OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
OP-EDS & ARTICLES
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Source: WH, 8-1-14
2:45 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Happy Friday. I thought I’d take some questions, but first, let me say a few words about the economy.
This morning, we learned that our economy created over 200,000 new jobs in July. That’s on top of about 300,000 new jobs in June. So we are now in a six-month streak with at least 200,000 new jobs each month. That’s the first time that has happened since 1997. Over the past year, we’ve added more jobs than any year since 2006. And all told, our businesses have created 9.9 million new jobs over the past 53 months. That’s the longest streak of private sector job creation in our history.
And as we saw on Wednesday, the economy grew at a strong pace in the spring. Companies are investing. Consumers are spending. American manufacturing, energy, technology, autos — all are booming. And thanks to the decisions that we’ve made, and the grit and resilience of the American people, we’ve recovered faster and come farther from the recession than almost any other advanced country on Earth.
So the good news is the economy clearly is getting stronger. Things are getting better. Our engines are revving a little bit louder. And the decisions that we make right now can sustain and keep that growth and momentum going.
Unfortunately, there are a series of steps that we could be taking to maintain momentum, and perhaps even accelerate it; there are steps that we could be taking that would result in more job growth, higher wages, higher incomes, more relief for middle-class families. And so far, at least, in Congress, we have not seen them willing or able to take those steps.
I’ve been pushing for common-sense ideas like rebuilding our infrastructure in ways that are sustained over many years and support millions of good jobs and help businesses compete. I’ve been advocating on behalf of raising the minimum wage, making it easier for working folks to pay off their student loans; fair pay, paid leave. All these policies have two things in common: All of them would help working families feel more stable and secure, and all of them so far have been blocked or ignored by Republicans in Congress. That’s why my administration keeps taking whatever actions we can take on our own to help working families.
Now, it’s good that Congress was able to pass legislation to strengthen the VA. And I want to thank the chairmen and ranking members who were involved in that. It’s good that Congress was able to at least fund transportation projects for a few more months before leaving town — although it falls far short of the kind of infrastructure effort that we need that would actually accelerate the economy. But for the most part, the big-ticket items, the things that would really make a difference in the lives of middle-class families, those things just are not getting done.
Let’s just take a recent example: Immigration. We all agree that there’s a problem that needs to be solved in a portion of our southern border. And we even agree on most of the solutions. But instead of working together — instead of focusing on the 80 percent where there is agreement between Democrats and Republicans, between the administration and Congress — House Republicans, as we speak, are trying to pass the most extreme and unworkable versions of a bill that they already know is going nowhere, that can’t pass the Senate and that if it were to pass the Senate I would veto. They know it.
They’re not even trying to actually solve the problem. This is a message bill that they couldn’t quite pull off yesterday, so they made it a little more extreme so maybe they can pass it today — just so they can check a box before they’re leaving town for a month. And this is on an issue that they all insisted had to be a top priority.
Now, our efforts administratively so far have helped to slow the tide of child migrants trying to come to our country. But without additional resources and help from Congress, we’re just not going to have the resources we need to fully solve the problem. That means while they’re out on vacation I’m going to have to make some tough choices to meet the challenge — with or without Congress.
And yesterday, even though they’ve been sitting on a bipartisan immigration bill for over a year, House Republicans suggested that since they don’t expect to actually pass a bill that I can sign, that I actually should go ahead and act on my own to solve the problem. Keep in mind that just a few days earlier, they voted to sue me for acting on my own. And then when they couldn’t pass a bill yesterday, they put out a statement suggesting I should act on my own because they couldn’t pass a bill.
So immigration has not gotten done. A student loan bill that would help folks who have student loan debt consolidate and refinance at lower rates — that didn’t pass. The transportation bill that they did pass just gets us through the spring, when we should actually be planning years in advance. States and businesses are raising the minimum wage for their workers because this Congress is failing to do so.
Even basic things like approving career diplomats for critical ambassadorial posts aren’t getting done. Last night, for purely political reasons, Senate Republicans, for a certain period of time, blocked our new ambassador to Russia. It raised such an uproar that finally they went ahead and let our Russian ambassador pass — at a time when we are dealing every day with the crisis in Ukraine.
They’re still blocking our ambassador to Sierra Leone, where there’s currently an Ebola outbreak. They’re blocking our ambassador to Guatemala, even as they demand that we do more to stop the flow of unaccompanied children from Guatemala. There are a lot of things that we could be arguing about on policy — that’s what we should be doing as a democracy — but we shouldn’t be having an argument about placing career diplomats with bipartisan support in countries around the world where we have to have a presence.
So the bottom line is this: We have come a long way over the last five and a half years. Our challenges are nowhere near as daunting as they were when I first came into office. But the American people demand and deserve a strong and focused effort on the part of all of us to keep moving the country forward and to focus on their concerns. And the fact is we could be much further along and we could be doing even better, and the economy could be even stronger, and more jobs could be created if Congress would do the job that the people sent them here to do.
And I will not stop trying to work with both parties to get things moving faster for middle-class families and those trying to get into the middle class. When Congress returns next month, my hope is, is that instead of simply trying to pass partisan message bills on party lines that don’t actually solve problems, they’re going to be willing to come together to at least focus on some key areas where there’s broad agreement. After all that we’ve had to overcome, our Congress should stop standing in the way of our country’s success.
So with that, let me take a couple of questions. And I will start with Roberta Rampton of Reuters.
Q Thanks. I want to ask about the situation in the Middle East. And why do you think Israel should embrace a cease-fire in Gaza when one of its soldiers appears to have been abducted and when Hamas continues to use its network of tunnels to launch attacks? And also, have you seen Israel act at all on your call to do more to protect civilians?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I think it’s important to note that we have — and I have — unequivocally condemned Hamas and the Palestinian factions that were responsible for killing two Israeli soldiers and abducting a third almost minutes after a cease-fire had been announced. And the U.N. has condemned them as well.
And I want to make sure that they are listening: If they are serious about trying to resolve this situation, that soldier needs to be unconditionally released as soon as possible.
I have been very clear throughout this crisis that Israel has a right to defend itself. No country can tolerate missiles raining down on its cities and people having to rush to bomb shelters every 20 minutes or half hour. No country can or would tolerate tunnels being dug under their land that can be used to launch terrorist attacks.
And so, not only have we been supportive of Israel in its right to defend itself, but in very concrete terms — for example, in support for the Iron Dome program that has intercepted rockets that are firing down on Israeli cities — we’ve been trying to cooperate as much as we can to make sure that Israel is able to protect its citizens.
Now, at the same time, we’ve also been clear that innocent civilians in Gaza caught in the crossfire have to weigh on our conscience and we have to do more to protect them. A cease-fire was one way in which we could stop the killing, to step back and to try to resolve some of the underlying issues that have been building up over quite some time. Israel committed to that 72-hour cease-fire, and it was violated. And trying to put that back together is going to be challenging, but we will continue to make those efforts.
And let me take this opportunity, by the way, to give Secretary John Kerry credit. He has been persistent. He has worked very hard. He has endured on many occasions really unfair criticism simply to try to get to the point where the killing stops and the underlying issues about Israel’s security but also the concerns of Palestinians in Gaza can be addressed.
We’re going to keep working towards that. It’s going to take some time. I think it’s going to be very hard to put a cease-fire back together again if Israelis and the international community can’t feel confident that Hamas can follow through on a cease-fire commitment.
And it’s not particularly relevant whether a particular leader in Hamas ordered this abduction. The point is, is that when they sign onto a cease-fire they’re claiming to speak for all the Palestinian factions. And if they don’t have control of them, and just moments after a cease-fire is signed you have Israeli soldiers being killed and captured, then it’s hard for the Israelis to feel confident that a cease-fire can actually be honored.
I’m in constant consultation with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Our national security team is in constant communication with the Israel military. I want to see everything possible done to make sure that Palestinian civilians are not being killed. And it is heartbreaking to see what’s happening there, and I think many of us recognize the dilemma we have. On the one hand, Israel has a right to defend itself and it’s got to be able to get at those rockets and those tunnel networks. On the other hand, because of the incredibly irresponsible actions on the part of Hamas to oftentimes house these rocket launchers right in the middle of civilian neighborhoods, we end up seeing people who had nothing to do with these rockets ending up being hurt.
Part of the reason why we’ve been pushing so hard for a cease-fire is precisely because it’s hard to reconcile Israel’s legitimate need to defend itself with our concern with those civilians. And if we can pause the fighting, then it’s possible that we may be able to arrive at a formula that spares lives and also ensures Israel’s security. But it’s difficult. And I don’t think we should pretend otherwise.
Q Mr. President, like that cease-fire, you’ve called for diplomatic solutions not only in Israel and Gaza but also in Ukraine, in Iraq, to very little effect so far. Has the United States of America lost its influence in the world? Have you lost yours?
THE PRESIDENT: Look, this is a common theme that folks bring up. Apparently people have forgotten that America, as the most powerful country on Earth, still does not control everything around the world. And so our diplomatic efforts often take time. They often will see progress and then a step backwards. That’s been true in the Middle East. That’s been true in Europe. That’s been true in Asia. That’s the nature of world affairs. It’s not neat, and it’s not smooth.
But if you look at, for example, Ukraine, we have made progress in delivering on what we said we would do. We can’t control how Mr. Putin thinks. But what we can do is say to Mr. Putin, if you continue on the path of arming separatists with heavy armaments that the evidence suggests may have resulted in 300 innocent people on a jet dying, and that violates international law and undermines the integrity — territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, then you’re going to face consequences that will hurt your country.
And there was a lot of skepticism about our ability to coordinate with Europeans for a strong series of sanctions. And each time we have done what we said we would do, including this week, when we put in place sanctions that have an impact on key sectors of the Russian economy — their energy, their defense, their financial systems.
It hasn’t resolved the problem yet. I spoke to Mr. Putin this morning, and I indicated to him, just as we will do what we say we do in terms of sanctions, we’ll also do what we say we do in terms of wanting to resolve this issue diplomatically if he takes a different position. If he respects and honors the right of Ukrainians to determine their own destiny, then it’s possible to make sure that Russian interests are addressed that are legitimate, and that Ukrainians are able to make their own decisions, and we can resolve this conflict and end some of the bloodshed.
But the point is, though, Bill, that if you look at the 20th century and the early part of this century, there are a lot of conflicts that America doesn’t resolve. That’s always been true. That doesn’t mean we stop trying. And it’s not a measure of American influence on any given day or at any given moment that there are conflicts around the world that are difficult. The conflict in Northern Ireland raged for a very, very long time until finally something broke, where the parties decided that it wasn’t worth killing each other.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been going on even longer than you’ve been reporting. (Laughter.) And I don’t think at any point was there a suggestion somehow that America didn’t have influence just because we weren’t able to finalize an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
You will recall that situations like Kosovo and Bosnia raged on for quite some time, and there was a lot more death and bloodshed than there has been so far in the Ukrainian situation before it ultimately did get resolved.
And so I recognize with so many different issues popping up around the world, sometimes it may seem as if this is an aberration or it’s unusual. But the truth of the matter is, is that there’s a big world out there, and that as indispensable as we are to try to lead it, there’s still going to be tragedies out there and there are going to be conflicts. And our job is to just make sure that we continue to project what’s right, what’s just, and that we’re building coalitions of like-minded countries and partners in order to advance not only our core security interests but also the interests of the world as a whole.
Q Do you think you could have done more?
THE PRESIDENT: On which one?
Q On any of them? Ukraine?
THE PRESIDENT: Well look, I think, Bill, that the nature of being President is that you’re always asking yourself what more can you do. But with respect to, let’s say, the Israeli-Palestinian issue, this administration invested an enormous amount to try to bring the parties together around a framework for peace and a two-state solution. John Kerry invested an enormous amount of time. In the end, it’s up to the two parties to make a decision. We can lead them to resolve some of the technical issues and to show them a path, but they’ve got to want it.
With respect to Ukraine, I think that we have done everything that we can to support the Ukrainian government and to deter Russia from moving further into Ukraine. But short of going to war, there are going to be some constraints in terms of what we can do if President Putin and Russia are ignoring what should be their long-term interests.
Right now, what we’ve done is impose sufficient costs on Russia that, objectively speaking, they should — President Putin should want to resolve this diplomatically, get these sanctions lifted, get their economy growing again, and have good relations with Ukraine. But sometimes people don’t always act rationally, and they don’t always act based on their medium- or long-term interests. That can’t deter us, though. We’ve just got to stay at it.
Q Mr. President, Republicans point to some of your executive orders as reason, they say, that they can’t trust you to implement legislation that they pass. Even if you don’t buy that argument, do you hold yourself totally blameless in the inability it appears to reach agreement with the Republican-led House?
THE PRESIDENT: Wendell, let’s just take the recent example of immigration. A bipartisan bill passed out of the Senate, co-sponsored by not just Democrats but some very conservative Republicans who recognize that the system currently is broken and if, in fact we put more resources on the border, provide a path in which those undocumented workers who’ve been living here for a long time and may have ties here are coming out of the shadows, paying their taxes, paying a fine, learning English — if we fix the legal immigration system so it’s more efficient, if we are attracting young people who may have studied here to stay here and create jobs here, that that all is going to be good for the economy, it’s going to reduce the deficit, it might have forestalled some of the problems that we’re seeing now in the Rio Grande Valley with these unaccompanied children.
And so we have a bipartisan bill, Wendell, bipartisan agreement supported by everybody from labor to the evangelical community to law enforcement. So the argument isn’t between me and the House Republicans. It’s between the House Republicans and Senate Republicans, and House Republicans and the business community, and House Republicans and the evangelical community. I’m just one of the people they seem to disagree with on this issue.
So that’s on the comprehensive bill. So now we have a short-term crisis with respect to the Rio Grande Valley. They say we need more resources, we need tougher border security in this area where these unaccompanied children are showing up. We agree. So we put forward a supplemental to give us the additional resources and funding to do exactly what they say we should be doing, and they can’t pass the bill. They can’t even pass their own version of the bill. So that’s not a disagreement between me and the House Republicans; that’s a disagreement between the House Republicans and the House Republicans.
The point is that on a range of these issues, whether it’s tax reform, whether it’s reducing the deficit, whether it’s rebuilding our infrastructure, we have consistently put forward proposals that in previous years and previous administrations would not have been considered radical or left wing; they would have been considered pretty sensible, mainstream approaches to solving problems.
I include under that, by the way, the Affordable Care Act. That’s a whole other conversation.
And in circumstances where even basic, common-sense, plain, vanilla legislation can’t pass because House Republicans consider it somehow a compromise of their principles, or giving Obama a victory, then we’ve got to take action. Otherwise, we’re not going to be making progress on the things that the American people care about.
Q On the border supplemental — can you act alone?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m going to have to act alone because we don’t have enough resources. We’ve already been very clear — we’ve run out of money. And we are going to have to reallocate resources in order to just make sure that some of the basic functions that have to take place down there — whether it’s making sure that these children are properly housed, or making sure we’ve got enough immigration judges to process their cases — that those things get done. We’re going to have to reallocate some resources.
But the broader point, Wendell, is that if, in fact, House Republicans are concerned about me acting independently of Congress — despite the fact that I’ve taken fewer executive actions than my Republican predecessor or my Democratic predecessor before that, or the Republican predecessor before that — then the easiest way to solve it is passing legislation. Get things done.
On the supplemental, we agreed on 80 percent of the issues. There were 20 percent of the issues that perhaps there were disagreements between Democrats and Republicans. As I said to one Republican colleague who was down here that I was briefing about some national security issues, why wouldn’t we just go ahead and pass the 80 percent that we agree on and we’ll try to work to resolve the differences on the other 20 percent? Why wouldn’t we do that? And he didn’t really have a good answer for it.
So there’s no doubt that I can always do better on everything, including making additional calls to Speaker Boehner, and having more conversations with some of the House Republican leadership. But in the end, the challenge I have right now is that they are not able to act even on what they say their priorities are, and they’re not able to work and compromise even with Senate Republicans on certain issues. And they consider what have been traditionally Republican-supported initiatives, they consider those as somehow a betrayal of the cause.
Take the example of the Export-Import Bank. This is an interesting thing that’s happened. This is a program in which we help to provide financing to sell American goods and products around the world. Every country does this. It’s traditionally been championed by Republicans. For some reason, right now the House Republicans have decided that we shouldn’t do this — which means that when American companies go overseas and they’re trying to close a sale on selling Boeing planes, for example, or a GE turbine, or some other American product, that has all kinds of subcontractors behind it and is creating all kinds of jobs, and all sorts of small businesses depend on that sale, and that American company is going up against a German company or a Chinese company, and the Chinese and the German company are providing financing and the American company isn’t, we may lose that sale.
When did that become something that Republicans opposed? It would be like me having a car dealership for Ford, and the Toyota dealership offers somebody financing and I don’t. We will lose business and we’ll lose jobs if we don’t pass it.
So there’s some big issues where I understand why we have differences. On taxes, Republicans want to maintain some corporate loopholes I think need to be closed because I think that we should be giving tax breaks to families that are struggling with child care or trying to save for a college education. On health care, obviously their view is, is that we should not be helping folks get health care, even though it’s through the private marketplace. My view is, is that in a country as wealthy as ours, we can afford to make sure that everybody has access to affordable care.
Those are legitimate policy arguments. But getting our ambassadors confirmed? These are career diplomats, not political types. Making sure that we pass legislation to strengthen our borders and put more folks down there? Those shouldn’t be controversial. And I think you’d be hard-pressed to find an example of where I wouldn’t welcome some reasonable efforts to actually get a bill passed out of Congress that I could sign.
Last question, Michelle Kosinski.
Q You made the point that in certain difficult conflicts in the past, both sides had to reach a point where they were tired of the bloodshed. Do you think that we are actually far from that point right now? And is it realistic to try to broker a cease-fire right now when there are still tunnel operations allowed to continue? Is that going to cause a change of approach from this point forward?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, keep in mind that the cease-fire that had been agreed to would have given Israel the capability to continue to dismantle these tunnel networks, but the Israelis can dismantle these tunnel networks without going into major population centers in Gaza. So I think the Israelis are entirely right that these tunnel networks need to be dismantled. There is a way of doing that while still reducing the bloodshed.
You are right that in past conflicts, sometimes people have to feel deeply the costs. Anybody who has been watching some of these images I’d like to think should recognize the costs. You have children who are getting killed. You have women, defenseless, who are getting killed. You have Israelis whose lives are disrupted constantly and living in fear. And those are costs that are avoidable if we’re able to get a cease-fire that preserves Israel’s ability to defend itself and gives it the capacity to have an assurance that they’re not going to be constantly threatened by rocket fire in the future, and, conversely, an agreement that recognizes the Palestinian need to be able to make a living and the average Palestinian’s capacity to live a decent life.
But it’s hard. It’s going to be hard to get there. I think that there’s a lot of anger and there’s a lot of despair, and that’s a volatile mix. But we have to keep trying.
And it is — Bill asked earlier about American leadership. Part of the reason why America remains indispensable, part of the essential ingredient in American leadership is that we’re willing to plunge in and try, where other countries don’t bother trying. I mean, the fact of the matter is, is that in all these crises that have been mentioned, there may be some tangential risks to the United States. In some cases, as in Iraq and ISIS, those are dangers that have to be addressed right now, and we have to take them very seriously. But for the most part, these are not — the rockets aren’t being fired into the United States. The reason we are concerned is because we recognize we’ve got some special responsibilities.
We have to have some humility about what we can and can’t accomplish. We have to recognize that our resources are finite, and we’re coming out of a decade of war and our military has been stretched very hard, as has our budget. Nevertheless, we try. We go in there and we make an effort.
And when I see John Kerry going out there and trying to broker a cease-fire, we should all be supporting him. There shouldn’t be a bunch of complaints and second-guessing about, well, it hasn’t happened yet, or nitpicking before he’s had a chance to complete his efforts. Because, I tell you what, there isn’t any other country that’s going in there and making those efforts.
And more often than not, as a consequence of our involvement, we get better outcomes — not perfect outcomes, not immediate outcomes, but we get better outcomes. And that’s going to be true with respect to the Middle East. That’s going to be true with respect to Ukraine. That’s going to be certainly true with respect to Iraq.
And I think it’s useful for me to end by just reminding folks that, in my first term, if I had a press conference like this, typically, everybody would want to ask about the economy and how come jobs weren’t being created, and how come the housing market is still bad, and why isn’t it working. Well, you know what, what we did worked. And the economy is better. And when I say that we’ve just had six months of more than 200,000 jobs that hasn’t happened in 17 years that shows you the power of persistence. It shows you that if you stay at it, eventually we make some progress. All right?
Q What about John Brennan?
Q The Africa summit — Ebola?
THE PRESIDENT: I thought that you guys were going to ask me how I was going to spend my birthday. What happened to the happy birthday thing?
Q Happy birthday.
Q What about John Brennan?
Q Africa summit?
THE PRESIDENT: I will address two points. I’ll address –
Q And Flight 17?
THE PRESIDENT: Hold on, guys. Come on. There’s just –
Q And Africa.
THE PRESIDENT: You’re not that pent up. I’ve been giving you questions lately.
On Brennan and the CIA, the RDI report has been transmitted, the declassified version that will be released at the pleasure of the Senate committee.
I have full confidence in John Brennan. I think he has acknowledged and directly apologized to Senator Feinstein that CIA personnel did not properly handle an investigation as to how certain documents that were not authorized to be released to the Senate staff got somehow into the hands of the Senate staff. And it’s clear from the IG report that some very poor judgment was shown in terms of how that was handled. Keep in mind, though, that John Brennan was the person who called for the IG report, and he’s already stood up a task force to make sure that lessons are learned and mistakes are resolved.
With respect to the larger point of the RDI report itself, even before I came into office I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.
I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen, and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent, and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this. And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.
But having said all that, we did some things that were wrong. And that’s what that report reflects. And that’s the reason why, after I took office, one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report.
And my hope is, is that this report reminds us once again that the character of our country has to be measured in part not by what we do when things are easy, but what we do when things are hard. And when we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line. And that needs to be — that needs to be understood and accepted. And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that, hopefully, we don’t do it again in the future.
Q Mr. President –
THE PRESIDENT: Now, I gave you a question.
Q All right.
Q The summit — the U.S.-Africa –
THE PRESIDENT: We’ve got a U.S.-Africa Summit coming up next week. It is going to be an unprecedented gathering of African leaders. The importance of this for America needs to be understood. Africa is one of the fastest-growing continents in the world. You’ve got six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in Africa. You have all sorts of other countries like China and Brazil and India deeply interested in working with Africa — not to extract natural resources alone, which traditionally has been the relationship between Africa and the rest of the world — but now because Africa is growing and you’ve got thriving markets and you’ve got entrepreneurs and extraordinary talent among the people there.
And Africa also happens to be one of the continents where America is most popular and people feel a real affinity for our way of life. And we’ve made enormous progress over the last several years in not just providing traditional aid to Africa, helping countries that are suffering from malnutrition or helping countries that are suffering from AIDS, but rather partnering and thinking about how can we trade more and how can we do business together. And that’s the kind of relationship that Africa is looking for.
And I’ve had conversations over the last several months with U.S. businesses — some of the biggest U.S. businesses in the world — and they say, Africa, that’s one of our top priorities; we want to do business with those folks, and we think that we can create U.S. jobs and send U.S. exports to Africa. But we’ve got to be engaged, and so this gives us a chance to do that. It also gives us a chance to talk to Africa about security issues — because, as we’ve seen, terrorist networks try to find places where governance is weak and security structures are weak. And if we want to keep ourselves safe over the long term, then one of the things that we can do is make sure that we are partnering with some countries that really have pretty effective security forces and have been deploying themselves in peacekeeping and conflict resolution efforts in Africa. And that, ultimately, can save us and our troops and our military a lot of money if we’ve got strong partners who are able to deal with conflicts in these regions.
So it’s going to be a terrific conference. I won’t lie to you, traffic will be bad here in Washington. (Laughter.) I know that everybody has been warned about that, but we are really looking forward to this and I think it’s going to be a great success.
Now, the last thing I’m going to say about this, because I know that it’s been on people’s minds, is the issue of Ebola. This is something that we take very seriously. As soon as there’s an outbreak anywhere in the world of any disease that could have significant effects, the CDC is in communication with the World Health Organization and other multilateral agencies to try to make sure that we’ve got an appropriate response.
This has been a more aggressive Ebola outbreak than we’ve seen in the past. But keep in mind that it is still affecting parts of three countries, and we’ve got some 50 countries represented at this summit. We are doing two things with respect to the summit itself. We’re taking the appropriate precautions. Folks who are coming from these countries that have even a marginal risk or an infinitesimal risk of having been exposed in some fashion, we’re making sure we’re doing screening on that end — as they leave the country. We’ll do additional screening when they’re here. We feel confident that the procedures that we’ve put in place are appropriate.
More broadly, the CDC and our various health agencies are going to be working very intently with the World Health Organization and some of our partner countries to make sure that we can surge some resources down there and organization to these countries that are pretty poor and don’t have a strong public health infrastructure so that we can start containing the problem.
Keep in mind that Ebola is not something that is easily transmitted. That’s why, generally, outbreaks dissipate. But the key is identifying, quarantining, isolating those who contract it and making sure that practices are in place that avoid transmission. And it can be done, but it’s got to be done in an organized, systematic way, and that means that we’re going to have to help these countries accomplish that.
All right? Okay.
Q Happy Birthday, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: There you go, April. (Laughter.) That’s what I was talking about — somebody finally wished me happy birthday — although it isn’t until Monday, you’re right.
Thank you so much.
END 3:34 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on August 1, 2014
Source: WH, 7-31-14
South Court Auditorium
1:40 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody, hello! (Applause.) Thank you so much. Everybody, please have a seat. Welcome to the White House.
The executive order I’ll sign in a few minutes is one that’s good for workers, it’s good for responsible employers, and it’s good for the middle class. That explains the folks who are standing up on stage with me, including Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, who’s done a great job on this. (Applause.)
Yesterday, we learned that the springtime was a strong time for economic growth. Companies are investing. Consumers are spending. Our energy, our technology, our auto industries are all booming, with workers making and selling goods all around the world. Our businesses have created nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months, and the unemployment rate is at its lowest point since 2008. 401(k)s have recovered their value. Home prices are rising. Millions more families have the peace of mind that comes with having affordable, quality health care.
And because of the incredible hard work and resilience of the American people, we’ve recovered faster, we’ve come farther than any other advanced country since the onset of the Great Recession. (Applause.) Things are getting better. Steadily, things are getting better. But we all know there’s more work to do. And the decisions we make now are going to have an impact on whether or not this economy works for everybody or just folks at the top; whether we’ve got a growing economy that fuels rising incomes and creates a thriving middle class and ladders into the middle class.
That’s what’s at stake — making sure our economy works for every hardworking American, and if you work hard and you’re responsible, you can get ahead. That’s what we want. We want to make sure the young dad on the factory floor has a shot to make it into the corner suite — or at least see his daughter make it there some day.
That’s why I ran for office. That’s what has driven every policy that we’ve initiated this year and since the advent of my presidency. Policies that create more jobs rebuilding America. Policies to ease the student loan burden. Policies to raise wages for workers, and make sure that women are being paid fairly on the job, and creating opportunities for paid leave for working families, and support for child care.
These are all policies that have two things in common. Number one, they’d all help working families. And, frankly, number two, they’re being blocked or ignored by Republicans in Congress. So I’ve said to my team, look, any time Congress wants to do work with me to help working families, I’m right there. The door is always open. More than that, I’ll go to them; I’ll wash their car — (laughter) — walk their dog. (Laughter.) I mean, I’m ready to work with them any time that they want to pursue policies that help working families. But where they’re doing so little or nothing at all to help working families, then we’ve got to find ways, as an administration, to take action that’s going to help.
And so far this year, we’ve made sure that more women have the protection they need to fight for fair pay in the workplace — because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds. (Applause.) We’ve acted to give millions of Americans the chance to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their income. I don’t want young people to be so saddled with debt that they can’t get started in life. (Applause.)
We’ve acted on our own to make sure federal contractors can’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity — because you shouldn’t be fired because of who you love. (Applause.) If you’re doing the job, you should be treated fairly and judged on your own merits. (Applause.)
We acted to require federal contractors to pay their workers a fair wage of $10.10 an hour. (Applause.) And we’ve gone out and we’ve worked with states and cities and business owners to join us on our $10.10 campaign, and more and more are joining us — because folks agree that if you work full-time in this country, you shouldn’t be raising your family in poverty. That’s a pretty simple principle that we all believe in. (Applause.)
So the American people are doing their job. I’ve been traveling around the country meeting them. They’re working hard. They’re meeting their responsibilities. Here in the executive branch, we’re doing our job, trying to find ways in which we can help working families. Think about how much further along we’d be if Congress would do its job.
Instead, the big event last night — it wasn’t the vote on the minimum wage. (Laughter.) It wasn’t a vote on immigration reform, strengthening the borders. It wasn’t a vote on family leave. What did they have a vote on? (Laughter.) They got together in the House of Representatives, the Republicans, and voted to sue me for taking the actions that we are doing to help families. (Laughter.)
One of the main objections that’s the basis of this suit is us making a temporary modification to the health care law that they said needed to be modified. (Laughter.) So they criticized a provision; we modify it to make it easier for business to transition; and that’s the basis for their suit. Now, you could say that, all right, this is a harmless political stunt — except it wastes America’s time. You guys are all paying for it as taxpayers. It’s not very productive. But it’s not going to stop me from doing what I think needs to be done in order to help families all across this country. (Applause.)
So we’ve got too much work to do. (Applause.) And I said to Speaker Boehner, tell your caucus the best way to avoid me acting on my own is work with me to actually do something. Then you don’t have to worry about it. We’re not going to stop, and if they’re not going to lift a finger to help working Americans then I’m going to work twice as hard to help working Americans. (Applause.) They can join me if they want. I hope they do. But at least they should stop standing in the way of America’s success. We’ve got too much to do. (Applause.)
So, today, I’m taking another action, one that protects workers and taxpayers alike. Every year, our government signs contracts with private companies for everything from fighter jets to flapjacks, computers to pencils. And we expect our tax dollars to be spent wisely on these contracts; to get what we pay for on-time, on budget. And when companies that receive federal contracts employ about 28 million Americans –- about one in five workers in America work for a company that has a federal contract -– we also expect that our tax dollars are being used to ensure that these jobs are good jobs.
Our tax dollars shouldn’t go to companies that violate workplace laws. (Applause.) They shouldn’t go to companies that violate worker rights. (Applause.) If a company is going to receive taxpayer money, it should have safe workplaces. (Applause.) It should pay its workers the wages they’ve earned. It should provide the medical leave workers are entitled to. It should not discriminate against workers. (Applause.)
But one study found that more than one in four companies that have poor records on these areas also still get contracts from the federal government. And another study found that the worst violators are also the ones who end up missing performance or cost or schedule targets –- or even overbilled the government, ripping off the taxpayers altogether — which makes sense. I mean, if you think about it, if you got a company that isn’t treating its workers with integrity, isn’t taking safety measures seriously, isn’t taking overtime laws seriously, then they’re probably cutting corners in other areas, too.
And I want to be clear, the vast majority of the companies that contract with our government, they play by the rules. They live up to the right workplace standards. But some don’t. And I don’t want those who don’t to be getting a contract and getting a competitive advantage over the folks who are doing the right thing, right? That’s not fair. (Applause.)
Because the ones that don’t play by the rules, they’re not just failing their workers, they’re failing all of us. It’s a bad deal for taxpayers when we’ve got to pay for poor performance or sloppy work. Responsible companies that follow the law are likelier to have workers and workplaces that provide a better return for our tax dollar. They should not have to compete on an unfair playing field with companies that undercut them by breaking the law. In a race to the bottom, nobody wins. (Applause.)
So over the past few years, my administration has taken steps to make the contracting process smarter. But many of the people who award contracts don’t always have the information that they need to make sure contracts go to responsible companies. So the executive order I’m signing today is going to do a few things.
Number one, it will hold corporations accountable by requiring potential contractors to disclose labor law violations from the past three years before they can receive a contract. It’s going to crack down on the worst violators by giving agencies better tools to evaluate egregious or repeated offenses.
It will give workers better and clearer information on their paychecks, so they can be sure they’re getting paid what they’re owed. It will give more workers who may have been sexually assaulted or had their civil rights violated their day in court.
It will ease compliance burdens for business owners around the country by streamlining all types of reporting requirements across the federal government. So this is a first step in a series of actions to make it easier for companies, including small businesses, to do business with the government. So we’re going to protect responsible companies that play by the rules — make it easier for them, try to reduce the paperwork, the burdens that they have. They’ll basically check a box that says they don’t have these violations. We want to make it easier for good corporate citizens to do business with us. (Applause.)
And, by the way, for companies that have violations, our emphasis is not going to be on punishments. It is to give them a chance to follow good workplace practices and come into compliance with the law. If you want to do business with the United States of America, you’ve got to respect our workers, you’ve got to respect our taxpayers.
And we’ll spend a lot of time working with and listening to business owners, so we can implement this thoughtfully and make it manageable for everybody. But the goal here is to make sure this action raises standards across the economy; encourages contractors to adopt better practices for all their employees, not just those working on federal contracts; give responsible businesses that play by the rules a fairer shot to compete for business; streamline the process; improve wages and working conditions for folks who work hard every single day to provide for their families and contribute to our country.
And even though it is an executive action, I want to acknowledge and thank the members of Congress who support it and who always stand up for America’s workers. And most of them are stuck at Capitol Hill, but I just want to mention their names anyway — Tom Harkin; Rosa DeLauro; Keith Ellison is here; Raul Grijalva; Eleanor Holmes Norton. They’ve all been working on these issues, so I want to thank those members of Congress. (Applause.)
The executive order I sign today, like all the other actions I’ve taken, are not going to fix everything immediately. If I had the power to raise the federal minimum wage on my own, or enact fair pay and paid leave for every worker on my own, or make college more affordable on my own, I would have done so already. If I could do all that, I would have gotten everything done in like my first two years. (Laughter.) Because these policies make sense. But even though I can’t do all of it, that shouldn’t stop us from doing what we can. That’s what these policies will do.
And I’m going to keep on trying, not just working with Democrats, but also reach out to Republicans to get things moving faster for the middle class. We can do a lot more. We need a Congress that’s willing to get things done. We don’t have that right now. In the meantime, I’m going to do whatever I can, wherever I can, whenever I can, to keep this country’s promise alive for more and more of the American people.
So, thank you all. We’re going to just keep on at this thing, chipping away. And I’m confident that when we look back, we’ll see that these kinds of executive actions build some of the momentum and give people the confidence and the hope that ultimately leads to broad-based changes that we need to make sure that this economy works for everybody.
Thank you so much. I’m going to sign this executive order. (Applause.)
2:00 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 31, 2014
Source: WH, 7-30-14
Kansas City, Missouri
11:06 A.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Kansas City! (Applause.) Well, it is good to be back in Kansas City, back in the Midwest. (Applause.) And I have to say, I love these old theaters. I mean, they are unbelievable. This is just gorgeous.
It is good to see Governor Jay Nixon here today. (Applause.) Congressman Emanuel Cleaver is here. (Applause.) Congressman Lacy Clay is here. (Applause.) Mayor Sly James is here. (Applause.) And you’re here! All of you are here. (Applause.)
Now, if you have a seat, feel free to sit down, because I don’t want everybody starting to fall out. (Laughter.) If you don’t have a seat, don’t sit down. But bend your knees a little bit.
It’s always good to spend a little time in Kansas City. Last night, I had a chance to get some barbecue at Arthur Bryant’s. (Applause.) Now, they had run out of coleslaw, which I asked — I said, did you save some coleslaw for me? They said, no, they hadn’t saved any.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: I’m sorry, what are you hollering about?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible) to God –
THE PRESIDENT: I believe in God. Thanks for the prayer. Amen. Thank you. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: We love you! We love you!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I just want to be on record, though, because people have been asking me this question. I deal with a lot of tough issues — I am not going to decide who makes the best barbecue in Kansas City. (Laughter.) Bryant’s barbecue was tasty. And Victor is right, I did plow through it pretty good. (Laughter.) But I have not had enough samples to make a definitive judgment, so I’m going to have to try some other barbecue the next time I come in. I have to say, by the way, Victor was not shy about eating either. (Laughter.) So I just want to be clear.
But I had a chance — I went there for the barbecue, but also I went there because I wanted to have a chance to talk to Victor and three other people from the area who took the time to sit down with me and talk, because they had written letters to me. Some of you may know –
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I wrote you, too! (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know what, if I had known, I would have had you over for dinner, too. (Laughter.)
But what happens is, every night I read 10 letters that we receive. We get 40,000 correspondence. And then our correspondence office chooses 10, sort of a sample for me to take a look at. And it gives me a chance to hear directly from the people I serve. And folks tell me their stories — they tell me their worries and their hopes and their hardships, their successes. Some say I’m doing a good job. (Applause.) But other people say, “You’re an idiot.”
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, I mean, this is how I know that I’m getting a good sample of letters. (Laughter.)
Last week, a young girl wrote to ask me why aren’t there any women on our currency, and then she gave me like a long list of possible women to put on our dollar bills and quarters and stuff — which I thought was a pretty good idea.
Now, Victor wrote to me to tell me about his life in Butler, and he told me that he has been unemployed for a while after he and his wife had had their first child. But he refused to quit. He earned his degree, found a full-time job. He now helps folks with disabilities live independently. And he’s just a good-hearted man. (Applause.) And you can tell, really, he’s doing great stuff. And Victor described how he got through some tough times because of his Christian faith and his determination — which are things that government programs and policies can’t replace. You got to have that sense of purpose and perseverance. That has to come from inside; you can’t legislate that.
But he also said that he was able to afford health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. (Applause.) And he also said that because of the income-based repayment plan that we had put in place, where you only have to pay 10 percent of your income maximum in repaying your loans each month, that was what allowed him and his family to keep a roof over their heads and support themselves.
And so I’m here because Victor is the sort of person I’m working for every single day — (applause) — somebody who never quits, somebody who is doing everything right, somebody who believes in the American Dream. Somebody who just wants a chance to build a decent life for himself and his family. And that’s the vast majority of Americans. That’s who I’m fighting for right here in Kansas City and all across this country. (Applause.) That’s why I ran for President in the first place, to fight for folks like that. (Applause.)
Now, we all know it hasn’t always been easy. The crisis that hit near the end of my campaign back in 2008, it would end up costing millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, their sense of security. But we have fought back. We have got back off our feet, we have dusted ourselves off. Today, our businesses have added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months. (Applause.) Construction is up. Manufacturing is back. Our energy, our technology, our auto industries, they’re all booming.
The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September of 2008. (Applause.) It’s dropped faster than any time in 30 years. This morning, we found out that in the second quarter of this year our economy grew at a strong pace, and businesses are investing, workers are building new homes, consumers are spending, America is exporting goods around the world.
So the decisions that we made — to rescue our economy, to rescue the auto industry, to rebuild the economy on a new foundation, to invest in research and infrastructure, education — all those things are starting to pay off.
The world’s number-one oil and gas producer — that’s not Saudi Arabia; that’s not Russia — it’s the United States of America. (Applause.) We’ve tripled the amount of electricity we get from wind. (Applause.) We’ve increased by 10 times the amount of electricity we get from the sun. And all that is creating tens of thousands of jobs across the country.
Our high school graduation rate is at a record high. More young people are earning their college degrees than ever before. (Applause.) 401(k)s have recovered their value. Home prices are rising. And, yes, millions of families now have the peace of mind, just like Victor’s family does, of getting quality, affordable health care when you need it. It makes a difference in people’s lives. (Applause.)
And, look, Kansas City, none of this is an accident. It’s thanks to the resilience and resolve of the American people. It’s also thanks to some decisions that we made early on. And now America has recovered faster and come farther than just about any other advanced country on Earth. And for the first time in more than a decade, if you ask business leaders around the world what’s the number-one place to invest, they don’t say China anymore. They say the United States of America. (Applause.) And our lead is growing.
So sometimes you wouldn’t know it if you were watching the news, but there are a lot of good reasons to be optimistic about America. We hold the best cards. Things are getting better. The decisions we make now can make things even better than that. In fact, the decisions we make now will determine whether the economic gains that we’re generating are broad based, whether they just go to a few at the top or whether we got an economy in which the middle class is growing and folks who are trying to get into the middle class have more rungs on the ladder; whether ordinary folks are benefiting from growth.
And that’s what’s at stake right now — making sure our economy works for every American. See, I’m glad that GDP is growing, and I’m glad that corporate profits are high, and I’m glad that the stock market is booming. But what really I want to see is a guy working nine to five, and then working some overtime, I want that guy making more than the minimum wage. (Applause.)
And what I really want is somebody who has worked for 20, 30 years being able to retire with some dignity and some respect. (Applause.) What I really want is a family that they have the capacity to save so that when their child is ready to go to college, they know they can help and that it’s affordable, and that that child is not going to be burdened down with debt. That’s the measure of whether the economy is working; not just how well it’s doing overall, but is it doing well for ordinary folks who are working hard every single day and aren’t always getting a fair shot. That’s what we’re fighting for. That’s why I ran for President. That’s what I’m focused on every day. (Applause.)
And that’s what sometimes Washington forgets. Your lives and what you’re going through day to day — the struggles, but also the opportunities and the hopes and the good things, but sometimes the rough things that happen — that’s more important than some of the phony scandals or the fleeting stories that you see. This is the challenge of our time — how do we make sure we’ve got an economy that is working for everybody?
Now, all of you are doing your part to help bring America back. You’re doing your job. Imagine how much further along we’d be, how much stronger our economy would be, if Congress was doing its job, too. (Applause.) We’d be doing great. Every time I meet some of these folks who have written me letters, we sit down and talk, and they say, what’s going on in Washington? Why –
What they tell me is, if Congress had the same priorities that ordinary families did, if they felt the same sense of urgency about things like the cost of college or the need for increases in the minimum wage, or how we’re making child care more affordable and improving early childhood education — if that’s what they were thinking about, we could help a lot more families. A lot more people would be getting ahead. The economy would be doing better. We could help a lot more families, and we should.
We should be relentlessly focused on what I call an opportunity agenda, one that creates more jobs by investing in what’s always made our economy strong: making sure that we’re on the cutting edge when it comes to clean energy; making sure that we’re rebuilding our infrastructure — our roads, our bridges, our ports, our airports, our locks, our dams. (Applause.) Making sure that advanced manufacturing is happening right here in the United States so we can start bringing manufacturing jobs back to the Midwest and all across the country, jobs that pay a good wage. (Applause.) Investing in research and science that leads to new American industries. Training our workers — really making a job-training program and using our community colleges in ways that allow people to constantly retrain for the new opportunities that are out there and to prepare our kids for the global competition that they’re going to face. Making sure that hard work pays off with higher wages and higher incomes.
If we do all these things, we’re going to strengthen the middle class, we’ll help more people get into the middle class. Businesses, by the way, will do better. If folks have more money in their pocket, then businesses have more customers. (Applause.) If businesses have more customers, they hire more workers. If you hire more workers, they spend more money. You spend more money, businesses have more customers — they hire even more workers. You start moving in the right direction. (Applause.) But it starts not from the top down, it starts from the middle out, the bottom up.
Now, so far this year, Republicans in Congress keep blocking or voting down just about every idea that would have some of the biggest impact on middle-class and working-class families. They’ve said no to raising the minimum wage. They’ve said no to fair pay, making sure that women have the ability to make sure that they’re getting paid the same as men for doing the same job. They’ve said no for fixing our broken immigration system. Rather than investing in education, they actually voted to give another massive tax cut to the wealthiest Americans. And they’ve been pushing to gut the rules that we put in place after the financial crisis to make sure big banks and credit card companies wouldn’t take advantage of consumers or cause another crisis. So they haven’t been that helpful. (Laughter.) They have not been as constructive as I would have hoped. (Laughter.)
And these actions, they come with a cost. When you block policies that would help millions of Americans right now, not only are those families hurt, but the whole economy is hurt. So that’s why this year, my administration, what we’ve said was we want to work with Congress, we want to work with Republicans and Democrats to get things going, but we can’t wait. So if they’re not going to do anything, we’ll do what we can on our own. And we’ve taken more than 40 actions aimed at helping hardworking families like yours. (Applause.) That’s when we act — when your Congress won’t.
So when Congress failed to pass equal pay legislation, I made sure that women got more protection in their fight for fair pay in the workplace, because I think that when women succeed, everybody succeeds. (Applause.) I want my daughters paid the same as your sons for doing the same job. (Applause.)
Congress had the chance to pass a law that would help lower interest rates on student loans. They didn’t pass it. I acted on my own to give millions of Americans a chance to cap their payments, the program that Victor has taken advantage of. I don’t want our young people just saddled with debt before they’ve even gotten started in life. (Applause.)
When it comes to the minimum wage, last week marked five years since the last time the minimum wage went up. Now, you know the cost of living went up. The minimum wage didn’t go up. So I went ahead on my own. When it came to federal contractors, I said, if you want to get a federal contract, you’ve got to pay your workers at least $10.10 an hour. (Applause.) And I’ve been trying to work with governors and mayors, and in some cases with business owners, just calling them up directly. How about giving your folks a raise? And some of them have done it.
And since I had first asked Congress to raise the minimum wage, businesses like the Gap — you’ve got 13 states and D.C. — they’ve gone ahead and raised their minimum wage. It makes a difference in people’s lives. (Applause.) And, by the way, here’s something interesting: The states that have increased their minimum wages this year, they’ve seen higher job growth than the states that didn’t increase their minimum wage. (Applause.) So remember, you give them a little bit more money, businesses have more customers. They got more customers, they make more profit. They make more profit, what do they do? They hire more workers. America deserves a raise, and it’s good for everybody.
So some of the things we’re doing without Congress are making a difference, but we could do so much more if Congress would just come on and help out a little bit. (Applause.) Just come on. Come on and help out a little bit. Stop being mad all the time. (Applause.) Stop just hating all the time. Come on. (Applause.) Let’s get some work done together. (Applause.)
They did pass this workforce training act, and it was bipartisan. There were Republicans and Democrats, and everybody was all pleased. They came, we had a bill signing, and they were all in their suits. I said, doesn’t this feel good? (Laughter.) We’re doing something. It’s like, useful. Nobody is shouting at each other. (Laughter.) It was really nice. I said, let’s do this again. Let’s do it more often. (Applause.)
I know they’re not that happy that I’m President, but that’s okay. (Laughter.) Come on. I’ve only got a couple of years left. Come on, let’s get some work done. Then you can be mad at the next President.
Look, we’ve got just today and tomorrow until Congress leaves town for a month. And we’ve still got some serious work to do. We’ve still got a chance to — we got to put people to work rebuilding roads and bridges. And the Highway Trust Fund is running out of money; we got to get that done. We’ve got to get some resources to fight wildfires out West. That’s a serious situation. We need more resources to deal with the situation in the southern part of the border with some of those kids. We got to be able to deal with that in a proper way. (Applause.)
So there’s a bunch of stuff that needs to get done. Unfortunately, I think the main vote — correct me if I’m wrong here, Congressman — the main vote that they’ve scheduled for today is whether or not they decide to sue me for doing my job.
AUDIENCE: Booo –
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, no — first of all, here’s something I always say — do not boo, vote. Booing doesn’t help. Voting helps. (Applause.)
But think about this — they have announced that they’re going to sue me for taking executive actions to help people. So they’re mad because I’m doing my job. And, by the way, I’ve told them — I said, I’d be happy to do it with you. So the only reason I’m doing it on my own is because you don’t do anything. (Applause.) But if you want, let’s work together.
I mean, everybody recognizes this is a political stunt, but it’s worse than that, because every vote they’re taking like that means a vote they’re not taking to actually help you. When they have taken 50 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, that was time that could have been spent working constructively to help you on some things. (Applause.) And, by the way, you know who is paying for this suit they’re going to file? You.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: No!
THE PRESIDENT: No, no — you’re paying for it. And it’s estimated that by the time the thing was done, I would have already left office. So it’s not a productive thing to do.
But here’s what I want people to remember. Every single day, as depressing sometimes as what goes on in Washington may be, I see the inherent goodness and generosity of the American people. I see it every day. I see it in all of you. I saw it in the four people that I had dinner with last night.
In addition to Victor, one guy who joined us was a guy named Mark Turner. He works with high schools dropouts to help get them back on track. He used to be a successful corporate executive, decided he wanted to give something back. (Applause.) You got Valerie McCaw. Valerie is a single mom, engineer, owns a small business. She’s doing great things. Even though sometimes it’s a struggle making sure she keeps her business afloat, she’s persevered and is helping her son get his college education. Then you got Becky Forrest. She’s a fireplug. She’s president of the Town Fork Creek Neighborhood Association. She’s got so many things going on — after-school programs and mentoring programs, and basketball leagues, and all kinds of things at a community center — I couldn’t keep track of all of them. (Laughter.)
And to listen to them talk, it made you optimistic. It reminded you there are good people out here. Everybody is out there trying to do their best, trying to look after their families, trying to raise their kids, trying to give something back — working with their church, working with their synagogues, working with their places of faith. Just trying to give something back and give some meaning to their lives. And they’re responsible. And we all make mistakes and we all have regrets, but generally speaking, people are decent.
And so the question is, how can we do a better job at capturing that spirit in Washington, in our government? The American people are working harder than ever to support families, to strengthen communities. And so instead of suing me for doing my job, let’s — I want Congress to do its job and make life a little better for the Americans who sent them there in the first place. (Applause.) Stop posturing.
And, by the way, there’s one place to start. I talked about this last week, but I want to talk about this a little more. Right now, there’s a loophole in the tax code that lets a small but growing group of corporations leave the country; they declare themselves no longer American companies just to get out of paying their fair share of taxes — even though most of their operations are here, they’ve always been American companies, they took advantage of all the benefits of being an American company, but now their accountant has convinced them maybe they can get out of paying some taxes.
They’re renouncing their citizenship even though they’re keeping most of their business here. I mean, it’s just an accounting trick, but it hurts our country’s finances, and it adds to the deficit and sticks you with the tab — because if they’re not paying their share and stashing their money offshore, you don’t have that option. It ain’t right. Not only is it not right, it ain’t right. (Laughter and applause.) It ain’t right. I hope everybody is clear on the distinction. There are some things are not right. And then there’s some things that just ain’t right. (Laughter and applause.) And this ain’t right. (Laughter.)
I mean, you don’t have accountants figuring all this stuff out for you, trying to game the system. These companies shouldn’t either. And they shouldn’t turn their back on the country that made their success possible. And, by the way, this can be fixed. For the last two years I’ve put forward plans to cut corporate taxes, close loopholes, make it more reliable, make it clearer. And to Republicans, I say, join with me. Let’s work to close this unpatriotic tax loophole for good. Let’s use the savings that we get from closing the loophole to invest in things like education that are good for everybody.
Don’t double down on top-down economics. Let’s really fight to make sure that everybody gets a chance and, by the way, that everybody plays by the same rules. (Applause.) We could do so much more if we got that kind of economic patriotism that says we rise or fall as one nation and as one people. And that’s what Victor believes.
When Victor wrote me his letter, he said, “I believe, regardless of political party, we can all do something to help our citizens to have a chance at a job, have food in their stomachs, have access to great education and health care.” That’s what economic patriotism is. (Applause.) That’s what we should all be working on.
Instead of tax breaks for folks who don’t need them, let’s give tax breaks to working families to help them pay for child care and college. Don’t reward companies shipping jobs overseas; let’s give tax breaks to companies investing right here in Missouri, right here in the Midwest. (Applause.) Let’s give every citizen access to preschool and college and affordable health care. And let’s make sure women get a fair wage. (Applause.) Let’s make sure anybody who is working full-time isn’t living in poverty. (Applause.)
These are not un-American ideas; these are patriotic ideas. This is how we built America. (Applause.)
So just remember this: The hardest thing to do is to bring about real change. It’s hard. You’ve got a stubborn status quo. And folks in Washington, sometimes they’re focused on everything but your concerns. And there are special interests and there are lobbyists, and they’re paid to maintain the status quo that’s working for somebody. And they’re counting on you getting cynical, so you don’t vote and you don’t get involved, and people just say, you know what, none of this is going to make a difference. And the more you do that, then the more power the special interests have, and the more entrenched the status quo becomes.
You can’t afford to be cynical. Cynicism is fashionable sometimes. You see it all over our culture, all over TV; everybody likes just putting stuff down and being cynical and being negative, and that shows somehow that you’re sophisticated and you’re cool. You know what — cynicism didn’t put a man on the moon. Cynicism didn’t win women the right to vote. Cynicism did not get a Civil Rights Act signed. Cynicism has never won a war. Cynicism has never cured a disease. Cynicism has never started a business. Cynicism has never fed a young mind. (Applause.)
I do not believe in a cynical America; I believe in an optimistic America that is making progress. (Applause.) And I believe despite unyielding opposition, there are workers right now who have jobs who didn’t have them before because of what we’ve done; and folks who got health care who didn’t have it because of the work that we’ve done; and students who are going to college who couldn’t afford it before; and troops who’ve come home after tour after tour of duty because of what we’ve done. (Applause.)
You don’t have time to be cynical. Hope is a better choice. (Applause.) That’s what I need you for.
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.)
11:39 A.M. CDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 30, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 30, 2014
Source: WH, 7-24-14
Los Angeles Trade-Technical College
Los Angeles, California
1:15 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, L.A.! (Applause.) Good to see you! Hello, Los Angeles! (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody. Now, if you’ve got a seat, sit down. I know that a couple people have been getting overheated. A tip for you — if you’ve got some water, then drink. Standing in the sun is rough. Bend your knees a little bit. And I’m going to try to be fast.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: God Almighty, Jesus Christ — (inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: That’s okay.
AUDIENCE: Obama! Obama! Obama!
THE PRESIDENT: All right. (Applause.) Thank you. Now, I have to admit that I’ve actually met that guy before. (Laughter.) That’s a couple of years ago and he had the same line. He needs to update his material.
All right, everybody, settle down for a second. First of all, I’d like everybody to say thank you to Katrice not only for the great introduction, but for the great work she’s doing helping to train people to get the kinds of jobs that we want and opportunity for people that don’t have it. So, Katrice, thank you so much. (Applause.) We’re proud of you.
My understanding — we understand we also have — Congresswoman Karen Bass is here. Where’s Karen? (Applause.) We love Karen. There’s Karen Bass. We’ve got — America’s Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, is here. Give Tom a big round of applause. (Applause.)
And we want to thank L.A. Trade Technical College for your hospitality. (Applause.) This is a school that does good work helping the unemployed retrain for new careers. And that’s one of the things I want to talk about today.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.)
I always love being in California. I spent a couple good years here in college myself.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Occi Tigers!
THE PRESIDENT: Occi — that’s right, Occi Tigers. Earlier today, I sat down at Canter’s with Katrice and a few Californians who wrote to me. I get letters from folks all across the country and I read them every night. And folks tell me their stories — about their worries and their hopes and hardships and successes. Some say I’m doing a good job. Some say I’m an idiot — which let’s me know that I’m getting a representative sample. (Laughter.)
But in addition to Katrice, a young woman named Kati Koster was there, and she told me about her life. She grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Wisconsin. Her parents taught her to value education, that that was going to be the ticket to the middle class. First in her family to go to college; moved on to get her master’s degree from Pepperdine, stayed out in California. (Applause.)
And she wrote to tell me that she’s always played by the rules, valued education, worked hard but she felt “trapped” because no matter how hard she worked it seemed like she couldn’t get ahead. And she said, “If earning an education doesn’t open doors for someone like me to rise above my socioeconomic class…what does that say about our country?” “What does it say about our values,” she asked. She said, “I try not to be cynical, but one shouldn’t have to be rich or from a wealthy family in order to pay their bills, save some money, have fun, enjoy life.” She said, “I didn’t write this letter to complain. I wrote because I don’t know what else to do, and as the President of my country I hoped you would listen to my story.”
So, L.A., I’m here because I am listening to Kati’s story. I’m listening to Americans all across the country, everybody who works their tail off, is doing the right thing, who believes in the American Dream, just wants a chance to build a decent life for themselves and their family. You are why I ran for President in the first place. And I am always going to be listening to you. (Applause.)
Now, the crisis that hit near the end of that campaign back in 2008 cost millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, their sense of security. But today, our businesses have added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September of 2008. (Applause.) And this past year, we saw one of the fastest drops in nearly 30 years in the unemployment rate. (Applause.) The decisions we made not only to rescue the economy, rescue the auto industry, but to rebuild it on a new foundation — those decisions are paying off.
We’re more energy independent. The world’s number-one oil and gas producer is not Russia, it’s not Saudi Arabia — it’s the United States of America. (Applause.) We’ve reduced our carbon pollution over the past eight years more than any country on Earth. You saw an L.A. Times headline the other day that said “2014 off to the hottest start on record for California.” That’s why we have to worry about climate change.
We’ve tripled the electricity we’re getting from wind power, generating enough last year to power every home in California. We now generate 10 times the solar electricity, creating tens of thousands of jobs across the country. California is so far ahead of the rest of the country in solar that earlier this year, solar power met 18 percent of your total power demand one day. That’s the kind of progress, kind of leadership we need. (Applause.)
But it’s not just the energy sector. In education, our high school graduation rate is at a record high. The Latino dropout rate has been cut in half since 2008. (Applause.) More young people are earning their college degrees than ever before. Meanwhile, 401(k)s have restored their value. Fewer homes are underwater. Millions more families have the peace of mind of affordable health care when you need it because we did pass the Affordable Care Act. (Applause.)
None of this was an accident. We made some good decisions, but we also saw the resilience and the resolve of the American people. And because of that, we’ve recovered faster, we’ve gone farther than almost any country on Earth since the economic crisis. For the first time in more than a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that the number-one place to invest is not China; it’s the United States of America. And our lead is growing. (Applause.)
So — USA!
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE PRESIDENT: So there are reasons — we’ve got every reason to be optimistic about America. We hold all the best cards. We’ve got the best hand. But the decisions we make now are going to determine whether or not working Americans like Kati continue to feel trapped, or whether they get ahead; whether the economic gains that we make just go to a few at the top, or they help to grow an economy and grow incomes and growing middle-opportunities for everybody.
And that’s what’s at stake right now — making sure our economy works for every working American. That’s why I ran for President. That’s what I’m focused on every day. (Applause.) This is the challenge of our time. We can’t be distracted. And if you’re in public office, and you don’t have an answer for somebody like Kati, if you’re not thinking about her and folks who are working hard but still struggling every day, why are you in public service? (Applause.)
So today, I’m here to focus on one thing that we should be doing, which is training more Americans to fill the jobs we’re creating. Right now, there are more job openings in America than any time since 2007. That doesn’t always make headlines, it’s not sexy so the news doesn’t report it, but it’s a big deal. And the job training programs can help folks who fell on hard times in the recession, help them find a solid path back to the middle class.
And I’m always impressed by people who have the courage to go back to school, especially later in life. (Applause.) Last month, in Minnesota, I met a woman named Rebekah, a wonderful young woman. A few years ago, she was waiting tables. She enrolled in a community college, retrained for a new career; today, she loves her job as an accountant. Joe Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, teaches at a community college. A lot of her students are in their 30s. One of the women I met with this morning, Joan Waddell, wrote me to say she’s ready to get back in the game at age 60, after caring for a sick husband, but older workers like her need a little support. And she wrote, “We are a great investment and we want to be part of the workforce.” And if you’d met Joan you’d want to hire her because she is sharp.
So Americans are the best workers in the world — if we’re given a chance. If we work together, we can help more of our fellow citizens learn the skills that growing fields require — in high-tech manufacturing, in clean energy, in information technology, and in health care.
Now, the good news is, earlier this week, I signed a bipartisan bill into law that would help communities update and invest in job training programs like these. And I got to say I had so much fun actually signing a bipartisan bill from Congress — I said, why don’t you all do it more often? (Laughter and applause.) Why don’t you focus on getting some stuff done for the American people? It feels good. (Applause.)
So my administration has taken some steps on our own. We’ve rallied employers to give the long-term unemployed a fair shot at a job. We’re offering grants to community colleges that work with companies to expand apprenticeships. We’re helping cities identify fields with job openings, and custom-tailor programs to help workers earn the skills employers are looking for right now, whether it’s welding metal or coding computers. If your job has been stamped “obsolete” and shipped overseas, or displaced by new technology, your country should help train you to land an even better job in the future. And that’s something we can do if we work together. (Applause.)
So this is just some of what we should be doing to help strengthen the middle class and help Americans who are working to join the middle class. And what I keep hearing from folks across the country is that if Congress had the same priorities most Americans did, if they felt the same urgency that you feel in your own lives, we’d be helping a lot more families right now.
I mean, think about what Congress hasn’t done, despite the fact that I’ve been pushing them to do it. Congress won’t act to make sure a woman gets fair pay. Why not? I went ahead and made sure more women have the protections they need to fight for fair pay in the workplace — because I believe equal pay shouldn’t mean equal work — (applause.) And when women succeed, America succeeds. Why isn’t Congress doing something?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I get you, I understand that.
Congress won’t act to help more young people like Kati manage their student loan debt. I acted to give nearly five million Americans the chance to cap their payments at 10 percent of their income. I don’t want future leaders saddled with debt they can’t pay before they’ve even started off in life. Why don’t we see House Republicans working with Democrats who’ve already said, we’re behind making student loans more affordable? (Applause.)
Today marks exactly five years since the last time the minimum wage went up in this country. That’s too long between raises for a lot of Americans. I’ve done what I can by requiring federal contractors to pay their employees a fair wage of $10.10 an hour. And since the first time I asked Congress to raise the minimum wage, 13 states and D.C. have gone ahead and raised theirs. (Applause.) And here is something interesting — states that have increased the minimum wages this year have seen higher job growth than those who didn’t raise the minimum wage. (Applause.) America deserves a raise. It will be good for those workers and good for business.
So I’m not going to stop trying to work with Democrats and Republicans to make a difference in your lives. But I’ve got to call things as they are. What’s really going on is that Republicans in Congress are directly blocking policies that would help millions of Americans. They are promoting policies that millions of Americans. Just this year, on the other hand, they voted to give another massive tax cut to the wealthiest Americans.
AUDIENCE: Booo –
THE PRESIDENT: Just last week, they actually voted to gut the rules we put in place to make sure big banks and credit card companies couldn’t hurt consumers and cause another crisis. They’re going in the wrong direction. Our economy does not grow from the top down; it grows from the middle class out. We do better when middle-class families and folks who are working hard to get into the middle class have a chance. (Applause.)
So just in case some Republicans are listening, let me give you an example of a place where Democrats and Republicans should be able to work together to make a difference. I want everybody to pay attention to this. Right now, our businesses are creating jobs, more companies are choosing to bring jobs back to America. But there’s another trend that is a threat to us. Even as corporate profits are higher than ever, there’s a small but growing group of big corporations that are fleeing the country to get out of paying taxes.
AUDIENCE: Booo –
THE PRESIDENT: Well, hold on a second. I want you — I say fleeing the country, but they’re not actually do that. They’re not actually going anywhere. They’re keeping most of their business here. They’re keeping usually their headquarters here in the U.S. They don’t want to give up the best universities and the best military, and all the advantages of operating in the United States. They just don’t want to pay for it. So they’re technically renouncing their U.S. citizenship. They’re declaring they’re based someplace else even though most of their operations are here. Some people are calling these companies “corporate deserters.”
And it’s only a few big corporations so far. The vast majority of American businesses play by the rules. But these companies are cherry-picking the rules. And it damages the country’s finances. It adds to the deficit. It makes it harder to invest in things like job training that help keep America growing. It sticks you with the tab to make up for what they’re stashing offshore through their evasive tax policies.
Now, the problem is this loophole they’re using in our tax laws is actually legal. It’s so simple and so lucrative, one corporate attorney said it’s almost like “the Holy Grail” of tax avoidance schemes. My attitude is I don’t care if it’s legal — it’s wrong. (Applause.) And my attitude is, is that nobody begrudges our companies from turning a profit — we want them to be profitable. And in a global economy, there’s nothing wrong with companies expanding to foreign markets. But you don’t get to pick the tax rate you pay. Folks, if you’re a secretary or you’re a construction worker, you don’t say, you know what, I feel like paying a little less, so let me do that. You don’t get a chance to do that. These companies shouldn’t either.
And the practice they’re engaging is the same kind of behavior that keeps middle-class and working-class families working harder and harder just to keep up.
So the good news is there’s a way to change this. We could end this through tax reform that lowers the corporate rate, closes wasteful loopholes, simplifies the tax code so people can’t game it.
And over the past two years, I’ve put forward plans that would have cut corporate taxes and made our tax system more competitive — but Congress hasn’t done anything — as usual. Now, some members of Congress, in both parties, have been working together on responsible corporate tax reform so we don’t have to keep playing whack-a-mole, trying to chase folks around, we’d finally start dealing with these special interest tax loopholes. But that’s going to take some time. And in the meantime, we need to stop companies from renouncing their citizenship just to get out of paying their fair share of taxes. We can’t wait for that. You shouldn’t get to call yourself an American company only when you want a handout from American taxpayers. (Applause.)
That’s why, in my budget earlier this year, I proposed closing this unpatriotic tax loophole for good. Democrats in Congress have advanced a proposal that would do the same thing. A couple of Republicans have said they want to address it, too. Let’s everybody get together, Democrats and Republicans, to deter companies from rushing to take advantage of this tax loophole. And let’s make sure that we’re rewarding companies that are investing and paying their fair share here in the United States.
And this is not a partisan issue. Just 10 years ago, a Republican-led Congress cracked down on corporations moving to offshore tax havens like the Cayman Islands. We should do it again.
I’m not interested in punishing these companies. But I am interested in economic patriotism. Instead of doubling down on top-down economics, I want an economic patriotism that says we rise or fall together, as one nation, and as one people. (Applause.)
Economic patriotism says it’s a good thing when we close wasteful tax loopholes and invest in education, and invest in job training that helps the economy for everybody. Instead of tax breaks for millionaires, let’s give tax breaks to families to help on child care or college. (Applause.) Let’s stop rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas; give tax breaks to companies that are bringing jobs back to the United States. (Applause.) Let’s put America back to work rebuilding roads and bridges and airports. Let’s make sure the next generation of good manufacturing is happening right here in Los Angeles, and in Wisconsin, and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Economic patriotism says it’s a good thing when our fellow citizens have access to preschool, and college, and, yes, health care that is affordable. (Applause.) It’s a good thing when women earn the same as men for doing the same work. It’s a good thing when nobody who’s working full-time has to raise a family in poverty. (Applause.) That’s not un-American. It’s how we built America — together. That’s what economic patriotism is.
So let me just close by saying this. The hardest thing in politics is to change a stubborn status quo. It’s even harder when Washington seems focused on everything but the concerns of you. There are plenty of folks out there who count on you being cynical and say you’re not going to vote, you’re not going to get involved. And that just gives more power to the special interests who already benefit from the status quo.
Cynicism is fashionable these days. But I got to tell you, cynicism didn’t put a man on the moon. Cynicism did not create the opportunity for all our citizens to vote. Cynicism has never won a war, or cured a disease, or started a business, or fed young minds.
I believe in optimism. I believe in hope.
THE PRESIDENT: I believe in America making progress. And despite unyielding opposition, there are workers with jobs who didn’t have them before because of what we’ve done. There are families who have health insurance because of what we’ve done. There are students who are going to college who weren’t going before because of what we’ve done. There are troops who have finally come home after serving tour after tour overseas because of what we’ve done. (Applause.)
Don’t let the cynics get you down. Cynicism is a choice — and hope is a better choice. And if we can work together, I promise you there’s no holding America back.
Thank you, Los Angeles. I love you. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)
1:37 P.M. PDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 24, 2014
Source: WH, 7-22-14
12:18 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everyone. It’s great to be here. (Applause.) Please, thank you very much. Thank you, distinguished members of Congress and members of labor and business, and the community. Today, as the President signs the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, we’re using this occasion also to present to the President a roadmap he asked — requested in the State of the Union message, how to keep and maintain the highest-skilled workforce in the world. And this is a perfect build-on as to what the bipartisan consensus that Congress recently reached.
I had the best partners in preparing this report that I could ask for — Tom Perez at Labor, Penny Pritzker at Commerce and Arne Duncan at the Department of Education. I talked to governors, mayors, industry leaders, presidents of community colleges and colleges, and unions, and a lot of members of Congress, many of whom are here. And I have to acknowledge at the out front — at the outset, my wife, Jill, has been an incredible advocate for community colleges and the role they play in training the workforce.
But most importantly, I spoke with an awful lot of Americans who are — as all of you have, particularly members of Congress, who were hit exceedingly hard by the Great Recession, but are doing everything they possibly can to find a job — willing to learn new skills in order to have a decent, middle-class job. One thing I hope that’s been put to rest — and I know we all share this view — Americans want to work. They want to work. They’re willing to do anything that they need to do to get a good and decent job.
And they show us that our single greatest resource is not — and it’s not hyperbole — remains the American people. They’re the most highly-skilled workers in the world and the most capable people in the world. And they’re in the best position to learn the new skills of the 21st century that the workforce requires. There’s that phrase — all has changed, changed utterly. Well, all has changed. It’s a different world in which people are competing in order to get the kind of jobs they need, whether it’s in advanced manufacturing or clean energy or information technology or health care — all areas that are booming, all areas where America is back.
So the core question that we set out to answer — and I’m sure my colleagues did as well — was how do you connect? How do you connect these workers who desperately want a job, who will do all they need to do to qualify, how do you connect them with jobs? How do Americans know what skills employers need? It sounds like a silly question, but how do they know? And how do they get these skills once they know what skills are needed for the job? And where, where do they go to get those jobs?
This report is designed to help answer those extremely practical questions. It includes 50 actions that the federal government and our outside partners are taking now to help fill this skills gap. There is this new strategy that we think will lead directly to more middle-class jobs. These actions are going to help promote partnerships between educational institutions and workforce institutions. They’re going to increase apprenticeships, which will allow folks to learn — and earn while they learn. And it will empower job seekers and employers with better data on what jobs are available and what skills are needed to fill those jobs.
Let me tell you a story why all this matters. And I’ve been all over the country and invited by many of you into your districts and states in order to look at programs you have that are similar to what we’re proposing today. But I was recently — and I could talk about many of them, but I was recently in Detroit just last week. And I met with an incredible group of women at a local community college. Now, all of these women came from hardscrabble neighborhoods in Detroit. They happened to be all women, it was coincidence, but they all made it through high school. They ranged in age I’m guessing somewhere from 25 to their mid-50s. But they all got a high school education, and they were absolutely determined to do more to be able to provide for themselves and their family.
Through word of mouth, Tom, they heard about a coding boot camp, computer coding — a coding boot camp. And it’s called [Step] IT Up America. And it was a partnership between Wayne County Community College and a company called UST Global. Now, it’s an intensive, four-month — just four months, but intensive eight-hour day — I think it’s almost the whole day — don’t hold me to the exact number of hours, but intensive training program where these women happen to be, as I said, there were about a dozen and a half women learn IT skills needed to fill jobs at UST Global.
UST Global represents a lot of other IT companies as well. Knowing vacancies exist — they estimate over a thousand vacancies just in the greater Detroit area. And upon completion of this program, UST Global hires the students, and the lowest starting job is at $45,000 a year and the highest is $70,000 a year. These are coders, computer programmers. But there’s a key point: UST Global doesn’t train these women out of some altruistic sense of charity. They do it because it’s a very, very smart business decision.
There’s an overwhelming need for more computer coders -— as does not just UST Global, but the entire industry. By 2020, our research shows there will be 1.4 million new IT jobs all across this country. And the pay is in the $70,000 range.
I was so proud of these women. As I said, my wife teaches in a community college. Her average class age of people in her class is 28 to 30 years old. Just think of yourself, what courage it takes. You’re out of high school. You’re graduated. You’ve been bumping along in a job trying to make it. You’ve been out, two, five, 10, 15 years. And someone says, there’s this opportunity to take this program to learn Java, to learn a new language, to learn how to operate a computer in a way that you can code it. It takes a lot of courage to step up.
It takes a willingness to be ready to fail. These women were remarkable, but not just these women. They write code, so they look — they weren’t out there. They were — they knew someone who had gotten a job because of the program, and they thought they could do it. So they learned an entire new language, and they displayed an initiative that was remarkable to see. They showed up. They worked hard because they want a good-paying job. They want to make a decent living. They want to take care of themselves and their families.
Folks, that’s what — as I know all of my colleagues believe — that’s what this is all about. It’s not just information technology. Manufacturing — 100,000 high-tech manufacturing jobs available today in the United States because the employers cannot find workers with the right skills. That number of highly skilled manufacturing jobs is going to grow to 875,000 by 2020.
And, folks, I was recently up in Michigan. And Dow Kokam has a plant there that’s — they couldn’t find anybody with photovoltaic technology, didn’t know how to run the machines. So the community college and the business, they roll the machines right into the community college because of the help you all have provided in Congress, the funding. And it’s like an assembly line. These are good-paying jobs.
And in energy: 26 percent more jobs for petroleum engineers, average salary 130,000 bucks a year; 25 percent more jobs for solar panel installers, $38,000 a year; 20 percent more jobs needed — more electricians are needed, earning $50,000 a year -— all now and in the near term. These are real jobs. These are real jobs.
Health care: There are 20 percent more jobs -— or 526,000 more that are needed in the health care industry -— registered nurses, jobs that pay 65,000 bucks a year. There’s training programs in all of your states and districts, where you go out there, and while you’re a practical nurse, you can still be working and be essentially apprentice, while you are learning how to become — and taking courses to be a registered nurse.
Physician assistants — badly needed as the call for health care increases. What’s the number, Tom, 130,000 a year roughly? These are jobs all within the grasp of the American people if we give them the shot, if we show them the way, let them know how they can possibly pay for it while they are raising a family, and they’ll do the rest.
To maintain our place in the world we need to keep the world’s most skilled workforce right here in America, and to give a whole lot more hardworking Americans a chance at a good, middle-class job they can raise a family on.
But we also know the actions in this report are only a beginning, and as is the legislation. The fact of the matter is that so many people over the last two decades have fallen out of the middle class, and so many in the upcoming generation need to find a path back. Well, there is a path back if we all do our jobs — from industry, to education, to union leaders, to governors, to Congress, to the federal government.
And the mission is very simple. It goes back to the central economic vision that has guided most of us — I can speak for the President and I — from the first day we got here.
The mission is to widen the aperture to be able to get into the middle class by expanding opportunity. No guarantees, just expanding opportunity to American men and women who represent the backbone of the most dynamic, thriving economy in the world. That’s a fact. We are the most dynamic, thriving economy in the world.
But in order to thrive, their education and training has to be as just as dynamic and adaptable as our economy is. So, folks, America is back. We’re better positioned today than we ever have been. According to A.T. Kearney, we are the most attractive place in the world for foreign investments by a long shot, of every other country in the world. Since this survey has been kept, the gap between number one and number two is wider than it ever has been. Manufacturing is back, folks. They’re coming home. Instead of hearing — my kids, instead of hearing about outsourcing, what are you hearing now? You’re hearing about insourcing. Companies are coming back.
We’re in the midst of — we take no direct credit for it — we’re in the midst of an energy boom. North America will be the epicenter of energy in the 21st century — the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada. We remain the leader in innovation. We have the greatest research universities in the world. We have the most adaptive financing systems in the world, to go out and take chances on new startups. And American workers are the most productive in the world. They want to work.
But to seize this moment, we need to keep the world’s most skilled workforce here in America. And I think today in this bipartisan group — we’re ready. The American people are ready. And I know the man I’m about to introduce is ready. He wakes up every morning trying to figure out how do we give ordinary Americans an opportunity. This is just about opportunity, man. Simple opportunity — how do we give them — because they — an opportunity because they are so exceptional.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I think everyone in this room shares that goal — providing for opportunity. And the man I’m about to introduce, that’s all he talks about, it seems to me when he talks to me.
Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Barack Obama. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Everybody, please be seated. Thank you. Well, welcome to the White House, everybody. And I want to thank Joe for the generous introduction, but more importantly, for everything he does, day in, day out, on behalf of American workers. And I want to thank the members of Congress who are here from both parties who led the effort to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act.
When President Clinton signed the original Workforce Investment Act back in 1998, he said it was, “a big step forward in making sure that every adult can keep on learning for a lifetime.” And he was right — the law became a pillar of American job training programs. It’s helped millions of Americans earn the skills they need to find a new job or get a better-paying job.
But even back then, even in 1998, our economy was changing. The notion that a high school education could get you a good job and that you’d keep that job until retirement wasn’t a reality for the majority of people. Advances in technology made some jobs obsolete. Global competition sent other jobs overseas. And then, as we were coming into office, the Great Recession pulled the rug out from under millions of hardworking families.
Now, the good news is, today, nearly six years after the financial crisis, our businesses have added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months. Manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September of 2008 -– by the way, the fastest one-year drop in nearly 30 years. There are now more job openings than at any time since 2007, pre-recession. For the first time in a decade, as Joe mentioned, business leaders around the world have declared that the number-one place to do business, the number-one place to invest isn’t China, it’s the United States of America.
So thanks to the hard work of the American people and some decent policies, our economy has recovered faster and it has gone farther than most other advanced nations. As Joe said, we are well-positioned. We’ve got the best cards. So we have the opportunity right now to extend the lead we already have -– to encourage more companies to join the trend and bring jobs home; to make sure that the gains aren’t just for folks at the very top, but that the economy works for every single American. If you’re working hard, you should be able to get a job, that job should pay well, and you should be able to move forward, look after your family.
Opportunity for all. And that means that even as we’re creating new jobs in this new economy, we have to make sure that every American has the skills to fill those jobs. And keep in mind, not every job that’s a good job out there needs a four-year degree, but the ones that don’t need a college degree generally need some sort of specialized training.
Last month, I met just a wonderful young woman named Rebekah in Minnesota. A few years ago, she was waiting tables. Her husband lost his job, he was a carpenter doing construction work. He had to figure out how to scramble and get a new job that paid less. She chose to take out student loans, she enrolled in a community college, she retrained for a new career. Today, not only has her husband been able to get back into construction but she loves her job as an accountant — started a whole new career. And the question then is how do we give more workers that chance to adapt, to revamp, retool, so that they can move forward in this new economy.
In 2011, I called on Congress to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, update it for the 21st century. And I want to thank every single lawmaker who is here — lawmakers from both parties — who answered that call. It took some compromising, but, you know what, it turns out compromise sometimes is okay. Folks in Congress got past their differences and they got a bill to my desk. So this is not a win for Democrats or Republicans. It is a win for American workers. It’s a win for the middle class. And it’s a win for everybody who is fighting to earn their way into the middle class.
So the bill I’m about to sign will give communities more certainty to invest in job-training programs for the long run. It will help us bring those programs into the 21st century by building on what we know works based on evidence, based on tracking what actually delivers on behalf of folks who enroll in these programs -– more partnerships with employers, more tools to measure performance, more flexibilities for states and cities to innovate and to run their workforce programs in ways that are best suited for their particular demographic and their particular industries. And as we approach the 24th anniversary of the ADA, this bill takes new steps to support Americans with disabilities who want to live and work independently. So there’s a lot of good stuff in here.
Of course, as Joe said, there is still more that we can do. And that’s why we’ve rallied employers to give long-term unemployed a fair shot. It’s why we’re using $600 million in federal grants to encourage companies to offer apprenticeships and work directly with community colleges. It’s why, in my State of Union address this year, I asked Joe to lead an across-the-board review of America’s training programs to make sure that they have one mission: Train Americans with the skills employers actually need, then match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.
So today, I’m directing my Cabinet — even as we’re signing the bill — to implement some of Joe’s recommendations. First, we’re going to use the funds and programs we already have in a smarter way. Federal agencies will award grants that move away from what our Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, who has been working very hard on this, what he calls a “train and pray” approach, and I’ll bet a lot of you who have dealt with folks who are unemployed know what that means. They enroll, they get trained for something, they’re not even sure whether the job is out there, and if the job isn’t out there, all they’re doing is saddling themselves with debt, oftentimes putting themselves in a worse position. What we want to do is make sure where you train your workers first based on what employers are telling you they’re hiring for. Help business design the training programs so that we’re creating a pipeline into jobs that are actually out there.
Number two, training programs that use federal money will be required to make public how many of its graduates find jobs and how much they earn. And that means workers, as they’re shopping around for what’s available, they’ll know in advance if they can expect a good return on their investment. Every job seeker should have all the tools they need to take their career into their own hands, and we’re going to help make sure they can do that.
And finally, we’re going to keep investing in new strategies and innovations that help keep pace with a rapidly changing economy — from testing new, faster ways of teaching skills like coding and cybersecurity and welding, to giving at-risk youth the chance to learn on the job, we will keep making sure that Americans have the chance to build their careers throughout a lifetime of hard work.
So the bill I’m signing today and the actions I’m taking today will connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs. Of course, there is so much more that we can still do. And I’m looking forward to engaging all the members of Congress and all the businesses and not-for-profits who worked on this issue. I’m really interested in engaging them, see what else we can get going.
I’ll give you a couple of examples. Our high school graduation rate is the highest on record. More young people are earning their college degrees than ever before. But we still have work to do to make college more affordable and lift the burden of student loan debt. I acted to give nearly five million Americans the opportunity to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their income — particularly important for those who were choosing careers that aren’t as lucrative. But Congress could help millions more, and I’d like to work with you on that.
Minimum wage. This week marks five years since the last increase in the minimum wage. More and more states and business owners are raising their workers’ wages. I did the same thing for federal contractors. I’d like to work with Congress to see if we can do the same for about 28 million Americans — give Americans a raise right now.
Fair pay. Let’s make sure the next generation of women are getting a fair deal. Let’s make sure the next generation of good manufacturing jobs are made in America. Let’s make it easier, not harder, for companies to bring those jobs back home. Tomorrow, senators will get to vote on the Bring Jobs Home Act. Instead of rewarding companies for shipping jobs overseas or rewarding companies that are moving profits offshore, let’s create jobs right here in America and let’s encourage those companies.
So let’s build on what both parties have already done on many of these issues. Let’s see if we can come together and, while we’re at it, let’s fix an immigration system that is currently broken in a way that strengthens our borders and that we know will be good for business, we know will increase our GDP, we know will drive down our deficit.
So I want to thank all the Democrats and Republicans here today for getting this bill done. This is a big piece of work. You can see, it’s a big bill. (Laughter.) But I’m also inviting you back. Let’s do this more often. It’s so much fun. (Laughter and applause.) Let’s pass more bills to help create more good jobs, strengthen the middle class. Look at everybody — everybody is smiling, everybody feels good. (Laughter.) We could be doing this all the time. (Laughter.)
Our work can make a real difference in the lives of real Americans. That’s why we’re here. We’ll have more job satisfaction. (Laughter.) The American people, our customers, they’ll feel better about the product we produce.
And back in 1998, when President Clinton signed the original Workforce Investment Act into law, he was introduced by a man named Jim Antosy from Reading, Pennsylvania. And Jim spoke about how he had been laid off in 1995 at age 49, two kids, no college degree. With the help of job training programs, he earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science, found a new job in his field.
Today, Jim and his wife, Barb, still live in Reading. Over the past 16 years, he’s been steadily employed as a programmer, working his way up from contractor to full-time employee. In just a few months, Jim now is planning to retire after a lifetime of hard work. A job training program made a difference in his life. And one thing he’s thinking about doing in his retirement is teaching computer science at the local community college, so he can help a new generation of Americans earn skills that lead directly to a job, just like he had the opportunity to do.
Well, I ran for President because I believe even in a changing economy, even in a changing world, stories like Jim aren’t just possible, they should be the norm. Joe believes the same thing. Many of you believe the same thing. I believe America is — I don’t just believe, I know America is full of men and women who work very hard and live up to their responsibilities, and all they want in return is to see their hard work pay off, that responsibility rewarded.
They’re not greedy. They’re not looking for the moon. They just want to be able to know that if they work hard, they can find a job, they can look after their families, they can retire with dignity, they’re not going to go bankrupt when they get sick, maybe take a vacation once in a while — nothing fancy. That’s what they’re looking for, because they know that ultimately what’s important is family and community and relationships. And that’s possible. That’s what America is supposed to be about. That’s what I’m fighting for every single day as President.
This bill will help move us along that path. We need to do it more. Let’s get together, work together, restore opportunity for every single American. So with that, I’d like to invite up some of the outstanding folks who are sitting in the audience who helped make this happen. And I’m going to sign this bill with all those pens.
Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)
12:48 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 22, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 21, 2014
Source: WH, 7-21-14
10:39 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Welcome to the White House, everybody. I know I’m a little late. But that’s okay because we’ve got some big business to do here.
Many of you have worked for a long time to see this day coming. You organized, you spoke up, you signed petitions, you sent letters — I know because I got a lot of them. (Laughter.) And now, thanks to your passionate advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government — government of the people, by the people, and for the people — will become just a little bit fairer.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Amen. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: It doesn’t make much sense, but today in America, millions of our fellow citizens wake up and go to work with the awareness that they could lose their job, not because of anything they do or fail to do, but because of who they are — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. And that’s wrong. We’re here to do what we can to make it right — to bend that arc of justice just a little bit in a better direction.
In a few moments, I will sign an executive order that does two things. First, the federal government already prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Once I sign this order, the same will be explicitly true for gender identity. (Applause.)
And second, we’re going to prohibit all companies that receive a contract from the federal government from discriminating against their LGBT employees. (Applause.) America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people.
Now, this executive order is part of a long bipartisan tradition. President Roosevelt signed an order prohibiting racial discrimination in the national defense industry. President Eisenhower strengthened it. President Johnson expanded it. Today, I’m going to expand it again.
Currently, 18 states have already banned workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. And over 200 cities and localities have done the same. Governor Terry McAuliffe is here; his first act as governor was to prohibit discrimination against LGBT employees of the Commonwealth of Virginia. (Applause.) Where did Terry go? Right back here.
I’ve appointed a record number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender public servants to positions across my administration. They are ambassadors and federal judges, special assistants, senior advisors from the Pentagon to the Labor Department. Every day, their talent is put to work on behalf of the American people.
Equality in the workplace is not only the right thing to do, it turns out to be good business. That’s why a majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies in place. It is not just about doing the right thing — it’s also about attracting and retaining the best talent. And there are several business leaders who are here today who will attest to that.
And yet, despite all that, in too many states and in too many workplaces, simply being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can still be a fireable offense. There are people here today who’ve lost their jobs for that reason. This is not speculative, this is not a matter of political correctness — people lose their jobs as a consequence of this. Their livelihoods are threatened, their families are threatened. In fact, more states now allow same-sex marriage than prohibit discrimination against LGBT workers. So I firmly believe that it’s time to address this injustice for every American.
Now, Congress has spent 40 years — four decades — considering legislation that would help solve the problem. That’s a long time. And yet they still haven’t gotten it done. Senators Terry [Tammy] Baldwin and Jeff Merkley are here. They have been champions of this issue for a long, long time. We are very proud of them. I know they will not stop fighting until fair treatment for all workers is the federal law of the land. Everyone thanks them for that. (Applause.)
But I’m going to do what I can, with the authority I have, to act. The rest of you, of course, need to keep putting pressure on Congress to pass federal legislation that resolves this problem once and for all.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Amen!
THE PRESIDENT: Amen. Amen. (Applause.) Got the “amen” corner here. (Laughter.) Well — (sings) — (laughter.) You don’t want to get me preaching, now. (Laughter.)
For more than two centuries, we have strived, often at great cost, to form “a more perfect union” — to make sure that “we, the people” applies to all the people. Many of us are only here because others fought to secure rights and opportunities for us. And we’ve got a responsibility to do the same for future generations. We’ve got an obligation to make sure that the country we love remains a place where no matter who you are, or what you look like, or where you come from, or how you started out, or what your last name is, or who you love — no matter what, you can make it in this country.
That’s the story of America. That’s the story of this movement. I want to thank all of you for doing your part. We’ve got a long way to go, but I hope as everybody looks around this room, you are reminded of the extraordinary progress that we have made not just in our lifetimes, but in the last five years. In the last two years. (Applause.) In the last one year. (Applause.) We’re on the right side of history.
I’m going to sign this executive order. Thank you, everybody. (Applause.)
(The executive order is signed.)
10:47 A.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 21, 2014
Source: WH, 7-17-14
Port of Wilmington
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Everybody, please have a seat. Please have a seat. It is wonderful to be back in Delaware.
Before I begin, obviously the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border. And it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy. Right now, we’re working to determine whether there were American citizens onboard. That is our first priority. And I’ve directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government. The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why. And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home.
I want to thank Jeremie for that introduction. Give Jeremie a big round of applause. (Applause.) It is great to be in the state that gave us Joe Biden. (Applause.) We’ve got actually some better-looking Bidens with us here today. (Laughter.) We’ve got Beau and his wife, Hallie, are here. Give them a big round of applause. We love them. (Applause.) We’ve got Governor Jack Markell. (Applause.) Senator Chris Coons, Congressman John Carney, County Executive Tom Gordon, and the Mayor of Wilmington, Dennis Williams. (Applause.) We’ve also got two terrific members of my Cabinet — Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is here — (applause) — and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is here. (Applause.)
Jack Lew’s signature is actually on your money. (Laughter.) Although it’s kind of illegible. We teased him when he first became Treasury Secretary that he was going to have to fix his signature a little bit because it looked just like a caterpillar running along the bottom. (Laughter.)
Now, the bridge behind me used to carry 90,000 cars every day — 90,000. Since last month, it’s been closed for repairs. Once workers are done repairing it, this bridge will be safer, it will be more reliable for commuters and for commerce. And thanks to a competitive grant program called TIGER — a program, by the way, that was part of the Recovery Act that we initiated when I first came into office and Joe Biden helped to manage — this port is rebuilding a wharf that will finally let Wilmington compete with other ports for the biggest cargo ships. (Applause.) For the biggest cargo ships. So far, TIGER grants have given a boost to 270 infrastructure projects and thousands of jobs all across 50 states.
And that’s what I’m here to talk about today — and I’ve been talking about this all week — creating more good jobs rebuilding America, and the opportunity that we have to seize to rebuild the American middle class.
After the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, in part because of the actions we took, primarily because of the strength and determination of the American people, our businesses have now added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months. (Applause.) Construction and housing are rebounding. The auto industry is booming — it was in a tailspin when we came in. Manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September of 2008 — which is one of the fastest one-year drops in nearly 30 years. (Applause.)
And the decisions we made — not only to rescue our economy, but to start rebuilding it on a firmer foundation — those decisions are starting to pay off. We are more energy independent. For the first time in nearly 20 years, we produce more oil here in the United States than we buy from abroad. First time in 20 years we’re doing that. (Applause.)
At the same time, we’re actually reducing our carbon pollution, and we’re creating new jobs in clean and renewable energies — three times as much wind power; 10 times as much solar power.
In education, our high school graduation rate is at a record high. More young people are earning college degrees than ever before. 401(k)s are growing. Fewer homes are underwater. Millions more now have the peace of mind of having quality, affordable health care if they need it. And the deficit is coming down to boot, been cut more than half. (Applause.)
So by almost every economic measure, we’re doing a whole lot better now than we were when I came into office. And as I said, most of it is thanks to you, the resilience and the resolve of the American people. Because of that we’ve recovered faster and come farther than almost any other advanced country on Earth. And business leaders, for the first time in a decade, around the world are saying that China is not the best place to invest; the United States of America is the most promising place to invest.
So we’ve got this huge opportunity to keep this momentum going, to keep growing the economy, but also to make sure that growth is broadly shared. We got to make sure we’re creating not just more jobs, but also raising middle-class wages and incomes, and making it easier for folks, if they’re working hard and doing the right thing, to raise a family.
We got to make sure that we’re not just graduating more kids, we’ve got to also train more workers and make college more affordable. We got to make sure our economy works for every American. That’s why I ran for President. That’s what I’m focused on every day. And this is more than just some fleeting political story or made-up scandal; this is the challenge of our times — making sure that if you work hard and you’re responsible, anybody can get ahead in this country. That’s what America is about. And we can achieve that if we just see a few changes in Washington’s priorities.
So, today, I’m here to talk about just one example: creating good jobs of the sort that Jeremie just talked about — good jobs rebuilding America. We know that in the 21st century economy, businesses are going to set up shop wherever they find the best roads, the best bridges, the fastest Internet connection, the fastest rail lines, the smartest airports, the best power grid. First-class infrastructure attracts investment and it creates first-class jobs. Unfortunately, right now, our investment in transportation lags behind a lot of other countries. China is doing more. Germany is doing more. They’re putting money back into building the infrastructure we need to grow over the long term.
And if Washington were working the way it was supposed to, Congress would be creating jobs right now, jobs just like Jeremie talked about — jobs like these guys in the hard hats are doing right now rebuilding bridges and roads and airports and ports all across the country. (Applause.) It helps us now and it helps up create jobs tomorrow. That’s what we should be doing.
But instead of creating jobs rebuilding our infrastructure in a predictable, sustainable way, the debate in Washington lately has been about something called the Highway Trust Fund. It’s how America is supposed to support states on transportation projects. Congress has to keep it funded, otherwise states have to put projects on hold, put construction workers back on the unemployment line.
The good news is, Democrats and Republicans are about to pass a short-term fix that will keep funding going for about another nine or ten months. And I support that. I mean, the least we can do is just support the jobs that are already there, keep Americans on the job. But if that’s all Congress does, then we’re going to have the same kind of funding crisis nine months from now. And that’s not how normally you fund infrastructure, because you got to plan it and you got to think about how are we helping folks and how are we helping states and cities and municipalities create plans for the future and make sure that the funding streams are level. We don’t need unhelpful and unnecessary deadlines that crunch a few months from now. And we shouldn’t have been this close to the deadline in the first place.
As your governor has pointed, even smaller transportation projects can take years to design and plan and build. A few months of funding doesn’t cut it. And so Jack said, “To call this a Band-Aid is an insult to a Band-Aid.” That’s a pretty good line. (Laughter.) I’m going to have to try that out. (Applause.)
So Congress shouldn’t be too proud. It shouldn’t pat itself on the back for kicking the can down the road every few months. Instead of barely paying our bills in the present, we should be planning and investing in our future. That’s how the economy grows for everybody. The American people work hard every single day, and your efforts shouldn’t be threatened every few months by a manufactured crisis in Washington. Everything doesn’t have to be done at the last minute every time.
So what I’ve done is earlier this year put forward a plan to rebuild our transportation infrastructure in a long-term responsible way, a plan that would support millions of jobs, would give cities and states and private investors the certainty they need to hire more workers faster. It would help small businesses ship their goods faster. It would help parents get home from their commute faster so they can see their kids.
And it wouldn’t add to what is already a rapidly shrinking deficit because we pay for it in part by closing loopholes for companies that are shipping profits overseas and are avoiding paying their fair share of taxes. So that’s what we need, a broad-based plan. We got $2 trillion worth of deferred maintenance in this country in roads and bridges and sewer systems and water mains. And we could put a lot of people back to work right now getting that done. And we’re going to have to do it eventually anyway.
But so far, Congress has refused to act on the idea — which is strange because infrastructure should not be a partisan issue. If you think about it, it was a Republican, Dwight Eisenhower, who built the Interstate Highway System. Lincoln built the Transcontinental Railroad. Both parties historically have understood that investing in this country for the long run pays off. When we invest in infrastructure we’re making sure that the economy is growing not just for the next five years, but for another century. That’s what right now Republicans in Congress don’t seem to be focused on. But until they do get focused on it, I’m going to do whatever I can to create jobs rebuilding America on my own. (Applause.)
So today, we’re launching what we call the Build America Investment Initiative. And as part of it, we’re creating a one-stop shop for cities and states looking to partner with the private sector to fund infrastructure projects. There are lots of investors who want to back infrastructure projects because, when it’s done right, they then get a steady, long-term investment. They get a steady return.
And lots of states and local governments would welcome more private investment, but they need a partner in the federal government to help do some matchmaking and work through some of the complexities of private financing of infrastructure. So my administration is going to help states and cities apply for federal loans, get more public-private partnerships up and running, get more investment flowing into communities like Wilmington.
And this builds on other actions we’ve taken to speed up the permitting process for big projects, and attract new manufacturing jobs to America, and raise more workers’ wages, help women fight for fair pay, ease loan burdens for millions of students. We’re taking steps on our own, still hoping that Congress at some point actually does something. (Applause.)
I keep hearing from folks all across the country who tell me if members of Congress have the same priorities that most Americans do, if they felt the same sense of urgency that you feel in your own lives, we could help a lot of families right now.
Instead of playing politics, we should be creating jobs by investing in what makes our economy strong -– infrastructure and manufacturing and energy, and research and development, and education. All these things lead to new industries.
We should be training our workers to fill new jobs. We should be preparing our kids to face global competition. We should be making sure that hard work pays off with a higher minimum wage.
We should be seizing these opportunities. And there’s a simple principle behind it. When the middle class does good, and when people have ladders into the middle class if they work hard, everybody does better. You have more customers for businesses. Folks at the very top do better. America grows best from the middle out, not from the top down. That’s when we succeed.
So I’m going to keep on looking for areas where Republicans and Democrats agree to move this country forward. But I’m not going to stand by when politics and inaction are holding us back. (Applause.)
Wherever and whenever I have a chance to help families like yours I’m going to do it. When I have a chance to help communities like Wilmington, I’m going to do it. That’s when my administration takes these executive actions, when Congress won’t act.
And so far, the only response we’ve gotten from the Republicans is a lawsuit. (Laughter.) They’re suing me for doing my job, instead of going ahead and doing their job. That’s disappointing. It’s a political stunt. And, by the way, they’re using taxpayer money to do it. It’s your money that they’re wasting on this, which no serious lawyers think makes any sense. It’s just a political stunt. We could be spending the time, energy, and effort and money to help your families.
And maybe the folks behind this think it will help them politically. I guarantee you, it’s not helping you. We could do so much more if we rally around a sense of patriotism that says we can disagree on issues once in a while, but come on, let’s focus on our country, let’s focus on our people — a sense of common purpose, the understanding we rise or fall as one nation and as one people. That’s how we built this country together. And that’s what Washington has to remember.
And the one thing I know for certain — if we work together, if we believe in one another, then we’re going to keep on rebuilding our middle class. We’re going to restore the American Dream for the next generation. We will continue to make sure that America is the place where no matter what you look like, or where you come from, or how you started, you can make it if you try. You’ve shown it here in Delaware. We can show it all across the country. We just need a little more focus in Washington. So keep the pressure on everybody. (Applause.)
Thank you. God bless you. Let’s build some bridges. Let’s build some roads. God bless America.
2:26 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 17, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 16, 2014