Full Text September 15, 2011: Speaker of the House John Boehners’ Jobs Speech at the Economic Club of Washington (Transcript)




Boehner’s Jobs Speech

Source: NYT, 9-16-11

The following is a prepared text of Representative John A. Boehner’s speech about jobs to the Economic Club of Washington on Thursday, as provided by the House Speaker’s office:


House Speaker John A. Boehner spoke to the Economic Club of Washington about the Republicans' approach to creating jobs on Thursday.Stephen Crowley/The New York TimesHouse Speaker John A. Boehner spoke to the Economic Club of Washington about the Republicans’ approach to creating jobs on Thursday.

MR. BOEHNER: President Rubenstein, members of the board, honored guests — thank you for the opportunity to be here with you today to talk about jobs and the state of our nation’s economy.

We all know the economy is stalled, and it’s been stalled.  And it’s not because the American people have lost their way.  It’s because their government has let them down.

Last week the president put forth a new set of proposals.  The House will consider them, as the American people expect.  Some of the president’s proposals offer opportunities for common ground.

But let’s be honest with ourselves.  The president’s proposals are a poor substitute for the pro-growth policies that are needed to remove barriers to job creation in America…the policies that are needed to put America back to work.

If we want job growth, we need to recognize who really creates jobs in America.  It’s the private-sector.

This building is named in memory of President Ronald Reagan, who recognized that private sector job creators are the heart of our economy.  They always have been.

That was the America I was raised in.  My father and grandfather were small businessmen.  They ran a tavern in Cincinnati that my grandpa started in the 1930s.  I worked in that tavern growing up.

I ran a small business myself.  I know what it takes to meet a payroll, hire workers, and create jobs in the private sector.

There’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the economy that leads to a lot of bad decisions in Washington, D.C.

The reality is that employers will hire if they have the right incentives, but the incentives have to outweigh the costs.  Businesses are not going to hire someone for a $4000 tax credit if government mandates impose long-term costs on them that significantly exceed the temporary credit.  In recent years, such mandates have been overwhelming.

Private-sector job creators of all sizes have been pummeled by decisions made in Washington.

They’ve been slammed by uncertainty from the constant threat of new taxes, out-of-control spending, and unnecessary regulation from a government that is always micromanaging, meddling, and manipulating.

They’ve been hurt by a government that offers short-term gimmicks rather than fundamental reforms that will encourage long-term economic growth.

They’ve been hampered by a government that offers confusion to entrepreneurs and job creators when there needs to be clarity.

They’ve been undercut by a government that favors crony capitalism and businesses deemed ‘too big to fail,’ over the small banks and small businesses that make our economy go.

They’ve been antagonized by a government that favors bureaucrats over market-based solutions.

They’ve been demoralized by a government that causes despair when we need it to provide reassurance and inspire confidence.

My worry is that even after all of this, much of the talk in Washington right now is basically about more of the same.  More initiatives that seem to have more to do with the next election than the next generation. . .initiatives that seem to be more about micromanaging economic decisions than liberating them.

I think the American people are worried about this too.

I can tell you the American people — private-sector job creators in particular — are rattled by what they’ve seen out of this town over the last few years.

My worry is that for American job creators, all the uncertainty is turning to fear that this toxic environment for job creation is a permanent state.

Job creators in America are essentially on strike.

The problem is not confusion about the policies. . .the problem is the policies.

The anger many Americans have been feeling in recent years is beginning to turn into fear. . .fear of our future.

That bothers me, and it should bother all of us.

America is a land of opportunity.  Always has been.

Our economy has always been built on opportunity. . .on entrepreneurs, innovators and risk-takers willing to take a chance — because they’re confident if they work hard, they can succeed.

Over the past few years, government has made people less confident — not more confident — that they can succeed.

More and more Americans are realizing this, and they’re speaking out about it.

I’ve spent the past 4-5 weeks traveling through my district and across this country, listening to the people outside of Washington who are the key to making our economy work.

My message to Washington today on their behalf: this isn’t that hard.  We need to liberate our economy from the shackles of Washington.  Let our economy grow!

We need to trust in the good judgment of the American people.

The instinct in government, always, is to get bigger, more intrusive, more meddlesome.  And that instinct is directly at odds with the things that make the American economy move.

Job creation in America is facing what I would call a triple threat from government.  The first aspect of this threat is excessive regulation.

During the Joint Session of Congress last week, I hosted about a dozen job creators from the private sector in as my guests in the House gallery — all of them with a common story: they’re trying to help create more American jobs, but the government is getting in their way.

We all know some regulations are needed.  We have a responsibility under the Constitution to regulate interstate commerce.

There are reasonable regulations that protect our children and help keep our environment clean.

And then there are excessive regulations that unnecessarily increase costs for consumers and small businesses.

Those excessive regulations are making it harder for our economy to create jobs.

Over the last couple of months we’ve seen two vivid illustrations.

Last month federal agents raided the Gibson Guitar factories in Tennessee.

Gibson is a well-respected American company that employs thousands of people.  The company’s costs as a result of the raid?  An estimated $2-3 million.  Why?  Because Gibson bought wood overseas to make guitars in America.  Seriously.

The other example is in South Carolina, where the Boeing company recently completed a plant that will create thousands of new full-time jobs for American workers — only to be sued by a federal agency that wants to shut it down.

Let make sure I have this straight: under current rules, American companies are free to create jobs in China, but they aren’t free to create them in South Carolina?

At this moment, the Executive Branch has 219 new rules in the works that will cost our economy at least $100 million.

That means under the current Washington agenda, our economy is poised to take a hit from the government of at least $100 million — 219 times.

I think it’s reasonable to ask: is it wise to be doing all of this right now?

The current regulatory burden coming out of Washington far exceeds the federal government’s constitutional mandate.  And it’s hurting job creation in our country at a time when we can’t afford it.

Government’s threat to job creation has two other components.

One is the current tax code, which is discourages investment and rewards special interests.

It strikes me as odd that at a time when it’s clear that the tax code needs to be fundamentally reformed, the first instinct out of Washington is to come up with a host of new tax credits that make the tax code more complex.

The final aspect of the threat is the spending binge in Washington.  It has created a massive debt crisis that poses a direct threat to our country’s ability to create jobs and prosper.

There are some people in this town who still deny this. . .who still deny that the debt is a threat to jobs.

But if you talk to anybody outside of Washington who has to meet a payroll, they’ll tell you that out-of-control spending in Washington is one of the things that concerns them the most about our future.

In New York City back in May, I warned that if we don’t take action soon, the markets will do it for us.

Last month, the markets took action, in the form of a downgrade and the possibility of future downgrades that caused the markets to tumble.

It’s going to keep happening, until we act.

The responsibility for fixing this toxic environment for job creation is a bipartisan one.

The situation was created by Washington’s inability to let our economy work.

It was created by government intrusion and micromanagement.

We have a responsibility to work together in the coming months to remove these barriers and liberate our economy.

This is what the American people are demanding of us.

Everything we do in the weeks and months to come needs to start with asking: are we addressing these problems?  Or are we making them worse?

The Budget Control Act of 2011, signed into law last month, establishes a Joint Select Committee of Congress for the purpose of identifying $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction.

Many have expressed doubts about the Joint Committee’s chances of success.

The skepticism is understandable.  A Joint Select Committee is, after all, no substitute for a president who continues to control most of the arms of government.

But I think the Joint Select Committee has a huge opportunity.

It has a chance to lay the foundation for economic growth, by dealing with some of the obstacles that are standing in the way.

The Joint Committee’s mission is deficit reduction, and that has everything to do with jobs.

As the co-chairman of the Joint Committee, Jeb Hensarling, said last week at the Committee’s first meeting:

‘Our debt threatens our jobs. . .Speak to any Fortune 500 CEO or small business person.  It is clear that our debt hangs like the Sword of Damocles over their hiring decisions. . .It should be obvious that deficit reduction and a path to fiscal sustainability are themselves a jobs program.’

The Joint Select Committee can tackle tax reform, and it should.

It’s probably not realistic to think the Joint Committee could rewrite the tax code by November 23.  But it can certainly lay the groundwork by then for tax reform in the future that will enhance the environment for economic growth.

The Committee can develop principles for broad-based tax reform that will lower rates for individuals and corporations while closing deductions, credits, and special carveouts in our tax code.  And I hope it will.

Yes, tax reform should include closing loopholes.  Not for purposes of bringing more money to the government.  But because it’s the right thing to do.

And if we’re going to tackle tax reform, we should do it all.

Making short-term fixes in exchange for long-term flawed policy is not tax reform.

Tax reform should deal with the whole tax code, both the personal side and the corporate side, and it should result in a code that is simpler and fairer to everyone.

Tax increases, however, are not a viable option for the Joint Committee.

It’s a very simple equation.  Tax increases destroy jobs.  And the Joint Committee is a jobs committee.  Its mission is to reduce the deficit that is threatening job creation in our country.

We should not make its task harder by asking it to do things that will make the environment for job creation in America even worse.

I hope the president will meet this standard when he puts forth his recommendations for the Joint Committee next week.

When it comes to producing savings to reach its $1.5 trillion deficit reduction target, the Joint Select Committee has only one option: spending cuts and entitlement reform.

The Joint Committee can achieve real deficit reduction by reforming entitlements and taking real action to preserve and strengthen Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

There is a myth that spending reforms aren’t ‘real’ unless they happen this year.

That myth is built on a healthy skepticism that spending cuts made today are going to be implemented tomorrow.

But it is a myth nonetheless, and we need to make sure it doesn’t stop us from doing what needs to be done.

Most of the entitlement reforms in the House GOP budget are phased in over time.  And that’s the way the Joint Committee should do them as well.

Modest changes in spending programs today can have large effects tomorrow.

Gimmicks, however, are unacceptable.  As I told the president’s economic team during the debt limit negotiations: we’re just not doing that anymore.

Deficit reduction shouldn’t just be about quantity; it should be about quality.

A billion dollars in imaginary savings from war spending that was never going to happen is not the same as a billion dollars in savings that strengthens our entitlement programs.

There are plenty of skeptics about the Joint Select Committee’s ability to accomplish its mission, and that’s to be expected.

There are always skeptics.

There were skeptics last spring when I said in New York that we should have spending cuts larger than any debt limit hike we gave the president.

But it happened.

And this can happen, too.

The Joint Committee can succeed, and it must succeed.  And with success, it can help to lay the foundation for economic growth and job creation in America.

If the Joint Committee does its work correctly – addressing the structural problems in our entitlement programs that have put us in danger of more job-destroying downgrades, and setting the stage for fundamental tax reform that will help to support private investment – it will have begun to remove some of the biggest barriers to job creation that exist in our country today.

As the Joint Committee does its work, there is a lot of other work in Washington that also needs to be done.

As I mentioned earlier, there are 219 major regulatory actions in the works by the federal bureaucracy right now.  We know seven of them will each have an economic impact of $1 billion or more.

The biggest is an EPA rule that could have an impact of as much as $90 billion.

The president acted wisely by halting the implementation of this rule.  I would urge the White House to build on it by disclosing to the American people the cost estimates for the remaining 212 ‘economically significant’ rules it has planned.

I would also urge the president to call a Cabinet meeting, and tell every member of his Cabinet: ‘Until further notice, I don’t want anything that gets in the way of private-sector job creation.  And I want you to report back to me in a month with how you’ve done.’

The members of the president’s Cabinet are not doing their jobs if they aren’t constantly focused on removing impediments to job growth.

If they’re not focused on that, they should be fired.

In the House, Majority Leader Cantor has put together a fall legislative schedule that reflects the concerns we’ve heard from job creators across America about unnecessary federal regulations that are hampering job growth.

Earlier I mentioned the situation in South Carolina with Boeing.

Today the House is working on a measure that will prevent the federal government from meddling in that situation, and similar ones.

The Senate needs to follow the House in passing this bill, and we need to send it to the president’s desk.

The NRLB bill is one of a whole series of measures we’re working on this fall to reduce the burden of excessive regulation on job creators.

We’ll pass the REINS Act, which would require congressional review for any new regulation that has a major impact on the economy.  House committees have identified dozens of job-crushing regulations that are keeping our economy from producing jobs.

We’ll repeal the ‘3 percent withholding rule,’ which serves as an effective tax increase on those who do business with the government.

We’ll stop excessive federal regulations that inhibit jobs in areas as varied as cement and farm dust.

We’ll work on other reforms such as removing barriers to increased domestic energy production and removing barriers to trade, many of which are in the House GOP jobs agenda at Jobs.GOP.gov.

The United States Senate needs to act, too.  The Senate cannot continue to sit idle on jobs and the budget.

The House has passed an array of bills already this year to remove barriers to job creation, and those bills are piling up in the Senate.

The Senate hasn’t produced a budget, either.  It must.

There are a few other things I want to mention that we can do in the weeks and months ahead to free our economy and bolster confidence among our job creators.

One is very simple.  Both parties can boost confidence and reassure job creators by being clear: there will be no shutdown of the federal government, and we aren’t willing to default on our debt.  The United States will meet its obligations to its citizens and to its creditors.

In Congress, I’ve been clear about these goals since the day I was elected Speaker.  And we’ve been true to our word.

Another thing we can do is in the area of transportation and infrastructure.

I’m not opposed to responsible spending to repair and improve infrastructure.  But if we want to do it in a way that truly supports long-term economic growth and job creation, let’s link the next highway bill to an expansion of American-made energy production.

Removing some of the unnecessary government barriers that prevent our country from utilizing its vast energy resources could create millions of new jobs.

There’s a natural link between the two: as we develop new sources of American energy, we’re going to need modern infrastructure to bring that energy to the market.

We can also boost confidence and reassure job creators by sending a balanced budget amendment to the states.

One of the most important things we did in the Budget Control Act last month — in addition to requiring a vote in both houses of Congress this fall on a balanced budget amendment — was establish caps on future spending.

These caps are designed to hold back the growth of government while our economy expands and creates jobs.

To ensure those spending caps are set in stone, we should ratify a balanced budget amendment.

If the president truly wants to make a difference and change the dynamic in Washington, he should announce his support for a balanced budget amendment and call on the Congress to send one to the states without delay.

And lastly, if we want to create a better environment for job creation, politicians of all stripes can leave the ‘my way or the highway’ philosophy behind.

The all-or-nothing approach is not a workable mindset if we’re serious about getting our economy on its feet again.

Our economy is facing a broad-based, systemic crisis.

As such, it will require everyone coming to the table with their best ideas first and leaving politics at the door, with the courage to listen to each other’s critiques and questions.

It means ending the name-calling, the yelling, and the questioning of others’ motives.

Leadership is about ending that nonsense, buckling down, and getting to work.

Thomas Edison once said that ‘opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.’

We have an opportunity in front of us.  The trick is to recognize it, and believe in it, and act on it.

We know the challenges we face as a nation, and we have a chance to confront them.

If we put election-year politics aside this year and focus on our work, we’ll leave our country in a better place.

Getting it done will require a serious effort by both parties.

There are some in both parties who would rather do nothing.

They’d prefer to sit this one out, waiting to be dealt a better hand down the road, after the next election.

That’s not what I was elected to do.

This is the hand we’ve been dealt.

Instead of ducking from the challenge, we should rise to the occasion, and liberate our economy from the shackles government has placed on it.

I’m ready.  And for the sake of our country, and our economy – I hope all of us are ready.

Thank you for listening.  I look forward to your questions.”

History Buzz September 15, 2011: Michael Beschloss: Jacqueline Kennedy Recordings Offer Rare Glimpse of Life With President John F. Kennedy Transcript Excerpts


History Buzz



Jacqueline Kennedy

HISTORY INTERVIEWS: Recordings of Jacqueline Kennedy Offer Rare Glimpse of Life With JFK — Transcript & Excerpts

Source: PBS Newshour, 9-15-11


The new book, “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F. Kennedy,” includes never before heard audio recordings of interviews conducted with the former first lady in 1964. Ray Suarez discusses the rare and intimate glimpse with presidential historian Michael Beschloss, who edited and annotated the book.

RAY SUAREZ: And to a rare and intimate glimpse into history.

The new book “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F. Kennedy,” includes never-before-heard audio recordings of interviews conducted with the former first lady in 1964, shortly after her husband’s assassination.

The tapes were released by daughter Caroline Kennedy in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy administration.

Presidential historian and regular NewsHour guest Michael Beschloss edited and annotated the book, and he joins us now.

And, Michael, it was a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at life with JFK, life in the White House, and the life and times of the Kennedy administration.

What do you know now? What’s the most important thing you know now that you didn’t know before?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, presidential historian: Well, the biggest thing, if we had talked a year ago, before I read this thing, I would have said Jacqueline Kennedy was a major figure obviously in JFK’s life and Kennedy’s Washington, did a lot for historic preservation, restored the White House, substituted the taste, perhaps, of Dwight Eisenhower, who had people like Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians play in the White House, for people like Pablo Casals.

But I wouldn’t have said that she was a major political figure in Kennedy administration. Now I would. One example of this is the number of times in this book where she runs down, say, someone like Dean Rusk, the secretary of state, says, “Jack, you should fire him.” And he says, “Well, maybe you’re right, but I can’t do it until 1964.”

She goes to Pakistan and there’s an ambassador of the United States she meets there, comes back, writes a letter at her husband’s behest that he sends on to the secretary of state. She had a lot more to do particularly with the personnel of this administration than think I would have thought.

RAY SUAREZ: We are taken into the back, private areas of the White House during some of the most tense times in the 1960s, for instance, the Cuban Missile Crisis, when Jacqueline Kennedy tells historian and Kennedy insider Arthur Schlesinger about what those tense days were like for her and the family.

Let’s listen.


JACQUELINE KENNEDY, former first lady: But I said: “Please, don’t send me away to Camp David, you know, me and the children. Please don’t send me anywhere. If anything happens, we’re all going to say right here with you.”

And, you know — and I said, “Even if there’s not room in the bomb shelter in the White House,” which I had seen, I said, “Please, then I just want to be on the lawn when it happens, you know, but I just want to be with you and I want to die with you. And the children do, too, than live without you.”

RAY SUAREZ: It’s a reminder that this wasn’t kidding around. The world felt like it was right on the precipice. When the first lady says to the president, “I and the children want to die with you,” it was striking.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: And be out on the lawn, not in a bomb shelter.

And the other thing is, it tells something about their marriage. In my experience studying presidents, the president doesn’t have a great marriage with the first lady and there’s a big political crisis, the president usually doesn’t want to spend very much time with his wife, would rather be around cronies or something.

John Kennedy’s first instinct when he knows about the Cuban Missile Crisis — it is in the book — he calls up Jackie, who is in Virginia. There’s something funny in his voice, she says. He says, “Please bring the children right now back to the White House,” even though they were taking naps.

And the next 13 days, they spent very much together, went strolling out on the lawn together. He had a very — she had a very large part in his life, obviously, but particularly at this moment he looked to her for security.

RAY SUAREZ: Two things shone out again and again, how much she admired Kennedy’s personality, his intellect, the way he related to people on the campaign trail and at times how unsure of her own value to him she really was. Take a listen to this.

JACQUELINE KENNEDY: I was always a liability to him until we got to the White House. And he never asked me to change or said anything about it. Everyone thought I was a snob from Newport who had bouffant hair and had French clothes and hated politics.

And then because I was off and having these babies, I wasn’t able to campaign, be around him as much as I could have. And he’d get so upset for me when something like that came out. And, sometimes, I would say, “Oh, Jack, I wish — I’m so sorry for you that I’m just such a dud.”

RAY SUAREZ: Sure, she was a little unsure campaigning at the beginning, but she was anything but a liability, right?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: As it turned out.

But the Kennedy operatives in 1960 thought that she would be, that people would be put off, that she would seem too effete. Some of them wished that she would be more like Pat Nixon. One once said, we will run Mrs. Kennedy through subliminally, worried about her politically.

The biggest surprise to both of them is, she becomes first lady and she’s the most enormous celebrity in the country. Everyone wants to wear their hair like Jackie, the women do, and do their houses and imitate her in other ways. And the poignant thing is that, when they went to Texas at the end of the Kennedy presidency, he had pleaded with her to go with him because she was such a political asset.

RAY SUAREZ: The interesting thing about the times is that right behind her is Bess Truman and Mamie Eisenhower.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: The model political wife of the time.

RAY SUAREZ: Waiting out just a little ways down the road are Lady Bird Johnson in her way, but also Betty Ford and Rosalynn Carter. She seems on the edge of those two worlds, a helpmeet, a supporter, but also someone who is educated, quite sophisticated in her own right, and worried very much about how the burdens of the presidency were affecting her husband when she couldn’t help him.

Listen to this.

JACQUELINE KENNEDY: And he cared so much. He didn’t care about his 100 days, but all those poor men who you would send off with all their hopes high and promises that we would back them. And there they were, shot down like dogs or going to die in jail.

And Bobby came over to see me and said, “Please stay very close to Jack. I mean, just be around all afternoon.” If I was going to take children out — in other words, don’t leave anywhere, just to sort of comfort him.

RAY SUAREZ: The Bay of Pigs had been a disaster for the very young Kennedy administration, and she was watching it weigh on her husband.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Yes, just three months in.

And he came in with very grandiose expectations, and, suddenly, three months later, he’s accused of being an incompetent, can’t get this done, the invasion of Cuba. He weeps with her in a bedroom in the weekend house they had in Virginia.

And, also, you look at Kennedy’s medical records. His doctors felt that he had gone into a depression. So she felt very much part of her job throughout this presidency was buoying him up when he needed it, and he often did.

RAY SUAREZ: Also, she was incredibly young, raising young children, and pregnant several times during that both campaign and early White House phase, but, at the same time, a woman energized by the life that she was living emerges from the texts of the Schlesinger interviews.

By 1964, when this interview was done, she seems to be pretty much at peace with her role in White House. Take a listen:

JACQUELINE KENNEDY: I always thought there was one thing merciful about the White House, which made up for the goldfish bowl and the Secret Service and all that, was that it was kind of — you were hermetically sealed or there was something protective against the outside world, I mean, as far as your private life went.

And I decided that was the best thing to do. Everyone should be trying to help Jack in whatever way they could. And that was the way I could do it the best, by making it always a climate of affection and comfort and detente when he came home.

RAY SUAREZ: Interesting that she was able to create privacy, when so many other first ladies more keenly feel that intrusion.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Yes, that’s right.

And she didn’t want to go to the White House. She got very morose when he won, oddly enough, because she thought that life would wreck her family. And she was a woman of hugely strong will. And she basically said: I’m not going to be Mamie Eisenhower, campaigning and going to all these political and other kinds of banquets. My job is to support my husband, to raise my children well.

And she also took on for herself this huge project of restoring the White House, which she rightly felt when she encountered it looked like sort of a bad convention hotel which was full of B. Altman reproductions. She had to raise the money for it, huge project, so, all of that done at the same time. This was a woman who was very young, 31 when she became first lady, but of enormous accomplishment and talent.

RAY SUAREZ: A lot of the coverage over the last week has gone to her sharp and sometimes even a little snarky observations on the…


RAY SUAREZ: Yes, the great and the good of her age. But that just shows that she was paying attention, doesn’t it?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: She was paying very close attention.

And if you looked at the oral history, if there was one, of a first lady that was more traditional, perhaps a Mamie Eisenhower, I doubt if she would have had independent opinions about a secretary of state or an ambassador, and fulfilled that role for her husband.

RAY SUAREZ: So what do we see in Jackie, a sort of hybrid?

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: I think a hybrid, and I think you’re right in saying that she was a transitional figure.

She knew that she had to function in a period where people didn’t want to see her attending Cabinet meetings, which she had no interest in doing and didn’t. But, at the same time, she knew that that generation of woman could not any longer be content to be a Mamie Eisenhower or one of the earlier first ladies, who basically poured tea.

RAY SUAREZ: Michael Beschloss, thanks for joining us.


Full Text September 15, 2011: President Barack Obama Awards Medal of Honor to US Marine Dakota Meyer



President Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Dakota Meyer

Source: WH, 9-15-11
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Dakota Meyer

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Dakota Meyer during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Sept. 15, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama today awarded the Medal of Honor to Dakota Meyer, a former active duty Marine Corps Corporal from Kentucky. Sergeant Meyer was recognized for his courageous actions at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on September 8, 2009. He is the third living recipient – and the first Marine – to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. And at 23, he is also one of the youngest recipients in decades.

The President, who first met Meyer when they shared a beer at the White House on Wednesday evening, said that, “in Sergeant Dakota Meyer, we see the best of a generation that has served through a decade of war. “

Meyer saved 36 lives during a Taliban ambush in repeated acts of bravery, tales of which the President noted, “will be told for generations:”

I want you to imagine it’s September 8, 2009, just before dawn. A patrol of Afghan forces and their American trainers is on foot, making their way up a narrow valley, heading into a village to meet with elders. And suddenly, all over the village, the lights go out. And that’s when it happens. About a mile away, Dakota, who was then a corporal, and Staff Sergeant Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, could hear the ambush over the radio. It was as if the whole valley was exploding. Taliban fighters were unleashing a firestorm from the hills, from the stone houses, even from the local school.

And soon, the patrol was pinned down, taking ferocious fire from three sides. Men were being wounded and killed, and four Americans — Dakota’s friends — were surrounded.  Four times, Dakota and Juan asked permission to go in; four times they were denied.  It was, they were told, too dangerous. But one of the teachers in his high school once said, “When you tell Dakota he can’t do something, he’s is going to do it.” And as Dakota said of his trapped teammates, “Those were my brothers, and I couldn’t just sit back and watch.”

The story of what Dakota did next will be told for generations. He told Juan they were going in. Juan jumped into a Humvee and took the wheel; Dakota climbed into the turret and manned the gun. They were defying orders, but they were doing what they thought was right. So they drove straight into a killing zone, Dakota’s upper body and head exposed to a blizzard of fire from AK-47s and machine guns, from mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

Coming upon wounded Afghan soldiers, Dakota jumped out and loaded each of the wounded into the Humvee, each time exposing himself to all that enemy fire. They turned around and drove those wounded back to safety. Those who were there called it the most intense combat they’d ever seen. Dakota and Juan would have been forgiven for not going back in.  But as Dakota says, you don’t leave anyone behind.

For a second time, they went back — back into the inferno; Juan at the wheel, swerving to avoid the explosions all around them; Dakota up in the turret — when one gun jammed, grabbing another, going through gun after gun. Again they came across wounded Afghans. Again Dakota jumped out, loaded them up and brought them back to safety.

For a third time, they went back — insurgents running right up to the Humvee, Dakota fighting them off.  Up ahead, a group of Americans, some wounded, were desperately trying to escape the bullets raining down. Juan wedged the Humvee right into the line of fire, using the vehicle as a shield. With Dakota on the guns, they helped those Americans back to safety as well.

For a fourth time, they went back. Dakota was now wounded in the arm. Their vehicle was riddled with bullets and shrapnel. Dakota later confessed, “I didn’t think I was going to die.  I knew I was.” But still they pushed on, finding the wounded, delivering them to safety.

And then, for a fifth time, they went back — into the fury of that village, under fire that seemed to come from every window, every doorway, every alley.  And when they finally got to those trapped Americans, Dakota jumped out.  And he ran toward them. Drawing all those enemy guns on himself.  Bullets kicking up the dirt all around him. He kept going until he came upon those four Americans, laying where they fell, together as one team.

Dakota and the others who had joined him knelt down, picked up their comrades and — through all those bullets, all the smoke, all the chaos — carried them out, one by one. Because, as Dakota says, “That’s what you do for a brother.”

Dakota says he’ll accept this medal in their name. So today, we remember the husband who loved the outdoors –Lieutenant Michael Johnson. The husband and father they called “Gunny J” — Gunnery Sergeant Edwin Johnson. The determined Marine who fought to get on that team — Staff Sergeant Aaron Kenefick. The medic who gave his life tending to his teammates — Hospitalman Third Class James Layton. And a soldier wounded in that battle who never recovered — Sergeant First Class Kenneth Westbrook.

Political Buzz September 15, 2011: President Barack Obama Awards Medal of Honor to US Marine Dakota Meyer


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.


The President presents the Medal of Honor
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 9/15/11


“It may be a platform for representation of the guys who are out there fighting every day. My story is one of millions, and the others aren’t often told.” — Dakota Meyer said by telephone in the morning, as he prepared to receive the nation’s highest battlefield award

  • Obama awards Medal of Honor to young US Marine: President Barack Obama on Thursday bestowed the highest U.S. military honor on Dakota Meyer, a young and humble Marine who defied orders and barreled straight into a ferocious “killing zone” in Afghanistan to save 36 lives at extraordinary risk to himself…. – AP, 9-15-11
  • Defying orders, hero Marine saved other troops: Defying orders and tempting fate, Marine corporal Dakota Meyer charged five times in a Humvee into heavy gunfire in the darkness of an Afghanistan valley to rescue comrades under attack from Taliban insurgents.
    On Thursday, Meyer was presented with the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award, by President Barack Obama.
    Meyer’s courage during the six-hour ambush and firefight saved the lives of 36 people, both Americans and Afghans. He killed at least eight Taliban insurgents. Firing from a gun turret on top of the Humvee driven by a fellow Marine, he provided cover for his team, allowing many to escape likely death.
    He was defying orders from his commanders, who told him to stay back. The kill zone, they said, was too dangerous. But the young corporal, just 21 years old at the time, knew his friends were trapped that early morning in September 2009…. – AP, 9-15-11
  • Dakota Meyer, Marine, Is Awarded Medal of Honor: President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor on Thursday to a young Marine who ignored orders to stay put and fought his way five times into an ambush in an Afghan ravine, helping to rescue three dozen comrades and to recover the remains of four dead American servicemen…. – NYT, 9-15-11
  • Dakota Meyer and nine others: what they did to receive the Medal of Honor: For going above and beyond the call of duty, Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer was awarded Thursday the Medal of Honor, the US government’s highest military decoration. Here is a look at him and nine other men who risked their lives to protect America…. – CS Monitor, 9-15-11
  • Marine’s Actions in Afghanistan Earn Medal of Honor, Become Stuff of Folklore: At a ceremony at the White House on Thursday, Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer received the Medal of Honor for rescuing U.S. and Afghan comrades caught in a Taliban ambush two years ago…. – PBS Newshour, 9-15-11
  • Marine gets Medal of Honor — and a beer with Obama: When Dakota Meyer is awarded the Medal of Honor this afternoon, it will be his second visit to the White House in as many days…. – USA Today, 9-15-11
  • Obama awards Medal of Honor to Marine: On Sept. 8, 2009, Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, then 21, defied the orders of his superiors while on duty in Afghanistan and raced into a “killing zone” to rescue 36 of his comrades…. – WaPo, 9-15-11
  • Before Medal of Honor, beer with Obama: Former Marine Dakota Meyer to be honored for saving 36 lives during Afghan ambush; Shares cold one with president on White House patio…. – CBS News, 9-14-11

Full Text September 15, 2011: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s Reponse Statement on Speaker John Boehner’s Jobs Speech




Statement from the Press Secretary on Speaker Boehner’s Speech

Source: WH, 9-15-11

Any plan to grow the economy and create jobs should be measured by whether it puts money in the pockets of middle class families, puts teachers, police officers, firefighters and construction workers back to work, and invests in our small businesses so they can grow and hire.  The President’s plan meets that test.  The American Jobs Act includes the kinds of proposals that have been supported in a bipartisan way in the past, is fully paid for, and prominent, independent economists say it could create between 1.5 and 2 million jobs.  And the President’s plan rebuilds the economy the American way, based on balance, fairness and ensuring there is the same set of rules for everyone from Wall Street to Main Street.  The President is committed to working with members of both parties in Congress to pass the American Jobs Act right away.

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