderful introduction.  Please give Mike a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

It is great to be back here at NOVA.  I’ve been here so many times I’m about three credits short of graduation.  (Laughter.)  But there are a couple of reasons that I keep on coming back.  First of all, I think that Dr. Templin and the whole administration here is doing a great job, so I want to give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  The other reason is because Jill Biden keeps talking up how great you are.  And just as I do what Michelle tells me to do, I also do what Jill Biden tells me to do.  (Laughter.)

In addition, by the way, I just want to acknowledge that we also have our Secretary of Labor here, Hilda Solis, who’s doing an outstanding job.  (Applause.)

But the main reason I keep on coming back is I think this institution is an example of what’s best about America.  Some of you may have your eye on a four-year college.  Some of you may be trying to learn new skills that could lead to a new job, like Mike, or a job that pays more, gives you more opportunity.  But all of you are here because you believe in yourselves, you believe in your ability, you believe in the future of this country.  And that’s something that inspires me and you guys should take great pride in.

Now, the truth is, the skills and training you get here will be the best tools you have to achieve the American promise — the promise that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.

And the defining issue of our time is how to keep this promise alive today — for everybody.  Because we’ve got a choice:  We can settle for a country where a few people do really, really well, and everybody else struggles to get by.  Or we can restore an economy where everybody gets a fair shot, everybody does their fair share, everybody plays by the same set of rules — from Washington to Wall Street to Main Street.  That’s the America we believe in.  (Applause.)

Now, we’re still recovering from one of the worst economic crises in three generations.  We’ve got a long way to go before everybody who wants a good job can find one; before middle-class Americans regain that sense of security that’s been slipping away for too long — long before the recession hit.

But over the last 23 months, we’ve added 3.7 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  American manufacturers are creating jobs for the first time since the 1990s.  The economy is growing stronger.  The recovery is speeding up.  And the last thing we can afford to do right now is to go back to the very policies that got us into this mess in the first place.  We can’t afford it.  (Applause.)  The last thing we need is for Washington to stand in the way of America’s comeback.  (Applause.)

Now, what does that mean concretely?  For starters, Congress needs to stop taxes from going up on 160 million Americans by the end of this month.  And if they don’t act, that’s exactly what will happen.  (Applause.)  Congress needs to pass an extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance without drama, and without delay, and without linking it to some other ideological side issues.

We’ve been through this before, remember?  We’ve seen this movie.  We don’t need to see it again.  The time for self-inflicted wounds to our economy has to be over.  Now is the time for action.  Now is the time for all of us to move forward.

But preventing a tax hike on the middle class — that’s only the beginning, that’s just starters.  In the State of the Union, I outlined a blueprint for an economy that is built to last -– an economy built on new manufacturing, and new sources of energy, and new skills and education for the American people.

Today, we’re releasing the details of that blueprint in the form of next year’s budget.  And don’t worry, I will not read it to you.  (Laughter.)  It’s long and a lot of numbers.  But the main idea in the budget is this:  At a time when our economy is growing and creating jobs at a faster clip, we’ve got to do everything in our power to keep this recovery on track.

Part of our job is to bring down our deficit.  And if Congress adopts this budget, then along with the cuts that we’ve already made, we’ll be able to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion by the year 2022 — $4 trillion.  I’m proposing some difficult cuts that, frankly, I wouldn’t normally make if they weren’t absolutely necessary.  But they are.  And the truth is we’re going to have to make some tough choices in order to put this country back on a more sustainable fiscal path.

By reducing our deficit in the long term, what that allows us to do is to invest in the things that will help grow our economy right now.  We can’t cut back on those things that are important for us to grow.  We can’t just cut our way into growth. We can cut back on the things that we don’t need, but we also have to make sure that everyone is paying their fair share for the things that we do need.

We need to restore American manufacturing by ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, giving them to companies that are creating jobs right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  That’s something that everybody should agree on.

We need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by ending the subsidies for oil companies, and doubling down on clean energy that generates jobs and strengthens our security.  (Applause.)

And to make sure our businesses don’t have to move overseas to find skilled workers, we’ve got to invest in places like NOVA, and make sure higher education is affordable for every hardworking American.  (Applause.)

That’s what I want to focus on today — what we need to do in terms of higher education, and community colleges in particular.  Employers today are looking for the most skilled, educated workers.  I don’t want them to find them in India or China.  I want businesses to find those workers right here, in the United States.  The skills and training that employers are looking for begins with the men and women who educate our children.

All of us can point to a teacher who’s made a difference in our lives — and I know I can.  So I want this Congress to give our schools the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best teachers.  And in return, they also need to give schools the flexibility to stop just teaching to the test, and replace teachers who aren’t helping kids learn.  That’s something that we can do.  (Applause.)

So making sure we’ve got the most skilled workers starts early.  It starts with K-12 — it starts before K-12, making sure every child is prepared.  And when an American of any age wants to pursue any kind of higher education — whether it’s that high school grad who’s just trying to get that first couple years of college education, or somebody like Mike who’s in the process of retraining — whether it’s two years or four years or more, we’ve got to make sure that education is affordable and available to everybody who wants to go.

Now, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling this July.  That’s pretty important. (Applause.)  That’s in our budget.  We’re saying to Congress, now is not the time to make school more expensive for young people.  And they can act right now to make that change.

They also need to take the tuition tax credit that my administration put in the budget over these last few years -– a tax credit that saves families thousands of dollars on tuition -– and we need to make that permanent.  It shouldn’t be temporary, it should be permanent.  (Applause.)

So between the increases we’ve provided in Pell grants, these tax credits, keeping interest rates low — all that is going to help.  And millions of students across the country have benefitted from that.  But students and taxpayers can’t just keep on subsidizing skyrocketing tuition — we’re going to run out of money.  So that’s why I’ve asked states and colleges to do their part to keep costs down.

We’re putting colleges and universities on notice:  You can’t just keep on raising tuition and expect us to keep on coming up with more and more money.  Because tuition inflation has actually gone up even faster than health care.  That’s hard to do.  (Laughter.)

So what we’re saying to states, colleges and universities — if you can’t stop tuition from going up, then funding you get from taxpayers will go down.  Because higher education cannot be a luxury; it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.  That’s part of the American promise in the 21st century.  (Applause.)

So that’s what we need to do to get more Americans ready for the jobs of the future.  But what about the jobs that are open today?  I talked about this at the State of the Union.  There are millions of jobs open right now, and there are millions of people who are unemployed.  And the question is how do we match up those workers to those jobs?  What about the companies that are looking to hire right now?

I hear from business leaders all the time who want to hire in the United States, but at the moment, they cannot always find workers with the right skills.  Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do those jobs.  Think about that.  At a time when millions of Americans are looking for work, we shouldn’t have any job openings out there.  They should all be getting filled up.

Here in America, we’ve got the best workers and some of the fastest-growing companies in the world.  There’s no reason we can’t connect the two.  And places like NOVA are proving that we know how to do it.  This institution proves we know how to do it. (Applause.)

So let’s say you are a single parent, or a returning veteran, or somebody who just wants a shot at a better-paying job.  You’re a hard worker, you’re a fast learner, you’re motivated.  You know there are companies looking to hire.  You just need to figure out how to acquire some of the specific skills, the specialized skills that the companies need, and you need to figure that out as quickly as possible -– hopefully without taking on tons of debt.

Everybody in America should be able to get those skills at a community college like NOVA.  And companies looking to hire should be able to count on these schools to provide them with a steady stream of workers qualified to fill those specific jobs.

That’s why Mike was sharing his story.  As Mike mentioned, he worked in the mortgage and real estate industry for 10 years, but when business declined after 9/11, he decided to start over. So he began selling building materials.  Then the bottom fell out of the housing market, so Mike had to start all over again.  He’s got a knack for computers.  So he figured he’d try a career in cybersecurity, where there is a lot of hiring — that is going to be a growth industry.

Luckily for Mike, NOVA is home to a program called CyberWatch.  So he signed up — even though he’s driving a limo on the side, he’s still got to pay the bills.  So he’s working while going to school.  But in December, Mike earned two certificates — and, by the way, finished with a 4.0.  So we’re proud of that.  (Applause.)   Now he’s working towards his Associate’s degree.  And when he graduates, Mike will have access to a network of over 40 companies and government agencies to help him find a job.

So we need more stories like Mike’s.  That’s why my administration is helping community colleges redesign training programs, so students can learn the skills that are most in demand in industries like health care sciences and advanced manufacturing.  And that’s why we’re making a national commitment to train 2 million Americans with skills they need to get a job right now, or start their own business right now.  (Applause.)

We’ve lined up more companies that want to help.  We’ve already got model partnerships between major businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte and Orlando and Louisville — they’re already up and running.  We know how they work.  And that’s why I’ve asked Dr. Biden Secretary Solis to take a bus tour through several states, including Ohio and Kentucky and North Carolina, to highlight businesses and community colleges that are working together to train workers for careers that are in demand right now.  We’ve got to make these examples a model for the entire nation.

And we also need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers — places where folks can learn the skills that local business are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.  This should be an engine of job growth all across the country, these community colleges, and that’s why we’ve got to support them.  That’s why it’s such a big priority.  (Applause.)

So an economy built to last demands that we keep doing everything we can to help students learn the skills that businesses are looking for.  It means we have to keep strengthening American manufacturing.  It means we’ve got to keep investing in American energy.  We’ve got to double down on the clean energy that’s creating jobs.  But it also means we’ve got to renew the American values of fair play and shared responsibility.

The budget that we’re releasing today is a reflection of shared responsibility.  It says that if we’re serious about investing in our future and investing in community colleges, and investing in new energy technology, and investing in basic research, well, we’ve got to pay for it.  And that means we’ve got to make some choices.

Right now, we’re scheduled to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was intended to be a temporary tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.  We’ve already spent about that much.  Now we’re scheduled to spend another trillion.  Keep in mind, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households.  You’ve heard me say it — Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.  That’s not fair.  It doesn’t make sense at a time when we’ve got to pull together to get the country moving.

I don’t need a tax break.  We don’t need to be providing additional tax cuts for folks who are doing really, really, really well.  Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans?  Or do we want to keep investing in everything else — education, clean energy, a strong military, care for our veterans?  We can’t do both — we can’t afford it.

Some people go around, they say, well, the President is engaging in class warfare.  That’s not class warfare.  That’s common sense.  That’s common sense.  (Applause.)  Asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary when it comes to his tax rate — that’s just common sense.  Because Warren Buffet is doing fine, I’m doing fine.  We don’t need the tax breaks.  You need them.  (Applause.)  You’re the ones who see your wages stall.  You’re the one whose costs of everything from college to groceries has gone up.  You’re the ones who deserve a break.

And we don’t begrudge success in America; we aspire to it.  Everybody here — I want everybody here to go out there and do great.  I want you to make loads of money if you can.  That’s wonderful.  And we expect people to earn it — study hard, work hard for it.  So we don’t envy the wealthy.  But we do expect everybody to do their fair share, so that everybody has opportunity, not just some.

And given where our deficit is, it’s just a matter of math that folks like me are going to have to do a little bit more.  Because Americans understand if I get a tax break I don’t need and the country can’t afford, then one of two things is going to happen:  Either that means we have to add to our deficit, or it means you’ve got to pay for it.  It means a senior has got to pay for it, in terms of suddenly their Medicare benefits are costing more.  It means a student suddenly sees their interest rates go up higher at a time when they can’t afford it.  It means a family that’s struggling to get by is having to do more because I’m doing less.

That’s not right.  It’s not who we are.  Each of us is here only because somebody, somewhere, felt a responsibility to each other and to our country’s future.  That’s why they made investments in places like NOVA.

Here in America, the story has never been about what we can do just by ourselves; it’s about what we can do together.  It’s about believing in our future, and the future of our country.  You believe in that future.  That’s why you’re working hard. That’s why you’re putting in the long hours.  That’s why Mike is doing what he’s doing.  Some of you are balancing a job at the same time as you’re going to school.  You’re scrimping and scratching to make sure that you can pay tuition here.  You know that doing big things isn’t easy, but you haven’t given up.

That’s the spirit we’ve got to have right now.  We don’t give up in this country.  We look out for each other.  We pull together.  We work hard.  We reach for new opportunities.  We pull each other up.  That’s who we are.  (Applause.)  And if we work together in common purpose, we will build an economy that lasts, and remind people around the world why America is the greatest country on Earth.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
11:35 A.M. EST

The 2013 Budget

Source: WH, 2-13-12

Ed. Note: This has been cross-posted from the OMB blog

Earlier today, the President sent to Congress his budget for the 2013 fiscal year. This year’s budget reflects the President’s firm belief that our country has always done best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. It’s a document built around the recognition that this is a make or break moment for the middle class and those trying to reach it. What’s at stake is the very survival of the basic American promise that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, and put a little away for retirement.

The Budget continues our commitment to keeping that promise alive by creating an economy that’s built to last – with good jobs that pay well and security for the middle class.

It’s a commitment that starts with jumpstarting job creation so that our economic recovery quickens and more Americans are able to get back to work. The Budget proposes more than $350 billion in short-term measures for job growth starting this year. These proposals include the extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance benefits for rest of 2012; an upfront investment of $50 billion from the surface transportation reauthorization bill for roads, rails, and runways to create thousands of quality jobs in the short term; continuing to allow businesses to write-off the full amount of new investments; and $30 billion to modernize at least 35,000 schools, and $30 billion to help states and localities retain and hire teachers and first responders.

Building an economy that is built to last also requires that we transform our economy from one focused on speculating, spending, and borrowing to one constructed on the solid foundation of educating, innovating, and building. We need to make America the place with the highest-skilled, highest-educated workers; the most advanced transportation and communications networks; and cutting-edge research that will lead to the innovations and industries of tomorrow.  To get us there, the Budget targets resources to the areas critical to growing the economy and restoring middle-class security: education and skills for American workers, innovation and research and development, clean energy, and infrastructure.

It begins with giving our students and workers the education and training they need to take the jobs of today and tomorrow. The Budget includes $850 million for Race to the Top, and $300 million in new resources to improve child care quality and prepare children for success in school. It makes college more affordable and helps achieve the President’s goal of the U.S. leading the world in college graduates by 2020 by sustaining maximum Pell Grant award; prevents student loan rates from doubling this summer; doubles the number of work-study jobs over next five years; makes permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit; and creates news incentives for colleges to keep tuition rates under control. The Budget also supports State and community college partnerships with businesses to build the skills of American workers, and creates a Pathways Back to Work Fund, which will support summer and year-round jobs for low-income youth, and will help connect the long-term unemployed and low-income adults to subsidized employment and work-based training opportunities.

The Budget also invests in American innovation — especially clean energy — and manufacturing to create good jobs and more goods stamped “Made in America.”  For example, it includes more than $140 billion for R&D overall (including $2.2 billion for advanced manufacturing R&D), increases the level of investment in non-defense R&D by 5 percent from the 2012 level even as overall budgets decline, and maintains the President’s commitment to doubling the budgets of three key basic research agencies – the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and National Institute of Standards and Technology Laboratories. Also included are proposals to support the President’s goal of doubling share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035 and reducing buildings’ energy use by 20 percent by 2020.

To create thousands of jobs and modernize a critical foundation of our economic growth, the Budget also invests in a 21st century infrastructure. These investments include a six-year, $476 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill that’s expanded to included inter-city passenger rail, and that is fully paid for through current user-financed mechanisms and savings from ending the war in Iraq and winding down operations in Afghanistan. They also include the creation of a National Infrastructure Bank to fund projects of national importance, and the building of a next-generation, wireless broadband network.

Of course, even as we invest in the areas critical to creating an economy that’s built to last, we also have to reduce our deficit and bring down the debt. That’s why the Budget lives within very tight spending caps that reduce discretionary spending by $1 trillion over the next 10 years and, including that amount, has more than $4 trillion of balanced deficit reduction. In fact, discretionary spending in this Budget is reduced from 8.7 percent of GDP in 2011 to 5.0 percent in 2022. And by 2018, we cut the deficit to less than 3 percent of GDP, and stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio. For every $1 in new revenue from those making more than $250,000 per year and from closing corporate loopholes, the Budget has $2.50 in spending cuts including the deficit reduction enacted over the last year.

Achieving this type of deficit reduction in a balanced way requires asking all American to shoulder their fair share of the burden – and that’s what this Budget does.

Deficit Reduction Chart Budget 2013

For example, the Budget calls for tax reform that cuts the deficit by $1.5 trillion, including the expiration of the high-income 2001 and 2003 tax cuts; eliminates inefficient and unfair tax breaks for millionaires while making all tax breaks at least as good for the middle class as for the wealthy; and observes the Buffett Rule that no household making more than $1 million a year pays less than 30 percent of their income in taxes. It also calls on the largest financial institutions to fully compensate taxpayers for their extraordinary support by continuing to support a $61 billion Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee, which will offset cost of TARP and the President’s mortgage refinancing program.

The Budget implements the new defense strategy to spend $487 billion less in the Department of Defense’s base budget than was planned in last year’s Budget. This will bring the overall defense budget, including overseas contingency operations, 5 percent below last year’s enacted level.

We’ve also identified areas of the Budget to eliminate wasteful spending or improve efficiency. In fact, the Budget proposes scores of cuts and consolidations across the Federal government, including more than $7.5 billion in administrative savings. Beyond these cuts, the Budget creates more than $360 billion in savings to Medicare, Medicaid, and other health programs over 10 years to make these programs more effective and efficient and move our health system to one that rewards high-quality medicine. And it also saves $270 billion in non-health mandatory spending through reforms in areas like agriculture, federal civilian worker retirement, and the PBGC.

These deficit-reduction measures, paired with critical investments in priorities like education, innovation, and infrastructure, serve as a blueprint for building an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded. And in the weeks and months ahead, the Administration stands ready to partner with both sides of Capitol Hill to put this blueprint to work.

The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2013

Full Text February 13, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama’s CNN Op-ed for Let’s Move! 2nd Anniversary “Changing the Conversation on Healthy Eating”

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Michelle Obama: Changing the Conversation on Healthy Eating

Source: WH, 2-13-12

First Lady Michelle Obama Olive Garden Dinner

First Lady Michelle Obama holds a roundtable dinner discussion at an Olive Garden restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 9, 2012. Mrs. Obama met with the parents to hear their ideas on how Let’s Move! can continue to support families across the country. In September 2011, Darden, the world’s largest full service restaurant company which owns Olive Garden, made a commitment to improve their kids menus by offering a fruit or vegetable and low-fat milk with every meal, as well as reduce total calories and sodium across their menus. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

Back when we first launched Let’s Move! — a nationwide initiative to end our childhood obesity epidemic — in the back of my mind, I wondered whether it was really possible to make a difference.

I knew how serious this problem is. Nearly one in three of our children are overweight or obese, at risk for illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer that cost our economy billions of dollars each year to treat.

I also knew the conventional wisdom on this issue. There’s the assumption that kids don’t like healthy food, so why try to feed it to them? There’s the belief that healthy food doesn’t sell as well, so companies will never change the products they offer. And there’s the sense that this problem is so big and entrenched that no matter what we do, we’ll never be able to solve it.

But over the past two years, we have seen a new conversation in this country about how we live and eat and how that affects the health and well-being of our kids. Since we launched Let’s Move!, people from every corner of this country who care about our children’s futures have stepped up and proved the conventional wisdom wrong.

Read the entire op-ed from the First Lady at CNN.com

More from the Let’s Move tour:
Michelle Obama: If You Are Doing Great Work, Tell Me About It
Michelle Obama Judges “Top Chef”
On the Road with Let’s Move
Watch: Behind the Scenes on the Let’s Move Tour
Two Years of Healthy Changes for Our Nation’s Kids
View a slideshow from the tour

History Buzz February 13, 2012: John Covach: Rock, Pop Historian on the Death of Whitney Houston

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Rock, Pop Historian John Covach on the Death of Whitney Houston

Source: University of Rochester, 2-13-12

University of Rochester Music Historian John Covach describes Whitney Houston as “a trailblazer and a song stylist, much in the tradition of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley or her cousin, Dionne Warwick.” Covach, a professor of music and chair of the Department of Music at the University of Rochester and professor of music theory at the Eastman School of Music, is the author of What’s That Sound? An Introduction to Rock and its History (Norton, 2006) and the co-editor of Sounding Out Pop (University of Michigan Press, 2011). He reacted to Houston’s sudden death on Feb. 11 with this assessment:

“In these days after the tragic death of singer Whitney Houston, authorities cannot be certain of the precise cause of her death at the age of 48. Some suspect drugs played a role, since the singer had a history of addiction. But her death in a Hollywood hotel bathtub just hours before a Grammy party hosted by her mentor, Clive Davis, could also have been an accident. We can, however, be relatively confident of what did not kill Whitney Houston. It wasn’t music that killed her, or singing, or acting, or performing. In all likelihood, it was celebrity that killed the popular singer.

“Few artists survive the level of celebrity Whitney achieved without being damaged, and singers seem the most prone to emotional injury in this regard. Houston’s story is similar to those of Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, both of whom died young and some years into the downslide from their respective career peaks. It is also true that many others, such as Paul McCartney or Mick Jagger, continue to survive such superstardom, or at least are able to manage it.

“As shocking as such tragic deaths can be for fans and admirers, however, much of the gossip and scandal of current reports will be forgotten within a few years and Whitney Houston will be remembered for her accomplishments as a singer and actor. As a singer, few have dominated the charts as Whitney did in her prime, and her virtuosic approach to singing has had a significant impact on the development of popular-music history. Houston’s exceptional vocal prowess took control of every song she sang. It almost didn’t matter what the song was; once she began to sing, the focus of the performance was the singing itself. Like musical virtuosi throughout history—Niccolo Paganini, Franz Liszt, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane—there was a sense of wonder at what she could do, an expressive and technical command that astounded as it delighted.

“For all that’s been said about Whitney Houston as a trailblazer, her career was in many ways very old school. She was not a singer-songwriter, writing songs that reflected her own thoughts and experiences as so many rock singers have done since Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Whitney was a song stylist, and this is very much in the tradition of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley or her cousin, Dionne Warwick. Song stylists depend on others to write the songs and the arrangements; a song stylist’s job is to put his or her own personal stamp on a song. Back in the first half of the 20th century, many different singers would record the same hit song; the way to get fans to buy your version was to make the song distinctively yours. Song stylists had a trademark approach to performing and they depended on that to make their mark; nobody, however, expected them to be songwriters, producers, or arrangers. When Whitney sang a song, there was no doubt who was singing.

“Whitney was able to diversify her career by making films, beginning with The Bodyguard. Again, this is a tried-and-true approach to help insure a singer has a career after her first wave of success has subsided. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, and Diana Ross all moved into films later in their careers. Among her 1980s colleagues on the pop charts, Prince and Madonna both turned to films before Whitney. But Whitney’s films were blockbusters, and the songs that went with the movie soundtracks were chart-topping hits. All of this combined to make Whitney Houston one of the biggest stars in the world—a celebrity recognized wherever she went.

“Whitney Houston’s music and success are what she will be remembered for, but the overwhelming intensity of that success is probably what painted her into the celebrity corner that led to her demise. In the years following his death, nobody really thought much about the “fat Elvis”; it wasn’t long before our memories of Elvis were of the dangerous young man swiveling his hips on national TV. And only a year after Michael Jackson’s death, nobody much cared about the scandals and spectacles of his last years. He would forever be the fantastic performer of his “Billie Jean” video. Likewise with Whitney Houston: after all the hubbub surrounding her death has passed and the reporters have moved on to the next celebrity scandal, we will still marvel at that fantastic voice, and the phenomenal performances that made her one of the greatest singers in the history of popular music.”

%d bloggers like this: