Full Text Obama Presidency March 9, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Manufacturing and the Economy

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Talks About How to Boost Innovation in Manufacturing

Source: WH, 3-9-12

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy in Petersburg, VA (March 9, 2012)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy after touring the Rolls-Royce Crosspoint facility in Prince George County, Va., March 9, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

On a day when we received another strong jobs report — private employers added 233,000 jobs in February, marking the 24th straight month of job growth  — President Obama headed to Petersburg, Virginia to talk about additional steps we can take to continue boosting the economy.

Manufacturing is one of the sectors helping to lead the recovery, and today American factories are adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. That’s a valuable trend, and President Obama is doing everything in his power to support it.

President Barack Obama tours the Rolls-Royce Crosspoint facility (March 9, 2012)

President Barack Obama tours the Rolls-Royce Crosspoint facility in Prince George County, Va., March 9, 2012. President Obama viewed a machine cutting titanium into airplane engine parts used on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. (Official White House photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Through an initiative called the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, the President has convened some of the leading minds in science, education, and industry with a goal of ensuring that products that change the world are invented and assembled right here in the United States. In Petersburg, he discussed his plans to build on their work:

I’m laying out my plans for a new National Network of Manufacturing Innovation–-and these are going to be institutes of manufacturing excellence where some of our most advanced engineering schools and our most innovative manufacturers collaborate on new ideas, new technology, new methods, new processes.

The President is investing $45 million in a pilot program aimed at promoting collaboration between government and industry in order to encourage innovation in manufacturing:

With that pilot in place, we’ll keep on pushing Congress to do the right thing because this is the kind of approach that can succeed, but we’ve got to have this all across the country. I want everybody thinking about how are we making the best products; how are we harnessing the new ideas and making sure they’re located here in the United States.

To learn more, read the President’s full remarks.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on Manufacturing and the Economy

Rolls-Royce Crosspointe
Petersburg, Virginia

12:57 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Virginia!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you, everybody.  Wow, what a unbelievable crowd.  Everybody, please have a seat — if you have one.  (Laughter.)

Well, thank you, James, for that rousing introduction and letting me hang out a little bit with your workers.  We’ve got a few other folks I want to acknowledge:  The Governor of the great Commonwealth of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, is here.  (Applause.)  Outstanding Congressman Bobby Scott is in the house.  (Applause.)  We’ve got your Mayor, Brian Moore.  (Applause.)  And I want to very much say thank you to our outstanding Secretary of Commerce, Secretary Bryson, who was here and he is doing great work trying to create jobs and investment and opportunity all across the country.  (Applause.)

It is great to be back in Petersburg.  (Applause.)  Last time I was here was during the campaign.  I had my bus pull over so I could get a cheeseburger — (laughter) — at Longstreet’s Deli.  (Applause.)  You guys have eaten there.  (Laughter.)  Some of you may think this violates Michelle’s Let’s Move program — (laughter) — but she gives me a pass when it comes to a good burger — (laughter) — and fries.

Now, back then, in 2008, we were talking about how working Americans were already having a tough go of it.  Folks were working harder and longer for less.  It was getting tougher to afford health care or to send your kids to college.  The economy was already shedding jobs, and in less than a decade, nearly one in three manufacturing jobs had vanished.  Then the bottom fell out of the economy, and things got that much tougher.  We were losing 700,000 to 800,000 jobs a month.  The economy was hemorrhaging.

And three and a half years later, we’re still recovering from the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes.  And we’ve got a lot of work to do before everybody who wants a good job can find one, before middle-class folks regain that sense of security that had been slipping away even before the recession hit, and before towns like Petersburg get fully back on their feet.

But here’s the good news:  Over the past two years, our businesses have added nearly 4 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  We just found out that last month in February we added 233,000 private sector jobs.  (Applause.)  More companies are bringing jobs back and investing in America.  And manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.  (Applause.)  We just had another good month last month in terms of adding manufacturing jobs.  And this facility is part of the evidence of what’s going on all across the country.  This company is about to hire more than 200 new workers — 140 of them right here in Petersburg, Virginia.  (Applause.)

So the economy is getting stronger.  And when I come to places like this, and I see the work that’s being done, it gives me confidence there are better days ahead.  I know it because I would bet on American workers and American know-how any day of the week.  (Applause.)

The key now — our job now is to keep this economic engine churning.  We can’t go back to the same policies that got us into this mess.  We can’t go back to an economy that was weakened by outsourcing and bad debt and phony financial profits.  We’ve got to have an economy that’s built to last.  And that starts with American manufacturing.  It starts with you.  (Applause.)

For generations of Americans, manufacturing has been the ticket into the middle class.  Every day, millions clocked in at foundries and on assembly lines, making things.  And the stuff we made — steel and cars and jet engines — that was the stuff that made America what it is.  It was understood around the world.

The work was hard, but the jobs were good.  They paid enough to own a home, and raise kids and send them to college, gave you enough to retire on with dignity and respect.  They were jobs that told us something more important than how much we were worth; they told us what we were worth.  They told us that we were building more than just products.  They told us we were building communities and neighborhoods, we were building a country.  It gave people pride about what America was about.

And that’s why one of the first decisions I made as President was to stand by manufacturing, to stand by the American auto industry when it was on the brink of collapse.  (Applause.)  The heartbeat of American manufacturing was at stake — and so were more than a million jobs.  And today, the American auto industry is coming back, and GM is number one in the world again, and Ford is investing billions in American plants and factories.  (Applause.)  And together, over the past two and a half years, the entire auto industry has added more than 200,000 jobs.

And here’s the thing.  They’re not just building cars again, they’re building better cars.  For the first time in three decades, we raised fuel standards in this country, so that by the middle of the next decade the cars that are built in America will average nearly 55 miles to the gallon.  (Applause.)  That will save the typical family about $8,000 at the pump over time.  That’s real savings.  (Applause.)  That’s real money.

And it shows that depending on foreign oil doesn’t have to be our future.  It shows that when we harness our own ingenuity, our technology, then we control our future.  See, America thrives when we build things better than the rest of the world.  I want us to make stuff here and sell it over there.  (Applause.)  I don’t want stuff made over there and selling it over here.  (Applause.)  And that’s exactly what you’re doing here at the largest Rolls-Royce facility in the world.  That’s what you’re doing by building the key components of newer, faster, more fuel-efficient jet engines.

I just took a tour and I learned a bit about how a jet engine comes together.  Don’t quiz me on it.  (Laughter.)  I’m a little fuzzy on some of the details.  (Laughter.)  I did press some buttons back there.  (Laughter.)

But a few weeks ago, I actually got to see the finished product.  I went to Boeing, in Washington State, and I checked out a new Dreamliner.  I even got to sit in the cockpit, which was pretty sweet.  I didn’t press any buttons there, though — (laughter) — because if it had started going it would have been a problem.

So this plane, the Dreamliner, is going to keep America at the cutting edge of aerospace technology.  American workers are manufacturing various components for it in Ohio, and Oklahoma, and South Carolina, and Kansas, and right here in Petersburg.  In fact, the demand for their planes was so high last year that Boeing had to hire 13,000 workers all across America just to keep up.  And Boeing is gaining more and more share all the time.

So think about that.  Rolls-Royce is choosing to invest in America.  You’re creating jobs here, manufacturing components for jet engines, for planes that we’re going to send all around the world.  And that’s the kind of business cycle we want to see.  Not buying stuff that’s made someplace else and racking up debt, but by inventing things and building things and selling them all around the world stamped with three proud words:  “Made in America.”  (Applause.)  Made in America.

Think about how important this is.  I mean, imagine if the plane of the future was being built someplace else.  Imagine if we had given up on the auto industry.  Imagine if we had settled for a lesser future.

But we didn’t.  We’re Americans.  We are inventors.  We are builders.  We’re Thomas Edison and we’re the Wright Brothers and we are Steven Jobs.  That’s who we are.  That’s what we do.  We invent stuff, we build it.  And pretty soon, the entire world adapts it.  That’s who we are.  And as long as I’m President, we’re going to keep on doing it.  (Applause.)  We’re going to make sure the next generation of life-changing products are invented and manufactured here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

So that’s why we launched an all-hands-on-deck effort.  We brought together the brightest academic minds, the boldest business leaders, the most dedicated public servants from our science and our technology agencies all with one big goal:  a renaissance in American manufacturing.  We called it the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.  The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.  And today, we’re building on it.

I’m laying out my plans for a new National Network of Manufacturing Innovation –- and these are going to be institutes of manufacturing excellence where some of our most advanced engineering schools and our most innovative manufacturers collaborate on new ideas, new technology, new methods, new processes.

And if this sounds familiar, that’s because what you’re about to do right here at Crosspointe.  Later this summer, the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing will open its doors.  And it’s a partnership between manufacturers, including this one, UVA, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University — (applause) — VSU is a little overrepresented here, obviously —  (laughter) — the Commonwealth and the federal government.  So think of this as a place where companies can share access to cutting-edge capabilities.  At the same time, students and workers are picking up new skills, they’re training on state-of-the-art equipment; they’re solving some of the most important challenges facing our manufacturers.

You just got all this brain power and skill and experience coming together in this hub, and that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.  It allows everybody to learn from each other and figure out how we’re going to do things even better.  It’s going to help get that next great idea from a paper or a computer to the lab, to the factory, to the global marketplace.  And that’s especially important for the one in three Americans in manufacturing who work for a small business that doesn’t always have access to resources like these.

Obviously, big companies — the Boeings, the Intels, the Rolls Royces — they’ve got the resources, the capital, to be able to create these platforms.  But some of the small to medium-sized businesses, it’s a little bit harder.  So this gives them access and allows them to take part in this new renaissance of American inventiveness.  And we’ve got to build these institutes all across the country — all across the country.  I don’t want it just here at Crosspointe, I want it everywhere.

To do that, we need Congress to act.  Hmm.  (Laughter and applause.)  It’s true.  (Laughter.)  But that doesn’t mean we have to hold our breath.  We’re not going to wait — we’re going to go ahead on our own.  Later this year, we’re going to choose the winner of a competition for a pilot institute for manufacturing innovation — help them get started.  With that pilot in place, we’ll keep on pushing Congress to do the right thing because this is the kind of approach that can succeed, but we’ve got to have this all across the country.  I want everybody thinking about how are we making the best products; how are we harnessing the new ideas and making sure they’re located here in the United States.

And sparking this network of innovation across the country – it will create jobs and it will keep America in the manufacturing game.  Of course, there’s more we can do to seize this moment of opportunity to create new jobs and manufacturing here in America.

We’ve got to do everything we can to encourage more companies to make the decision to invest in America and bring jobs back from overseas.  And we’re starting to see companies do that.  They’re starting to realize this is the place with the best workers, the best ideas, the best universities.  This is the place to be.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to give them a little more encouragement.

Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas.  Companies that choose to invest in America, they get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.  Does that make any sense?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  It makes no sense.  Everybody knows it.  So it’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas; reward companies that create good jobs right here in the United States of America.  That’s how our tax code can work.  (Applause.)  That’s how our tax code should work.

At the same time, we’ve got to do everything we can to make sure our kids get an education that gives them every chance to succeed.  (Applause.)  I’ve been told that last year’s valedictorian at Petersburg High, whose name is Kenneisha Edmonds, she had a pretty good statement.  She said her cap and gown was “the best gown that anybody can hang in their closet.”  (Laughter.)  I like that.  So let’s make sure students like Kenneisha have teachers who bring out the best in them.  Let’s make sure if they want to go to college, their families can afford them to go to college.  (Applause.)

And let’s make sure all our workers have the skills that companies like this one are looking for — because we’ve got to have folks engaged in lifelong learning.  The days when you started out at 20 at one company and you just kept on doing the same thing for 40 years — that’s not going to happen anymore.

So even if — as I was meeting some of the folks here, they had been in the industry, they’d been machinists, they’d been in manufacturing for years.  But they’re constantly upgrading their skills and retraining.  And some of them had been laid off and had gone back to school before they came to this company.  And so we’ve got to make sure those opportunities for people mid-career and onward, that they can constantly go back to a community college and retool so that they can make sure they’re qualified for the jobs of tomorrow.

At a time when so many Americans are looking for work, no job opening should go unfilled just because people didn’t have an opportunity to get the training they needed.  And that’s why I’ve asked Congress — (applause) — I’ve asked Congress, join me in a national commitment to train 2 million Americans with the skills that will lead directly to a job — right now.  (Applause.)

We need to create more partnerships like the one this plant has with John Tyler Community College.  (Applause.)  We should give more community colleges the resources they need.  I want them to be community career centers — places that teach people skills that companies are looking for right now, from data management to the kind of high-tech manufacturing that’s being done at this facility.

So day by day, we’re restoring this economy from crisis.  But we can’t stop there.  We’ve got to make this economy ready for tomorrow.  Day by day, we’re creating new jobs, but we can’t stop there — not until everybody who’s out there pounding the pavement, sending out their résumés has a chance to land one of those jobs.

Every day we’re producing more oil and gas than we have in years, but we can’t stop there.  I want our businesses to lead the world in clean energy, too.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the best colleges and universities in the world, but we can’t stop there. I want to make sure more of our students can afford to go to those colleges and universities.  (Applause.)  Everybody knows we’ve got the best workers on Earth, but we can’t stop there.   We’ve got to make sure the middle class doesn’t just survive these times, we want them to thrive.  We want them to dream big dreams and to feel confident about the future.

I did not run for this office just to get back to where we were.  I ran for this office to get us to where we need to be.  (Applause.)  And I promise you we will get there.  (Applause.)   Some of these challenges may take a year; some may take one term; some may take a decade — but we’re going to get there.  Because when we work together, we know what we’re capable of.  We’ve got the tools, we’ve got the know-how, we’ve got the toughness to overcome any obstacle.  And when we come together and combine our creativity and our optimism and our willingness to work hard, and if we’re harnessing our brainpower and our manpower, our horsepower, I promise you we will thrive again.  We will get to where we need to go.  And we will leave behind an economy that is built to last.  We will make this another American century.

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

END
1:20 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency March 7, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Energy Announces $1 Billion Fund to Promote Energy Efficient Vehicles

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

America Built to Last

President Obama announces a new $1 billion National Community Deployment Challenge to help boost the deployment of clean, advanced vehicles all over America.

President Obama discusses energy
Lawrence Jackson, 3/7/12

President Obama Announces $1 Billion Fund to Promote Energy Efficient Vehicles

Source: WH, 3-7-12

President Barack Obama tours a Daimler Trucks North America plant (March 7, 2012)

President Barack Obama tours Daimler Trucks North America Mt. Holly Truck Manufacturing Plant in Mount Holly, North Carolina, March 7, 2012. On this part of the tour the President saw the Chassis Airing Station where multi-colored nylon air lines are installed for the brake system. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama made a trip to a manufacturing plant for Daimler Trucks North America in Mount Holly, North Carolina. He was in the Tar Heel state to discuss more ways his administration is taking an all-of-the-above approach to American energy.

He talked about how his administration is pursuing new domestic energy sources, expanding oil and gas production, and reducing our overall reliance on oil through development of renewable energy.

But at a place where workers are busy assembling trucks that run on natural gas, the President also announced a new $1 billion National Community Deployment Challenge to help boost the deployment of clean, advanced vehicles all over America:

To cities and towns all across the country, what we’re going to say is, if you make a commitment to buy more advanced vehicles for your community — whether they run on electricity or biofuels or natural gas — we’ll help you cut through the red tape and build fueling stations nearby. And we’ll offer tax breaks to families that buy these cars, companies that buy alternative fuel trucks like the ones that are made right here at Mount Holly. So we’re going to give communities across the country more of an incentive to make the shift to more energy-efficient cars.

Have questions about President Obama’s Blueprint for American-Made Energy? Learn more here.

 POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on Energy — Mount Holly, NC

Daimler Truck Manufacturing Plant
Mount Holly, North Carolina

12:50 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, North Carolina!  (Applause.)  Hello, Mount Holly!  (Applause.)  Thank you, Juan, for that introduction.  I did not know he was a preacher.  (Laughter.)  He must be at least a deacon.  (Laughter.)  I was hearing — “Welll” — (Laughter.)  He was starting to get the spirit up here.  I’m going to take Juan on the road to introduce me everywhere.  (Laughter.)  Can I hear an “amen”?

AUDIENCE:  Amen!

THE PRESIDENT:  Amen.

I want to thank Mark Hernandez, Ricky McDowell — (applause) — and Martin Daum for hosting us and being such great tour guides.  Thank you so much, everybody.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

We’ve got a few outstanding North Carolinians in the house.  You’ve got your Governor, Bev Perdue, is here.  (Applause.)  Your mayors, Bryan Hough and Anthony Foxx are here.  (Applause.)  Two outstanding Congressmen, Mel Watt and Heath Shuler are here.  (Applause.)  Thank you all for being here.

It is good to be in North Carolina.  Anthony Foxx pointed out that I decided to wear a tie that could be a Tar Heel — (applause) — but it’s got a little Duke color in there, too.

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t want to get in trouble with anybody, so I was hedging my bets.  (Laughter.)

I always tell people I am one of the best advertisers for North Carolina.  I love this state.  (Applause.)  Love this state.  Everybody here is so nice, so welcoming.  Even the folks who don’t vote for me, they’re nice to me.  They usually wave five fingers.  (Laughter.)  So it’s just a great pleasure.

And I just had a chance to see some of the folks who are doing the work here today.  I couldn’t be more impressed.  Some people have been here — like Juan — 32 years, 25 years.  Some folks have been here for four months, or six months, have just gotten hired.  But everybody had such pride in their work.

And the Freighterline trucks that you’re making here at this plant run on natural gas, and that makes them quieter, it makes them better for the environment, it makes them cheaper to fill up than they would be with diesel.  I hear you sold your 1,000th natural gas truck last November -– (applause) — the first company to reach that milestone.  And it was made right here in Mount Holly.  (Applause.)  And last year, this plant added more than 1,000 workers, hiring back a lot of folks who were laid off during the recession.  (Applause.)  That is something to be proud of.

Now, here at Daimler, you’re not just building trucks.  You’re building better trucks.

AUDIENCE:  That’s right.

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re building trucks that use less oil.  And you know that’s especially important right now because most of you have probably filled up your gas tank a time or two in the last week, and you’ve seen how quickly the price of gas is going up.  A lot of you may have to drive a distance to work.  Higher gas prices are like a tax straight out of your paycheck.
And for companies that operate a whole fleet of trucks, the higher costs can make a big difference in terms of the profitability of the company.

Now, here’s the thing, though — this is not the first time we’ve seen gas prices spike.  It’s been happening for years.  Every year, about this time, gas starts spiking up, and everybody starts wondering, how high is it going to go?  And every year, politicians start talking when gas prices go up.  They get out on the campaign trail — and you and I both know there are no quick fixes to this problem — but listening to them, you’d think there were.

As a country that has 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, but uses 20 percent of the world’s oil — I’m going to repeat that — we’ve got 2 percent of the world oil reserves; we use 20 percent.  What that means is, as much as we’re doing to increase oil production, we’re not going to be able to just drill our way out of the problem of high gas prices.  Anybody who tells you otherwise either doesn’t know what they’re talking about or they aren’t telling you the truth.

Here is the truth.  If we are going to control our energy future, then we’ve got to have an all-of-the-above strategy.  We’ve got to develop every source of American energy — not just oil and gas, but wind power and solar power, nuclear power, biofuels.  We need to invest in the technology that will help us use less oil in our cars and our trucks, in our buildings, in our factories.  That’s the only solution to the challenge. Because as we start using less, that lowers the demand, prices come down.  It’s pretty straightforward.  That’s the only solution to this challenge.

And that’s the strategy that we’ve now been pursuing for the last three years.  And I’m proud to say we’ve made progress.
Since I took office, America’s dependence on foreign oil has gone down every single year.  In fact, in 2010, it went under 50 percent for the first time in 13 years.

You wouldn’t know it from listening to some of these folks out here — (laughter) — some of these folks — (laughter) — but a key part of our energy strategy has been to increase safe, responsible oil production here at home.  Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than any time in the last eight years.  Under my administration, we’ve quadrupled the number of operating oilrigs to a record high.  We’ve got more oilrigs operating now than we’ve ever seen.  We’ve opened up millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration.  We’ve approved more than 400 drilling permits that follow new safety standards after we had that mess down in the Gulf.

We’re approving dozens of new pipelines.  We just announced that we’ll do whatever we can to speed up construction of a pipeline in Oklahoma that’s going to relieve a bottleneck and get more oil to the Gulf — to the refineries down there — and that’s going to help create jobs, encourage more production.

So these are the facts on oil production.  If somebody tells you we’re not producing enough oil, they just don’t know the facts.

But how much oil we produce here at home, because we only have 2 percent and we use 20, that’s not going to set the price of gas worldwide, or here in the United States.  Oil is bought and sold on the world market.  And the biggest thing that’s causing the price of oil to rise right now is instability in the Middle East.  You guys have been hearing about what’s happening with Iran; there are other oil producers that are having problems.  And so people have gotten uncertain.  And when uncertainty increases, then sometimes you see speculation on Wall Street that drives up gas prices even more.

But here’s the thing.  Over the long term, the biggest reason oil prices will go up is there’s just growing demand in countries like China and India and Brazil.  There are a lot of people there.  In 2010 alone, China added nearly 10 million cars on its roads.  Think about that — 2010, 10 million new cars.  People in China, folks in India, folks in Brazil — they’re going to want cars, too, as their standard of living goes up, and that means more demand for oil, and that’s going to kick up the price of oil worldwide.  Those numbers are only going to get bigger over time.

So what does that mean for us?  It means we can’t just keep on relying on the old ways of doing business.  We can’t just rely on fossil fuels from the last century.  We’ve got to continually develop new sources of energy.

And that’s why we’ve made investments that have nearly doubled the use of clean, renewable energies in this country.  And thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.  It also means we’ve got to develop the resources that we have that are untapped, like natural gas.  We’re developing a near hundred-year supply of natural gas -– and that’s something that we expect could support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.

And that’s why we’ve worked with the private sector to develop a high-tech car battery that costs half as much as other batteries and can go up to 300 miles on a single charge.  Think about that.  That will save you some money at the pump.  And that is why we are helping companies like this one right here and plants like this one right here to make more cars and trucks that use less oil.

When I ran for office, I went to Detroit and I gave a speech to automakers where I promised that I was going to raise fuel standards on our cars, so that they’d go further on a gallon of gas.  I said we should do the same thing on trucks.  I have to tell you, when I said it, I didn’t get a lot of applause in the room, because there was a time when automakers were resisting higher fuel standards — because change isn’t easy.  But you know what, after three decades of not doing anything, we got together with the oil companies, we got together with the unions, we got together with folks who usually do not see eye to eye, and we negotiated new fuel economy standards that are going to make sure our cars average nearly 55 miles per gallon by the middle of the next decade.  That’s nearly double what they get today — nearly double.  (Applause.)

Now, because of these new standards for cars and trucks, they’re going to — all going to be able to go further and use less fuel every year.  And that means pretty soon you’ll be able to fill up your car every two weeks instead of every week -– and, over time, that saves you, a typical family, about $8,000 a year.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We like that.

THE PRESIDENT:  You like that, don’t you?

AUDIENCE:  Yes!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Eight thousand dollars — that’s no joke.  We can reduce our oil consumption by more than 12 billion barrels.  And thanks to the SuperTruck program that we’ve started with companies like this one, trucks will be able to save more than $15,000 in fuel costs every year.  Think about that, $15,000.

It looks like somebody might have fainted up here.  Have we got some of the EMS, somebody.  Don’t worry about — folks do this all the time in my meetings.  (Laughter.)  You’ve always got to eat before you stand for a long time.  That’s a little tip.  But they’ll be okay.  Just make sure that — give them a little room.  All right, everybody all right?  Okay.

So these trucks can save $15,000 every year.  I want people to think about what that means for businesses, what it means for consumers.  It is real progress.  And it’s happening because of American workers and American know-how.  It’s happening because of you.  It’s happening because of you.

We’re also making it easier for big companies — some of your customers, like UPS and FedEx — to make the shift to fuel-efficient cars and trucks.  We call it the National Clean Fleets Partnership.  And since we announced it last year, the number of companies that are taking part in it has tripled.  And that means more customers for your trucks.  (Applause.)  We’re creating more customers for your trucks.

And I am proud to say that the federal government is leading by example.  One thing the federal government has a lot of is cars and trucks.  We got a lot of cars and we got a lot of trucks.  And so what I did was I directed every department, every agency in the federal government, to make sure that by 2015, 100 percent of the vehicles we buy run on alternative fuels — 100 percent.  (Applause.)

So we’re one of the biggest customers in the world for cars and trucks and we want to set that bar high.  We want to set a standard that says by 2015, 100 percent of cars, alternative fuels.

So we’re making progress, Mount Holly.  But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much natural gas, or flex-fuel or electric vehicles you have if there’s no place to charge them up or fill them up.  So that’s why I’m announcing today a program that will put our communities on the cutting edge of what clean energy can do.

To cities and towns all across the country, what we’re going to say is, if you make a commitment to buy more advanced vehicles for your community — whether they run on electricity or biofuels or natural gas — we’ll help you cut through the red tape and build fueling stations nearby.  (Applause.)  And we’ll offer tax breaks to families that buy these cars, companies that buy alternative fuel trucks like the ones that are made right here at Mount Holly.  (Applause.)  So we’re going to give communities across the country more of an incentive to make the shift to more energy-efficient cars.

In fact, when I was up in New Hampshire, in Nashua, they had already converted all their dump trucks — they were in a process because of this program — they were converting it to natural gas-driven trucks.

This is something that we did in education — we called it Race to the Top.  We said we’ll put in more money but we want you to reform.  We’re going to give you an incentive to do things in a different way.  And if we do the same thing with clean energy, we can save consumers money and we can make sure the economy is more secure.  So we’ve got to keep investing in American-made energy and we’ve got to keep investing in the vehicles that run on it.  That’s where our future is.

And in order to continue this progress, we’re going to have to make a choice.  We’ve got to decide where our priorities are as a country.  And that’s up to all of you.  And I’ll give you an example.  Right now, $4 billion of your tax dollars goes straight to the oil industry every year — $4 billion in subsidies that other companies don’t get.  Now, keep in mind, these are some of the same companies that are making record profits every time you fill up your gas tank.  We’re giving them extra billions of dollars on top of near-record profits that they’re already making.  Anybody think that’s a good idea?

AUDIENCE  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  Me, neither.  (Laughter.)  It doesn’t make any sense.  The American people have subsidized the oil industry long enough — they don’t need the subsidies.  It’s time to end that taxpayer giveaway to an industry that’s never been more profitable, invest in clean energy that’s never been more promising.  (Applause.)

So I called on Congress, eliminate these subsidies right away.  There’s no excuse to wait any longer.

AUDIENCE:  That’s right!

THE PRESIDENT:  And we should put every member of Congress on record:  They can stand up for the oil companies or they can stand up for the American people and this new energy future.  (Applause.)  We can place our bets on the fuel of the past, or we can place our bets on American know-how and American ingenuity and American workers like the ones here at Daimler.  (Applause.)  That’s the choice we face.  That’s what’s at stake right now.

So, in between shifts, get on the phone or email or send a letter or tweet — (laughter) — your member of Congress; ask them where they stand on this — because it will make a difference.  And you’ll know where I stand on this.  Let’s make sure our voices are heard.  The next time you hear some politician trotting out some 3-point plan for $2 gas — (laughter) — you let them know, we know better.

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  Tell them we’re tired of hearing phony election-year promises that never come about.  What we need is a serious, sustained, all-of-the-above strategy for American-made energy, American-made efficiency, American innovation, American fuel-efficient trucks, American fuel-efficient cars.  We may not get there in one term –

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s going to take us a while to wean ourselves off of the old and grab the new.  But we’re going to meet this challenge because we are Americans.  Our destiny is not written for us; it is written by us.  We decide what that next chapter is going to be.

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  And I’m confident, working with folks like you, the outstanding working people of Mount Holly, of this plant, of North Carolina, of states all across the country, we can pull together, and remind everybody around the world just why it is that the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.

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

END
1:11 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency March 6, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Press Conference on Housing Mortgage Refinancing Plan & Potential Military Action Against Iran

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Live Blog: President Obama’s News Conference

Source: NYT, 3-6-12
 
President Obama held a news conference in the White House briefing room on Tuesday.Doug Mills/The New York TimesPresident Obama held a news conference in the White House briefing room on Tuesday.

President Obama held his first news conference of the year on Tuesday. We carried the play-by-play.

Topically, it ranged over a turbulent landscape: Super Tuesday politics, saber-rattling over Iran, gasoline prices, the war in Afghanistan, the economic recovery and contraception. With so much weighty matter before him, the White House chose to use the event to highlight, of all things, some relatively narrow housing policy actions: a recent settlement with banks that will help some veterans recoup their losses on mortgage foreclosures, and a tweak to the refinancing charges on some federally insured loans….READ MORE

Obama Challenges Republicans on Iran

Source: NYT, 3-6-12

President Obama responding to questions from reporters at a news conference in Washington.Doug Mills/The New York TimesPresident Obama responding to questions from reporters at a news conference in Washington.

President Obama challenged his Republican critics to make a case to the American people for a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities if they really believe that is the right course to follow, throwing down an election-year challenge to the men who are vying to succeed him and who say that his Iran policy has been too weak.

“This is not a game,” Mr. Obama said during a news conference at the White House timed to coincide with Super Tuesday voting in the Republican primaries in a number of crucial states. Mr. Obama gave a staunch defense of his administration’s actions to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions and said that tough sanctions put in place by the United States and Europe were starting to work and were part of the reason Iran had returned to the negotiation table.

“The one thing we have not done is we have not launched a war,” Mr. Obama said. “If some of these folks think we should launch a war, let them say so, and explain to the American people.”…READ MORE

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Barack Obama holds a press conference (March 6, 2012)President Barack Obama holds a press conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, March 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Press Conference by the President

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:15 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Now, I understand there are some political contests going on tonight, but I thought I’d start the day off by taking a few questions, which I’m sure will not be political in nature.  (Laughter.)  Before I do, I want to make a few announcements about some steps we’re taking to help responsible homeowners who’ve been struggling through this housing crisis.

We’ve clearly seen some positive economic news over the last few months.  Businesses have created about 3.7 million new jobs over the last two years.  Manufacturers are hiring for the first time since the 1990s.  The auto industry is back and hiring more than 200,000 people over the last few years.  Confidence is up. And the economy is getting stronger.

But there are still millions of Americans who can’t find a job.  There are millions more who are having a tough time making the rent or the mortgage, paying for gas or groceries.  So our job in Washington isn’t to sit back and do nothing.  And it’s certainly not to stand in the way of this recovery.  Right now we’ve got to do everything we can to speed it up.

Now, Congress did the right thing when they passed part of my jobs plan and prevented a tax hike on 160 million working Americans this year.  And that was a good first step.  But it’s not enough.  They can’t just stop there and wait for the next election to come around.  There are a few things they can do right now that could make a real difference in people’s lives.

This Congress should, once and for all, end tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas, and use that money to reward companies that are creating jobs here in the United States.  I’ve put forward a proposal that does just that, and there’s no reason why Congress can’t come together and start acting on it.

This Congress could hold a vote on the Buffett Rule so that we don’t have billionaires paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries.  That’s just common sense.  The vast majority of Americans believe it’s common sense.  And if we’re serious about paying down our deficit, it’s as good a place to start as any.

And finally, this Congress should pass my proposal to give every responsible homeowner a chance to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage at historically low rates. No red tape.  No runaround from the banks.  If you’ve been on time on your payments, if you’ve done the right thing, if you’ve acted responsibly, you should have a chance to save that money on your home — perhaps to build up your equity, or just to have more money in your pocket that you can spend on businesses in your community.  That would make a huge difference for millions of American families.

Now, if Congress refuses to act, I’ve said that I’ll continue to do everything in my power to act without them.  Last fall, we announced an initiative that allows millions of responsible homeowners to refinance at low interest rates.  Today we’re taking it a step further — we are cutting by more than half the refinancing fees that families pay for loans ensured by the Federal Housing Administration.  That’s going to save the typical family in that situation an extra $1,000 a year, on top of the savings that they’d also receive from refinancing.  That would make refinancing even more attractive to more families.  It’s like another tax cut that will put more money in people’s pockets.  We’re going to do this on our own.  We don’t need congressional authorization to do it.

We’re also taking a series of steps to help homeowners who have served our country.  It is unconscionable that members of our armed forces and their families have been some of those who have been most susceptible to losing their homes due to the actions of unscrupulous banks and mortgage lenders.  Over the last few years that happened — a lot.

So as part of the landmark settlement we reached with some of the nation’s largest banks a few weeks ago, here’s what we’re going to do:  If you are a member of the armed forces whose home was wrongfully foreclosed, you will be substantially compensated for what the bank did to you and your family.  If you are a member of the armed forces with a high interest rate who was wrongfully denied the chance to lower it while you were in active serve, which banks are required to do by law, the banks will refund you the money you would have saved along with a significant penalty.

The settlement will make sure that you aren’t forced into foreclosure just because you have a permanent change in station but can’t sell your home because you owe more than it’s worth.  Some of the money will also go into a fund that guarantees loans on favorable terms to our veterans, and there will be more foreclosure protections for every man and woman who is currently serving this country in harm’s way.

As I’ve said before, no amount of money is going to be enough to make it right for a family who has had their piece of the American Dream wrongfully taken away from them, and no action — no matter how meaningful — will entirely heal our housing market on its own.  This is not something the government by itself can solve.  But I’m not one of those people who believe that we should just sit by and wait for the housing market to hit bottom.  There are real things that we can do right now that would make a substantial difference in the lives of innocent, responsible homeowners.  That’s true in housing, and that’s true in any number of different areas when it comes to ensuring that this recovery touches as many lives as possible.  That’s going to be my top priority as long as I hold this office, and I will do everything I can to make that progress.

So with that I’m going to take some questions, and I will start with Mike Viqueira.

Q    Yes, sir.  On the Middle East and as it relates to American politics, a little less than a year ago Moammar Qaddafi gave a speech, and he said he was going to send his forces to Benghazi, he was going to rout opponents from their bedrooms and he was going to shoot them.  You frequently cited that speech as a justification for NATO, the no-fly zone and military action against Libya.  In Syria, Bashar al Assad is killing people.  There’s a massacre underway.  And your critics here in the United States, including, most notably, John McCain, said you should start air strikes now.

And on Iran, Mitt Romney, on Sunday, went so far as to say that if you are re-elected, Iran will get a bomb and the world will change.  How do you respond to those criticisms?

THE PRESIDENT:  All right, Mike, you’ve asked a couple of questions there, so let me — let’s start with the Iran situation since that’s been the topic in the news for the last few days.

When I came into office, Iran was unified, on the move, had made substantial progress on its nuclear program, and the world was divided in terms of how to deal with it.  What we’ve been able to do over the last three years is mobilize unprecedented, crippling sanctions on Iran.  Iran is feeling the bite of these sanctions in a substantial way.  The world is unified; Iran is politically isolated.

And what I have said is, is that we will not countenance Iran getting a nuclear weapon.  My policy is not containment; my policy is to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon — because if they get a nuclear weapon that could trigger an arms race in the region, it would undermine our non-proliferation goals, it could potentially fall into the hands of terrorists.  And we’ve been in close consultation with all our allies, including Israel, in moving this strategy forward.

At this stage, it is my belief that we have a window of opportunity where this can still be resolved diplomatically.  That’s not just my view.  That’s the view of our top intelligence officials; it’s the view of top Israeli intelligence officials.  And, as a consequence, we are going to continue to apply the pressure even as we provide a door for the Iranian regime to walk through where they could rejoin the community of nations by giving assurances to the international community that they’re meeting their obligations and they are not pursuing a nuclear weapon.

That’s my track record.  Now, what’s said on the campaign trail — those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities.  They’re not Commander-in-Chief.  And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I’m reminded of the costs involved in war.  I’m reminded that the decision that I have to make in terms of sending our young men and women into battle, and the impacts that has on their lives, the impact it has on our national security, the impact it has on our economy.

This is not a game.  There’s nothing casual about it.  And when I see some of these folks who have a lot of bluster and a lot of big talk, but when you actually ask them specifically what they would do, it turns out they repeat the things that we’ve been doing over the last three years, it indicates to me that that’s more about politics than actually trying to solve a difficult problem.

Now, the one thing that we have not done is we haven’t launched a war.  If some of these folks think that it’s time to launch a war, they should say so.  And they should explain to the American people exactly why they would do that and what the consequences would be.  Everything else is just talk.

Q    That goes to Syria as well?

THE PRESIDENT:  With respect to Syria, what’s happening in Syria is heartbreaking and outrageous, and what you’ve seen is the international community mobilize against the Assad regime.  And it’s not a question of when Assad leaves — or if Assad leaves — it’s a question of when.  He has lost the legitimacy of his people.  And the actions that he’s now taking against his own people is inexcusable, and the world community has said so in a more or less unified voice.

On the other hand, for us to take military action unilaterally, as some have suggested, or to think that somehow there is some simple solution, I think is a mistake.  What happened in Libya was we mobilized the international community, had a U.N. Security Council mandate, had the full cooperation of the region, Arab states, and we knew that we could execute very effectively in a relatively short period of time.  This is a much more complicated situation.

So what we’ve done is to work with key Arab states, key international partners — Hillary Clinton was in Tunisia — to come together and to mobilize and plan how do we support the opposition; how do we provide humanitarian assistance; how do we continue the political isolation; how do we continue the economic isolation.  And we are going to continue to work on this project with other countries.  And it is my belief that, ultimately, this dictator will fall, as dictators in the past have fallen.

But the notion that the way to solve every one of these problems is to deploy our military, that hasn’t been true in the past and it won’t be true now.  We’ve got to think through what we do through the lens of what’s going to be effective, but also what’s critical for U.S. security interests.

Jake Tapper.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  What kind of assurances did you give Prime Minister Netanyahu about the role that the U.S. would play if diplomacy and economic sanctions fail to work to convince Iran’s leaders to change their behavior, and Israel goes ahead and prepares to strike a nuclear facility?  What kind of assurances did you tell him?  And shouldn’t we — I recognize the difference between debate and bluster — but shouldn’t we be having in this country a vigorous debate about what could happen in the case of a Middle East war in a way that, sadly, we did not do before going into Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think there’s no doubt that those who are suggesting, or proposing, or beating the drums of war should explain clearly to the American people what they think the costs and benefits would be.

I’m not one of those people — because what I’ve said is, is that we have a window through which we can resolve this issue peacefully.  We have put forward an international framework that is applying unprecedented pressure.  The Iranians just stated that they are willing to return to the negotiating table.  And we’ve got the opportunity, even as we maintain that pressure, to see how it plays out.

I’m not going to go into the details of my conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu.  But what I said publicly doesn’t differ greatly from what I said privately.  Israel is a sovereign nation that has to make its own decisions about how best to preserve its security.  And as I said over the last several days, I am deeply mindful of the historical precedents that weigh on any Prime Minister of Israel when they think about the potential threats to Israel and the Jewish homeland.

What I’ve also said is that because sanctions are starting to have significant effect inside of Iran — and that’s not just my assessment, that’s, I think, a uniform assessment — because the sanctions are going to be even tougher in the coming months, because they’re now starting to affect their oil industry, their central bank, and because we’re now seeing noises about them returning to the negotiating table, that it is deeply in everybody’s interests — the United States, Israel and the world’s — to see if this can be resolved in a peaceful fashion.

And so this notion that somehow we have a choice to make in the next week or two weeks, or month or two months, is not borne out by the facts.  And the argument that we’ve made to the Israelis is that we have made an unprecedented commitment to their security.  There is an unbreakable bond between our two countries, but one of the functions of friends is to make sure that we provide honest and unvarnished advice in terms of what is the best approach to achieve a common goal — particularly one in which we have a stake.  This is not just an issue of Israeli interest; this is an issue of U.S. interests.  It’s also not just an issue of consequences for Israel if action is taken prematurely.  There are consequences to the United States as well.

And so I do think that any time we consider military action that the American people understand there’s going to be a price to pay.  Sometimes it’s necessary.  But we don’t do it casually.

When I visit Walter Reed, when I sign letters to families that haven’t — whose loved ones have not come home, I am reminded that there is a cost.  Sometimes we bear that cost.  But we think it through.  We don’t play politics with it.  When we have in the past — when we haven’t thought it through and it gets wrapped up in politics, we make mistakes.  And typically, it’s not the folks who are popping off who pay the price.  It’s these incredible men and women in uniform and their families who pay the price.

And as a consequence, I think it’s very important for us to take a careful, thoughtful, sober approach to what is a real problem.  And that’s what we’ve been doing over the last three years.  That’s what I intend to keep doing.

Q    Sir, I’m sorry, if I could just quickly follow up — you didn’t –

THE PRESIDENT:  Jake –

Q    You might not be beating the drums of war, but you did very publicly say, we’ve got Israel’s back.  What does that mean?

THE PRESIDENT:  What it means is, is that, historically, we have always cooperated with Israel with respect to the defense of Israel, just like we do with a whole range of other allies — just like we do with Great Britain, just like we do with Japan.  And that broad statement I think is confirmed when you look at what we’ve done over the last three years on things like Iron Dome that prevents missiles from raining down on their small towns along border regions of Israel, that potentially land on schools or children or families.  And we’re going to continue that unprecedented security — security commitment.

It was not a military doctrine that we were laying out for any particular military action.  It was a restatement of our consistent position that the security of Israel is something I deeply care about, and that the deeds of my administration over the last three years confirms how deeply we care about it.  That’s a commitment we’ve made.

Jackie.  Where’s Jackie?  There you are.

Q    With the news this morning that the U.S. and its allies are returning to the table, are taking up Iran’s offer to talk again, more than a year after those talks broke up in frustration, is this Israel’s — Iran’s last chance to negotiate an end to this nuclear question?

And you said three years ago — nearly three years ago, in a similar one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, that the time for talk — by the end of that year, 2009, you would be considering whether Iran was negotiating in good faith.  And you said at that time that “we’re not going to have talks forever.”  So here we are nearly three years later.  Is this it?  And did you think you would be here three years after those first talks?

THE PRESIDENT:  You know, there is no doubt that over the last three years when Iran has engaged in negotiations there has been hemming and hawing and stalling and avoiding the issues in ways that the international community has concluded were not serious.  And my expectations, given the consequences of inaction for them, the severe sanctions that are now being applied, the huge toll it’s taking on their economy, the degree of isolation that they’re feeling right now — which is unprecedented — they understand that the world community means business.

To resolve this issue will require Iran to come to the table and discuss in a clear and forthright way how to prove to the international community that the intentions of their nuclear program are peaceful.  They know how to do that.  This is not a mystery.  And so it’s going to be very important to make sure that, on an issue like this — there are complexities; it obviously has to be methodical.  I don’t expect a breakthrough in a first meeting, but I think we will have a pretty good sense fairly quickly as to how serious they are about resolving the issue.

And there are steps that they can take that would send a signal to the international community and that are verifiable, that would allow them to be in compliance with international norms, in compliance with international mandates, abiding by the non-proliferation treaty, and provide the world an assurance that they’re not pursuing a nuclear weapon.  They know how to do it, and the question is going to be whether in these discussions they show themselves moving clearly in that direction.

Ed Henry.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I wanted to follow up on Israel and Iran because you have said repeatedly you have Israel’s back.  And so I wonder why, three years in office, you have not visited Israel as President.  And related to Iran and Israel, you have expressed concern about this loose talk of war, as you call it, driving up gas prices further.  Your critics will say on Capitol Hill that you want gas prices to go higher because you have said before, that will wean the American people off fossil fuels, onto renewable fuels.  How do you respond to that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Ed, just from a political perspective, do you think the President of the United States going into reelection wants gas prices to go up higher?  (Laughter.)  Is that — is there anybody here who thinks that makes a lot of sense?

Look, here’s the bottom line with respect to gas prices.  I want gas prices lower because they hurt families; because I meet folks every day who have to drive a long way to get to work and them filling up this gas tank gets more and more painful, and it’s a tax out of their pocketbooks, out of their paychecks, and a lot of folks are already operating on the margins right now.

And it’s not good for the overall economy, because when gas prices go up, consumer spending oftentimes pulls back.  And we’re in the midst right now of a recovery that is starting to build up steam, and we don’t want to reverse it.

What I have also said about gas prices is that there is no silver bullet and the only way we’re going to solve this problem over the medium and long term is with an all-of-the-above strategy that says we’re going to increase production — which has happened; we are going to make sure that we are conserving energy — that’s why we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars, which will save consumers about $1.7 trillion and take about 12 billion barrels of oil offline, which will help to reduce prices — and we’re going develop clean energy technologies that allow us to continue to use less oil.

And we’ve made progress.  I mean, the good news is, 2010, first time in a decade that our oil imports were actually below 50 percent, and they have kept on going down.  And we’re going to keep on looking at every strategy we can to, yes, reduce the amount of oil that we use, while maintaining our living standards and maintaining our productivity and maintaining our economic growth, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that consumers aren’t hurt by it.

Now, there are some short-term steps that we’re looking at with respect to — for example, there are certain potential bottlenecks in refineries around the country that we’ve been concerned about.  We’re concerned about what’s happening in terms of production around the world.  It’s not just what’s happening in the Gulf.  You’ve had, for example, in Sudan, some oil that’s been taken offline that’s helping to restrict supply.

So we’re going to look at a whole range of measures — including, by the way, making sure that my Attorney General is paying attention to potential speculation in the oil markets.  I’ve asked him to reconstitute a task force that’s examining that.

But we go through this every year.  We’ve gone through this for 30 years.  And if we are going to be competitive, successful, and make sure families are protected over the long term, then we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got a set of options that reduce our overall dependence on oil.

And with respect to Israel, I am not the first President who has been unable, because of a whole range of issues, not to visit Israel as President in their first term.  I visited Israel twice as senator, once right before I became President.  The measure of my commitment to Israel is not measured by a single visit.  The measure of my commitment to Israel is seen in the actions that I’ve taken as President of the United States.  And it is indisputable that I’ve had Israel’s back over the last three years.

Aamer Madhani.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Do you believe Rush Limbaugh’s apology to the Georgetown law student was sufficient and heartfelt?  Do you agree with the decision of the growing number of sponsors that have decided to drop his show or stop supporting his show?  And has there been a double standard on this issue?  Liberal commentators have made similarly provocative or distasteful statements and there hasn’t been such an outrage.

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m not going to comment on what sponsors decide to do.  I’m not going to comment on either the economics or the politics of it.  I don’t know what’s in Rush Limbaugh’s heart, so I’m not going to comment on the sincerity of his apology.  What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don’t have any place in the public discourse.

And the reason I called Ms. Fluke is because I thought about Malia and Sasha, and one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on.  I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way.  And I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens.  And I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her, and that we want to send a message to all our young people that being part of a democracy involves argument and disagreements and debate, and we want you to be engaged, and there’s a way to do it that doesn’t involve you being demeaned and insulted, particularly when you’re a private citizen.

Jessica Yellin.

Q    Bill Mahr apologized for what he said about — (inaudible) — should apologize for what they said about that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Jessica.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

Q    Top Democrats have said that Republicans on a similar issue are engaged in a war on women.  Some top Republicans say it’s more like Democrats are engaged in a war for the women’s vote.  As you talk about loose talk of war in another arena and women are — this could raise concerns among women, do you agree with the chair of your Democratic National Committee that there is a war on women?
THE PRESIDENT:  Here is what I think.  Women are going to make up their own mind in this election about who is advancing the issues that they care most deeply about.  And one of the things I’ve learned being married to Michelle is I don’t need to tell her what it is that she thinks is important.

And there are millions of strong women around the country who are going to make their own determination about a whole range of issues.  It’s not going to be narrowly focused just on contraception.  It’s not going to be driven by one statement by one radio announcer.  It is going to be driven by their view of what’s most likely to make sure they can help support their families, make their mortgage payments; who’s got a plan to ensure that middle-class families are secure over the long term; what’s most likely to result in their kids being able to get the education they need to compete.

And I believe that Democrats have a better story to tell to women about how we’re going to solidify the middle class and grow this economy, make sure everybody has a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share, and we got a fair set of rules of the road that everybody has to follow.

So I’m not somebody who believes that women are going to be single-issue voters.  They never have been.  But I do think that we’ve got a strong story to tell when it comes to women.

Q    Would you prefer this language be changed?

THE PRESIDENT:  Jessica, as you know, if I start being in the business of arbitrating –

Q    You talk about civility.

THE PRESIDENT:  And what I do is I practice it.  And so I’m going to try to lead by example in this situation, as opposed to commenting on every single comment that’s made by either politicians or pundits.  I would be very busy.  I would not have time to do my job.  That’s your job, to comment on what’s said by politicians and pundits.

All right.  Lori Montenegro.

Q    Mr. President, thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  There you go.

Q    Mr. President, polls are showing that Latino voters seem to be favoring your reelection over a Republican alternative.  Yet some of them are still disappointed, others have said, about a promise that you’ve made on immigration reform that has yet to come to pass.  If you are reelected, what would be your strategy, what would you do different to get immigration reform passed through the Congress, especially if both houses continue as they are right now, which is split?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, just substantively, every American should want immigration reform.  We’ve got a system that’s broken.  We’ve got a system in which you have millions of families here in this country who are living in the shadows, worried about deportation.  You’ve got American workers that are being undercut because those undocumented workers can be hired and the minimum wage laws may not be observed, overtime laws may not be observed.

You’ve got incredibly talented people who want to start businesses in this country or to work in this country, and we should want those folks here in the United States.  But right now, the legal immigration system is so tangled up that it becomes very difficult for them to put down roots here.

So we can be a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  And it is not just a Hispanic issue — this is an issue for everybody.  This is an American issue that we need to fix.

Now, when I came into office I said I am going to push to get this done.  We didn’t get it done.  And the reason we haven’t gotten it done is because what used to be a bipartisan agreement that we should fix this ended up becoming a partisan issue.

I give a lot of credit to my predecessor, George Bush, and his political advisors who said this should not be just something the Democrats support; the Republican Party is invested in this as well.  That was good advice then; it would be good advice now.

And my hope is, is that after this election, the Latino community will have sent a strong message that they want a bipartisan effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform that involves making sure we’ve got tough border security — and this administration has done more for border security than just about anybody — that we are making sure that companies aren’t able to take advantage of undocumented workers; that we’ve got strong laws in place; and that we’ve got a path so that all those folks whose kids often are U.S. citizens, who are working with us, living with us and in our communities, and not breaking the law, and trying to do their best to raise their families, that they’ve got a chance to be a fuller part of our community.

So, what do I think will change?

Q    What would you do differently?

THE PRESIDENT:  What I will do — look, we’re going to be putting forward, as we’ve done before, a framework, a proposal, legislation that can move it — move the ball forward and actually get this thing done.

But ultimately, I can’t vote for Republicans.  They’re going to have to come to the conclusion that this is good for the country and that this is something that they themselves think is important.  And depending on how Congress turns out, we’ll see how many Republican votes we need to get it done.

Norah O’Donnell.  How are you?

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Today is Super Tuesday, so I wonder if you might weigh in on some of your potential Republican opponents.  Mitt Romney has criticized you on Iran and said, “Hope is not a foreign policy.”  He also said that you are “America’s most feckless President since Carter.”  What would you like to say to Mr. Romney?

THE PRESIDENT:  Good luck tonight.  (Laughter.)

Q    No, really.

THE PRESIDENT:  Really.  (Laughter.)

Lynn, since you’ve been hollering and you’re from my hometown, make it a good one.

Q    My question is about the switch of the G8 summit from Chicago to Camp David.  A reason given from the White House is that now you wanted a more intimate summit.  People of Chicago would like to know what do you know now that you did not know when you booked hometown Chicago for the G8 that led to the switch?  And what role did security threats possibly play in the decision?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, keep in mind, Lynn, we’re still going to be showing up with a whole bunch of world leaders.  We’ve got this NATO summit.  Typically what’s happened is, is that we try to attach the G8 summit to the NATO summit so that the leaders in the G8 summit don’t have to travel twice to whatever location.  So last year, in France, we combined a G8 with a NATO summit.  We’ll do so again.

I have to say, this was an idea that was brought to me after the initial organizing of the NATO summit.  Somebody pointed out that I hadn’t had any of my counterparts, who I’ve worked with now for three years, up to Camp David.  G8 tends to be a more informal setting in which we talk about a wide range of issues in a pretty intimate way.  And the thinking was that people would enjoy being in a more casual backdrop.  I think the weather should be good that time of year.  It will give me a chance to spend time with Mr. Putin, the new Russian President.  And from there, we will then fly to Chicago.

I always have confidence in Chicago being able to handle security issues.  Whether it’s Taste of Chicago or Lollapalooza  — (laughter) — or Bull’s championships, we know how to deal with a crowd.  And I’m sure that your new mayor will be quite attentive to detail in making sure that everything goes off well.

All right?  Okay.  Go ahead, last one, last question.

Q    Thank you.  Mr. President, just to continue on that — when the NATO leaders gather in Chicago in May, do you expect that they’ll be able to agree on a transition strategy?  And are you concerned at all that the Koran burning and the episodes that have followed since then threaten your ability to negotiate with partners?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, keep in mind that the transition policy was in place and established at Lisbon, and we’ve been following that strategy that calls for us turning over increasing responsibility to Afghans and a full transition so that our combat role is over by the end of 2014.  And our coalition partners have agreed to it.  They are sticking with it.  That continues to be the plan.

What we are now going to be doing over the next — at this NATO meeting and planning for the next two years, is to make sure that that transition is not a cliff, but that there are benchmarks and steps that are taken along the way, in the same way that we reduced our role in Iraq so that it is gradual, Afghan capacity is built, the partnering with Afghan security forces is effective, that we are putting in place the kinds of support structures that are needed in order for the overall strategy to be effective.

Now, yes, the situation with the Koran burning concerns me. I think that it is an indication of the challenges in that environment, and it’s an indication that now is the time for us to transition.

Obviously, the violence directed at our people is unacceptable.  And President Karzai acknowledged that.  But what is also true is President Karzai I think is eager for more responsibility on the Afghan side.  We’re going to be able to find a mechanism whereby Afghans understand their sovereignty is being respected and that they’re going to be taking a greater and greater role in their own security.  That I think is in the interest of Afghans.  It’s also in our interests.  And I’m confident we can execute, but it’s not going to be a smooth path. There are going to be bumps along the road just as there were in Iraq.

Q    Well, are these bumps along the road, or are you seeing a deterioration in the relationship, based on the Koran burning itself, the violence that has followed, that inhibits your ability to work out things like how to hand off the detention center?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I — none of this stuff is easy, and it never has been.  And obviously, the most recent riots or protests against the Koran burning were tragic, but remember, this happened a while back when a pastor in Florida threatened to burn a Koran.  In Iraq, as we were making this transition, there were constant crises that would pop up and tragic events that would take place and there would be occasional setbacks.

But what I’ve tried to do is to set a course, make sure that up and down the chain of command everybody knows what our broader strategy is.  And one of the incredible things about our military is that when they know what our objective is, what our goal is, regardless of the obstacles that they meet along the way, they get the job done.

And I think that President Karzai understands that we are interested in a strategic partnership with the Afghan people and the Afghan government.  We are not interested in staying there any longer than is necessary to assure that al Qaeda is not operating there, and that there is sufficient stability that it doesn’t end up being a free-for-all after ISAF has left.

And so we share interests here.  It will require negotiations, and there will be time where things don’t look as smooth as I’d like.  That’s kind of the deal internationally on a whole range of these issues.

All right?  Thank you guys.

Oh, can I just make one other comment?  I want to publicly express condolences to the family of Donald Payne, Congressman from New Jersey — a wonderful man; did great work, both domestically and internationally.  He was a friend of mine.  And so my heart goes out to his family and to his colleagues.

All right.

END
1:59 P.M. EST

 

What You Need to Know About Today’s Housing Announcement

Source: WH, 3-6-12

In the State of the Union, President Obama introduced a basic principle: Every homeowner who is current on his or her payments ought to have a chance to refinance their mortgage at today’s historically low rates.

To make that idea a reality for everyone, Congress must take action.

But today, the President is taking another step to make refinancing easier for millions of Americans who have government-sponsored mortgages. He’s cutting fees — to help families save money and make refinancing more attractive.

And at a press conference that just wrapped up, President Obama announced a series of steps aimed at helping homeowners who have served in the Armed Forces.

When the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers reached a settlement with the federal government and 49 state attorneys general, they agreed to provide substantial relief to the nation’s veterans who were victims of wrongful foreclosures or who were otherwise disadvantaged in the mortgage process because of the obligations of their service.

Here’s how veterans and their families will benefit because of the settlement:

  • Any service member who saw their home wrongfully foreclosed will be substantially compensated for what the bank did;
  • Any member of Armed Forces who was wrongfully denied the chance to refinance and reduce their mortgage payments through lower interest rates will receive a refund from their bank equal to the money he or she would have saved;
  • Many service members who lost money because they were forced due to sell their homes due to Permanent Change of Station orders will also receive relief; and
  • Finally, under the settlement, the banks will also pay $10 million into the Veterans Housing Benefit Program Fund, which guarantees loans on favorable terms for service members.

To learn more, check out the full video from the press conference or read the transcript.

Full Text Obama Presidency March 3, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Discusses the Resurgence of the American Auto Industry, the Creation of Fuel Efficient Cars that Take Control of Our Energy Future & and Ending Oil & Gas Subsidies

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama talks about how the American auto industry is back and creating cars that are better than ever — and says we need to fight for a clean energy future that is within our reach.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 3/2/12

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Weekly Address: Taking Control of Our Energy Future

Source: WH, 3-3-12

President Obama talks about how the American auto industry is back and creating cars that are better than ever — and says we need to fight for a clean energy future that is within our reach.

 

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Taking Control of Our Energy Future

In this week’s address, President Obama told the American people that three years after helping the auto industry save more than one million jobs, the American auto industry is back and creating cars that are even better than before.  The entire industry has added more than 200,000 jobs in the past two and a half years, and thanks to the Administration’s new fuel efficiency standards, these companies are making cars that will save families money at the pump and help reduce our reliance on foreign oil.  While this will help, there is no silver bullet for solving the problem of higher gas prices, and Americans understand that with only 2% of the world’s oil reserves, we cannot simply drill our way to lower gas prices.  Under President Obama, our use of clean, renewable energy has nearly doubled, but we must also end the $4 billion in tax breaks that oil companies receive each year while collecting record profits.  The President asks everyone to tell their elected officials to stop this corporate welfare and fight for a clean energy future that is within our reach.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hi, everybody.  Earlier this week, I spent some time with the hardworking men and women of the American auto industry, who are busy writing a new chapter in America’s story.

Just a few years ago, their industry was shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs.  Two of the Big Three – GM and Chrysler – were on the brink of failure.  If we had let this great American industry collapse – if we had let Detroit go bankrupt – more than one million Americans would have lost their jobs in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

I refused to let that happen.  These jobs are worth more than just a paycheck – they’re a source of pride and a ticket to the middle class.  These companies are worth more than just the cars they build – they’re a symbol of American innovation and a source of our manufacturing might.

So in exchange for help, we demanded responsibility.  We got the companies to retool and restructure.  Everyone sacrificed.  And three years later, the American auto industry is back.

Today, GM is the number one automaker in the world.  Chrysler is growing faster in America than any other car company.  Ford is investing billions in American plants and factories, and plans to bring thousands of jobs back home.  All told, the entire industry has added more than 200,000 new jobs over the past two and a half years.

And they’re not just building cars again – they’re building better cars.  Thanks to new fuel efficiency standards we put in place, they’re building cars that will average nearly 55 miles per gallon by the middle of the next decade.  That’s almost double what they get today.  That means folks will be able to fill up every two weeks instead of every week, saving the typical family more than $8,000 at the pump over time.  That’s a big deal, especially as families are yet again feeling the pinch from rising gas prices.

So what’s happening in Detroit will make a difference.  But it won’t solve everything.  There’s no silver bullet for avoiding spikes in gas prices every year.  There’s no shortcut to taking control of our energy future.  We have to pursue an all-of-the-above strategy that helps develop every source of American energy.  And we have to do it now.

The good news is, we’ve been making progress.  Take a look at this chart.  Six years ago, 60% of the oil we used was imported.  Since I took office, America’s dependence on foreign oil has decreased every single year.  In fact, in 2010, for the first time in thirteen years, less than half the petroleum we consumed was imported.  Part of that is because we’re producing more oil here at home than at any time in the last eight years.

But we can’t just drill our way out of this problem.   While we consume 20 percent of the world’s oil, we only have 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves.  We’ve got to develop new technology that will help us use new forms of energy.  That’s been a priority of mine as President.  And because of the investments we’ve made, our use of clean, renewable energy has nearly doubled – and thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.

Now we need to keep at it.  And to do that, we need to make the right choices.

Here’s one we can make right now.  Every year, $4 billion of your tax dollars go to subsidizing the oil industry.  These are the same companies making record profits – tens of billions of dollars a year.  I don’t think oil companies need more corporate welfare.  Congress should end this taxpayer giveaway.  If you agree with me, I’m asking you to e-mail, call, or Tweet your representative.  Tell them to stop fighting for oil companies.  Tell them to start fighting for working families.  Tell them to fight for the clean energy future that’s within our reach.  Because the sooner we all get started, the sooner we’ll get there together.  Thanks and have a great weekend.

White House Recap February 18-24, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Barack Obama Sings “Sweet Home Chicago” — Speaks at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Groundbreaking Ceremony — Signs the Payroll Tax Extension into Law & Unveils Home-Grown Energy Plan

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: February 18-24, 2012

The Obama White House has had a great week — featuring BB King, the Boeing Dreamliner, a speech about American energy, a payroll tax cut extension, and special musical guest Keb Mo.

West Wing Week

West Wing Week: 2/24/12 or West Wing Week 100!

Source: WH, 2-24-12

It’s hard to believe that when West Wing Week was born, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was still around, American troops were still fighting in Iraq, the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse, and nobody knew that President Obama could sing — what a difference 694 days makes. We’ve got a great week for you — featuring BB King, the Boeing Dreamliner, a speech about American energy, a payroll tax cut extension, and special musical guest Keb Mo.

Weekly Wrap Up: “Sweet Home Chicago”

Source: WH, 2-24-12

Your Voice, Your $40: On Wednesday, the President signed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which extends the payroll tax cut and emergency jobless benefits through the end of the year. He credits the Americans who added their voices to the debate by letting their representatives know what $40 means to them—“This got done because of you…You made it clear that you wanted to see some common sense in Washington.”

President Obama, In Performance: Some huge names in music—Mick Jagger and B.B. King, among others—joined the President and the First Lady for a night of blues on Tuesday as part of the PBS “In Performance at the White House” series. By now, we’re no strangers to the President’s impressive pipes, and he certainly held his own against the music legends as he sang a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago.”

New Museum on the Block: Tourists and locals alike appreciate Washington, D.C.’s museums. In 2015, a new one will open its doors—the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The President, who was accompanied by the First Lady at the future museum’s ground breaking on Wednesday morning, remarked that, “This museum should inspire us…It should stand as proof that the most important things rarely come quickly or easily. It should remind us that although we have yet to reach the mountaintop, we cannot stop climbing.”

CC2C: Dr. Jill Biden and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis hit the road this week for their three-day “Community College to Career” bus tour to highlight the integral role community colleges play in developing a flexible, highly-skilled 21st century workforce.

Welcome to Miami: President Obama visited the Sunshine State on Thursday and stopped at the University of Miami to check out their Industrial Assessment Center (IAC)—a smart and important piece of the administration’s “all-of-the-above” approach to domestic energy sources. He also spoke to the Hurricanes about securing a future for America built on home-grown energy, and his blueprint to help us get there.

Full Text February 18, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Describes Steps to Strengthen American Manufacturing and Job Creation

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama describes a series of steps to strengthen American manufacturing and job creation here in the United States.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address

President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 2/17/12

Weekly Address: Continuing to Strengthen American Manufacturing

Source: WH, 2-18-12

President Obama describes a series of steps to strengthen American manufacturing and job creation here in the United States.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Continuing to Strengthen American Manufacturing

In this week’s address, President Obama spoke to the American people from the Boeing Plant in Everett, Washington about our efforts to strengthen American manufacturing and job creation here in the United States.  He described how we can support businesses like Boeing, which is hiring thousands of Americans across the country, through steps like removing tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas and giving them to companies that create jobs at home.  The President is committed to continue assisting businesses in selling their products around the world, and the United States is on track to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports within five years.  The President believes that by boosting American manufacturing and supporting our job creators, we can create an economy that’s built to last.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Everett, Washington
Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hello, everybody.

I’m speaking to you this week from the Boeing Plant in Everett, Washington. Boeing has been in this community for half a century.  But it’s what they’re doing here today that has folks really excited; because at this plant they’re building the plane of the future – the Dreamliner.  It’s an impressive sight.  And, to be honest, part of why I came was to see it up close.  But I also came because this is a great example of how we can bring jobs and manufacturing back to America.

You see, the last few decades haven’t been easy for manufacturing in this country.  New technology has made businesses more efficient and productive – and that’s good – but it’s also made a lot of jobs obsolete.  The result has been painful for a lot of families and communities.  Factories where people thought they’d retire have left town.  Jobs that provided a decent living have been shipped overseas.  And the hard truth is that a lot of those jobs aren’t coming back.

But that doesn’t mean we have to settle for a lesser future.  I don’t accept that idea.  In America, there’s always something we can do to create new jobs and new manufacturing and new security for the middle-class.  In America, we don’t give up, we get up.

Right now, that’s exactly what we’re doing.  Over the past 23 months, businesses have created 3.7 million new jobs.  And manufacturers are hiring for the first time since the 1990s.  It’s now getting more expensive to do business in places like China.  Meanwhile, America is more productive than ever.  And companies like Boeing are realizing that even when we can’t make things cheaper than China, we can make things better.  That’s how we’re going to compete globally.

For Boeing, business right now is booming.  Last year, orders for commercial aircraft rose by more than 50 percent.  To meet that rising demand, they’ve put thousands of folks to work all over the country.  We want to see more of this.  We need to make it as easy as we can for our companies to create more jobs in America, not overseas.  And that starts with our tax code.

No company should get a tax break for outsourcing jobs.  Instead, tax breaks should go to manufacturers who set up shop here at home.  Bigger tax breaks should go to high-tech manufacturers who create the jobs of the future.  And if you relocate your company to a struggling community, you should get help financing that new plant, that new equipment, or training for new workers.  It’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding businesses that create jobs here in America.  And Congress should send me that kind of tax reform right away.

Another thing we’re doing is to make it easier for companies like Boeing to sell their products all over the world, because more exports mean more jobs. Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years.  And we’re on track to meet that goal – ahead of schedule.

We have a big opportunity right now to build not only an economy that will help us succeed today, but an economy that will help our kids and their kids succeed tomorrow. We know what we need to do.  We need to strengthen American manufacturing. We need to invest in American-made energy and new skills for American workers.  And above all, we need to renew the values that have always made this country great:  Hard work.  Fair play.  Shared responsibility.

We can do this.  Ask the folks in Everett.  Right here, a few years ago, the first Dreamliner took off on its maiden trip. Thousands of employees came to watch.  One was an executive office administrator named Sharon O’Hara.  As Sharon saw that first plane take flight – a result of so much hard work – she got goose bumps.  In her words, she said, “We said we would do it and we did.”  That’s the story of America.  We said we would do it, and we did.  That’s the can-do spirit that makes us who we are.  We’ve seen challenging times before.  But we always emerge from them stronger.  And that’s what we’re going to do again today.  Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Full Text February 17, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech on American Manufacturing at Boeing in Everett, Washington

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on American Manufacturing

Boeing Production Facility
Everett, Washington

11:47 A.M. PST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Everett!  (Applause.)  It is great to be in Washington — not Washington, D.C., in Washington State.  (Applause.)  And it is great to be here at Boeing.  (Applause.)

I want to begin by first of all thanking Kathleen for that wonderful introduction.  We were up there talking a little bit, and she’s a pretty good representative of Boeing workers.  Kathleen told me, I have a motto:  Every day, nobody will outwork me.  And that’s a pretty good motto for Boeing, but it’s also a pretty good motto for America.  So give Kathleen a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

I’ve been told we’re standing in the biggest building in the world, so big you could fit Disneyland inside.  Your heating bills must be crazy.  (Laughter.)

I want to thank Jim McNerney and Jim Albaugh for hosting us here today.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.) Your Machinist’s leadership, Tom Buffenbarger, Rich Michalski, Tom Wroblewski and SPEEA President Tom McCarty are here.  (Applause.)  One of the finest governors in the country, Chris Gregoire is in the house.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank the mayor of Everett, Ray Stephanson for having us here today.  (Applause.)

Now, I want to thank all of you for also giving me a pretty smooth ride.  (Laughter.)  As some of you may know, Air Force One was built right here in Everett 25 years ago.  In fact, I met — one of my guys that I met during the tour worked on the plane.  (Applause.)  So I told him he did a pretty good job.  (Laughter.)  It’s flying smooth.  I get to see your handiwork in action every single day.  But as wonderful as it is to fly Air Force One — and it is wonderful — it’s hard not to be amazed by the Dreamliner.  (Applause.)  I notice this one is going to United — one of our outstanding carriers.  And I have to mention that just because I’m from Chicago, so I’ve got to — (laughter) — give a few extra props there.

But this is the first commercial airplane to be made with 50 percent composite materials.  It’s lighter, it’s faster, it’s more fuel-efficient than any airplane in its class.  And it looks cool.  (Laughter and applause.)

The Dreamliner is the plane of the future.  And by building it here, Boeing is taking advantage of a huge opportunity that exists right now to bring more jobs and manufacturing back to the United States of America.  (Applause.)

We know that the last few decades haven’t been easy for manufacturing.  New technology has made businesses more efficient and more productive, and that’s a good thing.  That’s what raises our standards of living.  It means we can get better products for less.  But that also means that companies need fewer workers to make the same amount of product as they used to.  And technology makes it easier for companies to set up shop and hire workers anywhere where there’s an internet connection.  And so the result has been this — this transition process that’s been incredibly painful for a lot of families and a lot of communities.  A lot of communities that used to rely on a lot of factory jobs, they saw those shrink.  They saw those get shipped off overseas.  Too many factories, where people thought they’d retire, left home.  Too many jobs that provided a steady, stable life, a middle-class life for people, got shipped overseas.

And look, the hard truth is, a lot of those jobs aren’t going to come back because of these increased efficiencies.  And in a global economy, some companies are always going to find it more profitable to pick up and do business in other parts of the world.  That’s just the nature of a global economy.  But that does not mean that we’ve got to just sit there and settle for a lesser future.  I don’t accept that idea.  You don’t accept that idea.  America is a place where we can always do something to create new jobs, and new opportunities, and new manufacturing, and new security for the middle class, and that’s why I’m here today.  That’s our job.  (Applause.)  That’s what we’re going to do together. (Applause.)

Now just today, we actually took an important short-term step to strengthen our economy.  Just before we got here, Congress did the right thing and voted to make sure that taxes would not go up on middle-class families at the end of this month.  (Applause.)  Congress also agreed to extend unemployment insurance for millions of Americans — maybe some of your family members — who are still out there looking for a job.  So I’m going to sign this bill right away when I get back home.  (Applause.)

You guys may remember, this middle-class tax cut is something I proposed in my jobs bill back in September.  And because you kept the pressure on Congress, because you reminded people what it means to have 40 bucks taken out of your paycheck every week, it got done.  This is a big deal.  And I want to thank members of Congress for listening to the voices of the American people.  It is amazing what happens when Congress focuses on doing the right thing instead of just playing politics.  This was a good example, and Congress should take pride in it.  (Applause.)

But the payroll tax cut is just a start.  If we want middle-class families to get ahead, we’ve got to deal with a set of economic challenges that existed even before this recession hit.

And we’ve got a choice right now:  We can either settle for a country where a few people do really well, and everybody else is struggling, or we can restore an economy where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules, from Washington to Wall Street to Main Street.  Everybody is doing their part.  (Applause.)

We’re still recovering from one of the worst economic crises in three generations — the worst in our lifetimes, for most of us.  And we’ve still got a long way to go to make sure everybody who can — everybody who wants a job can find one, and every family can regain that sense of security that was slipping away even before this recession hit.

But the tide is turning.  The tide is beginning to turn our way.  Over the last 23 months, businesses have created 3.7 million new jobs, and American manufacturers are hiring for the first time since 1990, and the American auto industry is back, and our economy is getting stronger.  And that’s why we can look towards a promising future.  (Applause.)  And Boeing is an example of that.  (Applause.)  But to keep it going, the last thing we can afford to do is to go back to the very same policies that got us into this mess in the first place.  (Applause.)  We can’t go backwards, we got to go forwards.  We can’t go back to an economy that was weakened by outsourcing and bad debt and phony financial profits.

I want us to make stuff.  I want us to sell stuff.  So, in the State of the Union, I outlined a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last, that has a strong foundation — an economy based on American manufacturing and American know-how, American-made energy, skills for American workers, and the values that made America great, the values that Kathleen talked about:  hard work and fair play and shared responsibility.  That’s what America is about.

And that blueprint starts with American manufacturing.  It starts with companies like this one.  A lot of people say, well, there are going to be fewer manufacturing jobs than there were in the past.  I already said we’re more efficient now.  What used to take a thousand people to make, you might only need a hundred now.  We understand that.  We understand that there are going to be more service jobs — that’s important.  We want to make sure that we’re promoting service industries as well.  But manufacturing has a special place in America.  When we make stuff, and we’re selling stuff, that creates jobs beyond just this plant.  It raises standards of living for everybody.

And here at Boeing, business is booming.  Booming.  Last year, orders for commercial aircraft rose by more than 50 percent.  (Applause.)  And to meet that demand, Boeing hired 13,000 workers all across America, including 5,000 right here in Everett.  (Applause.)  Now the biggest challenge is how to turn out planes fast enough.  Jay, that’s a high-class problem to have.

So this company is a great example of what American manufacturing can do in a way that nobody else in the world can do it.  And the impact of your success, as I said, goes beyond the walls of this plant.  Every Dreamliner that rolls off the assembly line here in Everett supports thousands of jobs in different industries all across the country.  Parts of the fuselage are manufactured in South Carolina and Kansas.  Wing edges, they come from Oklahoma.  Engines assembled in Ohio.  The tail fin comes from right down the road in Frederickson.  And the people in every one of these communities, some of whom — who are here today, they are benefitting from the work that you do.

All those workers, they spend money at the local store.  They go to restaurants.  So the service economy does better because you’re doing well.  And what’s happening here in Everett can happen in other industries.  It can happen not just here but it can happen in Cleveland, in Pittsburgh, in Raleigh.  We can’t bring every job back.  Anybody who says we can, they’re not telling you the truth.  But right now, it’s getting more expensive to do business in places like China.  Meanwhile, American workers have never been more productive.  And companies like Boeing are finding out that even when we can’t make things faster or cheaper than China, we can make them better.  Our quality can be higher.  And that’s what America is about.  That’s how we’re going to compete.  (Applause.)

Now, during the State of the Union, I issued a challenge to America’s business leaders.  I said, ask yourselves what you can do to bring and create jobs here in this country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.  And I’m encouraged.  We’re actually seeing a number of companies –- large and small, domestic, but even some foreign companies –- recognizing, you know what, we’re going to open new facilities and create new jobs here in America.

This is a good place to work.  This is a good place to be.  And our job as a nation is to make it easier for more of these companies to do the right thing.

That starts with our tax code.  Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas.

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.  That doesn’t make any sense.  So my message to Congress is, what are we waiting for?  Let’s get this done right now.  Let’s make some changes to the tax code.  (Applause.)

And let’s follow some simple principles.  First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, that’s your choice, but you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it.

AUDIENCE:  Nooo –

THE PRESIDENT:  That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies that are deciding to bring jobs back home — that’s who should be getting tax breaks.  (Applause.)

Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas.  My attitude is every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax.  You should not have an advantage by building a plant over there, over somebody who’s investing here and hiring American workers.  (Applause.)  And every penny of that minimum tax should go towards lowering taxes for companies like Boeing that choose to stay and hire here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

Number three, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut.  And if you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deductions you get for making your products here.

And finally, if you want to relocate in a community that’s been hard hit by factories leaving town, then you should get help financing that new plant or financing that equipment or training for new workers.

Everett, it is time to stop rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas.  Reward companies that are creating jobs right here in the United States of America.  Congress should send me these tax reforms.  I’ll sign them right away.  (Applause.)

Now, another thing we’re doing to support American jobs is making it easier for businesses like Boeing to sell their products all over the world.  Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years.  We’re on track to meet that goal.  We’re actually ahead of schedule.  So last November when I was in Indonesia, Boeing announced a deal with the help of the Export-Import Bank to sell more than 200 planes to one of the fastest-growing airlines in the world.  Boeing is one of the largest exporters in America; this was one of the biggest deals Boeing had ever done.  Over the years, it will help support thousands of American jobs, including jobs here in Everett.  So I tease Jay every time I see him — I said, I deserve a gold watch because I’m selling your stuff all the time.  (Laughter.)

I will go anywhere in the world to open up new markets for American products.  And by the way, I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules.  (Applause.)  That’s why I directed my administration to create a Trade Enforcement Unit that just has one job:  investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China, or places like Europe.

That’s why it’s so important for Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.  This Bank is led by — (applause) — this Bank is led by Fred Hochberg, who is right here.  He’s out there working with Jay all the time, selling on behalf of Boeing.  And the Export-Import Bank helps companies like this one sell its products.  It also helps thousands of small businesses.

And today, the Bank will be launching a new program to help small businesses get the financing they need to sell more products overseas.  I’m also instructing the Bank to give American companies a fair shot by matching the unfair export financing that their competitors receive from other countries.  (Applause.)

American workers — you guys, folks like Kathleen — you’re the most productive on Earth.  You can compete with anybody.  You will out-work anybody, as long as the level — as long as the playing field is level.  You can compete with any worker, anywhere, any time — in China, in Europe, it does not matter.  If we have a level playing field, America will always win because we’ve got the best workers.  (Applause.)

It’s also because we’ve always believed in the power of innovation.  Innovation requires basic research.  Look at this plane.  This plane was first designed virtually using the same technology that was developed by NASA.  Government research helped to create this plane.  We got — I was in there fooling around with those windows, where you press them and they dim on their own.  (Laughter.)  I kept on pressing the button, and — dimmed and got light — one touch with a finger.  And the display is in the cockpit.  They’re projected on the windshield so pilots don’t have to look down at their instruments; they can maintain their line of sight, even as they’re getting all these readings.

Now, some of the work — the most advanced work — was done by engineers down in Huntsville, Alabama, who used to work on the International Space Station.  Their expertise, a lot of those ideas, came out of government research.  We’ve got to support this kind of cutting-edge research.  (Applause.)  We need to maintain our innovative edge, so that jobs and industries take root right here in the United States, not someplace else.  (Applause.)

So, Everett, if we want to build an economy that lasts, that is strong, that has a strong foundation, that helps families get into the middle class and stay in the middle class, we’ve got to do everything we can to strengthen American manufacturing.  We’ve got to make sure we’re making it easier for companies like Boeing to create jobs here at home, and sell our products abroad.  We’ve got to keep on investing in American-made energy, and we’ve got to keep training American workers.  And, above all, we’ve got to renew the values that have always made this country great:  hard work, fair play, and shared responsibility.

These are not Democratic values or Republican values.  These are American values.  (Applause.)  They’ve seen us through some tough challenges, but we’ve always emerged stronger than before because of these values.  And we’re going to come out stronger than before this time as well.  And I know it because of the people who are here.

In December of 2009, the first Dreamliner took off on its maiden flight right here in Everett.  Some of you were probably out there seeing it.  It was a cold and windy day.  That didn’t stop 13,000 employees all from coming out and seeing what they had built, seeing the product of all their hard work suddenly filling the skies.

And one of these people was Sharon O’Hara.  Is Sharon here?  Where is Sharon?  There’s Sharon right there.  (Applause.)  Sharon works as an executive office administrator for the leaders of the Dreamliner team.  Now, executive assistant means basically you’re doing all the work.  (Laughter.)  Now, some of you may know that Sharon has been undergoing some treatment for cancer recently, so she’s got her own battle.  But her doctors recently told her she’s healthy enough to come back to work.  That’s worth applauding.  (Applause.)  Sharon, there are a lot of people who are happy to see you back at work.  (Applause.)

And I was hearing about this, and as Sharon tells the story about watching the first plane lift gently off the runway, just the way it was designed to do, she thought about everything that had gone into making this day possible -– all the challenges, all the setbacks; the thousands of hours of brainpower and manpower — and womanpower.  (Applause.)  And what Sharon says is — this is a quote — “I had goose bumps and tears.  We said we would do it and we did.”  That’s a pretty good motto.  (Applause.)  You said you would do it, and you did.

That’s what we do as Americans.  (Applause.)  That’s the spirit we need right now.  In this country, we don’t give up, even when times are tough.  We look out for one another.  We reach for new opportunities.  We pull each other up.  We stay focused on the horizon.  That’s who we are.  That’s who we’ve always been.  And if we work together right now, with common purpose and common effort, I have no doubt we will build an economy that lasts, and we will remind the world just why it is that the United States of America is the greatest country on Earth.  We said it, we will do it.

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

END
12:13 P.M. PST

White House Recap February 11-17, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Presents 2013 Budget & Urges Congress Sucessfully to Pass the Payroll Tax Extension

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: February 11-17, 2012

President Obama presents his budget for the 2013 fiscal year — and explains how it will boost job creation and speed our economic recovery.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the FY 2013 Budget
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the FY 2013 Budget, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 2/13/12

West Wing Week: 2/17/12 or “Go Big!”

Source: WH, 2-17-12
This week, the President made a major announcement on preventive care, unveiled next year’s budget, pushed Congress to extend the payroll tax cut, awarded the National Medals of Arts & Humanities, met with China’s Vice President Xi, and traveled west to Wisconsin and California and the First Lady hit the road to promote her Let’s Move! Initiative.

Weekly Wrap Up: What $40 Means

Source: WH, 2-17-12

National Medals of Arts and Humanities: Extraordinary Americans who have excelled in the arts and humanities throughout their careers—from philosophers to sculptors—joined the President and First Lady at the White House on Monday for an occasion they look forward to every year: awarding the National Medals of Arts and Humanities. The honorees’ contributions, the President noted, “[H]elp guide our growth as a people. The true power of the arts and the humanities is that you speak to everyone.”

Surprise!: As White House visitors stepped into the Blue Room on Thursday during a public tour, they were greeted by unexpected guests: the First Lady and the Obama family’s canine, Bo. Reactions ranged from shock and excitement to overwhelmed—watch the meet and greet here.

From One VP to Another: After accepting an invitation from Vice President Biden, Vice President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China spent Tuesday morning at the White House to attend a series of meetings with Administration Officials including the President. His visit to Washington, D.C. also included a meeting at the Pentagon and a U.S.-China Business Roundtable at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among various other events.

Master Lock: The President headed from Washington, D.C. to Wisconsin on Wednesday to visit with Master Lock workers and talk about his plans to boost American manufacturing—something Master Lock is familiar with; the company has discovered that it can actually save money by keeping production facilities in the United States and bringing jobs back to America.

What $40 Means: In December of 2011, we asked Americans what $40 meant to them, and tens of thousands of Americans answered—$40 is a tank of gas, a co-pay for a doctor’s visit, a prescription medicine, a pizza night with their family. Their voice made a difference then and now—on Friday, lawmakers extended the payroll tax cut through the rest of 2012, in addition to extending critical unemployment benefits. You can watch this video to meet some of the tens of thousands of Americans who courageously shared what losing an extra $40 per paycheck would mean for them and their family.

787 Dreamliner: On Friday, the President visited the Boeing assembly facility in Everett, Washington to announce new steps to help promote American manufacturing and increase U.S. exports, following his outlining of a Blueprint for an Economy Built to Last. At that very facility, the 787 Dreamliner, the world’s most advanced commercial airplane, is assembled—nearly 8,000 people are directly employed in building it.

2013 Budget: On Monday, President Obama announced his budget for the 2013 fiscal year in Annandale, Virginia. This year’s budget reflects the President’s firm belief that our country has always done best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules. The budget continues our commitment to keeping that promise alive by creating an economy that’s built to last—with good jobs that pay well and security for the middle class. To read the complete budget, you can download the PDF here, or get an on-the-go copy for your Nook.

Full Text February 15, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Insourcing American Jobs at Master Lock

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Discusses Insourcing at Master Lock

Source: WH, 2-15-12

President Barack Obama tours Master Lock Company (February 15, 2012)

President Barack Obama tours Master Lock Company with Bob Rice, Senior Vice President for Global Supply Chain/Product Development of Master Lock, in Milwaukee, Wis., Feb. 15, 2012. The President highlighted Master Lock in his State of the Union address as an example of a company moving jobs back to the U.S. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In the State of the Union, President Obama took time to highlight Master Lock — a company that has discovered that it can actually save money by keeping production facilities in the United States and bringing jobs back to America.

Today, he traveled to Wisconsin to visit with Master Lock workers and talk about his plans to boost American manufacturing.

Master Lock’s decision to keep jobs in America is part of a growing trend. The President calls it insourcing.

And in Milwaukee, he talked about three ideas to reform corporate taxes, aimed at boosting that trend and rewarding companies that don’t move overseas.

First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you have that right, but you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it. That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home. Give them the tax break.

Second of all, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. So we’ve said, from now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay and hire here in the United States of America. Give them a bigger tax break.

Third, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, creating new products, new services, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here in America. If you want to relocate in a community like this one that’s been hard hit when factories left town, you should get help financing a new plant, financing new equipment, training new workers.

Those proposals are just part of a Blueprint for an America Built to Last. Learn more.

Or watch President Obama speak at Master Lock.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on American Manufacturing

Master Lock
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

12:50 P.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Milwaukee!  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in the great state of Wisconsin.  (Applause.)  This is the closest I’ve been to home in a while.  I was thinking about getting on the 90-94 and just driving down to my house.  (Laughter.)

Thank you, DiAndre, for that outstanding introduction — (applause) — and for sharing your story.  I can tell, though, DiAndre is a little shy.  He doesn’t necessarily like to get out in front of people.  (Laughter.)

Before I begin, I want to thank some additional special guests who are here.  Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is in the house.  (Applause.)  Your Congresswoman, Gwen Moore, is here.  (Applause.)  You heard from your local UAW representative, John Drew — (applause) — and I got a great tour from the President of UAW Local 469, Mike Bink.  (Applause.)  And, finally, I want to thank Master Lock CEO John Hepner for inviting us here today. (Applause.)

It is wonderful to be at Master Lock.  I have to say, though, it brought back some memories.  I was thinking about my gym locker in high school.  (Laughter.)  And if you go into the boys locker room in high school, sometimes it’s a little powerful — the odor in there.  (Laughter.)  So I was thinking about the fact that we weren’t washing our stuff enough.  (Laughter.)  And then I was thinking about, as I got older and I kept on using Master Locks, I became an even better customer because I couldn’t always remember my combination.  (Laughter.)  So I’d end up having to have the lock sawed off and buy a new one.  So I was giving you guys a lot of business.  (Applause.)

And now, as I was looking at some of the really industrial-size locks, I was thinking about the fact that I am a father of two girls who are soon going to be in high school, and that it might come in handy to have these super locks.  (Laughter.)  For now, I’m just counting on the fact that when they go to school there are men with guns with them.  (Laughter.)

But I’m actually here today because this company has been making the most of a huge opportunity that exists right now to bring jobs and manufacturing back to the United States of America.  (Applause.)

I talked about this during the State of the Union.  Over the last few decades, revolutions in technology have made a lot of businesses more efficient and more productive.  And that’s a great thing.  It means you generally have a better choice of products, you get better prices.  But, as some of you know, technology has also made a lot of jobs obsolete.  And it’s allowed companies to set up shop and hire workers almost anywhere in the world where there’s an Internet connection — you can produce things that previously you could only produce here in the United States.

So the result has been a pretty painful process for a lot of families and for a lot of communities, especially here in the Midwest.  Too many factories where people thought they’d retire suddenly left town.  Too many jobs that provided a decent living got shipped overseas.  And now the hard truth is, a lot of those jobs are not going to come back.  In a global economy, some companies are always going to find it more profitable to pick up and do business in some other part of the world.  That’s just a fact.

But that doesn’t mean we have to just sit by and settle for a lesser future.  That doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do to create new jobs and restore middle-class security here in America.  There is always something we can do.  (Applause.)

For starters, I’m glad to see that Congress seems to be on the way of making progress on extending the payroll tax cut so taxes don’t go up on all of you and 160 million working Americans.  (Applause.)  This tax cut means that the typical American family will see an extra $40 in every paycheck this year.  And that’s going to help speed up this recovery.  It will make a real difference in the lives of millions of people.  And as soon as Congress sends me that extension of tax cuts and unemployment insurance to my desk, I will sign it right away.  (Applause.)  You’re going to get that signed.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Love you, Mr. President!

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

But that’s only a start.  There’s a lot more we can do — a lot more we have to do — to help create jobs and bring back manufacturing middle-class security to Milwaukee and Wisconsin and the United States of America.

And we’ve got examples of success.  When I took office — a lot of UAW workers here, you guys remember this — when I took office, the American auto industry was on the verge of collapse. And there were some folks who said we should let it die.  With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen.  (Applause.) I refused to let that happen.

We said, in exchange for help, we’re going to demand responsibility.  We got workers and automakers to settle their differences.  We got the industry to restructure and retool, come up with better designs.  Today, the American auto industry is back.  And General Motors is once again the number-one automaker in the world.  (Applause.)  Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company.  Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and equipment and factories.  And all together, over the past two years, the entire industry has added nearly 160,000 jobs.  Well-paying jobs.  (Applause.)

What’s happening in Detroit can happen in other industries. What happens in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh and Milwaukee, that’s what we’ve got to be shooting for, is to create opportunities for hardworking Americans to get in there and start making stuff again and sending it all over the world — products stamped with three proud words:  Made in America.  (Applause.)

And that’s what’s happening right here at Master Lock — because of you.  Over the last few years, it’s become more expensive to do business in countries like China.  Meanwhile, American workers, we’ve become even more productive.  So when John Heppner was at the White House in January, he told me how it makes more business sense for Master Lock to bring jobs back home here to Milwaukee.  (Applause.)  And today, for the first time in 15 years, this plant is running at full capacity.  (Applause.)  And that’s an example of what happens when unions and employers work together to create good jobs.  (Applause.)  Today, you’re selling products directly to customers in China stamped with those words:  Made In America.  (Applause.)

And the good news is this is starting to happen around the country.  For the first time since 1990, American manufacturers are creating new jobs.  That’s good for the companies, but it’s also good up and down the supply chain, because if you’re making this stuff here, that means that there are producers and suppliers in and around the area who have a better chance of selling stuff here.  It means the restaurant close by suddenly has more customers.  Everybody benefits when manufacturing is going strong.

So you all have heard enough about outsourcing.  More and more companies like Master Lock are now insourcing — (applause) — deciding that if the cost of doing business here isn’t too much different than the cost of doing business in places like China, then why wouldn’t you rather do it right here in the United States of America?  (Applause.)  Why not?  Why not put some Americans to work?  (Applause.)

Companies would rather bet on the country with the best colleges and universities to train workers with new skills and produce cutting-edge research.  They’d rather place their bet on the nation with the greatest array of talent and ingenuity; the country with the greatest capacity for innovation that the world has ever known.

During the State of the Union, I issued a challenge to America’s business leaders — folks like John.  I said ask yourself what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.  (Applause.)  And since then, a number of companies — large and small, domestic, but also even some foreign companies — have said they now plan to open new facilities and create new jobs right here in America — which is still the largest market on Earth.

These include Wisconsin companies like Diamond Precision, which is a machine manufacturer that is going to be adding dozens of jobs here in Milwaukee — a company that’s growing because its customers are choosing to buy American-made products instead of supplies from China.  (Applause.)  There’s a company called Collaborative Consulting, an information technology company that wants to open a new call center here in Wausau.  And across the nation, there are well-known companies like Caterpillar that are planning to bring jobs back home.

So last month, we decided to hold a summit — that’s where John was at — a summit at the White House so we could hear from companies like these who’ve decided to insource jobs.  We wanted to learn how can we accelerate this trend.  And this last [sic] fall, for the first time, we’ll be bringing companies from around the world together with governors and mayors and other leaders to discuss the benefits of investing and creating more jobs here in the United States.

So our job as a nation is to do everything we can to make the decision to insource more attractive for more companies.  (Applause.)  That’s our top priority.  That’s our top priority.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to seize this moment of opportunity.  We can’t let it slip away.  We’ve got an opportunity to create new American jobs and American manufacturing, put that back where it needs to be.

Now, one place to start is with our tax code.  I talked about this a little bit at the State of the Union.  Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas.

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  They’re taking deductions for the expenses of moving out of the United States.  Meanwhile, companies that are doing the right thing and choosing to stay here, they get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.  That doesn’t make sense.  Everybody knows it doesn’t make sense.  Politicians of both parties have been talking about changing it for years.   So my message to Congress is:  Don’t wait.  Get it done.  Do it now.  (Applause.)  Let’s get it done.

As Congress thinks about tax reform principles, there are some basic things they can do.  First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you have that right, but you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it.  That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home.  (Applause.)  Give them the tax break.  (Applause.)

Second of all, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas.  (Applause.)  So we’ve said, from now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax.  And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay and hire here in the United States of America.  Give them a bigger tax break.  (Applause.)

Third, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut.  (Applause.)  If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, creating new products, new services, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here in America.  If you want to relocate in a community like this one that’s been hard hit when factories left town, you should get help financing a new plant, financing new equipment, training new workers.  (Applause.)

It is time to stop rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that are creating jobs right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  And this Congress should send me these tax reforms right now.  I will sign them right away.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Right now!

THE PRESIDENT:  Right now.

AUDIENCE:  Right now!  Right now!  Right now!

THE PRESIDENT:  Right now.  Right now.  (Laughter.)

Now, another thing we’re doing to support American jobs is to make it easier for businesses like Master Lock to sell their products all over the world.  Everybody knows Master Lock makes the best lock.  (Applause.)  So two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years.  With the bipartisan trade agreements I signed into law, we’re on track to meeting that goal ahead of schedule.  Pretty soon, there are going to be millions of new customers for American goods in places like Panama and Colombia and South Korea.  I want new cars on the streets of Seoul, South Korea imported from Detroit and Toledo and Milwaukee.  (Applause.)

There’s nothing wrong with them being able to sell cars here.  I just want to be able to sell cars there.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Even playing field!

THE PRESIDENT:  Even playing field is what we want.  I’m going anywhere in the world to open up new markets for American products.  And I’m not going to stand by when our competitors don’t play by the same rules.  It’s not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours just because they’re getting heavy subsidies from their government.

So I directed my administration to create a Trade Enforcement Unit, and it’s only got one job:  investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China, making sure we’ve got an even playing field — because when we’ve got an even playing field, I promise you, nobody is going to out-compete America.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the most productive workers on Earth.  We’ve got the most creative entrepreneurs on Earth.  Give us a level playing field — we will not lose.  (Applause.)

Now, part of creating that level playing field is also making sure that American workers have the skills that today’s jobs require.  And DiAndre talked about how even though he’s working, he’s still going back to school.  I know that Master Lock’s decision to create even more jobs here in Milwaukee in part is going to depend on something that John raised when we were at our meeting — it’s going to depend on finding enough workers with the right training.

I had a chance to meet one of your coworkers, Eric — where is — is Eric here?  There he is right there.  So Eric and I were talking — been a die maker for a long time.  He’s older than he looks.  (Laughter.)  Although we were comparing the gray in his beard to the gray on my head.  (Laughter.)  But he was pointing out that he’s actually been able to help make the machinery that he works on more efficient, which is making the company able to do more because it’s not lying idle when certain orders aren’t coming in.  But that’s an accumulation of experience that he’s had over a couple of decades.

Now, not everybody is going to have all that experience, but the question is, can we make sure if they haven’t already been working in this job, can they get that kind of training even before they’re hired here at Master Lock so that they can provide that same value-added across the board?  That’s what’s going to separate the companies that succeed from the companies that don’t, is how skilled and talented the workers are, and whether management is listening to the workers.  Because that’s important.  Part of what allowed Eric to be successful was somebody — his supervisor said, hey, this guy has got pretty good ideas.

So that’s why it’s so important for the company’s investing in training programs, and partnering with nearby community colleges to help design courses and curriculum, so that when workers show up they’re already ready to hit the ground running. That’s why I’ve asked Congress to join me in a national commitment to train 2 million American workers with skills that will lead directly to a job.  (Applause.)  We need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers — places that teach people the skills that businesses like Master Lock are looking for right now.  (Applause.)  Right now.

There are jobs from data management to high-tech manufacturing that right now are open.  And we’ve got a lot of folks out of work, but we’ve got to match up the folks who are out of work with the jobs.  And sometimes the businesses may not be able to afford to train that person on the job, so let’s have the community college help get the training.

At a time when so many Americans are out of work, there should not be any job openings, because every single job opening that comes up, somebody should be able to say, I want that job and I’m prepared and skilled to get it.

We’re still recovering from one of the worst economic crises in three generations.  And I’m not going to lie to you guys.  You know it — we’ve still got a long way to go before everyone who wants a good job can find it.  I’m sure that if we traveled all around here, there are a lot of folks who want work and can’t find it.  And when you’re out of work, that wears on you.  It’s not just the income.  It has to do with your sense of place and your sense of dignity, and your ability to support your family, and the pride that you take in making a good product.  That’s part of what America has always been about — is what our work means to us, the values we put behind our work.  We don’t just do it for a paycheck.

And so this has been hard on folks.  It’s been hard on our country.  And it’s going to take some time before middle-class Americans regain the sense of security that’s been slipping away way before this recession hit.  A lot of these factories were moving out before this recession hit.  There was a lot of outsourcing going on over the last 20 years.  So we’ve got a long way to go.

But here’s what I want everybody to remember.  Over the last 23 months, businesses have added nearly 3.7 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  Manufacturing is coming back.  Companies are starting to bring jobs back.  The economy is getting stronger.  The recovery is speeding up.  (Applause.)  We’re moving in the right direction.  And now we have to do everything in our power to keep our foot on the gas.  (Applause.)  And the last thing we can afford to do is go back to the same policies that got us into this mess.

Milwaukee, we are not going back to an economy that’s weakened by outsourcing and bad debt and phony financial profits. We need an economy that is built to last, that is built on American manufacturing, and American know-how, and American-made energy, and skills for American workers, and the renewal of American values of hard work and fair play and shared responsibility.  (Applause.)  That’s what we’re about.  (Applause.)  That’s what we’re about.

And let me say — let me say this.  These are not Democratic values or Republican values.  These are American values.  (Applause.)  They have seen us through the most difficult challenges — through war and depressions and civil strife.  But we’ve always come out on the other side stronger than we were before.  We don’t give up.  This country does not give up.

And we make sure that everybody is brought along.  We don’t leave people behind.  We look out for one another.  (Applause.) We reach out to one another.  We are going for new opportunities, but we pull each other up.  That’s who we are.  (Applause.)

If we work together with common purpose, if we pull together with common effort, I’ve got no doubt we will rebuild this economy so it lasts.  We’re going to create more success stories like Master Lock — and we will remind the world just why it is the United States is the greatest nation on Earth.

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

END
1:18 P.M. CST

Full Text February 4, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Calling on Congress to Pass his Program to Help Responsible Homeowners Refinance their Mortagages as Part of his Blueprint for an Economy Built to Last

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama continues his call for a return to American values, including fairness and equality, as part of his blueprint for an economy built to last.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 2/3/12

Weekly Address: It’s Time for Congress to Act to Help Responsible Homeowners

Source: WH, 2-4-12
President Obama continues his call for a return to American values, including fairness and equality, as part of his blueprint for an economy built to last.
Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: It’s Time for Congress to Act to Help Responsible Homeowners

In this week’s address, President Obama continued his call for a return to American values, including fairness and equality, as part of his blueprint for an economy built to last.  This is why the President is sending Congress his plan to give responsible homeowners the chance to save thousands of dollars on their mortgages by refinancing at historically low rates without adding a cent to the deficit.  The housing crisis has been the single largest drag on the recovery, and although the Administration’s actions have helped responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages and stay in their homes, Congress must act now to do more to continue assisting homeowners and the economy.  President Obama asks all Americans to tell their elected officials to pass this plan to keep more families in their homes and more neighborhoods thriving and whole.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
Saturday, February 4, 2012

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been traveling around the country and talking with folks about my blueprint for an economy built to last.  It’s a blueprint that focuses on restoring the things we’ve always done best.  Our strengths.  American manufacturing.  American energy.  The skills and education of American workers.

And most importantly, American values like fairness and responsibility.

We know what happened when we strayed from those values over the past decade – especially when it comes to our housing market.

Lenders sold loans to families who couldn’t afford them.  Banks packaged those mortgages up and traded them for phony profits.  It drove up prices and created an unsustainable bubble that burst – and left millions of families who did everything right in a world of hurt.

It was wrong.  The housing crisis has been the single biggest drag on our recovery from the recession.  It has kept millions of families in debt and unable to spend, and it has left hundreds of thousands of construction workers out of a job.

But there’s something even more important at stake.  I’ve been saying this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class.  And the housing crisis struck right at the heart of what it means to be middle-class in this country: owning a home.  Raising our kids.  Building our dreams.

Right now, there are more than 10 million homeowners in this country who, because of a decline in home prices that is no fault of their own, owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.  Now, it is wrong for anyone to suggest that the only option for struggling, responsible homeowners is to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom.  I don’t accept that.  None of us should.

That’s why we launched a plan a couple years ago that’s helped nearly one million responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages and save an average of $300 on their payments each month.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit it didn’t help as many folks as we’d hoped.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying.

That’s why I’m sending Congress a plan that will give every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgages by refinancing at historically low rates.  No more red tape.  No more endless forms.  And a small fee on the largest financial institutions will make sure it doesn’t add a dime to the deficit.

I want to be clear: this plan will not help folks who bought a house they couldn’t afford and then walked away from it.  It won’t help folks who bought multiple houses just to turn around and sell them.

What this plan will do is help millions of responsible homeowners who make their payments every month, but who, until now, couldn’t refinance because their home values kept dropping or they got wrapped up in too much red tape.

But here’s the catch.  In order to lower mortgage payments for millions of Americans, we need Congress to act.  They’re the ones who have to pass this plan.  And as anyone who has followed the news in the last six months can tell you, getting Congress to do anything these days is not an easy job.

That’s why I’m going to keep up the pressure on Congress to do the right thing.  But I also need your help.  I need your voice.  I need everyone who agrees with this plan to get on the phone, send an email, tweet, pay a visit, and remind your representatives in Washington who they work for.  Tell them to pass this plan.  Tell them to help more families keep their homes, and more neighborhoods stay vibrant and whole.

The truth is, it will take time for our housing market to recover.  It will take time for our economy to fully bounce back.  But there are steps we can take, right now, to move this country forward.  That’s what I promise to do as your President, and I hope Members of Congress will join me.

Thank you, and have a great weekend.

Full Text February 3, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Creating a Veterans Job Corps

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Creating a Veterans Job Corps

Source: WH, 2-3-12

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the Veterans Job Corp (February 3, 2012)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the Veterans Job Corp and the economy while speaking at Fire Station #5 in Arlington, Va., Feb. 3, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Even with the news that the economy added 257,000 private sector jobs in January, there is more work to do to help our veterans returning from war find new jobs at home. And this morning, President Obama visited a fire station in Arlington, Virginia to discuss a new set of ideas to do just that — including a Veterans Job Corps.

In the State of the Union, President Obama said:

[Our] freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it. As they come home, we must serve them as well as they’ve served us. That includes giving them the care and the benefits they have earned –- which is why we’ve increased annual VA spending every year I’ve been President. And it means enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our nation.

That’s a sentiment the President echoed today at Fire Station #5:

Our veterans are some of the most highly trained, highly educated, highly skilled workers that we’ve got.  These are Americans that every business should be competing to attract. These are the Americans we want to keep serving here at home as we rebuild this country. So we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that when our troops come home, they come home to new jobs and new opportunities and new ways to serve their country.

Already, the Obama Administration has helped 600,000 veterans and their family members go back to school on the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and hired more than 120,000 veterans to serve in the federal government. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have worked with the private sector to secure a pledge from businesses to hire 135,000. And President Obama worked with Congress last fall to pass two new tax credits for companies that put veterans to work.

Now President Obama is making a new push to help veterans build the lives the deserve. In Arlington, he called for three new initiatives.

First, President Obama is working to help state and local communities hire veterans to work as first responders. The administration will make available $166 million in 2012 Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Grant funding and $320 million in 2012 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants and award that money with a preference to communities that recruit and hire post-9/11 veterans. The President’s budget for the 2013 fiscal year will include additional $5 billion for these grant programs.

Second, the President is working to develop a Veterans Job Corps conservation program that will put up to 20,000 veterans to work over the next five years. They’ll work to restore habitats, eradicate invasive species, maintain public lands, and operate public facilities.

Third, President Obama wants to expand entrepreneurship training opportunities for service members and veterans. Back in August, the Administration established a two-day course in entrepreneurship as part of the Transition Assistance Program with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, along with the Small Business Administration. The SBA also offers an eight week online training program that will teach the fundamentals of small business ownership to more than 10,000 veterans every year.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on the Veterans Job Corps

Fire Station #5
Arlington, Virginia

11:30 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  Thank you, guys.  (Applause.) Thank you so much.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Well, good morning, everybody.

AUDIENCE:  Good morning!

THE PRESIDENT:  Jacob, thank you for that introduction.  More importantly, thank you for your extraordinary service to our country.

I want to acknowledge two outstanding members of my Cabinet who are here today — Secretary of Veterans Affairs Ric Shinseki is in the house, also one of our finest — (applause) — himself, one of our finest veterans and obviously an extraordinary leader when he was in our Army.  And I also want to acknowledge Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who’s in the house.  (Applause.)

And we’re joined by another president — the International Association of Firefighters president, Harold Schaitberger, is here.  (Applause.)

Now, this is a fire station that holds some special significance for our country.  On September 11th, the firefighters of this house were among the first to respond to the attack on the Pentagon.  You guys answered this nation’s call during its hour of need.  And in the years that followed, as Americans went to war, some of you answered that call as well.

Today’s 9/11 generation of veterans has already earned a special place in our history.  Our veterans — and all the brave men and women who serve our country — are the reason why America’s military is the greatest in the history of the world.  In the face of great odds and grave danger, they get the job done.  They work as a team.  They personify the very best that America has to offer.

That’s true on the battlefront.  But we’re here today because it’s also true on the home front.  After a decade of war, our nation needs to do some building right here in the United States of America.

Now, this morning, we received more good news about our economy.  In January, American businesses added another 257,000 jobs.  The unemployment rate came down because more people found work.  And altogether, we’ve added 3.7 million new jobs over the last 23 months.

Now, these numbers will go up and down in the coming months, and there’s still far too many Americans who need a job, or need a job that pays better than the one they have now.  But the economy is growing stronger.  The recovery is speeding up.  And we’ve got to do everything in our power to keep it going.

We can’t go back to the policies that led to the recession. And we can’t let Washington stand in the way of our recovery.  We want Washington to be helping with the recovery, not making it tougher.

The most important thing Congress needs to do right now is to stop taxes from going up on 160 million Americans at the end of this month.  They’ve got to renew the payroll tax cut that they extended only for a couple of months.  They need to pass an extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance — and do it without drama, without delay, without linking it to some ideological side issues.  They just need to get it done.  It shouldn’t be that complicated.  Now is not the time for self-inflicted wounds to our economy.  Now is the time for action.

So I want to send a clear message to Congress:  Do not slow down the recovery that we’re on.  Don’t muck it up.  Keep it moving in the right direction.  (Applause.)

Beyond preventing a tax hike, we need to do a lot more to create an economy that’s built to last.  To restore American manufacturing, we need to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas; give those tax breaks to companies that are investing in plants and equipment and hiring workers right here in the United States of America.  That makes a lot of sense.

To reduce our dependency on foreign oil, we need to stop subsidizing oil companies that are already making record profits, and double down on clean energy, that creates jobs and creates opportunities in new industries but also improves our security, because we’re not as dependent on foreign oil.

To make sure our businesses don’t have to move overseas to find skilled workers, we’ve got to invest in education, and make sure college is affordable for every hardworking American.

And — this is the reason we’re here today — we need to make sure that as our troops return from battle, they can find a job when they get home.  That’s what I want to talk about today. (Applause.)

The war in Iraq is over.  The war in Afghanistan is moving to a new phase — we’re transitioning to Afghan lead.  Over the past decade, nearly 3 million service members have transitioned back to civilian life, and more are joining them every day.

When these men and women come home, they bring unparalleled skills and experience.  Folks like Jacob — they’ve saved lives in some of the toughest conditions imaginable.  They’ve managed convoys and moved tons of equipment over dangerous terrain.  They’ve tracked millions of dollars of military assets.  They’ve handled pieces of equipment that are worth tens of millions of dollars.  They do incredible work.  Nobody is more skilled, more precise, more diligent, more disciplined.

Our veterans are some of the most highly trained, highly educated, highly skilled workers that we’ve got.  These are Americans that every business should be competing to attract.  These are the Americans we want to keep serving here at home as we rebuild this country.  So we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that when our troops come home, they come home to new jobs and new opportunities and new ways to serve their country.

Now, this has been a top priority of mine since I came into office.  Already, we’ve helped 600,000 veterans and their family members go back to school on the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.  We’ve hired over 120,000 veterans to serve in the federal government.  We’ve made it easier for veterans to access all sorts of employment services.  We’ve set up online tools to connect veterans with job openings that match their skills.

Michelle and Jill Biden have worked with the private sector, with businesses, to secure a pledge of 135,000 jobs for veterans and their families.  And with the support of Democrats and Republicans, we’ve put in place two new tax credits for companies that hire veterans.

So these are all important steps.  We’ve made progress.  But we’ve got to do more.  There’s more we can do.

In my State of the Union address, I proposed a new initiative, called the Veterans Jobs Corps, to put veterans back to work protecting and rebuilding America.  And today, we’re laying out the details of this proposal.

First, we want to help communities hire more veterans as cops and firefighters.  You guys have seen what a great job Jacob is doing.  Well, there are a whole bunch of folks like that who could be doing that same outstanding work all across the country. But it’s not that easy these days to get a job at a firehouse.

Over the past few years, tight budgets have forced a lot of states, a lot of local communities to lay off a lot of first responders.  Now, my administration — when I first came into office, one of the first things we did was, through the Recovery Act, make sure that states and local governments helped — or got the help that they needed to prevent some of these layoffs.  And thousands of jobs were saved all across the country.

Harold and I were talking as we came over here — thousands of firefighter jobs were saved because of the actions we took. But budgets are still tight, and that’s a problem we need to fix. Jobs that protect our families and our communities shouldn’t be the first on the chopping block.  They should be one of our highest priorities as a nation.

Over the past three years, my administration has made it possible for states to keep thousands of first responders on the job.  But today, we’re announcing that communities who make it a priority to recruit veterans will be among the first in line when it comes to getting help from the federal government.

And I know that’s one of the things, Chief, that you’ve been doing here in Arlington.

So we want to prioritize veterans and we want to help states and local communities hire veterans to firehouses and police stations all across the country.

The second thing we want to do is to connect up to 20,000 veterans with jobs that involve rebuilding local communities or national parks.  That’s why Ken Salazar is here as the Interior Secretary.  He needs some help.  And our veterans are highly qualified to help him.  They’ve already risked their lives defending America.  They should have the opportunity to rebuild America.  We’ve got roads and bridges in and around our national parks in need of repair.  Let’s fix them.

Of course, Congress needs to fund these projects.  Congress should take the money that we’re no longer spending on war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building here at home, to improve the quality of life right here in the United States of America — (applause) — and put our veterans to work.  (Applause.)

So let’s get more cops on the beat.  Let’s gets more rangers in the parks.  Let’s get more firefighters on call.  And, in the process, we’re going to put more veterans back to work.  It’s good for our communities, it’s good for our economy, and it’s good for our country.

And for veterans who want to do something else — maybe put their leadership skills to use starting a small business — we’re going to start offering entrepreneurial training to our veterans. We want service members prepared for battle — and for professional success when they come home.  So we should do all that we can to support our troops and our veterans — in helping them start a business, in helping them get a foothold in a fire station like this one, and start moving up the ranks, doing outstanding work the way Jacob has been doing.

But we also need to follow their lead.  We want to help them, but we should also learn from them.  We should remember from our veterans that no matter what the circumstances, those men and women in uniform — a lot like the firefighters in this fire station — work together.  Act as a team.  Finish the job. That’s what we’ve got to do when it comes to our nation’s recovery.

These are challenging times for America, but we’ve faced challenging times before.  On the grounds here you’ve got a stone from the Pentagon and a beam from the World Trade Center.  And that reminds us of our resolve as a people.  They remind us that when we come together as one people and as one community, one nation, then we prevail.  That’s who we are.

This is a nation that exists because generations of Americans worked together to build it.  This is a nation where, out of many, we come together as one.  Those are the values that every veteran understands.  Those are values that this fire station understands.  We’ve got to make sure that we return to those values.  And if we do, then I guarantee you we’ll remind everybody around the world just why it is the United States is the greatest country on Earth.

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

END
11:44 P.M. EST

Full Text February 1, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech About Ways to Help Homeowners Refinance their Mortgages with New Housing Program the Homeowners Bill of Rights

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

America Built to Last

President Obama wants to help responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages at today’s historically low interest rates. Learn more.

President Obama talks about housing and the Homeowners Bill of Rights

President Obama talks about housing and the Homeowners Bill of Rights, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 2/1/12

 

President Obama Talks About Ways to Help Homeowners

Source: WH, 2-1-12

Today, in Falls Church, Virginia, President Obama expanded on the ideas he first presented in the State of the Union on ways to help responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages.

Here are more details about that plan.

But the President also said that we can’t wait on Congress to take action to help working families in this country:

Already, we’ve set up a special task force I asked my Attorney General to establish to investigate the kind of activity banks took when they packaged and sold risky mortgages.  And that task force is ramping up its work as we speak. We’re going to keep at it and hold people who broke the law accountable and help restore confidence in the market.  We’re going to speed assistance to homeowners. And we’re going to turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many hardworking Americans.

Read the full remarks here. Or watch the video to learn more.
Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (183MB) | mp3 (18MB)
 

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on Housing

James Lee Community Center
Falls Church, Virginia

11:05 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Everybody please have a seat.  Have a seat.  It is great to be back in Falls Church.  (Applause.)  Thank you for having me.

Last week, in my State of the Union, I laid out my blueprint for an economy that’s built to last.  And I want to assure you I am not going to go over the whole thing again this morning.  (Laughter.)  That was a long speech.  I’m not going to repeat the whole thing.  (Laughter.)  But I do want to talk about some of the issues that I discussed last week because the blueprint we put forward was one that focuses on restoring what have always been this country’s greatest strengths — American manufacturing, American energy, skills and education for American workers so that we can compete with anybody around the world in this 21st century economy, and most importantly, the American values of fairness and responsibility.  Fairness and responsibility.  (Applause.)

Now, we know what happens, because we’ve just seen it — what happened when we stray from those values.  We saw what happened over the past decade when we strayed from those values  — especially when it comes to the massive housing bubble that burst and hurt so many people.  Millions of families who did the right and the responsible thing, folks who shopped for a home that they could afford, secured a mortgage, made their payments each month — they were hurt badly by the irresponsible actions of other people who weren’t playing by the same rules, weren’t taking the same care, weren’t acting as responsibly.  By lenders who sold loans to people who they knew couldn’t afford the mortgages; and buyers who bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford; and banks that packaged those mortgages up and traded them to reap phantom profits, knowing that they were building a house of cards.

It was wrong.  It was wrong.  It triggered the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes.  And it has been the single biggest drag on our recovery from a terrible recession.  Crushing debt has kept millions of consumers from spending.  A lack of building demand has kept hundreds of thousands of construction workers idle.  Everybody involved in the home-building business  — folks who make windows, folks who make carpets — they’ve all been impacted.  The challenge is massive in size and in scope, because we’ve got a multitrillion-dollar housing industry.  And economists can tell you how it’s affected all sorts of statistics, from GDP to consumer confidence.

But what’s at stake is more than just statistics.  It’s personal.  I’ve been saying that this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class.  And this housing crisis struck right at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America:  our homes — the place where we invest our nest egg, place where we raise our family, the place where we plant roots in a community, the place where we build memories.

It’s personal.  It affects so much of how people feel about their lives, about their communities, about the country, about the economy.  We need to do everything in our power to repair the damage and make responsible families whole again.  Everything we can.  (Applause.)

Now, the truth is it’s going to take more time than any of us would like for the housing market to fully recover from this crisis.  This was a big bubble, and when it burst it had a big effect.  Home prices started a pretty steady decline about five years ago.  And government certainly can’t fix the entire problem on its own.  But it is wrong for anybody to suggest that the only option for struggling, responsible homeowners is to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom.  (Applause.)  I refuse to accept that, and so do the American people.

There are more than 10 million homeowners across the country right now who, because of an unprecedented decline in home prices that is no fault of their own, owe more on their mortgage than their homes are worth.  It means your mortgage, your house is underwater.

Here in Falls Church, home values have fallen by about a quarter from their peak.  In places like Las Vegas, more than half of all homeowners are underwater.  More than half.  So it’s going to take a while for those prices to rise again.  But there are actions we can take right now to provide some relief to folks who’ve been responsible, have done the right thing, and are making their payments on time.

Already, thanks to the outstanding work, in part, of my Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan, who’s here today — (applause) — yes, there he is, the good-looking guy in the front here.  (Laughter.)  The housing plan we launched a couple years ago has helped nearly 1 million responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages, and they’re saving an average of $300 on their payments each month — $300 — which is great.  (Applause.)

But I’ll be honest — the programs that we put forward haven’t worked at the scale that we hoped.  Not as many people have taken advantage of it as we wanted.  Mortgage rates are as low as they’ve been in half a century, and when that happens, usually homeowners flock to refinance their mortgages — so a lot of people take advantage of it and save a lot of money.  But this time too many families haven’t been able to take advantage of the low rates, because falling prices lock them out of the market.  They were underwater; made it more difficult for them to refinance.

Then you’ve got all the fees involved in refinancing.  And a lot of people just said, you know what, even though I’d like to be, obviously, cutting down my monthly payment, the banks just aren’t being real encouraging.

So last year we took aggressive action that allowed more families to participate.  And today we’re doing even more.  This is the main reason I’m here today.  (Applause.)

As I indicated at the State of the Union last week, I am sending Congress a plan that will give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage by refinancing at historically low rates.  (Applause.)  No more red tape.  No more runaround from the banks. And a small fee on the largest financial institutions will make sure it doesn’t add to our deficit.

I want to be clear:  This plan, like the other actions we’ve taken, will not help the neighbors down the street who bought a house they couldn’t afford, and then walked away and left a foreclosed home behind.  It’s not designed for those who’ve acted irresponsibly, but it can help those who’ve acted responsibly.  It’s not going to help those who bought multiple homes just to speculate and flip the house and make a quick buck, but it can help those who’ve acted responsibly.

What this plan will do is help millions of responsible homeowners who make their payments on time but find themselves trapped under falling home values or wrapped up in red tape.

If you’re ineligible for refinancing just because you’re underwater on your mortgage, through no fault of your own, this plan changes that.  You’ll be able to refinance at a lower rate. You’ll be able to save hundreds of dollars a month that you can put back in your pocket.  Or you can choose those savings to rebuild equity in your homes, which will help most underwater homeowners come back up for air more quickly.

Now, to move this part of my plan, we’re going to need Congress to act.  We’re going to need Congress to act.  I hear some — (laughter) — murmuring in the audience here.  We need them to act.  But we’re not just going to wait for Congress.  We’re going to keep building a firewall to prevent the same kinds of abuses that led this crisis — led to this crisis in the first place.  So there are things we can do administratively that are also going to help responsible homeowners.  (Applause.)

Already, we’ve set up a special task force I asked my Attorney General to establish to investigate the kind of activity banks took when they packaged and sold risky mortgages.  (Applause.)  And that task force is ramping up its work as we speak.  We’re going to keep at it and hold people who broke the law accountable and help restore confidence in the market.  We’re going to speed assistance to homeowners.  And we’re going to turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many hardworking Americans.  (Applause.)

Today, I’m also proposing a Homeowners Bill of Rights — one straightforward set of common-sense rules of the road that every family knows they can count on when they’re shopping for a mortgage.  No more hidden fees or conflicts of interest.  No more getting the runaround when you call about your loan.  No more fine print that you used to get families to take a deal that is not as good as the one they should have gotten.  New safeguards against inappropriate foreclosures.  New options to avoid foreclosure if you’ve fallen on hardship or a run of bad luck.  (Applause.)  And a new, simple, clear form for new buyers of a home.  (Applause.)

Now, think about it.  This is the most important purchase a family makes.  But how many of you have had to deal with overly complicated mortgage forms and hidden clauses and complex terms? I remember when Michelle and I bought our first condo — and we’re both lawyers.  (Laughter.)  And we’re looking through the forms and kind of holding it up — (laughter) — reading it again — “What does this phrase mean?”  And that’s for two trained lawyers.  The forms, the confusion, the potential for abuse is too great just because the forms were too complicated.

So this is what a mortgage form should look like.  This is it.  (Applause.)  Now that our new consumer watchdog agency is finally running at full steam — (applause) — now that Richard Cordray is in as the Director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau — (applause) — they’re moving forward on important protections like this new, shorter mortgage form.  Simple, not complicated.  Informative, not confusing.  Terms are clear.  Fees are transparent.

This, by the way, is what some of the folks in Congress are trying to roll back and prevent from happening.

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  I guess they like complicated things that confuse consumers and allow them to be cheated.  I prefer actions that are taken to make things simpler and easier to understand for consumers — (applause) — so that they can get the best deal possible, especially on the biggest single investment that most people will ever make.  (Applause.)

Americans making a down payment on their dreams shouldn’t be terrified by pages and pages of fine print.  They should be confident they’re making the right decision for their future.

There’s more that we’re announcing today.  We’re working to turn more foreclosed homes into rental housing, because as we know and a lot of families know, that empty house or “for sale” sign down the block can bring down the price of homes across the neighborhood.  We’re working to make sure people don’t lose their homes just because they lose their jobs.  These are steps that can make a concrete difference in people’s lives right now.  (Applause.)

As I said earlier, no program or policy will solve all the problems in a multitrillion-dollar housing market.  The heights of the housing bubble reached before it burst, those were unsustainable, and it’s going to take time to fully recover.  That requires everybody to do their part.

As much as our economic challenges were born of eroding home values and portfolio values, they were also born of an erosion of some old-fashioned American values.  An economy that’s built to last, that’s on a firm foundation, so that middle-class families have a sense of security and those who want to get in the middle class can make it if they’re working hard — that demands responsibility from everyone.

Government must take responsibility for rules that are fair and fairly enforced.  (Applause.)  Banks and lenders must be held accountable for ending the practices that helped cause this crisis in the first place.  (Applause.)  And all of us have to take responsibility for our own actions — or lack of action.  (Applause.)

So I urge Congress to act.  Pass this plan.  Help more families keep their homes.  Help more neighborhoods remain vibrant.  Help keep more dreams defended and alive.  And I promise you that I’ll keep doing everything I can to make the future brighter for this community, for this commonwealth, for this country.

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

END
11:24 A.M. EST

Full Text January 30, 2012: President Barack Obama Hangs Out With America YouTube and Google+ Interview

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Hangout with President Obama

President Obama answered questions about the State of the Union posed by citizens in the first-ever completely virtual interview from the White House

President Obama participates in a Google+ Hangout at the White House

President Obama participates in a Google+ Hangout at the White House, White House Photo, Pete Souza

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama Hangs Out With America

Source: WH, 1-30-12
President Obama on Google+President Barack Obama participates in an interview with YouTube and Google+ to discuss his State of the Union Address, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Jan. 30, 2012. The interview is held through a Google+ Hangout, making it the first completely virtual interview from the White House. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Just after 5:30 PM ET today, President Obama sat down for a discussion with a group of Americans from across the country in a Google+ Hangout. It was the first online conversation to happen at the White House in real time — ever.

Even before the event, more than 227,000 people had taken time to participate — submitting questions for the President to answer or voting for their favorite.

If you missed any of the action, check over the full video HERE

White House Recap January 21-27, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Delivers 2012 State of the Union Address & Presents the Blueprint for an America Built to Last

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: JANUARY 21-27, 2012

This week, the President prepared for and delivered his State of the Union Address, welcomed the Boston Bruins to the White House, and took his message West to Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado.

West Wing Week

Weekly Wrap Up: An America Built to Last

Source: WH, 1-27-12

State of the Union: In his third State of the Union Address on Tuesday, the President outlined his vision for “an America that lasts”—one that will bring about a new era of American manufacturing, and promote homegrown and alternative energy sources—and presented a blueprint to achieve that vision. Check out this video that goes behind the scenes as President Obama prepared the speech.

Blueprint for Manufacturing: During his visit to New Hampshire following Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Vice President Biden highlighted the Administration’s plan to help businesses bring jobs back to America through manufacturing. He echoed the President’s message that we need to commit to train workers with the skills they will need to compete in the growing sectors of our economy.

Talking Energy in Las Vegas: From a UPS facility in Las Vegas, the President spoke about the future of American-made energy. “[Even] with all this oil production, we only have about 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves,” the President said, “So we’ve got to have an all-out, all-in, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every source of American energy—a strategy that is cleaner and cheaper and full of new jobs.”

#WHchat: Throughout the week, more than thirty administration officials have answered questions about President Obama’s State of the Union Address and issues Americans care about through a series of Office Hours on Twitter—addressing queries about everything from the economy to disability policy. Vice President Biden—known in the twitterverse as @VP—answered questions submitted by people across the country in his first-ever Twitter interview from an advanced manufacturing facility in Rochester, New Hampshire.

NHL Champs: On Monday, the President welcomed the Boston Bruins to the White House and congratulated them on their Stanley Cup victory in June—marking the team’s sixth Cup championship, and their first one in nearly forty years. Their triumph, the President said, “proved that teamwork is everything.” After their visit to the White House, the players led a hockey clinic—affirming that being a champion doesn’t end when you hang up your skates.

Full Text January 26, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Blueprint for American-Made Energy in Las Vegas

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Discusses the Blueprint for American-Made Energy

Source: WH, 1-26-12
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/imagecache/embedded_img_full/image/image_file/20120126-ups-vegas.jpg&#8221; alt=”President Barack Obama delivers remarks on energy at UPS Las Vegas<br />
South ” width=”500″ height=”333″ /> 

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on energy, at UPS Las Vegas South in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jan. 26, 2012.(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama toured a UPS facility in Las Vegas today to talk about the future of energy in America.

First, he discussed the progress we’ve already made:

For decades, Americans have been talking about how do we decrease our dependence on foreign oil. Well, my administration has actually begun to do something about it.

Over the last three years, we negotiated the toughest new efficiency standards for cars and trucks in history. We’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration.  Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. Eight years. Last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of last 16 years. That hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, but that’s important. We’re moving in the right direction when it comes to oil and gas production.

Then he discussed why a blueprint for American-made energy is so important:

[Even] with all this oil production, we only have about 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves.  So we got to have an all-out, all-in, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every source of American energy –- a strategy that is cleaner and cheaper and full of new jobs.

Everything you need to know.

 POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on American-Made Energy

UPS Las Vegas South
Las Vegas, Nevada

10:11 A.M. PST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Nevada!  (Applause.)  It is great to be back in Las Vegas.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Laughter.)  Although I always say, when we stay here for the night, I’ve got to watch my staff to make sure that they get on the plane when we leave.  (Laughter.)  Sometimes they conveniently miss the flight.  (Laughter.)

But everybody please have a seat, have a seat.  It is great to see you.  Joe, thanks for the introduction.  Scott, thank you and the folks at UPS for hosting us today.  I want to thank all of the elected officials and the tribal leaders who took the time to join us.

Before I get into the core of my remarks, I just want to mention something that I said to Scott and I said to Joe, and that is that UPS I think deserves just extraordinary credit for being the best in its space, one of the best businesses we have in the United States.  But the reason is because it’s got such outstanding workers — (applause) — and the relationship between its workforce and management, cooperating, constantly figuring out how to make things better is just an outstanding organization.  And so you guys all need to be congratulated for everything that you do.  (Applause.)

Now, I’m here to talk a little more about what I talked about at the State of the Union on Tuesday night.  And what I want to focus on is how we’re going to restore the basic promise of America, something that folks at UPS understand, which is, if you work hard, if you do the right thing, you should be able to do well enough to raise a family and own a home and send your kids to college and put a little away for retirement.  That’s the American Dream.  That’s what most people are looking for.

They don’t expect a handout.  They don’t expect anything to come easy.  They do expect, if they’re willing to work hard, to try to get ahead.  If they’re doing the right thing, then they can have a sense of security and dignity, and help make sure that their family is moving forward.  That’s what Americans are looking for.  That’s what Americans deserve.

And today, three years after the worst economic storm in three generations, our economy is growing again.  Our businesses have created more than 3 million jobs.  (Applause.)  Last year, businesses created the most jobs since 2005.  American manufacturers are hiring again and creating jobs for the first time since the 1990s.

Now, we’ve got more work to do.  But what we can’t do is go back to the very same policies that got us into a mess in the first place.  We can’t go backwards.  We have to move forward.  I said on Tuesday, and I will repeat today, we will not — we cannot — go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing and bad debt and phony financial profits.  So on Tuesday, at the State of the Union, I laid out my vision for how we move forward.  I laid a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last, that has a firm foundation, where we’re making stuff and selling stuff and moving it around and UPS drivers are dropping things off everywhere.  (Applause.)

That’s the economy we want, an economy built on American manufacturing with more good jobs and more products made here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  An economy built on American energy, fueled by homegrown and alternative sources that make us more secure and less dependent on foreign oil.  (Applause.)  An economy built on the skills of American workers, getting people the education and the training they need to prepare for the jobs of today, but also to compete for the jobs of tomorrow.  (Applause.)

And most importantly, I talked about an economy that’s built on a renewal of American values — hard work, responsibility, and the same set of rules for everybody, from Wall Street to Main Street.  (Applause.)  That has to be our future.  That’s how we restore that basic American promise.

Now, part of my blueprint and what I want to focus on a little bit today is for an economy built to last with American energy.  That’s why we’re here.  For decades, Americans have been talking about how do we decrease our dependence on foreign oil.  Well, my administration has actually begun to do something about it.

Over the last three years, we negotiated the toughest new efficiency standards for cars and trucks in history.  We’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration.  Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years.  Eight years.  Last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of last 16 years.  That hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, but that’s important.  (Applause.)  We’re moving in the right direction when it comes to oil and gas production.

And today, I’m announcing that my administration will soon open up around 38 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for additional exploration and development, which could result in a lot more production of domestic energy.  (Applause.)

But as I said on Tuesday, and as the folks here at UPS understand, even with all this oil production, we only have about 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves.  So we got to have an all-out, all-in, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every source of American energy –- a strategy that is cleaner and cheaper and full of new jobs.

Now, a great place to start is with natural gas.  Some of you may not have been following this, but because of new technologies, because we can now access natural gas that we couldn’t access before in an economic way, we’ve got a supply of natural gas under our feet that can last America nearly a hundred years.  Nearly a hundred years.  Now, when I say under our feet, I don’t know that there’s actually gas right here.  (Laughter.)  I mean in all the United States.

And developing it could power our cars and our homes and our factories in a cleaner and cheaper way.  The experts believe it could support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.  We, it turns out, are the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.  (Applause.)  We’ve got a lot of it.  We’ve got a lot of it.

Now, removing that natural gas obviously has to be done carefully.  And I know that there are families that are worried about the impact this could have on our environment and on the health of our communities.  And I share that concern.  So that’s why I’m requiring — for the first time ever — that all companies drilling for gas on public lands disclose the chemicals they use.  We want to make sure that this is done properly and safely.  (Applause.)  America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.

But we’ve got to keep at it.  We’ve got to take advantage of this incredible natural resource.  And think about what could happen if we do.  Think about an America where more cars and trucks are running on domestic natural gas than on foreign oil.  Think about an America where our companies are leading the world in developing natural gas technology and creating a generation of new energy jobs; where our natural gas resources are helping make our manufacturers more competitive for decades.  We can do this.  And by the way, natural gas burns cleaner than oil does, so it’s also potentially good for our environment as we make this shift.

So last April, we issued a challenge to shipping companies like UPS.  We said if you upgrade your fleets to run on less oil or no oil at all, we’re going to help you succeed.  We want to help you with that experiment.  So we started out with five companies that accepted the challenge.  And of course, UPS was one of the first.  That’s how they roll.  (Laughter and applause.)

So less than a year later, we’ve got 14 companies on board, and together they represent 1 million vehicles on the road.   That’s a lot of trucks.

We should do more, though.  And that’s why we’re here today.  First, let’s get more of these natural gas vehicles on the road.  Let’s get more of them on the road.  (Applause.)  The federal fleet of cars is leading by example.  Turns out the federal government has a lot of cars.  (Laughter.)  We buy a lot of cars.  So we’ve got to help not only the federal government but also local governments upgrade their fleet.  If more of these brown trucks are going green, more city buses should, too.  There’s no reason why buses can’t go in the same direction.

Second, let’s offer new tax incentives to help companies buy more clean trucks like these.  (Applause.)

Third, let’s make sure all these new trucks that are running on natural gas have places to refuel.  That’s one of the biggest impediments, is the technology.  We know how to make these trucks, but if they don’t have a place to pull in and fill up, they got problems.

So we’re going to keep working with the private sector to develop up to five natural gas corridors along our highways.  These are highways that have natural gas fueling stations between cities, just like the one that folks at UPS, South Coast Air and Clean Energy Fuels are opening today between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.  That’s a great start.  (Applause.)  So now one of these trucks can go from Long Beach all the way to Salt Lake City.  And they’re going to be able to refuel along the way.

And finally, to keep America on the cutting edge of clean energy technology, I want my Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, to launch a new competition that encourages our country’s brightest scientists and engineers and entrepreneurs to discover new breakthroughs for natural gas vehicles.

So we’re going to keep moving on American energy.  We’re going to keep boosting American manufacturing.  We’re going to keep training our workers for these new jobs.  But an economy that’s built to last also means a renewal of the values that made us who we are:  hard work, fair play and shared responsibility.

Right now, that means, first of all, stopping a tax hike on 160 million working Americans at the end of next month.  (Applause.)  People cannot afford right now losing $40 out of each paycheck.  Your voices convinced Congress to extend this middle-class tax cut before.  I need your help to make sure they do it again.  No drama, no delay.  Let’s just get this done for the American people and for our economy as a whole.  (Applause.)

But we’ve got a longer-run issue — Scott and I were talking about this before we came out — and that is how do we get America’s fiscal house in order.  And we’re going to have to make some choices.  The reason that we’ve got these debts and deficit is because we’re not making hard choices.  Right now, we’re supposed to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was intended to be a temporary tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.  Supposed to be temporary.  Back in 2001.  (Laughter.)  That’s a long time ago.  (Laughter.)  A quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households.  Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.  I know because she was at the State of the Union.  (Laughter.)  She told me.

Now, that’s not fair.  That doesn’t make sense.  And the reason it’s important for us to recognize that is, if we’re going to reduce our deficit, then we’ve got to have a balanced approach that has spending cuts — and we’ve already agreed to $2 trillion worth of spending cuts.  We’ve got to get rid of programs that don’t work.  We’ve got to make government more efficient.  I have asked Congress for authority to consolidate some of these agencies to make them run better.  We’re going to have to be much more effective when it comes to government spending.  We all acknowledge that and we’re making progress on that front.

But that alone doesn’t do it.  So if we want to actually deal with the deficit, we’ve got to look at the other side of the ledger.  Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans?  Or do we want to keep investing in everything else — like education, like clean energy — (applause) — like a strong military, like caring for our veterans who are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan?  (Applause.)  We can’t do both.  We can’t do both.

So what I’ve said is let’s follow the Buffett Rule:  If you make more than a million dollars a year, you should pay a tax rate of at least 30 percent — (applause) — which, by the way, is lower than you would have been paying under Ronald Reagan.  Nobody is talking about anything crazy here.  On the other hand, if you make less than $250,000 a year, which 98 percent of all Americans do, then your taxes shouldn’t go up.  (Applause.)  I think that’s a fair approach.

And a lot of folks have been running around saying, well, that’s class warfare.  Asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes, that’s just common sense.  (Laughter.)  And I promise you, if we make this change, Warren Buffett will be doing fine.  (Laughter.)  I will be doing fine.  Scott will be doing fine.  (Applause.)  We don’t need more tax breaks.  You’re the ones who have seen your wages and your incomes stall while the cost of everything from groceries to college to health care have been going up.  You’re the ones who deserve a break.  (Applause.)

And I want to make one last point:  We do not begrudge success in America.  We aspire to it.  We want everybody to succeed.  We want everybody to be rich.  We want everybody to be working hard, making their way, creating new products, creating new services, creating jobs — that’s the American way.  We don’t shy away from financial success.  We don’t apologize for it.

But what we do say is when this nation has done so much for us, shouldn’t we be thinking about the country as a whole?  When Americans talk about folks like me paying their fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich.  Just yesterday, Bill Gates said he agrees with me that Americans who can afford it should pay their fair share.  I promise you, Bill Gates does not envy the rich.  (Laughter.)  He doesn’t envy wealthy people.

This has nothing to do with envy.  It has everything to do with math.  It’s what I talked about earlier.  We’ve got to make choices.  Americans understand if I get a tax break I don’t need and a tax break the country can’t afford, then one of two things are going to happen.  Either it’s going to add to our deficit or somebody else is going to have to make up the difference.

A senior suddenly is going to have to start paying more for their Medicare, or a student is going to have to pay more for their student loan, or a family that’s trying to get by, they’re going to have to do with less.  And that’s not right.  That’s not who we are.  Each of us is only here because somebody somewhere felt a responsibility to each other and to our country and helped to create all this incredible opportunity that we call the United States of America.

Now, it’s our turn to be responsible.  And it’s our turn to leave an America that is built to last for the next generation.  That’s our job and we can do it.  (Applause.)  We can do it.  We can do it.  And I know we can do it, because I’ve seen in states like Nevada and with people like you that I meet all across this country, you understand the history of this country, generations of Americans working together, looking out for each other, living by the idea that we rise or fall together.  Those are the values we have to return to.

I mentioned praise for our military at the State of the Union and the incredible work that they do.  And the reason our military is so good, the reason why they’re so admired is because they — it’s not like everybody in the military agrees on everything.  You got Democrats in the military.  You got Republicans in the military.  You’ve got folks who are conservative or liberal — different races, different religions, different backgrounds — but they figure out how to focus on the mission.  They figure out how to do their job.

And that sense of common purpose is what we’re going to need to build an economy that lasts.  And if we work together in common purpose, we can build that economy and we can meet the challenges of our times.  And we’ll remind the entire world once again just why it is that the United States is the greatest country on Earth.

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

END
10:33 A.M. PST

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