Full Text Obama Presidency April 28, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech White House Correspondents’ Dinner — Full of Roasts, Jabs & Jokes

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Obama, Kimmel have comedy faceoff at Correspondents’ Dinner

Source: USA Today, 4-28-12

By Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel, right, bragged about high-fiving President Obama during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday night.

President Obama got the first – and biggest laughs at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday night.

He poked fun at some of Hollywood’s top stars, including Kim Kardashian, the cast of Glee and Donald Trump, sending him up with a seemingly serious allusion to the attack on Osama bin Laden, which took place during last year’s dinner.

“My fellow Americans, we gather during a historic anniversary. Last year at this time, in fact on this very weekend, we finally delivered justice to one of the world’s most notorious individuals,” Obama told the audience of journalists and celebs before showing an unflattering photo of Trump on the big screens inside the ballroom of the Washington Hilton….READ MORE

The night LiLo and Kim met Barack and Michelle: Wise-cracking President hosts star-studded White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Comedian-in-chief: President Obama was in fine form Saturday night<br />  and delivered a comedy routine that left the audience in stitches Comedian-in-chief: President Obama was in fine form Saturday night and delivered a comedy routine that left the audience in stitches. No one was safe from mockery, including the shamed Secret Service and likely GOP adversary Mitt Romney.
Source: Daily Mail UK, 4-28-12

  • Journalists, politicians, government officials, and celebrities gathered for the 98th annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington last night
  • Event was hosted by Jimmy Kimmel who joked: ‘Remember when the country rallied around you in hope for a better tomorrow? That was a good one’
  • Late night host jabs president with statement: ‘There’s a term for guys like President Obama. Not two terms, but there is’
  • President Obama lampoons his own ‘hot mic’ incident, the GOP, Secret Service, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and even Hillary Clinton
  • He joked about Hillary: ‘She won’t stop drunk-texting me from Cartagena’
  • Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian were among crowds of A-list celebrities who were invited to dine with Washington’s elite, including Obama himself….READ MORE

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama
Running the gamut: The president displayed a range of emotions during the course of the night

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Watch: President Obama at the 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Source: WH, 4-28-12

President Barack Obama attends the 2012 White House<br /> Correspondents' Dinner
President Barack Obama attends the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., April 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

On Saturday night, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attended the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, which was hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. The annual event, which has been held since 1920, honors the work of the journalists who report on the Administration and the dinner raises money that is used to grant scholarships to journalism students. The dinner is one of Washington, DC’s most anticipated social events of the year, and the President’s speech, which pokes fun at himself and the coverage he has received from the reporters in attendance, is the evening’s highlight.

Remarks by the President at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner

Washington Hilton Hotel

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Good evening, everybody.  Good evening.  I could not be more thrilled to be here tonight — (laughter) — at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.  This is great crowd.  They’re already laughing.  It’s terrific.

Chuck Todd — love you, brother.  (Laughter.)  I’m delighted to see some of the cast members of Glee are here.  (Laughter.)  And Jimmy Kimmel, it’s an honor, man.  (Laughter.)  What’s so funny?

My fellow Americans, we gather during a historic anniversary.  Last year at this time — in fact, on this very weekend — we finally delivered justice to one of the world’s most notorious individuals.  (Applause.)  Now, this year, we gather in the midst of a heated election season.  And Axelrod tells me I should never miss a chance to reintroduce myself to the American people.  So tonight, this is how I’d like to begin:  My name is Barack Obama.  My mother was born in Kansas.  My father was born in Kenya.  And I was born, of course, in Hawaii.  (Laughter and applause.)

In 2009, I took office in the face of some enormous challenges.  Now, some have said I blame too many problems on my predecessor, but let’s not forget that’s a practice that was initiated by George W. Bush.  (Laughter.)  Since then, Congress and I have certainly had our differences; yet, I’ve tried to be civil, to not take any cheap shots.  And that’s why I want to especially thank all the members who took a break from their exhausting schedule of not passing any laws to be here tonight.  (Laughter.)  Let’s give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

Despite many obstacles, much has changed during my time in office.  Four years ago, I was locked in a brutal primary battle with Hillary Clinton.  Four years later, she won’t stop drunk-texting me from Cartagena.  (Laughter.)

Four years ago, I was a Washington outsider.  Four years later, I’m at this dinner.  Four years ago, I looked like this.  Today, I look like this.  (Laughter.)  And four years from now, I will look like this.  (Laughter and applause.)  That’s not even funny.  (Laughter.)

Anyway, it’s great to be here this evening in the vast, magnificent Hilton ballroom — or what Mitt Romney would call a little fixer-upper.  (Laughter and applause.)  I mean, look at this party.  We’ve got men in tuxes, women in gowns, fine wine, first-class entertainment.  I was just relieved to learn this was not a GSA conference.  (Laughter.)  Unbelievable.  Not even the mind reader knew what they were thinking.  (Laughter.)

Of course, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is known as the prom of Washington D.C. — a term coined by political reporters who clearly never had the chance to go to an actual prom.  (Laughter.)

Our chaperone for the evening is Jimmy Kimmel — (applause) — who is perfect for the job since most of tonight’s audience is in his key demographic — people who fall asleep during Nightline.  (Laughter.)  Jimmy got his start years ago on The Man Show.  In Washington, that’s what we call a congressional hearing on contraception.  (Laughter and applause.)

And plenty of journalists are here tonight.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t congratulate the Huffington Post on their Pulitzer Prize.  (Applause.)  You deserve it, Arianna.  There’s no one else out there linking to the kinds of hard-hitting journalism that HuffPo is linking to every single day.  (Laughter and applause.)  Give them a round of applause.  And you don’t pay them — it’s a great business model.  (Laughter.)

Even Sarah Palin is getting back into the game, guest hosting on The Today Show — which reminds me of an old saying:  What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?  A pit bull is delicious.  (Laughter and applause.)  A little soy sauce.  (Laughter.)

Now, I know at this point many of you are expecting me to go after my likely opponent, Newt Gingrich.  (Laughter.)  Newt, there’s still time, man.  (Laughter.)  But I’m not going to do that — I’m not going to attack any of the Republican candidates.  Take Mitt Romney — he and I actually have a lot in common.  We both think of our wives as our better halves, and polls show, to a alarmingly insulting extent, the American people agree.  (Laughter.)  We also both have degrees from Harvard; I have one, he has two.  What a snob.  (Laughter and applause.)

Of course, we’ve also had our differences.  Recently, his campaign criticized me for slow jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon.  In fact, I understand Governor Romney was so incensed he asked his staff if he could get some equal time on The Merv Griffin Show.  (Laughter.)  Still, I guess Governor Romney is feeling pretty good about things because he took a few hours off the other day to see The Hunger Games — some of you have seen it.  It’s a movie about people who court wealthy sponsors and then brutally savage each other until only one contestant is left standing.  I’m sure this was a really good change of pace for him.  (Laughter.)  I have not seen The Hunger Games; not enough class warfare for me.  (Laughter.)

Of course, I know everybody is predicting a nasty election, and thankfully, we’ve all agreed that families are off limits.  Dogs, however, are apparently fair game.  (Laughter.)  And while both campaigns have had some fun with this, the other day I saw a new ad from one of these outside groups that, frankly, I think crossed the line.  I know Governor Romney says he has no control over what his super PACs do, but can we show the ad real quick?  (Video is played.)  (Applause.)

That’s pretty rough — (laughter) — but I can take it, because my stepfather always told me, it’s a boy-eat-dog world out there.  (Laughter.)

Now, if I do win a second term as President, let me just say something to all the — (applause) — let me just say something to all my conspiracy-oriented friends on the right who think I’m planning to unleash some secret agenda:  You’re absolutely right.  (Laughter.)  So allow me to close with a quick preview of the secret agenda you can expect in a second Obama administration.

In my first term, I sang Al Green; in my second term, I’m going with Young Jeezy.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Yeah.

THE PRESIDENT:  Michelle said, yeah.  (Laughter.)  I sing that to her sometimes.  (Laughter.)

In my first term, we ended the war in Iraq; in my second term, I will win the war on Christmas.  (Laughter.)  In my first term, we repealed the policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” — (applause) — wait, though; in my second term, we will replace it with a policy known as, it’s raining men.  (Laughter.)  In my first term, we passed health care reform; in my second term, I guess I’ll pass it again.  (Applause.)

I do want to end tonight on a slightly more serious note — whoever takes the oath of office next January will face some great challenges, but he will also inherit traditions that make us greater than the challenges we face.  And one of those traditions is represented here tonight:  a free press that isn’t afraid to ask questions, to examine and to criticize.  And in service of that mission, all of you make sacrifices.

Tonight, we remember journalists such as Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin — (applause) — who made the ultimate sacrifice as they sought to shine a light on some of the most important stories of our time.  So whether you are a blogger or a broadcaster, whether you take on powerful interests here at home or put yourself in harm’s way overseas, I have the greatest respect and admiration for what you do.  I know sometimes you like to give me a hard time — and I certainly like to return the favor — (laughter) — but I never forget that our country depends on you.  You help protect our freedom, our democracy, and our way of life.

And just to set the record straight, I really do enjoy attending these dinners.  In fact, I had a lot more material prepared, but I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew.  (Laughter.)

Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END                          10:13 P.M. EDT

Obama and Kimmel’s best jokes from the Correspondents’ Dinner

Source: LAT, 4-28-12

Obama winks

President Obama winks as he tells a joke about his place of birth during the White House Correspondents’ Assn. Dinner in Washington. (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images / April 28, 2012)

The 98th annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, held Saturday evening at the Washington Hilton, is intended to celebrate those journalists who inform the American public about important events and discussions in the nation’s capital. But the focus eventually ends up being the self-deprecating speech by the president and the subsequent address by a notable comedian. This year was no different, with President Obama and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel cracking wise about Republicans, Democrats, the media and more.

PHOTOS: Stars of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

For a write-up of the event, click here. But to cut to the chase — the best jokes of the evening — keep reading…

On Obama

“Remember when the country rallied around you in hope for a better tomorrow? That was a good one.” – Kimmel.

“What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? A pit bull is delicious.” – Obama.

“I have not seen ‘The Hunger Games.’ Not enough class warfare.” – Obama.

“This is how you know the country’s in bad shape. The president is starving. North Korea is sending him food aid.” – Kimmel on Obama’s weight.

“There’s a term for President Obama. Not two terms.” – Kimmel.

PHOTOS: Red carpet at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

On Romney

“We both have degrees from Harvard. I have one, he has two. What a snob.” – Obama, referring to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

“It’s nice to be here in the nice, vast Hilton ballroom. Or as Mitt Romney would call it, a fixer-upper.” – Obama.

“He was so incensed that he asked if he could get some time on the Merv Griffin show.” – Obama on Romney’s response to his appearance with Jimmy Fallon.

On Republicans

“I guess it wasn’t Rick’s year. Rick’s year is 1954.” – Kimmel, referring to candidate Rick Santorum.

“It’s great to see the Gingriches here. I guess that means the check cleared.” – Kimmel on candidate Newt Gingrich and his wife.

“The reason he [House Speaker John Boehner] smokes so many cigarettes is because his tears keep putting them out.” – Kimmel.

On Democrats

“Uggie [the dog] is amazing. He can roll over on command. He’s a Democrat.” – Kimmel.

“We used to march. Now we Occupy.” – Kimmel on America’s weight problem.

“Three Hillaries? That sounds like President Clinton’s worst nightmare.” – Kimmel on Press Secretary Jay Carney knowing multiple Hilary Rosens.

“Four years ago I was locked in a primary battle with Hillary Clinton. Now she won’t stop drunk-texting me.” – Obama.

On the Media

“I’d like everyone to look under their seats. Under each you’ll find a copy of Keith Olbermann’s resume.” – Kimmel.

“What’s black and white and read all over? Nothing anymore.” – Kimmel.

“There’s no one linking to as much hard-hitting journalism as you’re linking to.” – Obama addressing Arianna Huffington.

On celebrities

“If you’re looking for the biggest threat to America, it’s right there — Kim Kardashian.” – Kimmel.

“Everything that is wrong with America is here in this room.” – Kimmel, after listing off the politicians, members of the media and celebrities in attendance.

“Jimmy got his start on “The Man Show.” In Washington that’s what we call a congressional hearing on contraception.” – Obama.

Full Text Obama Presidency April 28, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Discusses Executive Order Helps Veterans and Servicemembers Make Informed Decisions about Higher Education

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama discusses a new Executive Order designed to crack down on the bad actors who prey on our veterans and service members considering higher education.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 4/27/12

Weekly Address: Helping our Veterans and Servicemembers Make Informed Decisions about Higher Education

Source: WH, 4-28-12

President Obama discusses a new Executive Order designed to crack down on the bad actors who prey on our veterans and service members considering higher education.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Helping our Veterans and Servicemembers Make Informed Decisions about Higher Education

In this week’s address, President Obama told the American people about a new Executive Order he signed on Friday to crack down on bad actors that prey on our veterans and service members considering higher education.  Unfortunately these brave men and women are often bombarded by schools that provide false or misleading information about things like interest rates on loans, credit transfers, and job placement programs.  The President’s new Executive Order makes it easier for veterans and service members to make informed decisions about financial aid and paying for college and also takes a number of steps to fight deceptive practices by some institutions.  President Obama will always make sure that those who serve this country get every opportunity they deserve.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
Saturday April 28, 2012

On Friday, I traveled to Ft. Stewart in Georgia to meet with soldiers from the Third Infantry Division.

These men and women have fought with bravery and honor in some of the most dangerous places on the planet.  Some of them didn’t make it back.  But those who did are now fighting a different kind of battle here at home.  They’re looking for new jobs, new opportunities, and new ways to serve.

For many, that means going back to school – and America has a long tradition of making sure our veterans and our men and women in uniform can afford to do that.  After World War II, we helped a generation of Americans – including my grandfather – go to school on the GI Bill.  Now, thanks to the 9/11 GI Bill and the Tuition Assistance program, last year we supported more than half a million veterans and over 300,000 service members who are pursuing a higher education.

That’s progress.  But it’s not enough to just help our veterans and service members afford school – we need to make sure they have all the tools they need to make an informed decision when it comes to picking the right program.

The sad truth is that there are people out there who are less interested in helping our men and women in uniform get ahead and more interested in making a buck.  They bombard potential students with emails and pressure them into making a quick decision.  Some of them steer recruits towards high-interest loans and mislead them about credit transfers and job placement programs.  One of the worst examples was a college recruiter who visited a Marine barracks and enrolled Marines with brain injuries so severe that some of them couldn’t recall what courses the recruiter had signed them up for.

That’s appalling.  It’s disgraceful.  And even though the vast majority of schools do the right thing, we need to guard against the bad actors who don’t.

That’s why, on Friday, I signed an Executive Order making life a whole lot more secure for our service members, veterans and their families – and a whole lot tougher for anyone who tries to prey on them.

We’re making sure veterans and service members get a simple fact sheet called “Know Before You Owe” that lays out all the information they need about financial aid and paying for college.  We’re requiring schools to offer counseling to help students finish their degree even if they have to move or deploy.  And we’re stepping up our efforts to fight dishonest recruiters by strengthening rules about who can come on base and making it easier to file complaints.

When our men and women in uniform succeed, our country succeeds.  They have our back – now it’s our turn to have theirs.  And as long as I’m President, I’m going to make sure that anyone who serves this country gets every opportunity they deserve.

Thank you, and have a great weekend.

White House Recap April 20-27, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama’s University Tour in Support of Keeping Student Loan Interest Rates Low — Slow Jams with Jimmy Fallon

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: APRIL 20-27, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: “Stand Up. Be Heard. Be Counted.”

Source: WH, 4-27-12

Soldier Ride: Last Friday, 22 injured servicemembers took a spin around the South Lawn – with President Obama cheering them on – as a part of the annual Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride. The Soldier Ride is a four-day cycling event that unites Wounded Warriors and aims to help restore their physical and emotional well-being. The President praised the riders for their strength and dedication, noting, “You ride because you can, and you ride for those who can’t. That’s what this is all about.”

Honoring Never Again: “Awareness without action changes nothing,” the President remarked at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. on Monday. He spoke about honoring the pledge of “never again” by making sure we are doing everything we can to prevent and respond to atrocities and save lives, by spearheading new efforts and utilizing existing ones, including the Atrocities Prevention Board – established by the President to bring together senior officials from across our government to focus on the critical mission to prevent mass atrocities and genocide.

Fighting Falcons: The United States Air Force football team was honored with the Commander-in-Chief Trophy on Monday in the East Room of the White House after beating the Army and Navy in 2011 to claim their 18th trophy.

#DontDoubleMyRate: When speaking this week at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Iowa about the importance of keeping interest rates on student loans low so that more Americans can get a fair shot at an affordable college education, President Obama asked college students to tell their members of Congress one thing: Don’t double my rates. While Congress cut the rates on federal loans in half five years ago, that rate cut is set to expire on July 1st. Students are taking on more debt to afford the tuition and fees, and for each year that Congress doesn’t act, the average student with federal loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt.

Slow Jams: On Tuesday while stopping by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, President Obama had a message for Congress: This is not the time to make school more affordable for our young people. He didn’t just say it, though – if you missed President Obama slow jam the news, you can watch it here.

Veterans and their Families Can’t Wait: On Friday, the President and the First Lady traveled to Fort Stewart, Georgia, home to the Army’s famed 3rd Infantry Division. Besides meeting with soldiers and families, the President signed an Executive Order that renews his commitment to fully fund the post-9/11 G.I. Bill in an effort to preserve and enhance the educational opportunities for those who have served, as well as their families.

Full Text Obama Presidency April 27, 2012: President Barack Obama Signs Executive Order Executive Order Helping Veterans and Service Members Make Informed Decisions about Higher Education at Fort Stewart

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Signs Executive Order Supporting Service Members, Veterans, Military Spouses, and Their Families

Source: WH, 4-27-12
President Barack Obama signs an Executive Order at Fort Stewart  (April 27, 2012)
President Barack Obama signs an Executive Order at Fort Stewart in Georgia, April 27, 2012. The Executive Order will help ensure all of America’s service members, veterans, spouses, and other family members have the information they need to make informed educational decisions and are protected from aggressive and deceptive targeting by educational institutions. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Earlier today, I had the great privilege of joining the President and First Lady — along with an amazing 10,000 soldiers, military families, and veterans — at an extraordinary event in Fort Stewart, Georgia, home to the Army’s famed 3rd Infantry Division.

The President and First Lady traveled to Fort Stewart to meet with soldiers and families — and to sign an Executive Order (EO) that will positively impact the educational benefits and opportunities for our nation’s heroes and their families — for a long time to come.

We know from travels throughout the country — and through feedback from veterans, our troops and their families – that education is a big deal. Opportunities provided through educational programs such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill open doors.

And I know that on a personal level. Like many servicemembers, I have used the benefits of the Post- 9/11 GI Bill to further my education — and that of my children.

At Fort Stewart, the President renewed his commitment to fully fund the post-9/11 GI Bill.  With that bill — and the Tuition Assistance program — more than 550,000 veterans and 325,000 service members pursued education last year. Additionally, nearly 38,000 military spouses used their Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) benefit to advance their education.

But sometimes…navigating through the maze of schools and opportunities can be a challenge. Many service members, veterans and families know exactly what I mean.

They go online to try and find the best school that fits their goals; they end up on a website that looks official; they get promised to get connected with a program looks promising. Unfortunately — and all-too-often — our troops and families find themselves dealing with folks who aren’t interested in helping them find the BEST program — but they are happy to take their money. Our service men and women may get forced into making a quick decision. And sometimes recruiters from these schools show up on bases.

As the President said, one of the worst examples of this is a college recruiter who visited Camp Lejeune and enrolled Marines impacted by Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) — the nature and severity of their injuries were so significant, that the affected Marines couldn’t remember the courses the recruiter signed them up for — but that didn’t stop the recruiter.

That’s just wrong.

But practices like that — and so many others — will be coming to an end as a result of today’s order signed by the President.

In short, the EO is designed to combat unscrupulous practices used by schools to gain access to the military/veteran education benefits; it protects the full range of military/veteran education benefits programs, including Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, the Tuition Assistance program, and MyCAA; and, its provisions focus on ensuring students have the proper information, support, and protections they need to make informed decisions about their educational options.

Here’s what the EO delivers for our veterans, military service members, spouses and their families:

  • Provide students with educational and financial information to make informed decisions. The EO  will require institutions to provide prospective military and veteran students with the Administration’s Financial Aid Shopping Sheet (“Know Before You Owe”) to help students understand the total cost and quality of their education, including: tuition and fees, the availability of federal financial aid, estimated student loan debt upon graduation, and  information about student outcomes like graduation rates.
  • End fraudulent and aggressive recruiting techniques on and off military installations. The EO will require that VA and DoD improve their oversight of improper recruiting practices so that they are consistent with the regulations already in place at ED for title IV Federal student aid programs. The Principles of Excellence will also establish and strengthen solicitation rules to reduce access to military bases for bad actors.
  • Ensure support services for service-members and veterans. The EO will provide military and veteran students with clear educational plans, academic and financial aid counseling services with staff that are familiar with VA and DOD programs, and the ability to more easily re-enroll and receive a refund if they must leave school for service-related reasons.
  • Develop and collect service member- and veteran-specific student outcome data. The EO will require DoD, VA, and ED to develop student outcome measures, such as completion rates, and collect data to be made available on Ed’s College Navigator website. DoD, VA, and Ed will also improve data collection regarding which schools veterans are selecting to use their education benefits.
  • Create a centralized complaint system for students receiving military and veterans’ educational benefits. The EO require DoD and VA, in consultation with ED, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and DOJ, to create a centralized complaint system for students receiving military and veterans’ educational benefits to register complaints against educational institutions. Additionally, VA’s State Approving Agencies will receive and process these complaints and share these complaints with appropriate federal and state agencies.
  • Begin the process to trademark the term “GI Bill.” The EO will require the VA to initiate a process to trademark the term “GI Bill” and other steps to curb websites and programs that deceptively market veterans’ educational benefits.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk on stage  after being introduced at Fort Stewart (April 27, 2012)
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk on stage after being introduced at Fort Stewart in Georgia, April 27, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today’s signing by the President is a BIG step forward in preserving — and enhancing — the educational opportunities for those who have served, as well as their families.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President and First Lady at Fort Stewart, Georgia

Fort Stewart
Hinesville, Georgia

12:45 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Hello, Fort Stewart!  (Applause.)  We are beyond thrilled — beyond thrilled — to be with all of you today.  And before I get started, there’s just one thing I want to say, and that is, hooah!

AUDIENCE:  Hooah!

MRS. OBAMA:  Did I do that right?

AUDIENCE:  Hooah!

MRS. OBAMA:  All right, good.  (Laughter.)  Phew.

I want to start by thanking Sergeant Marshall for that very kind introduction and for sharing his story with us today.  And I want to thank all of you — our men and women in uniform, our veterans and your extraordinary families.  (Applause.)  Absolutely.  For the families, yes!  (Applause.)

One of my greatest privileges as First Lady has been meeting folks like you on bases and communities all across this country.  And I always say this, but I can never say it enough:  I am in awe of you.  I’m in awe of how many of you signed up to defend our country in a time of war, serving heroically through deployment after deployment.  I’m in awe of your families — the spouses who run their households all alone, the kids who step up at home and succeed at school and stay strong through all the challenges they face.  With their service, they make your service possible.

And I’m also in awe of our veterans — (applause) — because I know that your service doesn’t end when you hang up your uniform.  For so many of you, your whole life is a tour of duty, and as you become leaders in our communities and continue to give back to our country, you keep serving.  And like so many Americans, the more I’ve learned about the sacrifices you all make, the more I wanted to find a way to express my gratitude, and that’s — not just with words, but with action.

And that’s why last year Jill Biden and I started Joining Forces.  It’s a nationwide campaign to recognize, honor and support our veterans, our troops and our military families.  And I have to tell you, we had barely even finished announcing this campaign when we were inundated with offers to help.  I mean, so many people wanted to step up and show their appreciation that we hardly knew where to begin.

In our first year alone, more than 1,600 businesses hired more than 60,000 veterans, and they pledged to hire at least 170,000 more in the coming years.  (Applause.)  National associations of doctors and nurses representing millions of health professionals are working to improve treatment for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.  We’ve had TV shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Sesame Street; organizations like NASCAR and Disney — they’re working to share the stories of our military families with the rest of the country.  And these are just a few examples out of thousands all across the country.

So if I can leave you with just one message today, I want you all to know that America does have your backs.  And we are just getting started.  We are going to keep at this.  We’re going to keep on working every day to serve all of you as well as you have served this country.

And the man who has been leading the way is standing right next to me.  (Applause.)  And ladies, I think he’s kind of cute.  (Laughter and applause.)  He was fighting for all of you long before he ever became President.

He’s made veteran’s employment a national priority, with tax breaks for businesses that hire veterans and wounded warriors.  He’s working to end the outrage of veteran’s homelessness once and for all.  (Applause.)  He championed the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which has helped more than half a million veterans and military families go to college.  (Applause.)  And today, with this new effort to ensure that you all get the education you’ve earned, that story continues.

So please join me in welcoming your strongest advocate — your Commander-In-Chief and our President, my husband, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Hello, Fort Stewart!  (Applause.)  It is good to be here at Fort Stewart.  First of all, how about the First Lady, Michelle Obama?  (Applause.)  Hooah!  She is a tough act to follow.  For the gentlemen out there who are not yet married, let me just explain to you, your goal is to improve your gene pool by marrying somebody who is superior to you.  (Applause.)  Isn’t that right, General?  (Laughter.)

Listen, and as you just heard, when it comes to all of you — when it comes to our military, our veterans, your families –- Michelle Obama and Jill Biden have your back.  They are working tirelessly to make sure that our military families are treated with the honor and respect and support that they deserve.  And I could not be prouder of all the efforts that they’ve been making on their behalf.  (Applause.)
It’s a privilege to hang out with some of America’s finest.

AUDIENCE:  Hooah!

THE PRESIDENT:   The ‘Dog Face Soldiers’ of the Third Infantry Division!  (Applause.)  Rock of the Marne!  We’ve got a lot of folks in the house.  We’ve got the Raider Brigade!  (Hooah!)  We’ve got the Spartan Brigade!  (Hooah!)  We’ve got the Vanguard Brigade!  (Hooah!)  We’ve got the Provider Brigade!  (Hooah!)  And we’ve got the Falcon Brigade!  (Hooah!)

Let me thank Major General Abrams and his beautiful wife, Connie, for welcoming us.  Abe is doing an incredible job carrying on his family’s incredible tradition of service to our country.  So we are grateful for him.  Give him a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

I want to thank Command Sergeant Major Edd Watson and his beautiful wife, Sharon.  (Applause.)  I want to thank someone who’s made it her life’s mission to stand up for the financial security of you and your families, somebody who knows a little bit about military families and military service.  And actually, this is a homecoming for her because she spent over three years when they were posted down here — Holly Petraeus is in the house.  I want you guys to give her a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

But most importantly, I want to thank all of you.  I want to thank you for your service.  I want to thank you for your sacrifice.  I want to thank you for your unshakeable commitment to our country.  You have worn the uniform with honor.  You’ve performed heroically in some of the most dangerous places on Earth.  You have done everything that has been asked of you, and more.  And you have earned a special place in our nation’s history.

Future generations will speak of your achievements.  They’ll speak of how the Third Infantry Division’s ‘thunder run’ into Baghdad signaled the end of a dictatorship, and how you brought Iraq back from the brink of civil war.  They’ll speak of you and your service in Afghanistan and in the fight against al Qaeda, which you have put on the path to defeat.

And to the members of the Special Operations Forces community, while the American people may never know the full extent of your service, they will surely speak of how you kept our country safe and strong, and how you delivered justice to our enemies.

So history will remember what you did, and so will we.  We will remember the profound sacrifices that you’ve made in these wars.  Michelle and I just had a few moments at the Warriors Walk, paying tribute to 441 of your fallen comrades — men and women who gave their last full measure of devotion to keep our nation safe.  And we will remember them.  We will honor them — always.  And our thoughts and prayers also go out to the troops from Fort Stewart who are serving so bravely right now as we speak in Afghanistan.  (Applause.)  And I know many of you will be deploying there, too, so you know you’re going to be in our thoughts and prayers.
Your generation — the 9/11 Generation — has written one of the greatest chapters of military service that America has ever seen.  But I know that for many of you, a new chapter is unfolding.  The war in Iraq is over.  The transition in Afghanistan is underway.  Many of our troops are coming home, back to civilian life.  And as you return, I know that you’re looking for new jobs and new opportunities and new ways to serve this great country of ours.

And three years ago, I made your generation a promise:  I said that when your tour comes to an end — when you see our flag, when you touch down on our soil — you’ll be coming home to an America that will forever fight for you, just as you fought for us.

For me, as President, it’s been a top priority.  It’s something I worked on as a senator when I served on the Veterans Affairs Committee.  It’s something I continue to this day.  Since I took office, we’ve hired over 200,000 veterans to serve in the federal government.  (Applause.)

We’ve made it easier for veterans to access all sorts of employment services.  You just heard how Michelle and Jill have worked with businesses to secure tens of thousands of jobs for veterans and their families.  And with support from Democrats and Republicans, we’ve put in place new tax credits for companies that hire veterans.  We want every veteran who wants a job to get a job.  That’s the goal.  (Applause.)

And those of you who want to pursue a higher education and earn new skills, you deserve that opportunity as well.

Like General Abrams’ dad, my grandfather — the man who helped raise me -— served in Patton’s Army.  And when he came home, he went to school on the GI Bill, because America decided that every returning veteran of World War II should be able to afford it.  And we owe that same commitment to all of you.

So as President, I’ve made sure to champion the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  And with that bill — and the Tuition Assistance program — last year we supported more than 550,000 veterans and 325,000 servicemembers who are pursuing a higher education.  (Applause.)  Because a higher education is the clearest path to the middle class.  That’s progress.  But we’ve got more to do.  We can’t be satisfied with what we’ve already done, we’ve got more to do.  We’ve got to make sure you’ve got every tool you need to make an informed decision when it comes to picking a school.  And that’s why Michelle and I are here today.

Right now, it’s not that easy.  I’ve heard the stories.  Some of you guys can relate; you may have experienced it yourselves.  You go online to try and find the best school for military members, or your spouses, or other family members.  You end up on a website that looks official.  They ask you for your email, they ask you for your phone number.  They promise to link you up with a program that fits your goals.  Almost immediately after you’ve typed in all that information, your phone starts ringing.  Your inbox starts filling up.  You’ve never been more popular in your life.  All of these schools want you to enroll with them.

And it sounds good.  Every school and every business should be out there competing for your skills and your talent and your leadership — everything that you’ve shown in uniform.  But as some of your comrades have discovered, sometimes you’re dealing with folks who aren’t interested in helping you.  They’re not interested in helping you find the best program.  They are interested in getting the money.  They don’t care about you; they care about the cash.

So they harass you into making a quick decision with all those calls and emails.  And if they can’t get you online, they show up on post.  One of the worst examples of this is a college recruiter who had the nerve to visit a barracks at Camp Lejeune and enroll Marines with brain injuries — just for the money.  These Marines had injuries so severe some of them couldn’t recall what courses the recruiter had signed them up for.  That’s appalling.  That’s disgraceful.  It should never happen in America.

I’m not talking about all schools.  Many of them — for-profit and non-profit — provide quality education to our servicemembers and our veterans and their families.  But there are some bad actors out there.  They’ll say you don’t have to pay a dime for your degree but once you register, they’ll suddenly make you sign up for a high interest student loan.  They’ll say that if you transfer schools, you can transfer credits.  But when you try to actually do that, you suddenly find out that you can’t.  They’ll say they’ve got a job placement program when, in fact, they don’t.  It’s not right.  They’re trying to swindle and hoodwink you.  And today, here at Fort Stewart, we’re going to put an end to it.  (Applause.)  We’re putting an end to it.

The executive order I’m about to sign will make life a whole lot more secure for you and your families and our veterans — and a whole lot tougher for those who try to prey on you.  Here’s what we’re going to do.

First, we’re going to require colleges that want to enroll members of our military or veterans or your families to provide clear information about their qualifications and available financial aid.  You’ll be able to get a simple fact sheet called “Know Before You Owe.”  Know before you owe.  (Applause.)  And it will lay out all the information that you need to make your own choices about how best to pay for college.

Second, we’re going to require those schools to step up their support for our students.  They need to provide a lot more counseling.  If you’ve got to move because of a deployment or a reassignment, they’ve got to help you come up with a plan so that you can still get your degree.  (Applause.)

Number three, we’re going to bring an end to the aggressive — and sometimes dishonest — recruiting that takes place.  We’re going to up our oversight of improper recruitment practices.  We’re going to strengthen the rules about who can come on post and talk to servicemembers.  (Applause.)  And we’re going to make it a lot easier for all of you to file complaints and for us to take action when somebody is not acting right.

This is about making sure you succeed — because when you succeed, our country succeeds.  It’s that simple.  After all, at the end of World War II, so many Americans like my grandfather came home to new opportunities.  Because of the original GI Bill, by 1947, half of all Americans who enrolled in college were veterans.  And you know what, they did pretty well.

They rose to become Presidents and Supreme Court Justices and Nobel Prize winners.  They went on to become scientists and engineers, and doctors and nurses.  Eight million Americans were educated under the original GI Bill.  And together, they forged the backbone of what would become the largest middle class that the world had ever seen.  They built this country.  They turned us into that economic superpower.

And we can do it again.  We face some tough times.  We’ve gone through the worst recession since the Great Depression, two wars.  But you know what, we’ve faced tough times before.  And all of you know something that America should never forget:  Just as you rise or fall as one unit, we rise or fall as one nation.  Just as you have each other’s backs, what has always made America great is that we have each other’s backs.  Each of us is only here because somebody looked out for us.  Not just our parents, but our neighbors and our communities and our houses of worship and our VFW halls.  (Applause.)  Each of us is here because we had a country that was willing to invest in things like community colleges and universities, and scientific research and medicine, and caring for our veterans.  Each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, had our backs.

This country exists because generations of Americans worked together and looked out for one other.  Out of many, we are one.  Those are the values we’ve got to return to.  If we do, there’s nothing this country cannot achieve.  There’s no challenge that’s too great for us.  There’s no destiny beyond our reach.  As long as we’re joined in common purpose and common resolve, better days will always lie ahead, and we will remind everybody why the United States of America is the greatest country on Earth.

And as I look out at this sea of incredible men and women — (applause) — it gives me confidence that our best days are still ahead.

God bless you.  God bless our armed services.  God bless the Third Division.  God bless the United States of America.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

And now I’m going to sign this executive order.

(The executive order is signed.)

END
1:09 P.M. EDT

Political Buzz April 27, 2012: House Passes Bill Keeping Student Loan Rates from Doubling 215-195 — Paid with Healthcare Funds — President Barack Obama Promises Veto

POLITICAL 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 by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: HOUSE PASSES BILL KEEPING STUDENT LOAN RATES FROM DOUBLING 215-195 — PAID WITH HEALTHCARE FUNDS

House Rejects Increase in Student Loan Rates: Moments after an unusual fiery appeal from Speaker John A. Boehner, the House voted 215 to 195 on Friday to prevent a doubling of student loan rates and challenge President Obama over a veto threat. The bill, which would strip $5.9 billion…. – NYT 4-27-12

  • GOP ignores White House veto threat, passes bill to keep student loan rates: Republicans ignored a veto threat and overcame a rebellion by party conservatives to push a bill through the House Friday keeping interest rates on millions of federal student loans from doubling this summer. Lawmakers voted 215-195 to…. – WaPo, 4-27-12
  • House approves student loan bill, paid for with healthcare funds: Setting the stage for another showdown with the Obama administration, Republicans in the House on Friday narrowly passed legislation to prevent a rate hike on student loans — to be paid for with funds from the nation’s new…. – LAT, 4-27-12
  • House votes to extend low rates on federal student loans: The US House approved, on a mostly party-line (215-195) vote, a $5.9 billion bill to maintain low interest rates for Stafford student loans, paying for it by slashing funds for a provision of President Obama’s…. – USA Today, 4-27-12
  • GOP, Democrats make student loans an election-year issue: Both parties are advancing plans to address mounting student loan debt while disparaging the approach of their opponents…. – CS Monitor, 4-26-12

No Time For Old Political Battles

Source: WH, 4-27-12

On July 1, unless Congress acts, interest rates will double for more than 7.4 million students with federal loans. Fortunately, even though they voted just weeks ago in lockstep to allow this increase, Republicans in Congress have come around on the issue since President Obama took it to the American people – claiming they’re ready to step up and stop the rate hike. Unfortunately,  rather than work together to ensure interest rates on student loans don’t double, they have decided to re-fight old political battles, proposing to eliminate the health care law’s Prevention and Public Health Fund to pay for this important reform. This proposal would put women’s health at risk. And fighting old political battles won’t protect students and young people from major rate hikes.

Eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund would have a devastating effect on women’s health and our work to prevent disease and illness. Eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund would mean:

  • Hundreds of thousands of women could lose access to vital cancer screenings.   Prevention Fund resources are expected to help more than 300,000 women be screened for breast cancer in 2013 and more than 280,000 be screened for cervical cancer.
  • Programs that help to prevent congenital heart defects, prevent fetal alcohol syndrome, and promote early identification and intervention efforts for children with developmental delays and disabilities could be eliminated.
  • Tens of thousands children could lose access to immunizations.

These are just a few of the important ways the Prevention and Public Health Fund will help keep millions of Americans healthy. Keeping college affordable for America’s students should not come at the expense of putting women’s health at risk.

The Senate will soon vote on a more viable solution to keep interest rates low and provide students a fair shot at an affordable education, by closing a loophole that allows people making more than $250,000 a year to avoid paying payroll taxes. Congress should find a bipartisan solution to keep rates low without hurting Americans’ health or increasing the deficit. There’s no good reason for interest rates to double for over 7 million students. But Republicans in Congress must prove that they’re serious about setting aside the political fights of the past and actually getting this done.

Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on College Affordability & Student Loans Interest Rates Doubling at the University of Iowa

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Speaks to Students in Iowa about Student Loan Rates

Source: WH, 4-25-12<

President Barack Obama Listens to Senior Marissa Boles During a Roundtable Discussion

President Barack Obama listens to senior Marissa Boles during a roundtable discussion with students currently receiving Stafford federal student loans at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, April 25, 2012. Also participating in the discussion were students Blake Anderson, center, Myranda Burnett, Jordan Garrsion-Nickerson and Martin Lopez. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama wrapped up a three-city tour in Iowa today by speaking to students at the University of Iowa about the best tool they’ve got for achieving the American promise: a college education.

This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of everybody who’s willing to work for it. That’s part of what made us special. That’s what kept us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine. That’s a commitment that we need to reaffirm today.

Now, here’s the challenge we’ve got. Since most of you were born, tuition and fees at America’s colleges have more than doubled. And that forces students like you to take out more loans and rack up more debt. The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $25,000 in student loan debt. And in this state, it’s even higher. Americans now owe more on their student loans than they owe on credit cards.

And living with that debt means you’ve got to make some pretty tough choices. It might mean putting off buying a first home or chasing that great startup idea that you’ve got. Maybe you’ll have to wait a little bit longer to start a family or save for retirement. And when a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards loan debt, that’s not just tough on you, that’s not just tough on middle-class families — that’s not good for our economy, because that money that could be going into businesses is going just to service debt.

To make matters worse, interest rates on federal Stafford loans are set to double in July, saddling more than 7 million students with an additional $1,000 in debt. Congress has the power to stop this from happening, however, and as he did in North Carolina and Colorado earlier this week, the President asked students to tell their members of Congress one thing: Don’t Double My Rate.

Raise your voice and reach out to your networks if you agree that student loan rates should not double on July 1.


Learn more:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on College Affordability

University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa

1:28 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Hawkeyes!  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in Iowa!  (Applause.)  Can folks please give it up for Blake for that outstanding introduction?  (Applause.)  And I want to thank the University of Iowa Pep Band for firing everybody up. (Applause.)

There is some good hospitality here, and I should know.  I spent a little time here in Iowa, spent a little time here in Iowa City.  I’m glad that my hometown of Chicago will get to return the hospitality when your football team kicks off its season at Soldier Field.  (Applause.)

I want to thank a couple guests — first of all, your Congressman, Dave Loebsack, is here.  (Applause.)  Attorney General Tom Miller.  (Applause.)  State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald.  (Applause.)  Your Mayor, Matt Hayek.  (Applause.)   The President of the University of Iowa, Sally Mason.  (Applause.)

So I have come to the University of Iowa to talk a little bit about you and some of the issues you guys are dealing with every single day.  Now, I believe that college isn’t just the best investment that you can make in your future — it’s the best investment you can make in your country’s future.  And I’m proud of all of you for making that investment — because it’s never been more important.  (Applause.)

In today’s economy, there’s no greater predictor of individual success than a good education.  That’s at the top.  Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  Their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma. A higher education is the single clearest path to the middle class.

I know that those of you who are about to graduate are wondering what’s in store for your future — because not even four years ago, just as the global economy was about to enter into freefall, you were still trying to find your way around campus, and now, four years later, you’re looking at what it means when you leave this campus.

The good news is, today our economy is recovering.  That’s the good news.  (Applause.)  But I’ll be honest with you.  It has not yet fully healed from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Our businesses have added more than 4 million jobs over the past two years.  (Applause.)  But there’s still a lot of Americans who are out there looking for a job or at least finding a job that pays the bills and helps cover the mortgage.  There’s still too many families who don’t have that security, that basic middle-class security that started slipping away even before this crisis hit.

But what I want all of you to know is that the degree you earn from Iowa will be the best tool you have to achieve that basic American promise — the idea that if you work hard, if you give it your all, if you’re responsible, then you can do well enough to raise a family and own a home, send your own kids to college, put a little away for retirement.  It’s the idea that each generation is going to have a little more opportunity than the last.  (Applause.)  That’s at the heart of the American Dream.

And I can tell you, as a parent now, when I see Malia and Sasha doing well, there’s nothing more important to me.  And that’s true for American families everywhere, and it’s the hope your parents have for you.  That’s the hope you’ll have some day for your own kids.  And keeping that promise alive is the defining issue of our time.  I don’t want this a country — I don’t want this to be a country where a shrinking number of people are doing really, really well, and then a growing number are barely able to get by.  I don’t want that future for you.  I don’t want it for my daughters.  I don’t want it for America.  (Applause.)

I want this forever to be a country where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  (Applause.)  That’s the America I know.  That’s the America I love.  And that’s the America within our reach if we work for it.  (Applause.)

And this is personal for me –

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you, Barack!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Applause.)  I love you guys, and I believe in you guys — that’s the most important thing.  I believe in you.  And I believe in your future.  (Applause.)

And I think about my own life.  My grandfather had the chance to go to college because this country decided that every returning veteran of World War II should be able to afford it through the GI Bill.  (Applause.)  My mom was a single mom — my dad wasn’t around — and she raised two kids by herself with some help from my grandparents because she was able to get grants and work her way through school.  And I’m only here today, and Michelle is only where she is today, because scholarships and student loans gave us a shot at a great education.  That’s how we succeeded.  (Applause.)

This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of everybody who’s willing to work for it.  That’s part of what made us special.  That’s what kept us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine.  That’s a commitment that we need to reaffirm today.

Now, here’s the challenge we’ve got.  Since most of you were born, tuition and fees at America’s colleges have more than doubled.  And that forces students like you to take out more loans and rack up more debt.  The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $25,000 in student loan debt.  And in this state, it’s even higher.  Americans now owe more on their student loans than they owe on credit cards.

And living with that debt means you’ve got to make some pretty tough choices.  It might mean putting off buying a first home or chasing that great startup idea that you’ve got.  Maybe you’ll have to wait a little bit longer to start a family or save for retirement.  And when a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards loan debt, that’s not just tough on you, that’s not just tough on middle-class families — that’s not good for our economy, because that money that could be going into businesses is going just to service debt.

And as I said, this is personal for me.  I know something about this, because Michelle and I, we went through it.  And it wasn’t that long ago.  We’ve been in your shoes.  We didn’t come from wealthy families.  We needed loans and we needed grants to get our way through.  (Applause.)

And that meant that when Michelle and I graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of debt.  When we got married, we got poorer together.  (Laughter.)  So we combined our assets and they were zero.  (Laughter.)  Then we combined our liabilities and they were a lot.  (Laughter.)  So we ended up paying more for our student loans in the first few years that we were married than we paid on our mortgage each month when we finally bought a small condo.  And we were lucky to land good jobs with a steady income, but we only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago.  Think about that.  I’m the President of the United States — (laughter) — it was only about eight years ago that we finished paying off our student loans.  (Applause.)

And let me tell you, it wasn’t easy making those payments, because once we had Malia and Sasha, we’re trying to save for their college education even as we’re paying off our own college educations.

So this is personal.  This is at the heart of who we are. We’ve got to make college more affordable for more young people. We can’t put the middle class at a disadvantage.  We can’t price out folks who are trying to make sure that they not only succeed for themselves but help the country succeed.  We can’t price the middle class out of a college education.  (Applause.)  We can’t do it — especially when most new jobs in America will require more than a high school diploma.  Higher education whether it’s at a four-year institution or a two-year program at a community college — it can’t be a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative every family in America should be able to afford.

Before I came out here I had a chance to meet not just with Blake but with a number of other students, and we had a little roundtable.  And the stories they told me were so familiar.  One young man — single mom, she had lost her job.  He was already about $30,000 in debt.  He was only halfway through here at University of Iowa.  Another young woman, her dad had been laid off at Maytag.  They were trying to figure out how to make ends meet.  She’s about to graduate.

Now, what I told them is, you’re making the right decision, because over the lifetime of earnings you will more than earn back this investment you’re making.  But making it more affordable would sure help.  It would sure help.  (Applause.)

Now, I’m going to have a specific request for you.  I’m going to need your help, Iowa, but let me briefly tell you what we’ve already done to try to make college more affordable, because I’m not just interested in talking the talk, I want to walk the walk.  (Applause.)

So before I took office, we had a student loan system where tens of billions of taxpayer dollars were going to banks who were the middlemen on the federal student loan program.  So they were getting billions of dollars in profits managing a loan program where they had no risk because it was all federally guaranteed loans.  So we changed that.

And there were folks in Washington who fought tooth and nail to protect the status quo.  One of them said it would be “an outrage” to change the system where banks are managing this thing.  But the real outrage was letting them serve as middlemen and siphon off profits, while students were working two or three jobs just to get by.  So we kept at it, and we fought and we fought, and today we don’t have middlemen.  That money is going directly where it should have been to — the first place.  It’s going to help more young people afford college.  (Applause.)

And then last fall, I acted to cap student loan payments faster, so that nearly 1.6 million students who make their payments on time only have to pay 10 percent of their monthly income toward loans once they graduate, which means if you decide to become a teacher or a social worker or a guidance counselor, something that doesn’t pay a lot of money, you can still afford to do it because you’ll never have to pay more than 10 percent of your income in order to stay current on your loan.  (Applause.)

And then we decided, you know what, you guys need more information about this whole process.  We want students to have access to a simple fact sheet on student loans and financial aid, so you can have all the information you need to make your own choices about how to pay for college.  So some of you know we set up this new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau to look out for consumers — (applause) — and so they’re now putting out a fact sheet called “Know Before You Owe.”  Know before you owe — which is something Michelle and I could have used when we were in your shoes.

And then what we said was it’s not enough just to increase student aid.  We’ve also got to stop subsidizing skyrocketing tuition, or we’ll run out of money.  So the schools themselves have to keep their tuition lower.  (Applause.)  So we put out the challenge to colleges and universities.  And I’ve told Congress, steer federal aid to those schools that are doing a good job keeping tuition affordable and providing good value, and serving their students well.  And we’ve put colleges on notice:  If you can’t stop tuition from skyrocketing, the funding you get from taxpayers is going to go down.  We’re going to put money into the schools that are doing a better job.  (Applause.)  And we’re going to hold schools accountable.

Of course, as public universities like this one know, states and state legislatures also have to do their part by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets.  (Applause.) Last year, over 40 states cut their higher education spending.

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, that’s not good.  These budget cuts are one of the biggest reasons why tuition goes up at public colleges and have been over the last decade.  So we’re challenging states: Take responsibility.  If you can find new ways to bring down the cost on college, make it easier for students to graduate, then we’ll help you do it at the federal level.

So that’s what we’ve already done — helped more families, more young people afford a higher education; offer incentives to states and colleges and universities to keep costs down.  That’s what we’ve been doing.  Now comes the tricky part — we got to get Congress to do their part.  And that’s where you come in.  (Applause.)

There are a couple of things I’d like Congress to be doing this year.  First, they need to extend the tuition tax credit that we put in place when I first came into office, because it’s saving middle-class families thousands of dollars.  They get a tax break when they are helping their kids go to college.  That’s important.  (Applause.)

Second, we need Congress to safeguard aid for low-income students, so that today’s freshmen and sophomores know they’re going to be able to count on it.  We’ve got to make sure the Pell grants are there for people who need them.

Number three, we’ve got to give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work/study jobs over the next five years.  That’s an achievable goal.  (Applause.)  And then most immediately — and this is where I really need you guys — Congress needs to act right now to prevent interest rates on federal student loans from shooting up and shaking you down.  That’s where you come in.  (Applause.)
You see, five years ago, Congress cut the rates on federal student loans in half.  That was a good thing to do.  But on July 1st of this year, which means about two months from now, that rate cut will expire.  And if it expires, interest rates on these loans will double overnight.  And for each year that Congress doesn’t act, the average student with these loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt.  That’s basically a $1,000 tax hike on more than 7 million students around America, including 250,000 students right here in Iowa.

Now, let me see.  I’ll do a quick poll — this may be unscientific.  How many people can afford to pay an extra $1,000 right now?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t think so.  Stopping this from happening should be a no-brainer.  (Coughs.)  It makes me sick just thinking about it.  (Laughter and applause.)  Helping more young people afford college should be at the forefront of America’s agenda.  And it shouldn’t be a Republican or Democratic issue.  This is an American issue.  (Applause.)  The Stafford loans we’re talking about were named after a Republican senator; Pell grants named after a Democratic senator.  When Congress cut these rates five years ago, a majority of Democrats voted for it, but 77 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for it too.

Now, the good news is, the Senate introduced a bill last night that would keep student loan rates from doubling.  That’s the good news.  (Applause.)  And what’s also good news is some Republican senators look like they might support it.  And I’m ready to work with them to make it happen.  That’s good.  (Applause.)

But I’ve got to tell you, the Republicans who run the House of Representatives have not yet said whether or not they’ll stop your rates from doubling.  And they’ve hinted that the only way they’d do it is if they cut things like aid for low-income students.  So let me scratch my head there for a second.  Think about that.  We’re going to help some students by messing with other students.  That’s not a good answer.  How many people think that’s a good answer?

AUDIENCE MEMBERS:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I didn’t think so.  One of these members of Congress — sometimes I like just getting these quotes, because I’m always interested in how folks talk about this issue. You’ve got one member of Congress who compared these student loans — I’m not kidding here — to a “stage-three cancer of socialism.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  Stage-three cancer?  (Laughter.)  I don’t know where to start.  What do you mean?  (Laughter.)  What are you talking about?  (Applause.)  Come on.  Just when you think you’ve heard it all in Washington, somebody comes up with a new way to go off the deep end.  (Laughter.)

And then, you’ve got the spokesman for the Speaker of the House who says, we’re — meaning me, my administration — we’re just talking about student loans to distract people from the economy.  Now, think about that for a second.  Because these guys don’t get it — this is the economy.  (Applause.)  This is the economy.  This is about your job security.  This is about your future.  If you do well, the economy does well.  This is about the economy.  (Applause.)

What economy are they talking about?  You are the economy.  If you’ve got skills, if you’ve got talents, if you’re starting a business, if companies are locating here in Iowa because it’s got a well-trained workforce, that’s the economy.  That’s how we’re going to compete.  Making sure our next generation earns the best education possible is exactly America’s business.  (Applause.)  Making sure that education is available to everybody and not just the few — that is America’s business.  Our future depends on it. (Applause.)

And then, some of them suggest that students like you have to pay more so we can help bring down the deficit.  Now, think about that.  These are the same folks who ran up the deficits for the last decade.  They voted to keep giving billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies who are raking in record profits.  They voted to let millionaires and billionaires keep paying lower tax rates than middle-class workers.  They voted to give folks like me, the wealthiest Americans, an average tax cut of at least $150,000 — and that tax cut would be paid for by cutting things like education, and job training programs that give students and workers opportunities to get what they need to succeed.

Now, does that make any sense?  Does that sound like folks who are really concerned with the deficit?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  How can we want to maintain tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them?  I don’t need one.  I needed help back when I was your age.  I don’t need help now.  (Applause.)  I don’t need an extra thousand dollars or a few thousand dollars.  You do.

We need to make sure everybody pays their fair share.  How can we continue to subsidize an oil industry that’s making record profits instead of investing in things like clean energy that will help shape our future?  (Applause.)  Do we want to jack up interest rates on millions of students?  Or do we want to keep investing in the things that help us in the long term — things like education and science, and a strong military, and care for our veterans?  Because we can’t have it both ways.  We can’t do all things on the cheap.

And one thing I want to be clear about — because when I talk like this, sometimes the other side, they get all hot and bothered, and they say, he’s getting — he’s engaging in class warfare.  This isn’t about class warfare.  We want every American to succeed.  That’s the point.  I want all of you to be rich.  (Applause.)  I want all of you to be successful.  We aspire to it.  That’s what Americans do.  We work and we hustle, and we study, and we take risks — to succeed.  And we don’t expect a handout.  But we also understand we’re in this thing together, and America is not about just a few people doing well, it’s about everybody having a chance to do well.  That’s what the American Dream is all about.  (Applause.)

You look at this auditorium — everybody who’s here, you’re here because somebody made a commitment to you.  First, your parents.  But it wasn’t just your parents — the folks who decided, you know what, we’re going to set up a public university.  It was the folks who made a decision early on in this republic that said we believe that all men are created equal, that everybody is endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights — those were commitments that were made by previous generations to future generations.

So somebody here had a parent or a grandparent who said, maybe I can’t go to college, but some day my son can.  (Applause.)  Maybe I can’t start my own business, but some day I can picture my daughter starting her own business.  Maybe I’m an immigrant, but I believe that this is the country, this is the place where no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name is, you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)  That’s what we believe. (Applause.)

That is what we believe.  You and me, all of us — we’re only here because someone, somewhere, felt a responsibility not just to themselves, but to this country’s future.  And now it’s our turn to be responsible.  Now it’s our turn to keep that promise alive.  That’s where I need your help.

I’m asking everybody here, anybody who’s watching, anybody who’s following online — send your member of Congress a message. Tell them you’re not going to set your sights lower.  Tell them you’re not going to settle for something less.  Call them, email them, write on their Facebook page, tweet.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got a hashtag — #dontdoublemyrate.  (Laughter and applause.)  Dontdoublemyrate.  Dontdoublemyrate.  (Applause.)

We asked students at North Carolina, then at University of Colorado to do this yesterday — they got it trending worldwide for a while.  Let’s see if you guys can do even better.  (Applause.)  See how the Hawkeyes can do.  Because we’ve got to keep the heat on Congress until this gets done.  And I need your help to do it.  I need you to be heard.  I need you to be counted.

Now is not the time to double the interest rates on our student loans.  Now is not the time to double interest rates.  Now is the time to double down on starting investments that build a strong and secure middle class.  Now is the time to double down on building an America that’s built to last.

If we work together, with clear eyes and a common purpose, I guarantee you we’ll meet our challenges.  We will rise to this moment.  And the reason I know that is because I believe in you. I believe in you.  (Applause.)  And it’s because of you that we will remind everybody just why it is that this is the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you, Iowa.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.

END
2:57 P.M. CDT

Campaign Buzz April 25, 2012: Newt Gingrich Will Suspend his Presidential Campaign & Endorse Mitt Romney within the Next Week

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 published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Newt Gingrich conceded that Mitt Romney would be the party’s  nominee at an event on Wednesday in Cramerton, N.C.

Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Newt Gingrich conceded that Mitt Romney would be the party’s nominee at an event on Wednesday in Cramerton, N.C.

IN FOCUS: NEWT GINGRICH WILL SUSPEND HIS BID IN THE GOP / REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION RACE

Newt Gingrich to suspend presidential campaign: Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is expected to suspend his presidential campaign within the next week, according to a Republican operative familiar on the decision. WaPo, 4-25-12

  • Gingrich Decides to Quit Race and Endorse Romney: Newt Gingrich conceded that Mitt Romney would be the party’s nominee at an event on Wednesday in Cramerton, N.C.
    Newt Gingrich told Mitt Romney on Wednesday that he plans to officially endorse Mr. Romney’s candidacy after suspending his own efforts next week, Mr. Gingrich’s spokesman said…. – NYT, 4-25-12
  • Newt Gingrich to exit presidential race: What took so long?: Newt Gingrich said weeks ago that he knew Mitt Romney was the likely nominee. Now, campaign aides say, he is set to suspend his campaign May 1…. – CS Monitor, 4-25-12
  • THE RACE: Quitting presidential race can be difficult, as Santorum and now Gingrich learned: Dropping out is hard to do. It’s been especially hard for Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. Mitt Romney is claiming victory after his Tuesday sweep of five more GOP primaries. Few disagree. He has an insurmountable lead. He’s expected to clinch the…. – WaPo, 4-25-12
  • Gingrich calls ‘May Day’ on his campaign: After last night’s electoral thumping in five states, Newt Gingrich has finally gotten the message. His presidential campaign is over. He should have never have been considered a serious contender for the highest office in the land…. – WaPo, 4-25-12
  • Gingrich to suspend campaign as GOP unites behind Romney: Newt Gingrich will suspend his presidential campaign on Tuesday, according to multiple media outlets, and Rick Santorum will meet with presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney three days later, tying up loose ends as Republicans unite behind…. – LAT, 4-25-12
  • Gingrich set to leave election race: Mitt Romney’s path to the Republican nomination has been cleared further as former threat Newt Gingrich began taking steps to shut down his debt-laden campaign and endorse him. Mr Romney swept five state primaries and immediately turned his sights on…. – The Press Association, 4-25-12
  • Newt Gingrich’s most memorable campaign moments: Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is ending his presidential bid within the next week. He may had had some organizational issues, and he may have only won two states. But Gingrich knew how to make a memorable moment, either with a clever attack line…. – WaPo, 4-25-12
  • Romney moves to consolidate GOP support, court ex-rivals’ backers: Romney targets Obama in primary victory speech Romney senior advisor on road ahead Bachmann’s Take: Tuesday’s GOP primaries Now, the hard part. Mitt Romney, after finally clearing away the competition in the long and winding Republican primary battle…. – Fox News, 4-25-12
  • Romney moves to coordinate campaign with GOP: A day after claiming the title of Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney moved aggressively Wednesday to coordinate with the Republican National Committee to intensify his fight against President Barack Obama. One-time bitter GOP rivals looked to be coalescing behind the former Massachusetts governor.
    RNC Chairman Reince Priebus marked the transition Wednesday by proclaiming Romney the party’s “presumptive nominee.” Romney’s campaign also appointed several senior staff members to work on an informal takeover of the committee’s national infrastructure.
    “We will ensure that our finance, political and communications teams are fully synchronized,” Priebus said. “I am excited that these two top-notch operations will start to integrate and present a unified team to defeat Barack Obama.”
    At the same time, fading Republican contender Newt Gingrich signaled that he would likely follow Rick Santorum out of the race and called on the GOP to unite behind Romney. Aides confirmed that Gingrich will leave the race next week and said he was likely to endorse his one-time rival…. – AP, 4-25-12

Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Student Loans Interest Rates Doubling at the University of Colorado Boulder

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama: College Is the Best Investment You Can Make

Source: WH, 4-25-12

President Obama at the University of Colorado Coors Event Center
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on interest rates on student loans at the University of Colorado Coors Event Center in Boulder, Colo., April 24, 2012. (Official White House Photo by by Chuck Kennedy)

If Congress doesn’t act, more than 7.4 million students with federal student loans will see their interest rates double on July 1 of this year. President Obama believes that this is unacceptable: Higher education cannot be a luxury in this country. It’s an economic imperative that every family must be able to afford.

On Tuesday, the President visited universities in Colorado and North Carolina to talk with students about the importance of keeping interest rates on student loans low so that more Americans can get a fair shot at an affordable college education that will provide the skills they need to find a good job, and a clear path to middle class. President Obama also paid a visit to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, which was taping at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he “slow jammed” the news, explaining, “Now is not the time to make school more expensive for our young people.”

During a call with college reporters, the President explained why the battle over college affordability is one he is willing to fight:

 “I’ve always believed that we should be doing everything we can to help put higher education within reach for every single American student — because the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about half the national average.  And it’s never been more important. Unfortunately, it’s also never been more expensive.  And most of you guys I’m sure have reported about this and know this — students who take out loans to pay for college graduate owing an average of $25,000 a year. And I know what this is like, because when Michelle and I graduated from college and law school we had enormous debts, and it took us a lot of years to pay off.  So that’s probably why I feel this thing so personally.”

In Colorado, President Obama repeated his call for students to take action and make sure their voices are being heard:

“You need to send a message to your member of Congress. Tell them you’re not going to set your sights lower.  Tell them you’re not going to settle for something less.  You call them, you email them, you write on their Facebook page, tweet.  We’ve got, actually, a hashtag that I want everybody to use — #dontdoublemyrate.”

President Obama talks to patrons at the Sink in Boulder, Colo

President Barack Obama talks to patrons at the Sink turning a local stop in Boulder, Colo., April 24, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)


Learn more:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President–Boulder, Colorado

University of Colorado
Boulder, Colorado

7:20 P.M. MDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Boulder!  (Applause.)  How’s it going, Buffaloes?  (Applause.)  Well, you guys are just happy because school is almost out, isn’t it?  (Laughter.)

Please give Daniel a big round of applause for that great introduction.  (Applause.)  I just saw Daniel over at The Sink.  (Applause.)  I bought some pizza.  And I heard a rumor that Robert Redford used to work there.

AUDIENCE:  Yess!

THE PRESIDENT:  So that’s just a sign — always be nice to your server because you never know where they’ll end up.  (Laughter.)  I will say that I was shaking hands with folks outside and a young woman — she got very excited and spilled yogurt on me.  (Laughter.)  More hazardly, she spilled yogurt on the Secret Service, which you — (laughter) — the agent just stood there, just looking at her.  (Laughter.)

I want to thank the Chancellor of UC Boulder, Phil DiStefano.  Give him a big round of applause for having me here today.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado, Joe Garcia, in the house.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank you for being indoors when it is gorgeous outside.  (Applause.)

Now, I’ve just come from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill — (applause.)  I was talking to another good-looking group of students.  Jimmy Fallon and I taped his show there tonight — make sure to tune in.  (Laughter.)  But we saved the prime-time event for Boulder.  (Applause.)

And I’ve come here to talk to you about what most of you are focused on every day — at least you’re supposed to be — and that is studying and college.  Look, college isn’t just the best investment you can make in your future — it is the best investment that you can make in your country’s future.  I believe that.  (Applause.)

And by the way, I just want to say, all of you who have seats, feel free to sit down.  (Laughter.)  Because it’s hot in here and I don’t want folks dropping off.  (Laughter.)  There you go, make yourself comfortable.  Take a load off.  (Applause.)

So I’m proud of all of you for doing what it takes to make this investment in a college education because it has never been more important.

In today’s economy, there’s no greater predictor of individual success than a good education.  Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  Their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma.  Higher education, whether it’s a four-year college or two years at a community college, is the clearest path we’ve got to the middle class.

Now, I know that those of you who are about to graduate — (applause) — you’re pretty cheerful about that, huh?  (Laughter.)  I know those of you who are about to graduate sometimes are wondering what’s in store for your future.  Because not even four years ago, just as the global economy was about to enter into freefall, you were still trying to find your way around campus.  And today, our economy is recovering, but it’s not yet fully recovered from the worst financial crisis and economic crisis that we’ve experienced since the Great Depression.

Our businesses have added more than 4 million jobs over the past two years.  (Applause.)  But there are still too many Americans who are out there looking for a job or trying to figure out how to pay the bills and cover the mortgage.  There are too many folks who still lack the basic security that has always been at the heart of the American promise, but has been slipping away for more than a decade now, even before the recession hit.

But here’s the thing.  I want all of you to know that the degree you earn from Colorado is going to be the best tool that you’ve got to achieve the American promise.  (Applause.)  By far. That basic idea that if you work hard, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, no matter what the circumstances of your birth, if you work hard you can do well enough to raise a family and own a home, send your own kids to college, put a little bit away for retirement.  That idea that each generation has a little more opportunity than the last.

I can tell you that now as a parent.  When I look at Malia and Sasha — sometimes I coach Sasha’s basketball games, and if she scores a basket I am so excited, compared to when I used to score a basket.  (Laughter.)  It’s the hope that all your parents have for you — that your own kids will surpass you; that they’re going to be able to shine as bright as they can imagine.  And that’s the dream that your parents have for you.

And keeping that promise alive, that’s the defining issue of our time.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We believe in you!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I believe in you.  I believe in you.  (Applause.)  I believe in you.

And I don’t want this to be a country where a shrinking number of Americans are doing really, really well while a growing number are struggling to get by.  (Applause.)  That’s not the future I want for you.  That’s not the future I want for my daughters.  I want this forever to be a country where everybody gets a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share, everybody plays by the same set of rules.  (Applause.)  That’s the America I know.  That’s the America I love.

It’s a big and bold and generous America.  It’s not a cramped America.  It’s not an America that says, set your sights lower.  And that’s the America that’s within our reach.

You know, I think back sometimes to my own circumstances.  My grandfather had the chance to go to college because this country decided that every returning veteran of World War II should be able to go to school.  (Applause.)  And then my mother was able to raise two kids by herself while she was going to school because she was able to get grants and work her way through school.  (Applause.)  And then I’m only standing here today, and Michelle is only where she is today, because scholarships and student loans gave us a shot at a great education.

We didn’t come from well-to-do backgrounds.  We didn’t have famous families.  But it wasn’t just that we worked hard.  It was also that somebody made an investment in us.  (Applause.)  That’s what America did for us.

This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of everybody.  Everybody who’s willing to work for it, we’ve said, you know what, you’ve got a shot.  That’s what makes us special.  That’s what makes us exceptional.
That’s what kept us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine.  And that’s the commitment that we’ve got to reaffirm today.  (Applause.)  That’s what we believe in.

But I don’t need to tell all of you that it’s gotten harder. Since most of you were born, tuition and fees at American colleges have more than doubled.  And that forces students like you to take out more loans and rack up more debt.  The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates about $25,000 in student loan debt.  Not good.  Americans now owe more on their student loans than they do on their credit cards.

And living with that kind of debt means some pretty tough choices when you’re first starting out.  It means putting off buying your first house.  Or it means maybe you can’t start up that business right away that you’ve got this great idea for.

When I was over at The Sink I was talking to three business majors, and they all had these business ideas.  But it’s tougher if you’ve got all this loan that you’re already thinking about the minute you get out of school.  Maybe you’ve got to start a family a little bit later.  It takes you a longer time to save for retirement.  And when a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards loan debt, that’s not just tough on you.  It’s not just tough on your families.  It’s painful for the whole economy because that’s money that could be going into the economy and could be going into new businesses and could be helping businesses grow.

And I want to point out — listen, I know about this firsthand.  Michelle and I, we know about this firsthand.  This is not something I read in a briefing book.  (Laughter.)  This is not some abstract idea for us.  We’ve been in your shoes.  When we graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of debt, both of us.  That means when we got married, we got poorer together.  (Laughter.)  We added our assets together, and they were zero.  (Laughter.)  And then we added our liabilities together, and they were a lot.  (Laughter.)

We paid more for our student loans than we paid for our mortgage each month when we first bought our small condo in Chicago.  And we were lucky to land good jobs with a steady income, but we only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago.  Think about that.  I’m the President of the United States and — (laughter and applause) — so here I am, and we were writing those checks every month.  And that wasn’t easy, especially when we had Malia and Sasha, because at that point, we’re supposed to be saving for their college educations, and we’re still paying off on our college educations.  So I’ve been in your shoes.  I know what I am talking about here.  This is not something that I just read about.

So we’ve got to make college more affordable for you.  (Applause.)  We cannot price the middle class out of a college education.  When most new jobs in America require more than a high school diploma, higher education — whether at a four-year college, at a two-year program — it can’t be a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative for every family in America.  And every family in America should be able to afford it.

As long as those young people are willing to put in the work, as long as you’re willing to study hard and take advantage of this opportunity, then we’ve got to make sure it’s there for you.  (Applause.)

Now, I’m going to be asking for your help, but let me tell you what I’ve already done on this issue, Colorado, because I think it’s important to know that we haven’t just been talking the talk — we’ve been walking the walk — to try to help make college more affordable.

Before I took office, we had a student loan system where tens of billions of taxpayer dollars were going to subsidize banks in the student loan program instead of going to students.  So we changed it.  We cut out the middleman.  We said, why do we need the banks?  They’re not taking a risk.  These are federally guaranteed loans; let’s give the money directly to students.  (Applause.)

And I have to tell you, there were folks in Washington who fought us tooth and nail because they wanted to protect the status quo.  One of them, when they heard that we wanted to take this business away from the banks, they said, this is “an outrage.”  But the real outrage was letting these banks keep these subsidies while students were working two or three jobs just to try to pay tuition.

So we kept at it, and we kept at it, and we won that fight. And today, that money is going directly to where it should have been going in the first place, and that’s helping millions of young people afford a college education.  (Applause.)

And then last fall, I acted to cap student loan payments faster, so that nearly 1.6 million students who make their payments on time, they have the option of only paying 10 percent of their monthly income towards loans once they graduate.  And that means if you decide to be a teacher, or you decide to be a social worker, or you’re going into a profession that doesn’t  pay a lot of money, you still have that option, because you know that your monthly payment will be manageable.  (Applause.)  And that’s important.  (Applause.)

And then we decided we’ve got to make sure every student has access to a simple fact sheet on student loans and financial aid, so you can have all the information you need to make intelligent choices on your own about how to pay for college.  So some of you know we created this new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.  It’s a watchdog for consumers.  (Applause.)  And one of their mandates is to focus on student loans.  And so they’ve produced a website and fact sheets called “Know Before You Owe” — “Know Before You Owe” — which is something I wish Michelle and I knew about, wish we had had.

So we’ve done those steps to help provide you good information and to make sure that we’ve expanded access to Pell grants and student loans.  But that’s not enough.  It’s not enough just to increase student aid.  We can’t keep on subsidizing skyrocketing tuition, or we’re just going to run out of money.  We’ll just run out of money.  (Applause.)

So what I said to colleges and universities is, you guys have to do your parts to keep costs down.  (Applause.)  And I’ve told Congress, steer federal aid to those schools that keep tuition affordable and provide good value and serve their students well.  We’ve put colleges on notice:  If you can’t show us that you’re making every effort to keep tuition from going up, then funding from taxpayers will go down.  You’ve got to make an effort.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to hold colleges accountable if they don’t.  (Applause.)

Of course, public universities like this one also understand that states have to do their part, state legislators have to do their part in making higher education a priority.  (Applause.)  Last year, over 40 states cut their higher education spending.

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  Not good.  These budget cuts have been one of the biggest factors in your tuition going up.  So we’re challenging states to take responsibility.  We told them, if you can bring — find new ways to bring down costs of college, make it easier for students to graduate, we’ll help you do it.

So that’s what we’ve already done.  We’ve helped families, helped more young people afford a higher education.  We’re offering incentives to states and colleges and universities to keep costs down.  And now, guess what, Congress has to do their part.  (Applause.)  Congress has to do their part.  (Applause.)

They need to extend the tuition tax credit that we put in place when I first came into office that saves middle-class families thousands of dollars.  They need to safeguard aid for low-income students, so that today’s freshmen and sophomores know they’re going to be able to count on it.  Our Pell grants have to be there for students.  They need to give more young people the chance to earn your way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs over the next five years.  (Applause.)

And then there’s something that they’ve got to do right now. They have to prevent the interest rates on federal student loans from shooting up and shaking you down.  And that’s where you come in.  (Applause.)

All right.  Now, five years ago, Congress cut the rates on federal student loans in half.  That’s five years ago.  Not the current Congress, Congress five years ago.  (Laughter.)  On July 1st of this year, two months from now, that rate cut expires.  I want everybody to understand this.  Interest rates on those loans will double overnight, starting on July 1st, if Congress does not act.  And for each year that Congress does not act, the average student with these loans is going to rack up an additional $1,000 in debt.  So this is money out of your pocket.  It’s basically a $1,000 tax hike for more than 7 million students across America  — almost 170,000 students here in Colorado alone.

Now, I just want to see a show of hands because I want to make sure I’m not misinformed here.  How many of you can afford to pay an extra $1,000 right now?  I didn’t think so.  So stopping this should be a no-brainer.  Helping more of our young people afford college should be at the forefront of America’s agenda.  It shouldn’t be a Democratic or a Republican issue.  Think about it.  (Applause.)  This wasn’t a partisan issue in the past.  The Stafford loans, that’s named after a Republican senator.  Pell grants, they’re named after a Democratic senator.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  America!

THE PRESIDENT:  America.  (Laughter.)  That’s what we’re supposed to be thinking about.

Look, when Congress cut these rates five years ago, 77 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for it.  Of course, a couple hundred Democrats voted for it, but that’s okay. It was a bipartisan effort.  Today you’ve got Republicans who run Congress, and they’re not saying whether or not they’re going to stop your rates from doubling.  Some have hinted that they’d only do it if we cut things like aid for low-income students instead. So think about this.

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  They’ll say, we’ll keep your rates low as long as we’re messing with folks who need them even more.  Does that make sense to you?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  I want to read a quote.  This is from a Republican congresswoman.  I didn’t really understand this.  (Laughter.)  I’m quoting her.  She said that she has “very little tolerance for people who tell me they graduate with debt… because there’s no reason for that.”  She said, students who rack up student loan debt are just sitting on their butts, having opportunity “dumped in your lap.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  You guys can Google her or what have you, but — (laughter) — now, think about that.  Think about that.  I can tell you, Michelle and I, we didn’t take out loans because we were lazy.  (Laughter.)  You didn’t take out loans because you’re lazy.  You don’t take out loans lightly.  You don’t say to yourself, man, this is great, I’m going to be really in debt.  (Laughter.)  I’m thrilled.  You did it because the cost of college kept on going up, and you’re trying to graduate.

And if these guys were serious about making college more affordable, then they wouldn’t be voting to cut financial aid in their — their budget, if you look at their budget, what it means is you’re going to be cutting aid for 10 million college students by an average of more than $1,000.  They certainly wouldn’t let student rates double overnight if they really cared about this issue.

They say that, well, we’ve got to do it because we’ve got to bring down the deficit.  Now, first of all, these guys ran up the deficit.  (Applause.)  Remember, these are the same folks who voted in favor of two wars without paying for it, and big tax cuts without paying for it.  They just voted to keep billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies who are raking in record profits.  They just voted to let millionaires and billionaires keep paying low tax rates — lower tax rates than middle-class workers.  They just voted to give an average tax cut of at least $150,000 to the wealthiest Americans — folks like me who don’t need it, weren’t asking for it.  And the way they pay for it is to cut things like education and job training that give students opportunities to work and succeed.  So they can’t be too serious about deficits.

I mean, do we want to keep tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them, didn’t ask for them, the country can’t afford it?  Or do we want to make sure that everybody pays their fair share, and make sure that young people are able to afford to go to college?  (Applause.)

Do we want to keep giving taxpayer giveaways to big oil?  Or do we want to invest in clean energy and do we want to make sure that we’re rebuilding this country?  (Applause.)  And make sure that we can keep interest rates on millions of students affordable?  We need to be investing in the things that build America over the long term.  Things like education and science, a caring for our veterans, and a strong military.  (Applause.)  And we can’t have it both ways.  We’ve got to make choices.

In America, we admire success.  We aspire to it.  I want everybody here to do great, be rich, go out and start a business. That’s wonderful.   We work and we hustle, you study hard to get your degree — because you believe in success and individual initiative.  But America is not just about a few people doing well.  America is about everybody having the chance to do well.  (Applause.)  That’s what the American Dream is all about.  (Applause.)

Some of us had parents or grandparents who said, maybe I can’t go to college, but some day my son can go to college.  Maybe I can’t start my own business, but some day my daughter, she can start her own business.  Maybe I’m an immigrant and I won’t have every opportunity, but I believe that in this country, is this place, this is a place where no matter who you are or what you look like, or where you come from or what your last name is, you can make it if you try.  That’s what America is about.  (Applause.)  That’s who we are.  That’s who we are.  (Applause.)
So let me just be clear here.  We need to send a message to folks who don’t seem to get this that “setting your sights lower,” that’s not an education plan.  “You’re on your own” — that’s not an economic plan.  We can’t just cut our way to prosperity.

Earlier generations made investments necessary to build a strong middle class.  Somebody started this university.  Somebody gave us a chance.  Somebody made the investment in us because they helped to forge America’s leadership in things like science and technology and manufacturing.  That’s what previous generations did, and now it’s our turn.  Somebody here might be discovering the cure for cancer.  Somebody here might be getting the formula for fusion.  Somebody here might be inventing the next great American industry.  But that’s only going to happen if we understand that we’re in this together.

And that’s why I need your help.  I’m asking everybody who’s here and anybody who’s watching, anybody who’s following online, you need to send a message to your member of Congress.  Tell them you’re not going to set your sights lower.  Tell them you’re not going to settle for something less.  You call them, you email them, you write on their Facebook page, tweet.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got, actually, a hashtag that I want everybody to use — #dontdoublemyrate.  It’s pretty — everybody, I want you to repeat that.

AUDIENCE:  Dontdoublemyrate.

THE PRESIDENT:  Dontdoublemyrate.

AUDIENCE:  Dontdoublemyrate.  I asked students at North Carolina to do this earlier today and they got it trending worldwide for a while.  So let’s see if you can do better — (applause) — because we’ve got to keep the heat on.  Your voice matters.  You’ve got to stand up.  You’ve got to be heard.  You’ve got to be counted.  You’ve got to tell them now is not the time to double your interest rates on student loans.  Now is the time to double down on the investments in a strong and a secure middle class, and double down on an America that’s built to last.

You, me, all of us, we’re here because somebody, somewhere — starting with our parents or our grandparents or our great grandparents — they made an investment not just in themselves, but in each other and in the future of our country.  And now it’s our turn.  It’s our turn to keep that promise alive.

And that’s what drives me every single day.  I used to — when I was running for this office, I said to people, look, I will not be a perfect man or a perfect President, but here’s what I can do:  I can work every single day as hard as I know how to make sure that you’ve got a chance, to make sure you can live out your hopes and your dreams.  And I’m not about to quit now.  We don’t give up here in America.  We get up.  We get each other’s back.  We help each other get ahead.  We work together.  (Applause.)

And if you all are willing to join me, I guarantee you not only will we stop these interest rates from going up, but we’re going to remind the rest of the world just why it is that America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

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

END
7:52 P.M. MDT

Remarks by the President to College Reporters

Via Telephone, Aboard Air Force One, En Route Boulder, Colorado

4:05 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey, everybody.  Thanks for being on the call.  And first of all, let me apologize if the connection sounds fuzzy.  As was just mentioned, I’m joining you guys on Air Force One.

I’m just leaving North Carolina; I was at UNC-Chapel Hill.  Now I’m on my way to the University of Colorado at Boulder.  And tomorrow we’re going to be at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.  And what we’re doing is going to schools to talk to students directly about the critical importance of the possibility that 7.4 million students with federal student loans would see their interest rates double on July 1st unless Congress steps up and does what it needs to do.

I’ve always believed that we should be doing everything we can to help put higher education within reach for every single American student — because the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about half the national average.  And it’s never been more important.  Unfortunately, it’s also never been more expensive.  And most of you guys I’m sure have reported about this and know this — students who take out loans to pay for college graduate owing an average of $25,000 a year.  And I know what this is like, because when Michelle and I graduated from college and law school we had enormous debts, and it took us a lot of years to pay off.  So that’s probably why I feel this thing so personally.

For a lot of working families, the idea of owing that much money means higher education is simply out of reach for their children.  And for the first time now we’ve got Americans owing more debt on their student loans than they do on their credit cards.

The key point here is, is that in America, higher education can’t be a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative that every family has got to be able to afford.  We’ve already taken some important steps to make college more affordable.  So, for example, we extended Pell grants to 3 million more students, and we signed a tax credit worth up to $10,000 to help middle-class families cover the cost of tuition.  We’ve eliminated a major expense for young people by allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s health insurance plans until they’re 26.

But there’s clearly more work to be done.  And that’s why I’m going to colleges across the country.  I want to talk to students right now about how we can make higher education more affordable, and what’s at stake right now if Congress doesn’t do something about it.

So the key point I want to make:  If Congress doesn’t act on July 1st, interest rates on Stafford loans, on student loans from the federal government will double.  Nearly 7.5 million students will end up owing more on their loan payments.  And that would be, obviously, a tremendous blow.  And it’s completely preventable.

And for some time now, I’ve been calling on Congress to take steps to make higher education more affordable, to prevent these interest rates from doubling, and to extend the tuition tax credit that has saved middle-class families millions of dollars, but also, to double the number of work/study jobs over the next five years.

And instead, over the past few years, Republicans in Congress have voted against new ways to make college more affordable for middle-class families, even while they’re voting for huge tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires — tax cuts that, by the way, would have to be paid for by cutting things like education and job-training programs that give students new opportunities to work and succeed.

So the bottom line here is we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.  Making it harder for our young people to afford higher education, allowing them to earn their degrees — that’s nothing more than cutting our own future off at the knees.  And Congress has to keep interest rates on student loans from doubling, and they need to do it now.

And I have to say, from my perspective, this is a question of values.  We can’t let America become a country where a shrinking number of people are doing really well, a growing number of people struggle to get by, and you’ve got fewer ladders for people to climb into the middle class and to get opportunity.  We’ve got to build an economy where everybody is getting a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share, everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  That’s ultimately how the middle class gets stronger.  And that’s an economy that’s built to last.

So I’m going to take this issue to every part of the country this year.  I’m going to keep focusing on it until Congress passes legislation to keep interest rates low and to continue to give students the chance to get the college education they need for the jobs of today, but also for the jobs of tomorrow.

And part of the reason I wanted to be on this call is to let you know, very personally, I need your help on this.  I need you all to tell your readers and your listeners why they’ve got to speak up, why they’ve got to speak out.  Let Congress know that they need to do the right thing.  And for those of you on Twitter, use the hashtag #dontdoublemyrate.  That’s #dontdoublemyrate.

Because we don’t want Congress to double the interest rates on so many students.  We need to reward hard work and responsibility.  And part of that is keeping interest rates on student loans low so more Americans get a fair shot at an affordable college education, the skills they need to find a good job, a clear path to the middle class that’s not blocked by a mountain of debt.  And the time to act is right now, and I’m going to need your help getting that message out.

So thanks so much to all of you for being on the call.  And thanks for taking the time to shine a light on this important issue.  And I know that our team is going to be on the phone call after I hang up.  They can answer a bunch of specific details that you may have.

Talk to you soon.  Bye-bye.

END 4:14 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency April 24, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Woos Student Voters & Pushes Congress to Prevent Low-Rate Student Loans from Doubling

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Asks Students to Tell Congress: #DontDoubleMyRate

Source: WH, 4-24-12

 

President Obama was at the University of North Carolina this afternoon asking students to tell their members of Congress one thing: Don’t double my rates.

Five years ago, Congress cut the rates on federal student loans in half. That was a good thing to do. But on July 1st — that’s a little over two months from now — that rate cut expires.  And if Congress does nothing, the interest rates on those loans will double overnight…. And just to give you some sense of perspective — for each year that Congress doesn’t act, the average student with these loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt — an extra thousand dollars.  That’s basically a tax hike for more than 7 million students across America — more than 160,000 students here in North Carolina alone.

President Obama said that stopping this from happening – and helping more young people afford college – should be a no-brainer because in today’s economy, a college degree is an economic imperative:

In today’s economy, there is no greater predictor of individual success than a good education.  Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  Their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma.

And a college education –whether from a two-year or four-year school – shouldn’t be something that only some families can afford. A good education should be within reach for all students willing to work for it. But tuition and fees at America’s colleges have more than doubled since today’s college students were born, and students are taking on more debt to pay for it.

President Obama has worked to help more young people and their families afford a higher education. His Administration is offering incentives for states, colleges, and universities to keep costs down. And now he’s calling on Congress to do their part, and he’s asking students to help make sure they do.

But I’m asking everyone else who’s watching or following online — call your member of Congress. Email them. Write on their Facebook page. Tweet them — we’ve got a hashtag. Here’s the hashtag for you to tweet them:  #dontdoublemyrate. All right?  I’m going to repeat that — the hashtag is #dontdoublemyrate.

… Your voice matters. Stand up. Be heard. Be counted. Tell them now is not the time to double the interest rate on your student loans. Now is the time to double down on smart investments that build a strong and secure middle class. Now is the time to double down on an America that’s built to last.  


Learn more:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on College Affordability — University of North Carolina

University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

1:13 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  (Applause.)  Hello, North Carolina!  (Applause.)  What’s up, Tar Heels?  (Applause.)

Now, first of all, I want to thank Domonique for that unbelievable introduction.  Wasn’t she good?  (Applause.)  You can tell she will be an outstanding teacher.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you, President Obama!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back, I do.  (Applause.)  Love North Carolina.  I love North Carolina.  (Applause.)  I do.  Every time I come down to this state I just love it that much more.  (Applause.)  I said a while back, the thing about North Carolina is even the folks who don’t vote for me are nice to me.  (Laughter.)  I can’t say that about everyplace.  (Laughter.)

Now, I want to issue a quick spoiler alert:  Later today, I am getting together with Jimmy Fallon — (applause) — and the Dave Matthews Band — (applause) — right here on campus.  We’re going to tape Jimmy’s show for tonight — so I want everybody to tune in, make sure it has high ratings.  (Laughter.)  It’s a Dave Matthews fan right here.

We’ve got some wonderful people who are here who are doing a great job for you guys.  First of all, your Governor, Bev Perdue, is in the house.  Give her a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  There she is.  We’ve got your Congressman, Dave Price — Congressman David Price.  (Applause.)  Congressmen GK Butterfield.  (Applause.)  Congressman Brad Miller.  (Applause.)  Your Mayor, Mark Kleinschmidt.  (Applause.)  Chancellor of UNC, Holden Thorp.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  It is great to be back on the Lady Tar Heels’ home court.  (Applause.)  This is an arena with some serious hoops history.  I know the men’s team used to play here back in the day.  I just want to remind you right off the bat — I picked UNC to win it all in March Madness.  (Applause.)  Want to point out.  And if Kendall hadn’t gotten hurt — (laughter)  — who knows where we might have been.

I saw McAdoo, by the way, at the airport.  He came by and said hello, which I was excited — so I just want you to know I have faith in you guys.  (Applause.)

Now, it’s always good to begin with some easy applause lines — talk about the Tar Heels.  (Laughter.)  But the reason I came to Chapel Hill today is to talk about what most of you do here every single day — and that’s study, I assume.  (Laughter.)  Higher education is the single most important investment you can make in your future.  (Applause.)  So I’m proud of all of you for doing what it takes to make that investment — for the long hours in the library — I hope — (laughter) — in the lab, in the classroom.  This has never been more important.

Whether you’re here at a four-year college or university, or you’re at a two-year community college, in today’s economy, there’s no greater predictor of individual success than a good education.  (Applause.)  Right now, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  The incomes of folks with a college degree are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma.  A higher education is the clearest path into the middle class.  (Applause.)

Now, I know that those of you who are about to graduate are wondering about what’s in store for your future.  Not even four years ago, just as the global economy was about to enter into freefall, you were still trying to find your way around campus.  And you’ve spent your years here at a time when the whole world has been trying to recover, but has not yet fully recovered from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in most of our lifetimes — and that includes your teachers.

Our businesses have added more than 4 million jobs over the past two years, but we all know there’s still too many Americans out there looking for work or trying to find a job that pays enough to cover the bills and make the mortgage.  We still have too many folks in the middle class that are searching for that security that started slipping away years before the recession hit.

So we’ve still got a lot of work to do to rebuild this economy so that it lasts, so that it’s solid, so that it’s firm.  But what I want you to know is that the degree you earn from UNC will be the best tool you have to achieve that basic American promise — the idea that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family and own a home, send your own kids to college, put a little away for retirement.  (Applause.)  That American Dream is within your reach.  (Applause.)

And there’s another part of this dream, which is the idea that each generation is going to know a little bit more opportunity than the last generation.  That our kids — I can tell you now as a parent — and I guarantee you, your parents feel this about you — nothing is more important than your kid’s success.  You want them to do better than you did.  (Applause.)   You want them to shoot higher, strive more, and succeed beyond your imagination.

So keeping that promise alive is the defining issue of our time.  I don’t want this to be a country where a shrinking number of Americans are doing really, really well, but a growing number of people are just struggling to get by.  That’s not my idea of America.  (Applause.)  I don’t want that future for you.  I don’t want that future for my daughters.  I want this forever to be a country where everybody gets a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  (Applause.)  That’s the America I know and love.  That’s the America within our reach.

I think back to my grandfather.  He had a chance to go to college because this country decided every returning veteran of World War II should be able to afford it, should be able to go to college.  (Applause.)  My mother was able to raise two kids by herself because she was able to get grants and work her way through school.  (Applause.)  I am only standing here today, Michelle is only who she is today — (applause) — because of scholarships and student loans.  That gave us a shot at a great education.  We didn’t come from families of means, but we knew that if we worked hard we’d have a shot.

This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of all who are willing to work for it.  That’s what makes us special.  That’s what made us an economic superpower.  That’s what kept us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine.  And that’s a commitment we have to reaffirm today in 2012.  (Applause.)

Now, everybody will give lip service to this.  You’ll hear a lot of folks say, yes, education is important — it’s important.  (Laughter.)  But it requires not just words but deeds.  And the fact is, that since most of you were born, tuition and fees at America’s colleges have more than doubled.  And that forces students like you to take out a lot more loans.  There are fewer grants.  You rack up more debt.  Can I get an “amen”?

AUDIENCE:  Amen!

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, the average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $25,000 in student loan debt.  That’s the average — some are more.  Can I get an “amen” for that?

AUDIENCE:  Amen!

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes — because some folks have more debt than that.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Amen!  (Laughter and applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Americans now owe more on their student loans than they do on their credit cards.  And living with that kind of debt means that this generation is not getting off to the same start that previous generations — because you’re already loaded up with debt.  So that means you’ve got to make pretty tough choices when you are first starting out.  You might have to put off buying a house.  It might mean that you can’t go after that great idea for a startup that you have, because you’re still paying off loans.  Maybe you’ve got to wait longer to start a family, or save for retirement.

When a big chunk of every paycheck goes towards loan debt, that’s not just tough on you, that’s not just tough for middle-class families, it’s not just tough on your parents — it’s painful for the economy, because that money is not going to help businesses grow.  I mean, think about the sooner you can start buying a house, that’s good for the housing industry.  The sooner you can start up that business, that means you’re hiring some folks — that grows the economy.

And this is something Michelle and I know about firsthand.  I just wanted everybody here to understand this is not — I didn’t just read about this.  (Laughter and applause.)  I didn’t just get some talking points about this.  I didn’t just get a policy briefing on this.  Michelle and I, we’ve been in your shoes.  Like I said, we didn’t come from wealthy families.

So when we graduated from college and law school, we had a mountain of debt.  When we married, we got poorer together.  (Laughter and applause.)  We added up our assets and there were no assets.  (Laughter.)  And we added up our liabilities and there were a lot of liabilities, basically in the form of student loans.  We paid more in student loans than we paid on our mortgage when we finally did buy a condo.  For the first eight years of our marriage, we were paying more in student loans than what we were paying for our mortgage.  So we know what this is about.

And we were lucky to land good jobs with a steady income. But we only finished paying off our student loans — check this out, all right, I’m the President of the United States — (applause) — we only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago.  (Laughter.)  That wasn’t that long ago.  And that wasn’t easy, especially because when we had Malia and Sasha, we’re supposed to be saving up for their college educations, and we’re still paying off our college educations.

So we have to make college more affordable for our young people.  That’s the bottom line.  (Applause.)  And like I said, look, not everybody is going to go to a four-year college or university.  You may go to a community college.  You may go to a technical school and get into the workforce.  And then, it may turn out that after you’ve had kids and you’re 35, you go back to school because you’re retraining for something new.  But no matter what it is, no matter what field you’re in, you’re going to have to engage in lifelong learning.  That’s the nature of the economy today.  And we’ve got to make sure that’s affordable.

That’s good for the country; it’s good for you.  At this make-or-break moment for the middle class, we’ve got to make sure that you’re not saddled with debt before you even get started in life.  (Applause.)  Because I believe college isn’t just one of the best investments you can make in your future — it’s one of the best investments America can make in our future.  This is important for all of us.  (Applause.)

We can’t price the middle class out of a college education.  Not at a time when most new jobs in America will require more than a high school diploma.  Whether it’s at a four-year college or a two-year program, we can’t make higher education a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative.  Every American family should be able to afford it.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Amen!

THE PRESIDENT:  So that’s why I’m here.  Now, before I ask for your help — I’ve got something very specific I’m going to need you to do.  But, North Carolina, indulge me.  I want to briefly tell you what we’ve already done to help make college more affordable, because we’ve done a lot.

Before I took office, we had a student loan system where tens of billions of taxpayer dollars were going to banks, not students.  They were processing student loan programs except the student loans were federally guaranteed so they weren’t taking any big risks, but they were still taking billions of dollars out of the system.  So we changed it.

Some in Washington fought tooth and nail to protect the status quo, where billions of dollars were going to banks instead of students.  And they wanted to protect that.  They wanted to keep those dollars flowing to the banks.

One of them said — and I’m going to quote here because it gives you a sense of the attitudes sometimes we’re dealing with in Washington.  They said, it would be “an outrage” — if we changed the system so that the money wasn’t going through banks and they weren’t making billions of dollars of profits off of it — said it was “an outrage.”

And I said, no, the real outrage is letting these banks keep these subsidies without taking any risks while students are working two or three jobs just to get by.  That’s an outrage.  That’s an outrage.  (Applause.)

So we kept at it, we kept it at — we won that fight.  Today, that money is going where it should be going — should have been going in the first place — it’s going directly to students.  We’re bypassing the middleman.  That means we can raise Pell grants to a higher level.  More people are eligible. More young people are able to afford college because of what we did.  (Applause.)  Over 10 years, that’s going to be $60 billion that’s going to students that wasn’t going to students before.  (Applause.)

Now, then, last fall, I acted to cap student loan payments faster, so that nearly 1.6 million students who make their payments on time will only have to pay 10 percent of their monthly income towards loans once they graduate.  (Applause.)  Now, this is useful — this is especially helpful for young people who decide, like Domonique, to become teachers, or maybe they go into one of the –

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Social work.

THE PRESIDENT:  — social work or one of the helping professions.  (Applause.)  And they may not get paid a lot of money, but they’ve got a lot of debt.  And so being able to cap how much per month you’re paying as a percentage of your income gives you a little bit more security knowing you can choose that profession.

And then we wanted every student to have access to a simple factsheet on student loans and financial aid, so you can have all the information you need to make your own choices about how to pay for college.  And we set up this new consumer watchdog called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — (applause) — and so they’re now putting out this information.  We call it “Know Before You Owe.”  Know before you owe.  It’s something Michelle and I wish we had had when we were in your shoes — because sometimes we got surprised by some of this debt that we were racking up.

So that’s what we’ve done.  But it’s not enough just to increase student aid.  We can’t keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition or we’ll run out of money.  And colleges and universities, they’ve got to do their part also to keep college costs down.  (Applause.)  So I’ve told Congress to steer federal aid to those schools that keep tuition affordable, that provide good value, that serve their students well.  And we’ve put colleges on notice:  If you can’t stop tuition from just going up every single year a lot faster than inflation, then funding you get from taxpayers, at least at the federal level, will go down — because we need to push colleges to do better, and hold them accountable if they don’t.  (Applause.)

Now, public universities know well, and Governor Perdue knows well — states also have to do their part by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets.  (Applause.)  I know that Bev is fighting hard to make tuition affordable for North Carolina families.  That’s a priority for her.  But last year, over 40 states cut their higher education spending.  And these budget cuts have been among the largest factors in tuition increases at public colleges over the past decade.  So we’re challenging states to take responsibility.  We told them, if you can find new ways to bring down the cost of college and make it easier for students to graduate, then we’ll help you do it.

But I want everybody here, as you’re thinking about voting, make sure you know where your state representative and your state senator stands when it comes to funding higher education.  (Applause.)  They’ve got to be responsible.  They’ve got to be accountable as well to prioritize higher education.  (Applause.)

All right.  So helping more families, helping more young people afford a higher education; offering incentives for states and colleges and universities to keep their costs down — that’s what we’ve been doing.  Now Congress has to do their part.

They need to extend the tuition tax credit that we put in place back when I came into office.  It’s saving middle-class families thousands of dollars.  (Applause.)  Congress needs to safeguard aid for low-income students, like Pell grants, so that today’s freshmen and sophomores know that they’ll be able to count on it.  (Applause.)  That’s what Congress has to do.  Congress needs to give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work/study jobs over the next five years.  (Applause.)  That’s what Congress needs to do.

And then there’s one specific thing — and now this is where you come in — there’s one specific thing that Congress needs to do right now to prevent the interest rates on student loans, federal student loans, from shooting up and shaking you down.  So this is where you come in.  I want to explain this, so everybody listen carefully.

Five years ago, Congress cut the rate on federal student loans in half.  That was a good thing to do.  But on July 1st — that’s a little over two months from now — that rate cut expires.  And if Congress does nothing, the interest rates on those loans will double overnight.

So I’m assuming a lot of people here have federal student loans.  The interest rates will double unless Congress acts by July 1st.  And just to give you some sense of perspective — for each year that Congress doesn’t act, the average student with these loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt — an extra thousand dollars.  That’s basically a tax hike for more than 7 million students across America — more than 160,000 students here in North Carolina alone.  Anybody here can afford to pay an extra $1,000 right now?

AUDIENCE:  No!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t think so.  So stopping this from happening should be a no-brainer.  Helping more of our young people afford college, that should be at the forefront of America’s agenda.  It shouldn’t be a Republican or a Democratic issue.  (Applause.)  This is an American issue.

The Stafford loans we’re talking about, they’re named after a Republican senator.  The Pell grants that have helped millions of Americans earn a college education, that’s named after a Democratic senator.  When Congress cut those rates five years ago, 77 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for it — along with a couple hundred Democrats — (laughter) — including the Democrats who are here.  (Applause.)

So this shouldn’t be a partisan issue.  And yet, the Republicans who run Congress right now have not yet said whether or not they’ll stop your rates from doubling.  We’re two months away.  Some have hinted that they’d only do it if we cut things like aid for low-income students instead.  So the idea would be, well, all right, we’ll keep interest rates low if we take away aid from other students who need it.  That doesn’t make sense.

One Republican congresswoman said just recently — I’m going to quote this because I know you guys will think I’m making it up — (laughter).

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We trust you.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, no.  She said she had “very little tolerance for people who tell me they graduate with debt because there’s no reason for that.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m just quoting here.  I’m just quoting.  She said, students who rack up student loan debt are just sitting on their butts, having opportunity “dumped in your lap.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, I’m reading it here, so I didn’t
make this up.  Now, can you imagine saying something like that?  Those of you who have had to take out student loans, you didn’t do it because you’re lazy.  You didn’t do it lightly.  You don’t like debt.  I mean, a lot of you, your parents are helping out, but it’s tough on them.  They’re straining.  And so you do it because the cost of college keeps going up and you know this is an investment in your future.

So if these folks in Washington were serious about making college more affordable, they wouldn’t have voted for a budget that could cut financial aid for tens of millions of college students by an average of more than $1,000.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Absolutely!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  They certainly wouldn’t let your student loan rates double overnight.  So when you ask them, well, why aren’t you making this commitment?  They say, well, we got to bring down the deficit.  Of course, this is the deficit they helped run up over the past decade.  (Applause.)  Didn’t pay for two wars.  Didn’t pay for two massive tax cuts.  And now this is the reason why you want students to pay more?

They just voted to keep giving billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies that are raking in record profits.

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  They just voted to let millionaires and billionaires keep paying lower tax rates than middle-class workers and their secretaries.

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  They even voted to give an average tax cut of at least $150,000 to folks like me, the wealthiest Americans — a tax cut paid for by cutting things like education and job training programs that give students new opportunities to work and succeed.

Now, that’s their priorities.  And that doesn’t make any sense.  Do we want to keep tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them and didn’t ask for them?  Or do we want to make sure that they’re paying their fair share?  (Applause.)   Do we want to keep subsidizing big oil, or do we want to make sure we’re investing in clean energy?  (Applause.)  Do we want to jack up interest rates on millions of students, or do we want to keep investing in things that will help us and help them in the long-term — things like education and science, and a strong military and care for our veterans?  (Applause.)  We can’t do both.  We can’t have it both ways.  We’ve got to make a choice about what our priorities are.  (Applause.)

You know, I’ve said this before, but I’m just going to keep on repeating it:  In America, we admire success.  We aspire to it.  I want everybody to be rich.  I want everybody to work and hustle and start businesses and study your tails off to get there.  (Laughter.)  But America is not just about a few people doing well.  America is about giving everybody a chance to do well.  (Applause.)  Everybody — not just a few — everybody.  (Applause.)  That’s what built this country.  That’s what the American Dream is all about.

A lot of us had parents or grandparents who said, maybe I can’t go to college, but some day my son, he’ll go to college and I’ll be so proud of him.  A lot of us had parents or grandparents who said, maybe I can’t start my own business, but maybe some day my daughter, she’s going to start her own business, she’s going to work for herself.  (Applause.)  A lot of us had parents or grandparents who said, I may be an immigrant, but I believe that this is a country where no matter what you look like and where you come from, no matter what your name is, you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

North Carolina, that’s who we are.  That’s our values. That’s what we’re about.  So, no, “set your sights lowe” — that’s not an education plan.  “You’re on your own” — that’s not an economic plan.  We can’t just cut our way to prosperity.

Previous generations made the investments necessary for us to succeed, to build a strong middle class, to create the foundation for America’s leadership in science and technology and medicine and manufacturing.  And now it’s our turn.  We’ve got to do the right thing.  I want one of you to discover the cure for cancer, or the formula for fusion, or the next game-changing American industry.  (Applause.)  And that means we’ve got to support those efforts.

So if you agree with me, I need your help.  I need you to tell your member of Congress, we’re not going to set our sights lower.  We’re not going to settle for something less.  Now, all of you are lucky, you already have three congressmen who are on board.  So don’t — you don’t need to call them.  (Laughter and applause.)  They’re already doing the right thing.  But I’m asking everyone else who’s watching or following online — call your member of Congress.  Email them.  Write on their Facebook page.  Tweet them — we’ve got a hashtag.  (Laughter.)  Here’s the hashtag for you to tweet them:  #dontdoublemyrate.  (Applause.)  All right?  I’m going to repeat that — the hashtag is #dontdoublemyrate.  You tweet — everybody say it just so everybody remembers it.

AUDIENCE:  Don’t double my rate.

THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t double my rate — it’s pretty straightforward.

Your voice matters.  So stand up.  Be heard.  Be counted.  Tell them now is not the time to double interest rates on your student loans.  Now is the time to double down on smart investments to build a strong and secure middle class.  Now is the time to double down on building an America that lasts.

AUDIENCE:  Absolutely!

THE PRESIDENT:  You — absolutely.  (Applause.)

You and me, all of us here, every single one of us — we’re here only because somebody, somewhere, felt responsibility not just for themselves, but they felt responsibility for something larger.  It started with them feeling responsible for their families.  So your parents sacrificed, your grandparents sacrificed to make sure you could succeed.  But then they thought bigger than that.  They thought about their neighborhood, they thought about their community, they thought about their country.  Now –

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  The planet.

THE PRESIDENT:  They thought about the planet.  And now it’s our turn to be responsible.  It’s our turn to keep that promise alive.

And no matter how tough these times have been, no matter how many obstacles that may stand in our way, I promise you, North Carolina, there are better days ahead.  (Applause.)  We will emerge stronger than we were before.  Because I believe in you.  I believe in your future.  I believe in the investment you’re making right here at North Carolina.  (Applause.)  That tells me that you share my faith in America’s future.  And that’s what drives me every single day — your hopes, your dreams.  And I’m not quitting now because, in America, we don’t quit.  (Applause.)  We get each other’s backs.  We help each other get ahead.

And if we work together, we’ll remind the world just why it is that America’s the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
1:48 P.M. EDT

Campaign Buzz April 24, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech After Sweeping all 5 Northeast Primaries — Moves on to General Election Assails Barack Obama in Manchester, New Hampshire

CAMPAIGN 2012

 

 

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

 

Mitt Romney Delivers Remarks in Manchester, NH

 


Source: Mitt Romney, 4-24-12

Location

 

Boston, MA

United States

 

Mitt Romney tonight delivered remarks in Manchester, New Hampshire. The following remarks were prepared for delivery:

 

Thank you Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York!  And tonight I can say thank you, America.  After 43 primaries and caucuses, many long days and more than a few long nights, I can say with confidence – and gratitude – that you have given me a great honor and solemn responsibility.  And, together, we will win on November 6th!

 

We launched this campaign not far from here on a beautiful June day. It has been an extraordinarily journey.

 

Americans have always been eternal optimists.  But over the last three and a half years, we have seen hopes and dreams diminished by false promises and weak leadership. Everywhere I go, Americans are tired of being tired, and many of those who are fortunate enough to have a job are working harder for less.

 

For every single mom who feels heartbroken when she has to explain to her kids that she needs to take a second job … for grandparents who can’t afford the gas to visit their grandchildren … for the mom and dad who never thought they’d be on food stamps … for the small business owner desperately cutting back just to keep the doors open one more month – to all of the thousands of good and decent Americans I’ve met who want nothing more than a better chance, a fighting chance, to all of you, I have a simple message: Hold on a little longer.  A better America begins tonight.

 

Tonight is the start of a new campaign to unite every American who knows in their heart that we can do better! The last few years have been the best that Barack Obama can do, but it’s not the best America can do!

 

Tonight is the beginning of the end of the disappointments of the Obama years and the start of a new and better chapter that we will write together.

 

This has already been a long campaign, but many Americans are just now beginning to focus on the choice before the country. In the days ahead, I look forward to spending time with many of you personally. I want to hear what’s on your mind, hear about your concerns, and learn about your families. I want to know what you think we can do to make this country better…and what you expect from your next President.

 

And I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. I’ll probably start out talking about my wonderful wife Ann – I usually do – and I’ll probably bore you with stories about our kids and grandkids. I’ll tell you about how much I love this country, where someone like my dad, who grew up poor and never graduated from college, could pursue his dreams and work his way up to running a great car company.  Only in America could a man like my dad become governor of the state in which he once sold paint from the trunk of his car.

 

I’d say that you might have heard that I was successful in business.  And that rumor is true.  But you might not have heard that I became successful by helping start a business that grew from 10 people to hundreds of people.  You might not have heard that our business helped start other businesses, like Staples and Sports Authority and a new steel mill and a learning center called Bright Horizons. And I’d tell you that not every business made it and there were good days and bad days, but every day was a lesson.  And after 25 years, I know how to lead us out of this stagnant Obama economy and into a job-creating recovery!

 

Four years ago Barack Obama dazzled us in front of Greek columns with sweeping promises of hope and change.  But after we came down to earth, after the celebration and parades, what do we have to show for three and a half years of President Obama?

 

Is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one?  Have you saved what you needed for retirement? Are you making more in your job?  Do you have a better chance to get a better job?  Do you pay less at the pump?

 

If the answer were “yes” to those questions, then President Obama would be running for re-election based on his achievements…and rightly so.  But because he has failed, he will run a campaign of diversions, distractions, and distortions.  That kind of campaign may have worked at another place and in a different time.  But not here and not now.  It’s still about the economy …and we’re not stupid.

 

People are hurting in America. And we know that something is wrong, terribly wrong with the direction of the country.

 

We know that this election is about the kind of America we will live in and the kind of America we will leave to future generations.  When it comes to the character of America, President Obama and I have very different visions.

 

Government is at the center of his vision. It dispenses the benefits, borrows what it cannot take, and consumes a greater and greater share of the economy. With Obamacare fully installed, government will come to control half the economy, and we will have effectively ceased to be a free enterprise society.

 

This President is putting us on a path where our lives will be ruled by bureaucrats and boards, commissions and czars.  He’s asking us to accept that Washington knows best – and can provide all.

 

We’ve already seen where this path leads.  It erodes freedom.  It deadens the entrepreneurial spirit.  And it hurts the very people it’s supposed to help.  Those who promise to spread the wealth around only ever succeed in spreading poverty.  Other nations have chosen that path. It leads to chronic high unemployment, crushing debt, and stagnant wages.

 

I have a very different vision for America, and of our future. It is an America driven by freedom, where free people, pursuing happiness in their own unique ways, create free enterprises that employ more and more Americans. Because there are so many enterprises that are succeeding, the competition for hard-working, educated and skilled employees is intense, and so wages and salaries rise.

 

I see an America with a growing middle class, with rising standards of living. I see children even more successful than their parents – some successful even beyond their wildest dreams – and others congratulating them for their achievement, not attacking them for it.

 

This America is fundamentally fair. We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice; we will stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends’ businesses; we will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.

 

In the America I see, character and choices matter.  And education, hard work, and living within our means are valued and rewarded.  And poverty will be defeated, not with a government check, but with respect and achievement that is taught by parents, learned in school, and practiced in the workplace.

 

This is the America that was won for us by the nation’s Founders, and earned for us by the Greatest Generation.  It is the America that has produced the most innovative, most productive, and the most powerful economy in the world.

 

As I look around at the millions of Americans without work, the graduates who can’t get a job, the soldiers who return home to an unemployment line, it breaks my heart. This does not have to be. It is the result of failed leadership and of a faulty vision. We will restore the promise of America only if we restore the principles of freedom and opportunity that made America the greatest nation on earth.

 

Today, the hill before us is a little steep but we have always been a nation of big steppers.  Many Americans have given up on this President but they haven’t ever thought about giving up. Not on themselves. Not on each other. And not on America.

 

In the days ahead, join me in the next step toward that destination of November 6th, when across America we can give a sigh of relief and know that the Promise of America has been kept. The dreamers can dream a little bigger, the help wanted signs can be dusted off, and we can start again.

 

And this time we’ll get it right. We’ll stop the days of apologizing for success at home and never again apologize for America abroad.

 

There was a time – not so long ago – when each of us could walk a little taller and stand a little straighter because we had a gift that no one else in the world shared. We were Americans. That meant something different to each of us but it meant something special to all of us. We knew it without question. And so did the world.

 

Those days are coming back. That’s our destiny.

 

We believe in America. We believe in ourselves. Our greatest days are still ahead. We are, after all, Americans!

 

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

 

Campaign Buzz April 24, 2012: Mitt Romney Sweeps Northeast Primarie, Wins all 5 — Moves on to General Election Assails Barack Obama in Manchester, New Hampshire Speech

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 published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Cheryl Senter for The New York Times

As Republicans in five other states voted Tuesday, Mitt Romney addressed general election themes in Manchester, N.H. More Photos »

IN FOCUS: MITT ROMNEY SWEEPS NORTHEAST PRIMARIES, WINS ALL 5 — MOVES ON TO GENERAL ELECTION ASSAILING OBAMA IN MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE SPEECH

Romney goes five for five with New York primary victory: In an energetic speech in New Hampshire after winning Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania, Romney stakes his claim as the Republican nominee…. – WaPo, 4-24-12

After 5 More Contests, Romney Solidifies Lead: As Republicans in five other states voted Tuesday, Mitt Romney addressed general election themes in Manchester, N.H.
Mitt Romney effectively took the Republican Party helm on Tuesday after five primary victories in the Northeast solidified his status as presidential nominee-in-waiting…. – NYT, 4-24-12

  • Tuesday night wins make it official: Romney is the nominee: Romney swept Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Pennsylvania, and is expected to win New York shortly.
    Mitt Romney laid claim to a fiercely contested Republican presidential nomination Tuesday night with a fistful of primary triumphs, then urged all who struggle in a shaky U.S. economy to “hold on a little longer, a better America begins tonight.”
    Eager to turn the political page to the general election, Romney accused President Barack Obama of “false promises and weak leadership.” He said, “Everywhere I go, Americans are tired of being tired, and many of those who are fortunate enough to have a job are working harder for less.”
    The former Massachusetts governor spoke as he pocketed primary victories in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Pennsylvania in the first contests since Rick Santorum conceded the nomination. New York was expected to follow. He delivered his remarks to a national television audience from New Hampshire, the state where he won his first primary of the campaign and one of about a dozen states expected to be battlegrounds in the summer and fall campaign for the White House…. – CS Monitor, 4-24-12
  • Romney Delivers Big Primary Wins, Assails Obama in Speech: Mitt Romney declared that he had accomplished a sweep of five states on Tuesday night and laid claim to the Republican presidential nomination…. – NYT, 4-24-12
  • New York gives Romney clean sweep of Tuesday primaries: By David Meeks Mitt Romney won all five Republican presidential primaries Tuesday, effectively ending the GOP nomination battle. The Associated Press called New York for the former Massachusetts governor not long after the polls closed at 9 pm EDT…. – LAT, 4-24-12
  • Mitt Romney sweeps primaries in five states: Mitt Romney won all five Republican presidential primaries Tuesday night, completing a sweep of contests in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
    Romney boasted more than 50 percent of the vote in all five states.
    In Connecticut, with 90 percent of the expected votes in, Romney led Ron Paul 67 percent to 13 percent. In Rhode Island, with most of the expected votes counted, Romney led Paul 63 percent to 24 percent.
    In Pennsylvania, with nearly all of the votes in, Romney had 56 percent. Rick Santorum, who dropped out of the Republican presidential contest earlier this month, followed with 20 percent of the vote.
    In Delaware, with most of the votes counted, Romney led Newt Gingrich 56 percent to 27 percent. And in New York, with 51 percent of the expected votes in, Romney led Paul 60 percent to 17 percent…. – CBS News, 4-24-12
  • Romney to claim GOP nomination after primary victories: With victories expected in five Northeastern primaries, Mitt Romney prepared to claim the mantle of Republican presidential nominee — though he has not officially clinched the race — and turn his focus to a general election…. – LAT, 4-24-12
  • Romney: ‘It’s still about the economy, and we’re not stupid’: As votes continued to roll in for Mitt Romney after five Northeastern states weighed in on the Republican presidential campaign, Romney declared Tuesday “the start of a new campaign” in a victory speech focused exclusively…. – LAT, 4-24-12
  • Once a fierce rival, Rick Santorum hints at Mitt Romney endorsement in Presidential race: Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says he expects to endorse Mitt Romney. Santorum says that he believes Romney is “the right guy” to challenge President Barack Obama. Still, he’s stopping short of an official…. – WaPo, 4-24-12
  • Gingrich plans to ‘realistically’ review campaign: Former House speaker Newt Gingrich said Tuesday that over the next few days he and his wife, Callista, would look “realistically” at the state of his beleaguered presidential campaign, but stopped short of dropping out…. – USA Today, 4-24-12
  • Gingrich says he’ll decide next move in campaign after finishing week of stops: Newt Gingrich says he plans to finish a week of campaigning in North Carolina but acknowledges that he needs to look realistically at where it stands. Gingrich spoke Tuesday night to about 100 supporters in Concord, NC, as he learned that…. – WaPo, 4-24-12

Full Text Obama Presidency April 23, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum Honoring the Pledge of ‘never again’ & Saying ‘I’ll be there for Israel’ — Issues New Tech Sanctions on Syria, Iran

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama Delivers Remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., April 23, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Obama at Holocaust museum: ‘I’ll be there for Israel’

Source: JTA, 4-23-12

President Obama in an address at a Holocaust remembrance event said he would “always be there for Israel” and defended his administration’s record on preventing atrocities.

Obama spoke Monday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, a few days after Holocaust Remembrance Day. Prior to his address, he took a tour of the museum guided by Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust memoirist and Nobel Peace laureate.

He recounted meeting with a woman at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, when he was a presidential candidate in 2008, who told him that the Jews only had one state.

“I said I would always be there for Israel,” Obama said, and he cited the steps he has taken to isolate Iran because of its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Obama also recounted steps taken by his administration through military and diplomatic action to prevent atrocities in Sudan, Libya, Uganda and Ivory Coast.

The president has come under pressure in recent months for not doing more to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose crackdown on opponents has killed thousands. Obama pledged to keep working with allies to bring about “the end of the Assad regime.”

Elsewhere in his address, however, he said that his commitment to preventing atrocities “does not mean we intervene militarily every time there is an injustice in the world.”

Obama levies new tech sanctions on Syria, Iran:

Source: AP, 4-23-12

Under pressure to stop the Syrian government’s deadly crackdown, President Barack Obama on Monday levied new sanctions on people and entities in Syria and Iran that use technology to target their citizens and perpetrate human rights abuses.
Obama’s announcement underscored the degree to which technology, from cellphones to social media, has fueled popular uprisings in countries throughout the Arab world and at the same time has given autocratic regimes new ways to track dissidents and suppress political dissent.

“These technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them,” said Obama, as he announced the sanctions during a solemn speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

Surrounded by the haunting memories of the Holocaust, Obama spoke broadly about the international community’s obligation to prevent the “madness” of mass killings. And he issued a sharp warning to governments that launch violent crackdowns on civilians.

“National sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people,” he said….READ MORE

 

President Obama Speaks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Musuem

Source: WH, 4-23-12

Today, President Obama spoke at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum about honoring the pledge of “never again” by making sure we are doing everything we can to prevent and end atrocities and save lives.

After being introduced by Professor Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, the President spoke of the importance of telling our children—and all future generations—about that dark and evil time in human history when six million innocent men, women, and children were murdered just because they were Jewish.

We must tell our children.  But more than that, we must teach them.  Because remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture.  Awareness without action changes nothing.  In this sense, “never again” is a challenge to us all — to pause and to look within.

For the Holocaust may have reached its barbaric climax at Treblinka and Auschwitz and Belzec, but it started in the hearts of ordinary men and women.  And we have seen it again — madness that can sweep through peoples, sweep through nations, embed itself.  The killings in Cambodia, the killings in Rwanda, the killings in Bosnia, the killings in Darfur — they shock our conscience, but they are the awful extreme of a spectrum of ignorance and intolerance that we see every day; the bigotry that says another person is less than my equal, less than human.  These are the seeds of hate that we cannot let take root in our heart.

President Obama has made it clear that “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.” Last year he issued a Presidential Directive to make sure that the U.S.  has the neccesary structures and mechanisms in place to prevent and respond to mass atrocities. He also established an Atrocities Prevention Board to bring together senior officials from across our government to focus on this critical mission.  And there’s more work to be done:

Going forward, we’ll strengthen our tools across the board, and we’ll create new ones.  The intelligence community will prepare, for example, the first-ever National Intelligence Estimate on the risk of mass atrocities and genocide.  We’re going to institutionalize the focus on this issue.  Across government, “alert channels” will ensure that information about unfolding crises — and dissenting opinions — quickly reach decision-makers, including me.

Our Treasury Department will work to more quickly deploy its financial tools to block the flow of money to abusive regimes.  Our military will take additional steps to incorporate the prevention of atrocities into its doctrine and its planning.  And the State Department will increase its ability to surge our diplomats and experts in a crisis.  USAID will invite people and high-tech companies to help create new technologies to quickly expose violations of human rights.  And we’ll work with other nations so the burden is better shared — because this is a global responsibility.

In short, we need to be doing everything we can to prevent and respond to these kinds of atrocities — because national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people.

President Barack Obama and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel Light Candles
President Barack Obama and Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel light candles in the Hall of Remembrance during a tour of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., April 23, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Washington, D.C.

10:00 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everyone.  It is a great honor to be with you here today.  Of course, it is a truly humbling moment to be introduced by Elie Wiesel.  Along with Sara Bloomfield, the outstanding director here, we just spent some time among the exhibits, and this is now the second visit I’ve had here.  My daughters have come here.  It is a searing occasion whenever you visit.  And as we walked, I was taken back to the visit that Elie mentioned, the time that we traveled together to Buchenwald.

And I recall how he showed me the barbed-wire fences and the guard towers.  And we walked the rows where the barracks once stood, where so many left this Earth — including Elie’s father, Shlomo.  We stopped at an old photo — men and boys lying in their wooden bunks, barely more than skeletons.  And if you look closely, you can see a 16-year old boy, looking right at the camera, right into your eyes.  You can see Elie.

And at the end of our visit that day, Elie spoke of his father.  “I thought one day I will come back and speak to him,” he said, “of times in which memory has become a sacred duty of all people of goodwill.”  Elie, you’ve devoted your life to upholding that sacred duty.  You’ve challenged us all — as individuals, and as nations — to do the same, with the power of your example, the eloquence of your words, as you did again just now.  And so to you and Marion, we are extraordinarily grateful.

To Sara, to Tom Bernstein, to Josh Bolten, members of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, and everyone who sustains this living memorial — thank you for welcoming us here today.  To the members of Congress, members of the diplomatic corps, including Ambassador Michael Oren of Israel, we are glad to be with you.

And most of all, we are honored to be in the presence of men and women whose lives are a testament to the endurance and the strength of the human spirit — the inspiring survivors.  It is a privilege to be with you, on a very personal level.  As I’ve told some of you before, I grew up hearing stories about my great uncle — a soldier in the 89th Infantry Division who was stunned and shaken by what he saw when he helped to liberate Ordruf, part of Buchenwald.   And I’ll never forget what I saw at Buchenwald, where so many perished with the words of Sh’ma Yis’ra’eil on their lips.

I’ve stood with survivors, in the old Warsaw ghettos, where a monument honors heroes who said we will not go quietly; we will stand up, we will fight back.  And I’ve walked those sacred grounds at Yad Vashem, with its lesson for all nations — the Shoah cannot be denied.

During my visit to Yad Vashem I was given a gift, inscribed with those words from the Book of Joel:  “Has the like of this happened in your days or in the days of your fathers?  Tell your children about it, and let your children tell theirs, and their children the next generation.”  That’s why we’re here.  Not simply to remember, but to speak.

I say this as a President, and I say it as a father.  We must tell our children about a crime unique in human history.  The one and only Holocaust — six million innocent people — men, women, children, babies — sent to their deaths just for being different, just for being Jewish.  We tell them, our children, about the millions of Poles and Catholics and Roma and gay people and so many others who also must never be forgotten.  Let us tell our children not only how they died, but also how they lived — as fathers and mothers, and sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters who loved and hoped and dreamed, just like us.

We must tell our children about how this evil was allowed to happen — because so many people succumbed to their darkest instincts, and because so many others stood silent.  Let us also tell our children about the Righteous Among the Nations.  Among them was Jan Karski, a young Polish Catholic, who witnessed Jews being put on cattle cars, who saw the killings, and who told the truth, all the way to President Roosevelt himself.

Jan Karski passed away more than a decade ago.  But today, I’m proud to announce that this spring I will honor him with America’s highest civilian honor — the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  (Applause.)

We must tell our children.  But more than that, we must teach them.  Because remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture.  Awareness without action changes nothing.  In this sense, “never again” is a challenge to us all — to pause and to look within.

For the Holocaust may have reached its barbaric climax at Treblinka and Auschwitz and Belzec, but it started in the hearts of ordinary men and women.  And we have seen it again — madness that can sweep through peoples, sweep through nations, embed itself.  The killings in Cambodia, the killings in Rwanda, the killings in Bosnia, the killings in Darfur — they shock our conscience, but they are the awful extreme of a spectrum of ignorance and intolerance that we see every day; the bigotry that says another person is less than my equal, less than human.  These are the seeds of hate that we cannot let take root in our heart.

“Never again” is a challenge to reject hatred in all of its forms — including anti-Semitism, which has no place in a civilized world.  And today, just steps from where he gave his life protecting this place, we honor the memory of Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns, whose family joins us today.

“Never again” is a challenge to defend the fundamental right of free people and free nations to exist in peace and security — and that includes the State of Israel.  And on my visit to the old Warsaw Ghetto, a woman looked me in the eye, and she wanted to make sure America stood with Israel.  She said, “It’s the only Jewish state we have.”  And I made her a promise in that solemn place.  I said I will always be there for Israel.

So when efforts are made to equate Zionism to racism, we reject them.  When international fora single out Israel with unfair resolutions, we vote against them.  When attempts are made to delegitimize the state of Israel, we oppose them.  When faced with a regime that threatens global security and denies the Holocaust and threatens to destroy Israel, the United States will do everything in our power to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

“Never again” is a challenge to societies.  We’re joined today by communities who’ve made it your mission to prevent mass atrocities in our time.  This museum’s Committee of Conscience, NGOs, faith groups, college students, you’ve harnessed the tools of the digital age — online maps and satellites and a video and social media campaign seen by millions.  You understand that change comes from the bottom up, from the grassroots.  You understand — to quote the task force convened by this museum — “preventing genocide is an achievable goal.”  It is an achievable goal.  It is one that does not start from the top; it starts from the bottom up.

It’s remarkable — as we walked through this exhibit, Elie and I were talking as we looked at the unhappy record of the State Department and so many officials here in the United States during those years.  And he asked, “What would you do?”  But what you all understand is you don’t just count on officials, you don’t just count on governments.  You count on people — and mobilizing their consciences.

And finally, “never again” is a challenge to nations.  It’s a bitter truth — too often, the world has failed to prevent the killing of innocents on a massive scale.  And we are haunted by the atrocities that we did not stop and the lives we did not save.

Three years ago today, I joined many of you for a ceremony of remembrance at the U.S. Capitol.  And I said that we had to do “everything we can to prevent and end atrocities.”  And so I want to report back to some of you today to let you know that as President I’ve done my utmost to back up those words with deeds.  Last year, in the first-ever presidential directive on this challenge, I made it clear that “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.”

That does not mean that we intervene militarily every time there’s an injustice in the world.  We cannot and should not.  It does mean we possess many tools — diplomatic and political, and economic and financial, and intelligence and law enforcement and our moral suasion — and using these tools over the past three years, I believe — I know — that we have saved countless lives.

When the referendum in South Sudan was in doubt, it threatened to reignite a conflict that had killed millions.  But with determined diplomacy, including by some people in this room, South Sudan became the world’s newest nation.  And our diplomacy continues, because in Darfur, in Abyei, in Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile, the killing of innocents must come to an end.  The Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan must have the courage to negotiate — because the people of Sudan and South Sudan deserve peace.  That is work that we have done, and it has saved lives.

When the incumbent in Côte D’Ivoire lost an election but refused to give it up — give up power, it threatened to unleash untold ethnic and religious killings.  But with regional and international diplomacy, and U.N. peacekeepers who stood their ground and protected civilians, the former leader is now in The Hague, and Côte D’Ivoire is governed by its rightful leader — and lives were saved.

When the Libyan people demanded their rights and Muammar Qaddafi’s forces bore down on Benghazi, a city of 700,000, and threatened to hunt down its people like rats, we forged with allies and partners a coalition that stopped his troops in their tracks.  And today, the Libyan people are forging their own future, and the world can take pride in the innocent lives that we saved.

And when the Lord’s Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony continued its atrocities in Central Africa, I ordered a small number of American advisors to help Uganda and its neighbors pursue the LRA.  And when I made that announcement, I directed my National Security Council to review our progress after 150 days.  We have done so, and today I can announce that our advisors will continue their efforts to bring this madman to justice, and to save lives.  (Applause.)  It is part of our regional strategy to end the scourge that is the LRA, and help realize a future where no African child is stolen from their family and no girl is raped and no boy is turned into a child soldier.

We’ve stepped up our efforts in other ways.  We’re doing more to protect women and girls from the horror of wartime sexual violence.  With the arrest of fugitives like Ratko Mladic, charged with ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, the world sent a message to war criminals everywhere:  We will not relent in bringing you to justice.  Be on notice.  And for the first time, we explicitly barred entry into the United States of those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Now we’re doing something more.  We’re making sure that the United States government has the structures, the mechanisms to better prevent and respond to mass atrocities.  So I created the first-ever White House position dedicated to this task.  It’s why I created a new Atrocities Prevention Board, to bring together senior officials from across our government to focus on this critical mission.  This is not an afterthought.  This is not a sideline in our foreign policy.  The board will convene for the first time today, at the White House.  And I’m pleased that one of its first acts will be to meet with some of your organizations — citizens and activists who are partners in this work, who have been carrying this torch.

Going forward, we’ll strengthen our tools across the board, and we’ll create new ones.  The intelligence community will prepare, for example, the first-ever National Intelligence Estimate on the risk of mass atrocities and genocide.  We’re going to institutionalize the focus on this issue.  Across government, “alert channels” will ensure that information about unfolding crises — and dissenting opinions — quickly reach decision-makers, including me.

Our Treasury Department will work to more quickly deploy its financial tools to block the flow of money to abusive regimes.  Our military will take additional steps to incorporate the prevention of atrocities into its doctrine and its planning.  And the State Department will increase its ability to surge our diplomats and experts in a crisis.  USAID will invite people and high-tech companies to help create new technologies to quickly expose violations of human rights.  And we’ll work with other nations so the burden is better shared — because this is a global responsibility.

In short, we need to be doing everything we can to prevent and respond to these kinds of atrocities — because national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people.  (Applause.)

We recognize that, even as we do all we can, we cannot control every event.  And when innocents suffer, it tears at our conscience.  Elie alluded to what we feel as we see the Syrian people subjected to unspeakable violence, simply for demanding their universal rights.  And we have to do everything we can.  And as we do, we have to remember that despite all the tanks and all the snipers, all the torture and brutality unleashed against them, the Syrian people still brave the streets.  They still demand to be heard.  They still seek their dignity.  The Syrian people have not given up, which is why we cannot give up.

And so with allies and partners, we will keep increasing the pressure, with a diplomatic effort to further isolate Assad and his regime, so that those who stick with Assad know that they are making a losing bet.  We’ll keep increasing sanctions to cut off the regime from the money it needs to survive.  We’ll sustain a legal effort to document atrocities so killers face justice, and a humanitarian effort to get relief and medicine to the Syrian people.  And we’ll keep working with the “Friends of Syria” to increase support for the Syrian opposition as it grows stronger.

Indeed, today we’re taking another step.  I’ve signed an executive order that authorizes new sanctions against the Syrian government and Iran and those that abet them for using technologies to monitor and track and target citizens for violence.  These technologies should not empower — these technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them.  And it’s one more step that we can take toward the day that we know will come — the end of the Assad regime that has brutalized the Syrian people — and allow the Syrian people to chart their own destiny.

Even with all the efforts I’ve described today, even with everything that hopefully we have learned, even with the incredible power of museums like this one, even with everything that we do to try to teach our children about our own responsibilities, we know that our work will never be done. There will be conflicts that are not easily resolved.  There will be senseless deaths that aren’t prevented.  There will be stories of pain and hardship that test our hopes and try our conscience.  And in such moments it can be hard to imagine a more just world.

It can be tempting to throw up our hands and resign ourselves to man’s endless capacity for cruelty.  It’s tempting sometimes to believe that there is nothing we can do.  And all of us have those doubts.  All of us have those moments — perhaps especially those who work most ardently in these fields.

So in the end, I come back to something Elie said that day we visited Buchenwald together.  Reflecting on all that he had endured, he said, “We had the right to give up.”  “We had the right to give up on humanity, to give up on culture, to give up on education, to give up on the possibility of living one’s life with dignity, in a world that has no place for dignity.”  They had that right.  Imagine what they went through.  They had the right to give up.  Nobody would begrudge them that.  Who’d question someone giving up in such circumstances?

But, Elie said, “We rejected that possibility, and we said, no, we must continue believing in a future.”  To stare into the abyss, to face the darkness and insist there is a future — to not give up, to say yes to life, to believe in the possibility of justice.

To Elie and to the survivors who are here today, thank you for not giving up.  You show us the way.  (Applause.)  You show us the way.  If you cannot give up, if you can believe, then we can believe.  If you can continue to strive and speak, then we can speak and strive for a future where there’s a place for dignity for every human being.  That has been the cause of your lives.  It must be the work of our nation and of all nations.

So God bless you.  And God bless the United States of America.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
10:27 A.M. EDT

Fact Sheet: Sanctions Against Those Complicit in Grave Human Rights Abuses Via Information Technology in Syria and Iran

“Cyberspace, and the technologies that enable it, allow people of every nationality, race, faith and point of view to communicate, cooperate, and prosper like never before.  We encourage people all over the world to use digital media…and denounce those who harass, unfairly arrest, threaten, or commit violent acts against the people who use these technologies.
-President Obama, International Strategy for Cyberspace, May 2011
Twenty-first century threats to human rights require twenty-first century tools to combat them.  This Administration recognizes that some oppressive governments seek to target their citizens for grave human rights abuses through the use of information and communications technology.  In an Executive Order signed today, President Obama authorized a new program of sanctions, aimed at those who facilitate serious human rights abuses in Syria and Iran through such means.

The same Global Positioning System (GPS), satellite communications, mobile phone, and Internet technology employed by activists across the Middle East and North Africa and around the world is being used against them in Syria and Iran, as the world has witnessed particularly clearly in Syria in recent weeks.  The Syrian and Iranian governments are rapidly increasing their capabilities to disrupt, monitor, and track communications networks that are essential to the ability of Syrians and Iranians to communicate with each other and the outside world.

The Executive Order announced today by President Obama establishes financial and travel sanctions against those who perpetrate or facilitate “Grave Human Rights Abuses Via Information Technology” in Syria and Iran (or “GHRAVITY sanctions”) and will:

• Degrade the ability of the Syrian and Iranian governments to acquire and utilize such technology to oppress their people;
• Hold accountable those government officials, companies, and individuals committing or facilitating human rights abuses.
• Send a clear message that the United States recognizes and is committed to combating this new and growing human rights threat;
• Further isolate the regimes in Damascus and Tehran;
• Strengthen international norms against using information and communications technology to commit human rights abuses;
The order authorizes sanctions against persons determined:

• To have operated, or to have directed the operation of, information and communications technology that facilitates computer or network disruption, monitoring or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or the Government of Syria;
• To have sold, leased, or otherwise provided, directly or indirectly, goods, services, or technology to Iran or Syria likely to be used to facilitate computer or network disruption, monitoring or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or the Government of Syria;
• To have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, those activities; or
• To be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the order.
We will implement this sanctions instrument consistent with our strong belief in the need to ensure that the citizens of Syria and Iran have access to information and communications technology that facilitates their access to information and ability to protect and organize themselves in the face of oppression.  This order underscores our efforts to help the Syrian and Iranian people pierce through the “electronic curtain” that the Syrian and Iranian regimes have put in place.  The Administration recognizes the importance of preserving the global telecommunications supply chains for essential products and services, and will take great care to ensure the utilization of sanctions does not disrupt transactions necessary to enable the Syrian and Iranian people to communicate.

Given the deplorable and deteriorating human rights situation in Syria and Iran, our urgent priority is to pursue sanctions against those two governments and entities and individuals in those countries helping them to commit human rights abuses.  The order also authorizes sanctions against third-country entities or individuals where they meet the criteria in the order.

Full Text Obama Presidency April 20, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Calls on Congress to Extend Law & Prevent Student Loan Rates from Doubling

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama is calling on Congress to act before student loan interest rates double for more than 7.4 million students, adding an average of $1,000 to their debt.

President Obama is calling on Congress to act before student loan  interest rates

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the State Dining Room, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 4/20/12

Weekly Address: Calling on Congress to Prevent Student Interest Rates from Doubling

Source: WH, 4-21-12

President Obama believes that we should be doing everything we can to put higher education within reach for every American – because at a time when the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about half the national average, it’s never been more important. He is calling on Congress to act before student loan interest rates double for more than 7.4 million students, adding an average of $1,000 to their debt. Congress has a chance to take action on what should be an area of bipartisan agreement to prevent this unnecessary and damaging increase in interest rates and give our young people a chance to succeed in the jobs of today and tomorrow.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Calling on Congress to Prevent Student Interest Rates from Doubling

In this week’s address, President Obama called on Congress to act before student loan interest rates double for more than 7.4 million students, adding an average of $1000 to their debt. Having a college education has never been more important, but it’s also never been more expensive.  While the Obama administration has taken historic steps to provide Americans with a fair shot at an affordable college education, Republicans in Congress have instead prioritized huge new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.  Congress has a chance to take action on what should be an area of bipartisan agreement to prevent this unnecessary and damaging increase in interest rates and give our young people a chance to succeed in the jobs of today and tomorrow.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hi.  This week, I got the chance to sit down with some impressive students at Lorain County Community College in Ohio.  One of them was a woman named Andrea Ashley.  Two years ago, Andrea lost her job as an HR analyst.  Today, she’s getting certified in the fast-growing field of electronic medical records.  Before enrolling at Lorain, Andrea told me she was looking everywhere trying to find a new job.  But without a degree, she said that nobody would hire her.

Andrea’s story isn’t unique.  I’ve met so many Americans who are out there pounding the pavement looking for work only to discover that they need new skills.  And I’ve met a lot of employers who are looking for workers, but can’t find ones with the skills they’re looking for.

So we should be doing everything we can to put higher education within reach for every American – because at a time when the unemployment rate for Americans with at least a college degree is about half the national average, it’s never been more important.  But here’s the thing: it’s also never been more expensive.  Students who take out loans to pay for college graduate owing an average of $25,000.  For the first time, Americans owe more debt on their student loans than they do on their credit cards.  And for many working families, the idea of owing that much money means that higher education is simply out of reach for their children.

In America, higher education cannot be a luxury.  It’s an economic imperative that every family must be able to afford.  That’s why next week I’ll be visiting colleges across the country, talking to students about how we can make higher education more affordable – and what’s at stake right now if Congress doesn’t do something about it.  You see, if Congress doesn’t act, on July 1st interest rates on some student loans will double.  Nearly seven and half million students will end up owing more on their loan payments.  That would be a tremendous blow.  And it’s completely preventable.

This issue didn’t come out of nowhere.  For some time now, I’ve been calling on Congress to take steps to make higher education more affordable – to prevent these interest rates from doubling, to extend the tuition tax credit that has saved middle-class families millions of dollars, and to double the number of work-study jobs over the next five years.

Instead, over the past few years, Republicans in Congress have voted against new ways to make college more affordable for middle-class families, and voted for huge new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires – tax cuts that would have to be paid for by cutting things like education and job-training programs that give students new opportunities to work and succeed.

We cannot just cut our way to prosperity.  Making it harder for our young people to afford higher education and earn their degrees is nothing more than cutting our own future off at the knees.  Congress needs to keep interest rates on student loans from doubling, and they need to do it now.

This is a question of values.  We cannot let America become a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of people struggle to get by.  We’ve got to build an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.  That’s how the middle class gets stronger.  That’s an economy that’s built to last.  And I’m not only going to take that case to college campuses next week – I’m going to take it to every part of the country this year.  Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Obama Presidency April 20, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on April 23, 2012 Honoring the Pledge of ‘Never Again’ at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Join the Conversation: Honoring the Pledge of ‘Never Again’

Source: WH, 4-20-12

On Monday, April 23, President Obama will speak at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to commemorate the Holocaust and discuss how the United States is honoring the pledge of “never again” by developing a comprehensive strategy to prevent and respond to mass atrocities.

Later in the afternoon, the White House is hosting an event that will offer a more in-depth look at the strategy President Obama and his Administration are working to put in place so that the United States is able to engage early, proactively and decisively in the face of mass atrocities.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  • 9:45 a.m. ET: Watch President Obama’s live on WhiteHouse.gov/live or on Facebook. Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel will introduce the President.
    • To discuss the speech online, use the hashtag #NeverAgain
  • 1:00 p.m. ET: Watch the White House event with Administration officials, student leaders and organizations about how communities across America are mobilizing and playing a role in saving lives around the word.
    • To ask questions for the panel discussions, use the hashtag #WHChat on Twitter.
    • On Facebook, you can ask questions in advance for the panel on our Facebook event page or through the White House Live application.

The agenda for the post-speech event, which begins at 1:00 p.m., includes:

  • A Q&A session with the newly created Atrocities Prevention Board, an interagency group tasked with coordinating the prevention of and response to mass atrocities across the U.S. government
  • A discussion with leaders from influential activist organizations about the work their networks are doing across the country and around the globe to save lives and prevent needless violence.
  • A discussion about how the government can adapt to take advantage of new technology that make it easier to communicate and connect with people around the world than ever before.

Full Text Obama Presidency April 20, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Annual the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride for Veterans

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Welcomes the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride

Source: WH, 4-20-12
President Barack Obama cheers for the Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride
President Barack Obama cheers on participants in the Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride on the South Lawn of the White House, April 20, 2012. The President hosted the sixth annual Soldier Ride, a cycling event to help Wounded Warriors restore their physical and emotional well-being. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Obama today led cheers for 22 injured servicemembers as they took a spin around the South Lawn as part of the annual Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride. The participants in the four-day event include representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, including two brothers, Erik and Deven Schei, riding a specially-made tandem bike.

In his remarks, the President praised the riders for their strength and their dedication:

And I know you’re all doing this ride for different reasons. Some of you may be athletes looking to get the competitive juices flowing again.  Maybe some of you are trying to see how far you can push yourselves. Some of you are doing it for the camaraderie and the bond that comes when you work hard alongside people who know what you’re going through. Maybe you’re doing it to honor a loved one or a buddy.  But all of you are here because you believe in living your lives to the fullest. You know that each of us has a responsibility to seize the opportunities we’ve been blessed with.  You ride because you can, and you ride for those who can’t. That’s what this is all about.


Learn more:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride

South Lawn

4:38 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Well, good afternoon, everybody.  Welcome to the White House.  Thank you, Ric, for that introduction.  More importantly, thank you for your service and for everything you do for our veterans and our wounded warriors.

We’ve also got here today Senator Tom Udall and Congresswoman Corrine Brown with us.  Thank you all for coming.

This is the fourth time we’ve had the Soldier Ride here in the South Lawn.  And this year, you’ve already covered some ground — 34 miles over the last few days, and another 24-mile ride tomorrow.  So our job is to give you a break, maybe even a little extra fuel, and get you back on the road.

The reason I ask this group to stop by every year is because this is one of the most inspiring events that we have here at the White House.  As Commander-in-Chief, I can’t take sides, but I know the Army is represented here.  (Hooah!)  Navy is represented here.  (Navy!)  We’ve got some Air Force.  (Hooyah!)  We’ve got some Marines in the house.  (Ooh-rah!)  And we’ve got some Coast Guard.  (Applause.)  (Laughter.)  And there’s some folks here who don’t wear a uniform, but who work just as hard and sacrifice just as much alongside you — and that’s our outstanding military families in the house.  (Applause.)

So this is a pretty diverse group.  And I know you’re all doing this ride for different reasons.  Some of you may be athletes looking to get the competitive juices flowing again.  Maybe some of you are trying to see how far you can push yourselves.  Some of you are doing it for the camaraderie and the bond that comes when you work hard alongside people who know what you’re going through.  Maybe you’re doing it to honor a loved one or a buddy.  But all of you are here because you believe in living your lives to the fullest.  You know that each of us has a responsibility to seize the opportunities we’ve been blessed with.  You ride because you can, and you ride for those who can’t.  That’s what this is all about.

And that’s what inspired Chris Carney to hop on a bike and head across country on the first Soldier Ride eight years ago to raise money and awareness for returning troops and wounded warriors.  Chris came up with the idea working as a bartender in Long Island.  And I have to say it’s better than most of the ideas that come out of bars.  (Laughter.)  At least that’s been my experience.  (Laughter.)

Today, there are Soldier Rides all across the country.  They serve as a reminder that all of us can do our part to serve the men and women who serve us.  And I’m glad to see you’re all decked out in the stars and stripes, because I want anybody who sees this ride go by to know that they’re in the presence of heroes.

Some of these guys I’ve had a chance to meet before.  I first met Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Max Rohn when he was in the hospital recovering from a grenade attack in Fallujah that cost him his leg.  And Max I think will admit he was in pretty rough shape at the time.  But the next time I saw him, at a dinner that we hosted here recently for Iraq War veterans, Max had gained 80 pounds — or 40 pounds, and was training for the upcoming Wounded Warrior games.  I offered him two dinners after he finished the first one kind of quick, and he readily accepted.  (Laughter.)  After he finished the first dessert kind of quick, I offered him another one.  He accepted that one, too.  I am positive it is the most anybody has ever eaten in the White House.  (Laughter.)  And now he’s ready to ride.

We’ve also got Captain Leslie Smith here today.  Leslie lost her leg and her eyesight after serving in Bosnia, and this is her first time back on a bike.  She’s going to be riding in tandem alongside Meghan Speicher-Harris, who works with the Wounded Warrior Project.  And it’s good to have them both here.

And then there are the Schei brothers — Erik and Deven.  When Erik enlisted in the Army, Deven made a promise that if anything bad ever happened, he would finish what his brother started.  And during his second tour in Iraq, Erik was shot in the head by a sniper.  So Deven enlisted.  Then two years ago, Deven was injured in Afghanistan.  And now the two brothers ride a specially-made tandem bike, with Deven leading the way.  They’re taking on this latest challenge just like they did every other one — together.

So these men and women, they’re an inspiration.  And it’s also inspiring to meet the families behind them — the moms and dads, and the brothers and sisters, the sons and daughters who are standing by their side through good times and bad.  You’re heroes, too.  And I know Michelle and I look forward to any time we get to spend with military families.

So I want to encourage everybody who sees these riders going by this weekend to go out and cheer, and say thanks, and salute, and show your support.  And as Commander-in-Chief, I promise to do everything I can to make sure that you guys get the care and the benefits that you deserve, that you’ve earned.  All of you have served your country.  That’s why now it’s time for the country to serve you.  That’s what you deserve, and here in America we take care of our own.

So to all the riders here today, we are proud of you.  Your country is proud of you.  And now I’m going to see how you guys do taking some laps around the South Lawn.  But you got to do it on the horn — I don’t want anybody cheating.  (Laughter.)

All right.  On your marks, get set — (the President sounds the horn.)  Hey!  (Applause.)

END 4:44 P.M. EDT

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