Political Musings April 10, 2014: Senate Republicans block equal pay bill from advancing with a vote of 53-44

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Senate Republicans block equal pay bill from advancing with a vote of 53-44

By Bonnie K. Goodman

A day after National Equal Pay Day on Wednesday April 9, 2014, Republicans in the Senate blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would have curbed the gender pay gap in the country. With a vote of 53 for…READ MORE

Political Musings April 5, 2014: Obama and Biden’s hourly and tipped minimum wage midterm sales pitch to Congress

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Obama and Biden’s hourly and tipped minimum wage midterm sales pitch to Congress

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Delivering a speech that sounded like a campaign sales blitz, President Barack Obama was selling raising the minimum wage to Congress on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor to a group of students. The president…READ MORE

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Political Musings February 22, 2014: Obama continues push to raise minimum wage in weekly address, governors meeting

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For the second week in a row President Barack Obama dedicated his weekly address released Saturday morning, Feb. 22, 2014 to raising the minimum wage, and urging Congress to pass legislation to that would lift the wage up from $7…Continue

Political Musings February 15, 2014: Obama revisits urging Congress to raise the minimum wage in his weekly address

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Obama revisits urging Congress to raise the minimum wage in his weekly address

By Bonnie K. Goodman

 
For his weekly address released Saturday morning, Feb. 15, 2014 President Barack Obama revisited his executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors from $7.25 to $10.10 and urged Congress to complete his effort by universally raising…

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Full Text Obama Presidency February 14, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at House Democratic Issues Conference the Congressional Democrats Retreat on Economic Opportunity Program

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Remarks by the President at House Democratic Issues Conference

Source: WH, 2-14-14 

Watch the Video

President Obama Speaks at the House Democratic Issues Conference
February 14, 2014 4:40 PM

President Obama Speaks at the House Democratic Issues Conference

Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay
Cambridge, Maryland

10:43 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you, guys.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Everybody, have a seat.  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)  Well, it is good to see you.  Joe, thank you for the wonderful introduction.  Let me be the first to say, Happy Valentine’s Day to our fearless leader, Nancy Pelosi.  (Applause.)  Paul will hopefully get you more than just a thank-you.

To Steny, to Jim, Xavier, Steve Israel — who’s doing an extraordinary job under very difficult circumstances — (applause) — Debbie Wasserman Shultz, who is putting in more miles than just about anybody I know — (applause) — and all of you.  It’s great to see you.

We just saw each other at the White House fairly recently, so I’m not going to give a long speech here.  I want to spend most of my time answering some more questions.  But let me just make a couple observations since we saw each other.  First of all, I stated in our State of the Union that the single most important thing we have to do — not just as a party, but as a country — is make sure that there’s opportunity for every single person; that we are focused every single day in this town — or in Washington — on making sure that if you’re willing to work hard, if you’re willing to take responsibility, that you can get ahead.  It doesn’t matter where you live, what circumstances you were born into, what you look like, who you love, you should be able to make it here in America.

And as I said at the State of the Union, I want to work with Congress to make that happen, but I’m not going to wait, because there’s too much to do.  (Applause.)  And America does not believe in standing still.  America insists on moving forward.

We laid out some very specific ways that we can move the country forward, breaking them down into a few categories:  Number one, creating more good jobs that pay good wages.  Number two, making sure that folks are trained to fill those good jobs. Number three, making sure that our kids have the best education  in the world.  And number four, making sure that hard work pays off, that people aren’t poor if they’re working full-time, that they have some semblance of retirement security, that they can count on health care if, heaven forbid, something happens to them.

And already, just in the last couple of weeks, we’ve put forward a range of executive actions that are going to make a difference.  So, yesterday, for example, I had a chance to be with a group of minimum wage workers for federal contractors — these are folks who are washing dishes, or cleaning clothes on military bases or facilities — and sometimes the debates on Capitol Hill get so abstract, and to be next to folks — the average age, by the way, 35.  These aren’t teenagers, these are folks who are looking after families and trying to raise kids.  And to see what it would mean to them for us to have a federal minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, and how much relief that would give them, and how committed they were to the American Dream and getting ahead and just hoping that somebody was standing up for them — it reminded me of why I’m a Democrat.  (Applause.)  and it reminded me of why I’m so proud of this caucus, because you’re standing up on behalf of them.

And so we signed the executive order — these folks are going to get a raise.  And what I said yesterday is that now it’s time for Congress to act because America deserves a raise.  (Applause.)

I pointed out yesterday, as I pointed out at the State of the Union, that the majority of low-wage workers are women, which is why we’re going to keep on pushing to make sure that we have equal pay for equal work — (applause) — and we have sensible family policies.  Because as I said at the State of the Union, when women succeed America succeeds.  I still believe that.  (Applause.)

We’ve traveled to manufacturing plants up in Wisconsin to talk about how we can continue to accelerate advanced manufacturing and technology in this country.  And we’ve got some great possibilities to create hubs that keep us on the cutting-edge.  We’ve signed executive orders to advance the kind of job training that is going to help people train for the jobs that actually exist and link up businesses with our community colleges.

We’ve already through executive action set up a new retirement account, MyRA, that allows folks to get a starter retirement, because a whole lot of people don’t have 401(k)s to save.

Across the board, we’re moving.  But as I said at the State of the Union, and I want to repeat today, we can get a whole lot more done if we’ve got Congress working with us.  And this caucus has shown time and time again under the most difficult circumstances the kind of courage and unity and discipline that has made me very, very proud.

And I was just talking to Nancy before I came out here.  The fact that we are no longer going to see, I believe, anybody try to hold our government hostage and threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America in order to contract policy concessions, the fact that we were able to pass a clean debt limit is just one example of why when you guys are unified, you guys stick together, this country is better off.  And I could not be more thankful and more appreciative and prouder of what you’re doing.  (Applause.)

Just a couple of more points.  Number one, you’ve seen reports over the last couple of days that we actually slightly exceeded our targets for ACA signups and enrollments this past month, in the month of January.  (Applause.)  We now have well over 3.5 million people who have signed up and are getting insurance through the marketplaces for the first time.  That does not count the close to 7 million folks who have signed up for Medicaid because of the law that you passed, or the 3 million young people who are staying on their parents’ plans.  We’re starting to see data already that the uninsured rate is coming down.  We are going to keep on pushing on this to make sure that here in America, everybody can enjoy the kind of financial security and peace of mind that good quality health insurance provides.  (Applause.)

And I just want to say thank you for all of you hanging in there tough on an issue that I think 10 years from now, five years from now, we’re going to look back and say this was a monumental achievement that could not have happened had it not been for this caucus.

And, finally, there are some big things that we have to do that I cannot do through executive action where we have to get Congress and where the American people are on our side.  A federal minimum wage law is one of them.  Another, though, is making sure that we’ve got a smart immigration policy in this country that grows our economy — (applause) — gets people out of the shadows, makes sure that our businesses are thriving.  That’s got to be a top priority.  We’re going to have to keep on working on that.

And I believe, frankly, that there are folks on the other side of the aisle who genuinely want to see this done, but they’re worried and they’re scared about the political blowback. And, look, everybody here is an elected official and we can all appreciate the maneuverings that take place, particularly in an election year.  But when it comes to immigration reform, we have to remind ourselves that there are people behind the statistics, that there are lives that are being impacted — that punting and putting things off for another year, another two years, another three years, it hurts people.  It hurts our economy.  It hurts families.

And part of what I’d like to think makes us Democrats is not simply some abstract ideological set of beliefs, but the fact that we’re reminded every single day that we’re here to help a whole bunch of folks out there — our neighbors, our friends, our communities — who are struggling still and need our help.  And they’re counting on us.  The good thing is they’ve got some outstanding members of Congress who are willing to fight for them regardless of the political cost, starting with your leader Nancy Pelosi.

I’m grateful for you.  And I’m looking forward to making sure that this year we keep on making progress even if we continue to get a little resistance from the other side.  The American people know that we could be breaking out if Washington gets its act together, and it’s important for us to lead that process.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
11:02 A.M. EST

Political Musings February 6, 2014: Senate fails to advance long-term jobless unemployment benefits extension 58-40

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Senate fails to advance long-term jobless unemployment benefits extension 58-40

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The Senate again failed to advance a revised unemployment benefits extension bill with a vote of 58-40 on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, which would resulted in a three-month benefits extension. The bill garnered 4 Republican votes, but needed…READ MORE

Political Musings December 27, 2013: Congress may be worst, but Republicans ahead in CNN poll for midterm elections

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A new CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 is a mix of both good and bad news for the current 113th Congress; Americans think it is the worst ever, but also more likely to vote for a…READ MORE

Political Musings November 22, 2013: Senate Democrats go extreme pass nuclear option preventing filibusters for nominees

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Senate Dems go extreme pass nuclear option preventing filibusters for nominees

By Bonnie K. Goodman

After earlier this week the Senate Republicans blocked President Barack Obama’s third judicial nominee for the Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, prompting Senate Democrats to invoke on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 what is called the “nuclear option”….READ MORE

Political Musings November 19, 2013: Obama free falling in new polls from disastrous health care rollout

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Obama free falling in new polls from disastrous health care rollout

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Most of the major political polls have now determined that President Barack Obama approval ratings are hitting all time lows, while his disapproval rating is now skyrocketing. The latest poll from ABC News/Washington Post released on Monday, Nov. 18…

READ MORE

Political Musings November 14, 2013: Obama offers health care fix for Americans with cancelled policies is it enough?

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By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Barack Obama announced during a press conference in the White House briefing room on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 that Americans with cancelled insurance would be allowed to keep their policies that do not fit…READ MORE

Political Musings October 29, 2013: HealthCare.gov website problems leads to bipartisan calls for Obamacare delays

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HealthCare.gov website problems leads to bipartisan calls for Obamacare delays

By Bonnie K. Goodman

This past week the insurance exchange website HealthCare.gov referred to as the Marketplace has been in the spotlight over major glitches; the website is part of the rollout of President Barack Obama’s new health care law, the…READ MORE

Political Musings October 22, 2013: Obama, GOP approval ratings plummet in new polls, result of shutdown fallout

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Obama, GOP approval ratings plummet in new polls, result of shutdown fallout

By Bonnie K. Goodman

 

Three new polls released on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 indicate that President Barack Obama, the House Republicans and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH have not escaped the American public’s blame as a result of the…READ MORE

Political Headlines September 9, 2013: President Barack Obama to Visit Capitol Hill to Make Case for Syria Strike

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THE HEADLINES….

Obama to Visit Capitol Hill to Make Case for Syria Strike

Source: ABC News Radio, 9-9-13

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama is planning to visit Capitol Hill on Tuesday, making his case on Syria face-to-face with senators.

The president is scheduled to meet with Senate Democrats at their weekly policy luncheon, two Democratic aides said, intensifying his outreach as part of the administration’s push for military strikes on Syria.  He could also meet with other members of Congress, particularly those who remain undecided on Syria, officials said….READ MORE

Political Headlines July 5, 2013: Bipartisan praise for June jobs report

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THE HEADLINES….

Bipartisan praise for June jobs report

Source: CBS News, 7-5-13

Both Democrats and Republicans applauded a stronger-than-expected employment report released on Friday, which showed that the U.S….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency June 4, 2013: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Speech at DNC Fundraising Event — Confronts Protester Heckler

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Michelle Obama Heckled by Gay Rights Advocate, Threatens to Leave Event

Source: ABC News (blog), 6-5-13

First lady Michelle Obama was heckled by a gay rights advocate at a fundraiser tonight and responded by threatening to leave the event, telling the protester only one of them could speak….READ MORE

Remarks by the First Lady at DNC Event

Private Residence
Washington, D.C.

6:07 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, my goodness!  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

MRS. OBAMA:  Love you too!  And yes, I’m here because I love you.  (Laughter.)  And I’m here because I love my husband — it’s true.  (Applause.)  But I’m also here because I love my country, more importantly.  I do.  (Applause.)

But I want to start by thanking Karen for that very powerful and very important introduction that she just delivered.  I think she made some outstanding points that hopefully I will further emphasize.  And I want to thank both Karen and Nan for generously hosting us here in their beautiful home tonight, and for always having our backs, and always mazing out in so many ways.  I’m proud to have you as supporters, but more importantly, as friends.  So let’s give them another round of applause.  (Applause.)

I also want to thanks Congresswoman Sinema, as well as Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for their service and for being here, and for their undying support — encourage, and all that good stuff.  Debbie has been a phenomenal DNC Chairwoman, so let’s give her a round of applause.  (Applause.)  We’re thrilled they could be here, but we’re also glad that they are off voting, like they’re supposed to.

But most of all, I want to thank all of you for being here.  I want to thank you not just for being here tonight, but for being there for my husband not once, but twice.  Thank you.  Thank you for working so hard.  Thanks for making the calls and knocking on doors and writing checks and getting everyone you know to the polls.

And I just want us to understand what we accomplished because of all of you.  We didn’t just win two elections, we made real and meaningful change in this country — we did.  Because of you, we’re now in an economy that continues to strengthen with 38 straight months of job growth.  That’s more than three straight years — that’s happened because of you.

Because of you, we have passed health reform.  We are taking on climate change, gun violence, and fortunately, comprehensive immigration reform because of you.  Because of you, we have a President who stands up for our most fundamental rights –- whether that’s fighting for equal pay for women — amen — ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” — amen — or supporting our right to marry the person we love.  That’s the President we have.

And all of that, and so much more, has happened because of you.  And that’s what elections are all about.

It’s like my Barack said in his 2008 election night speech –- he said, “This victory alone is not the change we seek, it is only the chance for us to make that change.”  It was a chance.  That’s what — elections give you the chance.  And that was true back then, and it is even more true today.  Because while we’ve made a lot of important change these past four years, we still have so much more to do.

Although our economy is improving, too many middle-class families are still struggling in this country.  And that fundamental American promise that so many of us hopefully grew up with –- that no matter where you start out, with hard work you can build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids –- see, that promise is no longer within reach for too many families.  In fact, it probably wouldn’t be in reach for the family I grew up in if we were trying to make it today.

As many of you know my story, neither of my parents had a college degree.  My father’s job at the city water plant paid him a decent wage.  It paid him enough to put food on our table.  And with the help of student loans, he was able to send both me and my brother to an excellent college.

That job, that little job he had also gave him health insurance, it gave us health insurance, and a pension that my mother still lives on today.  We were not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but we had stability.  We had peace of mind.  Because when I was growing up, a family of four living on a single blue-collar salary could build a solid life without debt and without relying on any form of public assistance.  That was how I grew up.

But today, for so many families, that’s no longer possible.  Folks are working harder than ever before, doing everything right, and it’s still not enough.  And while there’s so much talk and noise and back and forth going on in Washington, hardly any of it seems about the struggles of these folks.

So yes, it’s easy to get frustrated — and I know there are plenty of people here frustrated — and it’s easy to be cynical — and I know there are plenty of cynical people here.  And now that the excitement that comes with a presidential campaign has faded, it is so tempting to just turn off the TV and wait for another four years to reengage.

But here’s the thing.  As Karen pointed out, make no mistake about it, while we are tuning out with our frustration and our cynicism and our disappointment, others are tuning in, believe me.  Others are doing everything they can to make their voices heard in whatever way they can.  And we are seeing the effects of that kind of imbalance every single day in Washington.

Just a couple of months ago, we saw the failure — do you hear me — the failure of common-sense legislation to protect our children from gun violence — legislation, by the way, that 90 percent of the American people supported failed.

We are seeing a budget stalemate and a sequester, resulting in children across this country being turned away from Head Start.  So many seniors losing their Meals on Wheels.  And now there’s even talk about cutting food stamps, which could mean hundreds of thousands of kids going to bed hungry each night, here in the wealthiest nation on earth.

And that is not who we are.  That’s not what this country is about.  We are so much better than that.  We are so much more compassionate and fair, so much more decent.  And I know this because I see it and we see it every day — that decency in communities across this country, where people are waking up every day, working hard at their jobs, every day sacrificing for their kids.  I see it.  It is there for us to see — doing everything they can to help their neighbors.

We especially see it in times of tragedy and crisis — in the teachers who rushed children to safety in Newtown, teachers who risked their lives to save students in Oklahoma — teachers.  We saw it in all those folks in Boston who ran toward the explosions and spent hours tending to perfect strangers.

And none of these folks asked the people they were helping whether they were Democrats or Republicans.  They didn’t ask whether they were Christians or Muslims or Jews.  They didn’t care whether they were gay or straight.  It was simply enough that they were fellow Americans who were suffering and needed aid.

And shouldn’t that be enough for all of us?  And that was a question that I was asking myself during a recent visit to my hometown of Chicago when I had the privilege –

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Chicago!

MRS. OBAMA:  Chi-town!  (Laughter.)  South Side!  (Laughter.)  So you have to understand, that’s call and response, you say, “South Side.”

AUDIENCE:  South Side!  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Just pardon us for a moment.  (Laughter.)  We are crazy like that on South Side.

But I had the privilege of spending an afternoon with a wonderful group of students at a school called Harper High.  In fact, these kids are coming to spend a day — two days with us — one at the White House; they’re going to be in Washington, these kids.  They’re coming.

Now, Harper is located in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city, Englewood.  You all know Englewood, right?  A community that has been torn apart by poverty and hopelessness; by gangs, drugs, and guns.

And that afternoon, I sat down with these 25 students — and these kids were the best and the brightest at that school.  The valedictorian, the football star, kids in ROTC.  But let me tell you something about the kids at Harper.  Every day, they face impossible odds — jobless parents addicted to drugs; friends and loved ones shot before their very eyes.

In fact, when the school counselor asked these young men and women whether they had ever known any who had been shot, every single one of those students raised their hand.  So she then asked them, “What do you think when the weather forecast says ’85 and sunny?’”  Now, you would assume that nice weather like that, a beautiful day like today, would be a good thing.  Not for these kids.  They replied that a weather report like that puts fear in their hearts, because in their neighborhood, when the weather is nice, that’s when gangs come out and the shootings start.

So, see, for these wonderful kids, instead of reveling in the joys of their youth — college applications and getting ready for prom and getting that driver’s license — these young people are consumed with staying alive.  And there are so many kids in this country just like them -– kids with so much promise, but so few opportunities; good kids who are doing everything they can to break the cycle and beat the odds.  And they are the reason we are here tonight.  We cannot forget that.  I don’t care what we — they, those kids, they are the reason we’re here.

And today, we need to be better for them.  Not for us — for them.  We need to be better for all of our children, our kids in this country.  Because they are counting on us to give them the chances they need for the futures they deserve.  (Applause.)

So here’s the thing — we cannot wait for the next presidential election to get fired up and ready to go.  We cannot wait.  Right now, today, we have an obligation to stand up for those kids.  And I don’t care what you believe in, we don’t –

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Wait, wait, wait.  One of the things –

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

MRS. OBAMA:  One of the things that I don’t do well is this.  (Applause.)  Do you understand?  (Applause.)  One of the things — now –

(Inaudible audience interruption.)

MRS. OBAMA:  So let me make the point that I was making before:  We are here for our kids.  (Applause.)  So we must recapture that passion, that same urgency and energy that we felt back in 2008 and 2012.  Understand this.  This is what I want you all to understand, this is not about us — no one back here.  It’s not about you or you, or your issue or your thing.  This is about our children.  (Applause.)

And we must keep on working together to build a country worthy of all of our children’s promise.  Let’s ensure that every child has access to quality pre-K — because right now that’s not happening — to excellent schools — every child — to affordable college.  Because we need all of our kids to fulfill their boundless — they are our future.

Let’s finally pass some commonsense gun safety laws — (applause) — because no one in this country should ever worry about dropping their child off at a movie or a mall or at school.  Not in America.  And then, when these precious little young people, they grow up, let’s make sure they have some jobs that pay a decent wage.  Because we know that it is wrong for anyone in this country to work 40 or 50 hours a week and still be stuck in poverty.

And let us make sure that they have the health care they need, because no one in this country should get their primary care from an emergency room.  We know better than that.  And when it comes to women’s health, let’s keep fighting for our most fundamental, personal rights, because we as women, we know we are more than capable of making our own decisions about our bodies and our health care.  (Applause.)

Now, I know we can do this.  It’s all within our reach.  But make no mistake about it — and this is the key point I want to make here — Barack Obama cannot do this alone.  And he cannot do this with a fractured party.  Do you understand me?  We need folks in Congress to help him every step of the way, like Karen said.

That is why it is simply not enough to just elect a President every four years.  We need you to be engaged in every election — every election — because special elections matter.  Midterm elections really matter.  It matters who we send to Congress.  It matters.  And if you don’t believe me, just look at the record.  Look at the difference just a few votes in Congress can make when it comes to the issues that we say we care about.

For example, legislation on equal pay for women failed by two votes in the Senate — two votes in the Senate.  The DREAM Act, the act that gives immigrant kids in this country a fair shot?  That act failed twice, once by just five votes and once by four.  So what did the President have to do?  He had to sign an executive order to finally get it done.  That’s the only reason it got done.  And that common-sense bill I talked about earlier, that gun bill?  That bill failed by how many votes?  Six.  Six votes.

So like I said, it matters who we send to Congress.  This other stuff, between us, doesn’t matter.  We need all of you engaged in every special election and in every mid-term election all across this country.  We need you to keep on writing those checks.  And here’s another part — if you’re not maxed out, max out.  That’s what being maxed out is all about.  Max out in every way, shape or form with a check, with engagement.  You got friends?  Get them to max out.  Maxing out is a big term.  It’s not just about a check, it’s about passion.  It’s about feeling.  It’s about commitment.

And while raising money is important, as I said, money alone is not enough.  We need you all out there, working, making phone calls, getting everyone you know to the polls just like we did before.  And I know it won’t be easy.  It never is.  And I know that plenty of special interests will be pouring all sorts of resources into these elections.  They always do.  So we need you to be engaged and bring everyone you know with you.

And if anyone tries to tell you that they’re too busy, that it’s too much of a hassle, or that special elections just don’t matter, I’m going to share a story that I shared in New York that I’m sharing everywhere I go that Barack actually talked about at his State of the Union speech.

I want you to tell them about a woman named Desiline Victor.  (Applause.)  Some of you heard about Desiline.  Well, Desiline lives down in Florida, and she waited for hours in line to cast her vote last November.  Now, you might think, well, that’s not so unusual because a lot of people had to wait in long lines this past election, right?

But see here’s the thing:  Desiline is 102 years old.  (Applause.)  She was born before women had the right to vote, and she’s been a citizen of this country for less than 10 years.  And even though she was tired — I’m sure she was — even though her feet probably ached — and I’m sure they did — she was determined to cast her vote and make her voice heard in the country she loves.

So here’s what we have to tell ourselves when we get frustrated, or you’re tired, or we’re disappointed.  (Laughter.)  If Desiline Victor can summon that kind of passion and energy, then we don’t have any excuse.  If Desiline Victor can summon that kind of patriotism and determination, then so must we.

So if we keep on working, and organizing, and engaging, I know that we can keep on making that change we all believe in, and together we can build a future worthy of all our children.

Can we do this?  (Applause.)  Are we a little more fired up?  (Applause.)  Are we a little less frustrated right now?  (Applause.)  We ready to roll up our sleeves, figure out how to get engaged, how we’re going to max out in our own individual ways?  Can we do this?  (Applause.)  Because we need you.  Barack Obama needs you and I need you, quite frankly.  So let’s get it done.

Thank you all.  God bless.

END
6:27 P.M. EDT

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