Political Headlines August 4, 2011: Congress Reaches Bipartisan Deal Ending Impasse & Partial Shutdown of the FAA – Federal Aviation Administration

POLITICAL HEADLINES

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

The US Senate today approved legislation that will temporarily extend funding for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Deal is reached to end FAA shutdown, Sen. Harry Reid says: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday there is a bipartisan compromise to end the partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration that has left 74,000 transportation and construction workers idled. In a statement, the majority leader did not specify details. But other officials say they expect the Senate to accept a House-passed bill as early as Friday.

“This agreement does not resolve the important differences that still remain. But I believe we should keep Americans working while Congress settles its differences, and this agreement will do exactly that.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“I’m pleased that leaders in Congress are working together to break the impasse involving the FAA so that tens of thousands of construction workers and others can go back to work. We can’t afford to let politics in Washington hamper our recovery, so this is an important step forward.” — President Barack Obama

  • Deal in Senate restores FAA funding. Is bipartisanship taking off?: Obama hails the extension of FAA funding through mid-September, which restores tens of thousands of jobs and resumes the collection of $30 million a day in revenue for the Treasury…. – CS Monitor, 8-4-11
  • Reid: Congress reaches deal to end FAA shutdown: Congress has reached a bipartisan compromise to end a two-week partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration that has idled tens of thousands of workers and cost the government about $30 million a day in uncollected airline ticket taxes, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said Thursday.
    The deal would allow the Senate to approve a House bill extending the FAA’s operating authority through mid-September, including a provision that eliminates $16.5 million in air service subsidies to 13 rural communities. Passage of the bill is expected Friday.
    Senators have scattered for their August recess, but the measure can be approved if leaders from both parties agree to adopt it by “unanimous consent.”
    Republicans had insisted on the subsidy cuts as their price for restoring the FAA to full operation. But the cuts may become moot…. — AP, 8-4-11
  • Obama praises deal to halt aviation shutdown: President Barack Obama is praising a bipartisan deal that will end the partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration and get thousands of workers back on the job.
    Obama says the nation “can’t afford to let politics in Washington hamper our recovery.” He says he’s pleased to see leaders in Congress working together to settle the issue.
    The FAA flap has become another embarrassment for the federal government…. – AP, 8-4-11
  • Senate poised to approve legislation ending partial FAA shutdown and returning workers to jobs: The Senate is poised to pass legislation ending a two-week partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration that has cost the government about $400 million in uncollected airline ticket taxes and idled thousands of workers.
    A bipartisan compromise reached Thursday cleared the way for the Senate to approve a House bill extending the FAA’s operating authority through mid-September, including a provision that eliminates $16.5 million in air service subsidies to 13 rural communities. Senators have scattered for their August recess, but the measure can be approved Friday if leaders from both parties agree to adopt it by “unanimous consent.”
    FAA employees could return to work and payments for airport construction projects could resume as soon as Monday if President Barack Obama signs the bill over the weekend, transportation officials said…. – WaPo, 8-4-11
  • Congress reaches deal to end FAA shutdown: Congressional leaders struck a deal on Thursday to resolve a partisan dispute and end a partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration that has halted airport projects and threatened thousands of jobs.
    The standoff, which began on July 22, centered on partisan differences over full funding of the agency through the middle of next month.
    In addition to idled construction projects, the gridlock allowed airlines to stop collecting more than $30 million per day in ticket taxes, leaving a hole in government revenue for aviation priorities but giving carriers a big windfall…. – Reuters, 8-4-11
  • Congress agrees on stopgap funding for FAA workers: Congressional leaders reached agreement Thursday on temporary funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, ending a stalemate that cost 4,000 furloughed federal workers almost two weeks of pay and shortchanged the Treasury of more than $300 million.
    “This agreement does not resolve the important differences that still remain,” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday afternoon. “But I believe we should keep Americans working while Congress settles its differences, and this agreement will do exactly that.”
    It was uncertain whether Congress would act to restore back pay to the furloughed FAA employees. Tens of thousands of construction workers who have been laid off since July 23 seemed unlikely to recoup their lost wages.
    Mike MacDonald, regional vice president of an FAA union, said he was not focused on whether furloughed workers would receive back pay. “We’re just really glad we’re getting back to work,” he said…. – WaPo, 8-4-11
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Political Buzz August 4, 2011: Happy Birthday Mr. President! President Barack Obama Celebrates 50th Birthday at Chicago DNC Fundraiser & at White House Rose Garden BBQ

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

IN FOCUS: PRESIDENT OBAMA CELEBRATES 50TH BIRTDAY

Barack Obama 2012: Sign the President’s 50th Birthday Card

“I see Barack make choices he knows will affect every American family. That’s no small task for anyone — and more proof that he’s earning every last one of those gray hairs. — Michelle Obama in a campaign email

“It is true that I turn 50 tomorrow (Thursday), which means that by the time I wake up, I’ll have an e-mail from AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons), asking me to call President Obama and tell him to protect Medicare.” — President Barack Obama in Chicago, 8-3-11

“Even if I live to be 100. I have more yesterdays than tomorrows.” — President Bill Clinton, 1996 at 50

“Actually, the anniversaries of my birth aren’t important. What is important is that I have tried to lead a meaningful life and I think I have.” — President Ronald Reagan

“I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.” — President John F. Kennedy, 1962 at 45

Barack Obama Turning 50: ‘I Feel Real Good’: U.S. president may be a bit grayer but says first lady still thinks he’s cute.
As Obama Celebrates Birthday, a Look at U.S. Presidents at 50
President Obama turns 50 Aug. 4, 2011. Despite the graying hair and stresses of the job, “I feel real good about 5-0,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “I’ve gotten a little grayer since I took this job but otherwise, I feel pretty good,” he said, adding that the first lady still thinks he’s cute. He attended a birthday fundraiser Wednesday and planned two celebrations for his birthday. He was expected to spend the weekend at Camp David with family and friends…. – ABC News, 8-4-11

50 Things You Might Not Know About President Obama On His 50th Birthday: 1. He and Bill Cosby are the only people to ever get free food from Ben’s Chili Bowl.
2. He ate dog meat, snake meat, and roasted grasshopper when he lived in Indonesia.
3. He says his favorite children’s book is “Where the Wild Things Are.”
4. He owns a pair of boxing gloves signed by Muhammad Ali.
5. He collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics.
6. He worked in a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop as a teenager.
7. His favorite show is “The Wire.”
8. He majored in Political Science at Columbia University.
9. His father grew up herding goats.
10. He used to drive a Chrysler 300m.
11. He used the n-word in his audio book “Dreams From My Father.”
12. He watches HBO’s “Entourage.”
13. He was an avid reader of the “Autobiography Of Malcolm X.”
14. He owns several Bob Marley albums.
15. His first date with wife, Michelle Obama, was the movie “Do The Right Thing.”
16. He kept a pet ape called Tata while in Indonesia.
17. He applied to appear in a Black pin-up calendar while at Harvard, but was rejected by the all-female committee.
18. His favorite book is “Moby-Dick” by Herman Melville
19. His favorite movie is the “Godfather.”
20. His high school yearbook picture inscription thanks “Tut,” “Gramps,” and the “Choom Gang.” Choom is Hawaiian slang for “pot smoking.”
21. He has seven half-brothers and sisters in Kenya from his father’s other marriages.
22. He did a good imitation of Jesse Jackson while he was at Harvard.
23. His high school nick name was “O-bomber.”
24. He won a Grammy for his audio book “Dreams From My Father.”
25. He has read every Harry Potter book.
26. He was called Barry until he became known as Barack in college.
27. He was in the Columbia Black Student Union.
28. Jesse Jackson’s daughter is his daughter Malia’s godmother.
29. His favorite artist is Pablo Picasso.
30. He can bench press 200 pounds.
31. His name means blessed by God in Swahili.
32. He was the 5th African-American to serve in the U.S. Senate.
33. He enjoys rap artists The Fugees and Jay-Z.
34. He gets his hair cut once a week.
35. He says he would’ve been an architect if he wasn’t a politician.
36. He was on the Hawaii high school state basketball champion team.
37. He was mentored by Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree who was also the lawyer for rappers Tupac and Shyne.
38. He loves playing Scrabble.
39. His favorite president is Abraham Lincoln.
40. He traveled to Kenya in 1988 and met many of his paternal relatives.
41. His favorite meal is wife Michelle’s shrimp linguini.
42. His paternal grandfather was affiliated with the Kenyan revolutionary Mau Mau movement.
43. His maternal grandfather fought in World War II.
44. Some of his maternal ancestors were slave owners.
45. He moved to Chicago and worked as a director of the Developing Communities Project after college.
46. He has a beer named after him in Kenya.
47. He wrote a children’s book “Of Thee I Sing.”
48. His father attended Harvard University.
49. His first public speech was at Occidental College, calling for the school to disinvest from apartheid South Africa.
50. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School.
News One, 8-4-11

    • Obama’s Rose Garden 50th Birthday Bash: The President’s private 50th birthday bash, not listed on his public schedule: His gift to the press corps was a travel/photo lid shortly after 4 p.m., prompting what pooler Julie Mason called “general cheering in WH workspace.” An hour later, the party started…
      –… with dinner in the Rose Garden, accompanied by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. Then the First Lady and his daughters presented POTUS with a cake, and everyone moved into the East Room for performances that included R&B singer Ledisi, and Herbie Hancock. Stevie Wonder came up at the end and sang a medley ending in “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.” DJ Cassidy played Motown, hip hop, and ’70s and ’80s R&B.
      –The president asked everyone to dance — and they did!
      –DINNER: BBQ chicken, ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta, salad.
      –DESSERT: apple, peach, huckleberry and cherry pies; chocolate cake.
      –GUESTS: Al Sharpton, Patrick Gaspard, UBS Investment Bank President Robert Wolf, FCC Chair Julius Genachowski, Leader Nancy and Paul Pelosi, Secretary Tim Geithner, Secretary Arne Duncan, U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Rep./DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Virginia Gov. and DNC Chair Tim Kaine, Anita Dunn and Bob Bauer, Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod, David Plouffe, Valerie Jarrett, Michael Strautmanis, Pete Rouse, Bill Daley, Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco, Denis McDonough, John Brennan, Rahm Emanuel, Tina Tchen, White House chef Sam Kass, Julianna Smoot, Marty Nesbitt, Eric Whitaker, Linda Douglass, and many more.
      –CELEBS: Jay-Z, Hill Harper, Chris Rock, Charles Barkley, Steve Harvey, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Grant Hill, Gayle King.
      –Also present: Chicago pals, law-school friends, donors – and lots of kids of friends, who stole the show by doing dance routines to the hip-hop songs, in the center of the East Room… – Politico, 8-5-11 Chicago Sun-Times, 8-5-11 Fox News, 8-5-11
    • President Obama Celebrates Birthday in Private Star-Studded Rose Garden Party: White House officials offered no details about the Rose Garden barbecue and birthday party thrown for President Obama last night. No menu, no guest list, the event did not appear on his official schedule.
      Their silence might be so as to not create the impression that the president was celebrating just hours after the Dow Jones fell 500 points. Politicians hate to be portrayed as fiddling while Rome burns, Nero-style.
      “Just left the Presidents birthday party at the White House. Herbie Hancock played, Stevie Wonder sang and yes they did the electric slide. A great night,” comedian Chris Rock tweeted.
      Rock joined other celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Jay-Z, Charles Barkley, Steve Harvey and Grant Hill, as well as the Rev. Al Sharpton, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelsoi, D-Calif., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, White House chief of staff Bill Daley, senior adviser David Plouffe, political advisers David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and more…. – ABC News, 8-4-11
    • Obama celebrates 50th birthday at White House: With the arduous debt talks behind him, President Barack Obama celebrated his 50th birthday at the White House Thursday with a Rose Garden party, a toast from his senior staff and some good-natured ribbing from his wife.
      After spending the morning of his milestone birthday working in the Oval Office, the president headed to the Blue Room of the White House for a celebration with top aides. White House chefs were spotted cooking chicken and burgers on outdoor grills.
      Later, Obama was celebrating with family and friends, including some who came in from his hometown of Chicago, in the Rose Garden. The president’s oldest daughter, Malia, also made it home from summer camp in time to celebrate her dad’s 50th…. – AP, 8-4-11
    • Obama’s 50th Birthday: A Private Celebration: President Barack Obama is keeping a very low profile on his 50th birthday.
      He is celebrating at the White House Thursday evening with family and a close group of friends. Some of the guests flew in from his hometown of Chicago, and the president’s daughter Malia came home from camp for the day to celebrate.
      Several grills were fired up outside the West Wing all afternoon, cooking burgers for the occasion. But before Mr. Obama hits the barbecue, senior White House staff will toast him in the residence, White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
      Mr. Obama had no events on his schedule, and Mr. Carney said the public will not see the president at all on this milestone day.
      Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is making the most of the president’s birthday. Mr. Obama headlined a trio of birthday-themed campaign events in Chicago Wednesday night…. – WSJ, 8-4-11
    • ‘Happy birthday, Mr President’: Jennifer Hudson channels Marilyn Monroe as she serenades Barack Obama at 50th: Marilyn Monroe went down in history when she purred a seductive ‘Happy Birthday’ to President John F Kennedy back in 1962.
      And last night, it was Jennifer Hudson’s turn to channel the late film star by singing the song to President Barack Obama, albeit in a much more low key style…. – Daily Mail UK, 8-4-11
    • Here to raise dough, celebrate big 5-0, Obama says: ‘It starts now’: President Barack Obama left the heated partisan atmosphere in Washington on Wednesday for an overly warm hometown 50th Birthday Party with 2,400 fans and donors packing the historic Aragon Ballroom in Uptown.
      “It doesn’t matter how tough a week I have in Washington, because I know you’ve got me — you’ve got my back,” President Obama told the crowd. “When I come to Chicago, when I travel across the country, I know we can’t be stopped.”
      Introducing Obama, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said “This looks like the Uptown Music District,” a reference to one of the mayor’s pet entertainment projects.
      With Jennifer Hudson leading the crowd in singing Obama “Happy Birthday” and with a thermometer on the stage reading 92 degrees, Obama joked, “This is a warm welcome right here.”… – Chicago Sun-Times, 8-4-11
    • Obama’s 50th celebration: Tame by presidential standards: President Obama’s celebration of his 50th birthday is pretty tame by presidential standards, lacking starlets sewn into sheer rhinestone-studded dresses, fireworks, or the 300-pound cakes trotted out at parties thrown for some of his predecessors in the White House.
      For Obama, his birthday on Thursday gave him an excuse to visit ever so briefly his hometown of Chicago, something he rarely gets to do. And, of course, an excuse to raise more money for Democrats, something he does quite frequently with the 2012 campaign fast approaching.
      The Wednesday night event at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom was planned as a lavish event, featuring singer Jennifer Hudson and musician Herbie Hancock. The donors there to sing “Happy Birthday” paid $35,800 a head for the special dinner that goes along with the show. The money—split between Obama’s reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee—will be welcome after the debt-ceiling fight forced him to cancel other fundraisers planned for July.
      Obama, the fifth youngest president, is the seventh president to turn 50 in office; the last before him was Bill Clinton in 1996. The other five—Polk, Pierce, Grant, Cleveland, and Theodore Roosevelt—were born between 1795 and 1858 and chose to celebrate the big day pretty quietly. But quiet was not Clinton’s style…. – National Journal, 8-4-11
    • Mr. Obama’s $3,580,000 birthday present: Barack Obama turned 50 years old today. Happy birthday Mr. President. For the sake of America, I will not sing to you. I am no Marilyn Monroe.
      The best birthday wish we can give him is to have an enjoyable day with Michelle, Sasha, and Malia. May his children give him joy for many years to come.
      The day will be a celebration of Barack Obama, rendering it indistinguishible from every other day in his life. Nevertheless, today he actually is entitled to be king for a day. Tomorrow he will have to take his tiara off again.
      Mr. Obama was given a birthday president of $3,580,000, or 89% of a Kobe Bryant apology diamond. 100 obese felines, an animal that Obama pretends to disdain, all donated $35,800 for the right to inspect his (backside, redacted) and make sure it was as clean and delightful as MSNBC insists. He has every right to this money. He “earned” it…. Washington Times, 8-4-11
    • President Barack Obama Turns 50: What do you get the man who has everything? That’s the question friends and family of President Barack Obama will answer Thursday, when he celebrates his 50th birthday in Washington, D.C. According to a White House official, Obama will spend the morning working, but will later retreat to an afternoon toast by his senior staff in the blue room, and an evening celebration with family and close friends.
      “Malia is coming home from camp tomorrow just for her daddy’s birthday,” he told attendees at a Democratic National Convention fundraiser in Chicago Wednesday night. “I’m very happy about that.”… – People, 8-4-11
    • For Obama, turning 50, it’s happy fund-raising: For many men, turning 50 can be a day of reckoning, marked by graying hair, a slowing step and the wistful recognition that you are probably never going to make it to the corner office. What could be better, at such a melancholy moment, than to celebrate at home, among old friends?
      But if you are already in the corner office, and it’s oval, you get to celebrate your 50th at a fund-raiser in a Chicago ballroom, with Jennifer Hudson singing “Happy Birthday,” Herbie Hancock jamming and 100 “friends” paying $35,800 a plate to commiserate over dinner, while bankrolling your bid to keep your job… – Economic Times, 8-4-11
    • Obama’s new fundraising speech: 2008 was really bad, so I need a second term: After a rough month of enforced presidenting from within the White House, President Obama fled Washington and governing Wednesday, back to Chicago allegedly to celebrate his birthday with home folks. But, of course, the real reason was campaigning for money, raising more of it from the Windy City for his billion-dollar reelection campaign. The Wednesday highlight was supposed to be a high-stakes dinner with the president, which isn’t really dinner with the president because he just arrives late, speaks briefly and leaves without eating. The tab: $35,800 per plate.
      Despite enduring a newly sagging economy and the worst wrong track and job approval numbers of his presidency, this 50th birthday of Obama’s is turning out to be a big deal. His Russian pal, President Dmitry Medvedev, called the other day. Jennifer Hudson sang for him Wednesday. Little Rahm Emanuel, now Mayor Emanuel, praised him highly.
      Some Obama staff traveled out to Andrews Air Force Base to greet the returning POTUS at…. …midnight and sing for him. But Obama apparently couldn’t hear them. And then tonight there’s a White House birthday party, which Donald Trump is not expected to attend…. – LAT, 8-4-11
    • Michelle Obama: Husband is earning his gray hairs: First lady Michelle Obama is joining the public celebrations of her husband’s 50th birthday, sending an e-mail to supporters asking them to sign an Internet birthday card…. – USA Today, 8-4-11
    • Turning 50, President Obama becomes a Washington tweener: Washington venerates its ancients, idealizing and idolizing the elder statesman, lavishing perks and institutional potency as rewards for seniority.
      Yet the city also runs on the fuel of youth, the recent college grads who staff the offices, and the rising professionals whose ambitions juice the city’s striver culture.
      In the fuzzy middle between those poles lie the 50-somethings, federal Washington’s version of tweeners, a demographic group fraught with generation-straddling, career-tweaking, life-altering conundrums: Dump that modest-paying but idealistic government gig for private-sector riches? Hang in there for one more term in hopes that a committee chairmanship finally will be yours?
      On Thursday, President Obama — one of American history’s most precocious achievers — joins the ranks of Washington 50-somethings, an age span he’ll share with 29 U.S. senators but just one of 16 Senate committee chairmen (that would be Mary Landrieu, the Louisiana Democrat who sits atop the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee). Reaching the pinnacle of American power so early means Obama will have to figure out what to do with himself for a big chunk of his 50s, whether in 2013, when he could become a 51-year-old one-termer, or in 2017, when he could leave office as a 55-year-old two-termer.
      Obama will become just the third president to turn 50 in office in more than 130 years, following Theodore Roosevelt, whose low-key 50th in 1908 prompted a stream of messenger boys delivering congratulatory notes to the White House, and Bill Clinton, who celebrated hitting the mid-century mark in 1996 with a star-studded party and fundraiser.
      As Obama’s 50th approaches, he’s taken to quipping about getting grayer, but he still gets up and down a basketball court without reaching for the oxygen tank. Obama celebrated his 49th last year by dining with Oprah Winfrey and a few other friends while his wife and kids were vacationing. This year, he’s expected to do it up big, with a party in Chicago featuring Jennifer Hudson and Herbie Hancock, and a $35,800-a-head fundraiser…. – WaPo, 8-2-11

Michelle Obama:

Every day, I see Barack make choices he knows will affect every American family. That’s no small task for anyone — and more proof that he’s earning every last one of those gray hairs.
This has been a busy week in Washington, but today happens to be Barack’s 50th birthday. I’m writing to you because this year, the girls and I would like to do something a little different.
I’m asking friends and supporters of this campaign to wish him a happy birthday by signing his card, and sharing why you’re on this journey with us.
Your names and notes will become part of a book that tells the story of this campaign — who’s building it, why we’re in this thing, and what he means to us. We’ll deliver a copy to Barack and send one to our campaign offices across the country.
I’ve known Barack for more than 20 of his 50 years, and we’ve been through quite a lot together.
It still amazes me that no matter how many decisions and distractions he’s faced with every day, he’s always able to focus on the bigger picture. One way he does that is by making time for stories and letters from people like you — because he knows that this job isn’t about him, but about the millions of folks around the country he’s fighting for.
This next year will challenge us all to work harder than ever before, but the crucial thing is that you’re here now, early on, helping to build this campaign.
I know that, like Barack and me, you have your own reasons why, so I hope you’ll take a moment to sign the card and share your story with him and other supporters of this campaign.
http://my.barackobama.com/Birthday-Card
Thanks for being a part of this.

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown August 4, 2011: Facts Sheets on the Debt Ceiling Compromise & Congressional Super Committee

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN:

Myths and Facts About the Debt-Ceiling Compromise

Source: WH, 8-4-11

Debt Deal Graphic

The budget compromise removes the cloud of uncertainty over the economy, and takes important steps toward reducing our deficit. In that sense, it’s a win for all Americans. (A picture is worth a thousand words, so click here to see an infographic on exactly how this agreement will work going forward.)

Here at the Office of Public Engagement, we’ve been working overtime to help explain all the details of this deal – and why we think it’s a win for our shared agenda. We also know that in the rush to figure out exactly what the deal is all about, there has been a lot of inaccurate information and analysis.

Below, I’ve tried to address, head-on, some the most common misconceptions we’ve been hearing about the deal.

Myth: President Obama caved.

Fact: President Obama laid out key priorities that had to be part of any deal. Those priorities are reflected in this compromise. First, we avoided default which would have plunged the economy into a deep recession, imperiling the well-being of millions of Americans. Second, the initial down payment on deficit reductions does not cut low-income and safety-net programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Third, we set up a path forward that will put pressure on Congress to adopt a balanced approach. And finally, we raised the debt ceiling until 2013, ensuring that House Republicans could not use the threat of default in just a few months to force severe cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Myth: Republicans got everything they wanted

Fact: They won’t admit it publicly, but when push came to shove, Republicans backed down on their key demands. For months, Republicans called for a budget that would have ended Medicare as we know it, made catastrophic cuts to Medicaid, or cut investments in education by 25 percent, clean energy by 70 percent and infrastructure spending by 30 percent. As if that wasn’t enough, they also demanded that we repeat this debt-ceiling crisis, just a few months from now.

None of these of these demands made it into a final deal.

Myth: This deal cuts Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Fact:  There are no changes to these programs included in the initial phase of this agreement. In the second phase of the agreement, everything will be on the table – and the President has made clear that the committee must pursue a balanced approach where reforms to programs like Medicaid, Social Security or Medicare would only be acceptable if coupled with higher revenues from the most fortunate.

Myth: This deal reduces the deficit entirely on the backs of the middle class.

Fact: While the initial down payment on deficit reduction – about $1 trillion – will require belt-tightening, it still will allow us to invest in the programs and priorities we care about most. Moreover, hundreds of billions of this initial round of cuts will come from security spending.

As we negotiated the domestic side of the cuts, we protected our historic new investments in Pell Grants as part of the down payment. For the second phase, we made sure that  programs for the most vulnerable, like food stamps, Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit, would not be hit by the “trigger,” the automatic cuts that will go into place if Congress does not find an acceptable compromise.

Myth: The joint committee — the so-called “super committee” — makes it easier for Congress to cut the programs we care about.

Fact: The joint committee system puts pressure on Republicans to seek compromise. As we all know, in this round of deficit reduction, there wasn’t a lot of leverage bringing Republicans to the table. In round two, that changes.

If Republicans aren’t willing to compromise, then the joint committee will fail. This would automatically trigger an additional $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction designed to be painful for both sides, with half that coming from savings in the defense budget.

Myth: Since we weren’t able to raise revenues right now, we won’t be able to raise revenues in the future.

Fact: The deal lays out two paths for further reducing our deficit. Both of them include revenues. Option one is for the joint committee to develop a plan that is passed by both Houses of Congress, and signed by President Obama. The President has already said that he will only support a balanced approach involving shared sacrifice. That means raising revenue through steps such as closing loopholes for corporations, reforming our tax code, and asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share in taxes.

If the joint committee cannot develop a balanced compromise,that brings us to option two for raising revenues: the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. On January 1, 2013, President Obama can use his veto pen to end special tax breaks for high-income Americans if Congress votes to extend them.

President Barack Obama Signs The Budget Control Act Of 2011

President Barack Obama signs the Budget Control Act of 2011 in the Oval Office, Aug. 2, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Jon Carson is Deputy Assistant to President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement

All About the So-Called “Super Committee”

Source: WH, 8-3-11

Debt Deal Graphic

Tuesday’s budget compromise creates a joint committee of Congress, which you might have seen referred to as the “super committee.” This committee is responsible for developing a bipartisan plan for reducing our deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. (That’s on top of about $1 trillion from the down payment that was included in the first phase of the deal.)

At the White House Office of Public Engagement, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about exactly how the joint committee will work. We’ve created an infographic that illustrates the process, but I’d also like to answer a few of those questions below.

Q: Who’s on the joint committee?

A: Six Democrats, and six Republicans. Each of four party leaders in Congress will choose three members of the committee, so half will come from the House, and half from the Senate.

Q: As the joint committee comes up with a plan, what’s on the table?

A: Everything. The joint committee has no restrictions on where it can find ways to reduce our deficit. It can eliminate tax loopholes, just like it can cut spending. President Obama believes that the committee should listen to the vast majority of Americans who support a balanced approach that includes revenue.

Q: The first round of deficit reduction was made up entirely of spending cuts. Will the second round be as well?

A: The short answer is no. The Committee can look at the entire budget including revenue and entitlements. And the President has made it clear that he will only accept a balanced approach.

Q: Republicans have refused to support a balanced approach in the past. Why would they support one now?

A: The threat of allowing our nation to default gave Republicans a lot of leverage in the first round of negotiations. In the second round, that changes. First, if the joint committee doesn’t come up with the kind of approach both parties can support, it sets up a “trigger,” something Democrats and Republicans both want to avoid. (I’ll explain the trigger in more detail below.)

Second, the Bush high-income tax cuts are set to expire on January 1, 2013. This forces Congress to deal with this issue, and if Congress does vote to extend these special tax breaks, the President can use his veto pen to end them. This gives Republicans added incentive to compromise on an approach that balances spending reductions and closing tax loopholes.

Q: When the joint committee comes up with its plan, what happens next?

A: If seven out of the 12 members of the joint committee approve a plan, it moves to a straight up-or-down vote in Congress. No filibusters, no amendments, and no procedural tricks. If Congress approves the plan, and President Obama signs it, it goes into law.

Q: What happens if the joint committee can’t reach a deficit reduction agreement that passes Congress?

A: If the joint committee can’t come up with a plan that the Senate, the House, and President Obama can all approve by January 15, 2012, it automatically sets off what’s known as a “trigger.” This trigger puts pressure on both sides to compromise, because it would make cuts that would be painful for Democrats and Republicans alike – half the cuts would come from domestic programs, and half from defense.

However, President Obama made sure that Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare benefits would not be cut in the event that the trigger is set off. Neither would programs for the most vulnerable, such as food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Q: The President says he wants to see a balanced approach. What exactly does that look like?

A: A balanced approach means that everything is on the table, and everyone pays their fair share. This could include reforms to programs like Medicare, so they will be around for the next generation. But that would also require asking the most fortunate to do their part: closing loopholes in the tax code, ending wasteful subsidies to corporations, and asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.

Polls have consistently shown that the majority of Americans support the President’s call for balance and compromise.

Q: What can I do to make a difference?

A: During this debate, President Obama asked the American people to urgeWashington to put partisanship aside, and make the tough choices that are best for the country. Your voice made a huge difference in protecting programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security during the first stage of this deal.

If you agree with President Obama – if you support a balanced approach – don’t stay silent on this issue. If you want to see Washington compromise, put politics aside, and ask all Americans to pay their fair share – then make your voice heard.

And stay in touch with the Office of Public Engagement! Visit Whitehouse.gov/engage to learn how Americans from all over the country are changing the way Washington does business, both in this debate, and on a wide variety of other issues.

Related: Jon Carson addresses the myths and facts about the debt-ceiling compromise

Jon Carson is Deputy Assistant to President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement

Full Text August 3, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Birthday Remarks Online & at Chicago Democratic National Committee Fundraiser

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY: THE HEADLINES:

Remarks by the President in a DNC Video Teleconference

Aragon Entertainment Center
Chicago, Illinois

6:59 P.M. CDT
August 3, 2011

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey, guys.  How are you?  I am beaming in from Chicago.  We’re having a little birthday celebration in my hometown.  But I just want to say thank you to all of you.  I can’t think of a better group of folks to spend my birthday with.

You may hear the El train in the background.  It’s passing right next to us.  You know, when we started this whole journey back in 2008, the one thing that I was clear about was that this was not going to be about me.  This was going to be about us.  It was going to be about the values we hold dear as Americans.  It was going to be about grassroots folks being empowered, talking about how we can create jobs in our community and improve our schools and make sure our kids have opportunities to go to college, and how people can retire with dignity and respect.  And those bread-and-butter issues were not going to be settled in Washington.  They were going to be settled on the ground, in neighborhoods.  And as somebody who cut my teeth as a community organizer, I knew that nothing was more powerful than the American people when they make common cause and they decide that they want to bring about change.

And what was true in 2008 is just as true today.  We’ve obviously been through a lot of battles over the last two and a half years dealing with one of the worst recessions in our history and certainly one of the toughest economic situations in my lifetime.  But despite all that, what we’ve been able to do is to work to make sure that the economy has started recovering.  We were able to save over a million jobs through our intervention in the auto industry.  We were able to finally get health care done so that families were more secure.  We were able to make sure that things like “don’t ask, don’t tell” got ended and that we were going to make sure that ordinary folks were benefitting from tax cuts, small businesses were benefitting.  All those things we could not have done had it not been for you.

And so as we gear back up to fight some tough battles — and you saw this week how tough some of these battles are going to be — it is absolutely critical that all of you stay involved.

And so I want to thank everybody at these house parties, but I want to urge all of you to get involved as a team to start going out not only spreading the message but also listening to people and finding out what’s on their minds and figuring out how we can engage them and get them involved.  And that’s where these neighborhood teams are so important.  We’re already had contact with 42,000 individuals face to face across the nation because of the teams that are activated in the states that are represented on this phone call.  We have had 2 million calls made to folks all across the country, contacting them, listening to their concerns, and finding out how they want to get involved in this campaign.

But this is always easier to do as a team and as a group than it is for folks to do this individually.  Obviously I want you to talk to your friends and your family and the Republican uncle that you got who isn’t persuaded yet, and you corner him at an event, and you talk issues at the workplace, around the water cooler, having conversations with friends of yours about why it’s so important for them to be engaged.

All that’s important, but what’s most important is when you guys as a team think about your neighborhoods and all the people that may have gotten turned off to politics, may be disillusioned, maybe are going through a tough time because of this difficult economy.  When they know their neighbors, their friends, folks who are — they see at parent-teacher night, when those folks see you, you’re the best ambassador we could have.  And when you go out as a team, it’s going to strengthen your capacity to move people in a direction that could bring about the change we want.

So I just want to emphasize to you how important you are, and I hope that you use this house party, in addition to having some cake — I don’t know if you guys have party hats — but in addition to having a good party, I hope you guys talk about how your neighborhood teams can get together and really do some great work on the ground.

We’re in for a long battle.  We’ve got 16 months in which we’re just going to have to be knocking on doors, making phone calls, turning out voters.  But it starts now.  It builds now.  And it starts with you.

So thank you, everybody, for being part of this.  And I think I’m going to get a chance to answer a couple questions before I sign off.

MR. BIRD:  Excellent.  Mr. President, thank you so much for joining us.  Our first question we’re going to take from North Carolina, in Greensboro, North Carolina.   And you’ll be able to take the question live.

Q    Hi, Mr. President.  Happy birthday!  (Applause.)

(Singing Happy Birthday.)  (Applause.)

It’s such a great honor — I’m sorry?

THE PRESIDENT:  I said you all have great voices.

Q    Oh, thank you.  We do our best.  It’s such a great honor to continue the great work we started in 2008.  I want to continue to do great work for you for the next year and a half.  While I’m out there canvassing, though, I have difficulty answering some of the detailed questions in regards to taxes and the wars.  As one of the best organizers I know, which is you, Mr. President, what type of — what type of advice do you have for someone like me?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, I just want to thank all of you guys for the great work you’re doing, and I can’t wait to see you guys at the convention in North Carolina.  It is going to be absolutely outstanding.  (Applause.)

But a couple things I’d say.  First of all, when you go out and talk to people, I want to make sure that everybody understands you’ve got to listen as much as you talk.  So part of what people want to know is, is that they’re being heard.  What are their concerns?  What are — what’s keeping them up at night?  What would they like to see happen in Washington?

So making sure we listen, that’s really important.  The second thing is that we always have to talk about values.  People are concerned about issues, but they also want to know what do we stand for.  And so if somebody asks about taxes, nobody is really interested in hearing what precise marginal tax rate change would you like to see in the tax code.  What they want to know is that our campaign stands for a fair, just approach to the tax code that says everybody has to chip in, and that it’s not right if a hedge fund manager is being taxed at a lower rate than his or her secretary.  And so that’s a values issues:  Is the tax code fair?

If somebody asks about the war, whether it’s Iraq or Afghanistan — if it’s Iraq, you have a pretty simple answer, which is all our folks are going to be out of there by the end of the year.  If it’s Afghanistan, you can talk about, look, we think it’s time for us to transition to Afghan lead and rebuild here at home.  So, again, it’s a values issue:  Where are we prioritizing our resources?

I think the key is not to get too bogged down in detail, but having said that, the last point I’d make is, it’s Jeremy’s job to make sure that you guys have good talking points and know the answers to some of these questions.  And so when your neighborhood teams start forming, on any given issue, every single week, you should be getting sort of updates in terms of what is going on in Washington.  We’re going to be rolling out plans to improve our infrastructure and put construction workers back to work.  We’re going to be rolling out plans to make sure that we continue the payroll tax cut that’s put $1,000 in the pockets of every American on average.  So we’ll have a bunch of issues, and those will change week to week.  And you should be able to get the kind of information that you need that at least gives you enough of a sense of what we’re doing and what we care about that you can answer these questions intelligently.

And you know, the last point I’d make.  Sometimes it’s not so bad to say, “I don’t know.”  So if somebody asks you something about, well, where does the President stand on Cyprus — (laughter) — there’s nothing wrong with you saying, “I’m not sure, but here’s what I can promise you — I’ll find out an answer and we’ll make sure to call you back and give you an answer.”  And people appreciate that.  They don’t expect you to know the ins and outs of every single policy.  But they do expect that you’re going to treat them with courtesy and that you’re going to get back to them if you don’t know the answer to something.

All right?  Thank you, guys.

Q    Thank you so much!  (Applause.)

MR. BIRD:  Thank you, North Carolina.  Mr. President, we’re going to take one more question, and this question comes from Maureen, who’s calling in from Shaker Heights in Ohio.  And we’re going to turn it over to Maureen and her house party right now.

Maureen.

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey, Maureen!

Q    Hello.  Happy birthday.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

Q    I have a question for you.  All right, in 2008, I went door to door with my father and with you, and we had a great time.  In 2012, I’m going to be recruiting others, and I want them to help me knock doors.  And if you were asking someone to volunteer, how would you ask them?

THE PRESIDENT:  You know, first of all, Maureen, thank you to everybody in Shaker Heights, and thanks to everybody in Ohio for the unbelievable work you guys have already done.  That’s how we won Ohio.  (Applause.)

But I think the main thing is to give people a sense that this campaign is about them and not about just electing a President.  It’s about being part of a community and going out there and talking to your fellow members of your community about what values you care about.  So make sure that people feel ownership over the process.

And also, make it fun.  I mean, I think that if you say to folks, you know what, we’re going to go door to door, but at the end of it we’re all going to get together and have a picnic, or come over to your house and talk about the issues that are important to us, and let’s bring some kids along, and make it a community event, that makes it a lot more effective.

So I think that asking people to get engaged because the future is going to be determined by this election.  We’ve already seen over this last week just how different the visions are of the two parties in terms of where we should take this country.  I think it’s very clear who’s going to be looking out for working families, who wants to invest in things like education, who wants to make sure that we’ve got strong social insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security that are going to look after people, but also how do we maintain those in a responsible way.

So you can make the pitch saying, this is really an important moment in our history; we’ve got to get involved right now.  But you also want to make it fun and make them feel like they’re part of something larger.  A lot of folks just respond to wanting to be with their friends and doing something interesting.

And if you do that, I guarantee you won’t get 100 percent takeup because people are busy and they may not be able to go every time.  But as the people at your house party know, it turns out it’s actually pretty fun to spend some time with people and work on issues that you care about.

So I couldn’t be more appreciative of you guys, and I’m really very grateful.

All right, Maureen?  Good luck.

Q    Thank you very much, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you guys.

Q    Happy birthday!

MR. BIRD:  All right.  Mr. President, we’ll take one last question, and then we can conclude.  Our question came from the question and answer pile, from Grand Rapids, Michigan.  And the question was, what’s the most important thing we as volunteers can do to further your campaign?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we’ve already talked about it.  The most important thing you can do is to be engaged and to reach out to your circle of friends and family, not to try to give them just a laundry list of things that we’ve already done, but to listen to them and give them a sense that they can make a difference if they get involved.

This democracy works when people get involved.  This democracy works when people are paying attention.  And this democracy works when people are joining together to make their voices heard.  And that’s what all of you are all about.

The more you guys are out there engaging people, talking to people, listening to them, asking their ideas, the more this is a bottom-up as opposed to a top-down operation.

One of the great things in 2008 was folks were just starting their own organizations.  We had folks in Idaho who just decided out of the — we’re going to start a Idaho for Obama.  And we didn’t have any staff there, we didn’t have any money.  And yet they were able to organize an 18,000-person rally just out of their own energy and input, and they owned this thing.

And that’s the thing I want to emphasize to all of you.  You own this campaign.  You own this country.  And if you use that power that you’ve got, then we’re going to be able to continue to get all the things done that we want to get done.  I know that over the last two and a half years there have been times where people have been frustrated.  This past week was a frustrating week.  But think about all we’ve accomplished together.  We’ve been able to start turning around this economy.  We’ve been able to get health care passed.  We’ve been able to make sure that there’s an equal day’s pay for an equal day’s work.  We’ve been able to make sure that children were able to get health insurance that didn’t have it before.  We’ve been able to end this war in Iraq in a responsible way.

And so that should give us confidence that we can make happen all the things that are still undone, whether it’s making sure that the economy is growing faster and creating more jobs, to getting immigration reform passed, to making sure that we’ve got an energy policy that makes sense in this country and making sure that we’ve got a tax code that’s fair and that’s just and that we’re dealing with our deficits and debt in a responsible way and it’s not all on the backs of middle-class families.

Those are things that I know we can accomplish, but this election is going to be a seminal election, in some ways maybe more important than the last one.  And with your voices, I’m absolutely confident that we not only can win, but more importantly, we can deliver the change that’s needed for the American people.

So I’ve got to go downstairs.  I’m going to have to — there’s a big crowd wanting to sing me happy birthday.  I don’t know if there’s cake down there.  But I know they’ve been waiting for me.  But I want to say to all of you, thank you for your good wishes.  Thanks for your courage.  Thanks for your determination and tenacity.  And I’m going to see you all hopefully when I get to the various states and cities and towns where you guys are gathered.

All right?  Have fun.  See you.

END
7:16 P.M. CDT

 

Remarks by the President at a DNC Event

Aragon Entertainment Center
Chicago, Illinois

8:21 P.M. CDT
August 3, 2011

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  Hello, hello, hello!  Thank you.  Thank you.  Everybody have a seat, have a seat, have a seat.

Well, if you guys are taking off your jackets, I’m going to take mine off too.  (Laughter.)  It’s too hot.  It is too hot.

Well, it is wonderful to see all of you.  (Mayor Emanuel takes the President’s jacket.)  Thank you.  Now that’s service.  (Laughter.)  I still have that pothole in front of my house.  (Laughter.)  Golly, I’ve been working on that.  Trees need trimming.  (Laughter.)

It is wonderful to see all of you.  I know that most of you had a chance to listen to me speak downstairs, so I’m not going to give another long speech.  The main thing I just want to do is to say thank you to all of you.  A lot of folks came, traveled from across the country.

And obviously we’ve just gone through an extraordinary week in Washington, an extraordinary two weeks in Washington.  It’s not the kind of extraordinary that the American people are looking for.  (Laughter.)  Because at a time when so many families are struggling, at a time when we should be singularly focused on how to make ourselves more competitive and make sure our kids have the best educations possible and how are we transforming our energy strategy and how are we building on high-tech industries and the huge competitive advantages that we have, politics continues to get in the way.

And I think this episode was just a severe example of what’s been going on for quite some time.  And it’s part of what led me to run for President.  It’s part of what led Rahm to get into public service.  And it’s part of the reason why hopefully all of you are here tonight, because you recognize we’ve still got some more work to do.

The good news is that after this week we have made a legitimate down payment on deficit reduction in a way that’s actually responsible, that is not going to dismantle our social safety net, isn’t going to prevent us from making the key investments we need to win the future.

But it also sets the stage for what is going to be a singular debate over the next year and a half, and that is two alternative visions about where the country needs to go.

I give the other side credit.  They are single-minded in their focus, in wanting to cut programs and shrink government.  My argument, Dick Durbin’s argument, the argument that I think all of you believe in, is that we need a government that is smart, that is living within its means, but also we need a government that is making the kind of commitment to opportunity for everybody, for every child; that is making investments that the private sector alone can’t make; that are setting policies that allow us to be competitive into the future; that is looking after our seniors and poor children and the disabled and empowering them; and that all of us have a role to play in that kind of America and all of us have to make some sacrifices to deliver that kind of America.

And I think most of the American people believe the same thing.  But in this kind of environment of 24-hour cable chatter and big money flooding the airwaves and slash-and-burn politics, sometimes I think that core belief in what is possible here in America gets lost.  It’s our job to constantly restore it and revitalize it and to have confidence in the American people that if we’re making our arguments with the same kind of passion and commitment that the other side is showing, that ultimately our democracy will make a decision — and I think it will be a decision to pursue the kind of vision that all of us believe in.

But we’re going to have a lot of work to do, and it’s going to be tough.  And this week I think signifies not only how tough it’s going to be but exactly what’s at stake.

And for you to make the kind of commitment to be here tonight, to be committed to engaging, the fact that you’re in, is going to make all the difference in the world.

So thank you very much, everybody.  And I think we’re going to just take a bunch of questions, then I’m going to have a chance to walk around the room and shake everybody’s hands before I head back home and see my kids.  Malia is coming home from camp tomorrow just for her daddy’s birthday, and I’m very happy about that.  (Applause.)

END
8:26 P.M. CDT

Remarks by the President at a DNC event

Aragon Entertainment Center
Chicago, Illinois

7:22 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Chicago!  (Applause.)  Oh, it is good to be with some good friends!  (Applause.)  This is a warm welcome right here.  (Applause.)

Let me first of all say thank you to the extraordinary, extraordinary talent that’s on stage.  First of all, one of the greatest jazz musicians of our time, Herbie Hancock.  (Applause.)  OK Go Band — give it up.  (Applause.)  DJ Greg Corner — give it up.  (Applause.)  The lovely and talented Jennifer Hudson from Chicago.  (Applause.)  The not as lovely or talented — (laughter) — but my very determined, very brilliant, very loyal, very tough mayor of the city of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel.  (Applause.)

I don’t know — you know, I’m watching from Washington, but it looks to me like Rahm is doing a pretty good job.  (Applause.)  And as far as I can tell, he hasn’t cursed in public yet.  (Laughter.)  He’s come close, he says.  (Laughter.)  But what he has done is provided extraordinary energy and extraordinary vision to a job that he has wanted for a long time.  And I don’t know too many people who love the city of Chicago more than your mayor, and I couldn’t be more proud of him, so — (applause.)

Now, we’ve got a few more dignitaries in the house.  We’ve got the governor of the great state of Illinois, Patrick Quinn, in the house.  (Applause.)  We’ve got one of the finest senators in the United States of America, Dick Durbin, in the house.  (Applause.)  We’ve got one of the greatest members of Congress in the country in Jan Murkowski in the house.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the ageless Jesse White, the Secretary of State, in the house.  (Applause.)  A great friend of mine, somebody who I wouldn’t have been elected to the United States Senate without him, the former senator of the Illinois State Senate, Emil Jones is here.  (Applause.)  And I know we’ve got a lot of other important people like you in the house.

Now, it’s warm and it’s hot and you just listened to some good music, and you don’t want to have a long political speech.  (Applause.)  But I just want to first of all say I could not have a better early birthday present than spending tonight with all of you —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Applause.)

And it’s true that I turn 50 tomorrow — (applause) — which means that by the time I wake up, I’ll have an email from AARP — (laughter) — asking me to call President Obama and tell him to protect Medicare.  (Laughter and applause.)

When I look out at this crowd, I think back to that incredible night in November.  I’m still trying to figure out how the weather was over 60 degrees in November, in Grant Park, back in 2008.  (Applause.)  And it was the culmination of this incredible journey, this long journey that we took together; a campaign that drew on the hard work and support of all of you and people all across the country — men and women who believed that change was possible.  In the face of long odds, in the face of frustrations, in the face of setbacks you said, we don’t have to accept politics as usual, and we can once again have a country that is living up to our finest ideals and our highest aspirations.

And that was a lovely night.  But do you remember what I told you that night?  I said, “Yes, we can,” but I said this would not be easy.  I said, that wasn’t the end of the journey; that was just the beginning.  The economy was already hammering families.  Decisions that had been deferred for too long in Washington were finally catching up with us.  All these problems were gathering all at once. And we knew the road ahead was going to be difficult, that the climb was going to be steep.

I have to admit, I didn’t know how steep the climb was going to be.  (Laughter.)

Because we didn’t realize — we just found out a week ago that the economy that last few months in 2008 was even worse than we had realized.  I mean, the economy had contracted by 8 percent.  It was the worst economy we had ever seen.  The next quarter before any of our economic policies had a chance to go into place, same kind of thing.  We lost 8 million jobs like that.  Hadn’t seen anything like it in most of our lifetimes.

But here’s what I — here’s what I knew.  You did not elect me President to duck the tough issues.  (Applause.)  You elected me President to do the tough things, to do the big things, even if it took time.  (Applause.)

You elected me to make sure that the economy was working not just for those at the very top, but that we had a broad-based, shared prosperity, from the machinist on the line to the CEO in the boardroom.

And I ran because I believed that our success is defined not by stock prices or corporate profits alone, but by whether ordinary people can find a good job that supports a family; whether they can send their kids to college; whether they can retire with dignity and respect.  (Applause.)  Maybe have a little left over for a ballgame or a vacation.  Not be bankrupt when they get sick.

So what we did was we took a series of emergency measures that first year to save the economy from collapse.  And I promise you not all of them were popular.  But we did what we needed to do to start getting the economy growing again, and it has been growing — not as fast as we want, but we got the economy growing instead of contracting because we wanted to help families get back on their feet.  (Applause.)

We went in and we said — I didn’t sign up to be a CEO of an auto company, but I said I’m not going to let a million jobs, especially here in the Midwest, go away, so we’re going to intervene, and we’re going to ask in return that the auto companies restructure themselves.  And we’ve now seen for the first time in a very long time all the Big Three automakers making a profit.  (Applause.)  And making a profit selling small cars and compact cars and doing stuff that a lot of Americans thought couldn’t be done any more.

And we said, even as we’re saving the economy, there’s still some issues out there that haven’t been dealt with in a very long time, so we’re going to make sure that we’ve got equal pay for equal work — (applause) — because I don’t want Malia and Sasha getting paid less than anybody for doing a good job.  (Applause.)

And we’re going to make sure that in this country that we love, that nobody is discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation.  We’re going to make sure they can serve in our military and protect the country that they love.  (Applause.)

And we’re going to invest in clean energy, because we’re tired of being dependent on foreign oil.  (Applause.)  So we want wind turbines and electric cars made right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

And we’re going to increase our investment in basic research to find cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s.

And we’re going to revamp our education system, so it starts working for every child and not just some children.  (Applause.)

And, yes, we are going to go ahead and make sure that every family in America can find affordable health care and that they are not losing their home or going bankrupt because they get sick.  (Applause.)  And it was hard, but because of you we kept on driving and we got it done.  (Applause.)

So it’s been a long, tough journey.  But we have made some incredible strides together.  Yes, we have.  (Laughter.)  But the thing that we all have to remember is, is that as much good as we’ve done, precisely because the challenges were so daunting, precisely because we were inheriting so many challenges, that we’re not even halfway there yet.

When I said, “change we can believe in,” I didn’t say “change we can believe in tomorrow.”  (Laughter.)  Not “change we can believe in next week.”  We knew this was going to take time, because we’ve got this big, messy, tough democracy.  And that’s the great thing about America is, is that there are all these contentious ideas that are out there, and we’ve got to make our case.  And we knew that these challenges weren’t made overnight and they weren’t going to be solved overnight.

And so, as we look forward, we know we’ve still got a lot of work to do on the economy.  Now, I hope we can avoid another self-inflicted wound like we just saw over the last couple of weeks — (applause) — because we don’t have time to play these partisan games.  (Applause.)  We’ve got too much work to do.  (Applause.)

Over the next several months, I hope Congress is focused on what the American people are focused on, making sure that the economy is growing, making sure that businesses are getting financing, making sure that young people are getting trained for the jobs of the future; making sure that we’re getting all those construction workers, that got laid off after the housing boom went bust, and putting them to work, rebuilding our roads and our bridges, rebuilding Chicago — (applause) — rebuilding Detroit, rebuilding rural communities all across the country, putting people back to work.

I want to make sure that America is not just an importer; I want us to export.  I want to build electric cars in America, and I want to ship them all around the world, because we’ve got the best technologies.  (Applause.)  I want us to focus on how we can revamp old buildings and old facilities so they’re energy efficient.  And we can start cutting down on our electricity bills, and we can start cutting down on our carbon emissions.  And we can stop being so dependent on foreign oil, and you don’t have to pay as much at the pump.  That’s what the American people are looking for.  That’s what we’ve got to focus on.  (Applause.)

We’ve got more work to do to make sure that we’ve got an immigration system in this country that makes some sense.  (Applause.)  We are a nation of laws and we are a nation of immigrants.  And we want to welcome extraordinary talent to our shores and have a legal immigration system that works for everybody.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to make that happen.

We’ve got to — and a lot of the stuff that we’ve already done we’ve got to make sure it gets implemented effectively.  We finally put some common-sense rules so that banks aren’t taking the kinds of risk that almost led to an economic meltdown, and that consumers are protected when you get credit cards or mortgages.

And, frankly, there are some folks in Congress who are trying to block us from making that progress, and that’s why your voice has to be heard, where we stand up and we say:  We want a financial system that is fair for everybody.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  (Applause.)

And on the foreign policy front, you elected me in part based on a promise that we would end the war in Iraq, and we have ended combat operations there.  And by the end of this year we will have our troops out of Iraq, as I promised and as I committed.  (Applause.)  And in Afghanistan, we’ve got al Qaeda on the run and we are going to begin transitioning to give Afghans more responsibility, but also to start bringing our troops home, because we’ve got a lot of work to do here at home to rebuild America.  (Applause.)

But our foreign policy can’t just be about war; it’s also got to be about peace.  (Applause.)  It’s also got to be about helping countries feed the hungry.  It’s got to be about helping countries transition to democracy.  It’s got to be about respecting human rights all around the world and making sure that America continues to be a beacon of hope.  That’s part of why you elected me.  That’s part of the unfinished business of this administration.  (Applause.)

And as we think about this world, we understand that it’s shrunk, and it’s going to be more competitive.  And if we’re going to leave the kind of America behind to our children and our grandchildren, then we’ve still got some work to do.  Yes, we’ve got to get our fiscal house in order.  And all the progressives out there, I want you to understand that we can’t just ignore this debt and deficit, we’ve got to do something about it.  But economic growth, making ourselves more competitive isn’t just about cutting programs.  It’s also about making investments in our people.  (Applause.)

It’s also about making sure we’ve got the best education system in the world; that we’ve got the best scientists and engineers and mathematicians in the world; making sure that we prize our diversity; making sure that we’ve got a social safety net for the aged and the infirm and our children.  That’s part of what makes us a great nation.  (Applause.)

So, Chicago, we’ve got more work to do.  We’ve got more work to do.  And look, let me just say this, it is going to continue to be challenging every single step of the way.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  But we can do it!

THE PRESIDENT:  But we can do it.  (Applause.)  You know, I’m always — I’m always amused when the pundits in Washington say, boy, you know, Obama hasn’t gotten this passed yet or some of his supporters are disappointed about this, and the — the campaign, it was so smooth.  And I’m thinking what campaign were they watching.  (Laughter.)  I mean, there — at least once a month, folks would say, he can’t win.  At least once a month, people would say, oh, that was a terrible debate for him; or, oh, he’s lost support in this or that group; or, oh, that state is going to go red on him.

What they didn’t understand was is that for all the mistakes I’ll make, for all the boneheaded moves I made — might make –

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  For all the frustrations and the challenges and resistance we have to bringing about change, when I’ve got you guys behind me — (applause) — when I’ve got the American people, when I listen to them — (applause) — and I’m reminded of your decency and those core values that say I am my brother’s keeper and I am my sister’s keeper, and what makes us a great nation is not just the height of our skyscrapers or the size of our GDP, or the power of our military, but the fact that we look after one another, and we take responsibility for ourselves, but also for our neighbors; when we’re working together and we’re joining hands, black and white and Hispanic and Asian and Native American and gay and straight; when the American people join together, we cannot be stopped.

We say to ourselves, “Yes, we can.”  It doesn’t matter how tough a week I have in Washington, because I know you’ve got me — you’ve got my back.  When I come to Chicago, when I travel across the country, I know we can’t be stopped.  (Applause.)  I know America is the greatest nation on Earth.  And I know we will bring about the change that all of us believe in.

God bless you all.  (Applause.)  Thank you, and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
7:44 P.M. CDT

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