Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown, July 16, 2011: President Obama & Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Speak Out in Weekly Address & Op-ed on Debt Ceiling Crisis


President Obama’s Weekly Address: Securing Our Fiscal Future

Source: WH, 7-16-11

President Barack Obama tapes his Weekly Address

President Obama emphasizes the importance of compromise and shared sacrifice so that we can overcome our fiscal challenges and get our economy on a stronger footing going forward.

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WEEKLY ADDRESS: A Unique Opportunity to Secure our Fiscal Future

In this week’s address, President Obama called on both parties to work together to find a balanced approach to solving our nation’s deficit problem.  The President emphasized the importance of compromise and shared sacrifice so that we can overcome our fiscal challenges and move our country forward.  To get our fiscal house in order, we must cut spending, but we must also close tax loopholes for special interests and ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.  Through cooperation and a bipartisan approach, we can get our economy on firmer ground and give our businesses the confidence they need to create more jobs across the United States.

Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House July 16, 2011

Here’s the president’s full address:

Today, there’s a debate going on in Washington over the best way to get America’s fiscal house in order and get our economy on a stronger footing going forward.

For a decade, America has been spending more money than we’ve taken in. For several decades, our debt has been rising. And let’s be honest — neither party in this town is blameless. Both have talked this problem to death without doing enough about it. That’s what drives people nuts about Washington. Too often, it’s a place more concerned with playing politics and serving special interests than resolving real problems or focusing on what you’re facing in your own lives.

But right now, we have a responsibility — and an opportunity — to reduce our deficit as much as possible and solve this problem in a real and comprehensive way.

Simply put, it will take a balanced approach, shared sacrifice, and a willingness to make unpopular choices on all our parts. That means spending less on domestic programs. It means spending less on defense programs. It means reforming programs like Medicare to reduce costs and strengthen the program for future generations. And it means taking on the tax code, and cutting out certain tax breaks and deductions for the wealthiest Americans.

Now, some of these things don’t make folks in my party too happy. And I wouldn’t agree to some of these cuts if we were in a better fiscal situation, but we’re not. That’s why I’m willing to compromise. I’m willing to do what it takes to solve this problem, even if it’s not politically popular. And I expect leaders in Congress to show that same willingness to compromise.

The truth is, you can’t solve our deficit without cutting spending. But you also can’t solve it without asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share — or without taking on loopholes that give special interests and big corporations tax breaks that middle-class Americans don’t get.

It’s pretty simple. I don’t think oil companies should keep getting special tax breaks when they’re making tens of billions in profits. I don’t think hedge fund managers should pay taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries. I don’t think it’s fair to ask nothing of someone like me when the average family has seen their income decline over the past decade — and when many of you are just trying to stretch every dollar as far as it’ll go.

We shouldn’t put the burden of deficit reduction on the backs of folks who’ve already borne the brunt of the recession. It’s not reasonable and it’s not right. If we’re going to ask seniors, or students, or middle-class Americans to sacrifice, then we have to ask corporations and the wealthiest Americans to share in that sacrifice. We have to ask everyone to play their part. Because we are all part of the same country. We are all in this together.

So I’ve put things on the table that are important to me and to Democrats, and I expect Republican leaders to do the same. After all, we’ve worked together like that before. Ronald Reagan worked with Tip O’Neill and Democrats to cut spending, raise revenues, and reform Social Security. Bill Clinton worked with Newt Gingrich and Republicans to balance the budget and create surpluses. Nobody ever got everything they wanted. But they worked together. And they moved this country forward.

That kind of cooperation should be the least you expect from us — not the most you expect from us. You work hard, you do what’s right, and you expect leaders who do the same. You sent us to Washington to do the tough things. The right things. Not just for some of us, but for all of us. Not just what’s enough to get through the next election — but what’s right for the next generation.

You expect us to get this right. To put America back on firm economic ground. To forge a healthy, growing economy. To create new jobs and rebuild the lives of the middle class. And that’s what I’m committed to doing.

Thank you.

Mitch McConnell: If Obama stiff-arms us, we’ll go to the people

In a column for USA TODAY, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., offered a Republican assessment of the talks:

By Charles Dharapak, AP

President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at the White House on Wednesday.

With the government expected to spend $1.4 trillion more than it takes in this year alone, the White House presented us with two bad options: a so-called “big deal” that, even if you accept its numbers, would have only lowered our debt from $26 trillion to about $22 trillion over the next 10 years; and a smaller deal that would cut $2 billion next year out of a $3.7 trillion budget.

Another catch: Both offers came with massive tax hikes — which we know, and the president has acknowledged, will hurt job growth.

When Republicans refused both proposals, the president responded that he only wants to tax “the rich,” but, again, the facts are clear. Raising taxes on the “top 2%” would not only create yet another roadblock for small businesses to create jobs, it would come up about $10 trillion short on our bills.

So the president can claim he only wants to tax jet owners, but Washington’s deficits and debt are so big that pretty soon he’ll have no choice but to sock it to families flying in coach as well.

In his White House e-mail, David Plouffe wrote of the GOP:

White House senior adviser David Plouffe
By Scott Olson, Getty Images

The President tried to make it easy for them by suggesting closing some of the most egregious loopholes for the very wealthiest Americans and special interests — so that hedge fund managers don’t pay lower taxes than firefighters and teachers, corporate jet owners don’t pay lower taxes than commercial airlines, and oil companies don’t get tax cuts at a time they are making record profits.

Congressional Republicans have not yet given an inch even though the American people, regardless of which political party they belong to, overwhelmingly approve of this common sense, balanced approach.

Our nation is climbing out of the worst recession since the Great Depression, and one of the most important things we can do to help the economy is to get our fiscal house in order and reduce our Nation’s deficit. We can’t let this moment pass us by.

Barry H. Landau: Held in Document Theft, ‘America’s Presidential Historian’ Faces New Scrutiny


History Buzz

Source: NYT, 7-16-11

Barry H. Landau, author and well-known presidential memorabilia collector, displayed his connections like pearls on a necklace.

Baltimore Police Department, via Associated Press

Barry H. Landau

Photographs of him with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin and Martha Stewart adorn his Web site, adding celebrity credentials to the title he has given himself: “America’s presidential historian.”

So it was all the more noteworthy when Mr. Landau, 63, who is based in New York City, was arrested last Saturday at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore and charged with stealing historical documents, including ones signed by Abraham Lincoln.

Mr. Landau’s lawyer, Steve Silverman, said he expected Mr. Landau would plead not guilty. He criticized the decision to hold Mr. Landau without bail, and said he had filed a habeas corpus petition to have the ruling reconsidered.

“It’s outrageous,” Mr. Silverman said. “He’s somewhat of a public figure. He’s been on TV shows, and his picture is posted all over the media. There’s little to no risk of flight.”

As the F.B.I. continued to investigate — Mr. Landau had not been arraigned as of Friday — other historical societies were checking their records to see if he had ever visited. Laura Washington, a spokeswoman for the New-York Historical Society, said that he had, and that staff members were going through the records to determine how often.

Lee Arnold, senior director of the library and collections at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, said that Mr. Landau had visited 17 times between December and May, along with Jason Savedoff, 24, who had been working with Mr. Landau and who was arrested with him last weekend….READ MORE

Bruce Stewart: West North Carolina historian reveals the truth about moonshiners and prohibitionists


History Buzz

Bruce Stewart‘I was curious why moonshiners were embraced as heroes by many people in Western North Carolina in the 1860s and 1870s; and then condemned in the 1880s and 1890s,” Bruce Stewart, assistant professor of history at Appalachian State University, said in a recent interview with the Citizen-Times.

Stewart has just published a book, “Moonshiners and Prohibitionists: The Battle over Alcohol in Southern Appalachia,” that pries the lid off historical truth and stands as a model of research.

In the generation before the Civil War, the temperance movement had been supported by urban leaders such as Asheville’s James Patton and Augustus Merrimon.

When railroads arrived, many people’s affinity for the good old days of uncriminalized whiskey changed to support for prohibition. Even mountain preachers closely associated with the independence feelings of their flocks got on the respectable industry and tourism train.

Those who continued to say, “be hot, my still,” became outlaws and were branded degenerates.

“Local crusaders,” Stewart writes, “responded by demonizing alcohol manufacturers and their rural clientele, much like southern reformers did to African-Americans and northern temperance advocates did to eastern European immigrants.”

Stewart’s study is clearly written and full of instances and deductions.

Discovery moment

Stewart had been an undergraduate living in his parents’ basement in Winston-Salem, commuting to UNC Greensboro, when he’d committed to his career.

“When I was going to college,” Stewart said, “I also worked at UPS. And I did not want to do that, so that got me motivated to really crack down on my studies.”

At UPS, he worked five hours a night, five nights a week.

He went on to Western Carolina University, where he received his master’s degree in history, producing what became Chapter Four of his new book. A doctoral thesis at the University of Georgia yielded the full draft in 2007….READ MORE

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