POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:
POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES
President Obama’s Town Hall Meetings this Week
President Obama wants to hear from Americans about how national economic policies are affecting life in your communities. He is spending the next three days on the road in the Midwest, and will participate in four town hall meetings, two on Monday and two on Wednesday. Each of the question and answer sessions will be live streamed on whitehouse.gov/live.
The President kicks off his three day rural tour today in Cannon Falls, Minnesota with a meeting at Lower Hannah’s Bend Park at 1:05 pm EDT. Later this afternoon, he will be in Decorah, Iowa for another town hall session with locals at the Seed Savers Exchange, which starts at 6:15 EDT.
On Tuesday, the President will be in Peosta, Iowa, where he will hold a Rural Economic Forum with members of the White House Rural Council, which was created in June to report on the economic climate in rural America. The President’s opening remarks will be live streamed at 12:50 pm EDT, as will his closing remarks at 3:30 pm EDT.
The President will travel to his home state of Illinois on Wednesday, where he will hold two more town hall meetings, the first will be in Atkinson at 12:30 pm EDT, at the Wyffels Hybrids Atkinson Production Facility, followed by another that afternoon at the Country Corner Farm in Alpha at 4:30 pm EDT.
While on the road, the President will be discussing ways to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and accelerate hiring in communities and towns across the nation. He wants to hear directly from small business owners, local families, private sector leaders, rural organizations and government officials. The President knows we must do everything we can to promote economic growth, restore confidence in our nation’s future and enhance the sense of optimism for future generations.
Live Stream Schedule for Town Hall Meetings at whitehouse.gov/live
Monday August 15, 2011
1:05 pm EDT — Town Hall at Lower Hannah’s Bend Park, Cannon Falls, MN
6:15 pm EDT — Town Hall at Seed Savers Exchange, Decorah, Iowa
Wednesday August 17, 2011
12:30 pm EDT — Townhall at Wyffels Hybrids Atkinson Production Facility, Atkinson, IL
4:30 pm EDT — Townhall at Country Corner Farm, Alpha, IL
Live Stream Schedule for the Rural Economic Forum at whitehouse.gov/live
Tuesday August 16, 2011
12:50 pm EDT — Opening Remarks at White House Rural Economic Forum, Peosta, Iowa
SPEECHES & QUOTES
FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BLOG
President Obama headed to Decorah, IA on Monday afternoon, where he joined a crowd of 500 locals for a town hall meeting. Topics covered ranged from the difference between divided government and dysfunctional government, America’s proud history as a nation of innovation and the importance of agriculture in the American economy. The next day, he was in Peosta for the White House Rural Economic Forum. Along the way, he enjoyed some of the state’s beautiful scenery.Go behind the scenes with the President as he meets with the people of Decorah and Peosta, attends the Rural Economic Forum, and travels through rural Iowa.
Interested in seeing more of the President’s rural road trip? Take a look at how he spent his morning in Minnesota.
On Monday, President Obama visited Cannon Falls, Minnesota where he talked with a crowd of 500 locals at Hannah’s Bend Park. During the town hall meeting, the President discussed the challenges that Americans have faced over the past year and reiterated his belief that there is “nothing wrong with America that can’t be fixed; what’s broken is our politics.” Later, the President traveled to the Old Market Deli where he had lunch with a group of veterans and was welcomed to the state by a local cowboy.Go behind the scenes with the President as he meets with the people of Cannon Falls, eats at the Old Market Deli and travels through rural Minnesota.
Interested in more White House video? Take a look at the highlights of the President’s trip through Iowa.
President Obama ended his three day tour of the Midwest at a town hall meeting on a farm in rural Illinois, where he took questions that ranged from enhanced protection for law enforcement officers to the shrinking size of local county fairs. The President’s last day was filled with opportunities to enjoy the rural landscape and attractions of his home state, and included stops at the Whiteside County Fair and a Galesburg High School football practice, in addition to an earlier town hall meeting in Atkinson.
The President told the crowd of 250 people gathered at Alpha’s Country Corner Farm that they can expect to hear about new proposals that will put Americans back to work in the next few weeks.
When folks tell you that we’ve got a choice between jobs now or dealing with our debt crisis, they’re wrong. They’re wrong. We can’t afford to just do one or the other. We’ve got to do both. And the way to do it is to make some — reform the tax code, close loopholes, make some modest modifications in programs like Medicare and Social Security so they’re there for the next generation, stabilize those systems. And you could actually save so much money that you could actually pay for some of the things like additional infrastructure right now.
We can close the deficit and put people to work, but what’s required is that folks work together. That’s the big challenge. That’s the big challenge.
And over the course of the next few weeks, I’m going to be putting out more proposals to put people to work right now. And some of them — yes, some of them cost money. And the way we pay for it is by doing more on deficit reduction than the plan that we had to come up with right at the last minute in order to avoid default. We didn’t do as much as we could have.
The President also laid out a series of steps that Congress can take as soon as they return to Washington that will put money in people’s pockets and create good jobs, including
- Extending the payroll tax cut that was passed in December that put $1,000 in the typical family’s pocket
- Passing trade deals that have the support of both business and the United Auto Workers, deals that will help realize the President’s dream of seeing more products overseas that carry the stamp, “Made in America.”
- Passing the America Invents Act which makes it easier to get patents for new products, services or inventions, they can turn it around without a lot of red tape and bureaucracy and start businesses that hire workers
As his three day trip through rural America drew to a close, the President told the crowd why his time on the road, meeting Americans in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, had been so rewarding, “It inspires you, because it reminds you about what makes this country so great, why I love this country so much, and why we’ve got to be doing every single thing we can every minute of every day to make sure that you can continue to achieve your American Dream and pass it on to your kids and your grandchildren.”
Use the jump links below to skip to the answers to questions you’re most interested in.The questions below are paraphrased from the questions asked by participants during the townhall:
The final day of President Obama’s bus tour across America’s heartland was jam packed with meetings and spontaneous stops to enjoy the local landscape. On his way to a town hall in Atkinson, Illinois to talk about strengthening the economy, the President pulled in to the Whiteside County Fair and checked out the dairy cow judging.
President Barack Obama talks with people watching the dairy cow judging during a stop at the Whiteside County Fair in Morrison, Ill., , Aug. 17, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)
During the town hall, President Obama discussed how inspiring the conversations he’s having with Americans have been:
Now, what’s been striking as I’ve been traveling through over the last few days — you guys, you’re all fulfilling your responsibilities. You’re working hard, you’re looking after your families, you’re volunteering at church, you’re coaching Little League — you’re doing everything right. And all you’re asking for, if I’m not mistaken, is that your political representatives take their responsibilities just as seriously.
And part of that means that you have to put politics aside sometimes to do what’s right for the country. People have been asking me, well, why didn’t you call Congress back after this whole debt ceiling thing? Why’d you let them leave town? I say, well, I don’t think it would be good for business confidence and certainty just to see members of Congress arguing all over again. I figured it was time for them to spend a little time back in their districts, hear your frustrations, hear your expectations.
As I’ve been driving on this bus, just seeing all those flags on the way in, seeing folks waving, little kids ready to go back to school, and grandparents in their lawn chairs, and folks out in front of the machine shop and out in front of the fire stations — you go through small towns all throughout America, and it reminds you how strong we are and how resilient we are and how decent we are. And that should be reflected in our politics; that should be reflected in our government.
After a surprise stop at the Whiteside County Fair, President Obama is heading to the Country Corner Farm in Alpha, Illinois for his fourth town hall in three days. The President has been traveling through the Midwest discussing ideas on how the government can help promote economic growth, accelerate hiring and spur innovation in rural communities like Cannon Falls, MN, Decorah, IA and Atkinson, IL.
President Obama will meet with locals in Atkinson, Illinois later today for a town hall where he will take questions from the crowd and outline ways we can strengthen the middle class and increase economic opportunity for everyone. He’s been on the road for three days now, travelling to rural communities and talking directly with the American people about a wide variety of issues that impact our economy. In his closing remarks at the White House Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa yesterday, the President told the crowd that this trip has reminded him why he wanted to go into public service in the first place:
But getting out of Washington and meeting all of you, and seeing how hard you’re working, how creative you are, how resourceful you are, how determined you are, that just makes me that much more determined to serve you as best I can as President of the United States.
Earlier this week, President Obama spoke with local citizens during town hall meetings in Cannon Falls, Minnesota and Decorah, Iowa before heading to Peosta, where he announced a series of new job initiatives.
Today in Peosta, Iowa, President Obama took a moment to reflect on what his trip through rural America has meant:
As I was driving down those little towns in my big bus we slowed down, and I’m standing in the front and I’m waving, I’m seeing little kids with American flags, and grandparents in their lawn chairs, and folks outside a machine shop, and passing churches and cemeteries and corner stores and farms — I’m reminded about why I wanted to get into public service in the first place. Sometimes there are days in Washington that will drive you crazy. But getting out of Washington and meeting all of you, and seeing how hard you’re working, how creative you are, how resourceful you are, how determined you are, that just makes me that much more determined to serve you as best I can as President of the United States.
President Barack Obama waves to people along the road in Decorah, Iowa, Aug. 15, 2011, during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest focusing on ways to grow the economy. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama ended today’s White House Rural Economic Forum feeling energized by the ideas he heard all day from small business owners, students, entrepreneurs, ranchers, farmers and clean energy companies. He told the crowd of 125 rural leaders at the Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa that the task of the entire nation “has to be to get behind what you’re doing; our task has to be making sure that nothing stands in your way, that we remove any obstacles to your success.”
In addition to the President’s opening and closing remarks, the day included breakout-sessions moderated by senior administration officials that covered topics ranging from initiatives on broadband access and renewable energy to job creation in small, rural towns nationwide. He told the crowd that his time on the road this week has underscored his deep confidence that the American people can put the nation’s economy back on track:
I am absolutely confident about our future. And I’m confident because I know that while we face serious challenges — and there’s no sugarcoating that — there’s not a nation on Earth that would not want to trade places with us. There’s nothing wrong with our country — although there is some problems with our politics. That’s what we need to fix. That’s how we’re going to unlock the promise of America, and the incredible dynamism and creativity of our people.
And having a chance to meet with some of the men and women in this room have only made me feel more confident. I’m excited about the future that you’re working towards each and every day. And it ought to remind us of a simple lesson: It’s always a mistake to bet against America. It’s always a mistake to bet against the American worker. It’s always a mistake to bet against the American worker, the American farmer, the American small business owner, the American people.
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the White House Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, Aug. 16, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)
The President emphasized the importance of government connecting directly with citizens. Rather than focusing on party or factions, he explained, the key is working together towards a better future for the country:
When you sit in some of these breakout sessions, I had no idea who was Democrat, who was Republican, who was independent. What everybody understood was there are times when government can make a huge difference. There are times where that SBA office or that USDA office can make all the difference in the world…And so it’s a very practical way of thinking about these problems. It’s not either/or. It’s a recognition that the prime driver of economic growth and jobs is going to be our people and the private sector and our businesses. But you know what, government can help.
So I hope that I can count on you in the days ahead to lend your voice to this fight to strengthen our economy. I need you to keep your pressure on your elected representatives for things like the payroll tax cuts or road construction funds or the other steps that will help to put our country back to work. That’s what ought to unite us as a country, regardless of party or ideology, because if we can do that — if we can put country ahead of party — I know that our future is bright. I know that our best days are ahead of us.
For more information, check out the White House Rural Council. And don’t forget to tune into the President’s town hall meetings throughout his Rural Tour on WhiteHouse.gov/live, or see the full schedule.
Posted by Tom Vilsack and Karen Mills on August 16, 2011 at 4:08 PM EDT
Today, the President announced several important new initiatives to continue strengthening the rural economy and to create jobs in rural areas.
As part of the White House Rural Council’s efforts to improve federal government coordination on rural economic development, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have been focused on rural small business growth. And for good reason: Half the people who work in America either own or work for a small business, and two out of three new private sector jobs are created by small businesses.
Many of these small businesses are in rural areas and we are making sure that they have the tools they need to grow, create jobs and drive the economy.
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, participates in a breakout session at the White House Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, Aug. 16, 2011, as part of his three-day economic bus tour of the Midwest. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)
Today, the President announced a series of initiatives that leverage existing programs and funding to help small businesses and to meet other critical needs in rural communities. This included:
- Committing up to $350 million in SBA growth capital to investors in rural small businesses over the next 5 years
- Launching a series of events to connect private equity and venture capital investors with rural start ups
- Creating teams to link federal funding opportunities with private investors interested in making rural investments
- Making job search information available at 2,800 local USDA offices nationwide
- Making HHS loans available to help more than 1,300 Critical Access Hospitals recruit additional staff
- Helping rural hospitals purchase software and hardware to implement health IT
On the second day of his tour through rural America, President Obama participated in a Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa. He and members of his Cabinet joined a group of farmers, small business owners, private sector leaders, rural organizations and government officials to discuss ideas and initiatives that will spur job creation and economic innovation in small towns across the nation. In his opening remarks, the President announced several new initiatives that will promote economic growth in rural communities, including:
Helping Rural Small Businesses Access Capital
- Doubling SBA Investment Funds for Rural Small Businesses over the Next 5 Years: As part of the Startup America Initiative, the Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced the creation of a $1 billion Impact Investment Fund through its Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program. The Impact Fund will invest in distressed areas as well as in emerging sectors such as clean energy. SBA provides up to a 2:1 match to private capital raised by this fund, partnering with private investors to target “impact” investments. SBA and USDA will partner together to drive $350 million of investment capital through the Impact Fund and existing SBICs into rural small businesses over the next five years, doubling the current rate of investment.
- Connecting Rural Small Businesses with Private Investment Capital: To further achieve this goal, SBA and USDA will launch a series of Rural Private Equity and Venture Capital conferences nationwide to provide a platform for connecting private equity and venture capital investors with rural start-ups. USDA, SBA, Treasury, Interior and other relevant agencies will also create rural capital “marketing teams” that pitch federal funding opportunities to private investors. These “marketing teams” will leverage existing personnel with expertise about rural funding sources across all federal departments and agencies.
The second stop on President Obama’s tour of rural America was a town hall meeting in Decorah,Iowa, where he talked with 500 local citizens about how we can grow the economy and put people back to work. The crowd asked questions on topics ranging from reforming the tax code and the rights of unions to whether Congress is a good partner, and what the current Washington gridlock means for democracy.
The President addressed the frustration that many have expressed with the dysfunctional government in Washington and said he shares that feeling:
After a full day spent talking and listening to Americans at town halls in Cannon Falls, Minnesota and Decorah, Iowa yesterday, this morning the President’s economic bus tour pulls into Peosta, Iowa for the White House Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College. President Obama and members of his Cabinet will meet with private sector leaders, farmers and small business owners to discuss ideas to grow the economy, accelerate hiring and spur innovation in small towns across the country.
The focus of the forum is how we can create good jobs that put more Americans back to work, and President Obama will announce new job initiatives for rural America that will do just that. The initiatives will include recommendations from the White House Rural Council that include helping small businesses in rural areas access capital, expanding rural job search and training services and increasing rural access to health care workers and technology.
During the first stop on his rural road trip, President Obama took questions on topics ranging from using renewable energy to create jobs and helping young farmers buy land and market their products effectively to the future of Social Security and his Administration’s plans to bolster education.
Speaking with a crowd of 500 people at Hannah’s Bend Park in Cannon Falls, MN, the President discussed the “extraordinary challenges” our nation has faced over the last two and a half years, but extolled the “extraordinary hope that America represents” around the world, and reiterated his belief that there is “nothing wrong with America that can’t be fixed; what’s broken is our politics.”
Many of the questions focused on health care, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, and the President stressed his commitment to making sure we preserve the integrity of these programs while ensuring they are still in place for future generations:
For the second stop of President Obama’s economic tour, the bus pulls into Decorah, Iowa for a town hall meeting with 500 local residents. While in Decorah, the President will be at the Seed Savers Exchange to discuss ways to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and accelerate hiring.
The Seed Savers Exchange is a 850-acre farm that saves and shares heirloom seeds like Strawberry Crown Squash, Lemon Drop Tomato, Stone Mountain Watermelon and Champion of England Pea for future generations. Shannon Carmody from the Seed Savers Exchange describes heirlooms as rare seeds with a historic context, “Maybe they were offered in a seed catalog in the 1930’s, and are no longer offered commercially today, or they could have been brought to North American by immigrant families and are maintained for generation after generation.” Watch the town hall live beginning at 6:15 p.m. EDT on WhiteHouse.gov/live.
This morning, President Obama will visit Cannon Falls, Minnesota to kick off his economic bus tour. The President is traveling around the Midwest to stress the vital role rural America plays in ensuring the growth of our economy, the affordability of our food, the independence of our energy supply, and the strength of our communities. Cannon Falls, Minnesota, 35 miles south of Minneapolis and St. Paul, is the first stop in a three day tour across America’s heartland. President Obama will take questions from small business owners, rural organizations and local families during a town hall beginning at 1:05 pm EDT at Lower Hannah’s Bend Park. Tune in to the town hall live at WhiteHouse.gov/live.