Full Text Obama Presidency August 7, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at the Signing of the VA Bill, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at the Signing of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act

Source:  WH, 8-7-14

Wallace Theater
Ft. Belvoir, Virginia

12:05 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Fort Belvoir!  (Applause.)  Everybody, have a seat.  I think I’m going to take Sergeant Major McGruder on the road.  (Laughter.)  I’m just going to have him introduce me wherever I go.  (Laughter.)  He got me excited, and I’m being — I get introduced all the time.  So thank you, James, for your incredible service to our country.  Give James a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

I also want to say a big thanks to America’s new Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Bob McDonald, who is here.  Stand up, Bob.  (Applause.)  As some of you may know, Bob headed up one of the biggest, most successful companies in the world.  But he also was a West Point grad, also a Ranger who served valiantly on behalf of his country.  And this a labor of love for him, and he has hit the ground running.  He’s heading out to VA hospitals and clinics around the country, starting with Phoenix tomorrow.  So thank you, Bob, for accepting this charge and this challenge, and making sure that we’re doing right by our veterans.  I know you’re going to do a great job.  Really proud of him.  (Applause.)

I want to thank all the members of Congress who are here today, and I especially want to thank those who led the fight to give Bob and the VA more of the resources and flexibility that they need to make sure every veteran has access to the care and benefits that they have earned.  Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Richard Burr, Representative Mike Michaud, Representative Jeff Miller — give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  That’s for the good work.  (Applause.)

And we are all grateful to our outstanding veterans service organizations for all the work that they do on behalf of our veterans and their families.  So thank you very much to all the veterans service organizations.  Most of all, I want to thank General Buchanan and Sergeant Major Turnbull, and all of you who serve here at Fort Belvoir.

For nearly a century, this base has helped keep America strong and secure.  Seventy years ago, troops from here –- the 29th Infantry Division, the Blue and Gray -– were some of the first to storm Omaha Beach.  And in recent years, many of you have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.  And you’ve risked your lives on multiple tours to defend our nation.  And as a country, we have a sacred obligation to serve you as well as you’ve served us -– an obligation that doesn’t end with your tour of duty.

Every day, hundreds of thousands of dedicated public servants at the VA help us honor that commitment.  At VA hospitals across America, you’ve got doctors and nurses who are delivering world-class care to America’s veterans.  You’ve got millions of veterans and their families who are profoundly grateful for the good work that is done at the VA.  And as Commander-in-Chief, I’m grateful, too.

But over the last few months, we’ve discovered some inexcusable misconduct at some VA health care facilities — stories of our veterans denied the care they needed, long wait times being covered up, cooking the books.  This is wrong.  It was outrageous.  And working together, we set out to fix it and do right by our veterans across the board, no matter how long it took.

And we’ve already taken the first steps to change the way the VA does business.  We’ve held people accountable for misconduct.  Some have already been relieved of their duties, and investigations are ongoing.  We’ve reached out to more than 215,000 veterans so far to make sure that we’re getting them off wait lists and into clinics both inside and outside the VA system.

We’re moving ahead with urgent reforms, including stronger management and leadership and oversight.  And we’re instituting a critical culture of accountability — rebuilding our leadership team, starting at the top with Secretary McDonald.  And one of his first acts is that he’s directed all VA health care facilities to hold town halls to hear directly from the veterans that they serve to make sure that we’re hearing honest assessments about what’s going on.

Now, in a few minutes, we’ll take another step forward when I sign into law the VA reform bill that was passed overwhelmingly, with bipartisan majorities — and that doesn’t happen often in Congress.  It’s a good deal.  (Laughter and applause.)

This bill covers a lot of ground — from expanding survivor benefits and educational opportunities, to improving care for veterans struggling with traumatic brain injury and for victims of sexual assault.  But today, I want to focus on the ways this bill will help us ensure that veterans have access to the care that they’ve earned.

First of all, this will give the VA more of the resources that it needs.  It will help the VA hire more doctors and more nurses and staff more clinics.  As a new generation of veterans returns home from war and transitions into civilian life, we have to make sure the VA system can keep pace with that new demand.  Keep in mind that I have increased funding for the VA since I came into office by extraordinary amounts.  But we also have extraordinary numbers of veterans coming home.  And so the demand, even though we’ve increased the VA budget, is still higher than the resources that we’ve got.  This bill helps to address that.

Second, for veterans who can’t get timely care through the VA, this bill will help them get the care they need someplace else.  And this is particularly important for veterans who are in more remote areas, in rural areas.  If you live more than 40 miles from a VA facility, or if VA doctors can’t see you within a reasonable amount of time, you’ll have the chance to see a doctor outside the VA system.

Now finally, we’re giving the VA Secretary more authority to hold people accountable.  We’ve got to give Bob the authority so that he can move quickly to remove senior executives who fail to meet the standards of conduct and competence that the American people demand.  If you engage in an unethical practice, if you cover up a serious problem, you should be fired.  Period.  It shouldn’t be that difficult.  (Applause.)  And if you blow the whistle on an unethical practice, or bring a problem to the attention of higher-ups, you should be thanked.  You should be protected for doing the right thing.  (Applause.)  You shouldn’t be ignored, and you certainly shouldn’t be punished.

“To care for him [or her] who shall have borne the battle.”  That’s the heart of the VA’s motto.  That’s what the bill I’m about to sign will help us achieve.  But I want to be clear about something:  This will not and cannot be the end of our effort.  Implementing this law will take time.  It’s going to require focus on the part of all of us.  And even as we focus on the urgent reforms we need at the VA right now, particularly around wait lists and the health care system, we can’t lose sight of our long-term goals for our servicemembers and our veterans.

The good news is, we’ve cut the disability claims backlog by more than half.  But let’s now eliminate the backlog.  Let’s get rid of it.  (Applause.)  The good news is, we’ve poured major resources into improving mental health care.  But now, let’s make sure our veterans actually get the care they need when they need it.  The good news is, we’ve helped to get thousands of homeless veterans off the street, made an unprecedented effort to end veterans’ homelessness.  We should have zero tolerance for that.  But we’ve got to — still more work to do in cities and towns across America to get more veterans into the homes they deserve.

We’ve helped more than a million veterans and their spouses and children go to college through the post-9/11 GI bill.  (Applause.)  But now, we’ve got to help even more of them earn their educations, and make sure that they’re getting a good bargain in the schools they enroll in.

We’ve rallied companies to hire hundreds of thousands of veterans and their spouses.  That’s the good news.  With the help of Jill Biden and Michelle Obama — two pretty capable women.  (Laughter.)  They know what they’re doing, and nobody says no to them, including me.  (Laughter.)  But now, we’ve got to help more of our highly skilled veterans find careers in this new economy.

So America has to do right by all who serve under our proud flag.  And Congress needs to do more, also.  I urge the Senate, once again, to finally confirm my nominee for Assistant Secretary for Policy at the VA, Linda Schwartz; my nominee to lead the Board of Veterans Appeals, Constance Tobias; my nominee for CFO, Helen Tierney.  Each of them have been waiting for months for a yes-or-no vote — in Constance’s case for more than a year.

They’re ready to serve.  They’re ready to get to work.  It’s not that hard.  It didn’t used to be this hard to just go ahead and get somebody confirmed who is well qualified.  Nobody says they’re not.  It’s just the Senate doesn’t seem to move very fast.  As soon as the Senate gets back in September, they should act to put these outstanding public servants in place.  Our veterans don’t have time for politics.  They need these public servants on the job right now.  (Applause.)

So let me wrap up by saying two months ago, I had the chance to spend some time with some of America’s oldest veterans at Omaha Beach.  Some of you may have seen on television the celebration, the commemoration of those incredible days, the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  And this is my second visit to democracy’s beachhead.  It’s the second time I’ve gone as President.  And it’s a place where it’s impossible not to be moved by the courage and the sacrifice of free men and women who volunteer to lay down their lives for people they’ve never met, ideals that they can’t live without.  That’s why they’re willing to do these things.

And some of these folks that you met, they were 18 at the time.  Some of them were lying about their age.  They were 16, landing either at the beach or sometimes behind the lines.  The casualty rates were unbelievable.  Being there brought back memories of my own grandfather, who marched in Patton’s Army, and then came home.  And like so many veterans of his generation, they went to school and got married and raised families.  And he eventually helped to raise me.

And on that visit to Normandy, I brought some of today’s servicemembers with me because I wanted to introduce them to the veterans of D-Day and to show the veterans of D-Day that their legacy is in good hands, that there’s a direct line between the sacrifices then and the sacrifices that folks have made in remote places today.  Because in more than a decade of war, today’s men and women in uniform — all of you — you’ve met every mission we’ve asked of you.

Today, our troops continue to serve and risk their lives in Afghanistan.  It continues to be a difficult and dangerous mission, as we were tragically reminded again this week in the attack that injured a number of our coalition troops and took the life of a dedicated American soldier, Major General Harold Greene.  Our prayers are with the Greene family, as they are with all the Gold Star families and those who have sacrificed so much for our nation.

Four months from now, our combat mission in Afghanistan will be complete.  Our longest war will come to an honorable end.  In the years to come, many from this generation will step out of uniform, and their legacy will be secure.  But whether or not this country properly repays their heroism, properly repays their patriotism, their service and their sacrifice, that’s in our hands.

I’m committed to seeing that we fulfill that commitment.  Because the men and women of this generation, this 9/11 Generation of servicemembers, are the leaders we need for our time — as community leaders and business leaders, I hope maybe some leaders in our politics, as well.

From the Greatest Generation to the 9/11 Generation, America’s heroes have answered the call to serve.  I have no greater honor than serving as your President and Commander-in-Chief.  And I have no greater privilege than the chance to help make sure that our country keeps the promises that we’ve made to everybody who signs up to serve.  And as long as I hold this office, we’re going to spend each and every day working to do right by you and your families.  I’m grateful to you.

God bless you.  God bless America.  With that, I am going to sign this bill.  Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

(The bill is signed.)  (Applause.)

END
12:18 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency July 22, 2014: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s Remarks at the Bill Signing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President and Vice President at Bill Signing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Source: WH,  7-22-14

12:18 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everyone.  It’s great to be here.  (Applause.)  Please, thank you very much.  Thank you, distinguished members of Congress and members of labor and business, and the community.  Today, as the President signs the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, we’re using this occasion also to present to the President a roadmap he asked — requested in the State of the Union message, how to keep and maintain the highest-skilled workforce in the world.  And this is a perfect build-on as to what the bipartisan consensus that Congress recently reached.

I had the best partners in preparing this report that I could ask for — Tom Perez at Labor, Penny Pritzker at Commerce and Arne Duncan at the Department of Education.  I talked to governors, mayors, industry leaders, presidents of community colleges and colleges, and unions, and a lot of members of Congress, many of whom are here.  And I have to acknowledge at the out front — at the outset, my wife, Jill, has been an incredible advocate for community colleges and the role they play in training the workforce.

But most importantly, I spoke with an awful lot of Americans who are — as all of you have, particularly members of Congress, who were hit exceedingly hard by the Great Recession, but are doing everything they possibly can to find a job — willing to learn new skills in order to have a decent, middle-class job.  One thing I hope that’s been put to rest — and I know we all share this view — Americans want to work.  They want to work.  They’re willing to do anything that they need to do to get a good and decent job.

And they show us that our single greatest resource is not — and it’s not hyperbole — remains the American people.  They’re the most highly-skilled workers in the world and the most capable people in the world.  And they’re in the best position to learn the new skills of the 21st century that the workforce requires.  There’s that phrase — all has changed, changed utterly.  Well, all has changed.  It’s a different world in which people are competing in order to get the kind of jobs they need, whether it’s in advanced manufacturing or clean energy or information technology or health care — all areas that are booming, all areas where America is back.

So the core question that we set out to answer — and I’m sure my colleagues did as well — was how do you connect?  How do you connect these workers who desperately want a job, who will do all they need to do to qualify, how do you connect them with jobs?  How do Americans know what skills employers need?  It sounds like a silly question, but how do they know?  And how do they get these skills once they know what skills are needed for the job?  And where, where do they go to get those jobs?

This report is designed to help answer those extremely practical questions.  It includes 50 actions that the federal government and our outside partners are taking now to help fill this skills gap.  There is this new strategy that we think will lead directly to more middle-class jobs.  These actions are going to help promote partnerships between educational institutions and workforce institutions.  They’re going to increase apprenticeships, which will allow folks to learn — and earn while they learn.  And it will empower job seekers and employers with better data on what jobs are available and what skills are needed to fill those jobs.

Let me tell you a story why all this matters.  And I’ve been all over the country and invited by many of you into your districts and states in order to look at programs you have that are similar to what we’re proposing today.  But I was recently — and I could talk about many of them, but I was recently in Detroit just last week.  And I met with an incredible group of women at a local community college.  Now, all of these women came from hardscrabble neighborhoods in Detroit.  They happened to be all women, it was coincidence, but they all made it through high school.  They ranged in age I’m guessing somewhere from 25 to their mid-50s.  But they all got a high school education, and they were absolutely determined to do more to be able to provide for themselves and their family.

Through word of mouth, Tom, they heard about a coding boot camp, computer coding — a coding boot camp.  And it’s called [Step] IT Up America.  And it was a partnership between Wayne County Community College and a company called UST Global.  Now, it’s an intensive, four-month — just four months, but intensive eight-hour day — I think it’s almost the whole day — don’t hold me to the exact number of hours, but intensive training program where these women happen to be, as I said, there were about a dozen and a half women learn IT skills needed to fill jobs at UST Global.

UST Global represents a lot of other IT companies as well.  Knowing vacancies exist — they estimate over a thousand vacancies just in the greater Detroit area.  And upon completion of this program, UST Global hires the students, and the lowest starting job is at $45,000 a year and the highest is $70,000 a year.  These are coders, computer programmers.  But there’s a key point:  UST Global doesn’t train these women out of some altruistic sense of charity.  They do it because it’s a very, very smart business decision.

There’s an overwhelming need for more computer coders -— as does not just UST Global, but the entire industry.  By 2020, our research shows there will be 1.4 million new IT jobs all across this country.  And the pay is in the $70,000 range.

I was so proud of these women.  As I said, my wife teaches in a community college.  Her average class age of people in her class is 28 to 30 years old.  Just think of yourself, what courage it takes.  You’re out of high school.  You’re graduated.  You’ve been bumping along in a job trying to make it.  You’ve been out, two, five, 10, 15 years.  And someone says, there’s this opportunity to take this program to learn Java, to learn a new language, to learn how to operate a computer in a way that you can code it.  It takes a lot of courage to step up.

It takes a willingness to be ready to fail.  These women were remarkable, but not just these women.  They write code, so they look — they weren’t out there.  They were — they knew someone who had gotten a job because of the program, and they thought they could do it.  So they learned an entire new language, and they displayed an initiative that was remarkable to see.  They showed up.  They worked hard because they want a good-paying job.  They want to make a decent living.  They want to take care of themselves and their families.

Folks, that’s what — as I know all of my colleagues believe — that’s what this is all about.  It’s not just information technology.  Manufacturing — 100,000 high-tech manufacturing jobs available today in the United States because the employers cannot find workers with the right skills.  That number of highly skilled manufacturing jobs is going to grow to 875,000 by 2020.

And, folks, I was recently up in Michigan.  And Dow Kokam has a plant there that’s — they couldn’t find anybody with photovoltaic technology, didn’t know how to run the machines.  So the community college and the business, they roll the machines right into the community college because of the help you all have provided in Congress, the funding.  And it’s like an assembly line.  These are good-paying jobs.

And in energy:  26 percent more jobs for petroleum engineers, average salary 130,000 bucks a year; 25 percent more jobs for solar panel installers, $38,000 a year; 20 percent more jobs needed — more electricians are needed, earning $50,000 a year -— all now and in the near term.  These are real jobs.  These are real jobs.

Health care:  There are 20 percent more jobs -— or 526,000 more that are needed in the health care industry -— registered nurses, jobs that pay 65,000 bucks a year.  There’s training programs in all of your states and districts, where you go out there, and while you’re a practical nurse, you can still be working and be essentially apprentice, while you are learning how to become — and taking courses to be a registered nurse.

Physician assistants — badly needed as the call for health care increases.  What’s the number, Tom, 130,000 a year roughly?  These are jobs all within the grasp of the American people if we give them the shot, if we show them the way, let them know how they can possibly pay for it while they are raising a family, and they’ll do the rest.

To maintain our place in the world we need to keep the world’s most skilled workforce right here in America, and to give a whole lot more hardworking Americans a chance at a good, middle-class job they can raise a family on.

But we also know the actions in this report are only a beginning, and as is the legislation.  The fact of the matter is that so many people over the last two decades have fallen out of the middle class, and so many in the upcoming generation need to find a path back.  Well, there is a path back if we all do our jobs — from industry, to education, to union leaders, to governors, to Congress, to the federal government.

And the mission is very simple.  It goes back to the central economic vision that has guided most of us — I can speak for the President and I — from the first day we got here.

The mission is to widen the aperture to be able to get into the middle class by expanding opportunity.  No guarantees, just expanding opportunity to American men and women who represent the backbone of the most dynamic, thriving economy in the world.  That’s a fact.  We are the most dynamic, thriving economy in the world.

But in order to thrive, their education and training has to be as just as dynamic and adaptable as our economy is.  So, folks, America is back.  We’re better positioned today than we ever have been.  According to A.T. Kearney, we are the most attractive place in the world for foreign investments by a long shot, of every other country in the world.  Since this survey has been kept, the gap between number one and number two is wider than it ever has been.  Manufacturing is back, folks.  They’re coming home.  Instead of hearing — my kids, instead of hearing about outsourcing, what are you hearing now?  You’re hearing about insourcing.  Companies are coming back.

We’re in the midst of — we take no direct credit for it — we’re in the midst of an energy boom.  North America will be the epicenter of energy in the 21st century — the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada.  We remain the leader in innovation.  We have the greatest research universities in the world.  We have the most adaptive financing systems in the world, to go out and take chances on new startups.  And American workers are the most productive in the world.  They want to work.

But to seize this moment, we need to keep the world’s most skilled workforce here in America.  And I think today in this bipartisan group — we’re ready.  The American people are ready.  And I know the man I’m about to introduce is ready.  He wakes up every morning trying to figure out how do we give ordinary Americans an opportunity.  This is just about opportunity, man.  Simple opportunity — how do we give them — because they — an opportunity because they are so exceptional.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I think everyone in this room shares that goal — providing for opportunity.  And the man I’m about to introduce, that’s all he talks about, it seems to me when he talks to me.

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Everybody, please be seated.  Thank you.  Well, welcome to the White House, everybody.  And I want to thank Joe for the generous introduction, but more importantly, for everything he does, day in, day out, on behalf of American workers.  And I want to thank the members of Congress who are here from both parties who led the effort to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act.

When President Clinton signed the original Workforce Investment Act back in 1998, he said it was, “a big step forward in making sure that every adult can keep on learning for a lifetime.”  And he was right — the law became a pillar of American job training programs.  It’s helped millions of Americans earn the skills they need to find a new job or get a better-paying job.

But even back then, even in 1998, our economy was changing.  The notion that a high school education could get you a good job and that you’d keep that job until retirement wasn’t a reality for the majority of people.  Advances in technology made some jobs obsolete.  Global competition sent other jobs overseas.  And then, as we were coming into office, the Great Recession pulled the rug out from under millions of hardworking families.

Now, the good news is, today, nearly six years after the financial crisis, our businesses have added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months.  Manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.  The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September of 2008 -– by the way, the fastest one-year drop in nearly 30 years.  There are now more job openings than at any time since 2007, pre-recession.  For the first time in a decade, as Joe mentioned, business leaders around the world have declared that the number-one place to do business, the number-one place to invest isn’t China, it’s the United States of America.

So thanks to the hard work of the American people and some decent policies, our economy has recovered faster and it has gone farther than most other advanced nations.  As Joe said, we are well-positioned.  We’ve got the best cards.  So we have the opportunity right now to extend the lead we already have -– to encourage more companies to join the trend and bring jobs home; to make sure that the gains aren’t just for folks at the very top, but that the economy works for every single American.  If you’re working hard, you should be able to get a job, that job should pay well, and you should be able to move forward, look after your family.

Opportunity for all.  And that means that even as we’re creating new jobs in this new economy, we have to make sure that every American has the skills to fill those jobs.  And keep in mind, not every job that’s a good job out there needs a four-year degree, but the ones that don’t need a college degree generally need some sort of specialized training.

Last month, I met just a wonderful young woman named Rebekah in Minnesota.  A few years ago, she was waiting tables.  Her husband lost his job, he was a carpenter doing construction work.  He had to figure out how to scramble and get a new job that paid less.  She chose to take out student loans, she enrolled in a community college, she retrained for a new career.  Today, not only has her husband been able to get back into construction but she loves her job as an accountant — started a whole new career.  And the question then is how do we give more workers that chance to adapt, to revamp, retool, so that they can move forward in this new economy.

In 2011, I called on Congress to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, update it for the 21st century.  And I want to thank every single lawmaker who is here — lawmakers from both parties — who answered that call.  It took some compromising, but, you know what, it turns out compromise sometimes is okay.  Folks in Congress got past their differences and they got a bill to my desk.  So this is not a win for Democrats or Republicans.  It is a win for American workers.  It’s a win for the middle class.  And it’s a win for everybody who is fighting to earn their way into the middle class.

So the bill I’m about to sign will give communities more certainty to invest in job-training programs for the long run.  It will help us bring those programs into the 21st century by building on what we know works based on evidence, based on tracking what actually delivers on behalf of folks who enroll in these programs -– more partnerships with employers, more tools to measure performance, more flexibilities for states and cities to innovate and to run their workforce programs in ways that are best suited for their particular demographic and their particular industries.  And as we approach the 24th anniversary of the ADA, this bill takes new steps to support Americans with disabilities who want to live and work independently.  So there’s a lot of good stuff in here.

Of course, as Joe said, there is still more that we can do.  And that’s why we’ve rallied employers to give long-term unemployed a fair shot.  It’s why we’re using $600 million in federal grants to encourage companies to offer apprenticeships and work directly with community colleges.  It’s why, in my State of Union address this year, I asked Joe to lead an across-the-board review of America’s training programs to make sure that they have one mission:  Train Americans with the skills employers actually need, then match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.

So today, I’m directing my Cabinet — even as we’re signing the bill — to implement some of Joe’s recommendations.  First, we’re going to use the funds and programs we already have in a smarter way.  Federal agencies will award grants that move away from what our Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, who has been working very hard on this, what he calls a “train and pray” approach, and I’ll bet a lot of you who have dealt with folks who are unemployed know what that means.  They enroll, they get trained for something, they’re not even sure whether the job is out there, and if the job isn’t out there, all they’re doing is saddling themselves with debt, oftentimes putting themselves in a worse position.  What we want to do is make sure where you train your workers first based on what employers are telling you they’re hiring for.  Help business design the training programs so that we’re creating a pipeline into jobs that are actually out there.

Number two, training programs that use federal money will be required to make public how many of its graduates find jobs and how much they earn.  And that means workers, as they’re shopping around for what’s available, they’ll know in advance if they can expect a good return on their investment.  Every job seeker should have all the tools they need to take their career into their own hands, and we’re going to help make sure they can do that.

And finally, we’re going to keep investing in new strategies and innovations that help keep pace with a rapidly changing economy — from testing new, faster ways of teaching skills like coding and cybersecurity and welding, to giving at-risk youth the chance to learn on the job, we will keep making sure that Americans have the chance to build their careers throughout a lifetime of hard work.

So the bill I’m signing today and the actions I’m taking today will connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.  Of course, there is so much more that we can still do.  And I’m looking forward to engaging all the members of Congress and all the businesses and not-for-profits who worked on this issue.  I’m really interested in engaging them, see what else we can get going.

I’ll give you a couple of examples.  Our high school graduation rate is the highest on record.  More young people are earning their college degrees than ever before.  But we still have work to do to make college more affordable and lift the burden of student loan debt.  I acted to give nearly five million Americans the opportunity to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their income — particularly important for those who were choosing careers that aren’t as lucrative.  But Congress could help millions more, and I’d like to work with you on that.

Minimum wage.  This week marks five years since the last increase in the minimum wage.  More and more states and business owners are raising their workers’ wages.  I did the same thing for federal contractors.  I’d like to work with Congress to see if we can do the same for about 28 million Americans — give Americans a raise right now.

Fair pay.  Let’s make sure the next generation of women are getting a fair deal.  Let’s make sure the next generation of good manufacturing jobs are made in America.  Let’s make it easier, not harder, for companies to bring those jobs back home.  Tomorrow, senators will get to vote on the Bring Jobs Home Act.  Instead of rewarding companies for shipping jobs overseas or rewarding companies that are moving profits offshore, let’s create jobs right here in America and let’s encourage those companies.

So let’s build on what both parties have already done on many of these issues.  Let’s see if we can come together and, while we’re at it, let’s fix an immigration system that is currently broken in a way that strengthens our borders and that we know will be good for business, we know will increase our GDP, we know will drive down our deficit.

So I want to thank all the Democrats and Republicans here today for getting this bill done.  This is a big piece of work.  You can see, it’s a big bill.  (Laughter.)  But I’m also inviting you back.  Let’s do this more often.  It’s so much fun.  (Laughter and applause.)  Let’s pass more bills to help create more good jobs, strengthen the middle class.  Look at everybody — everybody is smiling, everybody feels good.  (Laughter.)  We could be doing this all the time.  (Laughter.)

Our work can make a real difference in the lives of real Americans.  That’s why we’re here.  We’ll have more job satisfaction.  (Laughter.)  The American people, our customers, they’ll feel better about the product we produce.

And back in 1998, when President Clinton signed the original Workforce Investment Act into law, he was introduced by a man named Jim Antosy from Reading, Pennsylvania.  And Jim spoke about how he had been laid off in 1995 at age 49, two kids, no college degree.  With the help of job training programs, he earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science, found a new job in his field.

Today, Jim and his wife, Barb, still live in Reading.  Over the past 16 years, he’s been steadily employed as a programmer, working his way up from contractor to full-time employee.  In just a few months, Jim now is planning to retire after a lifetime of hard work.  A job training program made a difference in his life.  And one thing he’s thinking about doing in his retirement is teaching computer science at the local community college, so he can help a new generation of Americans earn skills that lead directly to a job, just like he had the opportunity to do.

Well, I ran for President because I believe even in a changing economy, even in a changing world, stories like Jim aren’t just possible, they should be the norm.  Joe believes the same thing.  Many of you believe the same thing.  I believe America is — I don’t just believe, I know America is full of men and women who work very hard and live up to their responsibilities, and all they want in return is to see their hard work pay off, that responsibility rewarded.

They’re not greedy.  They’re not looking for the moon.  They just want to be able to know that if they work hard, they can find a job, they can look after their families, they can retire with dignity, they’re not going to go bankrupt when they get sick, maybe take a vacation once in a while — nothing fancy.  That’s what they’re looking for, because they know that ultimately what’s important is family and community and relationships.  And that’s possible.  That’s what America is supposed to be about.  That’s what I’m fighting for every single day as President.

This bill will help move us along that path.  We need to do it more.  Let’s get together, work together, restore opportunity for every single American.  So with that, I’d like to invite up some of the outstanding folks who are sitting in the audience who helped make this happen.  And I’m going to sign this bill with all those pens.

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
12:48 P.M. EDT

Political Musings February 9, 2014: Obama signs and lauds bipartisan farm bill that cuts food stamps program funding

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama signs and lauds bipartisan farm bill that cuts food stamps program funding

By Bonnie K. Goodman

After Congress was unable to come to an agreement in 2013, President Barack Obama was able to finally sign a new 5-year farm bill, the Agricultural Act of 2014 on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014 in East Lansing, Michigan at…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency January 17, 2014: President Barack Obama Speech at Appropriations, 2014 Spending Bill Signing

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Appropriations Bill Signing

Source: WH, 1-17-13 

New Executive Office Building
Washington, D.C.

5:05 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  Have a seat, have a seat.  Now, this is not usually where I do bill signings.  (Laughter.)  But in addition to the opportunity to take a walk — and whenever I get a chance to take a walk I seize it — we wanted to make sure that we did this bill signing here because it represents the extraordinary work of so many of you.

Obviously, over the last several years, we’ve been dealing with the need to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression.  And that involved making sure we were investing in, first and foremost, the American people; that we were helping businesses stay open; that we were helping to make sure the financial system was back on track — that we reformed it so that we wouldn’t see the kind of crisis that we saw again; and most importantly, that we did everything we can to lay the foundation so that we have a middle class in this country that is thriving and growing, and we’ve got ladders of opportunity for everybody who wants to work hard and get ahead.

And we’ve made remarkable progress over the last five years, but we have not made enough.  Part of the reason we hadn’t made as much progress as we needed to was we had a series of self-inflicted wounds in this town in which a mindless sequester impeded growth, in which we were governing by crisis and brinksmanship.  And not only did that slow our ability to generate a full recovery, and not only did that hamper economic growth, but it also had an enormous impact on all of you.  And I know the Office of Management and Budget was one of the hardest hit during the sequester and a lot of you were furloughed.  A lot of you who remained during some of these furloughs had to carry extraordinary burdens, and so it took a personal toll on you and it took a personal toll on your family.

And yet, in part because of your dedication and your strength and your devotion to doing your jobs well, in part because of the strong leadership of Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congressman Rogers — Chairman Rogers, we now have a bill that will fund our government, all our vital services, make sure that we are able to provide the needs for our veterans; to make sure that we are doing everything we need to do to advance our research agenda in this country and innovate; to make sure that we’re investing in the job training that young people desperately need in order to get the skills to find that good-paying job.

Across the board, our government is going to be operating without hopefully too many glitches over the next year.  And not only is that good for all of you and all the dedicated public servants in the federal government, but most importantly, it’s good for the American people because it means that we can focus our attention where we need to — on growing this economy and making sure that everybody gets a fair shot as long as they try.

We would not be here and we would not be able to sign this legislation if it hadn’t been for your work and your dedication.  And so this is my way of saying thank you.  I want to say thank you to Sylvia and Brian and the whole team here, and everybody represented because, goodness gracious, that is a big piece of business.  (Laughter.)  That is a big bill.  (Laughter.)  And I’m always interested and I’m like, where do they have the boxes for the really big ones?  (Laughter.)  Somebody makes them.

But what that represents is just hours and hours and weekends and nights where people are really paying attention and sweating the details.  And that’s what you do.  So these aren’t numbers; these are homeless folks who are getting housing.  These are a laid-off worker who suddenly is enrolling in that community college and finding that job that allows them to save a home and get back on track.  That’s some young scientist who is maybe going to find a cure for cancer or Alzheimer’s.  That’s what those numbers represent.  And that’s because of you.

So thank you for your good work.  And without further delay, so you guys can start your weekends — (laughter) — and I’ve got to get back because somebody is having a birthday today.  (Laughter.)  I’ve got to make sure I pay them some attention.  I’m going to go ahead and sit down and sign the bill.  (Applause.)

END
5:10 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency August 9, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at the Student Loans Bill Signing Ceremony in the Oval Office

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Student Loans Bill Signing

Source: WH, 8-9-13

President Barack Obama signs H.R. 1911, the "Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013" President Barack Obama signs H.R. 1911, the “Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013,” during a ceremony in the Oval Office, Aug. 9, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

President Obama signs the “Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013

Oval Office
2:21 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Well, before I sign this, I just want to say thank you to this extraordinary coalition that helped make this signing possible.  I want to thank Chairman Kline, all the members of both House and Senate from both parties that came together to design a sensible, common-sense approach to keeping student interest rates at a reasonable level so that young people have a better opportunity to go to college, get the education that they need not only to better their own lives but also to strengthen the country’s economy.
And I want to thank the advocates, including some of the young people I suspect will be benefiting from lower student loans — or lower student loan interest rates — because without their voice, without their participation, we probably would not have gotten this bill done.
Last point I’ll make, and I suspect the Senators and Congressmen behind me will agree with this, even though we’ve been able to stabilize the interest rates on student loans, our job is not done, because the cost of college remains extraordinarily high.  It’s out of reach for a lot of folks, and for those who do end up attending college, the amount of debt that young people are coming out of school with is a huge burden on them; it’s a burden on their families.  It makes it more difficult for them to buy a home.  It makes it more difficult for them if they want to start a business.  It has a depressive effect on the economy overall.  And we’ve got to do something about it.
So I’m going to be looking forward to engaging this same coalition to see if we can continue to take additional steps to reform our higher education system, and I’ll have some more things to say about that in the weeks to come.
But for now, I want to celebrate what we accomplished here, and again, thank everybody here for their leadership in getting it done.
(The bill is signed.)
Those of you who haven’t seen me do this before — (laughter) — it is a real art form.  (Laughter.)
SENATOR DURBIN:  Thank you, Mr. President — I remember the 90-minute seminar in this office.  (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT:  It was very interesting.  (Laughter.)
It feels good signing bills — I haven’t done this in a while.  (Laughter.)  Hint, hint.  Hint, hint.  (Laughter.)
SENATOR DURBIN:  How about a budget, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT:  There you go.  That’s what I’m talking about.  (Laughter.)
All right, thank you, everybody.
END
2:25 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines March 7, 2013: President Barack Obama Signs Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Signs Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-7-13

Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Obama signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act Thursday, expanding protections for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

“This is a country where everybody should be able to pursue their own measure of happiness and live their lives free from fear, no matter who you are, no matter who you love. That’s got to be our priority. That’s what today is about,” he said at a bill signing ceremony at the Interior Department….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 7, 2013: President Barack Obama & Vice President Joe Biden’s Speeches at Signing of the Violence Against Women Act

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President and Vice President at Signing of the Violence Against Women Act

Source: WH, 3-7-13
President Obama Signs the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization

President Obama Signs the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization

Interior Department
Washington, D.C.

2:16 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Diane.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Some of you in the audience who are survivors know how much courage it takes to do what Diane did.  (Applause.)  Some people who don’t know will say, well, she’s just recounting what happened.  But every single time you stand and recount what happened, it brings it all back.  It brings it all back like a very bad nightmare.  But your speaking out, Diane, and so many survivors like you are literally saving the lives of so many other women who, God willing, will be able to avoid the abuse that you had to put up with.

I want to thank all the advocates who are here today.  I got a chance to meet in my office with some of you a little bit earlier — not only those on the stage who I, again, had a chance to meet with, but the many women out in the audience, as I look out and see some familiar faces like Pat Rouse and Ellie Smeal and Paulette Sullivan Moore from — I’m being parochial — Paulette Sullivan Moore from my home state, and so many others.  (Applause.)

Those of you who have been around a while with me know that I quote my father all the time who literally would say, the greatest sin that could be committed, the cardinal sin of all sins was the abuse of power, and the ultimate abuse of power is for someone physically stronger and bigger to raise their hand and strike and beat someone else.  In most cases that tends to be a man striking a woman, or a man or woman striking a child.  That’s the fundamental premise and the overarching reason why John Conyers and I and others started so many years ago to draft the legislation called the Violence Against Women Act.

It passed 19 years ago, and that’s why we shortly thereafter instituted a hotline where women in distress could call for help. I remember, John, when we did that hotline, it was like, well, it will be useful, but I’m not so sure how much it will be used.  Well, the truth of the matter is it’s been used a lot and it’s saved a lot of lives.  Over 2 million women have had the courage — the courage — to try to get out of earshot of their abuser, escape from the prison of their own home, and pick up that phone and call to a line that you had no idea who on the other end was going to answer, and to say, I’m in trouble.  Can you help me?  Can you help me?

I love those men who would say when we started this about why don’t they just leave.  Well, if they had one-third the courage that those women — those 2 million women had who have picked up the phone and called, not knowing what to expect, it would be a whole lot better nation.

We’ve built a network of shelters that are immediately available to women in need because we found out that the vast majority of children who are homeless on the street — Nancy knows and others — were there because their mothers were abused. Imagine fleeing for your life with only the clothes on your back and your child in your arms.  The shelter was their only lifeline, and it’s worked.

We also have specialized law enforcement units with trained prosecutors, victim advocates, court personnel who understand the unique challenges of the access.  Because of all of you in the audience that are here today, we’ve been able to train judges and train intake officers, so when a frightened woman shows up at the family court and says to the intake officer, “I want to tell you” — “Speak up, will you?”  “Well, I just — my” — and they turn around and walk away, because there’s only a very brief window, as all of you know, a very brief window, again, after a woman screws up the courage — the courage — to ask for help.

All these links in the chain have made a difference in the lives of women.  It’s one woman, one girl, one person at a time, one case at a time.  And you providers know that better than anyone.

With all the law’s success, there are still too many women in this country who live in fear of violence, who are still prisoners in their own home; too many victims that we have to mourn.  We knew from the outset in 1994 that there was much more we could have done at the beginning if we were able to get the votes.  But we did what was necessary and important, but we knew more had to be done to reduce domestic violence, domestic violence homicides, to provide new tools, as was just spoken to, to protect Native American women, to address the perplexing rate of dating violence among young women, and so much more.

But because of the people on this stage and in this room, every time we reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, we improved it.  Every single time, we’ve improved it.  (Applause.)

And we did this again.  First, we’ve given jurisdiction to tribal courts over those who abuse women on reservations regardless of whether or not they — (applause.)  We’re providing more resources to the states so they can be trained as to how to collect evidence, acquire convictions, particularly in prosecutions for rape.  We’re going to increase the use of proven models to reduce domestic violence homicides.

We’ve all focused on the tragic gun violence that has been in the news lately, but I want to point something out to you.  From 2009 to 2012, 40 percent of the mass shootings in America, other than the celebrated ones you’ve seen — 40 percent where there’s four or more people who have been shot, the target has been a former intimate partner or a close family member.

So they go into the office, just like that young man who — or woman who stood in front of you when your husband came with a loaded pistol to shoot you.  Forty percent are a consequence of domestic violence.

We created a strong — strong — anti-violence program.  Campuses will have more tools to educate students about sexual violence.  (Applause.)

So when Congress passed this law that the President will sign today, they just didn’t renew what I consider a sacred commitment to protect our mothers, our daughters, our sisters.  They strengthened that commitment.  And I want to thank them.  I hope I don’t leave anybody out.  Starting off with my old buddy, Pat Leahy, who chairs the committee.  Pat, thank you very, very much.  (Applause.)  And Mike Crapo.  Mike, this wouldn’t have happened if you had not stepped up.  (Applause.)  Lisa Murkowski is not here.  But my friend who — I don’t want to get her in trouble, but I know she really likes me because I like her a lot — (laughter) — Senator Collins.  Seriously, it was Republicans coming and standing up and saying this has to be done in the Senate.  So we owe you.  We owe you big.  (Applause.)

And by the way, if you ever want a partner to get anything important done, call Nancy Pelosi.  Call Nancy Pelosi.  (Applause.)  And Steny Hoyer, and Congresswoman Moore — (applause — and my old buddy — I hope I’m not leaving anybody out here — but my old buddy, John Conyers.  (Applause.)  I’m sure I’m leaving someone out, for which I apologize.

Look, we all know we have a lot more to do, but we’re going to continue to make progress.  And one of the reasons we’re going to continue to make progress is we’re going to have for at least three more years the President of the United States, my friend, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody!  Please, everybody have a seat, have a seat.

I want to thank all of you for being here.  I want to thank Secretary Salazar, my great friend, for letting us into the building.  (Laughter.)  Make sure, everybody, pick up their stray soda cans and stuff afterwards.  (Laughter.)

I want to thank Attorney General Holder for joining us.  He’s doing a great job.  (Applause.)

We usually host these bill signings over at the White House. But there were just too many of you — (laughter) — who helped to make this happen.  (Applause.)  And you all deserve to be a part of this moment.  I want to thank everybody on this stage.  Joe just mentioned the extraordinary work that each and every one of these leaders — both advocates as well as legislators –

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And I left out Congressman Tom Cole.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, there you go.  Give Tom a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

But everybody on this stage worked extraordinarily hard.  Most of all, though, this is your day.  This is the day of the advocates; the day of the survivors.  This is your victory.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you, Mr. President!

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

And this victory shows that when the American people make their voices heard, Washington listens.  (Applause.)  So I want to join Joe in thanking all the members of Congress from both parties who came together, got this bill across the finish line.

I want to say a special thanks to Pat Leahy and Mike Crapo. (Applause.)  Thank you, guys, for your leadership.  (Applause.)  And I want to give much love to Gwen Moore, who worked so hard on this.  (Applause.)

And I also want to take a minute before I begin to thank the Senators who, just a few hours ago, took another big step towards sensible gun safety reforms by advancing a federal gun trafficking bill.  That’s real progress.  (Applause.)  Now, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent legislation to the Senate floor that would crack down on folks who buy guns only to turn around and funnel them to dangerous criminals.

It’s a bill named, in part, for Hadiya Pendleton, who was murdered in Chicago earlier this year.  You’ll remember I told this story about how she had marched in the Inauguration Parade, and just a few weeks later had been gunned down about a mile away from my house.

So I urge the Senate to give that bill a vote.  I urge the House to follow suit.  And I urge Congress to move on other areas that have support of the American people — from requiring universal background checks to getting assault weapons off our streets — because we need to stop the flow of illegal guns to criminals, and because Hadiya’s family and too many other families really do deserve a vote.  (Applause.)

Finally, I want to thank Joe Biden for being such an outstanding Vice President.  (Applause.)  That’s right, you can stand for Joe.  Stand for Joe.  (Applause.)  Give it up for Joe Biden.  (Applause.)  Joe is a hardworking Vice President.

AUDIENCE:  Yes, he is!

THE PRESIDENT:  And he told me when he agreed — when I asked him to be Vice President, he said, well, I don’t want to just be sitting around.  (Laughter.)  I said, I promise you I won’t let you just sit around.  (Laughter.)  And he has not.  He has played a key role in forging the gun safety reforms that I talked about, largely by working closely with survivors of gun violence and their families.  He forged the Violence Against Women Act 20 years ago — never forgetting who it was all about. (Applause.)

So on behalf of everybody here and all the lives that you’ve had a positive impact and touched through the Violence Against Women Act — the survivors who are alive today because of this law, the women who are no longer hiding in fear because of this law, the girls who are growing up aware of their right to be free from abuse because of this law — (applause) — on behalf of them and all their families, I want to thank Joe Biden for making this one of the causes of his career.  (Applause.)

Now, as Joe said earlier, we’ve come a long way.  Back when Joe wrote this law, domestic abuse was too often seen as a private matter, best hidden behind closed doors.  Victims too often stayed silent or felt that they had to live in shame, that somehow they had done something wrong.  Even when they went to the hospital or the police station, too often they were sent back home without any real intervention or support.  They felt trapped, isolated.  And as a result, domestic violence too often ended in greater tragedy.

So one of the great legacies of this law is that it didn’t just change the rules; it changed our culture.  It empowered people to start speaking out.  It made it okay for us, as a society, to talk about domestic abuse.  It made it possible for us, as a country, to address the problem in a real and meaningful way.  And it made clear to victims that they were not alone — that they always had a place to go and they always had people on their side.

And today, because members of both parties worked together, we’re able to renew that commitment.  Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act is something I called for in my State of the Union address.  And when I see how quick it got done, I’m feeling — (applause) — makes me feel optimistic.  (Applause.)

Because of this bill, we’ll keep in place all the protections and services that Joe described, and, as he said, we’ll expand them to cover even more women.  Because this is a country where everybody should be able to pursue their own measure of happiness and live their lives free from fear, no matter who you are, no matter who you love.  (Applause.)  That’s got to be our priority.  That’s what today is about.  (Applause.)

Today is about the millions of women — the victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault — who are out there right now looking for a lifeline, looking for support.  Because of this bill, they’ll continue to have access to all the services that Joe first helped establish 19 years ago:  the national hotline, network of shelters, protection orders that carry across state lines.  And because of this bill, we’re also expanding housing assistance so that no woman has to choose between a violent home and no home at all.  That’s what today is all about.  (Applause.)
Today is about all the law enforcement officials — like Police Chief Jim Johnson — (applause) — they’re the first to respond when a victim calls for help.  And because of this bill, we’re continuing all the training and support that’s proven so effective in bridging some gaps that were in actual enforcement of the law so that we can actually bring more offenders to justice.  And we’re giving our law enforcement better tools to investigate cases of rape, which remains a consistently underreported crime in our country.  Helping police officers deliver on the most important part of their job — preventing harm and saving lives – that’s what today is all about.

Today is about women like Diane.  I’m so grateful Diane shared her story.  That takes great courage.  (Applause.)  And tragically, it is a common story.

I know we’ve got tribal leaders here today, and I want to thank all of you for fighting so hard on behalf of your people — (applause) — to make this bill a reality.  (Applause.)

Indian Country has some of the highest rates of domestic abuse in America.  And one of the reasons is that when Native American women are abused on tribal lands by an attacker who is not Native American, the attacker is immune from prosecution by tribal courts.  Well, as soon as I sign this bill that ends.  (Applause.)  That ends.  That ends.  (Applause.)

Tribal governments have an inherent right to protect their people, and all women deserve the right to live free from fear.  And that is what today is all about.  (Applause.)

Today is about all the Americans who face discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity when they seek help.  (Applause.)

So I want to thank Sharon Stapel, who’s here — where did she go?  There she is right there — (applause) — for the work she’s doing — the great work she’s doing with the Anti-Violence Project.  But Sharon and all the other advocates who are focused on this community, they can’t do it alone.  And then now they won’t have to.  That’s what today is all about.  That’s what today is all about.  (Applause.)

Today is about the women who come to Rosie Hidalgo looking for support — (applause) — immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse.  I mean, imagine the dilemma for so many — if your immigration status is tied to a husband who beats you or abuses you, if you’re an undocumented immigrant, you may feel there’s too much to lose by coming forward.  The Violence Against Women Act already had protections so that victims could call the police without fear of deportation, and those protections saved lives.  And because we fought hard to keep them in place, they remain a lifeline for so many women.  That’s part of what today is all about.  (Applause.)

Today is about young women like Tye, who was brought into the sex trade by a neighbor when she was 12 years old.  Tye was rescued with the help of an organization led by trafficking survivors.  Today, she’s enrolled in college.  She’s working full-time to help at-risk girls stay out of the sex trade.  (Applause.)  Couldn’t be prouder of her.  So proud of her.  (Applause.)  So with this bill, we reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to help more girls turn out like Tye.  That’s what today is all about.  (Applause.)

So today is about all the survivors, all the advocates who are standing on this stage.  But it’s also about the millions more they represent — that you represent.  It’s about our commitment as a country to address this problem — in every corner of America, every community, every town, every big city — as long as it takes.

And we’ve made incredible progress since 1994.  But we cannot let up — not when domestic violence still kills three women a day.  Not when one in five women will be a victim of rape in their lifetime.  Not when one in three women is abused by a partner.

So I promise you — not just as your President, but as a son, and a husband, and a father — I’m going to keep at this. I know Vice President Biden is going to keep at it.  My administration is going to keep at it for as long as it takes.

And I know that all the advocates up here, all the legislators — Republican and Democrat — who supported this, I know they could not be prouder of the work that they’ve done together.  And I think I speak for all of them when we say we could not have done it without you.

So with that, let me sign this bill.  (Applause.)

(The bill is signed.)

END
2:40 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency August 6, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Signing of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012

Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012

Remarks by the President at Signing of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012

Source: WH, 8-6-12

Oval Office

2:25 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I want to thank everybody who is here because they all did outstanding work to help us get this legislation completed.

As you know, I think all Americans feel we have a moral, sacred duty towards our men and women in uniform.  They protect our freedom, and it’s our obligation to do right by them.  This bill takes another important step in fulfilling that commitment.

I want to thank the members of Congress who helped to make this happen.  It is going to have immediate impact.  It is going to improve access to health care, streamline services in the VA. It expands support for veterans who are homeless.

There are two parts to the bill, though, that I especially want to highlight.  First of all, this bill ends a decade-long struggle for those who serve at Camp Lejeune.  Some of the veterans and their families who were based in Camp Lejeune in the years when the water was contaminated will now have access to extended medical care.  And, sadly, this act alone will not bring back those we’ve lost, including Jane Ensminger, but it will honor their memory by making a real difference for those who are still suffering.

The second part of this bill that I want to highlight — prohibit protesting within 300 feet of military funerals during the two hours before and two hours after a service.  I supported this step as a senator.  I am very pleased to be signing this bill into law.  The graves of our veterans are hallowed ground.  And obviously we all defend our Constitution and the First Amendment and free speech, but we also believe that when men and women die in the service of their country and are laid to rest, it should be done with the utmost honor and respect.

So I’m glad that Congress passed this bill and I hope that we can continue to do some more good bipartisan work in protecting our veterans.  I’ve been advocating, for example, for a veterans job corps that could help provide additional opportunities for the men and women who are coming home as we’re winding down our operations in Afghanistan and having ended the war in Iraq.  And so this is a good sign of a bipartisan spirit that I’m sure is going to carry through all the way to Election Day and beyond.

With that, I’m going to sign the bill.  Make sure I sign the right place, though.

(The bill is signed.)

There you go.  Congratulations, everybody.  Good work.  Thank you very much.

Q Mr. President, after the Wisconsin shooting, are you going to push for any further gun control measures?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, we’re still awaiting the outcome of a full investigation.  Yesterday I had the chance to speak to both the Governor and the Mayor, as well as leaders of the Sikh community in Oak Creek.  All of us are heartbroken by what’s happened.  And I offered the thoughts and prayers not only of myself and Michelle but also for the country as a whole.

I think all of us recognize that these kinds of terrible, tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul-searching and to examine additional ways that we can reduce violence.  And as I’ve already said, I think there are a lot of elements involved in it, and what I want to do is to bring together law enforcement, community leaders, faith leaders, elected officials of every level to see how we can make continued progress.

We don’t yet know fully what motivated this individual to carry out this terrible act.  If it turns out, as some early reports indicate, that it may have been motivated in some way by the ethnicity of those who were attending the temple, I think the American people immediately recoil against those kinds of attitudes, and I think it will be very important for us to reaffirm once again that, in this country, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, who we worship, we are all one people, and we look after one another and we respect one another.

But as I said, the FBI is working with local officials and they’re still investigating what motivated this individual.  And as we find out more, I suspect that not only the White House but others in Congress and at the local level will have more to say.

Thank you very much, everybody.

END
2:31 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency July 6, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech When Signing the Transportation and Student Loan Bill

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama Signs the Transportation and Student Loan Bill

Source: WH, 7-6-12

President Barack Obama delivers remarks before signing HR 4348 (July 6, 2012)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks before signing HR 4348, the Transportation and Student Loan Interest Rate bill, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, July 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This afternoon, President Obama signed legislation that accomplishes two important goals — keeping thousands of construction workers on the job rebuilding America’s infrastructure and preventing interest rates on federal student loans from doubling.

“These steps will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans — some of whom are standing with us here today,” the President said. “But make no mistake — we’ve got a lot more to do.”

The President addressed an audience of students and construction workers from the East Room of the White House.

“[Let's] make sure that we are keeping folks on the job and we’re keeping our students in school,” he said.

Remarks by the President at the Signing of the Transportation and Student Loan Interest Rate Bill

East Room

5:25 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  I apologize for keeping you waiting a little bit, and I hope everybody is staying hydrated — (laughter) — because it is hot.

Welcome to the White House.  We wouldn’t normally keep you this late on a Friday afternoon unless we had a good reason — and the bill that I’m about to sign is a pretty good reason.

I want to very much thank the members of Congress who are here.  We got a number in the front row, but, in particular, I want to recognize Senator Boxer and Congressman Mica, whose leadership made this bill a reality.  And although Barbara couldn’t make it, we want to make sure that everybody acknowledges the hard work that John did on this on bill.  (Applause.)

Now, we’re doing this late on Friday afternoon because I just got back from spending the past two days talking with folks in Ohio and Pennsylvania about how our challenge as a country isn’t just to reclaim all the jobs that were lost to the recession — although obviously that’s job number one.  It’s also to reclaim the economic security that so many Americans have lost over the past decade.

And I believe with every fiber of my being that a strong economy comes not from the top down but from a strong middle class.  That means having a good job that pays a good wage; a home to call your own; health care, retirement savings that are there when you need them; a good education for your kids so that they can do even better than you did.

And that’s why — for months — I’ve been calling on Congress to pass several common-sense ideas that will have an immediate impact on the economic security of American families.  I’m pleased that they’ve finally acted.  And the bill I’m about to sign will accomplish two ideas that are very important for the American people.

First of all, this bill will keep thousands of construction workers on the job rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure.  Second, this bill will keep interest rates on federal student loans from doubling this year — which would have hit nearly 7.5 million students with an average of a thousand dollars more on their loan payments.

These steps will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans — some of whom are standing with us here today.  But make no mistake — we’ve got a lot more to do.  The construction industry, for example, was hit brutally hard when the housing bubble burst.  So it’s not enough just to keep construction workers on the job doing projects that were already underway.  We’ve got Mayor Villaraigosa and Governor O’Malley here as representatives of organizations of mayors and governors who know how desperate we need to do some of this work.

And for months, I’ve been calling on Congress to take half the money we’re no longer spending on war and use it to do some nation-building here at home.  There’s work to be done building roads and bridges and wireless networks.  There are hundreds of thousands of construction workers that are ready to do it.

The same thing is true for our students.  The bill I’m about to sign is vital for millions of students and their families.  But it’s not enough just to keep interest rates from doubling.

I’ve asked Congress to reform and expand the financial aid that’s offered to students.  And I’ve been asking them to help us give 2 million Americans the opportunity to learn the skills that businesses in their areas are looking for right now through partnerships between community colleges and employers.

In today’s economy, a higher education is the surest path to finding a good job and earning a good salary, and making it into the middle class.  So it can’t be a luxury reserved for just a privileged few.  It’s an economic necessity that every American family should be able to afford.

So this is an outstanding piece of business.  And I’m very appreciative of the hard work that Congress has done on it.  My hope is, is that this bipartisan spirit spills over into the next phase, that we can start putting more construction workers back to work — not just those that were already on existing projects who were threatened to be laid off, but also getting some new projects done that are vitally important to communities all across the nation and that will improve our economy, as well as making sure that now that we’ve prevented a doubling of student loan rates, we actually start doing more to reduce the debt burden that our young people are experiencing.

I want to thank all the Americans — the young or the young at heart — who took the time to sit down and write a letter or type out an email or make a phone call or send a tweet, hoping that your voice would be heard on these issues.  I promise you, your voices have been heard.  Any of you who believed your voice could make a difference — I want to reaffirm your belief.  You made this happen.

So I’m very pleased that Congress got this done.  I’m grateful to members of both parties who came together and put the interests of the American people first.  And my message to Congress is what I’ve been saying for months now — let’s keep going.  Let’s keep moving forward.  Let’s keep finding ways to work together to grow the economy and to help put more folks back to work.  There is no excuse for inaction when there are so many Americans still trying to get back on their feet.

With that, let me sign this bill.  And let’s make sure that we are keeping folks on the job and we’re keeping our students in school.

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

(The bill is signed.)

END
5:30 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency May 30, 2012: President Barack Obama Signs Renewal of the Export-Import Bank — Speech Transcript

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY
& THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES
& SPEECHES

President Obama Signs Renewal of the Export-Import Bank

Source: WH, 5-30-12

President Barack Obama signs the Export-Import Bill (May 30, 2012)
President Barack Obama signs the Export-Import Bill during a ceremony in South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, May 30, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Through the course of the past twelve months, U.S. companies exported $2.15 trillion worth of goods.

That figure breaks a record — it’s a 36 percent increase from the level of exports in 2009, and in fact, it’s the most we’ve ever exported in one, 12-month period. Some 9.7 million people went to work because of these exports — which is itself an increase of 1.2 million export-related jobs since 2009.

And part of the reason for that success has been the Export-Import Bank. The Bank, which is 78 years old, offers assistance to companies around the world that buy American products — in order to help boost the sale of those goods.

The Bank’s charter was set to expire at the end of the month, but with a bipartisan agreement from Congress, the President was able to extend the Bank’s mandate through September of 2014.

“By reauthorizing support for the Export-Import Bank, we’re helping thousands of businesses sell more of their products and services overseas,” the President said. “And in the process, we’re helping them create jobs here at home.”

Remarks by the President at Export-Import Bank Bill Signing

Source: WH, 5-30-12

South Court Auditorium

11:35 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Have a seat.  I want to begin by recognizing the members of Congress who are here today.  All of them did outstanding work on this legislation.  In particular, I want to thank Steny Hoyer, Congresswoman Maloney, as well as Congressman Miller, who helped to make this day possible.  Their leadership, their hard work made this bill a reality.

We’ve talked a lot recently about the fundamental choice that we face as a country.  America can either settle for an economy where just a few are doing well and a lot of folks are struggling to get by.  Or we can build the kind of economy where everybody is getting a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same rules.

And part of building that broad-based economy with a strong middle class is making sure that we’re not just known as a nation that consumes.  We’ve got to be a nation that produces, a nation that sells.  Our middle class was created by workers who made and sold the best products in the world.  Our communities and our economy have always done better when we shipped more goods than anybody else, stamped with that phrase:  “Made in America.”  And I want us to be that nation again.  I want us to be that nation in perpetuity.

Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling American exports over five years.  Today, with the trade agreements that we’ve signed into law, with the help of some of these same members of Congress, we’re making historic progress.  Soon, there are going to be millions of new customers for our goods and services in Korea, in Colombia and Panama.  That way, even though we got some Hyundais over here, we’re also going to have some Chryslers and Fords and Chevys in Seoul that are imported from Detroit and Toledo and Chicago.

So I’m going to go anywhere I can in the world to create new markets for American goods.  And we’re also not going to stand by when our competitors aren’t following the rules.  We’ve brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate of the previous administration.  We’ve set up a Trade Enforcement Unit to investigate unfair trade practices that are taking place anyplace — anywhere in the world.  Anytime other countries skirt the rules or put our workers and our businesses in an unfair position, we’re going to take action.

We’re also making sure that American businesses have better access to the 95 percent of the world’s consumers who live beyond our shores.  And that’s why the bipartisan bill that I’m about to sign is so important.  By reauthorizing support for the Export-Import Bank, we’re helping thousands of businesses sell more of their products and services overseas and, in the process, we’re helping them create jobs here at home.  And we’re doing that at no extra cost to the taxpayer.

Over the past few years, I’ve met with a lot of business leaders and a lot of workers across America, from companies like Boeing to Dow Chemical to smaller companies that are also interested in accessing foreign markets.  And they’ve told me how critical support from the Ex-Im Bank has been in competing more effectively in the global marketplace.  As the head of the bank, we owe our thanks to Fred Hochberg, who is here on stage, for doing such an outstanding job.

Just to give you a couple of examples, Boeing relied on support from the Ex-Im Bank to strike a deal selling more than 200 planes to one of the fastest-growing airlines in the world.  And that translates into thousands of jobs here in the United States.  As long as our global competitors are providing financing for their exports, we’ve got to do the same.  So I’m glad that Congress got this done.  I’m grateful to members of both parties who came together and put the interests of the American people first.

Now we’ve got to do more.  Obviously, the world economy is still in a delicate place because of what’s going on in Europe and the fact that some of the emerging countries have been slowing down.  It is absolutely critical for us to make sure that we are full speed ahead.

I’ve been traveling around the country talking about a “To-Do” list for Congress with some commonsense ideas that historically have had bipartisan support to help continue growth and job creation.  And just like the bill I’m about to sign, those policies can help strengthen the economy and put more folks back to work.  We shouldn’t have to wait until an election to do some of this business.

A couple of points.  Number one, it still makes no sense for us to be giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs and factories overseas.  The great news is there are a lot of companies that are now thinking about insourcing and moving jobs back to the United States.  We are more competitive than ever.  Our workers are more productive than ever.  We want to help provide incentives for folks to make those decisions.  So it’s time for Congress to take tax breaks away that allow for deductions moving jobs overseas and instead cover moving expenses for companies that are interested in bringing jobs back to America.

Number two, Congress should give every responsible homeowner the opportunity to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage.  We’re starting to see a little bit of stabilizing in some of the housing markets around the country, but that continues to be a significant drag on our economy.  But when families are able to take advantage of these historically low rates, it makes a difference.  It puts money in their pockets or it may help them rebuild some of their equity.  It gives them more confidence and the housing market stabilizes further.

We’ve done everything that we can do administratively to help some portion of homeowners around the country refinance.  But every responsible homeowner in America should have a chance to save money.  That’s not just good, by the way, for the housing industry, that’s good for all businesses, because it means consumers are going to be out there with a little extra money in their pockets.

Number three, Congress still has the opportunity to do more to help small business owners who create most of the new jobs in America.  So we want to give them a tax break for hiring more workers and providing those workers higher wages.

Fourth, Congress should extend the tax credits for clean energy companies that are set to expire at the end of the year.  This is something that a lot of members, both Democrats and Republicans, should be able to appreciate, because wind power, solar power, biofuels — those aren’t partisan issues — that’s a job sector that is growing across the country.  But right now, there is too much uncertainty because we haven’t gone ahead and locked down some of these tax credits.

These companies are putting folks back to work and they’re helping us break our dependence on foreign oil.  There are members, again, of both parties that support these tax credits.  And tens of thousands of jobs are at stake.  So I think it’s very important for us to make sure that we move forward on that.

Fifth — and I’m going to speak to this on Friday — Congress should create a Veterans Job Corps so we can put our returning heroes back to work as cops and firefighters and park rangers.  We just observed Memorial Day, an extraordinarily moving Memorial Day — we were down at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial commemorating 50 years since that difficult and challenging war.  And one thing we learned from that was that we’ve got to treat our heroes with the respect and dignity that they have earned.

And our veterans are some of the most highly-trained, highly-educated, highly-skilled workers we’ve got.  These are Americans who want to keep serving now that they’re back.  So we’ve got to make sure when they come home, they come home to new jobs and new opportunities.  So there are a number of things that my administration can do on our own and we’re going to keep on doing them, but it gets a whole lot easier if we get some help from Congress.  And this is a great example, a great model of what can happen.

America has come through some tough times together, and it’s going to take more time than any of us would like to get to a place where all of us have fully recovered from the worst recession in our lives.  There will continue to be hurdles and there will continue to be some headwinds that we can’t fully control, but there are plenty of things we can control.  And there are plenty of solutions within our reach.  There are steps that we can take right now to speed up this recovery, to help create jobs, to restore some of the financial security that families have lost.  It’s within our control to do the right thing and do it now.

So my message to Congress is thank you and congratulations on authorizing Ex-Im Bank to continue on its extraordinary mission.  We’ve got more work to do.  I hope this ends up being a model for the kind of progress that we can make in the months to come and the years to come.  So with that, it is my great pleasure to sign this bill into law.  (Applause.)

(The bill is signed.)

END
11:48 A.M. EDT

There are 5 versions of Bill Number H.R.2072 for the 112th Congress. Usually, the last item is the most recent.

1 . Securing American Jobs Through Exports Act of 2011 (Introduced in House – IH)[H.R.2072.IH][PDF]
2 . Securing American Jobs Through Exports Act of 2011 (Reported in House – RH)[H.R.2072.RH][PDF]
3 . Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012 (Engrossed in House [Passed House] – EH)[H.R.2072.EH][PDF]
4 . Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012 (Placed on Calendar Senate – PCS)[H.R.2072.PCS][PDF]
5 . Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012 (Enrolled Bill [Final as Passed Both House and Senate] – ENR)[H.R.2072.ENR][PDF]

For Immediate Release
May 30, 2012

FACT SHEET: President Obama to Sign the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012

Source: WH, 5-30-12

Will Extend the Bank’s Authority Through 2014 and Increase Its Portfolio Cap to $140 Billion to Help U.S. Businesses Sell Their Products and Services Around the World

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama will sign the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012, a bipartisan bill that will reauthorize the Bank to continue financing U.S. exports, and ensure a level playing field for U.S. businesses, at no cost to American taxpayers.

The President believes that a critical component of building stronger and more durable domestic economic growth is ensuring that U.S. workers and businesses can compete successfully in global markets.  Doing so requires promoting U.S. export of goods and services overseas, which is why the President launched the National Export Initiative (NEI) in 2010, with the goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years while supporting two million new export-related jobs.  This legislation will allow the Export-Import Bank to continue financing U.S. exports to meet global competition.

America continues to make historic progress under the NEI, despite challenges in the global economy.  U.S. exports over the past 12 months are higher than any previous 12-month period in history, reaching $2.15 trillion, over 36% above the level of exports in 2009.  This record-breaking level of exports supported 9.7 million exports-related jobs in 2011, an increase of 1.2 million exports-related jobs since 2009.

The Export-Import Bank is playing an important role in contributing to this progress.  Last year, the Bank set export finance records for the third straight year. Overall authorizations hit $32.7 billion, supporting $40 billion in export sales and 290,000 American jobs at more than 3,600 U.S. companies.  More than 85% of these transactions were for small businesses.  The Bank is on track to meet the growing demand for export financing this fiscal year, as well, and small business transactions currently account for more than 22% of the Bank’s overall authorizations.

As we create export opportunities for our businesses and workers, the President will continue to ensure that U.S. exporters have a level global playing field on which to compete.  The U.S. will pursue its longstanding goal of minimizing trade-distorting financing of exports from our global competitors.  However, as long as our global competitors provide official export financing, America will do the same.

Under the NEI, the Administration has been working tirelessly on behalf of U.S. exporters since day one.  Through the direct counseling of more than 12,000 U.S. companies, federal trade agencies have supported nearly $140 billion in U.S. exports, and through the recent launch of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center, the President has brought an unprecedented level of focus and cooperation around investigating unfair trade practices around the world.  The Administration has also worked to expand access to overseas markets for U.S. exporters by resolving outstanding issues with pending trade agreements, negotiating new market access, and deepening engagement in major emerging markets, such as the Free Trade Agreements the President signed with Korea, Colombia, and Panama.

Key Elements of the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012

The reauthorization legislation includes the following provisions:

  • Extending the Bank’s Authority: The Bank’s authority to approve new export financing is extended to September 30, 2014.
  • Increasing the Bank’s Portfolio Limit:  The Bank’s financing authority is increased immediately to $120 billion and will be further stepped up to $140 billion, while requiring the Bank to submit a business plan and maintain a low default rate.
  • Focusing the Bank’s Mission:  The Bank will provide additional information on its business planning, default rates, and its support for small business and the U.S. textile industry.  In addition, the GAO will evaluate the role of the Bank in the world economy, the Bank’s risk management, and its underwriting and fraud prevention procedures.
  • Enhancing Transparency:  The Bank will provide the public with an opportunity to comment on transactions of more than $100 million through Federal Register notification.
  • Updating Technology:  The Bank is given authority to use part of its fee income to update its information technology systems.
  • Reviewing Existing Policies:  The Bank will conduct reviews of its economic impact procedures and domestic content policies.

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

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s just wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

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

Fort Stewart
Hinesville, Georgia

12:45 P.M. EDT

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

AUDIENCE:  Hooah!

MRS. OBAMA:  Did I do that right?

AUDIENCE:  Hooah!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUDIENCE:  Hooah!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(The executive order is signed.)

END
1:09 P.M. EDT

White House Recap March 31-April 5, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Barack Obama Focuses on the Economy — Speech on GOP Budget, Signing the STOCK Act & JOBS Act & Hosted North American Leaders Summit

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: MARCH 30-APRIL 5, 2012

West Wing Week: 4/6/2012 or “The Annual Spring Break Edition!”

This week, the President hosted a summit with North American Leaders, addressed the Associated Press, signed his economic report, the STOCK Act and the JOBS Act, and held an Easter Prayer Breakfast. That’s March 30th to April 5 or “The Annual Spring Break Edition!”

West Wing Week

Source: WH, 4-6-12

This week, the President hosted a summit with North American leaders, addressed the Associated Press, signed his economic report, the STOCK Act, and the JOBS Act, and held an Easter Prayer Breakfast.

Weekly Wrap Up: “Some Calm Before the Storm”

Source: WH, 4-6-12

North American Leaders Summit: Leaders of Mexico and Canada joined President Obama at the White House on Monday for a summit aimed at promoting economic growth and creating jobs in all three countries. At a press conference in the Rose Garden, President Obama remarked, “I’m pleased to announce that our three nations are launching a new effort to get rid of outdated regulations that stifle job creation.” The leaders also discussed security, energy, and efforts to combat drug cartels, as well as ways to continue boosting exports.

#AskVP about College Affordability: “College costs high. Debt burdensome. Help needed. That’s why I’m here. Fire away. Use #AskVP –vp,” the Vice President tweeted as a kickoff to his chat with the Twitterverse regarding college affordability and how the Obama Administration is tackling rising costs. Check out the question and answer session – covering topics from student loan debt to the emphasis on high education in the proposed budget – on Storify.

Easter Prayer Breakfast: On Wednesday, President Obama hosted his third annual Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House, a week ahead of the Easter Egg Roll. “I wanted to get together with you for a little prayer and reflection, some calm before the storm.”

Signed: the STOCK Act: During the State of the Union, President Obama stood before Congress and asked lawmakers to pass the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act. The bill was signed into law on Wednesday, making “it clear that if members of Congress use nonpublic information to gain an unfair advantage in the market, then they are breaking the law.”

Federal Taxpayer Receipt: Want to find out how much of the federal taxes you paid went toward the different categories of spending in the 2011 Federal Budget? President Obama spoke about the newly updated Federal Taxpayer Receipt this week as a “terrific way for people to be able to get information about where their tax dollars are actually going.” Enter a few pieces of information about the taxes you paid last year and find out how much of what you paid went to each slice of the pie here.

Full Text Obama Presidency April 5, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act Bill Signing

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

The JOBS Act: Encouraging Startups, Supporting Small Businesses

Source: WH, 4-5-12

President Barack Obama signs the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act

President Barack Obama signs the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which includes key initiatives the President proposed last fall to help small businesses and startups grow and create jobs, in the Rose Garden of the White House, April 5, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Earlier this week, I was back in my home state of Iowa talking with tech entrepreneurs about the Administration’s progress leveraging technology to innovate with less, improve transparency and efficiency, and better serve the American people. As fellow tech junkies, we spent plenty of time talking about Government’s role in open data, application programming interfaces to Federal systems and more. But we also had a chance to talk more broadly about the vital role start-ups and small businesses play in strengthening our economy, creating jobs, and nurturing innovation.

President Obama recognizes the critical role these types of high-growth startups and innovative entrepreneurs play in creating an economy that’s built to last. That’s why back in the fall – and again in his State of the Union Address – the President put forward a series of specific proposals to ease regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from accessing the capital they need to grow and create jobs. Today, the President put many of those proposals to work when he signed into law the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act – a bipartisan bill that will help encourage startups and support our nation’s small businesses.

As the President said at today’s signing, “this bill is a potential gamechanger” for America’s entrepreneurs. For the first time, Americans will be able to go online and invest in small businesses and entrepreneurs. Not only will this help small businesses and high-growth enterprises raise capital more efficiently, but it will also allow small and young firms to expand and hire faster.

Whether you’re in Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, or Silicon Prairie, this bill is a win-win for small businesses, for the economy, and for the American people.

Steven VanRoekel is the Federal Chief Information Officer – for more information visit www.cio.gov.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at JOBS Act Bill Signing

Rose Garden

2:36 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Hello, everybody.  Please, please have a seat.  Good afternoon.  I want to thank all of you for coming, and in particular, I want to thank the members of Congress who are here today from both parties, whose leadership and hard work made this bill a reality.

One of the great things about America is that we are a nation of doers — not just talkers, but doers.  We think big.  We take risks.  And we believe that anyone with a solid plan and a willingness to work hard can turn even the most improbable idea into a successful business.  So ours is a legacy of Edisons and Graham Bells, Fords and Boeings, of Googles and of Twitters.  This is a country that’s always been on the cutting edge.  And the reason is that America has always had the most daring entrepreneurs in the world.

Some of them are standing with me today.  When their ideas take root, we get inventions that can change the way we live.  And when their businesses take off, more people become employed because, overall, new businesses account for almost every new job that’s created in America.

Now, because we’re still recovering from one of the worst recessions in our history, the last few years have been pretty tough on entrepreneurs.  Credit has been tight.  And no matter how good their ideas are, if an entrepreneur can’t get a loan from a bank or backing from investors, it’s almost impossible to get their businesses off the ground.  And that’s why back in September, and again in my State of the Union, I called on Congress to remove a number of barriers that were preventing aspiring entrepreneurs from getting funding.  And this is one useful and important step along that journey.

Here’s what’s going to happen because of this bill.  For business owners who want to take their companies to the next level, this bill will make it easier for you to go public.  And that’s a big deal because going public is a major step towards expanding and hiring more workers.  It’s a big deal for investors as well, because public companies operate with greater oversight and greater transparency.

And for start-ups and small businesses, this bill is a potential game changer.  Right now, you can only turn to a limited group of investors — including banks and wealthy individuals — to get funding.  Laws that are nearly eight decades old make it impossible for others to invest.  But a lot has changed in 80 years, and it’s time our laws did as well.  Because of this bill, start-ups and small business will now have access to a big, new pool of potential investors — namely, the American people.  For the first time, ordinary Americans will be able to go online and invest in entrepreneurs that they believe in.

Of course, to make sure Americans don’t get taken advantage of, the websites where folks will go to fund all these start-ups and small businesses will be subject to rigorous oversight.  The SEC is going to play an important role in implementing this bill.  And I’ve directed my administration to keep a close eye as this law goes into effect and to provide me with regular updates.

It also means that, to all the members of Congress who are here today, I want to say publicly before I sign this bill, it’s going to be important that we continue to make sure that the SEC is properly funded, just like all our other regulatory agencies, so that they can do the job and make sure that our investors get adequate protections.

This bill represents exactly the kind of bipartisan action we should be taking in Washington to help our economy.  I’ve always said that the true engine of job creation in this country is the private sector, not the government.  Our job is to help our companies grow and hire.  That’s why I pushed for this bill.  That’s why I know that the bipartisan group of legislators here pushed for this bill.  That’s why I’ve cut taxes for small businesses over 17 times.  That’s why every day I’m fighting to make sure America is the best place on Earth to do business.

Our economy has begun to turn a corner, but we’ve still got a long way to go.  We’ve still got a lot of Americans out there who are looking for a job or looking for a job that pays better than the one that they’ve got.  And we’re going to have to keep working together so that we can keep moving the economy forward.

But I’ve never been more confident about our future.  And the reason is because of the American people.  Some of the folks beside me here today are a testimony to that.  Day after day, they’re out there pitching investors.  Some meetings go well; some meetings don’t go so well.  That’s true for me, too.  (Laughter.)  But no matter what, they keep at it.  And who knows, maybe one of them or one of the folks in the audience here today will be the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.  And one of them may be the next entrepreneur to turn a big idea into an entire new industry.  That’s the promise of America.  That’s what this country is all about.

So if these entrepreneurs are willing to keep giving their all, the least Washington can do is to help them succeed.  I plan to do that now by proudly signing this bill.

Thank you very much, everybody.

(The bill is signed.)  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  All right, everybody.  Enjoy a great day.  (Applause.)

END
2:44 P.M. EDT

President Obama To Sign Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act

Will Announce New Steps to Promote Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs and Protections for Investors

WASHINGTON, DC – Today President Obama will sign the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, a bipartisan bill that enacts many of the President’s proposals to encourage startups and support our nation’s small businesses.

The President believes that our small businesses and startups are driving the recovery and job creation.  That’s why he put forward a number of specific ways to encourage small business and startup investment in the American Jobs Act last fall, and worked with members on both sides of the aisle to sign these common-sense measures into law today.   The JOBS Act will allow Main Street small businesses and high-growth enterprises to raise capital from investors more efficiently, allowing small and young firms across the country to grow and hire faster.

“America’s high-growth entrepreneurs and small businesses play a vital role in creating jobs and growing the economy,” said President Obama.  “I’m pleased Congress took bipartisan action to pass this bill.  These proposals will help entrepreneurs raise the capital they need to put Americans back to work and create an economy that’s built to last.”

Throughout this effort, the President has maintained a strong focus on ensuring that we expand access to capital for young firms in a way that is consistent with sound investor protections. To that end, the President today will call on the Treasury, Small Business Administration and Department of Justice to closely monitor this legislation and report regularly to him with its findings. In addition, major crowfunding organizations sent a letter to the President today committing to core investor protections, including a new code of conduct for crowdfunding platforms.

In March of last year, the President directed his Administration to host a conference titled “Access to Capital: Fostering Growth and Innovation for Small Companies.”  The conference brought together policymakers and key stakeholders whose ideas directly led to many of the proposals contained in the JOBS Act. A primary takeaway from the conference was that capital from public and private investors helps entrepreneurs achieve their dreams and turn ideas into startups that create jobs and fuel sustainable economic growth.

Key Elements of the JOBS Act

The JOBS Act includes all three of the capital formation priorities that the President first raised in his September 2011 address to a Joint Session of Congress, and outlined in more detail in his Startup America Legislative Agenda to Congress in January 2012: allowing “crowdfunding,” expanding “mini-public offerings,” and creating an “IPO on-ramp” consistent with investor protections.

The JOBS Act is a product of bipartisan cooperation, with the President and Congress working together to promote American entrepreneurship and innovation while maintaining important protections for American investors.  It will help growing businesses access financing while maintaining investor protections, in several ways:

• Allowing Small Businesses to Harness “Crowdfunding”:  The Internet already has been a tool for fundraising from many thousands of donors.  Subject to rulemaking by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), startups and small businesses will be allowed to raise up to $1 million annually from many small-dollar investors through web-based platforms, democratizing access to capital.  Because the Senate acted on a bipartisan amendment, the bill includes key investor protections the President called for, including a requirement that all crowdfunding must occur through platforms that are registered with a self-regulatory organization and regulated by the SEC.  In addition, investors’ annual combined investments in crowdfunded securities will be limited based on an income and net worth test.

• Expanding “Mini Public Offerings”:  Prior to this legislation, the existing “Regulation A” exemption from certain SEC requirements for small businesses seeking to raise less than $5 million in a public offering was seldom used.  The JOBS Act will raise this threshold to $50 million, streamlining the process for smaller innovative companies to raise capital consistent with investor protections.

• Creating an “IPO On-Ramp”:  The JOBS Act makes it easier for young, high-growth firms to go public by providing an incubator period for a new class of “Emerging Growth Companies.” During this period, qualifying companies will have time to reach compliance with certain public company disclosure and auditing requirements after their initial public offering (IPO).  Any firm that goes public already has up to two years after its IPO to comply with certain Sarbanes-Oxley auditing requirements.  The JOBS Act extends that period to a maximum of five years, or less if during the on-ramp period a company achieves $1 billion in gross revenue, $700 million in public float, or issues more than $1 billion in non-convertible debt in the previous three years.

Additionally, the JOBS Act changes some existing limitations on how companies can solicit private investments from “accredited investors,” tasks the SEC with ensuring that companies take reasonable steps to verify that such investors are accredited, and gives companies more flexibility to plan their access to public markets and incentivize employees.

Additional Initiatives Announced Today to Promote Capital Access and Investor Protection

• Monitoring of JOBS Act Implementation:  The President is directing the Treasury Department, Small Business Administration and Department of Justice to closely monitor the implementation of this legislation to ensure that it is achieving its goals of enhancing access capital while maintaining appropriate investor protections. These agencies, consulting closely with the SEC and key non-governmental stakeholders, will report their findings to the President on a biannual basis, and will include recommendations for additional necessary steps to ensure that the legislation achieves its goals.

• Crowdfunding Platforms Commit to Investor Protections:  In a letter to President Obama, a consortium of crowdfunding companies are committing to work with the SEC to develop appropriate regulation of the industry, as required by the JOBS Act.  Members of this leadership group are committing to establish core investor protections, including an enforceable code of conduct for crowdfunding platforms, standardized methods to ensure that investors do not exceed statutory limits, thorough vetting of companies raising funds through crowdfunding, and an industry standard “Investors’ Bill of Rights.”

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