Political Headlines July 6, 2013: President Barack Obama: US not backing any Egyptian party or group

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama: US not backing any Egyptian party or group

Source: USA TODAY, 7-6-13

Hagel also spoke to Crown Prince Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates on Saturday to discuss Egypt and “matters of mutual security concern in the Middle East,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said in the statement….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines May 25, 2013: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s US Military Academy Commencement Address — Tells West Point Cadets Sexual Assault Is a ‘Profound Betrayal’

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Chuck Hagel to West Point Cadets: Sexual Assault Is a ‘Profound Betrayal’

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-25-13

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking at the commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told cadets that sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military are a “profound betrayal” and charged them with the responsibility to stamp out the sexual assault problem plaguing the military….READ MORE

United States Military Academy Commencement

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, West Point, N.Y., Saturday, May 25, 2013

Source: DOD, 5-25-13

General Huntoon, thank you.

I am not unaware, especially on a rainy day, that graduates, their guests, and their families, prize brevity.

No, I’m not finished.

I told my wife last night that the last thing I want you graduates to remember is your Secretary of Defense droning on and on and that it’s raining.  I want you to remember me and your experience here with far more positive memories.

First, let me thank you very much for this privilege to participate in such an important and historic occasion for all of you and for this institution.

Secretary McHugh, General Odierno – distinguished West Point Class of 1976 – we’re still figuring out of he has problems that he left behind here that we haven’t uncovered yet.  If he’s walked everything off, then we can be sure he’s clean.

Members of Congress, West Point alumni and distinguished guests: I really am honored to be here with you to help celebrate this Class of 2013 and their families.

I’ve been looking forward to my visit to West Point since I was informed that I was asked to be your speaker.  I’ve traveled to West Point over the years as a United States Senator many times and was always inspired by my visits and but I was mostly inspired by the conversations with the cadets.  A long-time friend, who is no stranger to this institution, who has given me years of sage advice, came with me today – Harry Walters.  Harry’s a member of the Class of ‘59.  As you all know, Harry was the starting fullback on that great undefeated Black Knights team when Pete Dawkins won the Heisman Trophy.  You also know that Harry was an Assistant Secretary of the Army and Administrator of the Veterans Administration under President Ronald Reagan.  I always feel better when Harry’s around.  Harry, thank you for what you have meant to this institution and our country.

I also want to acknowledge another good friend and distinguished West Point graduate, who you all know, my friend and former Senate colleague, Senator Jack Reed, Class of ‘71.  Jack and I got to the Senate the same year, 1996.  He’s been not only a friend and colleague but a confidant who has given me wise counsel over the years and continues to do that.  As you may know, Senator Reed is the only West Pointer in the Senate.

Congratulations to the parents of the West Point Class of 2013.  This is your day too.  I know how very proud you are of these young American leaders.  Four years have passed since you performed the “90 second goodbye” at Eisenhower Hall, and first saw your sons and daughters march in formation on the way to Trophy Point.  At every step these cadets have benefited from your love, your support, and your reassurance.  So thank you, thank you all.

To the faculty and the staff: thank you.  We are grateful for your hard work in molding these young Army leaders.  Many of you are combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Thank you for your service, and thank you for sharing your experience, and for helping prepare these future officers for the challenges that lie ahead.

I also want to recognize and welcome the members of the Class of 1963, celebrating their 50th anniversary.  ‘63 is my vintage.  You have built an enduring bond with these graduates.  You welcomed the Class of 2013 as they reported to these grounds on R-Day, took part in their oath ceremony and spent time with them over the last four years.

To the class of 2013: congratulations!  We’re all very proud of you.

Like every man and woman who has stepped forward to serve in uniform, you made a courageous decision to offer yourself for a very purposeful life.  This institution has educated, trained, and inspired you to help shoulder the wheel in defense of our nation.  You’ve learned the meaning of duty, honor, and country.  And you will now be asked to lead our nation’s soldiers, an awesome responsibility.

My time in the Army shaped me forever, as it did for so many in this stadium today.  And while tactics, techniques and training have all surely changed in the decades since I was in the Army and since many of you who have served, the basic principles of soldiering and leadership remain the same.  Character and courage are still the indispensable requisites of both life and leadership.

In Vietnam, I learned that combat is a furnace that can consume you, or it can forge you into something better and stronger than you were before.  But it requires leaders to help bring the best out in all of us.

Many of you in the Corps of Cadets with prior service have already learned these hard truths of war.  You have also seen what is expected of young officers in today’s military – new demands of a shifting and complicated world.

Great leaders are men and women who know who they are, what they believe, and where they want to go.  Great leaders listen.  And they listen carefully.

Behind my desk in the Pentagon hang the portraits of two of the Army’s greatest leaders – men who played defining roles in shaping America and the world: Dwight David Eisenhower, West Point Class of 1915, and George Catlett Marshall.  They each embodied every dimension of leadership – in particular, they were intense listeners and deep thinkers.  And they knew when to act and when not to.  There are differences and there consequences for both.  They were never intimidated by failures or mistakes.  We all have them, we all make them.  But they learned and made adjustments and made wiser decisions as a result of those experiences.

The most important part of leadership is taking responsibility for your actions and decisions, and holding all around you accountable.

The military career of General Eisenhower provides one of the greatest examples of this kind of accountability.  You all, I’m sure, know the story.

On the eve of the Normandy invasion which he would command, Eisenhower scribbled a message on a piece of paper in the event that D-Day was a failure.  Eisenhower’s framed words hung in my Senate Office for twelve years.  They read: “Our landings have failed and I have withdrawn the troops.  My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available.  The troops, the air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do.  If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.”

That is accountability, and I often think of that story when I look at Eisenhower’s portrait in my Pentagon office.  Eisenhower’s simple and honest statement should be a guiding point for all of us in positions of authority and responsibility, and for all of you as you embark upon your military careers.

Remember always that the coin of the realm of leadership is trust.   In preparation for your career, you have been taught how to shoot an azimuth – how to use a compass to set your course toward an objective.  You’ve scrambled through these granite hills as new cadets and yearlings, learning how to guide yourselves.  Then you roamed them again as rising firsties, learning how to guide others.  You know by now that the greatness of leaders lies in their ability to shoot an azimuth that is straight and true, even under hostile fire or trying circumstances.  Adjust, adapt, be agile and be flexible, but don’t get thrown off course by the always-present distractions and uncontrollables of life.  For they will always be present.

Leaders don’t cut corners.  When you are faced with difficult decisions, you will always know that the right thing to do…is the right thing to do.  Do it.  Listen to yourself and be guided by what you believe is right.

Standing against the crowd and choosing the harder right instead of the easier wrong, as the Cadet Prayer prescribes, can be very lonely and frightening at times.  And it requires immense moral courage.  But it will serve you well over the long haul and throughout your life.

As you embark on your new profession, you are charged with the clear responsibility of helping ensure that the Army is prepared for the future, just as you have been prepared here on the Hudson.  Pay attention to your environment and all around you, and listen carefully to your NCOs.  For your NCOs will help you engage and navigate, and they’ll keep you out of the deep ditches of command.

The Army you enter today is emerging – and in many ways recovering – from more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.  During what has been the longest period of sustained combat in American history, the ground forces have shouldered a very heavy burden – doing the fighting and dying, and adapting under fire to a kind of conflict far different than what the Army’s leadership trained and prepared for after the Cold War.

A new Army is being shaped and you will not only be present in that new Army that’s being shaped.  You will have the responsibility of helping shape it and you will have the responsibility of helping lead it, and this all during a very complicated and uncertain time in the world.  The past decade reinforced a consistent theme in the history of America’s armed forces:  we can never predict when, where and how we will be called upon to fight.

The only thing we can predict is that wars are unpredictable, and they remain a fundamentally human endeavor.  Those who believe that war can be waged with precision from a distance, with minimal personal risk, would do well to remember this lesson.

These great uncertainties have implications for the kinds of thinkers and leaders the Army and America will need you to be.  The challenge you will face is how to build on the skills honed during the past decade of war while preparing for conflicts that are likely to take on a new and unfamiliar form – and to do this in an Army that will have fewer people and less money than it’s had in recent years.

You are entering the military at a time when the world is undergoing historic transformation.  A new world order is being constructed.  This moment, like others before it, calls for American leadership and engagement.  That leadership will include continuing to build coalitions of common interests and strengthening alliances and forging new ones.

The words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at his Fourth Inaugural on January 20, 1945 echo even more loudly today, when he said: “We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations, far away…We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.”

Understand that there are rarely quick and easy solutions to every problem, there are evolving solutions, that require managing problems to the higher ground of resolution…and ultimately to a solution.  Too many costly strategic and tactical mistakes have been made by not appreciating this complicated reality in world affairs.

All this will matter little if the Army you lead is not maintained as a ready, disciplined, and cohesive force.  As the Army returns to garrison after more than a decade of constant deployments, some of the strains and stresses placed on soldiers and their families are easing.  At the same time, budget constraints are forcing the Army – along with all our services – to curtail training and cancel exercises, impacting readiness and morale.  Meanwhile, other threats to the health and quality of the all-volunteer force are increasing – alcohol and drug abuse, suicide and mental illness, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.

You will need to not just deal with these debilitating, insidious and destructive forces but rather you must be the generation of leaders that stop it.  This will require your complete commitment to building a culture of respect for every member of the military and society.  Sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military are a profound betrayal of sacred oaths and sacred trusts.  This scourge must be stamped out.  We are all accountable and responsible for ensuring that this happens.  We cannot fail the Army or America.  We cannot fail each other, and we cannot fail the men and women that we lead.  As President Obama said yesterday at the Naval Academy: “These crimes have no place in the greatest military on earth.”

While the Army today continues to be under stress, it is also far more professional, adaptable, lethal, and capable than it has ever been.  It is likewise growing more diverse.  We are all benefiting from the continued expansion of opportunities for women to serve in our military.  The United States military has long benefited from the service of gay men and lesbians.  Now they serve openly with full honor, integrity, and respect.  That makes this Army stronger.

You know from your time here at West Point you will continue to learn from the work of generations of leaders – all generations of Army leadership – as you confront the new challenges of today and tomorrow.

This morning I have focused on your responsibilities – to the soldiers you will command, and to the institution that you will lead.  But the Army also has obligations to you.  In particular, it has a responsibility to put in place a culture and an organization that enables you to grow and succeed.  I know our leaders sitting here today and all of Army’s leadership across the globe work every day to achieve that accomplishment, an important objective that never, ever ends.  America will always need an Army that cultivates its best and brightest leaders, provides them and their families with incentives to remain in service, we always take care of our people.  You must always take care of your people.

In preparing for today, I reflected on many of my own experiences.  I reflected on my own experiences in particular during my days in the Army and all the great opportunities I’ve had in my life to serve this country.  And I thought about what insights I might be able to leave you with and not minimize the opportunity you’ve given me to be with you today.

That reflection brought me to a concluding observation.  It’s a reflection not about my own experience, not about me, but rather, it’s about someone else.  A professional soldier who walked these grounds as a young cadet fifty years ago.

Robert George Keats was a member of West Point’s Class of 1965.  He was an outstanding writer who helped put together General Douglas MacArthur’s memorial articles.  He established West Point’s history club and became its first President.  After graduation, he completed Airborne and Ranger schools, married his high school sweetheart, and volunteered for duty in Vietnam.

A few months after arriving in Vietnam, Captain Keats took command of my company – B Company, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division.  Within ten days of taking command, on February 2, 1968 – shortly before his 24th birthday – he was killed.  I was there.

Captain Keats is buried at West Point Cemetery, alongside other heroes of the Long Gray Line – including 33 of the more than 90 West Point graduates who have died in uniform since September 11, 2001.

One of Captain Keats’ brothers, Walter Keats, and his West Point roommate, Robert Scully, are here with us today.

At Captain Keats’ funeral service a letter he had sent as a cadet was read aloud.  He wrote of being an idealist, committed to upholding and defending American values and virtues.  His letter included the following words: “I am in a fight to save the ideal now.  I shall be until the day I die.  The world can only be saved by people who are striving for the ideal.  I know we shall win, it can be no other way.”

Wherever you go, whatever you do, remember, that like Robert George Keats, you chose to be a soldier at a defining time in our nation’s history.  You too are fighting for an ideal – as the Class of 2013 motto says, you are “defending the dream.”

America needs you, and it will count on you to uphold this ideal.  In Captain Keats’ words, “It can be no other way.”

Thank you for what you will do for our country and your families – and God bless you all.

Political Headlines February 27, 2013: Chuck Hagel sworn in as Defense Secretary & first remarks at the Pentagon

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Chuck Hagel sworn in, first remarks at the Pentagon (video)

Source: Politico, 2-27-13

Chuck Hagel was sworn in Wednesday as defense secretary — President Barack Obama’s third in just over four years — and said that one of his highest priorities will be ensuring fair treatment of troops, veterans and their families….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 27, 2013: Bob Woodward blasts President Obama’s madness on the sequester

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Bob Woodward blasts President Obama madness

Source: Politico, 2-27-13

The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward attacked President Barack Obama on Wednesday, saying the commander-in-chief’s decision not to deploy an aircraft carrier because of budget cuts is “a kind of madness….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency February 26, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense

POLITICAL BUZZ


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Statement from the President on the Confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense

Source: WH, 2-26-13

With the bipartisan confirmation of Chuck Hagel as our next Secretary of Defense, we will have the defense secretary our nation needs and the leader our troops deserve.  From the moment he volunteered for military service in Vietnam, Chuck has devoted his life to keeping America secure and our armed forces strong.  An American patriot who fought and bled for our country, he understands our sacred obligations to our service members, military families and veterans.

I will be counting on Chuck’s judgment and counsel as we end the war in Afghanistan, bring our troops home, stay ready to meet the threats of our time and keep our military the finest fighting force in the world.  Most of all, I am grateful to Chuck for reminding us that when it comes to our national defense, we are not Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans, and our greatest responsibility is the security of the American people.

Political Headlines February 26, 2013: Senate Confirms Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary with Vote of 58-41

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Senate Confirms Hagel as Defense Secretary

Source: WSJ, 2-26-13

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Chuck Hagel as the nation’s next defense secretary largely along party lines, after several Republicans earlier in the day ended their effort to stop a vote on the former senator….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency February 26, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Impact of the Sequester & Defense Spending Cuts in Newport News, Virginia

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Calls for a Responsible Approach to Deficit Reduction

Source: WH, 2-26-13

President Barack Obama at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., Feb. 26, 2013President Barack Obama delivers remarks to highlight the devastating impact the sequester will have on jobs and middle class families, at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., Feb. 26, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Remarks by the President on the Impact of the Sequester – Newport News, VA

Source: WH, 2-26-13 

Newport News Shipbuilding
Newport News, Virginia

1:23 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Newport News!  (Applause.)  Well, it is good to see all of you here today.

I want to thank your CEO, Mike Petters, for showing me around.  I usually don’t get a chance to hang out with nuclear submarines, especially submarines that my wife has sponsored.  (Applause.)  So right there, that was worth the trip.

But most importantly, it’s a great chance to see the incredible men and women who, every single day, are helping to keep America safe and are just the bedrock of this country’s manufacturing base.  Thank you to all of you.  (Applause.)

I want to thank our outstanding Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, who’s here.  (Applause.)  There he is right there — the good-looking guy over at the end.  (Laughter.)  I want to thank your Mayor, McKinley Price, who served this nation bravely in the U.S. Army.  (Applause.)  I want to thank two outstanding Congressmen who care about this facility, care about Virginia and care about the country — Congressman Bobby Scott is here — (applause) — and Congressman Scott Rigell is here as well.  (Applause.)

Now, the reason I came here today, in addition to seeing just some incredible stuff — it’s true, every time I come to these places, I don’t know how you all do it.  It is just amazing work.  But the main reason I’m here is to call attention to the important work that you’re doing on behalf of the nation’s defense, and to let the American people know that this work, along with hundreds of thousands of jobs, are currently in jeopardy because of politics in Washington.

In a few days, Congress might allow a series of immediate, painful, arbitrary budget cuts to take place — known in Washington as the sequester.  Now, that’s a pretty bad name — sequester.  But the effects are even worse than the name.  Instead of cutting out the government spending we don’t need — wasteful programs that don’t work, special interest tax loopholes and tax breaks — what the sequester does is it uses a meat cleaver approach to gut critical investments in things like education and national security and lifesaving medical research.

And the impact of this policy won’t be felt overnight, but it will be real.  The sequester will weaken America’s economic recovery.  It will weaken our military readiness.  And it will weaken the basic services that the American people depend on every single day.

Already, the uncertainty around these cuts is having an effect.  Companies are starting to prepare for layoff notices.  Families are preparing to cut back on expenses.  And the longer these cuts are in place, the greater the damage.

So here at Newport News Shipbuilding, you guys have made an enormous investment, because we’ve said in order to maintain the finest Navy that the world has ever known we’ve got to make sure that there is an orderly process whereby we are continually upgrading our ships, building new ships, maintaining our ships properly.  And these are some big ships.  So it’s expensive, and it’s complicated.  And you’ve got 5,000 suppliers all across the country, and you’ve got to have some certainty and some knowledge about how things are going to proceed over the long term for Mike and others to plan properly.

So you’re rightly concerned.  Mike is properly concerned about the impact that these cuts will have on not just this company, but companies and small businesses from all 50 states that supply you with parts and equipment.

Mike was telling me that you guys have already made a billion dollars’ worth of capital investment.  You’ve got half a billion dollars in training costs as you recruit and hire new people.  Well, those aren’t commitments that you make lightly.  You’ve got to have the capacity to plan and have some certainty in terms of what it is that we’re going to be doing.  And you know that if Congress can’t get together and plan our nation’s finances for the long term, that over time some of your jobs and businesses could be at risk.

Over at the Norfolk Naval Station, the threat of these cuts has already forced the Navy to cancel the deployment, or delay the repair of certain aircraft carriers.  One that’s currently being built might not get finished.  Another carrier might not get started at all.  And that hurts your bottom line.  That hurts this community.

Because of these automatic cuts, about 90,000 Virginians who work for the Department of Defense would be forced to take unpaid leave from their jobs.  So that’s money out of their pockets, money out of their paychecks.  And then that means there’s going to be a ripple effect on thousands of other jobs and businesses and services throughout the Commonwealth, because if they don’t have money in their pockets or less money in their pockets, that means they’re less able to afford to buy goods and services from other businesses.  So it’s not just restricted to the defense industry.

All told, the sequester could cost tens of thousands of jobs right here in Virginia.  But it doesn’t just stop there.  If the sequester goes into effect, more than 2,000 college students would lose their financial aid.  Early education like Head Start and Early Start would be eliminated for nearly 1,000 children, and around 18,000 fewer Virginians would get the skills and training they need to find a job.

Across the country, these cuts will force federal prosecutors to close cases and potentially let criminals go.  Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, and that could cause delays at airports across the country.  Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find child care for their kids.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings, including more than 3,500 children right here in Virginia.

So these cuts are wrong.  They’re not smart.  They’re not fair.  They’re a self-inflicted wound that doesn’t have to happen.

Now, the reason that we’re even thinking about the sequester is because people are rightly concerned about the deficit and the debt.  But there is a sensible way of doing things and there is a dumb way of doing things.  I mean, think about your own family.  Let’s say that suddenly you’ve got a little less money coming in. Are you going to say, well, we’ll cut out college tuition for the kid, we’ll stop feeding the little guy over here, we won’t pay our car note even though that means we can’t get to work — that’s not what you do, right?

You step back and you say, what is it that’s important — our child’s education, making sure they’re healthy, making sure we can get to the job, keeping our house repaired?  And then you say, here are the things that aren’t so important and you cut those out.  You prioritize, and you make smart decisions.  Well, we should be doing the same thing.

Now, I’ve laid out a plan that details how we can pay down our deficit in a way that’s balanced and responsible.  We have the plan right on a website, the White House website.  Everybody can go see it.  It details exactly how we can cut programs that don’t work, how we can raise money by closing loopholes that are only serving a few, as opposed to the average American.

We detailed $930 billion in sensible spending cuts that we’re willing to make and $580 billion in wasteful tax loopholes and deductions that we’re willing to eliminate through tax reform.

And what I’ve said is if the Republicans in Congress don’t like every detail of my proposal, which I don’t expect them to, I’ve told them my door is open.  I am more than willing to negotiate.  I want to compromise.  There’s no reason why we can’t come together and find a sensible way to reduce the deficit over the long term without affecting vital services, without hurting families, without impacting outstanding facilities like this one and our national defense.  There’s a way of doing this.

And the fact is there are leaders in both parties throughout this country who want to do the same.  I’ve got to give Scott Rigell credit.  He is one of your Republican congressmen who’s with us here today — and that’s not always healthy for a Republican, being with me.  But the reason he’s doing it is because he knows it’s important to you.  And he’s asked his colleagues in the House to consider closing tax loopholes instead of letting these automatic cuts go through.  He’s concerned about the deficit, and he’s more than prepared to make some really tough cuts, but he wants to do it in a smart way.

Bobby Scott — same thing.  Some of the cuts we’ve proposed, Bobby might not think are perfect, but he knows that we’ve got to make some tough decisions.  He just wants to make sure that you aren’t the ones who are adversely impacted and that we’re sharing the sacrifice in bringing down our deficit; we’re not just dumping it on a few people and we’re not doing it in a dumb way.

Senators like John McCain have made similar statements to what Scott said.  Your Republican Governor along with other governors around the country have said they want Congress to stop the sequester, to stop these cuts.

But I just have to be honest with you.  There are too many Republicans in Congress right now who refuse to compromise even an inch when it comes to closing tax loopholes and special interest tax breaks.  And that’s what’s holding things up right now.

Keep in mind, nobody is asking them to raise income tax rates.  All we’re asking is to consider closing tax loopholes and deductions that the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, said he was willing to do just a few months ago.  He said there were a bunch of loopholes and deductions you could close.  He said you could raise $800 billion, a trillion dollars by closing loopholes.

Well, we’re not even asking for that much.  All we’re asking is that they close loopholes for the well-off and the well-connected — for hedge fund managers, or oil companies, or corporate jet owners who are all doing very well and don’t need these tax loopholes — so we can avoid laying off workers, or kicking kids off Head Start, or reducing financial aid for college students.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask.  I do not think that is partisan.  (Applause.)  The majority of the American people agree with me.  The majority of Newport News agrees with me.  We need to get this done.  (Applause.)

But the choice is up to Congress.  Only Congress has the power to pass a law that stops these damaging cuts and replaces them with smart savings and tax reform.  And the second I get that bill on my desk, I will sign it into law.  But I’ve got to get Congress to pass it.

None of us will get 100 percent of what we want.  Democrats, they’ve got to make some tough choices too. Democrats like me, we’ve said we’re prepared to make some tough cuts and reforms, including to programs like Medicare.  But if we’re willing to compromise, then Republicans in the House have to compromise as well.  That’s what democracy is about.  That’s what this country needs right now.  (Applause.)

So let me just make one last point, by the way, for those of you who are following this.  Now, lately, some people have been saying, well, maybe we’ll just give the President some flexibility.  He could make the cuts the way he wants and that way it won’t be as damaging.  The problem is when you’re cutting $85 billion in seven months, which represents over a 10-percent cut in the defense budget in seven months, there’s no smart way to do that.  There’s no smart way to do that.  You don’t want to have to choose between, let’s see, do I close funding for the disabled kid, or the poor kid?  Do I close this Navy shipyard or some other one?  When you’re doing things in a way that’s not smart, you can’t gloss over the pain and the impact it’s going to have on the economy.

And the broader point is, Virginia, we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.  We can’t just cut our way to prosperity.  We can’t ask seniors and working families like yours to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest and the most powerful.  We’re not going to grow the middle class just by shifting the cost of health care or college onto families that are already struggling, or forcing communities to lay off more teachers or cops or firefighters or shipbuilders, and then folks who are doing really well don’t have to do anything more.  That’s not fair, and it’s not good for the economy.

And the other thing we’ve got to do is to stop having these crises manufactured every month.  It seems like — I know you guys must get tired of it.  (Applause.)  Didn’t we just solve this thing?  Now we’ve got another thing coming up?  (Applause.) I mean, think about if Mike Petters ran his business this way — once every month or two there would be some crisis, and you wouldn’t be sure whether or not you were working or not.  Even if it got solved eventually or ultimately, it would be pretty discouraging on people.  You would be less productive.  Ships wouldn’t get built as fast.  You would waste money because you don’t know exactly what to expect.  Folks aren’t sure, am I showing up to work today, or not?

If it’s not a good way to run a business, it’s sure not a good way to run a country.  (Applause.)

Now, all of you, the American people, you’ve worked too hard for too long rebuilding and digging our way out of the financial crisis back in 2007 and 2008 just to see Congress cause another one.  The greatest nation on Earth can’t keep on conducting its business drifting from one crisis to the next.

We’ve got to have a plan.  We’ve got to invest in our common future.  Our true north is a growing economy that creates good middle-class jobs; a country that provides its people with the skills they need to get those jobs and make sure that you’re getting paid a decent wage for working hard so you can support your families.  That’s what we should be focused on right now.  Not weakening the economy.  Not laying people off.  (Applause.)

That’s what we should be talking about in Washington.  And if you agree with me, I need you to make sure your voices are heard.  Let your leaders know what you expect of them.  Let them know what you believe.  Let them know that what this country was built on was a sense of obligation to not just each other but to future generations; that we’ve got to shoulder those obligations as one nation, and as one people.

I was in a conversation with some of the governors from across the country yesterday and I told them, I said, I’ve run my last election.  Michelle is very happy about that.  (Laughter.)  I’m not interested in spin; I’m not interested in playing a blame game.  At this point, all I’m interested in is just solving problems.  (Applause.)  All I’m interested in is making sure that when you get up early in the morning, and get to this ship at 5:30 in the morning, that you know if you do a good job and if you work hard and if you’re making sure that all the parts to this incredible ship that you’re building are where they need to be — if you’re doing what you do, then you can go home feeling satisfied, I did my job, I did my part, I can support my family, I can take pride in what I’ve done for this country.

That’s all I want.  I want us to be able to look back five years from now, 10 years from now, and say we took care of our business and we put an end to some of these games that maybe, I guess, are entertaining for some but are hurting too many people.

But in order for us to make that happen I’m going to need you.  The one thing about being President is, after four years you get pretty humble.  (Laughter.)  You’d think maybe you wouldn’t, but actually you become more humble.  You realize what you don’t know.  You realize all the mistakes you’ve made.  But you also realize you can’t do things by yourself.  That’s not how our system works.  You’ve got to have the help and the goodwill of Congress, and what that means is you’ve got to make sure that constituents of members of Congress are putting some pressure on them, making sure they’re doing the right thing, putting an end to some of these political games.

So I need you, Virginia, to keep up the pressure.  I need you to keep up the effort.  I need you to keep up the fight.  (Applause.)  If you do, Congress will listen.  If you stand up and speak out, Congress will listen.  And together, we will unleash our true potential, and we’ll remind the world just why it is the United States builds the greatest ships on Earth and is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

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

END
1:44 P.M. EST

Political Headlines February 26, 2013: Senate clears path for final vote on Chuck Hagel’s defense secretary nomination

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Senate clears path for final vote on Hagel nomination

Source: WaPo, 2-26-13

Former senator Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) bid to win confirmation as the next defense secretary cleared a major hurdle Tuesday, beating back a Republican effort to block his nomination almost two weeks after GOP senators launched a filibuster. Following a 71 to 27 vote, Hagel is now poised for a final confirmation vote later Tuesday or early Wednesday over Republican objections to his views on Middle East security….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines February 14, 2013: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Statement on the Unprecedented Republican Filibuster of Chuck Hagel’s Nomination

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Reid Statement On Unprecedented Republican Filibuster Of Hagel Nomination

Source: Reid.Senate.gov, 2-14-13

Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement after Senate Republicans blocked the nomination of Senator Chuck Hagel to be Defense Secretary from receiving an up-or-down vote, continuing the first-ever filibuster of a Defense Secretary nominee. The vote was 58-40 with one Senator voting present:

“In a time of war and threats to Americans at home and abroad, Senate Republicans are waging the first-ever filibuster of a Defense Secretary nominee. Despite unprecedented responsiveness and transparency from the White House, Republicans have constantly invented new pretexts for opposing Senator Hagel’s nomination, and Republicans continued their embarrassing display of disregard for our national security by blocking Senator Hagel’s nomination today.

“Watching Republicans with otherwise distinguished records on national security place their desire to please the Tea Party ahead of doing the right thing for our troops is one of the saddest spectacles I have witnessed in my twenty-seven years in the Senate.

“Senator Hagel is a decorated war veteran, an expert on national security issues and the right man to lead the Pentagon in these troubling times. Democrats will continue to fight for Senator Hagel, and we will reconsider his nomination in the coming days. Some Republican senators have said that they will change their votes, and allow his nomination to proceed at some point in the future. I will take them at their word, and I will hold them to their pledge.”

Political Headlines February 14, 2013: Senate Blocks Hagel Nomination

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Senate Blocks Hagel Nomination

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-15-13

US Senate

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will have to stay on the job a little bit longer.

As expected, the Senate on Thursday failed to invoke cloture, essentially cutting off debate and not moving closer toward final passage of Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next defense secretary.

The vote was 58-40. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, voted present. Four Republicans voted with the Democrats to end debate.

This marks the first time a Cabinet nominee has ever been blocked on a cloture vote….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 14, 2013: Senate Republicans block Chuck Hagel nomination for defense secretary

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Senate Republicans block Hagel nomination for defense secretary

Source: WaPo, 2-14-13

(J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Senate Republicans have blocked former senator Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) nomination for secretary of defense, filibustering his confirmation amid demands for more time to study their former colleague’s speeches and finances after leaving the Senate in 2008. It is the first time a national security Cabinet nominee has ever faced a filibuster…..READ MORE

Political Headlines February 14, 2013: Chuck Hagel blocked: Harry Reid says he doesn’t have the votes

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Chuck Hagel blocked: Harry Reid says he doesn’t have the votes

Source: Politico, 2-14-13

Chuck Hagel’s path to the Pentagon struck another major roadblock on Thursday when Senate Republicans kept up their threat to filibuster, throwing the nomination into limbo as Congress prepared to quit town for a weeklong recess….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 14, 2013: Senate Republicans have the votes to filibuster on Chuck Hagel

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Senate Republicans have the votes to filibuster on Hagel

Source: Washington Post, 2-14-13

Senate Republicans have secured enough votes to mount a filibuster of Chuck Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid announced Thursday, increasing the stakes in the showdown over the former GOP senator’s bid….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 12, 2013: Chuck Hagel’s Secretary of Defense Nomination Heads to Senate After Partisan Committee Vote

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Hagel Nomination Heads to Senate After Partisan Committee Vote

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-12-13

US Senate

Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the next secretary of defense has been sent to the full Senate, following a 14-to-11 committee vote that split along partisan lines. Tuesday’s vote by the Senate Armed Services Committee reflects how unpopular Hagel’s nomination has been among his former Republican Senate colleagues.

Two hours of debate prior to the vote were indicative of the partisan divide over his nomination.  Republicans assailed his Senate voting record and his qualifications for the job; some Democrats expressed lukewarm support and defended his character….READ MORE

Political Headlines February 11, 2013: Sen. Lindsey Graham Threatens to Hold Up Confirmation Vote on Chuck Hagel, John Brennan Nominations

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Sen. Graham Threatens to Hold Up Vote on Hagel, Brennan Nominations

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-11-13

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham says until he knows exactly how President Obama acted immediately after the U.S consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked last Sept. 11, he will attempt to hold up confirmation votes on the White House picks for secretary of defense and CIA director.

Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday, the South Carolina Republican said, “We know nothing about what the president did on the night of Sept. 11, during a time of national crisis, and the American people need to know what their commander-in-chief did, if anything, during the eight-hour attack.”…READ MORE

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