Political Musings April 11, 2014: House GOP wants to add job training to pass unemployment benefits extension bill

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House GOP wants to add job training to pass unemployment benefits extension bill

By Bonnie K. Goodman

 As of Wednesday, April 9, 2014 Republicans in the House of Representatives are coalescing around adding a job training provision to the unemployment benefits extension in order to bring the bill to a House vote. Senator Dean Heller, R-NV…READ MORE

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

Political Musings April 8, 2014: Obama signs executive orders aimed at granting women equal pay for equal work

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Obama signs executive orders aimed at granting women equal pay for equal work

 

By Bonnie K. Goodman

To honor National Equal Pay Day on April 8, 2014, President Barack Obama signed two executive orders to help curb the pay disparity for women by federal contractors in a White House ceremony, where he announced that…Continue
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Political Musings April 6, 2014: Campaigner Obama duels with GOP over Paul Ryan’s 2015 budget in weekly address

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Campaigner Obama duels with GOP over Paul Ryan’s 2015 budget in weekly address

By Bonnie K. Goodman

In full midterm election campaign mode President Barack Obama decided to fight Congressional Republicans over the fiscal year 2015 budget that Budget Committee Chairman and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI unveiled on Tuesday, April 1, 2014 in his weekly address…READ MORE

Political Musings March 27, 2014: Will it be Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush in the 2016 presidential campaign?

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Will it be Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush in the 2016 presidential campaign?

 

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Speculation abounds after both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Former Governor Jeb Bush, the potential 2016 presidential campaign candidates on their party’s wish list spoke at the same higher education conference in Irving, Texas on Monday…Continue

Political Musings March 5, 2014: Obama unveils $4 trillion FY 2015 budget aimed at Democratic support, GOP anger

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President Barack Obama is really working hard this week at making sure he holds the title of most unpopular, on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 he announced and released his budget for fiscal year 2015, which is angering Congressional Republicans, but…READ MORE

Political Musings February 26, 2014: Obama and Boehner have rare and constructive White House meeting

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Obama and Boehner have rare and constructive White House meeting

By Bonnie K. Goodman

There was a “rare” occurrence in Washington on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, R-OH had an hour-long tête-à-tête in the White House…READ MORE

Political Musings February 11, 2014: Showdown averted House passes clean debt ceiling raise bill

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Showdown averted House passes clean debt ceiling raise bill

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The House of Representatives voted 221-201 on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 11, 2014 to raise the debt ceiling limit until March 2015 averting another showdown, without adding any conditions to the bill, which was passed predominantly with Democratic votes. Speaker…READ MORE

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

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

By Bonnie K. Goodman

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

Full Text Political Transcripts January 28, 2014: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Delivers Official Republican GOP Response to the 2014 State of the Union Address Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Delivers Official Republican GOP Response to the 2014 State of the Union Address Transcript

Source: NYT, 1-28-14

REPRESENTATIVE CATHY McMORRIS RODGERS (R-Wash.):

What an honor it is for me to be with you after the president’s State of the Union.

Tonight we honor America, a nation that has witnessed the greatest rise of freedom and opportunity our world has ever seen, a nation where we are not defined by our limits but by our potential, and a nation where a girl who worked at the McDonald’s drive-through to help pay for college can be with you from the United States Capitol.

But the most important moments right now aren’t happening here. They’re not in the Oval Office or in the House Chamber. They’re in your homes, kissing your kids good night, figuring out how to pay the bills, getting ready for tomorrow’s doctor’s visit, waiting to hear from those you love serving in Afghanistan or searching for that big job interview. After all, we the people have been the foundation of America since her earliest days, people from all walks of life and from all corners of the world, people who come to America because here no challenge is too great and no dream too big. That’s the genius of America.

Tonight the president made more promises that sound good but won’t actually solve the problems facing Americans. We want you to have a better life. The president wants that too. But we part ways when it comes to how to make that happen. So tonight I’d like to share a more hopeful Republican vision, one that empowers you, not the government. It’s one that champions free markets and trusts people to make their own decisions, not a government that decides for you. It helps working families rise above the limits of poverty and protects our most vulnerable, and it’s one where Washington plays by the same rule that you do. It’s a vision that is fair and offers the promise of a better future for every American.

If you would have told me as a little girl that I would one day put my hand on the Bible and be sworn in as the 200th woman to serve in the House of Representatives, I wouldn’t have thought it possible. I grew up working on my family’s orchard and fruit stand in Kettle Falls, a small town in eastern Washington, getting up before dawn with my brother to pick apples.

My dad drove a school bus and my mom worked as a part-time bookkeeper. They taught me to work hard, help others, and always, always dream for more.

So, when I showed my 4H animals at the county fair, my parents used to say to me, “Cathy, you need to save this money so you can go to college one day!” And so I did — I saved, I worked hard, and I became the first in my family to graduate from college.

The chance to go from my Washington to this one was unexpected. I came to Congress to help empower people, not politicians; to grow the working middle class, not the government; and to ensure that everyone in this country can find a job. Because a job is so much more than a paycheck: It gives us purpose, dignity and the foundation to build a future.

I was single when I was elected — but it wasn’t long before I met Brian, a retired Navy commander, and now we have three beautiful children, one who was born just eight weeks ago.

Like all parents, we have high hopes and dreams for our children. But we also know what it’s like to face challenges. Three days after our son was born, Cole, we got news no parent expects. Cole was diagnosed with Down syndrome. The doctors told us he could have endless complications, heart defects, even early Alzheimer’s. They told us all the problems.

But when we looked at our son, we saw only possibilities. We saw a gift from God. And today we see a 6-year-old boy who dances to Bruce Springsteen; who reads above grade level; and who is the best big brother in the world.

We see all the things he can do, not those he can’t.

And Cole, and his sisters, Grace and Brynn, have only made me more determined to see the potential in every human life, that whether we’re born with an extra 21st chromosome or without a dollar to our name, we are not defined by our limits, but by our potential, because our mission, not only as Republicans, but as Americans, is to once again to ensure that we are not bound by where we come from, but empowered by what we can become. That is the gap Republicans are working to close. It’s the gap we all face: between where you are and where you want to be.

The President talks a lot about income inequality, but the real gap we face today is one of opportunity inequality. And with this Administration’s policies, that gap has become far too wide. We see this gap growing every single day. We see it in our neighbors who are struggling to find jobs, a husband who’s now working just part-time, a child who drops out of college because she can’t afford tuition, or parents who are outliving their life’s savings.

Last month, more Americans stopped looking for a job than found one. Too many people are falling further and further behind, because right now, the President’s policies are making people’s lives harder. Republicans have plans to close the gap, plans that focus on jobs first without more spending, government bailouts, and red tape. Every day, we’re working to expand our economy, one manufacturing job, nursing degree and small business at a time.

We have plans to improve our education and training systems so you have the choice to determine where your kids go to school, so college is affordable and skill training is modernized.

And yes, it’s time to honor our history of legal immigration. We’re working on a step-by-step solution to immigration reform by first securing our borders and making sure America will always attract the best, brightest and hardest working from around the world.

And with too many Americans living paycheck to paycheck, we have solutions to help you take home more of your pay, through lower taxes, cheaper energy costs and affordable health care.

Not long ago I got a letter from Bette in Spokane, who had hoped the president’s health care law would save her money but found out instead that her premiums were going up nearly $700 a month. We’ve all talked to too many people who received cancellations notices they didn’t expect or who can no longer see the doctors they always have. No, we shouldn’t go back to the things — the way things were, but this law is not working. Republicans believe health care choices should be yours, not the government’s, and that whether you’re a boy with Downs syndrome or a woman with breast cancer, you can find coverage and a doctor who will treat you.

So we hope the President will join us in a year of real action by empowering people, not by making their lives harder with unprecedented spending, higher taxes and fewer jobs. As Republicans, we advance these plans every day because we believe in a government that trusts people and doesn’t limit where you finish because of where you started. That is what we stand for. It’s for an America that is every bit as compassionate as it is exceptional.

If we’re successful, years from now our children will say that we rebuilt the American dream. We built a working middle class that could take in anyone, and a work force that could take on the world. Whether you’re a girl in Kettle Falls or a boy from Brooklyn, our children should be able to say that we closed the gap. Our plan is one that dreams big for everyone and turns its back on no one.

The president said many things tonight. But now I ask him to listen to you, for the true state of the union lies in your heart and in your home.

Tomorrow I’ll watch my son Cole get on the school bus. Others will wait in the doctor’s office, or interview for that first job. Some of us will celebrate new beginnings. Others will face great challenges. But all of us will wake up and do what is uniquely American. We will look forward to the boundless potential that lies ahead. We will give thanks to the brave men and women who have answered America’s call to freedom, like Sergeant Jacob Hess from Spokane, who recently gave his life to protect all of ours. So tonight I simply offer a prayer, a prayer for Sergeant Hess’s family, your family and for our larger American family, that with the guidance of God, we may prove — proves ourselves worthy of His blessings of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For when we embrace these gifts, we are each doing our part to form a more perfect union.

May God guide you and our president, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

Full Text Political Transcripts January 28, 2014: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Official Republican Response to the 2014 State of the Union Address Transcript Excerpts

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Official Republican Response to the 2014 State of the Union Address Excerpts

Source: CBS News, 1-28-14

“The most important moments right now aren’t happening here. They’re not in the Oval Office or in the House Chamber. They’re in your homes. Kissing your kids goodnight. Figuring out how to pay the bills. Getting ready for tomorrow’s doctor’s visit. Waiting to hear from those you love serving in Afghanistan, or searching for that big job interview. After all, ‘We the People’ have been the foundation of America since her earliest days – people from all walks of life, and from all corners of the world – people who come to America because here, no challenge is too great and no dream too big.

“So tonight I’d like to share a more hopeful, Republican vision – one that empowers you, not the government. It’s one that champions free markets – and trusts people to make their own decisions, not a government that decides for you. It helps working families rise above the limits of poverty and protects our most vulnerable. And it’s one where Washington plays by the same rules that you do. It’s a vision that is fair and offers the promise of a better future for every American.”

“Because our mission – not only as Republicans, but as Americans, is to once again to ensure that we are not bound by where we come from, but empowered by what we can become. That is the gap Republicans are working to close. It’s the gap we all face: between where you are and where you want to be.”

“Last month, more Americans stopped looking for a job than found one. Too many people are falling further and further behind because, right now, the President’s policies are making people’s lives harder. Republicans have plans to close the gap…Plans that focus on jobs first without more spending, government bailouts, and red tape…Every day, we’re working to expand our economy, one manufacturing job, nursing degree and small business at a time. We have plans to improve our education and training systems so you have the choice to determine where your kids go to school…to help you take home more of your paycheck…with lower taxes, cheaper energy costs, and affordable health care.

“We’ve all talked to too many people who have received cancellation notices they didn’t expect or who can no longer see the doctors they always have. No, we shouldn’t go back to the way things were, but the President’s health care law is not working. Republicans believe health care choices should be yours, not the government’s. And that whether you’re a boy with Down syndrome or a woman with breast cancer, you can find coverage and a doctor who will treat you.”

“As Republicans, we advance these plans every day because we believe in a government that trusts people and doesn’t limit where you finish because of where you started. That is what we stand for – for an America that is every bit as compassionate as it is exceptional…Our plan is one that dreams big for everyone and turns its back on no one.”

Political Musings January 24, 2014: Three GOP responses planned to Obama’s State of the Union Address

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Three GOP responses planned to Obama’s State of the Union Address

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Not to be outdone this year the Republican Party will have three responses to President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. On Thursday, Jan. 23, the GOP announced the official response…READ MORE

Political Musings January 7, 2014: Obama speech urges Congress to extend unemployment benefits, Senate votes 60-37

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Just before President BarackObama delivered a speech on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 urging Congress to extend unemployment benefits for long term jobless Americans, the Senate with the help of some Republicans passed the bill’s first procedural vote…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency January 7, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Importance of Extending Emergency Unemployment Insurance Benefits

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Extending Emergency Unemployment Insurance: “More Than One Million Americans Across the Country Will Feel A Little Hope Right Away.”

Source: WH, 1-8-14

Remarks by the President on the Importance of Extending Emergency Unemployment Insurance

Source: WH, 1-7-14 

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on emergency unemployment insurance in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 7, 2014.President Barack Obama delivers remarks on emergency unemployment insurance in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

East Room

11:55 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Please, everybody, have a seat.  (Applause.)  Well, Happy New Year, everybody.

AUDIENCE:  Happy New Year!

THE PRESIDENT:  I hope you’re keeping warm.  A few weeks ago, I said that 2014 could be a breakthrough year for America.  Think about it:  Five years ago this month our economy was shedding 800,000 jobs just in one month.  But as Americans buckled down and worked hard and sacrificed, we began to come back.

And our businesses have created more than 8 million new jobs since we hit the bottom.  Our auto industry has gone from bust to boom.  Manufacturing is rebounding.  The housing market is rebounding.  Stock markets are restoring retirement accounts.  The promise of energy independence is actually in sight.  Health care costs eat up less of our economy; over the past four years, costs have grown at the slowest rate on record.  And since I took office, we’ve cut our deficits by more than half.

So America is getting stronger and we’ve made progress.  And the economy is growing, and we’ve got to do more to make sure that all Americans share in that growth.  We’ve got to help our businesses create more jobs.  We’ve got to make sure those jobs offer the wages and benefits that let families rebuild a little security.  In other words, we’ve got to make sure that this recovery leaves nobody behind.  And we’ve got a lot of work to do on that front.  The good news is I’m optimistic we can do it if we do it together.

Now, before the holidays, both parties compromised on a budget that lifts some of the drag that’s been on the economy from these indiscriminate cuts we call sequester.  And as a consequence, this year we may see more stability when it comes to economic growth.  And I think I’m not alone in saying that we are all grateful in the New Year that we won’t have another partisan shutdown, hopefully, going forward.  (Applause.)

So that was a good sign.  And we should build on that progress with what I said should be the first order of business in 2014, and that is extending insurance for the unemployed.  (Applause.)  The good news is this morning the Senate took a very important step in that direction.

For the Americans who have joined me at the White House today and millions like them who were laid off in the recession through no fault of their own, unemployment insurance has been a vital economic lifeline.  For a lot of people, it’s the only source of income they’ve got to support their families while they look for a new job.  These aren’t folks who are just sitting back waiting for things to happen.  They’re out there actively looking for work.  They desperately want work.

But although the economy has been growing and we’ve been adding new jobs, the truth of the matter is, is that the financial crisis was so devastating that there’s still a lot of people who are struggling.  And, in fact, if we don’t provide unemployment insurance it makes it harder for them to find a job.

You heard Katherine’s story.  And she’s far more eloquent than I could ever be.  She wrote me last month to say, “Please let those who think I am sitting at home enjoying being unemployed know that I would much rather be working.”  And I had a chance to talk to Katherine, and I think it’s pretty clear that that’s the case.  Katherine went on to say, “I have applied to everything for which I am possibly qualified to no avail.  I have worked hard all my life, paid taxes, voted, engaged in political discussion, and made the ultimate sacrifice:  My two sons serve in the U.S. military.  Job loss is devastating, and if I could fix it myself, I would.  I challenge any lawmaker to live without an income.”  That’s what Katherine said.  It’s hard.  (Applause.)

So when we’ve got the mom of two of our troops, who is working hard out there, but is having to wear a coat inside the house, we’ve got a problem.  And it’s one that can be fixed.  And Katherine is not alone.

Devlin Smith, who’s watching today from her home in California, wrote me about her hunt for a new job.  Since she was laid off 13 months ago, she has sent out hundreds of résumés, she has volunteered, she has done seasonal work.  She doesn’t want to just be sitting around the house.  She’s been taking online courses to learn new skills.  Without unemployment insurance, though, she won’t be able to pay for her car or her cellphone, which makes the job hunt that much harder.  And Devlin wrote to me and said, “I’ve wanted nothing more than to find a new full-time job and have dedicated every day to that mission.  I’m asking you to advocate for me and the millions like me who need our extended unemployment benefits to make ends meet.”

So I just want everybody to understand this is not an abstraction.  These are not statistics.  These are your neighbors, your friends, your family members.  It could at some point be any of us.  That’s why we set up a system of unemployment insurance.  The notion was everybody is making a contribution because you don’t know when the business cycle or an economic crisis might make any of us vulnerable.

And this insurance helps keep food on the table while Dad is sending out résumés.  It helps Mom pay the rent while she’s learning new skills to earn that new job.  It provides that extra bit of security so that losing your job doesn’t mean that you have to lose your house, or everything you’ve worked so hard to build for years.  We make this promise to our fellow Americans who are working hard to get back on their feet, because when times get tough, we are not a people who say, you’re on your own.  We’re a people who believe that we’re all in it together.  And we know, “there but the grace of God go I.”  (Applause.)

So that’s the values case for this.  That’s the moral case for this.  But there’s an economic case for it, as well.  Independent economists have shown that extending emergency unemployment insurance actually helps the economy, actually creates new jobs.  When folks like Katherine have a little more to spend to turn up the heat in her house or buy a few extra groceries, that means more spending with businesses in her local community, which in turn may inspire that business to hire one more person — maybe Kathy.

That’s why, in the past, both parties have repeatedly put partisanship and ideology aside to offer some security for job-seekers with no strings attached.  It’s been done regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans were in the White House.  It’s been done regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans controlled Congress.  And, by the way, it’s been done multiple times when the unemployment rate was significantly lower than it is today.

And what’s important to keep in mind also is that the recovery in a big country like the United States is going to be somewhat uneven.  So there are some states that have a 2.5 unemployment rate, and then there are some places that may still have a 7, 8, 9 percent unemployment rate.  The people living in those respective states may be working equally hard to find a job, but it’s going to be harder in some places than others.

Now, two weeks ago, Congress went home for the holidays and let this lifeline expire for 1.3 million Americans.  If this doesn’t get fixed, it will hurt about 14 million Americans over the course of this year:  5 million workers along with 9 million of their family members — their spouses, their kids.

Now, I’ve heard the argument that says extending unemployment insurance will somehow hurt the unemployed because it zaps their motivation to get a new job.  I really want to go at this for a second.  (Laughter and applause.)  That really sells the American people short.  I meet a lot of people as President of the United States, and as a candidate for President of the United States, and as a U.S. senator, and as a state senator — I meet a lot of people.  And I can’t name a time where I met an American who would rather have an unemployment check than the pride of having a job.  (Applause.)

The long-term unemployed are not lazy.  They’re not lacking in motivation.  They’re coping with the aftermath of the worst economic crisis in generations.  In some cases, they may have a skills mismatch.  They may have been doing a certain job for 20 years; suddenly they lose that job.  They may be an older worker, may have to get retrained.  It’s hard — sometimes employers will discriminate if you’ve been out of work for a while; they decide, well, we’re not sure we want to hire you, we’d rather hire somebody who’s still working right now.

So it’s hard out there.  There are a lot of our friends, a lot of our neighbors who have lost their jobs and they’re working their tails off every single day trying to find a new job.  Now, as the job market keeps getting better, more and more of these folks will find work.  But, in the meantime, the insurance keeps them from falling off a cliff.  It makes sure they can pay their car note to go to that interview.  It makes sure they can pay their cell phone bills so that if somebody calls back for an interview, they can answer it.  (Laughter.)

And Katherine explained this.  Katherine, in the letter that she wrote to me, said, do folks really think that “cutting this benefit will make someone hire me?”  I mean, that’s not how employers are thinking.

So letting unemployment insurance expire for millions of Americans is wrong.  Congress should make things right.  I am very appreciative that they’re on their way to doing just that thanks to the bipartisan work of two senators.  You had a Democrat from Rhode Island, Senator Reed, and you had a conservative Republican from Nevada, Senator Heller.  And despite their political differences, they worked together on a plan to extend unemployment insurance at least for three months temporarily while we figure out a longer-term solution.  And this morning, a bipartisan majority of senators agreed to allow this common-sense provision to at least move forward in the process.

The Senate is a complicated place.  (Laughter.)  So just because they agreed on this vote, all they’ve agreed to so far is that we’re actually going to be able to have a vote on it.  They haven’t actually passed it.  So we’ve got to get this across the finish line without obstruction or delay, and we need the House of Representatives to be able to vote for it as well.  (Applause.)  That’s the bottom line.

Voting for unemployment insurance helps people and creates jobs, and voting against it does not.  Congress should pass this bipartisan plan right away, and I will sign it right away.  And more than 1 million Americans across the country will feel a little hope right away.  And hope is contagious.  (Applause.)

When Katherine has a little bit more confidence about her situation, when she finds a job, she is going to be able to help somebody down the line maybe who is also down on their luck.  When Congress passes a bipartisan effort starting here right at the beginning of the New Year, who knows — we might actually get some things done this year.  (Laughter.)  So after all the hard work and sacrifice of the past five years to recover and rebuild from the crisis, what I think the American people are really looking for in 2014 is just a little bit of stability.  Let’s just do the common-sense thing.  Let’s do what’s right.

We’re going to have to see action, though, on the part of Congress.  And I’ll be willing to work with them every step of the way — action to help our businesses create more of the good jobs that a growing middle class requires; action to restore economic mobility and reduce inequality; action to open more doors of opportunity for everybody who is willing to work hard and walk through those doors.

When I was listening to Katherine, I was just so struck by her strength and dignity.  And I think people when they bump into some tough times, like Katherine, they’re not looking for pity.  They just want a shot.  (Applause.)  And they just want to feel as if — as a part of this country, as a part of their communities, that if misfortune strikes, all the things that they’ve done in the past, all the hard work they’ve done raising children and paying taxes and working hard, that that counts for something, and that folks aren’t suddenly just going to dismiss their concerns, but we’re going to rally behind them.  That’s not too much to ask.  That’s who we are as Americans.  That’s what built this country.  That’s what I want to promote.  (Applause.)

So thank you very much, everybody.  Let’s get to work.  Let’s get this done.  (Applause.)

END
12:11 P.M. EST

Political Musings January 6, 2014: Obama pushes unemployment benefits extension in weekly address, Tuesday speech

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

In his first weekly address of the New Year President Barack Obama focuses on his number one priority urging Congress to pass an extension of unemployment benefits for Americans out of work for more than 26 weeks. His address released…READ MORE
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