Full Text Campaign Buzz July 31, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech in Warsaw, Poland: “Freedom And Friendship”

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Mitt Romney recovers footing in Poland

Source: Los Angeles Times, 7-31-12
Mitt Romney wrapped up a bumpy three-country overseas tour on a high note Tuesday, meeting with Poland’s leaders, being warmly received by large crowds as he visited sacred sites, and delivering a lofty speech about the persevering values….READ MORE

Mitt Romney Delivers Remarks In Poland: “Freedom And Friendship”

Source: Mitt Romney, 7-31-12

Mitt Romney today delivered remarks in Warsaw, Poland. The following remarks were prepared for delivery:

Thank you all very much for the warm welcome to this great city.

It has been a privilege to meet with President Komorowski, Prime Minister Tusk, Foreign Minister Sikorski, and Former President Walesa.

This is a nation with an extraordinary heritage that is crafting a remarkable future. At a time of widespread economic slowdown and stagnation, your economy last year outperformed all other nations in Europe.

I began this trip in Britain and end it here in Poland: the two bookends of NATO, history’s greatest military alliance that has kept the peace for over half a century. While at 10 Downing Street I thought back to the days of Winston Churchill, the man who first spoke of the Iron Curtain that had descended across Europe. What an honor to stand in Poland, among the men and women who helped lift that curtain.

After that stay in England, I visited the State of Israel – a friend of your country and mine. It’s been a trip to three places far apart on the map. But for an American, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country. Our nations belong to the great fellowship of democracies. We speak the same language of freedom and justice. We uphold the right of every person to live in peace.

I believe it is critical to stand by those who have stood by America. Solidarity was a great movement that freed a nation. And it is with solidarity that America and Poland face the future.

Yesterday, I saw the memorial at Westerplatte and the gate at the Gdansk Shipyard, where Polish citizens stood with courage and determination against daunting odds. And today, on the eve of the 68th anniversary of this city’s uprising against the Nazis, I will pay tribute at the monument to that historic struggle. Over 200,000 Poles were killed in those weeks, and this city was nearly destroyed. But your enduring spirit survived.

Free men and women everywhere, whether they have been here or not, already know this about Poland: In some desperate hours of the last century, your people were the witnesses to hope, led onward by strength of heart and faith in God. Not only by force of arms, but by the power of truth, in villages and parishes across this land, you shamed the oppressor and gave light to the darkness.

Time and again, history has recorded the ascent of liberty, propelled by souls that yearn for freedom and justice. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has noted that it is often one brave man or woman who says “no” to oppression, and in doing so, sparks a revolution of courage in hundreds, thousands or millions of others.

In 1955, in my country, Rosa Parks said “no” to a bus driver who told her to give up her seat to a white person, and in doing so, started a revolution of dignity and equality that continues to this day. Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor in Tunisia, was denied his business wares by a government functionary, and in protest committed suicide by self-immolation. With that act of defiance, the Arab Spring was born.

Nicolai Ceausescu stood before an audience of 200,000, recounting for them his supposed works on their behalf. One elderly woman shouted out what others only thought. “Liar,” she said. Others echoed her, first hundreds, then thousands. And with the fall of Ceausescu days later, the entire nation had awoken and a people were freed.

And here, in 1979, a son of Poland, Pope John Paul the Second, spoke words that would bring down an empire and bring freedom to millions who lived in bondage. “Be not afraid” – those words changed the world.

I, and my fellow Americans, are inspired by the path of freedom tread by the people of Poland.

Long before modern times, of course, the Polish and American people were hardly strangers. The name “Pulaski” is honored to this day in America, and so is the memory of other Poles who joined in our fight for independence. Two years after our young republic gave the New World its first freely adopted written constitution. Poland did the same for the Old World, with a preamble that called liberty “dearer than life.”

At every turn in our history, through wars and crises, through every change in the geopolitical map, we have met as friends and allies. That was true in America’s Revolutionary War. It was true in the dark days of World War II. And it has been true in Iraq and Afghanistan. There has never been a moment when our peoples felt anything but mutual respect and good will – and that is not common in history.

Americans watched with astonishment and admiration, as an electrician led a peaceful protest against a brutal and oppressive regime.

“It has to be understood,” as President Walesa has recently said, “that the solidarity movement philosophy was very simple. When you can’t lift a weight, you ask someone else for help and to lift it with you.”

Of course, among the millions of Poles who said “yes”, there was one who has a unique and special place in our hearts: Pope John Paul the Second. When he first appeared on the balcony above Saint Peter’s Square, a correspondent on the scene wrote to his editor with a first impression. This is not just a pope from Poland, he said, “This is a pope from Galilee.”

In 1979, Pope John Paul the Second celebrated Mass with you in a square not too far from here. He reminded the world there would be no justice in Europe without an independent Poland, and he reminded the Polish people, long deprived of their independence, from where they drew their strength.

While greeting a crowd huddled along a fence, he met a little girl. He paused and asked her, “Where is Poland?” But the girl – caught off guard – couldn’t answer. She laughed nervously until the great pope put his hand over her heart and said: “Poland is here.”

John Paul the Second understood that a nation is not a flag or a plot of land. It is a people – a community of values. And the highest value Poland honors – to the world’s great fortune – is man’s innate desire to be free.

Unfortunately, there are parts of the world today where the desire to be free is met with brutal oppression: Just to the east of here, the people of Belarus suffer under the oppressive weight of dictatorship. The Arab world is undergoing a historic upheaval, one that holds promise, but also risk and uncertainty. A ruthless dictator in Syria has killed thousands of his own people. In Latin America, Hugo Chavez leads a movement characterized by authoritarianism and repression. Nations in Africa are fighting to resist the threat of violent radical jihadism. And in Russia, once-promising advances toward a free and open society have faltered.

In a turbulent world, Poland stands as an example and defender of freedom.

Only last month, in Gdansk, a sculpture was unveiled of President Reagan and John Paul the Second. As President Walesa told a reporter, “Reagan should have a monument in every city.”

Czeslaw Nowak, recalled the days in 1981 when he, Walesa, and others were imprisoned by the communist regime. Just when it felt like they might be forgotten by the world, the captives learned that in the White House, the President of the United States was lighting candles. It was a demonstration of unity with them – a sign of solidarity. “When Reagan lit the candles,” Mr. Nowak recalled, “we knew we had a friend in the United States.”

This is a country that made a prisoner a president … that went from foreign domination to the proud and independent nation you are today. And now, for both our nations, the challenge is to be worthy of this legacy as we find a way forward. The false gods of the all-powerful state claim the allegiance of a lonely few. It is for us, in this generation and beyond, to show all the world what free people and free economies can achieve for the good of all.

Perhaps because here in Poland centralized control is no distant memory, you have brought a special determination to securing a free and prosperous economy. When the Soviet Empire breathed its last, Poland’s economy was in a state of perpetual crisis. When economists analyzed it from abroad, one heard talk of the prospect of starvation in major cities.

But from the depths of those dark times, this nation’s steady rise is a shining example of the prosperity that economic opportunity can bring. Your nation has moved from a state monopoly over the economy, price controls, and severe trade restrictions to a culture of entrepreneurship, greater fiscal responsibility, and international trade. As a result, your economy has experienced positive growth in each of the last twenty years. In that time, you have doubled the size of your economy. The private sector has gone from a mere 15 percent of the economy to 65 percent. And while other nations fell into recession in recent years, you weathered the storm and continued to flourish.

When economists speak of Poland today, it is not to lament chronic problems, but to describe how this nation empowered the individual, lifted the heavy hand of government, and became the fastest-growing economy in all of Europe.

Yesterday, one of your leaders shared with me an economic truth that has been lost in much of the world: “It is simple. You don’t borrow what you cannot pay back.”

The world should pay close attention to the transformation of Poland’s economy. A march toward economic liberty and smaller government has meant a march toward higher living standards, a strong military that defends liberty at home and abroad, and an important and growing role on the international stage.

Rather than heeding the false promise of a government-dominated economy, Poland sought to stimulate innovation, attract investment, expand trade, and live within its means. Your success today is a reminder that the principles of free enterprise can propel an economy and transform a society.

At a time of such difficulty and doubt throughout Europe, Poland’s economic transformation over these past 20 years is a fitting turn in the story of your country. In the 1980s, when other nations doubted that political tyranny could ever be faced down or overcome, the answer was, “Look to Poland.” And today, as some wonder about the way forward out of economic recession and fiscal crisis, the answer once again is “Look to Poland”.

It is not surprising that a people who waited so long, and endured so much, for the sake of liberty, are today enjoying liberty to the fullest.

Poland has no greater friend and ally than the people of the United States.

You helped us win our independence… your bravery inspired the allies in the Second World War… you helped bring down the Iron Curtain… and your soldiers fought side-by-side with ours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We have fought and died together.

We share a common cause, tested by time, inseparable by foe.

In times of trouble and in times of peace, we march together.

God bless you, God bless America, and God bless the great nation of Poland.

Campaign Headlines July 29, 2012: Mitt Romney Visits Jerusalem, Israel, Backs Israeli Stance on Threat of Nuclear Iran in Speech

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Romney Backs Israeli Stance on Threat of Nuclear Iran

Source: NYT, 7-29-12

Mitt Romney visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Sunday. “We respect the right of a nation to defend itself,” he said.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Mitt Romney visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Sunday. “We respect the right of a nation to defend itself,” he said.

In Jerusalem, Mitt Romney said Iran must prevented from being able to build nuclear weapons, a subtle departure from the Obama administration’s position that Iran not acquire them….READ MORE

Mitt Romney Will ‘Respect’ Israeli Decision to Use Force with Iran If Necessary

Source: ABC News Radio, 7-29-12

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Mitt Romney would “respect” an Israeli decision to use military action if necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, a senior aide said Sunday.

In a briefing to preview Romney’s speech slated for Sunday evening overlooking the Old City in Jerusalem that will focus on the U.S.-Israel relationship, foreign policy adviser Dan Senor said that Romney believes preventing Iran from nuclear capabilities is the “highest national security priority.”

“If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability the governor would respect that decision,” said Senor….READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz July 29, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech to the Jerusalem Foundation on Israel’s Right to Defend itself From Nuclear Iran in Jerusalem, Israel

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Remarks To The Jerusalem Foundation

Source: Mitt Romney, 7-29-12

romney-2012-blog-image-israel-speech.jpg

Mitt Romney today delivered remarks to the Jerusalem Foundation in Jerusalem, Israel. The following remarks were prepared for delivery:

Thank you for that kind introduction, Mayor Barkat, and thank you all for that warm welcome.  It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be in Israel again.

To step foot into Israel is to step foot into a nation that began with an ancient promise made in this land. The Jewish people persisted through one of the most monstrous crimes in human history, and now this nation has come to take its place among the most impressive democracies on earth. Israel’s achievements are a wonder of the modern world.

These achievements are a tribute to the resilience of the Israeli people.  You have managed, against all odds, time and again throughout your history, to persevere, to rise up, and to emerge stronger.

The historian Paul Johnson, writing on the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Jewish state, said that over the course of Israel’s life, 100 completely new independent states had come into existence. “Israel is the only one whose creation can fairly be called a miracle,” Johnson wrote.

It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.

Our two nations are separated by more than 5,000 miles. But for an American abroad, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country than you do in Israel.  We’re part of the great fellowship of democracies.  We speak the same language of freedom and justice, and the right of every person to live in peace.  We serve the same cause and provoke the same hatreds in the same enemies of civilization.

It is my firm conviction that the security of Israel is in the vital national security interest of the United States. And ours is an alliance based not only on shared interests but also on enduring shared values.

In those shared values, one of the strongest voices is that of your prime minister, my friend Benjamin Netanyahu.  I met with him earlier this morning and I look forward to my family joining his this evening as they observe the close of this fast day of Tisha B’Av.

It’s remarkable to consider how much adversity, over so great a span of time, is recalled by just one day on the calendar.  This is a day of remembrance and mourning, but like other such occasions, it also calls forth clarity and resolve.

At this time, we also remember the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches who were massacred at the Munich Olympics forty years ago. Ten years ago this week, 9 Israeli and American students were murdered in the terrorist attack at Hebrew University. And tragedies like these are not reserved to the past. They are a constant reminder of the reality of hate, and the will with which it is executed upon the innocent.

It was Menachem Begin who said this about the Ninth of the month of Av:  “We remember that day,” he said, “and now have the responsibility to make sure that never again will our independence be destroyed and never again will the Jew become homeless or defenseless.” “This,” Prime Minister Begin added, “is the crux of the problems facing us in the future.”

So it is today, as Israel faces enemies who deny past crimes against the Jewish people and seek to commit new ones.

When Iran’s leaders deny the Holocaust or speak of wiping this nation off the map, only the naïve – or worse – will dismiss it as an excess of rhetoric.  Make no mistake: the ayatollahs in Tehran are testing our moral defenses.  They want to know who will object, and who will look the other way.

My message to the people of Israel and the leaders of Iran is one and the same: I will not look away; and neither will my country. As Prime Minister Begin put it, in vivid and haunting words, “if an enemy of [the Jewish] people says he seeks to destroy us, believe him.”

We have seen the horrors of history.  We will not stand by.  We will not watch them play out again.

It would be foolish not to take Iran’s leaders at their word. They are, after all, the product of a radical theocracy.

Over the years Iran has amassed a bloody and brutal record. It has seized embassies, targeted diplomats, and killed its own people. It supports the ruthless Assad regime in Syria. They have provided weapons that have killed American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has plotted to assassinate diplomats on American soil.  It is Iran that is the leading state sponsor of terrorism and the most destabilizing nation in the world.

We have a solemn duty and a moral imperative to deny Iran’s leaders the means to follow through on their malevolent intentions.

We should stand with all who would join our effort to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran – and that includes Iranian dissidents. Do not erase from your memory the scenes from three years ago, when that regime brought death to its own people as they rose up. The threat we face does not come from the Iranian people, but from the regime that oppresses them.

Five years ago, at the Herzliya Conference, I stated my view that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capability presents an intolerable threat to Israel, to America, and to the world.

That threat has only become worse.

Now as then, the regime’s claims that it seeks to enrich nuclear material for peaceful purposes are belied by years of malign deceptions.

Now as then, the conduct of Iran’s leaders gives us no reason to trust them with nuclear material.

But today, the regime in Iran is five years closer to developing nuclear weapons capability.  Preventing that outcome must be our highest national security priority.

I want to pause on this last point. It is sometimes said that those who are the most committed to stopping the Iranian regime from securing nuclear weapons are reckless and provocative and inviting war.

The opposite is true. We are the true peacemakers. History teaches with force and clarity that when the world’s most despotic regimes secure the world’s most destructive weapons, peace often gives way to oppression, to violence, or to devastating war.

We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option. We must lead the effort to prevent Iran from building and possessing nuclear weapons capability. We should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course, and it is our fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded. We recognize Israel’s right to defend itself, and that it is right for America to stand with you.

These are some of the principles I first outlined five years ago. What was timely then has become urgent today.

Let me turn from Iran to other nations in the Middle East, where we have seen rising tumult and chaos. To the north, Syria is on the brink of a civil war.  The dictator in Damascus, no friend to Israel and no friend to America, slaughters his own people as he desperately clings to power.

Your other neighbor to the north, Lebanon, is under the growing and dangerous influence of Hezbollah.

After a year of upheaval and unrest, Egypt now has an Islamist President, chosen in a democratic election. Hopefully, this new government understands that one true measure of democracy is how those elected by the majority respect the rights of those in the minority.  The international community must use its considerable influence to ensure that the new government honors the peace agreement with Israel that was signed by the government of Anwar Sadat.

As you know only too well, since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, thousands of rockets have rained on Israeli homes and cities.  I have walked on the streets of Sderot, and honor the resolve of its people. And now, new attacks have been launched from the Sinai Peninsula.

With Hezbollah rockets aimed at Israel from the north, and Hamas rockets aimed from the south, with much of the Middle East in tumult, and with Iran bent on nuclear arms, America’s vocal and demonstrated commitment to the defense of Israel is even more critical. Whenever the security of Israel is most in doubt, America’s commitment to Israel must be most secure.

When the decision was before him in 1948, President Harry Truman decided without hesitation that the United States would be the first country to recognize the State of Israel.  From that moment to this, we have been the most natural of allies, but our alliance runs deeper than the designs of strategy or the weighing of interests.

The story of how America – a nation still so new to the world by the standards of this ancient region – rose up to become the dear friend of the people of Israel is among the finest and most hopeful in our nation’s history.

Different as our paths have been, we see the same qualities in one another. Israel and America are in many respects reflections of one another.

We both believe in democracy, in the right of every people to select their leaders and choose their nation’s course.

We both believe in the rule of law, knowing that in its absence, willful men may incline to oppress the weak.

We both believe that our rights are universal, granted not by government but by our Creator.

We both believe in free enterprise, because it is the only economic system that has lifted people from poverty, created a large and enduring middle class, and inaugurated incomparable achievements and human flourishing.

As someone who has spent most of his life in business, I am particularly impressed with Israel’s cutting edge technologies and thriving economy.  We recognize yours as the “start-up nation” – and the evidence is all around us.

You have embraced economic liberty.  You export technology, not tyranny or terrorism.  And today, your innovators and entrepreneurs have made the desert bloom and have made for a better world.  The citizens of our countries are fortunate to share in the rewards of economic freedom and in the creativity of our entrepreneurs. What you have built here, with your own hands, is a tribute to your people, and a model for others.

Finally, we both believe in freedom of expression, because we are confident in our ideas and in the ability of men and women to think for themselves.  We do not fear open debate. If you want to hear some very sharp criticisms of Israel and its policies, you don’t have to cross any borders.  All you have to do is walk down the street and into a café, where you’ll hear people reasoning, arguing, and speaking their mind. Or pick up an Israeli newspaper – you’ll find some of the toughest criticism of Israel you’ll read anywhere. Your nation, like ours, is stronger for this energetic exchange of ideas and opinions.

That is the way it is in a free society. There are many millions of people in the Middle East who would cherish the opportunity to do the same.  These decent men and women desire nothing more than to live in peace and freedom and to have the opportunity to not only choose their government but to criticize it openly, without fear of repression or repercussion.

I believe that those who oppose these fundamental rights are on the wrong side of history. But history’s march can be ponderous and painfully slow. We have a duty to speed and shape history by being unapologetic ambassadors for the values we share.

The United States and Israel have shown that we can build strong economies and strong militaries. But we must also build strong arguments that advance our values and promote peace. We must work together to change hearts and awaken minds through the power of freedom, free enterprise and human rights.

I believe that the enduring alliance between the State of Israel and the United States of America is more than a strategic alliance: it is a force for good in the world. America’s support of Israel should make every American proud. We should not allow the inevitable complexities of modern geopolitics to obscure fundamental touchstones. No country or organization or individual should ever doubt this basic truth:  A free and strong America will always stand with a free and strong Israel.

And standing by Israel does not mean with military and intelligence cooperation alone.

We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel, voice their criticisms.  And we certainly should not join in that criticism. Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel’s adversaries.

By history and by conviction, our two countries are bound together.  No individual, no nation, no world organization, will pry us apart. And as long as we stay together and stand together, there is no threat we cannot overcome and very little that we cannot achieve.

Thank you all.  May God bless America, and may He bless and protect the Nation of Israel.

Full Text Obama Presidency July 28, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Urges the House of Representatives to Act on Middle Class Tax Cut Extension

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Obama’s Address: Urging the House to Do ‘What’s Right’ for Middle Class

Source: WH, 7-31-12

White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson

President Obama is using his weekly address to once again urge House Republicans to do “what’s right” and pass middle-class tax cuts, saying their insistence on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans shows what’s at stake in the election.
“It comes down to this,” Obama said. “If 218 Members of the House vote the right way, 98 percent of American families and 97 percent of small business owners will have the certainty of knowing that that their income taxes will not go up next year.”

The president said lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree with his plan to extend the Bush-era tax rate for families earning less than $250,000 a year….READ MORE

President Obama urges Republicans in the House of Representatives to act on his proposal to protect middle class families and small businesses from being hit with a big tax hike next year.

Watch the Video

President Obama tapes the Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 7/27/12

Weekly Address: The House of Representatives Must Act on Middle Class Tax Cut Extension

Source: WH, 7-28-12

President Obama urges Republicans in the House of Representatives to act on his proposal to protect middle class families and small businesses from being hit with a big tax hike next year. 

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

WEEKLY ADDRESS: The House of Representatives Must Act on Middle Class Tax Cut Extension

In this week’s address, President Obama urged Republicans in the House of Representatives to act on his proposal to protect middle class families and small businesses from being hit with a big tax hike next year.  Everyone says they agree that we should extend the tax cuts for the middle class and the Senate already passed the President’s plan to prevent a typical family from seeing a tax increase of $2,200, but Republicans in Congress are holding these tax cuts hostage until we extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  The President called on Congress to pass the middle class tax extension so that we can continue to grow the economy and create jobs the American people. 

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

This week, the Senate passed a plan that I proposed a few weeks ago to protect middle class Americans and virtually every small business owner from getting hit with a big tax hike next year – a tax hike of $2,200 for the typical family.

Now it comes down to this: If 218 Members of the House vote the right way, 98% of American families and 97% of small business owners will have the certainty of knowing that that their income taxes will not go up next year.

That certainty means something to a middle class family who’s already stretched the budget as far as it can go.  It means something to a small business owner who’s trying to plan ahead.  That’s security at a time when folks could use some.

And here’s the thing: everyone in Washington says they agree on this.  Everyone says they agree that we should extend the tax cuts for the middle class.  When Democrats and Republicans agree on something, it should be pretty easy to get it done.

But right now, that’s not the case.  Instead of doing what’s right for middle class families and small business owners, Republicans in Congress are holding these tax cuts hostage until we extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

You see, Republicans in Congress and their nominee for President believe that the best way to create prosperity in America is to let it trickle down from the top.  They believe that if our country spends trillions more on tax cuts for the wealthy, we’ll somehow create jobs – even if we have to pay for it by gutting things like education and training and by raising middle-class taxes.

They’re wrong.  And I know they’re wrong because we already tried it that way for most of the last decade.  It didn’t work.  We’re still paying for trillions of dollars in tax cuts that benefitted the wealthiest Americans more than anyone else; tax cuts that didn’t lead to the middle class jobs or higher wages we were promised and that helped take us from record surpluses to record deficits.

We can’t afford more top-down economics.  What we need are policies that will grow and strengthen the middle class; that will help create jobs, make education and training more affordable, and encourage businesses to start up and stay right here in the United States.

That’s why I’ve cut middle-class taxes every year that I’ve been President – by $3,600 for the typical family.  That’s why I’ve cut taxes for small businesses eighteen times.  And that’s why I’m calling on 218 Members of the House to do their job and not raise taxes on the middle class.

As soon as they pass that bill, I’ll sign it right away.  And in the meantime, I’m going to keep fighting for an economy where we’re not just putting folks back to work, but making sure that work pays off – an economy where every American, no matter who you are, what you look like, or where you come from, can have the confidence that if you work hard, you can get ahead.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Political Headlines July 28, 2012: GOP Weekly Address: Sen. Orrin Hatch Says Raising Taxes Is ‘Not a Solution’

POLITICAL HEADLINES

http://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

GOP Address: Sen. Orrin Hatch Says Raising Taxes Is ‘Not a Solution’

Source: ABC News Radio, 7-28-12

Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Raising taxes on businesses is the wrong solution while in the middle of economic crisis, according to Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah who delivers this week’s Republican address.

Sen. Hatch warns Americans about the impending tax hike set to hit “middle-class families, job creators and seniors” if the president and Congress don’t act soon.

“The uncertainty caused by this tax crisis — or Taxmageddon — is contributing to America’s lackluster economic recovery,” he says in the address. “That’s not a Republican talking point; that’s based on what job creators across the country are saying.”….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency July 27, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Signing of the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama Signs the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act

Source: WH, 7-27-12President Barack Obama signs the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act (July 27, 2012)President Barack Obama signs S. 2165, the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act in the Oval Office, July 27, 2012. With the President from left are: Richard Stone, Chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Rep. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Howard Friedman, past Chair of the Board, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, (AIPAC);, Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., and Lee Rosenberg, Chairman of the Board, AIPAC. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

This morning, President Obama signed the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act with an eye toward helping to strengthen the military edge Israel currently enjoys.

“I have made it a top priority for my administration to deepen cooperation with Israel across the whole spectrum of security issues — intelligence, military, technology,” the President said. “And, in many ways, what this legislation does is bring together all the outstanding cooperation that we have seen, really, at an unprecedented level between our two countries that underscore our unshakeable commitment to Israel security.”

The cooperation between the United States and Israel includes joint training exercises, offering access to U.S. military hardware, and direct foreign military financing.

To learn more, check out the fact sheet.

Remarks by the President at Signing of the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act

Oval Office

10:24 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  Hope you guys are all staying cool.  Well, listen, I just wanted to welcome these outstanding leaders to the Oval Office.  I want to in particular acknowledge Congressman Howard Berman and Senator Barbara Boxer, who have done outstanding work in shepherding through this bipartisan piece of legislation that underscores our unshakeable commitment to Israel.

As many of you know, I have made it a top priority for my administration to deepen cooperation with Israel across the whole spectrum of security issues — intelligence, military, technology.  And, in many ways, what this legislation does is bring together all the outstanding cooperation that we have seen, really, at an unprecedented level between our two countries that underscore our unshakeable commitment to Israel security.

I’m also very pleased that this week we are going to be able to announce $70 million in additional spending — $70 billion [million]*, excuse me, in additional spending for Iron Dome.  This is a program that has been critical in terms of providing security and safety for the Israeli families.  It is a program that has been tested and has prevented missile strikes inside of Israel.  And it is testimony to the leadership of the folks sitting here that we’re going to be able to lock in that fund to assure that that program continues and that we are standing by our friends in Israel when it comes to these kinds of attacks.

Let me just close by saying that the tragic events that we saw in Bulgaria emphasize the degree to which this continues to be a challenge not just for Israel, but for the entire world — preventing terrorist attacks and making sure the people of Israel are not targeted.

And I hope that, as I sign as this bill, once again everybody understands how committed all of us are — Republicans and Democrats — as Americans to our friends in making sure that Israel is safe and secure.

Leon Panetta, our Secretary of Defense, will be traveling to Israel to further consult and find additional ways that we can ensure such cooperation at a time when, frankly, the region is experiencing heightened tensions.

So, with that, let me sign this bill.  Again, I want to thank all who are standing beside me for their outstanding leadership and their outstanding work on this issue.

(The bill is signed.)

Let me make sure I’m using enough pens.  (Laughter.)  There you go.  Thank you.

END
10:28 A.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency July 27, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Speech at a Breakfast to Honor the US Olympic Team at the University of East London, London, England

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

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Remarks by the First Lady at a Breakfast to Honor the U.S. Olympic Team

Source: WH, 7-27-12

U.S. Olympic Training Facility
University of East London
London, England

9:00 A.M. BST

MRS. OBAMA:  Yay to you!  Wow!  I’m going to be saying that a lot over the next few days — wow!  Wow!  Wow!  I can’t believe I’m here with you all.  I am beyond proud.  Thank you so much.  It is a pleasure and a joy and an honor for me to be here with all of you.

I want to start by thanking Dominique for that very kind introduction.  But she didn’t mention that I might have beat her a little bit in jumping rope, but then she popped off some flips and spun up in the air and — (laughter) — landed, and she was like — looked at me like, bet you can’t do that.  (Laughter.)  She didn’t mention that part.   She was right — I can’t do that.

I want to thank Dominique and all of the other outstanding members of the delegation for coming to the Olympics, for joining me, for being here, for their absolute greatness.  These are remarkable individuals beyond sports.  They have all, and are all doing some amazing things for their communities all over the country.  So it is just a joy for me to be here with them.

I also want to acknowledge our U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom — Ambassador Susman — who has done a lot to make sure that this visit goes well.  He’s opened up his home for what will be a very fun afternoon in a couple of hours — is going to have a thousand kids in his backyard.  So I thank him for that.

I also want to thank Scott Blackmun for his outstanding leadership and for taking the time to be here today.  I’ve had a chance to meet him over the last year or so, and he’s just been a terrific supporter.

I can’t begin to tell you how amazing it is for me to be leading the delegation for the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games.  Some of my fondest memories growing up — and even as an adult, for that matter — involved watching the Olympics on TV.  I know each of you probably were in that position.  I remember cheering on Mary Lou and Nadia and Carl Lewis and so many others.  I was just in awe of those athletes.

And my family — I remember, we would sit together for hours watching these men and women perform feats of endurance, speed and grace that would have us cheering at the top of our lungs.  My brother and I, we would dream about how maybe one day, if we worked hard enough, we might be able to achieve something just as great for ourselves.

The Olympics was particularly powerful for my family for another reason.  As some of you may know, my father contracted MS in the prime of his life.  In a matter of several years, he went from a man who was once a thriving competitor — he was a boxer, a swimmer throughout high school — and then he was stripped of all of his hopes, so he thought, as an athlete.  My father wasn’t able to walk without the assistance of crutches, but he retained his love of sports, truly.  And the Olympics was a special time for him to watch amazing athletes of all abilities compete on the world stage.

So these games especially affected our little house on the South Side of Chicago.  Every few years these games bring pride, excitement and wonder to millions of people around the world.  And that must mean so much to all of you, being part of giving so many people that much hope.

And you never know who you’re inspiring.  You just never know.  From a family like ours on the South Side of Chicago to young athletes who are going to pick up a soccer ball or start running after watching something that you all do.  And I know for many of you, that’s how you got here, watching someone else.  So you never know who you’re going to inspire, because all of you are certainly inspiring me every day.

And this summer, all these years later, I still have those same feelings of pride, excitement and wonder.  So being here is other-worldly for me.  I am still so inspired by all of you.  And I’m still in awe of everything you have achieved.  As someone who, you know, thinks she works out — (laughter) — I know how hard and how much time you all put into being who you are.  And it is no small feat at all.

And I just wanted to come here and to tell you that very thing — that we are all proud of you all.  We really are.  You’ve got a country back home who is rooting for you every single second.  So you’ve already won.  And I’m proud to have the chance to cheer you guys on, in person, for the very first time in my life — in person at the Olympics, in London!  And then I’m going to be cheering back home, too, after they send me away — (laughter) — because I can only stay for three days.

And I want you all to know that this summer, people across America are going to be supporting Team USA — and not just by cheering you on from our living rooms, but also by striving to live up to the example that all of you set.

Thanks to the commitment from the U.S. Olympic Committee and 10 of its governing bodies, this year 1.7 million children are going to be participating in Olympic and Paralympic sports in their communities.  Many of these kids for the first time in their lives will be exposed to sports of any kind.  And tomorrow, people of all ages will be participating in the first-ever National Let’s Move Olympic Fun Day.  They’re going to be doing all kinds of athletic activities in cities and towns across the country.

So as you all compete here, think of your fellow competitors back home, all those young kids who are going to be thinking of the visions they see of you as they go spike a ball or put their toe in that first water.  They’re going to look at you and then they’re going to try something — right?  Then they’re going to get a little afraid, they’re going to come back, they’re going to watch you, and then they’re going to try a little bit more.  Right?  That’s what we’re hoping to see.

Our goal is to get all kids in our country and across the world in a better state of health.  And that starts with getting up and moving — right?  And this is a particularly special moment for them, with you all here competing, for them to have that light bulb go off in their heads.  Watching you all every step of the way may get some kid off of the couch, may encourage a mom to turn off the TV and go out and throw a ball.

So whatever happens here, think of all that you’re going to be doing for millions of kids, right this second, just by the fact that you worked so hard and got here yourselves.

So we are proud of you all.  And try to have some fun, you know.  You guys look pretty focused, and you should be, but I know I talked to Summer, and Summer is going to be going to the first opening ceremonies and she’s been at the Olympics nine times — right?  So this is going to be her first opening ceremonies.  So you all take advantage of everything.  Stop, look around you.  I know in my position, sometimes I don’t get a chance to breathe or take it in.  This only happens every few years, so try and have fun.  Try to breathe a little bit.  But also win — right?  (Laughter.)  In the end, winning is good.

You all, thank you so much.  God bless.  (Applause.)

END
9:09 A.M. BST

Full Text Obama Presidency July 26, 2012: President Barack Obama’s New Launches Initiative to Improve Educational Outcomes for African Americans

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

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Obama launches African-American education initiative

Source: CNN, 7-25-12
President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced an initiative he said will give African-American students greater access “to a complete and competitive education from the time they’re born all through the time they get a career.”…READ MORE

President Obama Signs New Initiative to Improve Educational Outcomes for African Americans

Source: WH, 7-26-12

Executive Order Establishes the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans

On Wednesday, during his remarks at the National Urban League conference in New Orleans, LA, President Obama announced he would sign an Executive Order today to improve outcomes and advance educational opportunities for African Americans.

The President has made providing a complete and competitive education for all Americans – from cradle to career – a top priority.  The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans will work across Federal agencies and with partners and communities nationwide to produce a more effective continuum of education programs for African American students.  The Initiative aims to ensure that all African American students receive an education that fully prepares them for high school graduation, college completion, and productive careers.

In the nearly 60 years since the Brown v. Board of Education decision put America on a path toward equal educational opportunity, America’s educational system has undergone a remarkable transformation.  Many African American children who attended substandard, segregated schools in the 1950s have grown up to see their children attend integrated and effective elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities.  Nonetheless, substantial obstacles to equal educational opportunity still remain in America’s educational system.  African American students lack equal access to highly effective teachers and principals, safe schools, and challenging college-preparatory classes, and they disproportionately experience school discipline and referrals to special education.

Significantly improving the educational outcomes of African Americans will provide substantial benefits for our country by advancing important outcomes, like increasing college completion rates, employment rates, and the number of African American teachers.  Enhanced educational outcomes for African Americans will lead to more productive careers, improved economic mobility and security, and greater social well-being for all Americans.

Advancing Educational Achievement of African American Students

The President has set the goal for America to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. To reach this ambitious goal, and to ensure equality of access and opportunity in education for all Americans, the Obama Administration is dedicating new resources, through rigorous and well-rounded academic and support services, to enable African American students to improve their educational achievement and prepare for college and career.

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, housed within the Department of Education, will work with the Executive Office of the President and Cabinet agencies to identify evidence-based best practices to improve African American student achievement in school and college, and to develop a national network of individuals, organizations, and communities that will share and implement these practices.  It will also help ensure that Federal programs and initiatives administered by the Department of Education and other Federal agencies maintain a focus on serving and meeting the educational needs of African Americans. The Initiative will complement the existing White House Initiative that strengthens the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) by working with Federal agencies and partners nationwide to provide all African American students with a more effective continuum of education programs.

To deliver a complete and competitive education for all African Americans, the Initiative will promote, encourage, and undertake efforts designed to meet several objectives, including:

• Increasing the percentage of African American children who enter kindergarten ready for success by improving access to high-quality early learning and development programs;
• Ensuring that all African American students have access to high-level, rigorous course work and support services that will prepare them for college, a career, and civic participation;
• Providing African American students with equitable access to effective teachers and principals in pursuit of a high-quality education, and supporting efforts to improve the recruitment, preparation, development, and retention of successful African American teachers and principals;
• Promoting a positive school climate that does not rely on methods that result in disparate use of disciplinary tools, and decreasing the disproportionate number of referrals to special education by addressing root causes of the referrals;
• Reducing the dropout rate of African American students and increasing the proportion of African American students who graduate from high school prepared for college and career;
• Increasing college access, college persistence, and college attainment for African American students;
• Strengthening the capacity of institutions of higher education that serve large numbers of African American students, including community colleges, HBCUs, Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), and other institutions; and
• Improving the quality of, and expanding access to, adult education, literacy, and career and technical education.

The Presidential Advisory Commission and Federal Interagency Working Group to Enhance Educational Outcomes for African American Students

The Executive Order also creates the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans, to aid and advise the work of the Initiative. The Commission will advise President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on matters pertaining to the educational attainment of the African American community, including the development, implementation, and coordination of resources aimed at improving educational opportunities and outcomes for African Americans of all ages. The Commission will also engage the philanthropic, business, nonprofit, and education communities in a national dialogue on African American student achievement, and work with the Initiative to establish partnerships with stakeholders from these sectors to achieve the objectives of this Executive Order.

The Executive Order also establishes a Federal Interagency Working Group on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The Working Group will be chaired by the Initiative’s Executive Director, and will convene senior officials from the Executive Office of the President and several Cabinet and sub-Cabinet agencies to coordinate the Federal investment in education programs and initiatives aimed at enhancing outcomes for African Americans in early childhood education; elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education; career and technical education; and adult education.

Full Text Obama Presidency July 26, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Remarks Before Cabinet Meeting Urges Congress to Pass Middle-Class Tax Cuts Extension

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Obama Urges House to ‘Do The Right Thing’ on Tax Cuts

Source: ABC News Radio, 7-26-12

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama is urging the Republican-led House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead and “do the right thing” to extend middle class tax cuts.
Speaking to reporters at a Cabinet meeting Thursday afternoon, the president praised the Senate for moving forward with his plan to extend the Bush-era tax rate for families earning less than $250,000 a year and let the rate expire for higher earners….READ MORE

Remarks by the President Before Cabinet Meeting

Source: WH, 7-26-12 

Cabinet Room

2:24 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, this is a good opportunity for me to bring my Cabinet together to thank them for the extraordinary work that they’re doing on a whole range of fronts.

You’ve got Tom Vilsack working very hard to make sure that farmers and ranchers are getting help at a time of devastating drought.

You have Secretary Clinton who has been logging more miles than any Secretary of State in history, dealing with a whole range of problems and opportunities around the globe.  Obviously, we’re going to be focusing a lot on the situation in Syria and what we can do there to make sure that we reduce the bloodshed.

But a whole range of Cabinet members and obviously my administration is focusing on our economy, and how do we make sure that this is an economy in which people who work hard, who act responsibly, can get ahead.

This is a particular challenge right now — we’re seeing some of the weaknesses in Europe — and it is a perfect time for us to focus on what are steps we can take now — not later, not a year from now, but right now — to strengthen the middle class, put more people back to work and provide business greater certainty.

And yesterday, the Senate voted to ensure that 98 percent of Americans don’t see their taxes go up next year, that 97 percent of small businesses don’t see their taxes go up next year.  It was the right thing to do.  It will provide certainty and security to families who are already being pinched because of the economy.  It will be good for the economy as a whole.

And now, the only thing that is going to prevent the vast majority of Americans from not seeing a tax increase next year is if the House doesn’t act.  We need 218 votes in the House of Representatives — 218 votes in the House of Representatives — to make sure that 98 percent of Americans don’t see their taxes go up next year.

And so one of the things that I’m going to be doing, my Cabinet members are going to be doing over the next several days is to make sure that the American people understand that we can provide them certainty right now for next year that their taxes will not go up, and that they will then be able to plan accordingly; small businesses will be able to plan accordingly, knowing that we’ve taken a whole bunch of uncertainty out of the economy at a time when the global economy is experiencing a number of disruptions.

So, again, I would urge the House of Representatives to do the right thing and I’m going to make sure that my Cabinet members amplify that message in the days to come.

Thank you very much, everybody.

Q    Mr. President, can you tell us, if what the Colorado shooter did was entirely legal, how do you do more on this subject without any new laws?

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  I’m sure we’ll have more opportunity to talk about this.

Q    This afternoon is fine.  I’m available.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thanks.  I’ll ask Jay for your number.  (Laughter.)

END
2:27 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency July 25, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the National Urban League Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana Focused on the Economy, Education & Gun Control Laws

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

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President Obama Speaks to the National Urban League

Source: WH, 7-25-12

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Urban League Convention President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Urban League Convention at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, La., July 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) 

President Obama Speaks at the National Urban League Convention

President Obama Speaks at the National Urban League Convention

Remarks by the President at the National Urban League Convention

Source: WH, 7-25-12

Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
New Orleans, Louisiana

7:00 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Urban League!  (Applause.)  Thank you.  It is good to be with the Urban League.  (Applause.)  And it’s good to be in the Big Easy.  (Applause.)

Now, I don’t know if the fact that this is called the Morial Convention Center had anything to do with folks coming down to New Orleans — (laughter) — but it is good to be with all of you.  And I’m glad I caught you at the beginning of the conference, before Bourbon Street has a chance to take a toll on you.  (Laughter.)  All right.  You all stay out of trouble now.  (Laughter.)

Everybody please have a seat.  Have a seat.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Four more years!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  A couple of people that I want to acknowledge.  Obviously, first of all, I want to acknowledge your outstanding president and CEO who has shown such extraordinary leadership for so many years — Marc Morial.  (Applause.)  Just like we’ve got an outstanding former mayor of New Orleans, we’ve also got the outstanding current mayor of New Orleans — Mitch Landrieu is in the house.  (Applause.)  Fine young congressman from this area — Cedric Richmond, is here.  (Applause.)  And one of the best mayors in the country — we’re glad he came down from his hometown of Philadelphia — Mayor Michael Nutter is in the house.  (Applause.)

And all of you are here, and I am grateful for it.  (Applause.)  And we love the young people who are in the house.  (Applause.)  Mitch, don’t you — I wasn’t referring to you, man, I was talking to those folks over there.  (Laughter.)  Mitch is all waving, “thank you.”  (Laughter.)

For nearly a century, the National Urban League has been inspiring people of every race and every religion and every walk of life to reach for the dream that lies at the heart of our founding — the promise that no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you came from, no matter how modest your beginnings, no matter what the circumstances of your birth, here in America, you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

Of course, this dream has never come easy.  That’s why the Urban League was formed.  In the aftermath of the Civil War, with the South in the grips of Jim Crow, the waves of men and women who traveled north to urban centers discovered that even in their new homes, opportunity was not guaranteed.  It was something you had to work for, something you had to fight for –- not just on your own, but side-by-side with people who believed in that same dream.

And so the white widow of a railroad tycoon and a black social worker from Arkansas founded what would become the Urban League, to strengthen our cities and our communities brick by brick, and block by block, and neighborhood by neighborhood, life by life.

Decades later, I arrived in one of those cities my hometown of Chicago.  (Applause.)  South Side!  (Applause.)  And I was driven by this same cause.  Like many of my classmates, I felt, I understood, the pull of a hefty paycheck that might come from a more conventional job.  But ultimately the pull to serve was even stronger.

So I moved to the South Side of Chicago, and I took a job with a group of churches, mostly Catholic parishes, working to help families who had no place to turn when the local steel plants shut down, and when panic-peddling had led to enormous turnover in these communities.  And we worked with laypeople and local leaders to rebuild neighborhoods and improve schools, and most of all, to broaden opportunity for young people, too many who were at risk.

And I confess that progress didn’t come quickly and it did not come easily.  Sometimes, it didn’t come at all.  There were times where I thought about giving up and moving on.  But what kept me going, day in and day out, was the same thing that has sustained the Urban League all these years, the same thing that sustains all of you, and that is the belief that in America, change is always possible; that our union may not be perfect, but it is perfectible; that we can strive over time through effort and sweat and blood and tears until it is the place we imagine.

It may come in fits and starts, at a pace that can be slow and frustrating.  But if we are willing to push through all the doubt and the cynicism and the weariness, then, yes, we can form that more perfect union.  (Applause.)

Now, the people I worked with in those early days in Chicago, they were looking for the same thing that Americans everyplace aspire to.  We’re not a nation of people who are looking for handouts.  We certainly don’t like bailouts.  (Laughter.)  We don’t believe government should be in the business of helping people who refuse to help themselves, and we recognize not every government program works.  But we do expect hard work to pay off.  We do expect responsibility to be rewarded.  We do expect that if you put in enough effort, you should be able to find a job that pays the bills.  (Applause.)  You should be able to own a home you call your own.  You should be able to retire in dignity and respect.  You should be able to afford the security of health care and you should be able to give your kids the best possible education.  (Applause.)

That idea that everybody should have a fair shot, not just some — that this country is special because it has grown this magnificent middle class and has provided ladders of access for those striving to get into the middle class — that’s the idea that drove me.  That’s the idea that has driven the Urban League, That idea that everyone should have equal opportunity — that’s what brought me to Chicago.  That belief that this country works best when we are growing a strong middle class and prosperity is broad-based — that’s what led me into politics.  And it is those values that have guided every decision that I have made as President of the United States.  (Applause.)

Now, today we’re battling our way back from a once-in-a-lifetime economic crisis.  And make no mistake, we’ve made progress in that fight.  When I took office, we were losing hundreds of thousands of jobs a month.  Our auto industry was on the brink of collapse.  Factories were boarding up their windows. We’d gone through almost a decade in which job growth had been sluggish, incomes had declined, costs were going up — all culminating in the financial system coming close to a breakdown.

Today, three and a half years later, we’ve had 28 straight months of private sector job growth.  (Applause.)  Three and a half years later, the auto industry has come roaring back.  (Applause.)  Three and a half years later, companies are beginning to bring thousands of jobs back to American soil.  (Applause.)

We still have much more work to do.  There’s still too many out of work, too many homes underwater, too many Americans struggling to stay afloat.  So the greater challenge that faces us is not just going back to where we were back in 2007, not just settling to get back to where we were before the crisis hit.  Our task is to return to an America that is thriving and growing out from our middle class, where hard work pays off — where you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

And, Urban League, I want you to know what’s holding us back from meeting these challenges is not a lack of ideas or solutions.  I have no patience with people who say our best days are behind us, because the fact of the matter is we still have the best workers in the world, the best universities in the world, the best research facilities in the world, the most entrepreneurial culture in the world.  (Applause.)  We have all the ingredients to make the 21st century the American Century just like the 20th.

What’s holding us back is a stalemate in Washington — (applause) — between two fundamentally different views about which path we should take as a country.  (Applause.)  And it’s up to the American people to decide what direction we should go.

Let me tell you what I believe.  I believe that strong communities are places that attract the best jobs and the newest businesses.  And you don’t build that kind of community by giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas.  (Applause.)  You build it by giving tax breaks to companies that create jobs in Detroit and in Cleveland and in Chicago and right here in New Orleans, right here in America — (applause) — using American workers, making American products that we sell around the world, stamped with three proud words — Made In America.  (Applause.)

You build it by investing in America’s manufacturing base and providing the dollars for research so that we have the most advanced products in the world.  You do it by investing in small businesses — the way we’ve provided 18 tax breaks to small businesses since I’ve been in office.  And if you’re a company that wants to relocate in a community that’s been particularly hard hit when a factory left town, I believe you should get help financing that new plant or equipment, or training for your workers — because we can’t leave anybody behind if we want to grow America the way it can grow.  (Applause.)

We also believe that every entrepreneur should have the chance to start a business –- no matter who you are, no matter what you look like.  (Applause.)  That’s why we’ve supported financing and assistance and exporting to small businesses across the board.  That’s why we’ve helped African American businesses and minority-owned businesses and women-owned businesses gain access to more than $7 billion in contracts and financing — (applause) — that allowed them to grow and create jobs.

That’s why we’ve emphasized helping our veterans create small businesses — because if they fought for us, they shouldn’t have to fight to get financing when they get home.  (Applause.)  They shouldn’t have to fight for a job when they come home.  They shouldn’t have to fight for a roof over their heads when they come home.  We should honor them the way they’ve honored us with their service.  (Applause.)

I believe strong communities are places where people can afford to buy what their local businesses sell.  So I ran for President promising to cut taxes for the middle class -– and regardless of what you hear during silly political season, I have kept that promise.  (Applause.)  Today, taxes are $3,600 lower for the typical family than they were when I came into office.  (Applause.)

Just a few hours ago, the Senate moved forward a bill that we had promoted to keep middle-class tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans next year.  (Applause.)  I will add that we didn’t get a lot of Republican votes — but that’s okay, they’ve got time.  We passed it through the Senate and now is the time for the House to do the same.  They should not be holding middle-class tax cuts hostage just to get more tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.  (Applause.)  At a time when so many people who have a job can barely keep up with their bills, we don’t need another trillion-dollar tax cut for folks like me.  We need tax cuts for working Americans, not for folks who don’t need it and weren’t even asking for it.  (Applause.)

Millions of Americans — including more than 2 million African American families — are better off thanks to our extension of the child care tax credit and the earned income tax credit — (applause) — because nobody who works hard in America should be poor in America.  That’s how strong communities are built.  (Applause.)  And by the way when working folks have money in their pockets, businesses do well because they’ve got customers, and all of us grow.  That’s been the history of this country.

I believe strong communities are built on strong schools.  (Applause.)  If this country is about anything, it’s about passing on even greater opportunity to the next generation.  And we know that has to start before a child even walks into the classroom.  It starts at home with parents who are willing to read to their children, and spend time with their children — (applause) — and instill a sense of curiosity and love of learning and a belief in excellence that will last a lifetime.

But it also begins with an early childhood education, which is why we’ve invested more in child care, and in programs like Early Head Start and Head Start that help prepare our young people for success.  It’s the right thing to do for America.  (Applause.)

Our education policy hasn’t just been based on more money, we’ve also called for real reform.  So we challenged every state in the country to raise their standards for teaching and for learning.  And three years later, nearly every state has answered the call.  We have seen the biggest transformation in terms of school reform in a generation, and we’ve helped some of the country’s lowest-performing schools make real gains in reading and math, including here in New Orleans.  (Applause.)

We’ve made it our mission to make a higher education more affordable for every American who wants to go to school.  That’s why we fought to extend our college tuition tax credit for working families — (applause) — saving millions of families thousands of dollars.

That’s why we’ve fought to make college more affordable for an additional 200,000 African American students by increasing Pell grants.  (Applause.)  That’s why we’ve strengthened this nation’s commitment to our community colleges, and to our HBCUs. (Applause.)

That’s why, tomorrow, I’m establishing the first-ever White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans –- (applause) — so that every child has greater access to a complete and competitive education from the time they’re born all through the time they get a career.

And that’s why we’re pushing all colleges and universities to cut their costs — (applause) — because we can’t keep asking taxpayers to subsidize skyrocketing tuition.  A higher education in the 21st century cannot be a luxury.  It is a vital necessity that every American should be able to afford.  (Applause.)  I want all these young people to be getting a higher education, and I don’t want them loaded up with tens of thousands of dollars of debt just to get an education.  That’s how we make America great. (Applause.)

Of course, that means all of you all have got to hit the books.  (Laughter.)  I’m just saying.  Don’t cheer and then you didn’t do your homework.  (Laughter and applause.)  Because that’s part of the bargain, that’s part of the bargain — America says we will give you opportunity, but you’ve got to earn your success.  (Applause.)

You’re competing against young people in Beijing and Bangalore.  They’re not hanging out.  (Laughter.)  They’re not getting over.  They’re not playing video games.  They’re not watching “Real Housewives.”  (Laughter.)  I’m just saying.  It’s a two-way street.  You’ve got to earn success.  (Applause.)

That wasn’t in my prepared remarks.  (Laughter.)  But I’m just saying.  (Applause.)

I believe strong communities are places where you and your family can work and save and buy your home.  That’s why we’ve helped more than a million responsible homeowners — these are folks who were making their payments — refinance their mortgages at these historically low rates, saving thousands of dollars every year.  Because people who did everything right shouldn’t pay the price for somebody else’s irresponsibility.  (Applause.)
So now we want to expand that refinancing opportunity to every homeowner who’s making their payments on time.

And while we’re at it, let’s put construction workers back on the job — because they’ve been hit by the housing bubble bursting.  Let’s put them back on the job not only rebuilding roads and bridges and ports, but also rehabilitating homes in communities that have been hit by foreclosures, businesses that have been hit hardest by the housing crisis.  (Applause.)  That creates jobs.  It raises property values, and it strengthens the economy of the entire nation.

Strong communities are healthy communities.  Because we believe that in the richest nation on Earth, you shouldn’t go broke when you get sick.  (Applause.)  And after a century of trying, and a decision now from the highest court in the land, health care reform is here to stay.  (Applause.)  We’re moving forward.

Insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against those who are sick.  Prescription drug prices will be lower for our seniors.  We’re going to close that doughnut hole. Young people will be able to stay on their parent’s insurance until they’re 26 years old.  (Applause.)  Thirty million Americans without health insurance will finally know the security of affordable care.  (Applause.)

We’ll improve any aspect of this law, and any recommendations and suggestions that those who actually know the health care system and aren’t just playing politics put forward. But we’re going to implement this law and America is going to be better for it.  (Applause.)

Now, I’ve got to say that I recognize we are in political season.  But the Urban League understands that your mission transcends politics.  Good jobs, quality schools, affordable health care, affordable housing — these are all the pillars upon which communities are built.  And yet, we’ve been reminded recently that all this matters little if these young people can’t walk the streets of their neighborhood safely; if we can’t send our kids to school without worrying they might get shot; if they can’t go to the movies without fear of violence lurking in the shadows.  (Applause.)

Our hearts break for the victims of the massacre in Aurora.  (Applause.)  We pray for those who were lost and we pray for those who loved them.  We pray for those who are recovering with courage and with hope.  And we also pray for those who succumb to the less-publicized acts of violence that plague our communities in so many cities across the country every single day.  (Applause.)  We can’t forget about that.

Every day — in fact, every day and a half, the number of young people we lose to violence is about the same as the number of people we lost in that movie theater.  For every Columbine or Virginia Tech, there are dozens gunned down on the streets of Chicago and Atlanta, and here in New Orleans.  For every Tucson or Aurora, there is daily heartbreak over young Americans shot in Milwaukee or Cleveland.  Violence plagues the biggest cities, but it also plagues the smallest towns.  It claims the lives of Americans of different ages and different races, and it’s tied together by the fact that these young people had dreams and had futures that were cut tragically short.

And when there is an extraordinarily heartbreaking tragedy like the one we saw, there’s always an outcry immediately after for action.  And there’s talk of new reforms, and there’s talk of new legislation.  And too often, those efforts are defeated by politics and by lobbying and eventually by the pull of our collective attention elsewhere.

But what I said in the wake of Tucson was we were going to stay on this, persistently.  So we’ve been able to take some actions on our own, recognizing that it’s not always easy to get things through Congress these days.  The background checks conducted on those looking to purchase firearms are now more thorough and more complete.  Instead of just throwing more money at the problem of violence, the federal government is now in the trenches with communities and schools and law enforcement and faith-based institutions, with outstanding mayors like Mayor Nutter and Mayor Landrieu — recognizing that we are stronger when we work together.

So in cities like New Orleans, we’re partnering with local officials to reduce crime, using best practices.  And in places like Boston and Chicago, we’ve been able to help connect more young people to summer jobs so that they spend less time on the streets.  In cities like Detroit and Salinas, we’re helping communities set up youth prevention and intervention programs that steer young people away from a life of gang violence, and towards the safety and promise of a classroom.

But even though we’ve taken these actions, they’re not enough.  Other steps to reduce violence have been met with opposition in Congress.  This has been true for some time — particularly when it touches on the issues of guns.  And I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms.  And we recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation -– that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.

But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals — (applause) — that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities.  I believe the majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons; that we should check someone’s criminal record before they can check out a gun seller; that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily.  (Applause.)  These steps shouldn’t be controversial.  They should be common sense.

So I’m going to continue to work with members of both parties, and with religious groups and with civic organizations, to arrive at a consensus around violence reduction — not just of gun violence, but violence at every level, on every step, looking at everything we can do to reduce violence and keep our children safe -– from improving mental health services for troubled youth  — (applause) — to instituting more effective community policing strategies.  We should leave no stone unturned, and recognize that we have no greater mission as a country than keeping our young people safe.  (Applause.)

And as we do so, as we convene these conversations, let’s be clear:  Even as we debate government’s role, we have to understand that when a child opens fire on another child, there’s a hole in that child’s heart that government alone can’t fill.  (Applause.)  It’s up to us, as parents and as neighbors and as teachers and as mentors, to make sure our young people don’t have that void inside them.

It’s up to us to spend more time with them, to pay more attention to them, to show them more love so that they learn to love themselves — (applause) — so that they learn to love one another, so that they grow up knowing what it is to walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes and to view the world through somebody else’s eyes.  It’s up to us to provide the path toward a life worth living; toward a future that holds greater possibility than taking offense because somebody stepped on your sneakers.

That’s the difference that we can make in our children’s lives and in the lives of our communities.  That’s the legacy we must leave for the next generation.  (Applause.)

Now, this will not be easy.  Even though it’s called the Big Easy, this proud city and those who call it home, they know something about hardship.  They’ve been battered again and again in this new century:  One of the worst natural disasters in our history, the worst environmental disaster in our history, the worst economic crisis most of us have ever known.  So sometimes being from the Big Easy means knowing hardship and heartbreak.  (Applause.)

But what this city also knows is resilience, and determination, and heroism.  (Applause.)  That’s one of the reasons it is one of America’s jewels.  It’s quintessentially American because of its resilience.

There is no shortage of citizens in this city who’s stepped up in the darkest of times.  And one person I want to end with is somebody that many of you know — the superintendent of schools in St. Bernard’s Parish, Doris Voitier.  Now, when Katrina’s waters rose, Doris and the faculty and staff of Chalmette High School saved the lives of hundreds of their neighbors, many of them old and sick, by moving them to shelter in the school’s second floor.

Two days later, they led 1,200 people to safety.  (Applause.)  The day after that, with her community in ruins, the superintendent was on her way to Baton Rouge to make sure her schools would open that fall.  “Failure is not an option” became her motto.  When some government officials gave her the runaround, she plowed ahead on her own — secured loans, finding portable classrooms and books, and doing everything it took to make sure her kids -– our kids -– could return to some semblance of normalcy.

When an official told her a gas line wouldn’t be repaired in time for school to reopen, and that her kids might have to eat MREs, she hired a local restaurant owner to cook hot lunches on a barge and sent FEMA the bill.  (Applause.)  On the first day of school, less than three months after Katrina swept ashore, she heard a young child, who’d endured nearly three months of suffering and hardship, yell out loud, “Real food!  Real food!”

Of that first night she said, “There were no riots; there were no disruptions; there were just hundreds of people just like you and the person sitting next to you, in the blink of an eye, having lost everything they had worked for over their entire lifetimes, who now looked to us for rescue.  And we accepted that responsibility because that’s what school people do.”  (Applause.)

Now, obviously, the superintendent is an exceptional educator and an exceptional citizen.  But as I’ve traveled around the country, what I’ve discovered is that’s not just what school people do.  That’s not — that’s what Americans do.  (Applause.) That’s what Americans, at their best, do.  When I traveled to Joplin, Missouri, that’s what folks in Joplin do.  When I go to Aurora, that’s what people in Colorado do.  (Applause.)  In urban communities all across America, that’s what you do.

For more than two centuries, our journey has never been easy, and our victories have never come quickly.  And we have faced our share of struggles and setbacks and climbs that have seemed too steep -– just like we do today.  But we know what we’re fighting for.  We can see the America we believe in –- a country where everybody gets a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share, where everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  And if we don’t keep fighting as hard as we know how for that America, if we don’t keep fighting for better jobs and better schools and a better future, who will?  (Applause.)

That’s our challenge.  We don’t quit.  Folks in New Orleans didn’t quit.  Americans don’t quit.  (Applause.)  We accept responsibility.  We keep on going.  We keep marching.  We keep moving forward.  Failure is not an option.  (Applause.)  This is not a time for cynics.  It is not a time for doubters.  It is time for believers.  It is time for folks who have faith in the future.

I still believe in you.  And if you still believe in me, I ask you to stand with me, march with me, fight with me.  (Applause.)  And as I do, I promise we will finish what we started, turn this economy around, seize our future, and remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

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

END
7:40 P.M. CDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz July 25, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event at a Private Residence in Hunts Point, Washington

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event

Source: WH, 7-25-12 

Private Residence
Hunts Point, WA

8:24 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Everybody, have a seat.  It is great to be back in the Pacific Northwest.  And I couldn’t ask for somebody I admire more to introduce me than Jim Sinegal.  And for him and Jan, they have just been extraordinary friends.  They are unbelievably gracious.

And the story of Costco and everything that you guys have done I think is representative of what America is all about — (applause) — entrepreneurship, vision, value for your money — (laughter) — treating your workers right — (applause) — doing well and doing good at the same time, and being part of a broader community that takes your responsibilities for this city, this state, and this country really seriously.

I am so grateful for your support.  I do want to just correct one thing, though.  When I called Jim, I said congratulations.  I was confident about the hot dog.  (Laughter.)  You don’t mess with something if it ain’t broke.  (Laughter.)  But what I did say was — Jan is probably going to be driven crazy if you’re just sitting around the house all day; you need to get involved in the campaign — (laughter) — because you’re a little too young to just be puttering around.  And for the two of them to take up this effort with such energy is something that I will always be grateful for.

There are a couple of other people I want to acknowledge.  Your outstanding Governor, Christine Gregoire is here.  (Applause.)  We love her.  And an outstanding member of Congress, who, like another guy of similar name, knows something about how to get the economy growing and cares about working people — Adam Smith is here.  (Applause.)  He was — there he is — somewhere.  He’s here somewhere, I know he is.  And all of you are here.

So because this is not like a huge rally, what I want to do instead of giving a long speech is spend some time answering some questions and taking some comments from all of you.  But let me try to just, at the top, frame I think the choice that the country is going to be confronting and the debate that we’re going to be having over the next three to four months.

As Jim mentioned, when I came into office, we were going through the worst recession, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  Lost 800,000 jobs the month I was sworn into office.  And because of some timely — and not always popular — steps that we took in that first year, we were able to save an auto industry, get the economy growing within six to eight months of me taking office; started adding jobs shortly thereafter.

We’ve now seen almost two and a half years of private sector job growth — about 4.5 million jobs created; about half a million in the manufacturing sector, the fastest growth we’ve seen in the manufacturing sector since the 1990s.  Saved an auto industry, stabilized the financial system.  And we have started to see — even in some sectors that were hardest hit, like housing — some modest improvement.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that there are still millions of folks who are out of work but desperately want to work.  There are still folks whose homes are underwater.

And most importantly, when I ran in 2008, the goal wasn’t to get back to where we were right before the crisis struck.  The goal was to restore a sense that in this country, if you work hard — no matter what you look like or where you come from — you can get ahead.  That you can afford to own a home.  That won’t go bankrupt when you get sick.  That your kids can get a good education and go to college, and aspire to things that you never dreamed of.  That you can retire with dignity and respect.  That core middle-class dream that some of us may have exceeded when it comes to our bank accounts, but that really is the glue that made us the envy of the world — this idea that if you work hard, you can make it; and if you act responsibly, you will be rewarded.

And the challenge was that, for a decade, that really wasn’t the case.  People were working harder and making less.  Costs were going up for things like college and health care.  A lot of jobs seemed as if they were being shipped overseas.  And the middle class was feeling less secure, and those who wanted to work hard to get into the middle class saw fewer and fewer ladders — fewer rungs on the ladder into opportunity.

So it hasn’t been enough.  Even though job one was to get us back on a path of recovery, the broader mission is how do we make sure that everybody has got a fair shot in this society, everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules — which is why health care reform was important, because that’s part of security for middle-class families.  That’s why Wall Street reform was important, because we’ve got to make sure that people have confidence in our financial system, and that it’s not being gamed, or reckless bets don’t potentially bring down the entire financial system.

That’s why education reform has been so important.  So the initiatives through things like Race to the Top, where we’ve gotten 46 states to initiate serious reforms — not with a lot of money, but with enough to incentivize best practices; and then, at the higher education level, work that we’ve done to expand Pell grants to make sure that there is a tuition tax credit for middle-class families to help them send their kids to college; initiatives that we’re now moving forward to create more engineers and more scientists and more mathematicians, so that we can keep our competitive edge — all those steps aren’t just going to pay short-term dividends, they’re also laying the foundation for long-term success.

Now, the debate in this campaign is going to be whether we continue down that road to progress or whether we take a sharp turn back to the policies that I believe got us into this mess in the first place.

My opponent’s basic vision can be described pretty simply.  You take the Bush tax cuts, you add on top of it an additional $5 trillion worth of tax cuts that would disproportionately benefit folks like us that don’t need them.  To the extent that there’s even an attempt to reduce the deficit, it’s done by slashing investments in education, voucherizing critical safety net programs like Medicare, reducing our investment in basic research and science.  And along with stripping away regulations that we’ve put in place through the health care bill or Wall Street reform or the enforcement that we think is important to make sure that our air is clean and our water is clean, that somehow, the market is going to be unleashed and prosperity will rain down on everybody.  Now, that’s their theory.

I disagree with that theory.  I think it’s wrong, partly because empirically we tried it.  We tried it for a decade and it didn’t work.  And the approach that I’m talking about in terms of balanced deficit reduction and investments in science and education and infrastructure — we’ve tried that, too, the last time there was a Democratic President.  And we created 23 million new jobs and went from deficit to surplus.  And, by the way, business people, large and small, did really well — because one of the lessons of our economic history is, is that when we’ve got a strong middle class, then businesses have customers and everybody does well, everybody grows.

So that’s what’s at stake in this election.  There are obviously a lot of other things at stake.  On foreign policy, I think it was the right thing to do to end the war in Iraq and refocus attention on al Qaeda, and now transition out of Afghanistan.  (Applause.)  I think it was the right thing to do for us to end torture and make sure that we applied rule of law to how we deal with a terrorist threat.

On issues like women’s health — making sure that women control their own health care choices I think is important.  (Applause.)  It’s the right thing to do.

Ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” — (applause) — and making sure that we are treating our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community with equality and fairness I think is the right thing to do.  So there are a bunch of other issues as stake here.  Supreme Court appointments — you name it.

But the central question is going to be how do we create an economy that works for everybody.  And I have to tell you, I generally have patience with what the other side says about me.  That’s the requirement of this job.  (Laughter.)  And if you don’t like folks talking about you, you probably shouldn’t run for President.

The one thing I do have no patience for is this argument that somehow what I’m criticizing is success.  That’s an argument you hear from the other side — oh, he wants to punish success.  I want to promote success.

But what I know is that Jim’s story, my story, the story of so many of you — our success was made possible in this country because our parents, our grandparents, our great-grandparents — stretching all the way back to the Founders — they had a vision that says, you know what, we’re going to insist on hard work and individual initiative, and we’re going to reward risk and entrepreneurship, and people are going to have to sweat and sacrifice for their success.  But there are some things we’re also going to do together to make sure that everybody has a chance.  Not everybody is going to succeed, but everybody is going to have a shot at success.

That’s why we set up a public school system that works.  That’s how we built extraordinary colleges and universities.  That’s how we created this amazing infrastructure that allows businesses to move goods and services, not just throughout this nation, but eventually throughout the world.  That’s how we sent a man to the moon.  That’s how we made the investments that helped to create the Internet.

So we want success.  We just want to make sure that everybody has a shot.  That’s what we’re fighting for.  That’s what’s at stake in this election.  And I hope you guys are willing to work as hard as I am over the next 106 days — not that I’m counting — (laughter) — and then you’re willing to work with me over another four years to make sure that we are moving towards that goal that I think the vast majority of Americans, regardless of whether they’re Democrats or Republicans or independents, all share.

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

END
8:37 P.M. PDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz July 25, 2012: President Barack Obama Speech at Campaign Event at the House of Blues, New Orleans, Louisiana

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Remarks by the President at Campaign Event — House of Blues, New Orleans, LA

Source: WH, 7-25-12

House of Blues
New Orleans, Louisiana

5:49 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  How’s it going, Big Easy?  It is good to be in New Orleans.  Now, I’ve got to admit I was thinking about just blowing everything off and going and getting something to eat.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Where we going?

THE PRESIDENT:  Say where we’re going, huh?  (Laughter.)  I don’t know — you tell me, this is your town.  (Laughter.)  (People start yelling out places to go.)  All right.  Well, let me tell you, the next time I come down, drinks are on me.  We’ll all go party.  (Applause.)  But until then we’ve got a little work to do.  (Laughter.)

A couple of folks I want to acknowledge.  First of all, your outstanding Mayor, Mitch Landrieu in the house.  (Applause.)  Congressman Cedric Richmond is in the house.  (Applause.)  State Senator Karen Carter Peterson is in the house.  (Applause.)  One of my favorite actors, a great friend, and a big booster of New Orleans — Wendell Pierce is here.  (Applause.)  Give it up for Terence Blanchard and his band.  (Applause.)  And I’m not the only out-of-town visitor here today — we also have the outstanding Mayor of Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter is here.  Give him a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  And your volunteers!

THE PRESIDENT:  And your volunteers — my volunteers are all here.  (Applause.)  And you are all here.  (Applause.)  We’re happy about that.  Thank you.

Now, this is my last political campaign.  You know I’m term limited — you only get two of these.  (Laughter.)  But it has made me a little nostalgic.  It makes me think about some of my first political campaigns.

AUDIENCE:  Fired up!  Ready to go!

THE PRESIDENT:  You know, when I first started in politics, I was a law professor, I was practicing civil rights law, and then I decided to run for the state senate in my area.  And I didn’t have a lot of backup so we’d have to go to Kinko’s and print up fliers.  (Laughter.)  And Michelle and me and some friends, we’d just go knocking on doors.  And then when I ran for the United States Senate — Illinois is a big state so we had to drive around all over the place.  But I didn’t have Marine One or Air Force One or a motorcade.  We had me — (laughter) — in my car.

I’d usually have a staff person with me — and the young people, you wouldn’t understand this, but back then we had to use these things called maps.  (Laughter.)  So they’re pieces of paper and you had to unfold them and try to figure out where you were going, and then you’d have to try to figure out how to fold them back.  (Laughter.)

And we would travel all across the state and I’d go to inner-cities and farm towns and suburban areas, and you’d meet people from all walks of life, all income levels.  And what was interesting, what inspired me, what made me realize that this might be a worthy pursuit was the sense that wherever I went, no matter how different people looked on the surface, there was a common thread to their story.  And it connected with my story.

So if I saw an elderly couple, they’d remind me of my grandparents.  And I’d about my grandfather, who fought in World War II, and then came home.  My grandmother, during the war, worked on a bomber assembly line, like Rosie the Riveter.  But when my grandfather came back he was able to get a college education because of the GI Bill, and they were able to buy their first home with the help of an FHA loan.  And I’d think about the journey they had traveled and everything that that generation had done for America, but also what America had done for them.

And sometimes I’d meet a single mom and I’d think about my mom.  My dad left and I didn’t know him.  So my mother didn’t have a lot of money — she had to work, put herself through school, but with the help of scholarships and grants, she was able to get ahead and then she was able to pass on a great education to me and my sister.  And I’d think about how in America, unlike a lot of other countries, she could make something out of herself even in those circumstances.

And then I’d meet a working couple and I’d think about Michelle’s parents.  Her dad, by the time I met him, could barely walk — he had multiple sclerosis.  So he had to use two cains, and he had to wake up an hour early — earlier than everybody else because that’s how long it took him just to get dressed and get ready and get to the job.  But he didn’t miss a day of work, because he believed in his responsibilities and looking after his family.  And Michelle’s mom worked as a secretary at a bank.  And so they never had a lot of money, but they had a lot of love, and they understood the concept of hard work and responsibility, and so they were able to pass on an extraordinary life to Michelle and her brother.

And as I traveled around the state of Illinois, it was clear to me that my story wasn’t unique and the stories of people I was meeting weren’t unique — it was the American story.  It was this idea that here in this country, we don’t believe in handouts, we don’t believe in bailouts, we believe in people earning what they get.  We believe in people working hard, we believe in people looking after their own families and taking responsibility and taking initiative.  But we also believe that in this country, hard work should pay off, that responsibility should be rewarded.  (Applause.)  And we believe that in this country, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, you should be able to make it if you try.  (Applause.)

That has been the central notion that built this country.  That has been our hallmark.  That’s been the core idea that drove America — this idea that in this country, you can get a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules, and so, if you work hard, you can get ahead.  And that’s what created this economic superpower, and that’s what created the greatest and largest middle class in the history of the world.  (Applause.)

Now, in 2008, when I was first running for President, we came together and a lot of you supported me in that race because we believed in those values and we believed in those ideas, and we had seen that, for almost a decade, that idea that built America’s middle class seemed as if it was slipping away.

We had gone through a decade in which hard work wasn’t always rewarded.  Middle-class folks saw their incomes actually going down.  So while their paychecks are shrinking, the cost of everything from health care to a college education kept on going up.  A few people were doing really well, but the vast majority was struggling.  Meanwhile, in Washington, we financed two wars on a credit card, turning a surplus into a deficit.  And because nobody was making sure that folks on Wall Street were doing what they were supposed to be doing, all this culminated in the worst financial crisis and the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes.
We didn’t know all that when I started to run.  But what we understood was what we were fighting for was the kind of change that would once again make real this idea that if you work hard you’ll be rewarded and you can get ahead.  We were fighting for policies that would grow the middle class and provide them with that sense of security.

And, by the way, it’s not just a matter of how much money you have in your bank account when we talk about being middle class, it’s the idea that if you work hard you can find a job that supports your family, and you can maybe get a home you call your own, and you’re not going to go bankrupt if you get sick.  You’re going to be able to retire with dignity and respect –  (applause) — and, most importantly, that your kids and your grandkids can do even better than you did, that they can achieve what you didn’t even imagine.

For the last three and a half years, everything I have done as President has been focused on that principle.  And, obviously, as we saw this economic crisis unfold, we understood that the change we believed in would take more than one year, more than one term and probably take more than one President.  But over the last three and a half years, we’ve started to steer things in the right direction.  (Applause.)

We were losing 800,000 jobs a month when I was sworn in.  Now, we’ve seen more than two years of job growth every single month.  We’re at 4.5 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  An auto industry on the brink of collapse — we made sure that we bet on American workers and American manufacturing.  And it’s come roaring back.  (Applause.)  We moved to make sure that college was more affordable for young people, and that more Americans had access to health care. (Applause.)

And so, over the last three and a half years, everything we’ve done has been focused on how do we create an economy that is built to last — is not built on speculation, that doesn’t just benefit the few, but that consistently builds the middle class so that they can achieve their dreams.

Now, for all the work that we’ve done, we know we got more work to do, because there are still millions of people out there out of work.  Too many people still have homes whose values have dropped because of this housing bubble bursting.  So we understand that we’ve got more work to do.  But sometimes, particularly during political season, when I hear cynics who say that our best days are behind us, I tell them, you don’t know the American people.  You don’t know their grit and you don’t know their determination.  (Applause.)

You haven’t met the small business owners who decide to keep everybody on payroll, even if they couldn’t pay themselves, because they believed in doing the right thing.  (Applause.)  You haven’t talked to some of these autoworkers in these plants that folks thought would never build another car again and now can’t build them fast enough.  (Applause.)  You haven’t met folks who at the age of 50 or 55, went back to community college, sitting next to a bunch of 20-year-olds, because they believed in retraining themselves, and now are finding jobs in biotechnology or clean energy.  (Applause.)

When you travel around this country, you understand that the American people are tougher than any tough times.  And although there are no quick fixes or easy solutions, there’s no doubt that we can solve every challenge that we face.  What’s holding us back right now is not the lack of solutions.  What’s holding us back is a stalemate in Washington.  (Applause.)  What’s holding us back is a few folks who say, we are going to take the uncompromising view that the only path forward is to go back to what we were doing that got us into this mess in the first place — the same top-down economics that we are now debating in this campaign.

Now, let me be specific here.  Now, this afternoon the Senate passed a bill that says if you earn $250,000 or less your taxes should not go up next year.  This is something I deeply believe in, because the middle class is still struggling, recovering from this recession.  You don’t need your taxes to go up and we could give you certainty right now.  But, of course, we’re dealing with Washington.  So Republicans in the House, they’ve said, we’re going to hold the middle-class tax cut hostage unless they get another trillion dollars’ worth of tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, I’ve got to tell you this makes no sense.  If Congress doesn’t act, the typical middle-class family is going to see their tax bill go up about $2,200.  Small businesses will also see their taxes go up.  So I’ve called on the House Republicans to drop their demands for another trillion-dollar giveaway for millionaires and billionaires so that we can make sure that middle-class families and small businesses have the financial security and certainty that they need.

But so far they don’t see it that way.  Governor Romney doesn’t see it that way.  Because they’ve got a fundamentally different vision about how we move this country forward.  They believe in top-down economics.  Their plan is to cut more taxes for the wealthy, cut more regulations on banks and corporations, cut more investments in things like education, job training, science, research — all with the thought that somehow that’s going to help us create jobs.  That’s what Mitt Romney believes. That’s what Washington Republicans believe.

I think they’re wrong.  That’s not what I believe.  That’s not what you believe.  That’s not what most Americans believe.  We believe not in top-down economics; we believe in middle-class-out economics.  We believe in bottom-up economics.  That’s what we’re fighting for.  That’s what I have fought for, for three and a half years.  That’s why I’m running for a second terms as President of the United States of America.  (Applause.)

So the good thing is you’ve got the power to break this stalemate.  But you need to understand there are two fundamentally different visions about how we move forward.  There’s a real choice.  I believe that hard work should be rewarded, and I believe that although all of us have to take individual initiative, there are also some things that we have to do together as a country to make sure that we grow.

I don’t believe that tax cuts for folks like me who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them is going to grow the economy.  But I do think that if we invest in outstanding education for every child in New Orleans and every child across America, that will help grow the economy.  (Applause.)

So what I’ve said is let’s help local school districts hire the best teachers, especially in math and science.  Let’s help folks go to — 2 million more people go to community colleges so that they can retrain for the jobs that businesses are hiring for right now.  (Applause.)  Let’s make sure, building off the work we’ve already done, to expand Pell grants and to provide tuition tax credits for middle-class families.

Let’s make sure that college tuition goes down instead of up — because in the 21st century, a higher education is not a luxury, it’s an economic necessity that everybody should have access to.  That’s one of the reasons I’m running for a second term as President of the United States — to make sure everybody gets a great education.  (Applause.)

Here’s another difference:  I don’t believe in giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas.

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  I want to give tax breaks to companies that invest right here in New Orleans, right here in Louisiana, right here in the United States of America, hiring American workers to make American products to sell around the world, stamped with three proud words:  Made in America.  (Applause.)  That’s a difference in this campaign.  (Applause.)

My opponent has got different ideas.  He says he’s qualified to turn around the economy because of all his private sector experience.  Turns out that experience is investing in companies that have been called “pioneers” of outsourcing.  I don’t believe in being a “pioneer” in outsourcing.  (Laughter.)  I want some insourcing.  I want to bring jobs back to the United States, not send them someplace else.  (Applause.)  That’s a choice in this election.

Back in 2008, I said I would end the war in Iraq — and I did.  (Applause.)   Thanks to the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform — (applause) — not only have we given Iraqis an opportunity to determine their own destiny, but we were able to refocus our attention on al Qaeda, the folks who actually carried out the 9/11 attacks.  (Applause.)  So we’ve got them on their heels and decimated their leadership, including Osama bin Laden.  (Applause.)  And now in Afghanistan we’re starting to transition and bring our troops home so that Afghans can take a lead for securing their own country.

So after almost a decade of war, I think it’s time to do some nation-building here at home.  (Applause.  I want to take half the money that we are saving and put people back to work rebuilding roads and bridges and ports and new schools.  That’s good for the construction industry, it’s good for the construction workers, but it also means that those folks have some money in their pockets and they can come down to New Orleans and spend some of that money, and help this local economy.  (Applause.)  And it lays the foundation for economic growth for decades to come.

Mr. Romney has got different ideas.  And we tried those ideas, and they didn’t work.  I believe that we did the right thing in providing health care to every American.  (Applause.)  I don’t think you should go bankrupt because you got sick.  I don’t believe that children should not be able to get health insurance because of a preexisting condition.  I think we did the right thing to make sure that young people could stay on their parent’s plan until they’re 26.  I think we did the right thing to make sure that seniors have lower prescription drug costs.

The Supreme Court has spoken.  We are going to implement this law.  We’re not going backwards, we’re going forward.  That’s the choice in this election.  That’s why I’m running for a second term as President.  (Applause.)

We’re not going back to the day when you had to scramble and try to figure out how you were going to care for your loved ones if they got sick.  We’re not going to go back to the day when whether you could serve the country you loved depended on who you love.  We ended “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  That was the right thing to do.  We’re not going back.  (Applause.)

We passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act to make sure that women got equal pay for equal work — because I’ve got two daughters and think that they should be treated just like somebody else’s sons.  (Applause.)  And we’re not going to go back to the days when women did not have control of their health care choices.  (Applause.)  We are moving forward, we’re not going backwards.  (Applause.)

On almost every issue there is a choice.  And you see it in terms of how we deal with the deficit.  The deficit is a real problem — we have to reduce it.  I inherited a big deficit, and we’ve got to now bring it down.  But we can’t bring it down just on the backs of the poor.  We can’t bring it down on the backs of the middle class.  (Applause.)  We can’t bring it down in a way that prevents us from making investments in the future.

So what I’ve said is, look, we’ve already cut a trillion dollars in programs that we don’t need, and I’m willing to do a little bit more but I’m not going to do more if we’re not asking folks who have been most blessed by this country — like me — to just pay a little bit more in taxes, to go back to the rates that existed under Bill Clinton.  And by the way, we’ve tried that and that worked — (applause) — 23 million new jobs; surplus instead of deficits.  (Applause.)

And here’s the thing, New Orleans — here’s the thing.  We created a lot of millionaires then, too.  Because what happens is when people in the middle and at the bottom have a chance and are doing well, then lo and behold, folks at the top got more customers.  Everybody does better.  Everybody benefits.  We all grow.

So those are the choices that we have in this election, and you’re going to be the tiebreaker.  You will break the stalemate.
I’ve got to tell you, over the next four months you are going to hear a lot of stuff.  (Laughter.)  That’s what it is — stuff.  (Laughter.)  And sometimes, they will play around with things I say.  They’ll take out whole sentences.  (Laughter.)  They’ve got an ad right now where they just spliced it and diced it, make it seem like I don’t appreciate the incredible work of small business people.  And I say, look, everything I’ve done over the least three and a half years has been focused on how do we create greater opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business people
– cutting their taxes 18 times.

I understand the sacrifice and the sweat and the tears that they put in.  But that’s not going to be how it’s presented because that’s the nature of politics these days.  We’re going to see more money spent on negative ads than we’ve ever seen before. You’ve got folks writing $10 million checks.  And the message in all these ads is going to be the same.  There will be variations on it, but it’s all going to be the same message, which basically is:  The economy is still struggling, and it’s Obama’s fault.  It’s a very succinct message.

And the reason that that’s their message is because they know that their actual ideas won’t sell, that their approach is not one that’s going to work and the American people have rejected in the past.  So all they can do is try to argue that just by getting rid of me somehow everything is going to be solved.

And, look, when folks who are writing $10 million checks are going after you, you think about it.  (Laughter.)  You think about it.  But here’s the thing.  The reason I stand before you feeling good and feeling confident about America’s future, not just about this election, is because I’ve been the underdog before, I’ve been counted out before, I’ve been outspent before  — but what I learned in those very first campaigns, and has been confirmed for me ever since, is that when the American people really started focusing and paying attention, when they started cutting through the nonsense, when they start listening to what folks actually have to say, and when the American people start reflecting on their own lives — they think about their parents and their grandparents and their great-grandparents, and the story of how some of them maybe came to this country as immigrants, some came in chains, but all of those forebears of ours understood there was something about this country where we could make it.

It might be hard sometimes.  There might be times where we have setbacks.  But if we applied ourselves, we could pass on a better America to the next generation.  (Applause.)  That idea — that idea that led me into politics, that idea that is true for all of our families — when we focus on that idea, when we remember that we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, when that idea comes to the fore, the American people can’t be stopped.  (Applause.)  It doesn’t matter how many negative ads are out there.  It doesn’t matter how much money is spent.  Change happens when the American people are focusing on those things that are best in us.

And so, over these next four months, I will be carrying your stories with me, and it will give me confidence and it will give me inspiration, just like it did in 2008.  (Applause.)

And I have to tell you, New Orleans, back in 2008, I tried to not make promises that I couldn’t keep.  So I promised to end the war in Iraq — I kept that promise.  I said I’d cut taxes for middle-class families, average families — taxes are $3,600 lower than when I came into office — kept that promise.

One of the other promises I kept was I said, you know I’m not a perfect man — Michelle will tell you that — (laughter) — and I won’t be a perfect President, but what I can promise is that I’ll always tell you what I think and I’ll always tell you where I stand, and most importantly, I will wake up every morning and fight as hard as I know how for you.  (Applause.)

Because I see myself in you.  In your grandparents, I see my grandparents.  In your children, I see Malia and Sasha.  I see my own story in your story.  And so I’ve kept that promise, New Orleans.  I’ve been fighting for you.  I believe in you.

And if you still believe in me — (applause) — and you’re willing to stand with me, and fight with me, and organize with me, and make phone calls with me, and knock on doors with me, if you see what I see — a bold, generous, optimistic America where all people have a fair shot at success and everybody is doing their fair share — I promise you, we will finish what we started and we will remind the world just why it is that the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

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

END
6:20 P.M. CDT

Campaign Headlines July 24, 2012: Mitt Romney Blasts President Obama Over Security Leaks, Defense Cuts in a Speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Reno, Nevada

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Romney Blasts Obama Over Security Leaks, Defense Cuts

Source: ABC News Radio, 7-24-12

Saul Loeb/AFP/J.D. Pooley/GettyImages

On the eve of his week-long trip abroad, Mitt Romney today condemned President Obama’s handling of recent security leaks to the media, including details from the attack that led to the death Osama Bin Laden, describing it as “contemptible” and urging the president to accept responsibility for leaks that might have stemmed from his administration.
“This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a national-security crisis,” Romney said in remarks delivered to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nev. “This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation, with explanation and consequence….READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz July 24, 2012: Fact Sheet: Mitt Romney’s Foreign Policy & National Plan For An American Century

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

A brief look at Mitt Romney’s foreign policy plan

Source: AP, 7-24-12

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney outlined his vision of U.S. national security policy on Tuesday, challenging President Barack Obama over everything from classified information leaks to his handling of the war in Afghanistan….READ MORE

Fact Sheet: The Romney Plan For An American Century

Source: Mitt Romney, 7-24-12

Defense Policy

American military power is vital to the preservation of our own security and peace around the world. Mitt Romney will:

  • Reverse Obama-era defense spending cuts with the goal of setting a core defense spending floor of 4% of GDP.In his first 100 days, put our Navy on the path to increase its shipbuilding rate from nine per year to approximately fifteen per year.  Maintain a fleet of 11 aircraft carriers.
    Find efficiencies in the Department of Defense procurement process and bureaucratic staff to reinvest in the force.
  • Modernize and replace the aging inventories of the Air Force, Army, and Marines, and selectively strengthen our force structure.
  • Add 100,000 active duty troops.
  • In the first 100 days, begin reversing Obama-era cuts to missile defense and commit to a robust multi-layered national ballistic-missile defense system to deter and defend against nuclear attacks on our homeland and our allies.

Iran Policy

Mitt Romney believes it is unacceptable for Iran to possess a nuclear weapons capability and will adopt a comprehensive strategy to prevent that scenario.  He will:

  • In his first 100 days, make clear that the military option is on the table by ordering the regular presence of an aircraft carrier task force in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region simultaneously. He will also begin talks with Israel to increase military coordination and assistance and enhance intelligence sharing.
  • Increase military coordination with Arab allies in the region and conduct more naval exercises in the region as a demonstration of strength and resolve.
  • Fully implement sanctions targeted at Iran’s Central Bank and its petroleum industry. Cease the Obama Administration’s practice of issuing exemptions from sanctions to nations such as China that fail to meaningfully reduce their oil imports from Iran.
  • Step up enforcement of existing U.S. laws that bar commerce with Iran, such as the exportation of refined petroleum products to Iran.
  • Increase diplomatic isolation of Iran and work to indict Iranian President Ahmadinejad for incitement to genocide under the Genocide Convention.
  • Support the Iranian opposition by improving the flow of information to the Iranian population about its own government’s repressive activities and refusing to stand silent while the Iranian regime ruthlessly terrorizes its own people.
  • Reaffirm that any negotiated agreement must entail the internationally recognized redline of full suspension of enrichment activities by the Iranian regime. In addition, call for intrusive and unannounced inspections, unfettered access to all officials and scientists who have participated in Iran’s nuclear program, removal of enriched uranium stockpiles from Iran, and a full accounting of past weaponization work.
  • Commit to the on-time completion of a fully capable missile defense system in Eastern Europe and retain the option of reverting to a swifter implementation plan. Mitt Romney will deny Russia any control or veto over the missile defense system.

Afghanistan & Pakistan Policy

Mitt Romney will cease President Obama’s practice of politicizing decisions on troop levels and transition timetables. Mitt Romney will:

  • In his first 100 days, order a full interagency review of our transition in Afghanistan toward the goal of a successful transition of combat operations by the end of 2014. He will review our military and assistance presence to determine the level required to secure our gains and to train Afghan forces to the point where they can protect the sovereignty of Afghanistan on their own. Withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan under a Romney administration will be based on conditions on the ground as assessed by our military commanders.
  • Work with the Afghan government and Pakistan and use U.S. leverage to ensure that those nations are fully contributing to the success of our mission. He will make clear to Afghan President Hamid Karzai that our commitment must be met with reciprocal efforts to crack down on corruption in his government, respect free and fair elections as required by the Afghan constitution, and coordinate with the United States on fighting the narcotics trade that fuels the insurgency. Mitt Romney will work with Pakistan to sever any connection between insurgent forces and Pakistan’s security and intelligence agencies.

China Policy

Mitt Romney will implement a strategy that makes the path of regional hegemony for China far more costly than the alternative path of becoming a responsible partner in the international system. Mitt Romney will:

  • Maintain robust military capabilities in the Pacific to guarantee that trade routes remain open and East Asia’s community of nations remains secure and prosperous.
  • Deepen cooperation among regional partners like India and build stronger ties to influential countries like Indonesia.
  • Defend human rights. Any serious policy must confront the fact that China’s Communist regime continues to deny its people basic political freedoms and human rights. Mitt Romney will support and engage civil society groups within China that are promoting democratic reform, anti-corruption efforts, religious freedom, and women’s and minority rights. These efforts will provide them with greater access to information through a stronger Internet freedom initiative.

Specifically on issues of trade, Mitt Romney will lay out a clear series of steps that the Chinese must take to become a responsible participant in the global economy, and a clear series of consequences that would accompany failure to make rapid progress down that path, such as:

If China continues to block government procurement from foreign firms:

  • End U.S. government procurement from China

If China continues to manipulate its currency:

  • Formally declare China to be a currency manipulator
    • Impose associated countervailing duties

If China continues to unfairly subsidize its domestic producers,  interfere with foreign competitors, and pursue an “indigenous innovation” policy by coercing and stealing from foreign firms:

  • Impose punitive tariffs on Chinese products for which China provides anti-competitive assistance
  • Work with other developed nations to impose intellectual property sanctions, blocking the transfer into China of technologies that China has prioritized

In response to all of these practices:

  • Use Reagan Economic Zone to confer benefits on genuine free trading nations from which China is excluded so long as its unfair practices continue

Middle East Policy

A Romney administration will pursue a strategy of supporting groups and governments across the Middle East to advance the values of representative government, economic opportunity, and human rights. And it will oppose any extension of Iranian or jihadist influence. Mitt Romney will:

  • Engage Congress to organize all diplomatic and assistance efforts in the greater Middle East under one regional director with unified budgetary and directive authority who will train our soft power on ensuring the Arab Spring does not become an Arab Winter.
  • Make available technical assistance to transitional governments to promote democracy, good governance, and sound financial management.
  • Convene a summit that brings together world leaders, donor groups, and young leaders of civil society groups in nations in transition.

Israel

Mitt Romney will restore our relationship with our closest ally in the Middle East. He will:

  • Make Israel the destination of his first foreign trip as president.
  • In the first 100 days, reaffirm as a vital U.S. national interest the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Work closely with Israel to maintain its strategic military edge and increase military assistance.
  • Reject any measure that would frustrate direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Mitt Romney will make clear to the Palestinians that the unilateral attempt to decide issues that are designated for final negotiations is unacceptable.
  • Reduce assistance to the Palestinians if they continue to pursue United Nations recognition or form a unity government that includes Hamas, a terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

Egypt

Egypt is in many ways the fulcrum of the Arab world.  Mitt Romney will orient U.S. policy to encourage the development of an Egyptian government that represents all Egyptians, maintains peace with Israel, and promotes peace throughout the region. He will:

  • Condition the $1.3 billion in U.S. military assistance to Egypt on maintaining its peace agreement with Israel. Place conditions of good governance and peaceful relations on the $250 million in economic assistance, $1 billion in debt cancelation pledges, and $1 billion in OPIC loan guarantees the United States grants to Egypt.
  • Engage G-8 partners, the World Bank, and the European Investment Bank to use their collective influence and place conditions of good governance and peaceful relations on the billions they have pledged to Egypt.

Syria

Both America’s humanitarian and strategic interests would be served by the departure of Bashar al-Assad.  Mitt Romney will make clear that Assad must go and that no way forward in Syria will include Assad. He will:

  • Work with partners to call on Syria’s military to protect civilians rather than attack them, drive a wedge between the Assad regime and the wider Alawite minority and other minorities, assure them of a role in a post-Assad Syria if they abandon the regime, and increase the chances for reconciliation with the majority Sunni population after Assad’s fall.
  • Make clear that the United States and our allies will support the Syrian opposition when the time comes for them to forge a post-Assad government.
  • Work with partners to identify, organize, and arm opposition groups aligned with U.S. interests.

Russia Policy

Mitt Romney will reset President Obama’s “Reset” with Russia and implement a strategy to discourage aggressive or expansionist behavior on the part of Russia and encourage democratic political and economic reform. He will:

  • Review the implementation of the New START treaty and other decisions by the Obama Administration regarding America’s nuclear posture and arms-control policies to determine whether they serve the best interests and national security of the United States.
  • Pursue policies to reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian sources of energy. He will explore increasing technical assistance to the Eastern European nations currently developing the Turkey-to-Austria Nabucco natural gas pipeline and work with the private sector to spur access to untapped shale energy resources in Western Europe.
  • Deter Russian ambitions to its south by enhancing diplomatic ties, increasing military training and assistance, and negotiating trade pacts and educational exchanges with Central Asian states.
  • Forthrightly confront the Russian government over its authoritarian practices. Mitt Romney will increase the flow of information into Russia that highlights the virtues of freedom and a government free of corruption. He will bring more leaders of Russian civil society to the United States on exchange programs.

Latin America Policy

A Romney administration will support democratic allies and market-based economic relationships, contain destabilizing internal forces such as criminal gangs and terrorists, and oppose destabilizing outside influences such as Iran. Mitt Romney will:

  • In his first 100 days, launch a vigorous public diplomacy and trade promotion effort in the region—the Campaign for Economic Opportunity in Latin America (CEOLA)—to encourage trade and investment between the United States and Latin America and draw a stark contrast between the virtues of democracy and free trade and the ills of the authoritarian socialist model offered by Cuba and Venezuela.
  • Build on separate existing anti-drug and counterterrorism initiatives to form a unified Hemispheric Joint Task Force on Crime and Terrorism to coordinate intelligence and enforcement among allies to combat regional terrorist groups and criminal networks and sever connections to foreign terrorist entities like Hezbollah.
  • Explore with Mexico the need for enhanced military-to-military training cooperation and intelligence sharing to combat our mutual challenge of drug cartels and criminal gangs. Complete a high-tech fence to secure the southern border.

North Korea Policy

Mitt Romney will commit to eliminating North Korea’s nuclear weapons and its nuclear-weapons infrastructure. He will:

  • Work with allies to institute harsher sanctions on North Korea, such as cracking down on financial institutions that service the North Korean regime and sanctioning companies that conduct commercial shipping in and out of North Korea.
  • Step up enforcement of the Proliferation Security Initiative to constrain North Korean illicit exports.
  • Work to persuade China to commit to North Korea’s disarmament. Mitt Romney will discuss with China how the international community will address the humanitarian and security issues that will arise should North Korea disintegrate. And by reinvigorating our military and counter-proliferation relationships with South Korea, Japan, and others regional allies, he will demonstrate to the Chinese that they should join the coordinated effort or be left behind.

Diplomatic & National Security Institutions

Mitt Romney will empower our diplomatic, assistance, and national security institutions to best secure our enduring national interests and ideals. He will:

  • Reorganize our diplomatic and assistance agencies to foster joint regional strategic planning by placing unified budgetary and directive authority under one official responsible for all diplomatic and assistance programs within a particular region. This structure will mirror the regional military combatant command structure.
  • In the first 100 days, order a full interagency initiative to formulate a unified national strategy to deter and defend against the growing threats of militarized cyber-attacks, cyber-terrorism, cyber-espionage, and private-sector intellectual property theft.
  • Order an initiative to combat homegrown terrorism by redoubling efforts to work with state and local authorities to share intelligence “vertically,” enhance partnerships with Muslim-American communities to identify threats and suspicious activity, and develop our database of knowledge about the hallmarks of radicalization and recruitment. The strategy will contain measures to preserve privacy and our constitutional rights.
  • Work with Congress to update the chief source of statutory authority for the war on terrorism to authorize the use of force against any foreign terrorist entity that is waging war against the United States.
  • Work with Congress to unify the over 108 authorizing committees in Congress that oversee the Department of Homeland Security.

Setting a New Tone: Eight Actions for the First Hundred Days

  1. Restore America’s Naval Credibility

Announce an initiative to increase the naval shipbuilding rate from nine per year to approximately fifteen per year and sustain the carrier fleet at eleven. This will restore America’s presence and credibility on the high seas with a view toward deterring aggressive behavior and maintaining the peace.

  1. Strengthen and Repair Relationships with Steadfast Allies

Take swift measures to restore and enhance relationships with our most steadfast allies. Actions include reaffirming as a vital national interest Israel’s existence as Jewish state, declaring the U.S.-U.K. special relationship to be a foundation for peace and liberty, and beginning talks to strengthen cooperation with Mexico on the shared problem of drugs and security.

  1. Enhance Our Deterrent Against Iran

Reaffirm that Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable. Order the regular presence of a carrier task force in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region. Begin discussions with Israel to increase levels of military and intelligence coordination and assistance.

  1. Commit to a Robust National Missile Defense System

Begin process of reversing Obama-era budget cuts to national missile defense and raise to a top priority the full deployment of a multilayered national ballistic-missile defense system.

  1. Establish a Single Point of Responsibility for All Soft Power Resources in the Middle East

Work with Congress and relevant Executive branch agencies to organize all diplomatic and assistance efforts in the greater Middle East under one Regional Director with unified budgetary and directive authority. One official with responsibility and accountability will set regional priorities and direct our soft power toward ensuring the Arab Spring realizes its promise.

  1. Launch Campaign for Economic Opportunity in Latin America

Capitalize on the benefits arising from the ratification of the Colombian and Panamanian free trade agreements to launch a robust public-diplomacy and trade promotion campaign in Latin America that contrasts the benefits of democracy, free trade, and economic opportunity with the ills caused by the authoritarian model of Venezuela and Cuba.

  1. Conduct a Full Review of Our Transition in Afghanistan

Conduct a full interagency review of our military and assistance presence in Afghanistan to determine the presence necessary to secure our gains and successfully complete our mission. The review will involve discussions with generals on the ground and the delivery of the best recommendations of our military commanders.

  1. Order Interagency Initiative on Cybersecurity

Order a full interagency initiative to formulate a unified national strategy to deter and defend against the growing threats of militarized cyber-attacks, cyber-terrorism, cyber-espionage, and private-sector intellectual property theft. U.S. defense and intelligence resources must be fully engaged in this critical aspect of national defense.

To view the full foreign policy white paper please click here.

Full Text Campaign Buzz July 24, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech on Foreign Policy & National Security to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Reno, Nevada

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CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Remarks At The VFW National Convention

Source: Mitt Romney, 7-24-12

romney-2012-blog-image-texas.jpg

Thank you.  Commander Richard DeNoyer, I appreciate the introduction, and I’m proud to see a combat veteran from Massachusetts serving as National Commander of the VFW.

Ladies Auxiliary President Gwen Rankin, incoming National Commander John Hamilton, incoming Ladies Auxiliary President Leanne Lemley, Adjutant General Allen “Gunner” Kent, Executive Director Bob Wallace, distinguished guests and members of the VFW: Thank you for your generous welcome.

I want to start today with a few words about the unimaginable tragedy in Colorado last week.  We’ve since learned that among the victims were four people who had served – or were serving – our country in uniform.  Today, our hearts go out to the families of John Larimer of the U.S. Navy; Rebecca Wingo, an Air Force veteran; Jesse Childress, an Army veteran and member of the Air Force reserve; and Jonathan Blunk, a Navy veteran who died shielding his girlfriend from the spray of bullets.  The loss of four Americans who served our country only adds to the profound tragedy of that day.  All Americans are grateful for their service and deeply saddened by their deaths.  We mourn them and we will remember them.

The VFW is now over two million strong.  It has a special place in America’s heart.  Some of you fought recently, in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Others are old enough to have marched, flown, or sailed by orders of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Whatever your age, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, whenever you served – there’s one thing you have in common: You answered the call of your country in a time of war. From December 7th, 1941 to September 11, 2001, whenever America has been tested, you stepped forward. You come from our farms, our great cities, our small towns and quiet neighborhoods. Many of you have known violence so that your neighbors could only know peace.  You have done more than protect America; your courage and service defines America.  You are America at our best and it is an honor to address you.

Our veterans are part of a proud tradition that stretches back to the battlefields at Lexington and Concord – and now to places like Fallujah and Kandahar.  Year after year, our men and women in uniform have added proud achievements to their record of service.  And President Obama pointed to some of them yesterday in his speech.

Any time our military accomplishes a vital mission it is a proud moment for our nation.  But we owe our veterans and our military more than just an accounting of our successes.  They deserve a fair and frank assessment of the whole picture – of where we are and where we want to be.  And when it comes to national security and foreign policy, as with our economy, the last few years have been a time of declining influence and missed opportunity.

Just consider some of the challenges I discussed at your last national convention:

Since then, has the American economy recovered?

Has our ability to shape world events been enhanced, or diminished?

Have we gained greater confidence among our allies, and greater respect from our adversaries?

And, perhaps most importantly, has the most severe security threat facing America and our friends, a nuclear-armed Iran, become more or less likely?

These clear measures are the ultimate tests of American leadership.  And, by these standards, we haven’t seen much in the President’s first term that inspires confidence in a second.

The President’s policies have made it harder to recover from the deepest recession in seventy years … exposed the military to cuts that no one can justify … compromised our national-security secrets … and in dealings with other nations, given trust where it is not earned, insult where it is not deserved, and apology where it is not due.

From Berlin to Cairo to the United Nations, President Obama has shared his view of America and its place among nations.  I have come here today to share mine.

I am an unapologetic believer in the greatness of this country. I am not ashamed of American power.  I take pride that throughout history our power has brought justice where there was tyranny, peace where there was conflict, and hope where there was affliction and despair.  I do not view America as just one more point on the strategic map, one more power to be balanced.  I believe our country is the greatest force for good the world has ever known, and that our influence is needed as much now as ever.  And I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion:  This century must be an American Century.

In 1941, Henry Luce called on his countrymen – just then realizing their strength – “to create the first great American century.” And they succeeded: together with their allies, they won World War II, they rescued Europe, they defeated Communism, and America took its place as leader of the free world. Across the globe, they fought, they bled, they led.  They showed the world the extraordinary courage of the American heart and the generosity of the American spirit.

That courage and generosity remains unchanged today.  But sadly, this president has diminished American leadership, and we are reaping the consequences. The world is dangerous, destructive, chaotic.  And the two men running to be your commander-in-chief must offer their answers to the challenges we face.

Like a watchman in the night, we must remain at our post – and keep guard of the freedom that defines and ennobles us, and our friends.  In an American Century, we have the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world.  In an American Century, we secure peace through our strength.  And if by absolute necessity we must employ it, we must wield our strength with resolve.  In an American Century, we lead the free world and the free world leads the entire world.

If we do not have the strength or vision to lead, then other powers will take our place, pulling history in a very different direction.  A just and peaceful world depends on a strong and confident America. I pledge to you that if I become commander-in-chief, the United States of America will fulfill its duty, and its destiny.

American leadership depends, as it always has, on our economic strength, on our military strength, and on our moral strength.  If any of these falter, no skill of diplomacy or presidential oratory can compensate. Today, the strength of our economy is in jeopardy.

A healthy American economy is what underwrites American power. When growth is missing, government revenue falls, social spending rises, and many in Washington look to cut defense spending as an easy out.  That includes our current President.

Today, we are just months away from an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would saddle the military with a trillion dollars in cuts, severely shrink our force structure, and impair our ability to meet and deter threats.  Don’t bother trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of this, unless that rationale is wishful thinking. Strategy is not driving President Obama’s massive defense cuts.  In fact, his own Secretary of Defense warned that these reductions would be “devastating.”  And he is right.

That devastation starts at home. These cuts would only weaken an already stretched VA system and impair our solemn commitment that every veteran receives care second to none. I will not allow that to happen.

This is not the time for the President’s radical cuts in the military. Look around the globe. Other major powers are rapidly adding to their military capabilities, some with intentions very different from ours.  The regime in Tehran is drawing closer to developing a nuclear weapon.  The threat of radical Islamic terrorism persists. The threat of weapons of mass destruction proliferation is ever-present. And we are still at war and still have uniformed men and women in conflict.

All this and more is ongoing in the world.  And yet the President has chosen this moment for wholesale reductions in the nation’s military capacity.  When the biggest announcement in his last State of the Union address on improving our military was that the Pentagon will start using more clean energy – then you know it’s time for a change.

We’re not the first people to observe this.  It is reported that Bob Gates, the President’s first secretary of defense, bluntly addressed another security problem within this administration.  After secret operational details of the bin Laden raid were given to reporters, Secretary Gates walked into the West Wing and told the Obama team to “shut up.”  He added a colorful word for emphasis.

Lives of American servicemen and women are at stake.  But astonishingly, the administration failed to change its ways. More top-secret operations were leaked, even some involving covert action in Iran.

This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a national security crisis.  And yesterday, Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, quote, “I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks.”

This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field.  And it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel, with explanation and consequence.  Obama appointees, who are accountable to President Obama’s Attorney General, should not be responsible for investigating the leaks coming from the Obama White House.

Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed, and punished.  The time for stonewalling is over.

It is not enough to say the matter is being looked into, and leave it at that.  When the issue is the political use of highly sensitive national security information, it is unacceptable to say, “We’ll report our findings after Election Day.”

Exactly who in the White House betrayed these secrets?  Did a superior authorize it?  These are things that Americans are entitled to know – and they are entitled to know right now.  If the President believes – as he said last week – that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts.

And let me make this very clear:  These events make the decision we face in November all the more important.  What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain?  I’ll tell you right now:  Mine won’t.

The harm done when national security secrets are betrayed extends, of course, to the trust that allies place in the United States.

The operating principle of American foreign policy has been to work with our allies so that we can deter aggression before it breaks out into open conflict.  That policy depends on nurturing our alliances and standing up for our common values.

Yet the President has moved in the opposite direction.

It began with the sudden abandonment of friends in Poland and the Czech Republic.  They had courageously agreed to provide sites for our anti-missile systems, only to be told, at the last hour, that the agreement was off. As part of the so-called reset in policy, missile defenses were sacrificed as a unilateral concession to the Russian government.

If that gesture was designed to inspire good will from Russia, it clearly missed the mark.  The Russian government defended the dictator in Damascus, arming him as he slaughtered the Syrian people.

We can only guess what Vladimir Putin makes of the Obama administration. He regained the Russian presidency in a corrupt election, and for that, he got a congratulatory call from the Oval Office.  And then there was that exchange picked up by a microphone that President Obama didn’t know was on.  We heard him asking Dmitry Medvedev to tell Mr. Putin to give him “space.”  “This is my last election,” President Obama said, and “After my election I’ll have more flexibility.”

Why is flexibility with Russian leaders more important than transparency to the American people?

President Obama had a moment of candor, however, just the other day.  He said that the actions of the Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez have not had a serious national security impact on us.  In my view, inviting Hezbollah into our hemisphere is severe, serious, and a threat.

But at least he was consistent.  After all, this is the president who faltered when the Iranian people were looking for support in their struggle against the ayatollahs.  That uprising was treated as an inconvenient problem for the President’s policy of engagement, instead of as a moral and strategic opportunity.  That terrible misjudgment should never be repeated.  When unarmed women and men in Tehran find the courage to confront their oppressors, at risk of torture and death, they should hear the unequivocal voice of an American president affirming their right to be free.

I will leave Reno this evening on a trip abroad that will take me to England, Poland, and Israel.   And since I wouldn’t venture into another country to question American foreign policy, I will tell you right here – before I leave – what I think of this administration’s shabby treatment of one of our finest friends.

President Obama is fond of lecturing Israel’s leaders. He was even caught by a microphone deriding them. He has undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was.  And even at the United Nations, to the enthusiastic applause of Israel’s enemies, he spoke as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem.

The people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world.  And the chorus of accusations, threats, and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the President of the United States.

There are values, causes, and nations that depend on American strength, on the clarity of our purpose, and on the reliability of our commitments.  There is work in this world that only America and our allies can do, hostile powers that only we can deter, and challenges that only we can overcome.

For the past decade, among those challenges has been the war in Afghanistan. As commander-in-chief, I will have a solemn duty to our men and women in uniform.  A president owes our troops, their families, and the American people a clear explanation of our mission, and a commitment not to play politics with the decisions of war.

I have been critical of the President’s decision to withdraw the surge troops during the fighting season, against the advice of the commanders on the ground.  President Obama would have you believe that anyone who disagrees with his decisions is arguing for endless war.  But the route to more war – and to potential attacks here at home – is a politically timed retreat.

As president, my goal in Afghanistan will be to complete a successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.  I will evaluate conditions on the ground and solicit the best advice of our military commanders.  And I will affirm that my duty is not to my political prospects, but to the security of the nation.

We face another continuing challenge in a rising China.  China is attentive to the interests of its government – but it too often disregards the rights of its people.  It is selective in the freedoms it allows; and, as with its one-child policy, it can be ruthless in crushing the freedoms it denies.  In conducting trade with America, it permits flagrant patent and copyright violations … forestalls American businesses from competing in its market … and manipulates its currency to obtain unfair advantage.  It is in our mutual interest for China to be a partner for a stable and secure world, and we welcome its participation in trade.  But the cheating must finally be brought to a stop.  President Obama hasn’t done it and won’t do it. I will.

We’ll need that same clarity of purpose and resolve in the Middle East.  America cannot be neutral in the outcome there.  We must clearly stand for the values of representative government, economic opportunity, and human rights. And we must stand against the extension of Iranian or jihadist influence.

Egypt is at the center of this historical drama.  In many ways, it has the power to tip the balance in the Arab world toward freedom and modernity. As president, I will not only direct the billions in assistance we give to Egypt toward that goal, but I will also work with partner nations to place conditions on their assistance as well.  Unifying our collective influence behind a common purpose will foster the development of a government that represents all Egyptians, maintains peace with Israel, and promotes peace throughout the region. The United States is willing to help Egypt support peace and prosperity, but we will not be complicit in oppression and instability.

There is no greater danger in the world today than the prospect of the ayatollahs in Tehran possessing nuclear weapons capability.  Yet for all the talks and conferences, all of the extensions and assurances, can anyone say we are farther from this danger now than four years ago?

The same ayatollahs who each year mark a holiday by leading chants of “Death to America” are not going to be talked out of their pursuit of nuclear weapons.  What’s needed is all the firmness, clarity, and moral courage that we and our allies can gather.  Sanctions must be enforced without exception, cutting off the regime’s sources of wealth.  Negotiations must secure full and unhindered access for inspections.  As it is, the Iranian regime claims the right to enrich nuclear material for supposedly peaceful purposes.  This claim is discredited by years of deception.  A clear line must be drawn: There must be a full suspension of any enrichment, period.

And at every turn, Iran must know that the United States and our allies stand as one in these critical objectives.  Only in this way can we successfully counter the catastrophic threat that Iran presents.  I pledge to you and to all Americans that if I become commander-in-chief, I will use every means necessary to protect ourselves and the region, and to prevent the worst from happening while there is still time.

It is a mistake – and sometimes a tragic one – to think that firmness in American foreign policy can bring only tension or conflict.  The surest path to danger is always weakness and indecision.  In the end, it is resolve that moves events in our direction, and strength that keeps the peace.

I will not surrender America’s leadership in the world. We must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose, and resolve in our might.

This is very simple: if you do not want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your President.  You have that President today.

The 21st century can and must be an American Century. It began with terror, war, and economic calamity. It is our duty to steer it onto the path of freedom, peace, and prosperity.

Fewer members of the Greatest Generation are with us today – and they can’t hold the torch as high as they have in the past.  We must now seize the torch they carried so gallantly and at such sacrifice. It is an eternal torch of decency, freedom and hope. It is not America’s torch alone. But it is America’s duty – and honor – to hold it high enough so that all the world can see its light.

Believe in America.

Thank you and God Bless the United States of America.

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