OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
OP-EDS & ARTICLES
- October 18, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 18, 2013
Source: WH, 10-17-13
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
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 17, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 17, 2013
Source: WH, 10-16-13
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
8:28 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, everybody. Tonight, the Republicans and Democrats in Congress have come together around an agreement that will reopen our government and remove the threat of default from our economy.
The Senate has now voted to approve this agreement, and Democrats and Republicans in the House still have an important vote to take, but I want to thank the leaders of both parties for getting us to this point. Once this agreement arrives on my desk, I will sign it immediately. We’ll begin reopening our government immediately, and we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American people.
I’ll have more to say about this tomorrow. And I’ve got some thoughts about how we can move forward in the remainder of the year and stay focused on the job at hand, because there is a lot of work ahead of us, including our need to earn back the trust of the American people that has been lost over the last few weeks. And we can begin to do that by addressing the real issues that they care about.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I am willing to work with anybody, I am eager to work with anybody — Democrat or Republican, House or Senate members — on any idea that will grow our economy, create new jobs, strengthen the middle class, and get our fiscal house in order for the long term. I’ve never believed that Democrats have a monopoly on good ideas. And despite the differences over the issue of shutting down our government, I’m convinced that Democrats and Republicans can work together to make progress for America.
In fact, there are things that we know will help strengthen our economy that we could get done before this year is out. We still need to pass a law to fix our broken immigration system. We still need to pass a farm bill. And with the shutdown behind us and budget committees forming, we now have an opportunity to focus on a sensible budget that is responsible, that is fair, and that helps hardworking people all across this country.
And we could get all these things done even this year if everybody comes together in a spirit of how are we going to move this country forward and put the last three weeks behind us. That’s what I believe the American people are looking for — not a focus on politics, not a focus on elections, but a focus on the concrete steps that can improve their lives. That’s going to be my focus. I’m looking forward to Congress doing the same.
But, once again, I want to thank the leadership for coming together and getting this done. Hopefully, next time, it won’t be in the 11th hour. One of the things that I said throughout this process is we’ve got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis. And my hope and expectation is everybody has learned that there is no reason why we can’t work on the issues at hand, why we can’t disagree between the parties while still being agreeable, and make sure that we’re not inflicting harm on the American people when we do have disagreements.
So hopefully that’s a lesson that will be internalized, not just by me but also by Democrats and Republicans, not only the leaders but also the rank and file.
Thanks very much, everybody.
Q Mr. President, isn’t this going to happen all over again in a few months?
THE PRESIDENT: No. (Laughter.)
8:31 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 16, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 16, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 16, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 14, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 13, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 13, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 11, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 9, 2013
Source: WH, 10-9-13
State Dining Room
3:16 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Over the past five years, America has fought its way back from the worst recession since the Great Depression. We passed historic reforms to prevent another crisis and to protect consumers. Over the past three and half years, our businesses have created 7.5 million new jobs. Our housing market is rebounding. Manufacturing is growing. The auto industry has come roaring back. And since I took office, we’ve cut the deficit in half.
I think everybody understands we’ve still got a lot of work to do to rebuild the middle class, but we’ve made progress. And we shouldn’t do anything to threaten that progress — for these hard-won gains have made a difference to millions of Americans. And, in part, we can thank the extraordinary grit and resilience of the American people; in part, we can thank the dynamism of our businesses. But a lot of it also has to do with the choices we’ve made as a nation to create more jobs and more growth. And one of the most important contributors to this whole process has been the Federal Reserve, under the strong leadership of Ben Bernanke.
For nearly eight years, Ben has led the Fed through some of the most daunting economic challenges of our lifetime. For some time now he’s made it clear that he intends to finish his service as chairman at the end of his term, which is this January. So, today I just want to take a minute to pay tribute to Ben for his extraordinary service. But I also want to announce my choice for the next chair of the Federal Reserve, one of the nation’s foremost economists and policymakers — current Vice Chairman Janet Yellen.
After I became President, I was proud to nominate Ben for a second term. And while the Fed is, and must always be, independent, I want you to know, Ben, I’m personally very grateful to you for being such a strong partner in helping America recover from recession.
Perhaps it’s no surprise — as the son of a pharmacist and a school teacher — that Ben Bernanke is the epitome of calm. And against the volatility of global markets, he’s been a voice of wisdom and a steady hand. At the same time, when faced with a potential global economic meltdown, he has displayed tremendous courage and creativity. He took bold action that was needed to avert another Depression — helping us stop the free fall, stabilize financial markets, shore up our banks, get credit flowing again.
And all this has made a profound difference in the lives of millions of Americans. A lot of people aren’t necessarily sure what the chairman of the Federal Reserve does, but thanks to this man to the left of me, more families are able to afford their own home; more small businesses are able to get loans to expand and hire workers; more folks can pay their mortgages and their car loans. It’s meant more growth and more jobs.
And I’d add that with his commitment to greater transparency and clarity, he’s also allowed us to better understand the work of the Fed. Ben has led a new era of “Fedspeak” and been a little more clear about how the system works. And that is good for our democracy.
And I have to tell you, as I travel around the world, the job of the Fed chair is not just our top monetary policymaker. The world looks to the American Fed chair for leadership and guidance. And the degree to which Ben is admired and respected, and the degree to which central bankers all across the world look to him for sound advice and smart policymaking is remarkable. He has truly been a stabilizing force not just for our country, but for the entire world. And I could not be more grateful for his extraordinary service.
And so, Ben, to you and your wife Anna, and your children Joel and Alyssa, I want to thank you for your outstanding service. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
Now, as I’ve said, the decision on who will succeed Ben is one of the most important economic decisions that I’ll make as President — one of the most important appointments that any President can make — because the chair of the Fed is one of the most important policymakers in the world, and the next chair will help guide our economy after I’ve left office.
I’ve considered a lot of factors. Foremost among them is an understanding of the Fed’s dual mandate — sound monetary policy to make sure that we keep inflation in check, but also increasing employment and creating jobs, which remains our most important economic challenge right now.
And I’ve found these qualities in Janet Yellen. She’s a proven leader and she’s tough — not just because she’s from Brooklyn. (Laughter.) Janet is exceptionally well-qualified for this role. She’s served in leadership positions at the Fed for more than a decade. As Vice Chair for the past three years, she’s been exemplary and a driving force of policies to help boost our economic recovery.
Janet is renowned for her good judgment. She sounded the alarm early about the housing bubble, about excesses in the financial sector, and about the risks of a major recession. She doesn’t have a crystal ball, but what she does have is a keen understanding about how markets and the economy work — not just in theory but also in the real world. And she calls it like she sees it.
Janet also knows how to build consensus. She listens to competing views and brings people together around a common goal. And as one of her admirers says, “She’s the kind of person who makes everybody around her better.” Not surprisingly, she is held in high esteem by colleagues across the country and around the world who look to the United States, as I said, and the Fed for leadership.
Janet is committed to both sides of the Fed’s dual mandate, and she understands the necessity of a stable financial system where we move ahead with the reforms that we’ve begun — to protect consumers, to ensure that no institution is too big to fail, and to make sure that taxpayers are never again left holding the bag because of the mistakes of the reckless few.
And at the same time, she’s committed to increasing employment, and she understands the human costs when Americans can’t find a job. She has said before, “These are not just statistics to me. The toll is simply terrible on the mental and physical health of workers, on their marriages, on their children.” So Janet understands this. And America’s workers and their families will have a champion in Janet Yellen.
So, Janet, I thank you for taking on this new assignment. And given the urgent economic challenges facing our nation, I urge the Senate to confirm Janet without delay. I am absolutely confident that she will be an exceptional chair of the Federal Reserve. I should add that she’ll be the first woman to lead the Fed in its 100-year history. And I know a lot of Americans — men and women — thank you for not only your example and your excellence, but also being a role model for a lot of folks out there.
It’s been said that Janet found love at the Federal Reserve — literally. (Laughter.) This is where she met her husband George, a celebrated economist in his own right. And their son Robert is an economist as well. So you can imagine the conversations around the dinner table might be a little different than ours. (Laughter.) In fact, I’ve been told their idea of a great family vacation is the beach — with a suitcase full of economics books. (Laughter.) But this is a family affair. We thank George and Robert for their support as Janet begins this journey.
Again, I want to thank Ben Bernanke for the outstanding work that he’s done, and obviously he will continue to help keep our economy moving forward during the remainder of his tenure here. So we’ll probably have occasion for additional good-byes. And I know that Janet is very much counting on him to give some good advice as she moves into the chairman spot.
But with this, I’d like to give Janet a chance to say a few words. (Applause.)
DR. YELLEN: Thank you, Mr. President. I’m honored and humbled by the faith that you’ve placed in me. If confirmed by the Senate, I pledge to do my upmost to keep that trust and meet the great responsibilities that Congress has entrusted to the Federal Reserve — to promote maximum employment, stable prices, and a strong and stable financial system.
I’d also like to thank my spouse, George, and my son, Robert. I couldn’t imagine taking on this new challenge without their love and support.
The past six years have been tumultuous for the economy and challenging for many Americans. While I think we all agree, Mr. President, that more needs to be done to strengthen the recovery, particularly for those hardest hit by the Great Recession, we have made progress. The economy is stronger and the financial system sounder.
As you said, Mr. President, considerable credit for that goes to Chairman Bernanke, for his wise, courageous and skillful leadership. It has been my privilege to serve with him and learn from him.
While we have made progress, we have farther to go. The mandate of the Federal Reserve is to serve all the American people, and too many Americans still can’t find a job and worry how they’ll pay their bills and provide for their families. The Federal Reserve can help if it does its job effectively. We can help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to work hard and build a better life. We can ensure that inflation remains in check and doesn’t undermine the benefits of a growing economy.
We can, and must, safeguard the financial system.
The Fed has powerful tools to influence the economy and the financial system. But I believe its greatest strength rests in its capacity to approach important decisions with expertise and objectivity, to vigorously debate diverse views and then to unite behind its response.
The Fed’s effectiveness depends on the commitment, ingenuity and integrity of the Fed staff and my fellow policymakers. They serve America with great dedication.
Mr. President, thank you for giving me this opportunity to continue serving the Federal Reserve and carrying out its important work on behalf of the American people. (Applause.)
END 3:29 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 9, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 8, 2013
Source: WaPo, 10-8-13
Think about it this way, the American people do not get to demand a ransom for doing their jobs. You don’t get a chance to call your bank and say I’m not going to pay my mortgage this month unless you throw in a new car and an Xbox. If you’re in negotiations around buying somebody’s house, you don’t get to say, well, let’s talk about the price I’m going to pay, and if you don’t give the price then I’m going to burn down your house. That’s not how negotiations work. That’s not how it happens in business. That’s not how it happens in private life.
In the same way, members of Congress, and the House Republicans in particular, don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their jobs. And two of their very basic jobs are passing a budget and making sure that America’s paying its bills. They don’t also get to say, you know, unless you give me what the voters rejected in the last election, I’m going to cause a recession.
That’s not how it works. No American president would deal with a foreign leader like this. Most of you would not deal with either co- workers or business associates in this fashion. And we shouldn’t be dealing this way here in Washington.
And you know, I’ve heard Republicans suggest that, well, no, this is reasonable, that this is entirely appropriate. But as I’ve said before, imagine if a Democratic Congress threatened to crash the global economy unless a Republican president agreed to gun background checks or immigration reform. I think it’s fair to say that Republicans would not think that was appropriate.
So let’s lift these threats from our families and our businesses, and let’s get down to work. It’s not like this is a new position that I’m taking here. I had Speaker Boehner and the other leaders in just last week. Either my chief of staff or I have had serious conversations on the budget with Republicans more than 20 times since March.
So we’ve been talking all kinds of business. What we haven’t been able to get are serious positions from the Republicans that would allow us to actually resolve some core differences. And they have decided to run out the clock until there’s a government shutdown or the possibility of default, thinking that it would give them more leverage. That’s not my characterization. They’ve said it themselves. That was their strategy from the start. And that is not how our government is supposed to run.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 8, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 7, 2013