Full Text Obama Presidency October 17, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Reopening of the Government after Shutdown, Lays Out Year-End Agenda



Remarks by the President on the Reopening of the Government

Source: WH, 10-17-13

President Obama Speaks on Reopening the Government

President Obama Speaks on Reopening the Government

State Dining Room

11:00 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Please have a seat.

Well, last night, I signed legislation to reopen our government and pay America’s bills.  Because Democrats and responsible Republicans came together, the first government shutdown in 17 years is now over.  The first default in more than 200 years will not happen.  These twin threats to our economy have now been lifted.  And I want to thank those Democrats and Republicans for getting together and ultimately getting this job done.

Now, there’s been a lot of discussion lately of the politics of this shutdown.  But let’s be clear:  There are no winners here.  These last few weeks have inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy.  We don’t know yet the full scope of the damage, but every analyst out there believes it slowed our growth.

We know that families have gone without paychecks or services they depend on.  We know that potential homebuyers have gotten fewer mortgages, and small business loans have been put on hold.  We know that consumers have cut back on spending, and that half of all CEOs say that the shutdown and the threat of shutdown set back their plans to hire over the next six months.  We know that just the threat of default — of America not paying all the bills that we owe on time — increased our borrowing costs, which adds to our deficit.

And, of course, we know that the American people’s frustration with what goes on in this town has never been higher. That’s not a surprise that the American people are completely fed up with Washington.  At a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum, we’ve got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back.  And for what?

There was no economic rationale for all of this.  Over the past four years, our economy has been growing, our businesses have been creating jobs, and our deficits have been cut in half. We hear some members who pushed for the shutdown say they were doing it to save the American economy — but nothing has done more to undermine our economy these past three years than the kind of tactics that create these manufactured crises.

And you don’t have to take my word for it.  The agency that put America’s credit rating on watch the other day explicitly cited all of this, saying that our economy “remains more dynamic and resilient” than other advanced economies, and that the only thing putting us at risk is — and I’m quoting here — “repeated brinksmanship.”  That’s what the credit rating agency said.  That wasn’t a political statement; that was an analysis of what’s hurting our economy by people whose job it is to analyze these things.

That also happens to be the view of our diplomats who’ve been hearing from their counterparts internationally.  Some of the same folks who pushed for the shutdown and threatened default claim their actions were needed to get America back on the right track, to make sure we’re strong.  But probably nothing has done more damage to America’s credibility in the world, our standing with other countries, than the spectacle that we’ve seen these past several weeks.  It’s encouraged our enemies.  It’s emboldened our competitors.  And it’s depressed our friends who look to us for steady leadership.

Now, the good news is we’ll bounce back from this.  We always do.  America is the bedrock of the global economy for a reason.  We are the indispensable nation that the rest of the world looks to as the safest and most reliable place to invest — something that’s made it easier for generations of Americans to invest in their own futures.  We have earned that responsibility over more than two centuries because of the dynamism of our economy and our entrepreneurs, the productivity of our workers, but also because we keep our word and we meet our obligations.  That’s what full faith and credit means — you can count on us.
And today, I want our people and our businesses and the rest of the world to know that the full faith and credit of the United States remains unquestioned.

But to all my friends in Congress, understand that how business is done in this town has to change.  Because we’ve all got a lot of work to do on behalf of the American people — and that includes the hard work of regaining their trust.  Our system of self-government doesn’t function without it.  And now that the government is reopened, and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do, and that’s grow this economy; create good jobs; strengthen the middle class; educate our kids; lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul.  That’s why we’re here.  That should be our focus.

Now, that won’t be easy.  We all know that we have divided government right now.  There’s a lot of noise out there, and the pressure from the extremes affect how a lot of members of Congress see the day-to-day work that’s supposed to be done here. And let’s face it, the American people don’t see every issue the same way.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t make progress.  And when we disagree, we don’t have to suggest that the other side doesn’t love this country or believe in free enterprise, or all the other rhetoric that seems to get worse every single year.  If we disagree on something, we can move on and focus on the things we agree on, and get some stuff done.

Let me be specific about three places where I believe we can make progress right now.  First, in the coming days and weeks, we should sit down and pursue a balanced approach to a responsible budget, a budget that grows our economy faster and shrinks our long-term deficits further.

At the beginning of this year, that’s what both Democrats and Republicans committed to doing.  The Senate passed a budget; House passed a budget; they were supposed to come together and negotiate.  And had one side not decided to pursue a strategy of brinksmanship, each side could have gotten together and figured out, how do we shape a budget that provides certainty to businesses and people who rely on government, provides certainty to investors in our economy, and we’d be growing faster right now.

Now, the good news is the legislation I signed yesterday now requires Congress to do exactly that — what it could have been doing all along.

And we shouldn’t approach this process of creating a budget as an ideological exercise — just cutting for the sake of cutting.  The issue is not growth versus fiscal responsibility — we need both.  We need a budget that deals with the issues that most Americans are focused on:  creating more good jobs that pay better wages.

And remember, the deficit is getting smaller, not bigger.  It’s going down faster than it has in the last 50 years. The challenges we have right now are not short-term deficits; it’s the long-term obligations that we have around things like Medicare and Social Security.  We want to make sure those are there for future generations.

So the key now is a budget that cuts out the things that we don’t need, closes corporate tax loopholes that don’t help create jobs, and frees up resources for the things that do help us grow — like education and infrastructure and research.  And these things historically have not been partisan.  And this shouldn’t be as difficult as it’s been in past years because we already spend less than we did a few years ago.  Our deficits are half of what they were a few years ago.  The debt problems we have now are long term, and we can address them without shortchanging our kids, or shortchanging our grandkids, or weakening the security that current generations have earned from their hard work.

So that’s number one.  Number two, we should finish fixing the job of — let me say that again.  Number two, we should finish the job of fixing our broken immigration system.

There’s already a broad coalition across America that’s behind this effort of comprehensive immigration reform — from business leaders to faith leaders to law enforcement.  In fact, the Senate has already passed a bill with strong bipartisan support that would make the biggest commitment to border security in our history; would modernize our legal immigration system; make sure everyone plays by the same rules, makes sure that folks who came here illegally have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, meet their responsibilities.  That bill has already passed the Senate. And economists estimate that if that bill becomes law, our economy would be 5 percent larger two decades from now.  That’s $1.4 trillion in new economic growth.

The majority of Americans think this is the right thing to do.  And it’s sitting there waiting for the House to pass it.  Now, if the House has ideas on how to improve the Senate bill, let’s hear them.  Let’s start the negotiations.  But let’s not leave this problem to keep festering for another year, or two years, or three years.  This can and should get done by the end of this year.

Number three, we should pass a farm bill, one that American farmers and ranchers can depend on; one that protects vulnerable children and adults in times of need; one that gives rural communities opportunities to grow and the long-term certainty that they deserve.

Again, the Senate has already passed a solid bipartisan bill.  It’s got support from Democrats and Republicans.  It’s sitting in the House waiting for passage.  If House Republicans have ideas that they think would improve the farm bill, let’s see them.  Let’s negotiate.  What are we waiting for?  Let’s get this done.

So, passing a budget; immigration reform; farm bill.  Those are three specific things that would make a huge difference in our economy right now.  And we could get them done by the end of the year if our focus is on what’s good for the American people. And that’s just the big stuff.  There are all kinds of other things that we could be doing that don’t get as much attention.

I understand we will not suddenly agree on everything now that the cloud of crisis has passed.  Democrats and Republicans are far apart on a lot of issues.  And I recognize there are folks on the other side who think that my policies are misguided — that’s putting it mildly.  That’s okay.  That’s democracy.  That’s how it works.  We can debate those differences vigorously, passionately, in good faith, through the normal democratic process.

And sometimes, we’ll be just too far apart to forge an agreement.  But that should not hold back our efforts in areas where we do agree.  We shouldn’t fail to act on areas that we do agree or could agree just because we don’t think it’s good politics; just because the extremes in our party don’t like the word “compromise.”

I will look for willing partners wherever I can to get important work done.  And there’s no good reason why we can’t govern responsibly, despite our differences, without lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis.  In fact, one of the things that I hope all of us have learned these past few weeks is that it turns out smart, effective government is important.  It matters.  I think the American people during this shutdown had a chance to get some idea of all the things, large and small, that government does that make a difference in people’s lives.

We hear all the time about how government is the problem.  Well, it turns out we rely on it in a whole lot of ways.  Not only does it keep us strong through our military and our law enforcement, it plays a vital role in caring for our seniors and our veterans, educating our kids, making sure our workers are trained for the jobs that are being created, arming our businesses with the best science and technology so they can compete with companies from other countries.  It plays a key role in keeping our food and our toys and our workplaces safe.  It helps folks rebuild after a storm.  It conserves our natural resources.  It finances startups.  It helps to sell our products overseas.  It provides security to our diplomats abroad.

So let’s work together to make government work better, instead of treating it like an enemy or purposely making it work worse.  That’s not what the founders of this nation envisioned when they gave us the gift of self-government.  You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president, then argue for your position.  Go out there and win an election.  Push to change it. But don’t break it.  Don’t break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building.  That’s not being faithful to what this country is about.

And that brings me to one last point.  I’ve got a simple message for all the dedicated and patriotic federal workers who’ve either worked without pay or been forced off the job without pay these past few weeks, including most of my own staff: Thank you.  Thanks for your service.  Welcome back.  What you do is important.  It matters.

You defend our country overseas.  You deliver benefits to our troops who’ve earned them when they come home.  You guard our borders.  You protect our civil rights.  You help businesses grow and gain footholds in overseas markets.  You protect the air we breathe and the water our children drink.  And you push the boundaries of science and space, and you guide hundreds of thousands of people each day through the glories of this country. Thank you.  What you do is important.  And don’t let anybody else tell you different.  Especially the young people who come to this city to serve — believe that it matters.  Well, you know what, you’re right.  It does.

And those of us who have the privilege to serve this country have an obligation to do our job as best we can.  We come from different parties, but we are Americans first.  And that’s why disagreement cannot mean dysfunction.  It can’t degenerate into hatred.  The American people’s hopes and dreams are what matters, not ours.  Our obligations are to them.  Our regard for them compels us all, Democrats and Republicans, to cooperate, and compromise, and act in the best interests of our nation –- one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Thanks very much.

11:20 A.M. EDT

Political Musings October 16, 2013: Senate again responsible for deals ending shutdown and raising the debt ceiling





Senate again responsible for deals ending shutdown and raising the debt ceiling

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The Senate is again responsible for passing bills to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling before the deadline, after the House GOP on Tuesday evening, Oct. 15, 2013 failed another attempt to secure a plan ending the…READ MORE

Political Musings October 16, 2013: House GOP fails again to agree on deal to end shutdown, raise debt ceiling




House GOP fails again to agree on deal to end shutdown, raise debt ceiling

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Republican leadership in the House of Representatives tried again on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 to create short-term bills to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling limit, to avert any further crisis, which failed to lead even…READ MORE

Political Musings October 11, 2013: President Obama refuses GOP proposed debt ceiling deal after White House meeting





Political Musings October 9, 2013: President Obama caving in? Boehner gets White House meeting over government shutdown





Obama caving in? Boehner gets White House meeting over government shutdown

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, R-OH may be getting the negotiations he has been requesting all through the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis. First on Wednesday morning Oct. 9, 2013 Boehner met with House Minority…READ MORE

Political Musings October 7, 2013: Boehner, Obama stand firm on debt ceiling limit





Boehner, Obama stand firm on debt ceiling limit (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, R-OH emphasized in an interview on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013 on ABC News’ This Week with George Stephanopoulos the importance of President Barack Obama negotiating with House Republicans to end…READ MORE

Political Musings October 6, 2013: First week of government shutdown ends, but Obama, GOP stalemate continues





First week of government shutdown ends, but Obama, GOP stalemate continues (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

As the first week of the government shutdown came to a close on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, the only aspect President Barack Obama, the Democrats and Republicans agree on is that the government shutdown needs to end and that the…READ MORE

Political Musings October 5, 2013: President Obama and GOP continue government shutdown blame game in weekly addresses





Obama and GOP continue government shutdown blame game in weekly addresses (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

As the government shutdown entered its fifth day with no end in sight on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 President Barack Obama delivered his weekly address and Republican Sen. John Cornyn from Texas delivered the GOP weekly address, each urging the…READ MORE

Political Musings October 3, 2013: President Obama’s meeting with Congressional leaders futile, government shutdown continues





Obama’s meeting with Congressional leaders futile, government shutdown continues (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

With the government shutdown already in its second day President Barack Obama finally relented on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013 and met with Congressional leaders at the White House in effort to end the crisis. Obama has taken a hands-off…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency October 3, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Economic Impact of the Government Shutdown in Rockville, Maryland



Remarks by the President on the Government Shutdown

Source: WH, 10-3-13 

President Obama Speaks on the Economic Impact of the Government Shutdown

President Obama Speaks on the Economic Impact of the Government Shutdown

M. Luis Construction Company, Rockville, Maryland

10:49 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Good to see all of you.  Please, please have a seat.  Well, hello, Rockville!

Let me start by recognizing three public servants who fight hard every day for Maryland families and businesses.  First of all, Congressman Chris Van Hollen is here.  (Applause.)  Yay, Chris!  Congressman John Delaney is here.  (Applause.)  And we have the acting head of the Small Business Administration — Jeanne Hulit is here.  (Applause.)

And I also want to give a big thanks to your bosses, Cidalia and Natalia, for being such gracious hosts.  I had a chance to meet them at the White House.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Now I know where they got their good looks from, because I had a chance to meet mom and dad, and their beautiful families.  So I’m so glad to be here.  And I had a chance to learn a little bit about their story.  So when their parents brought them from Portugal to America almost 40 years ago, no one in the family spoke a word of English.  But that didn’t stop their father, Manuel, and their mother, Albertina, from having a big dream — believing that if they worked hard, they could get ahead, and that even though they’d never had any schooling, maybe their daughters could go to college; maybe in America you could make it if you tried.  That’s what they believed.

So they started their own construction company with a pickup truck and a wheelbarrow.  And when Cidalia and Natalia turned 14, they began to help — cleaning tools, translating documents.  And they became the first in their family to go to college.  After graduation, they started their own business, and later they bought the family business from their parents.  So today, M. Luis Construction is a $60 million company with about 250 employees.  (Applause.)  And I understand you’re opening your fourth office at the end of this month.  So this story is what America is all about.  You start off — maybe you don’t have a lot — but you’re willing to work hard, you put in the time, opportunities out there, and you’re able to pass on an even better life to your family, your children, your grandchildren.

And it’s good news that after how hard the construction industry got hit during the recession, things are starting to get a little better.  Remember, it was just five years ago that our economy was in free fall.  Businesses were shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs every single month, and the recession ultimately cost millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, their savings — everything they had worked hard to build.

Today, over the last three and a half years, our businesses have added 7.5 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  Our deficits are falling.  Our housing market is healing, which means construction is improving; manufacturing is growing; the auto industry is back.  America is on pace to become the number one energy producer in the world this year.  (Applause.)  More small businesses have gotten loans so they can grow and they can hire — just like M. Luis did with the help of the Small Business Jobs Act that I signed three years ago.  So that’s part of what allowed this company to grow.  (Applause.)

So we still have a long way to go.  We’ve still got a lot of work to do, especially to rebuild the middle class.  But we’re making steady progress.  And the reason I’m here is, we can’t afford to threaten that progress right now.  Right now, hundreds of thousands of Americans, hardworking Americans, suddenly aren’t receiving their paycheck.  Right now, they’re worrying about missing the rent, or their mortgage, or even making ends meet.  We can all relate to that.  Imagine if suddenly you weren’t sure whether you were going to get your next paycheck, with all the bills that might be mounting up.  Well, that’s what’s happening right now to hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country.

Companies like this one worried that their businesses are going to be disrupted, because obviously, particularly in an area like Maryland, Virginia, where there are a lot of federal workers, you don’t know how that’s going to impact the economy.  Veterans, seniors, women — they’re all worrying that the services they depend on will be disrupted too.

And the worst part is, this time it’s not because of a once-in-a-lifetime recession.  This isn’t happening because of some financial crisis.  It’s happening because of a reckless Republican shutdown in Washington.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  That’s right!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, we’ve all seen the offices locked down, the monuments closed.  We’ve heard about services denied, we’ve heard about benefits that are delayed.  But the impacts of a shutdown go way beyond those things that you’re seeing on television.  Those hundreds of thousands of Americans — a lot of whom live around here — don’t know when they’re going to get their next paycheck, and that means stores and restaurants around here don’t know if they’ll have as many customers.

Across the country you’ve got farmers in rural areas and small business owners who deserve a loan, but they’re being left in the lurch right now.  They might have an application pending as we speak, but there’s nobody in the office to process the loan.  The SBA gives a billion dollars of loans a month to small businesses — a billion dollars a month goes to small businesses all across the country.  Right now those can’t be processed because there’s nobody there to process them.

Veterans who deserve our support are getting less help.  Little kids who deserve a Head Start have been sent home from the safe places where they learn and grow every single day.  And of course, their families then have to scramble to figure out what to do.  And the longer this goes on, the worse it will be.  And it makes no sense.

The American people elected their representatives to make their lives easier, not harder.  And there is one way out of this reckless and damaging Republican shutdown:  Congress has to pass a budget that funds our government with no partisan strings attached.  (Applause.)

Now, I want everybody to understand what’s happened, because sometimes when this gets reported on everybody kind of thinks, well, you know, both sides are just squabbling; Democrats and Republicans, they’re always arguing, so neither side is behaving properly.  I want everybody to understand what’s happened here.  The Republicans passed a temporary budget for two months at a funding level that we, as Democrats, actually think is way too low because we’re not providing help for more small businesses, doing more for early childhood education, doing more to rebuild our infrastructure.  But we said, okay, while we’re still trying to figure out this budget, we’re prepared to go ahead and take the Republican budget levels that they proposed.

So the Senate passed that with no strings attached — not because it had everything the Democrats wanted.  In fact, it had very little that the Democrats wanted.  But we said, let’s go ahead and just make sure that other people aren’t hurt while negotiations are still taking place.

So that’s already passed the Senate.  And we know there are enough Republicans and Democrats to vote in the House of Representatives for the same thing.  So I want everybody to understand this:  There are enough Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives today that, if the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, simply let the bill get on the floor for an up-or-down vote, every congressman could vote their conscience  — the shutdown would end today.

The only thing that is keeping the government shut down; the only thing preventing people from going back to work and basic research starting back up, and farmers and small business owners getting their loan — the only thing that’s preventing all that from happening, right now, today, in the next five minutes, is that Speaker John Boehner won’t even let the bill get a yes-or-no vote, because he doesn’t want to anger the extremists in his party.  That’s all.  That’s what this whole thing is about.

We’ve heard a lot from congressional Republicans in the past couple of days saying they don’t want this shutdown.  Well, there’s a simple way to prove it.  Send the bill to the floor, let everybody vote — it will pass.  Send me the bill; I will sign it.  The shutdown will be over and we can get back to the business of governing and helping the American people.  (Applause.)

It could happen in the next half hour.  National parks, monuments, offices would all reopen immediately.  Benefits and services would resume again.  Hundreds of thousands of dedicated public servants who are worrying about whether they’re going to be able to pay the mortgage or pay the car note, they’d start going back to work right away.  So my simple message today is:  Call a vote.  Call a vote.

AUDIENCE:  Call a vote!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Put it on the floor and let every individual member of Congress make up their own minds.  And they can show the American people, are you for a shutdown or not?  If you’re not for a shutdown, you’ll vote for the bill; if you’re for a shutdown, you won’t vote for a bill.  We don’t have to twist anybody’s arms.  But that way, the American people will be clear about who is responsible for the shutdown.  Or, alternatively, more hopefully, they’d be clear that this is something that doesn’t make sense and we should go ahead and make sure that we’re looking out for the American people.  It should be that simple.

But as I said, the problem we’ve got is that there’s one faction of one party, in one half of one branch of government that so far has refused to allow that yes-or-no vote unless they get some massive partisan concessions in exchange for doing what they’re supposed to be doing anyway, in exchange for doing what everybody else agrees is necessary.  And they won’t agree to end the shutdown until they get their way.  And you may think I’m exaggerating, but just the other day, one tea party Republican called the idea of a shutdown “wonderful.”  Another said that a shutdown is “exactly what we wanted.”  Well, they got exactly what they wanted.  Now they’re trying to figure out how to get out of it.

Just yesterday, one House Republican said — I’m quoting here, because I want to make sure people understand I didn’t make this up.  One House Republican said, “We’re not going to be disrespected.  We have to get something out of this.  And I don’t know what that even is.”  That was a quote.  “We’re not going to be disrespected.  We have got to get something out of this.  And I don’t know what that even is.”  Think about that.

You have already gotten the opportunity to serve the American people.  There is no higher honor than that.  (Applause.)  You’ve already gotten the opportunity to help businesses like this one, workers like these.  So the American people aren’t in the mood to give you a goodie bag to go with it.  What you get is our intelligence professionals being back on the job.  What you get is our medical researchers back on the job.  (Applause.)  What you get are little kids back into Head Start.  (Applause.)  What you get are our national parks and monuments open again.  What you get is the economy not stalling, but continuing to grow.  (Applause.)  What you get are workers continuing to be hired.  That’s what you get.  That’s what you should be asking for.  Take a vote, stop this farce, and end this shutdown right now.  (Applause.)

If you’re being disrespected, it’s because of that attitude you got that you deserve to get something for doing your job.  Everybody here just does their job, right?  If you’re working here and in the middle of the day you just stopped and said, you know what, I want to get something, but I don’t know exactly what I’m going to get.  (Laughter.)  But I’m just going to stop working until I get something.  I’m going to shut down the whole plant until I get something.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  You’d get fired.

THE PRESIDENT:  You’d get fired.  (Applause.)  Right?  Because the deal is you’ve already gotten hired.  You’ve got a job.  You’re getting a paycheck.  And so you also are getting the pride of doing a good job and contributing to a business and looking out for your fellow workers.  That’s what you’re getting.  Well, it shouldn’t be any different for a member of Congress.

Now, unlike past shutdowns — I want to make sure everybody understands this because, again, sometimes the tendency is to say, well, both sides are at fault.  This one has nothing to do with deficits or spending or budgets.  Our deficits are falling at the fastest pace in 60 years.  We’ve cut the deficits in half since I took office.  (Applause.)  And some of the things that the Republicans are asking for right now would actually add to our deficits, seriously.

So this is not about spending.  And this isn’t about fiscal responsibility.  This whole thing is about one thing:  the Republican obsession with dismantling the Affordable Care Act and denying affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.  (Applause.)  That’s all this has become about.  That seems to be the only thing that unites the Republican Party these days.

Through this whole fight, they’ve said the American people don’t want Obamacare, so we should shut down the government to repeal it or delay it.  But here’s the problem:  The government is now shut down, but the Affordable Care Act is still open for business.  (Applause.)  So they’re not even accomplishing what they say they want to accomplish.  And, by the way, in the first two days since the new marketplaces — basically big group plans that we’ve set up — the first two days that they opened, websites where you can compare and purchase new affordable insurance plans and maybe get tax credits to reduce your costs, millions of Americans have made it clear they do want health insurance.  (Applause.)

More than 6 million people visited the website HealthCare.gov the day it opened.  Nearly 200,000 people picked up the phone and called the call center.  In Kentucky alone — this is a state where — I didn’t win Kentucky.  (Laughter.)  So I know they weren’t doing it for me.  In Kentucky, nearly 11,000 people applied for new insurance plans in the first two days — just in one state, Kentucky.  And many Americans are finding out when they go on the website that they’ll save a lot of money or get health insurance for the first time.

So I would think that if, in fact, this was going to be such a disaster that the Republicans say it’s going to be, that it was going to be so unpopular, they wouldn’t have to shut down the government.  They could wait, nobody would show any interest, there would be, like, two people on the website — (laughter) — and everybody would then vote for candidates who want to repeal it.

It’s not as if Republicans haven’t had a chance to debate the health care law.  It passed the House of Representatives.  It passed the Senate.  The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional — you remember all this.  Last November, voters rejected the presidential candidate that ran on a platform to repeal it.  (Applause.)  So the Affordable Care Act has gone through every single democratic process, all three branches of government.  It’s the law of the land.  It’s here to stay.

I’ve said to Republicans, if there are specific things you think can improve the law to make it even better for people as opposed to just gutting it and leaving 25 million people without health insurance, I’m happy to talk to you about that.  But a Republican shutdown won’t change the fact that millions of people need health insurance, and that the Affordable Care Act is being implemented.  The shutdown does not change that.  All the shutdown is doing is making it harder for ordinary Americans to get by, and harder for businesses to create jobs at a time when our economy is just starting to gain traction again.

You’ve heard Republicans say that Obamacare will hurt the economy, but the economy has been growing and creating jobs.  The single-greatest threat to our economy and to our businesses like this one is not the Affordable Care Act, it’s the unwillingness of Republicans in Congress to stop refighting a settled election, or making the demands that have nothing to do with the budget.  They need to move on to the actual business of governing.  That’s what will help the economy.  That’s what will grow the economy.  That’s what will put people back to work.  (Applause.)

And more than that, House Republicans need to stop careening from one crisis to another in everything they do.  Have you noticed that?  Since they’ve taken over the House of Representatives, we have one of these crises every three months.  Have you noticed?  And you keep on thinking, all right, well, this is going to be the last one; they’re not going to do this again.  And then they do it again.

I know you’re tired of it.  I’m tired of it.  It doesn’t mean that they’re wrong on every single issue.  I’ve said I’m happy to negotiate with you on anything.  I don’t think any one party has a monopoly on wisdom.  But you don’t negotiate by putting a gun to the other person’s head — or, worse yet, by putting a gun to the American people’s head by threatening a shutdown.

And, by the way, even after Congress reopens your government, it’s going to have to turn around very quickly and do something else — and that’s pay America’s bills.  I want to spend a little time on this.  It’s something called raising the debt ceiling.  And it’s got a lousy name, so a lot of people end up thinking, I don’t know, I don’t think we should raise our debt ceiling, because it sounds like we’re raising our debt.  But that’s not what this is about.

It doesn’t cost taxpayers a single dime.  It doesn’t grow our deficits by a single dime.  It doesn’t allow anybody to spend any new money whatsoever.  So it’s not something that raises our debt.  What it does is allow the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. government to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up.  I want you to think about this.

If you go to a restaurant, you order a meal, you eat it.  Maybe you have some wine.  Maybe you have two glasses of wine — great meal.  And then you look at the tab — it’s pretty expensive — and you decide I’m not going to pay the bill.  But you’re not saving money.  You’re not being frugal.  You’re just a deadbeat, right?  (Laughter.)  If you buy a house and you decide, this month I’d rather go on vacation somewhere so I’m not going to pay my mortgage, you didn’t just save yourself some money.  You’re just going to get foreclosed on.

So you don’t save money by not paying your bills.  You don’t reduce your debt by not paying your bills.  All you’re doing is making yourself unreliable and hurting your credit rating.  And you’ll start getting those phone calls and those notices in the mail.  And the next time you try to borrow, somebody is going to say, uh-uh, because you don’t pay your bills, you’re a deadbeat.  Well, the same is true for countries.

The only thing that the debt ceiling does is to let the U.S. Treasury pay for what Congress has already bought.  That’s why it’s something that has been routine.  Traditionally, it’s not a big deal.  Congress has raised it 45 times since Ronald Reagan took office.  This is just kind of a routine part of keeping the government running.  The last time the House Republicans flirted with not raising the debt ceiling, back in 2011 — some of you remember this — our economy took a bad hit.  Our country’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time, just like you’d be downgraded if you didn’t pay your mortgage.

This time, they are threatening to actually force the United States to default on its obligations for the very first time in history.  Now, you’ll hear John Boehner and Mitch McConnell and these other Republicans say, we don’t want to default.  But everybody knows — it’s written about in all the papers — that their basic theory is, okay, if the shutdown doesn’t work, then we are going to try to get some extra concessions out of the President.  We’ll put like a long laundry list, all the things that we want that we can’t get passed on our own.  And if we don’t get it, we’ll tell them we don’t — we won’t vote to pay the country’s bills.  We’ll let the country default.

I’m not just making this up.  I mean, it’s common knowledge.  Every reporter here knows it.  And I want you to understand the consequences of this.  As reckless as a government shutdown is, as many people as are being hurt by a government shutdown, an economic shutdown that results from default would be dramatically worse.  In a government shutdown, Social Security checks still go out on time.  In an economic shutdown, if we don’t raise the debt ceiling, they don’t go out on time.

In a government shutdown, disability benefits still arrive on time.  In an economic shutdown, they don’t.  In a government shutdown, millions of Americans — not just federal workers — everybody faces real economic hardship.  In an economic shutdown, falling pensions and home values and rising interest rates on things like mortgages and student loans — all those things risk putting us back into a bad recession, which will affect this company and those workers and all of you.  That’s not my analysis.  That’s — every economist out there is saying the same thing.  We’ve never done it before.

And the United States is the center of the world economy.  So if we screw up, everybody gets screwed up.  The whole world will have problems, which is why generally nobody has ever thought to actually threaten not to pay our bills.  It would be the height of irresponsibility.  And that’s why I’ve said this before — I’m going to repeat it:  There will be no negotiations over this.  (Applause.)  The American people are not pawns in some political game.  You don’t get to demand some ransom in exchange for keeping the government running.  You don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for keeping the economy running.  You don’t get to demand ransom for doing your most basic job.

And the sooner that the Republicans in Congress heed the warnings not just of me or Democrats like Chris and John, but heed the warnings of the Chamber of Commerce, and CEOs, and economists, and a whole lot of Republicans outside of Congress  — they’re all saying, do not do this.  They’re all saying to Congress, do your job; and the sooner you do your job, the less damage you’ll do to our economy and to businesses like this one.

So pass a budget, end the government shutdown.  Pay our bills.  Prevent an economic shutdown.  Just vote and end this shutdown.  And you should do it today so we can get back to growing this economy, creating jobs and strengthening our middle class.  (Applause.)

Let me close just by sharing a story I heard as I was getting ready to come here today.  Many of you already know it.  Two years ago, a mulch factory next to M. Luis’s main equipment storage facility caught fire, and most of the company’s equipment was destroyed, causing millions of dollars in damage.  But even while the fire was still burning, dozens of employees rushed over to the facility and tried to save as much as they could — some of you were probably there.  And when they finished cutting fire lines and spraying down the perimeter of their own property, they went over to help their neighbors.

And afterwards, even though all the employees here at M. Luis are on salary, even though the company had just taken a big financial hit, Cidalia and Natalia paid everyone overtime, and along with each check they included a personalized note saying just how much they had appreciated the efforts of the workers.  And Cidalia said, everybody says the biggest asset to a business is employees.  Some people mean it, some people don’t — we actually do.

So this company right here is full of folks who do right by each other.  They don’t try to see if they can work every angle.  They don’t lie about each other.  They don’t try to undermine each other.  They understand they’re supposed to be on the same team.  You pitch in, you look out for one another.  When somebody gets knocked down, you help them back up.  You don’t ask what can you get out of this, because you know that success doesn’t depend on one of you, it depends on all of you working together.

Well, America is no different.  I see that same spirit in so many cities and towns that I visit all across the country.  It is alive and well all across the country.  It’s alive and well in this community where restaurants and businesses are rallying around their regulars, and they’re looking out for all the dedicated public servants who have been furloughed.  You’ve been reading stories about restaurants who are saying, you know what, while you’re on furlough, come on, we’ll give you a burger, we’ll give you a meal, we’ll help you out.

That’s the American ideal.  It says, we’re working together, looking out for one another, meeting our responsibilities, doing our jobs, thinking about future generations.  And that’s why I believe, ultimately, reason and common sense will prevail.  That spirit at some point will infiltrate Washington as well.  Because I think the American people are so good and so decent, they’re going to get better behavior from their government than this.  And we’ll once again make sure this is a country where you can make it if you try.

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

END                11:21 A.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency October 1, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act and the Government Shutdown



Remarks by the President on the Affordable Care Act and the Government Shutdown

Source: WH, 10-1-13

Rose Garden

1:01 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good morning, everybody.  At midnight last night, for the first time in 17 years, Republicans in Congress chose to shut down the federal government.  Let me be more specific:  One faction, of one party, in one house of Congress, in one branch of government, shut down major parts of the government — all because they didn’t like one law.

This Republican shutdown did not have to happen.  But I want every American to understand why it did happen.  Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to fund the government unless we defunded or dismantled the Affordable Care Act.  They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.  In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their job.

And many representatives, including an increasing number of Republicans, have made it clear that had they been allowed by Speaker Boehner to take a simple up or down vote on keeping the government open, with no partisan strings attached, enough votes from both parties would have kept the American people’s government open and operating.

We may not know the full impact of this Republican shutdown for some time.  It will depend on how long it lasts.  But we do know a couple of things.  We know that the last time Republicans shut down the government in 1996, it hurt our economy.  And unlike 1996, our economy is still recovering from the worst recession in generations.

We know that certain services and benefits that America’s seniors and veterans and business owners depend on must be put on hold.  Certain offices, along with every national park and monument, must be closed.  And while last night, I signed legislation to make sure our 1.4 million active-duty military are paid through the shutdown, hundreds of thousands of civilian workers — many still on the job, many forced to stay home — aren’t being paid, even if they have families to support and local businesses that rely on them.  And we know that the longer this shutdown continues, the worse the effects will be.  More families will be hurt.  More businesses will be harmed.

So, once again, I urge House Republicans to reopen the government, restart the services Americans depend on, and allow the public servants who have been sent home to return to work.  This is only going to happen when Republicans realize they don’t get to hold the entire economy hostage over ideological demands.

As I’ve said repeatedly, I am prepared to work with Democrats and Republicans to do the things we need to do to grow the economy and create jobs, and get our fiscal house in order over the long run.  Although I should add this shutdown isn’t about deficits, or spending, or budgets.  After all, our deficits are falling at the fastest pace in 50 years.  We’ve cut them in half since I took office.  In fact, many of the demands the Republicans are now making would actually raise our deficits.

No, this shutdown is not about deficits, it’s not about budgets.  This shutdown is about rolling back our efforts to provide health insurance to folks who don’t have it.  It’s all about rolling back the Affordable Care Act.  This, more than anything else, seems to be what the Republican Party stands for these days.  I know it’s strange that one party would make keeping people uninsured the centerpiece of their agenda, but that apparently is what it is.

And of course, what’s stranger still is that shutting down our government doesn’t accomplish their stated goal.  The Affordable Care Act is a law that passed the House; it passed the Senate.  The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional.  It was a central issue in last year’s election.  It is settled, and it is here to stay.  And because of its funding sources, it’s not impacted by a government shutdown.

And these Americans are here with me today because, even though the government is closed, a big part of the Affordable Care Act is now open for business.  And for them, and millions like them, this is a historic day for a good reason.  It’s been a long time coming, but today, Americans who have been forced to go without insurance can now visit healthcare.gov and enroll in affordable new plans that offer quality coverage.  That starts today.

And people will have six months to sign up.  So over the next six months, people are going to have the opportunity — in many cases, for the first time in their lives — to get affordable coverage that they desperately need.

Now, of course, if you’re one of the 85 percent of Americans who already have health insurance, you don’t need to do a thing. You’re already benefiting from new benefits and protections that have been in place for some time under this law.  But for the 15 percent of Americans who don’t have health insurance, this opportunity is life-changing.

Let me just tell folks a few stories that are represented here today.  A few years ago, Amanda Barrett left her job in New York to take care of her parents.  And for a while, she had temporary insurance that covered her multiple sclerosis.  But when it expired, many insurers wouldn’t cover her because of her MS.  And she ended up paying $1,200 a month.  That’s nowhere near affordable.  So starting today, she can get covered for much less, because today’s new plan can’t use your medical history to charge you more than anybody else.

Sky-high premiums once forced Nancy Beigel to choose between paying her rent or paying for health insurance.  She’s been uninsured ever since.  So she pays all of her medical bills out of pocket, puts some on her credit card, making them even harder to pay.  Nancy says, “They talk about those who fall through the cracks.  I fell through the cracks 10 years ago and I’ve been stuck there ever since.”  Well, starting today, Nancy can get covered just like everybody else.

Trinace Edwards was laid off from her job a year ago today. Six months ago, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  She couldn’t afford insurance on the individual market, so she hasn’t received treatment yet.  Her daughter Lenace, a student at the University of Maryland, is considering dropping out of school to help pay her mom’s bills.  Well, starting today, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Trinace can get covered without forcing her daughter to give up on her dreams.

So if these stories of hardworking Americans sound familiar to you, well, starting today, you and your friends and your family and your coworkers can get covered, too.  Just visit healthcare.gov, and there you can compare insurance plans, side by side, the same way you’d shop for a plane ticket on Kayak or a TV on Amazon.  You enter some basic information, you’ll be presented with a list of quality, affordable plans that are available in your area, with clear descriptions of what each plan covers, and what it will cost.  You’ll find more choices, more competition, and in many cases, lower prices — most uninsured Americans will find that they can get covered for $100 or less.

And you don’t have to take my word for it.  Go on the website, healthcare.gov, check it out for yourself.  And then show it to your family and your friends and help them get covered, just like mayors and churches and community groups and companies are already fanning out to do across the country.

And there’s a hotline where you can apply over the phone and get help with the application, or just get questions that you have answered by real people, in 150 different languages.   So let me give you that number.  The number is 1-800-318-2596 — 1-800-318-2596.  Check out healthcare.gov.  Call that number.  Show your family and friends how to use it.  And we can get America covered, once and for all, so that the struggles that these folks have gone through and millions around the country have gone through for years finally get addressed.

And let me just remind people why I think this is so important.  I heard a striking statistic yesterday — if you get cancer, you are 70 percent more likely to live another five years if you have insurance than if you don’t.  Think about that.  That is what it means to have health insurance.

Set aside the issues of security and finances and how you’re impacted by that, the stress involved in not knowing whether or not you’re going to have health care.  This is life-or-death stuff.  Tens of thousands of Americans die each year just because they don’t have health insurance.  Millions more live with the fear that they’ll go broke if they get sick.  And today, we begin to free millions of our fellow Americans from that fear.

Already, millions of young adults have been able to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.  Millions of seniors already have gotten a discount on their prescription medicines.  Already millions of families have actually received rebates from insurance companies that didn’t spend enough on their health care.  So this law means more choice, more competition, lower costs for millions of Americans.

And this law doesn’t just mean economic security for our families.  It means we’re finally addressing the biggest drivers of our long-term deficits.  It means a stronger economy.

Remember most Republicans have made a whole bunch of predictions about this law that haven’t come true.  There are no “death panels.”  Costs haven’t skyrocketed; they’re growing at the slowest rate in 50 years.  The last three years since I signed the Affordable Care Act into law are the three slowest rates of health spending growth on record.

And contrary to Republican claims, this law hasn’t “destroyed” our economy.  Over the past three and a half years, our businesses have created 7.5 million new jobs.  Just today, we learned that our manufacturers are growing at the fastest rate in two and a half years.  They have factored in the Affordable Care Act. They don’t think it’s a problem.  What’s weighing on the economy is not the Affordable Care Act, but the constant series of crises and the unwillingness to pass a reasonable budget by a faction of the Republican Party.

Now, like every new law, every new product rollout, there are going to be some glitches in the signup process along the way that we will fix.  I’ve been saying this from the start.  For example, we found out that there have been times this morning where the site has been running more slowly than it normally will.  The reason is because more than one million people visited healthcare.gov before 7:00 in the morning.

To put that in context, there were five times more users in the marketplace this morning than have ever been on Medicare.gov at one time.  That gives you a sense of how important this is to millions of Americans around the country, and that’s a good thing.  And we’re going to be speeding things up in the next few hours to handle all this demand that exceeds anything that we had expected.

Consider that just a couple of weeks ago, Apple rolled out a new mobile operating system.  And within days, they found a glitch, so they fixed it.  I don’t remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads — or threatening to shut down the company if they didn’t.  That’s not how we do things in America.  We don’t actively root for failure.  We get to work, we make things happen, we make them better, we keep going.

So in that context, I’ll work with anybody who’s got a serious idea to make the Affordable Care Act work better.  I’ve said that repeatedly.  But as long as I am President, I will not give in to reckless demands by some in the Republican Party to deny affordable health insurance to millions of hardworking Americans.

I want Republicans in Congress to know these are the Americans you’d hurt if you were allowed to dismantle this law.  Americans like Amanda, Nancy, and Trinace, who now finally have the opportunity for basic security and peace of mind of health care just like everybody else — including members of Congress.  The notion that you’d make a condition for reopening the government that I make sure these folks don’t have health care — that doesn’t make any sense.  It doesn’t make any sense.

Now, let me make one closing point:  This Republican shutdown threatens our economy at a time when millions of Americans are still looking for work, and businesses are starting to get some traction.  So the timing is not good.  Of course, a lot of the Republicans in the House ran for office two years ago promising to shut down the government, and so, apparently, they’ve now gotten their wish.  But as I’ve said before, the irony that the House Republicans have to contend with is they’ve shut down a whole bunch of parts of the government, but the Affordable Care Act is still open for business.

And this may be why you’ve got many Republican governors and senators and even a growing number of reasonable Republican congressmen who are telling the extreme right of their party to knock it off, pass a budget, move on.

And I want to underscore the fact that Congress doesn’t just have to end this shutdown and reopen the government — Congress generally has to stop governing by crisis.  They have to break this habit.  It is a drag on the economy.  It is not worthy of this country.

For example, one of the most important things Congress has to do in the next couple weeks is to raise what’s called the debt ceiling.  And it’s important to understand what this is.  This is a routine vote.  Congress has taken this vote 45 times to raise the debt ceiling since Ronald Reagan took office.  It does not cost taxpayers a single dime.  It does not grow our deficits by a single dime.  It does not authorize anybody to spend any new money whatsoever.  All it does is authorize the Treasury to pay the bills on what Congress has already spent.

Think about that.  If you buy a car and you’ve got a car note, you do not save money by not paying your car note.  You’re just a deadbeat.  If you buy a house, you don’t save money by not authorizing yourself to pay the mortgage.  You’re just going to be foreclosed on your home.  That’s what this is about.

It is routine.  It is what they’re supposed to do.  This is not a concession to me.  It is not some demand that’s unreasonable that I’m making.  This is what Congress is supposed to do as a routine matter.  And they shouldn’t wait until the last minute to do it.  The last time Republicans even threatened this course of action — many of you remember, back in 2011 — our economy staggered, our credit rating was downgraded for the first time.  If they go through with it this time and force the United States to default on its obligations for the first time in history, it would be far more dangerous than a government shutdown — as bad as a shutdown is.  It would be an economic shutdown.

So I’ll speak more on this in the coming days, but let me repeat:  I will not negotiate over Congress’s responsibility to pay bills it’s already racked up.  I’m not going to allow anybody to drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud just to refight a settled election or extract ideological demands.  Nobody gets to hurt our economy and millions of hardworking families over a law you don’t like.

There are a whole bunch of things that I’d like to see passed through Congress that the House Republicans haven’t passed yet, and I’m not out there saying, well, I’m not — I’m going to let America default unless Congress does something that they don’t want to do.  That’s not how adults operate.  Certainly that’s not how our government should operate.  And that’s true whether there’s a Democrat in this office or a Republican in this office.  Doesn’t matter whether it’s a Democratic House of Representatives or a Republican-controlled House of Representatives — there are certain rules that everybody abides by because we don’t want to hurt other people just because we have a political disagreement.

So my basic message to Congress is this:  Pass a budget.  End the government shutdown.  Pay your bills.  Prevent an economic shutdown.  Don’t wait.  Don’t delay.  Don’t put our economy or our people through this any longer.

I am more than happy to work with them on all kinds of issues.  I want to get back to work on the things that the American people sent us here to work on — creating new jobs, new growth, new security for our middle class.

We’re better than this.  Certainly the American people are a lot better than this.  And I believe that what we’ve accomplished for Amanda, and Nancy, and Trinace, and tens of millions of their fellow citizens- on this day proves that even when the odds are long and the obstacles are many, we are and always will be a country that can do great things together.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  Thank you, all of you, for the great work that you’re doing.  And thank you, Kathleen Sebelius, for the outstanding work that she’s doing making sure that millions of Americans can get health insurance.

Thank you.

1:21 P.M. EDT

Political Musings October 1, 2013: With House and Senate at deadlock over spending bill, government shutdown begins





Political Musings October 1, 2013: Senate rejects House spending bill hours before government shutdown deadline





Political Musings September 30, 2013: Obama and GOP battle over spending bill as government shutdown nears





Political Musings September 29, 2013: Obama sells healthcare law implementation while slamming GOP opposition





Obama sells healthcare law implementation while slamming GOP opposition (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Days before the Affordable Cart Act will be start being implemented for individuals and small businesses President Barack Obama has taken to the road to again to sell the unpopular law to Americans while Congressional Republicans staunchly oppose the law…READ MORE
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