History Buzz February 17, 2012: George Washington still tops as most favorable President in Presidents’ Day Public Policy Polling survey

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Poll: George Washington still tops

This undated file photo of a 1796 Gilbert Stuart oil on canvas painting portrays George Washington, founding father and first president of the United States. | AP Photo

Eighty-nine percent of Americans say they see George Washington favorably. | AP Photo

Source: Politico, 2-17-12

George Washington still ranks as Americans’ number one president, according to a new poll out Friday.

A whopping 89 percent of Americans say they see the United States’ first president favorably, according to a Public Policy Polling survey. The nation’s most other popular presidents offer few surprises, with Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, John Adams, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, John Quincy Adams and Franklin D. Roosevelt rounding out the top ten.

Lincoln, with 85 percent favorability, just missed taking the top stop from Washington. Only two other presidents have a favorability rating over 70 percent — Jefferson at 74 percent and Kennedy at 70 percent.

Richard Nixon is by far the least popular, with 59 percent saying they have an unfavorable opinion of the scandal-ridden former commander in chief. Just 27 percent say they see Nixon positively. Ten other former presidents hit negative numbers in the poll: Lyndon B. Johnson, Warren Harding, Millard Fillmore, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Barack Obama, Chester Arthur, Martin Van Buren, James Buchanan and George W. Bush.

Obama comes in with 46 percent saying they see him favorably and 49 percent unfavorably. His predecessor, George W. Bush, gets similar support, with 45 percent positive and 46 percent negative ratings. Americans see other recent presidents in a more positive light — Ronald Reagan is the 14th most popular president, Gerald Ford the 16th and Bill Clinton ranks 17th….READ MORE

Campaign Buzz February 19, 2012: New Gallup Poll: Rick Santorum leads Mitt Romney nationwide by eight points — 36% to 28%

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

STATS & POLLS

Poll: Santorum leads Romney nationwide by eight points

Source: CNN, 2-19-12

The latest results from Gallup’s daily tracking poll indicate Rick Santorum has overtaken Mitt Romney nationwide and now leads the former Massachusetts governor by an eight-point margin.

According to the poll released Sunday, 36% of registered Republicans said they are backing Santorum, while 28% prefer Romney.

The new numbers represent a five-point drop for Romney since Wednesday, when the candidate was statistically tied with his opponent, 33% to 31%. Meanwhile, Santorum has jumped five points in the same time period.

The survey was conducted Tuesday through Saturday, more than a week after Santorum snatched a trio of victories in Missouri, Colorado and Minnesota. One day before he pulled the big upset on February 7, Santorum was in third place in the daily tracking poll with 16%….READ MORE

History Buzz February 17, 2012: American Experience’s ‘Clinton’ on PBS: That was then …

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History Buzz

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PBS’s ‘Clinton’: That was then …

Source: WaPo, 2-17-12

Clinton on PBS’s American Experience

Premiering February 20th and 21st, a biography of a president who rose from a broken childhood in Arkansas to become one of the most successful politicians in modern American history, and one of the most complex and conflicted characters to ever stride across the public stage.
clinton

As we get more into the nitty-gritty of the 21st century, the 1990s die of neglect.

The goodbye process takes about 15 years, but once you notice that a decade is gone, you really, really notice it: Whitney Houston departs the earthly realm from a Beverly Hills hotel room bathtub. Your new hire lets it casually slip that he was born in 1991. The IT guys finally haul off the last of the humpbacked Dell monitors from the Cubicles of the Doomed. Whoomp, there it is. (Or, whoomp, there it was.)

“Clinton,” a four-hour PBS “American Experience” documentary airing Monday and Tuesday, is an honest but sometimes tediously predictable exercise in the further Wikipedia-ing and storage-packing of those years.

Whether intentional or subliminal, the film conveys the obvious and completely mortal recognition of time’s inevitable passage, but not much else. There is no anniversary to note (besides this November’s being 20 years since his election) nor any round-number birthday ahead (65 came and went in August), so it’s puzzling why so much effort has been put into a film about this particular president, now.

Part of the problem is that the Clintons are still very much with us; legacies are still jelling. As Secretary of State, Hillary is engaged in the most important work of her career, while Bill prefers a superhero’s schedule, in constant transit to a crisis or a speaking engagement. We needn’t wonder where his thoughts are at — on any subject — because he keeps telling us. To the right’s everlasting horror, Clinton could show up anywhere, anytime.

And they are still baffled by his resilience, especially the fast rehab of his reputation after the House impeached him in 1998. They’ve watched in vain as he has ascended to elder statesman. They’ve watched people love him in spite of his sins. “That’s one of the things I’ve never figured out,” remarks former senator Trent Lott, the Mississippi Republican and majority whip whose career was derailed by a single, ill-chosen toast at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party.

* * *

With observations and reflections of that sort, it would be tempting to report that “Clinton” lacks fresh news, except that I consider the death of the ’90s to be fresh — even fascinating — news. For the first time, the ’90s appear to be as old as the hills, stripped of any remaining “I Love the ’90s” fizz.

“Clinton” makes the decade look bleak and practically sepia-toned. It asks us to imagine a world that was only on the verge of having a 24-hour news cycle, a more quaint society. Newsweek got nervous about publishing reporter Michael Isikoff’s explosive discovery of the Lewinsky affair, so Lucianne Goldberg sent the news to a fairly obscure Internet gossip named Matthew Drudge. You can almost hear the crackle and hiss of an AOL dial-up — and if I’d been directing this film, you would. The people who feasted on Clinton scandal, Clinton dirt, Clinton pitfalls, Clinton defeats — they were miners panning for a new gold. The hyperwired frenzy we now live with is surely as much a legacy of the Clinton era as welfare reform and “don’t ask, don’t tell.”….

History Buzz February 19, 2012: New Museums; the National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Center for Civil and Human Rights & International African American Museum to Shine a Spotlight on Civil Rights Era

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History Buzz

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New Museums to Shine a Spotlight on Civil Rights Era

Source: NYT, 2-19-12

Andrew Councill for The New York Times

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington plans to display the lunch counter from an important civil rights protest in Greensboro, N.C. More Photos »

Drive through any state in the Deep South and you will find a monument or a museum dedicated to civil rights.

Multimedia
Haraz Ghanbari/Associated Press

Engraved names on a civil rights memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala. Such monuments are common in southern states. More Photos »

Mike Segar/Reuters

The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, is now part of the National Civil Rights Museum. More Photos »

Raymond McCrea Jones for The New York Times

An artist’s initial rendering of the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, scheduled to break ground this summer and open in 2014. More Photos »

A visitor can peer into the motel room in Memphis where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was staying when he was shot or stand near the lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., where four young men began a sit-in that helped end segregation.

Other institutions are less dramatic, like the Tubman African American Museum in Macon, Ga., where Jim Crow-era toilet fixtures are on display alongside folk art.

But now, a second generation of bigger, bolder museums is about to emerge.

Atlanta; Jackson, Miss.; and Charleston, S.C., all have projects in the works. Coupled with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which breaks ground in Washington this week, they represent nearly $750 million worth of plans.

Collectively, they also signal an emerging era of scholarship and interest in the history of both civil rights and African-Americans that is to a younger generation what other major historical events were to their grandparents. “We’re at that stage where the civil rights movement is the new World War II,” said Doug Shipman, the chief executive officer for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, a $100 million project that is to break ground in Atlanta this summer and open in 2014.

“It’s a move to the next phase of telling this story,” he said.

The collection at the museum, which is to be set on two and half acres of prime downtown real estate donated by Coca-Cola, will include 10,000 documents and artifacts from Dr. King and a series of paintings based on the life of Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, by the artist Benny Andrews, who died in 2006….READ MORE

History Buzz February 19, 2012: Douglas Brinkley Review’s Jodi Kantor’s ‘The Obamas’

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History Buzz

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The First Marriage ‘The Obamas,’ by Jodi Kantor

Source: NYT, 2-17-12

The Obamas…The difference when a head of state’s spouse performs an advisory role is that both the content and its consequences resonate through a lot more than one household. And that’s the point of Jodi Kantor’s new book, “The Obamas.” Call it chick nonfiction, if you will; this book is not about politics, it’s about marriage, or at least one marriage, and a notably successful one at that. This is a couple who listen to each other, and no one believes more in America’s 44th president than his wife. Last August, at a party for his 50th birthday, Kantor writes, Mrs. Obama toasted her husband for passing the health care bill, appointing two women to the Supreme Court and killing ­Osama bin Laden. When he signaled for the accolades to be toned down, she cut him off. “No, you’re just going to stand there and listen,” she snapped. “I know it makes you uncomfortable, but you only turn 50 once, so you’re just going to have to take it.” And he did.

Kantor, a Washington correspondent for The New York Times, interviewed the Obamas for a 2009 Times Magazine profile and became intensely interested in the working relationship between ­Potus and Flotus. Recognizing that most books on the Obama White Househave largely been about policy, she sensed an opening. The result is “The Obamas,” a dimly controversial palace intrigue that attempts to explain how the first couple’s marriage works. “In public, they smiled and waved,” Kantor writes, “but how were the Obamas really reacting to the White House, and how was it affecting the rest of us?” A reportorial wunderkind, she had the gumption not only to collect colorful, hard-to-come-by insider anecdotes about the Obamas, but also to venture into the dangerous terrain of psychoanalyzing the first lady. When an amateur puts the powerful on a shrink’s couch, following the example of Freud with Woodrow Wilson, the hunches about human nature had better be spot on.

Fortunately, “The Obamas”is more Sally Bedell Smith than Kitty Kelley. Kantor interviewed 33 White House officials and aides and cabinet members, to good effect. She reconstructs a half-dozen or so strange, gossipy moments that hardly hold up as serious journalism, but provide insight nonetheless. Mostly, she illuminates, in breezy prose, how the first lady sets the tone and tempo of the current White House. Kantor’s admiring portrait of Mrs. Obama, a hug really, shows a marvelous mother, an acerbic political strategist and a strong-willed spouse….READ MORE

History Buzz February 18, 2012: Robert K. Webb, historian and University of Maryland Baltimore County professor, dies at 89

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Robert K. Webb, historian and UMBC professor, dies at 89

Source: WaPo, 2-18-12

Robert K. Webb, 89, a longtime history professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County who was one of the country’s foremost scholars of British history, died Feb. 15 at his home in Washington. He had lymphoma, his daughter Margaret Webb Pressler said.

Dr. Webb, who usually published under the name R.K. Webb, was perhaps best known as the author of “Modern England: From the 18th Century to the

Present,” which was first published in 1968 and remained a standard college textbook for more than 30 years. He wrote several other books and was also the

co-author, with Yale historian Peter Gay, of another college textbook, “Modern Europe,” first published in 1973.

(Family photo) – Robert K. Webb was perhaps best known as the author of “Modern England: From the 18th Century to the Present.”

“He was, for a long time, the pre-eminent scholar of British history in America,” John W. Jeffries, a professor of history and dean of UMBC’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, said Saturday….READ MORE

Full Text February 18, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Describes Steps to Strengthen American Manufacturing and Job Creation

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama describes a series of steps to strengthen American manufacturing and job creation here in the United States.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address

President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 2/17/12

Weekly Address: Continuing to Strengthen American Manufacturing

Source: WH, 2-18-12

President Obama describes a series of steps to strengthen American manufacturing and job creation here in the United States.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Continuing to Strengthen American Manufacturing

In this week’s address, President Obama spoke to the American people from the Boeing Plant in Everett, Washington about our efforts to strengthen American manufacturing and job creation here in the United States.  He described how we can support businesses like Boeing, which is hiring thousands of Americans across the country, through steps like removing tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas and giving them to companies that create jobs at home.  The President is committed to continue assisting businesses in selling their products around the world, and the United States is on track to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports within five years.  The President believes that by boosting American manufacturing and supporting our job creators, we can create an economy that’s built to last.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Everett, Washington
Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hello, everybody.

I’m speaking to you this week from the Boeing Plant in Everett, Washington. Boeing has been in this community for half a century.  But it’s what they’re doing here today that has folks really excited; because at this plant they’re building the plane of the future – the Dreamliner.  It’s an impressive sight.  And, to be honest, part of why I came was to see it up close.  But I also came because this is a great example of how we can bring jobs and manufacturing back to America.

You see, the last few decades haven’t been easy for manufacturing in this country.  New technology has made businesses more efficient and productive – and that’s good – but it’s also made a lot of jobs obsolete.  The result has been painful for a lot of families and communities.  Factories where people thought they’d retire have left town.  Jobs that provided a decent living have been shipped overseas.  And the hard truth is that a lot of those jobs aren’t coming back.

But that doesn’t mean we have to settle for a lesser future.  I don’t accept that idea.  In America, there’s always something we can do to create new jobs and new manufacturing and new security for the middle-class.  In America, we don’t give up, we get up.

Right now, that’s exactly what we’re doing.  Over the past 23 months, businesses have created 3.7 million new jobs.  And manufacturers are hiring for the first time since the 1990s.  It’s now getting more expensive to do business in places like China.  Meanwhile, America is more productive than ever.  And companies like Boeing are realizing that even when we can’t make things cheaper than China, we can make things better.  That’s how we’re going to compete globally.

For Boeing, business right now is booming.  Last year, orders for commercial aircraft rose by more than 50 percent.  To meet that rising demand, they’ve put thousands of folks to work all over the country.  We want to see more of this.  We need to make it as easy as we can for our companies to create more jobs in America, not overseas.  And that starts with our tax code.

No company should get a tax break for outsourcing jobs.  Instead, tax breaks should go to manufacturers who set up shop here at home.  Bigger tax breaks should go to high-tech manufacturers who create the jobs of the future.  And if you relocate your company to a struggling community, you should get help financing that new plant, that new equipment, or training for new workers.  It’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding businesses that create jobs here in America.  And Congress should send me that kind of tax reform right away.

Another thing we’re doing is to make it easier for companies like Boeing to sell their products all over the world, because more exports mean more jobs. Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years.  And we’re on track to meet that goal – ahead of schedule.

We have a big opportunity right now to build not only an economy that will help us succeed today, but an economy that will help our kids and their kids succeed tomorrow. We know what we need to do.  We need to strengthen American manufacturing. We need to invest in American-made energy and new skills for American workers.  And above all, we need to renew the values that have always made this country great:  Hard work.  Fair play.  Shared responsibility.

We can do this.  Ask the folks in Everett.  Right here, a few years ago, the first Dreamliner took off on its maiden trip. Thousands of employees came to watch.  One was an executive office administrator named Sharon O’Hara.  As Sharon saw that first plane take flight – a result of so much hard work – she got goose bumps.  In her words, she said, “We said we would do it and we did.”  That’s the story of America.  We said we would do it, and we did.  That’s the can-do spirit that makes us who we are.  We’ve seen challenging times before.  But we always emerge from them stronger.  And that’s what we’re going to do again today.  Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Full Text February 17, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech on American Manufacturing at Boeing in Everett, Washington

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on American Manufacturing

Boeing Production Facility
Everett, Washington

11:47 A.M. PST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Everett!  (Applause.)  It is great to be in Washington — not Washington, D.C., in Washington State.  (Applause.)  And it is great to be here at Boeing.  (Applause.)

I want to begin by first of all thanking Kathleen for that wonderful introduction.  We were up there talking a little bit, and she’s a pretty good representative of Boeing workers.  Kathleen told me, I have a motto:  Every day, nobody will outwork me.  And that’s a pretty good motto for Boeing, but it’s also a pretty good motto for America.  So give Kathleen a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

I’ve been told we’re standing in the biggest building in the world, so big you could fit Disneyland inside.  Your heating bills must be crazy.  (Laughter.)

I want to thank Jim McNerney and Jim Albaugh for hosting us here today.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.) Your Machinist’s leadership, Tom Buffenbarger, Rich Michalski, Tom Wroblewski and SPEEA President Tom McCarty are here.  (Applause.)  One of the finest governors in the country, Chris Gregoire is in the house.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank the mayor of Everett, Ray Stephanson for having us here today.  (Applause.)

Now, I want to thank all of you for also giving me a pretty smooth ride.  (Laughter.)  As some of you may know, Air Force One was built right here in Everett 25 years ago.  In fact, I met — one of my guys that I met during the tour worked on the plane.  (Applause.)  So I told him he did a pretty good job.  (Laughter.)  It’s flying smooth.  I get to see your handiwork in action every single day.  But as wonderful as it is to fly Air Force One — and it is wonderful — it’s hard not to be amazed by the Dreamliner.  (Applause.)  I notice this one is going to United — one of our outstanding carriers.  And I have to mention that just because I’m from Chicago, so I’ve got to — (laughter) — give a few extra props there.

But this is the first commercial airplane to be made with 50 percent composite materials.  It’s lighter, it’s faster, it’s more fuel-efficient than any airplane in its class.  And it looks cool.  (Laughter and applause.)

The Dreamliner is the plane of the future.  And by building it here, Boeing is taking advantage of a huge opportunity that exists right now to bring more jobs and manufacturing back to the United States of America.  (Applause.)

We know that the last few decades haven’t been easy for manufacturing.  New technology has made businesses more efficient and more productive, and that’s a good thing.  That’s what raises our standards of living.  It means we can get better products for less.  But that also means that companies need fewer workers to make the same amount of product as they used to.  And technology makes it easier for companies to set up shop and hire workers anywhere where there’s an internet connection.  And so the result has been this — this transition process that’s been incredibly painful for a lot of families and a lot of communities.  A lot of communities that used to rely on a lot of factory jobs, they saw those shrink.  They saw those get shipped off overseas.  Too many factories, where people thought they’d retire, left home.  Too many jobs that provided a steady, stable life, a middle-class life for people, got shipped overseas.

And look, the hard truth is, a lot of those jobs aren’t going to come back because of these increased efficiencies.  And in a global economy, some companies are always going to find it more profitable to pick up and do business in other parts of the world.  That’s just the nature of a global economy.  But that does not mean that we’ve got to just sit there and settle for a lesser future.  I don’t accept that idea.  You don’t accept that idea.  America is a place where we can always do something to create new jobs, and new opportunities, and new manufacturing, and new security for the middle class, and that’s why I’m here today.  That’s our job.  (Applause.)  That’s what we’re going to do together. (Applause.)

Now just today, we actually took an important short-term step to strengthen our economy.  Just before we got here, Congress did the right thing and voted to make sure that taxes would not go up on middle-class families at the end of this month.  (Applause.)  Congress also agreed to extend unemployment insurance for millions of Americans — maybe some of your family members — who are still out there looking for a job.  So I’m going to sign this bill right away when I get back home.  (Applause.)

You guys may remember, this middle-class tax cut is something I proposed in my jobs bill back in September.  And because you kept the pressure on Congress, because you reminded people what it means to have 40 bucks taken out of your paycheck every week, it got done.  This is a big deal.  And I want to thank members of Congress for listening to the voices of the American people.  It is amazing what happens when Congress focuses on doing the right thing instead of just playing politics.  This was a good example, and Congress should take pride in it.  (Applause.)

But the payroll tax cut is just a start.  If we want middle-class families to get ahead, we’ve got to deal with a set of economic challenges that existed even before this recession hit.

And we’ve got a choice right now:  We can either settle for a country where a few people do really well, and everybody else is struggling, or we can restore an economy where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules, from Washington to Wall Street to Main Street.  Everybody is doing their part.  (Applause.)

We’re still recovering from one of the worst economic crises in three generations — the worst in our lifetimes, for most of us.  And we’ve still got a long way to go to make sure everybody who can — everybody who wants a job can find one, and every family can regain that sense of security that was slipping away even before this recession hit.

But the tide is turning.  The tide is beginning to turn our way.  Over the last 23 months, businesses have created 3.7 million new jobs, and American manufacturers are hiring for the first time since 1990, and the American auto industry is back, and our economy is getting stronger.  And that’s why we can look towards a promising future.  (Applause.)  And Boeing is an example of that.  (Applause.)  But to keep it going, the last thing we can afford to do is to go back to the very same policies that got us into this mess in the first place.  (Applause.)  We can’t go backwards, we got to go forwards.  We can’t go back to an economy that was weakened by outsourcing and bad debt and phony financial profits.

I want us to make stuff.  I want us to sell stuff.  So, in the State of the Union, I outlined a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last, that has a strong foundation — an economy based on American manufacturing and American know-how, American-made energy, skills for American workers, and the values that made America great, the values that Kathleen talked about:  hard work and fair play and shared responsibility.  That’s what America is about.

And that blueprint starts with American manufacturing.  It starts with companies like this one.  A lot of people say, well, there are going to be fewer manufacturing jobs than there were in the past.  I already said we’re more efficient now.  What used to take a thousand people to make, you might only need a hundred now.  We understand that.  We understand that there are going to be more service jobs — that’s important.  We want to make sure that we’re promoting service industries as well.  But manufacturing has a special place in America.  When we make stuff, and we’re selling stuff, that creates jobs beyond just this plant.  It raises standards of living for everybody.

And here at Boeing, business is booming.  Booming.  Last year, orders for commercial aircraft rose by more than 50 percent.  (Applause.)  And to meet that demand, Boeing hired 13,000 workers all across America, including 5,000 right here in Everett.  (Applause.)  Now the biggest challenge is how to turn out planes fast enough.  Jay, that’s a high-class problem to have.

So this company is a great example of what American manufacturing can do in a way that nobody else in the world can do it.  And the impact of your success, as I said, goes beyond the walls of this plant.  Every Dreamliner that rolls off the assembly line here in Everett supports thousands of jobs in different industries all across the country.  Parts of the fuselage are manufactured in South Carolina and Kansas.  Wing edges, they come from Oklahoma.  Engines assembled in Ohio.  The tail fin comes from right down the road in Frederickson.  And the people in every one of these communities, some of whom — who are here today, they are benefitting from the work that you do.

All those workers, they spend money at the local store.  They go to restaurants.  So the service economy does better because you’re doing well.  And what’s happening here in Everett can happen in other industries.  It can happen not just here but it can happen in Cleveland, in Pittsburgh, in Raleigh.  We can’t bring every job back.  Anybody who says we can, they’re not telling you the truth.  But right now, it’s getting more expensive to do business in places like China.  Meanwhile, American workers have never been more productive.  And companies like Boeing are finding out that even when we can’t make things faster or cheaper than China, we can make them better.  Our quality can be higher.  And that’s what America is about.  That’s how we’re going to compete.  (Applause.)

Now, during the State of the Union, I issued a challenge to America’s business leaders.  I said, ask yourselves what you can do to bring and create jobs here in this country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.  And I’m encouraged.  We’re actually seeing a number of companies –- large and small, domestic, but even some foreign companies –- recognizing, you know what, we’re going to open new facilities and create new jobs here in America.

This is a good place to work.  This is a good place to be.  And our job as a nation is to make it easier for more of these companies to do the right thing.

That starts with our tax code.  Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.  That doesn’t make any sense.  So my message to Congress is, what are we waiting for?  Let’s get this done right now.  Let’s make some changes to the tax code.  (Applause.)

And let’s follow some simple principles.  First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, that’s your choice, but you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it.

AUDIENCE:  Nooo —

THE PRESIDENT:  That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies that are deciding to bring jobs back home — that’s who should be getting tax breaks.  (Applause.)

Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas.  My attitude is every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax.  You should not have an advantage by building a plant over there, over somebody who’s investing here and hiring American workers.  (Applause.)  And every penny of that minimum tax should go towards lowering taxes for companies like Boeing that choose to stay and hire here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

Number three, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut.  And if you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deductions you get for making your products here.

And finally, if you want to relocate in a community that’s been hard hit by factories leaving town, then you should get help financing that new plant or financing that equipment or training for new workers.

Everett, it is time to stop rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas.  Reward companies that are creating jobs right here in the United States of America.  Congress should send me these tax reforms.  I’ll sign them right away.  (Applause.)

Now, another thing we’re doing to support American jobs is making it easier for businesses like Boeing to sell their products all over the world.  Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years.  We’re on track to meet that goal.  We’re actually ahead of schedule.  So last November when I was in Indonesia, Boeing announced a deal with the help of the Export-Import Bank to sell more than 200 planes to one of the fastest-growing airlines in the world.  Boeing is one of the largest exporters in America; this was one of the biggest deals Boeing had ever done.  Over the years, it will help support thousands of American jobs, including jobs here in Everett.  So I tease Jay every time I see him — I said, I deserve a gold watch because I’m selling your stuff all the time.  (Laughter.)

I will go anywhere in the world to open up new markets for American products.  And by the way, I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules.  (Applause.)  That’s why I directed my administration to create a Trade Enforcement Unit that just has one job:  investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China, or places like Europe.

That’s why it’s so important for Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.  This Bank is led by — (applause) — this Bank is led by Fred Hochberg, who is right here.  He’s out there working with Jay all the time, selling on behalf of Boeing.  And the Export-Import Bank helps companies like this one sell its products.  It also helps thousands of small businesses.

And today, the Bank will be launching a new program to help small businesses get the financing they need to sell more products overseas.  I’m also instructing the Bank to give American companies a fair shot by matching the unfair export financing that their competitors receive from other countries.  (Applause.)

American workers — you guys, folks like Kathleen — you’re the most productive on Earth.  You can compete with anybody.  You will out-work anybody, as long as the level — as long as the playing field is level.  You can compete with any worker, anywhere, any time — in China, in Europe, it does not matter.  If we have a level playing field, America will always win because we’ve got the best workers.  (Applause.)

It’s also because we’ve always believed in the power of innovation.  Innovation requires basic research.  Look at this plane.  This plane was first designed virtually using the same technology that was developed by NASA.  Government research helped to create this plane.  We got — I was in there fooling around with those windows, where you press them and they dim on their own.  (Laughter.)  I kept on pressing the button, and — dimmed and got light — one touch with a finger.  And the display is in the cockpit.  They’re projected on the windshield so pilots don’t have to look down at their instruments; they can maintain their line of sight, even as they’re getting all these readings.

Now, some of the work — the most advanced work — was done by engineers down in Huntsville, Alabama, who used to work on the International Space Station.  Their expertise, a lot of those ideas, came out of government research.  We’ve got to support this kind of cutting-edge research.  (Applause.)  We need to maintain our innovative edge, so that jobs and industries take root right here in the United States, not someplace else.  (Applause.)

So, Everett, if we want to build an economy that lasts, that is strong, that has a strong foundation, that helps families get into the middle class and stay in the middle class, we’ve got to do everything we can to strengthen American manufacturing.  We’ve got to make sure we’re making it easier for companies like Boeing to create jobs here at home, and sell our products abroad.  We’ve got to keep on investing in American-made energy, and we’ve got to keep training American workers.  And, above all, we’ve got to renew the values that have always made this country great:  hard work, fair play, and shared responsibility.

These are not Democratic values or Republican values.  These are American values.  (Applause.)  They’ve seen us through some tough challenges, but we’ve always emerged stronger than before because of these values.  And we’re going to come out stronger than before this time as well.  And I know it because of the people who are here.

In December of 2009, the first Dreamliner took off on its maiden flight right here in Everett.  Some of you were probably out there seeing it.  It was a cold and windy day.  That didn’t stop 13,000 employees all from coming out and seeing what they had built, seeing the product of all their hard work suddenly filling the skies.

And one of these people was Sharon O’Hara.  Is Sharon here?  Where is Sharon?  There’s Sharon right there.  (Applause.)  Sharon works as an executive office administrator for the leaders of the Dreamliner team.  Now, executive assistant means basically you’re doing all the work.  (Laughter.)  Now, some of you may know that Sharon has been undergoing some treatment for cancer recently, so she’s got her own battle.  But her doctors recently told her she’s healthy enough to come back to work.  That’s worth applauding.  (Applause.)  Sharon, there are a lot of people who are happy to see you back at work.  (Applause.)

And I was hearing about this, and as Sharon tells the story about watching the first plane lift gently off the runway, just the way it was designed to do, she thought about everything that had gone into making this day possible -– all the challenges, all the setbacks; the thousands of hours of brainpower and manpower — and womanpower.  (Applause.)  And what Sharon says is — this is a quote — “I had goose bumps and tears.  We said we would do it and we did.”  That’s a pretty good motto.  (Applause.)  You said you would do it, and you did.

That’s what we do as Americans.  (Applause.)  That’s the spirit we need right now.  In this country, we don’t give up, even when times are tough.  We look out for one another.  We reach for new opportunities.  We pull each other up.  We stay focused on the horizon.  That’s who we are.  That’s who we’ve always been.  And if we work together right now, with common purpose and common effort, I have no doubt we will build an economy that lasts, and we will remind the world just why it is that the United States of America is the greatest country on Earth.  We said it, we will do it.

God bless you.  God bless the United States.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

END
12:13 P.M. PST

White House Recap February 11-17, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Presents 2013 Budget & Urges Congress Sucessfully to Pass the Payroll Tax Extension

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: February 11-17, 2012

President Obama presents his budget for the 2013 fiscal year — and explains how it will boost job creation and speed our economic recovery.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the FY 2013 Budget
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the FY 2013 Budget, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 2/13/12

West Wing Week: 2/17/12 or “Go Big!”

Source: WH, 2-17-12
This week, the President made a major announcement on preventive care, unveiled next year’s budget, pushed Congress to extend the payroll tax cut, awarded the National Medals of Arts & Humanities, met with China’s Vice President Xi, and traveled west to Wisconsin and California and the First Lady hit the road to promote her Let’s Move! Initiative.

Weekly Wrap Up: What $40 Means

Source: WH, 2-17-12

National Medals of Arts and Humanities: Extraordinary Americans who have excelled in the arts and humanities throughout their careers—from philosophers to sculptors—joined the President and First Lady at the White House on Monday for an occasion they look forward to every year: awarding the National Medals of Arts and Humanities. The honorees’ contributions, the President noted, “[H]elp guide our growth as a people. The true power of the arts and the humanities is that you speak to everyone.”

Surprise!: As White House visitors stepped into the Blue Room on Thursday during a public tour, they were greeted by unexpected guests: the First Lady and the Obama family’s canine, Bo. Reactions ranged from shock and excitement to overwhelmed—watch the meet and greet here.

From One VP to Another: After accepting an invitation from Vice President Biden, Vice President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China spent Tuesday morning at the White House to attend a series of meetings with Administration Officials including the President. His visit to Washington, D.C. also included a meeting at the Pentagon and a U.S.-China Business Roundtable at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among various other events.

Master Lock: The President headed from Washington, D.C. to Wisconsin on Wednesday to visit with Master Lock workers and talk about his plans to boost American manufacturing—something Master Lock is familiar with; the company has discovered that it can actually save money by keeping production facilities in the United States and bringing jobs back to America.

What $40 Means: In December of 2011, we asked Americans what $40 meant to them, and tens of thousands of Americans answered—$40 is a tank of gas, a co-pay for a doctor’s visit, a prescription medicine, a pizza night with their family. Their voice made a difference then and now—on Friday, lawmakers extended the payroll tax cut through the rest of 2012, in addition to extending critical unemployment benefits. You can watch this video to meet some of the tens of thousands of Americans who courageously shared what losing an extra $40 per paycheck would mean for them and their family.

787 Dreamliner: On Friday, the President visited the Boeing assembly facility in Everett, Washington to announce new steps to help promote American manufacturing and increase U.S. exports, following his outlining of a Blueprint for an Economy Built to Last. At that very facility, the 787 Dreamliner, the world’s most advanced commercial airplane, is assembled—nearly 8,000 people are directly employed in building it.

2013 Budget: On Monday, President Obama announced his budget for the 2013 fiscal year in Annandale, Virginia. This year’s budget reflects the President’s firm belief that our country has always done best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules. The budget continues our commitment to keeping that promise alive by creating an economy that’s built to last—with good jobs that pay well and security for the middle class. To read the complete budget, you can download the PDF here, or get an on-the-go copy for your Nook.

Full Text February 17, 2012: President Barack Obama’s The 2012 Economic Report of the President Preview

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

A Preview of the 2012 Economic Report of the President

Source: WH, 2-17-12

The Economic Report of the President has been prepared annually by the Council of Economic Advisers since 1947. The theme of this year’s Economic Report of the President is “To Recover, Rebalance, and Rebuild.”  In 2011, the Nation continued to recover from the Great Recession and to make progress toward building a stronger foundation for more balanced and sustainable economic growth in the future.

The problems that caused the deep recession that began at the end of 2007 and lasted until mid-2009 were a long time in the making, and will not be solved overnight. But economic progress is being made.  In 2011 the Nation continued to recover, rebalance and rebuild a stronger, more secure future.  The economy has expanded for 10 straight quarters. As a result, by the third quarter of 2011, the real gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States had surpassed its peak level at the start of the 2007–09 recession.

When President Obama took office on January 20, 2009, the U.S. economy was contracting at an alarming rate, and employment was falling by more than 700,000 jobs a month. The plunge in economic activity was even deeper than the Bureau of Economic Analysis initially reported: revised estimates show that the economy contracted at an 8.9 percent annualized rate in the last quarter of 2008, from the initial advanced estimate of 3.8 percent.  This was the largest quarterly downward revision ever reported.

Upon taking office, the Obama Administration immediately took bold steps to turn around an economy in free fall.  It worked to stem the economic and financial collapse and put people back to work through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the Recovery Act), and it shored up the banking system and stabilized the financial sector through a series of measures including stress tests for banks and rigorous requirements for banks to raise private capital and repay the government for funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and it rescued the American auto industry.

Soon after the Recovery Act was passed, the contraction of GDP slowed markedly to -0.7 percent in the second quarter of 2009 from -6.7 percent in the preceding quarter.  Economic growth turned positive in the third quarter of 2009, and the economy has grown at an annualized growth rate of 2.4 percent over the past 10 quarters.  Private sector employment has grown for 23 straight months, and employers have added a total of 3.7 million jobs in that period.

Sustaining and strengthening the ongoing recovery remains a top priority for the Obama Administration, while seeking to address the fundamental imbalances and other problems that had built up for decades and erupted with the financial and economic crisis in 2008.  Additionally, strengthening and expanding the middle class and reforming the financial sector, are at the root of the Obama Administration’s strategy to reestablish an economy that is built to last.

To read the entire Report, click HERE.

History Op-eds February 17, 2012: Jules Witcover A brokered convention?

FEATURED HISTORIANS

A brokered convention?

The winnowing process in the Republican presidential nomination race has reduced the field to four candidates — Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich— each of whom has a legitimate rationale to keep going.Mr. Romney continues to have the most money and largest field organization. Mr. Santorum has recent, if modest, primary or caucus successes to sustain him. Mr. Gingrich has his immense ego and a rabid following to drive him on. And Mr. Paul has his own goal of advancing a libertarian strain in the Republican Party quite apart from achieving the nomination, and an idealistic and undaunted youth brigade behind him.

With Mr. Romney failing to gain clear majorities of voters in the contests to date, and with no message that seems to promise a broader constituency, there’s no reason for the other candidates to fold up. The free televised debates, though temporarily in suspension, will resume soon, enabling them to remain visible to millions of voters.

Between now and the next primaries in Arizona and Michigan on Feb. 28, the super-PACs supporting Mr. Romney and Mr. Gingrich can be expected to fire a host of negative advertising at Mr. Santorum. The latest New York Times/CBS News survey has him at 30 percent support to 27 percent for Mr. Romney, 12 percent for Mr. Paul and only 10 percent for Mr. Gingrich.

The former House speaker has been fading so fast that ordinarily a candidate in his straits would be expected to drop out soon. But Mr. Gingrich has vowed to stay in the race into the convention, and a combination of more impressive debate performances and his immense self-assurance could well keep him going.

So what happens if this quartet of presidential wannabes hangs in, with none of them catching fire but each of them picking up a share of the national convention delegates as the process proceeds? With many states allocating them in proportion to the percentage of votes won in the primaries and caucuses, split decisions in many states seem entirely possible….READ MORE

Campaign Buzz February 16, 2012: Sarah Palin Willing to Run for President as GOP Nominee if Asked at a Brokered Republican Convention

CAMPAIGN 2012

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. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Sarah Palin is pictured. | AP Photo

IN FOCUS: SARAH PALIN WILLING TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT IF ASKED AT A BROKERED REPUBLICAN CONVENTION

“If one of the nominees, one of the GOPers, doesn’t get enough delegates, it could go to a brokered convention. If it does get to that, and someone said, ‘Governor, would you be interested,’ would you be interested?
For one, I think that it could get to that. … If it had to be closed up today, the whole nominating process, then we could be looking at a brokered convention. … Nobody is quite there yet, so I think that months from now, if that is the case, all bets are off as to who it will be, willing to offer up themselves up in their name in service to their country.
I would do whatever I could to help.” — Sarah Palin to Fox Business Network’s Eric Bolling in an interview

  • Guess Who Made a Surprise Visit to ‘The Five’?: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin drops in on ‘The Five’ and discusses a possible brokered convention in the GOP Presidential race…. – Fox News, 2-16-12
  • Sarah Palin won’t rule out running: Sarah Palin is keeping the door open for another political run and even offered to “help” should the Republican party fail to pick a presidential nominee by the August convention. “…If it had to be closed up today, the whole nominating … – Boston Herald, 2-16-12
  • Sarah Palin says she is “game” for another run for office: Fox News analyst Sarah Palin hinted Wednesday that it is not too late for her to get into the Republican presidential contest. Asked in an interview if she would be interested in jumping in the race if there is no clear winner by the time Republicans … – CBS News, 2-16-12
  • Analysts Say There’s Still Potential for Palin Presidency: The former VP: Former vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was hands-down the brightest star at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, bringing attendees to their feet more than any other speaker, including three GOP presidential … – Chicago Tribune, 2-16-12
  • Sarah Palin: I’d ‘help’ with brokered convention: Former Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Wednesday that a brokered Republican presidential convention was a possibility and that if it happened she “would do whatever I could to help.” “If one of the nominees, one of the GOPers…. – Politico, 2-16-12
  • Palin: GOP nominee will be picked by bosses, not voters: Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin says no ‘enthusiasm’ for Republican candidates in presidential race means primaries will likely end with a deal. Would you vote for Sarah Palin if she decided to run?… – New York Daily News, 2-16-12

Campaign Buzz February 16, 2012: Joseph Kennedy III Announces Bid for Congress — Declares “I’m Running” for Massachusett’s 4th Congress District Seat Held by Retiring Barney Frank

CAMPAIGN 2012

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. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

AP Joseph Kennedy III is formally jumping into the race for a Massachusetts congressional seat.

IN FOCUS: JOSEPH KENNEDY III DECLARES ‘I’M RUNNING’ — ANNOUNCES BID FOR MASSACHUSETT’S 4TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT SEAT

Joe Kennedy Exploratory Committee: Official site of the Joe Kennedy Exploratory Committee. Joe Kennedy is exploring a run for Congress in the Massachusetts 4th Congressional District…. – joekennedy2012.com

Joseph P. Kennedy III: I’m Running: I am running for Congress in the 4th Congressional District. Please watch my announcement video…. – YouTube, 2-16-12

Joseph Kennedy III announcing Mass. Congress bid: Joseph Kennedy III said Wednesday he’s formally jumping into the race for the congressional seat now held by retiring U.S. Rep. Barney Frank.
“I believe this country was founded on a simple idea: that every person deserves to be treated fairly, by each other and by their government, but that’s not happening in America anymore,” Kennedy, a Democrat, said ahead of an announcement scheduled for Thursday.
He said he would work hard to earn every vote and if elected would “bring that fight for fairness to the U.S. Congress.”
Kennedy, the son of former U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy II and a grandson of the late Robert F. Kennedy, recently moved from Cambridge to Brookline, part of the state’s newly redrawn 4th Congressional District…. – AP, 2-15-12

  • Joe Kennedy III declares ‘I’m running’: Joseph P. Kennedy III formally declared his candidacy for Congress this morning through a video on his Web site in which he touted his support for the common worker and his family’s rich political bloodline.
    Simply titled “I’m Running,” the 2-minute, 50-second spot gives voters in the 4th Congressional District their first official look at Kennedy’s campaign priorities: rebuilding infrastructure, a “21st century energy economy” and easing the tax burden on the middle class.
    “You can always count on me to fight for small businesses, seniors, veterans and for you, to make sure you get the constituent service you’ve come to expect,” Kennedy said.
    “My family has had the great privilege of serving Massachusetts before,” Kennedy said. “They taught me that public service is an honor, given in trust, and that trust must be earned each and every day. That’s exactly what I intend to do.”…. – Boston Herald, 2-16-12
  • Another Kennedy Kicks Off a Campaign: Joseph P. Kennedy III is seeking the seat now held by Representative Barney Frank, who is retiring…. – NYT, 2-16-12
  • Kennedy Returns to Massachusetts Politics in Congress Bid: Joseph P. Kennedy III, a grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, brought the family name back into the political spotlight today by announcing his candidacy to replace retiring US Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts…. – Bloomberg, 2-16-12
  • The Kennedy family’s politicians: A number of members of the famous family have gone on to a career in politics. Joseph Kennedy III greets onlookers at the Newton Center Green Line MBTA station in Newton, Mass. Kennedy launched his campaign for the Massachusetts congressional seat now … – WaPo, 2-16-12
  • Entitlement absent from Kennedy campaign: Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., praises Joe Kennedy III as an “engaging” guy and good campaigner who understands the issues. But, Rep. Frank insists, the Kennedy name isn’t why he should win…. – MSNBC, 2-17-12
  • Will Massachusetts elect another Kennedy?: It’s been less than three years since the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy and when Rep. Patrick Kennedy retired in 2011 it Massachusetts without a Kennedy in Congress, something that hadn’t happened for … – Boston Herald, 2-17-12
  • Kennedy name gives candidate early boost: Joe Kennedy III just had to consider running for Congress for his fundraising to kick into high gear.
    The prospect of the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and son of former Rep. Joe Kennedy II taking outgoing Rep. Barney Frank’s seat in Massachusetts’s 4th Congressional District has the political money world buzzing.
    Part of it is in the name: The 31-year-old lawyer is just what Washingtonians long for in an old-fashioned Kennedy — Harvard law degree, a Peace Corps stint, time spent fighting corruption as a prosecutor and even an attractive fiancée.
    The package of pedigree plus bona fides has attracted support from the Kennedy network, big Democratic donors and K Street — people who can’t resist a little taste of Camelot…. – Politico, 2-15-12
  • Joseph Kennedy III announcing congressional campaign today: The announcement will be followed by visits to five locations across the Fourth Congressional District. Joseph P. Kennedy III, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and the son of former US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II, will formally … – Boston Globe, 2-15-12

Full Text February 15, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Insourcing American Jobs at Master Lock

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Discusses Insourcing at Master Lock

Source: WH, 2-15-12

President Barack Obama tours Master Lock Company (February 15, 2012)

President Barack Obama tours Master Lock Company with Bob Rice, Senior Vice President for Global Supply Chain/Product Development of Master Lock, in Milwaukee, Wis., Feb. 15, 2012. The President highlighted Master Lock in his State of the Union address as an example of a company moving jobs back to the U.S. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In the State of the Union, President Obama took time to highlight Master Lock — a company that has discovered that it can actually save money by keeping production facilities in the United States and bringing jobs back to America.

Today, he traveled to Wisconsin to visit with Master Lock workers and talk about his plans to boost American manufacturing.

Master Lock’s decision to keep jobs in America is part of a growing trend. The President calls it insourcing.

And in Milwaukee, he talked about three ideas to reform corporate taxes, aimed at boosting that trend and rewarding companies that don’t move overseas.

First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you have that right, but you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it. That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home. Give them the tax break.

Second of all, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. So we’ve said, from now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay and hire here in the United States of America. Give them a bigger tax break.

Third, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, creating new products, new services, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here in America. If you want to relocate in a community like this one that’s been hard hit when factories left town, you should get help financing a new plant, financing new equipment, training new workers.

Those proposals are just part of a Blueprint for an America Built to Last. Learn more.

Or watch President Obama speak at Master Lock.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on American Manufacturing

Master Lock
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

12:50 P.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Milwaukee!  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in the great state of Wisconsin.  (Applause.)  This is the closest I’ve been to home in a while.  I was thinking about getting on the 90-94 and just driving down to my house.  (Laughter.)

Thank you, DiAndre, for that outstanding introduction — (applause) — and for sharing your story.  I can tell, though, DiAndre is a little shy.  He doesn’t necessarily like to get out in front of people.  (Laughter.)

Before I begin, I want to thank some additional special guests who are here.  Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is in the house.  (Applause.)  Your Congresswoman, Gwen Moore, is here.  (Applause.)  You heard from your local UAW representative, John Drew — (applause) — and I got a great tour from the President of UAW Local 469, Mike Bink.  (Applause.)  And, finally, I want to thank Master Lock CEO John Hepner for inviting us here today. (Applause.)

It is wonderful to be at Master Lock.  I have to say, though, it brought back some memories.  I was thinking about my gym locker in high school.  (Laughter.)  And if you go into the boys locker room in high school, sometimes it’s a little powerful — the odor in there.  (Laughter.)  So I was thinking about the fact that we weren’t washing our stuff enough.  (Laughter.)  And then I was thinking about, as I got older and I kept on using Master Locks, I became an even better customer because I couldn’t always remember my combination.  (Laughter.)  So I’d end up having to have the lock sawed off and buy a new one.  So I was giving you guys a lot of business.  (Applause.)

And now, as I was looking at some of the really industrial-size locks, I was thinking about the fact that I am a father of two girls who are soon going to be in high school, and that it might come in handy to have these super locks.  (Laughter.)  For now, I’m just counting on the fact that when they go to school there are men with guns with them.  (Laughter.)

But I’m actually here today because this company has been making the most of a huge opportunity that exists right now to bring jobs and manufacturing back to the United States of America.  (Applause.)

I talked about this during the State of the Union.  Over the last few decades, revolutions in technology have made a lot of businesses more efficient and more productive.  And that’s a great thing.  It means you generally have a better choice of products, you get better prices.  But, as some of you know, technology has also made a lot of jobs obsolete.  And it’s allowed companies to set up shop and hire workers almost anywhere in the world where there’s an Internet connection — you can produce things that previously you could only produce here in the United States.

So the result has been a pretty painful process for a lot of families and for a lot of communities, especially here in the Midwest.  Too many factories where people thought they’d retire suddenly left town.  Too many jobs that provided a decent living got shipped overseas.  And now the hard truth is, a lot of those jobs are not going to come back.  In a global economy, some companies are always going to find it more profitable to pick up and do business in some other part of the world.  That’s just a fact.

But that doesn’t mean we have to just sit by and settle for a lesser future.  That doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do to create new jobs and restore middle-class security here in America.  There is always something we can do.  (Applause.)

For starters, I’m glad to see that Congress seems to be on the way of making progress on extending the payroll tax cut so taxes don’t go up on all of you and 160 million working Americans.  (Applause.)  This tax cut means that the typical American family will see an extra $40 in every paycheck this year.  And that’s going to help speed up this recovery.  It will make a real difference in the lives of millions of people.  And as soon as Congress sends me that extension of tax cuts and unemployment insurance to my desk, I will sign it right away.  (Applause.)  You’re going to get that signed.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Love you, Mr. President!

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

But that’s only a start.  There’s a lot more we can do — a lot more we have to do — to help create jobs and bring back manufacturing middle-class security to Milwaukee and Wisconsin and the United States of America.

And we’ve got examples of success.  When I took office — a lot of UAW workers here, you guys remember this — when I took office, the American auto industry was on the verge of collapse. And there were some folks who said we should let it die.  With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen.  (Applause.) I refused to let that happen.

We said, in exchange for help, we’re going to demand responsibility.  We got workers and automakers to settle their differences.  We got the industry to restructure and retool, come up with better designs.  Today, the American auto industry is back.  And General Motors is once again the number-one automaker in the world.  (Applause.)  Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company.  Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and equipment and factories.  And all together, over the past two years, the entire industry has added nearly 160,000 jobs.  Well-paying jobs.  (Applause.)

What’s happening in Detroit can happen in other industries. What happens in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh and Milwaukee, that’s what we’ve got to be shooting for, is to create opportunities for hardworking Americans to get in there and start making stuff again and sending it all over the world — products stamped with three proud words:  Made in America.  (Applause.)

And that’s what’s happening right here at Master Lock — because of you.  Over the last few years, it’s become more expensive to do business in countries like China.  Meanwhile, American workers, we’ve become even more productive.  So when John Heppner was at the White House in January, he told me how it makes more business sense for Master Lock to bring jobs back home here to Milwaukee.  (Applause.)  And today, for the first time in 15 years, this plant is running at full capacity.  (Applause.)  And that’s an example of what happens when unions and employers work together to create good jobs.  (Applause.)  Today, you’re selling products directly to customers in China stamped with those words:  Made In America.  (Applause.)

And the good news is this is starting to happen around the country.  For the first time since 1990, American manufacturers are creating new jobs.  That’s good for the companies, but it’s also good up and down the supply chain, because if you’re making this stuff here, that means that there are producers and suppliers in and around the area who have a better chance of selling stuff here.  It means the restaurant close by suddenly has more customers.  Everybody benefits when manufacturing is going strong.

So you all have heard enough about outsourcing.  More and more companies like Master Lock are now insourcing — (applause) — deciding that if the cost of doing business here isn’t too much different than the cost of doing business in places like China, then why wouldn’t you rather do it right here in the United States of America?  (Applause.)  Why not?  Why not put some Americans to work?  (Applause.)

Companies would rather bet on the country with the best colleges and universities to train workers with new skills and produce cutting-edge research.  They’d rather place their bet on the nation with the greatest array of talent and ingenuity; the country with the greatest capacity for innovation that the world has ever known.

During the State of the Union, I issued a challenge to America’s business leaders — folks like John.  I said ask yourself what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.  (Applause.)  And since then, a number of companies — large and small, domestic, but also even some foreign companies — have said they now plan to open new facilities and create new jobs right here in America — which is still the largest market on Earth.

These include Wisconsin companies like Diamond Precision, which is a machine manufacturer that is going to be adding dozens of jobs here in Milwaukee — a company that’s growing because its customers are choosing to buy American-made products instead of supplies from China.  (Applause.)  There’s a company called Collaborative Consulting, an information technology company that wants to open a new call center here in Wausau.  And across the nation, there are well-known companies like Caterpillar that are planning to bring jobs back home.

So last month, we decided to hold a summit — that’s where John was at — a summit at the White House so we could hear from companies like these who’ve decided to insource jobs.  We wanted to learn how can we accelerate this trend.  And this last [sic] fall, for the first time, we’ll be bringing companies from around the world together with governors and mayors and other leaders to discuss the benefits of investing and creating more jobs here in the United States.

So our job as a nation is to do everything we can to make the decision to insource more attractive for more companies.  (Applause.)  That’s our top priority.  That’s our top priority.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to seize this moment of opportunity.  We can’t let it slip away.  We’ve got an opportunity to create new American jobs and American manufacturing, put that back where it needs to be.

Now, one place to start is with our tax code.  I talked about this a little bit at the State of the Union.  Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  They’re taking deductions for the expenses of moving out of the United States.  Meanwhile, companies that are doing the right thing and choosing to stay here, they get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.  That doesn’t make sense.  Everybody knows it doesn’t make sense.  Politicians of both parties have been talking about changing it for years.   So my message to Congress is:  Don’t wait.  Get it done.  Do it now.  (Applause.)  Let’s get it done.

As Congress thinks about tax reform principles, there are some basic things they can do.  First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you have that right, but you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it.  That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home.  (Applause.)  Give them the tax break.  (Applause.)

Second of all, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas.  (Applause.)  So we’ve said, from now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax.  And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay and hire here in the United States of America.  Give them a bigger tax break.  (Applause.)

Third, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut.  (Applause.)  If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, creating new products, new services, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here in America.  If you want to relocate in a community like this one that’s been hard hit when factories left town, you should get help financing a new plant, financing new equipment, training new workers.  (Applause.)

It is time to stop rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that are creating jobs right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  And this Congress should send me these tax reforms right now.  I will sign them right away.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Right now!

THE PRESIDENT:  Right now.

AUDIENCE:  Right now!  Right now!  Right now!

THE PRESIDENT:  Right now.  Right now.  (Laughter.)

Now, another thing we’re doing to support American jobs is to make it easier for businesses like Master Lock to sell their products all over the world.  Everybody knows Master Lock makes the best lock.  (Applause.)  So two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years.  With the bipartisan trade agreements I signed into law, we’re on track to meeting that goal ahead of schedule.  Pretty soon, there are going to be millions of new customers for American goods in places like Panama and Colombia and South Korea.  I want new cars on the streets of Seoul, South Korea imported from Detroit and Toledo and Milwaukee.  (Applause.)

There’s nothing wrong with them being able to sell cars here.  I just want to be able to sell cars there.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Even playing field!

THE PRESIDENT:  Even playing field is what we want.  I’m going anywhere in the world to open up new markets for American products.  And I’m not going to stand by when our competitors don’t play by the same rules.  It’s not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours just because they’re getting heavy subsidies from their government.

So I directed my administration to create a Trade Enforcement Unit, and it’s only got one job:  investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China, making sure we’ve got an even playing field — because when we’ve got an even playing field, I promise you, nobody is going to out-compete America.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the most productive workers on Earth.  We’ve got the most creative entrepreneurs on Earth.  Give us a level playing field — we will not lose.  (Applause.)

Now, part of creating that level playing field is also making sure that American workers have the skills that today’s jobs require.  And DiAndre talked about how even though he’s working, he’s still going back to school.  I know that Master Lock’s decision to create even more jobs here in Milwaukee in part is going to depend on something that John raised when we were at our meeting — it’s going to depend on finding enough workers with the right training.

I had a chance to meet one of your coworkers, Eric — where is — is Eric here?  There he is right there.  So Eric and I were talking — been a die maker for a long time.  He’s older than he looks.  (Laughter.)  Although we were comparing the gray in his beard to the gray on my head.  (Laughter.)  But he was pointing out that he’s actually been able to help make the machinery that he works on more efficient, which is making the company able to do more because it’s not lying idle when certain orders aren’t coming in.  But that’s an accumulation of experience that he’s had over a couple of decades.

Now, not everybody is going to have all that experience, but the question is, can we make sure if they haven’t already been working in this job, can they get that kind of training even before they’re hired here at Master Lock so that they can provide that same value-added across the board?  That’s what’s going to separate the companies that succeed from the companies that don’t, is how skilled and talented the workers are, and whether management is listening to the workers.  Because that’s important.  Part of what allowed Eric to be successful was somebody — his supervisor said, hey, this guy has got pretty good ideas.

So that’s why it’s so important for the company’s investing in training programs, and partnering with nearby community colleges to help design courses and curriculum, so that when workers show up they’re already ready to hit the ground running. That’s why I’ve asked Congress to join me in a national commitment to train 2 million American workers with skills that will lead directly to a job.  (Applause.)  We need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers — places that teach people the skills that businesses like Master Lock are looking for right now.  (Applause.)  Right now.

There are jobs from data management to high-tech manufacturing that right now are open.  And we’ve got a lot of folks out of work, but we’ve got to match up the folks who are out of work with the jobs.  And sometimes the businesses may not be able to afford to train that person on the job, so let’s have the community college help get the training.

At a time when so many Americans are out of work, there should not be any job openings, because every single job opening that comes up, somebody should be able to say, I want that job and I’m prepared and skilled to get it.

We’re still recovering from one of the worst economic crises in three generations.  And I’m not going to lie to you guys.  You know it — we’ve still got a long way to go before everyone who wants a good job can find it.  I’m sure that if we traveled all around here, there are a lot of folks who want work and can’t find it.  And when you’re out of work, that wears on you.  It’s not just the income.  It has to do with your sense of place and your sense of dignity, and your ability to support your family, and the pride that you take in making a good product.  That’s part of what America has always been about — is what our work means to us, the values we put behind our work.  We don’t just do it for a paycheck.

And so this has been hard on folks.  It’s been hard on our country.  And it’s going to take some time before middle-class Americans regain the sense of security that’s been slipping away way before this recession hit.  A lot of these factories were moving out before this recession hit.  There was a lot of outsourcing going on over the last 20 years.  So we’ve got a long way to go.

But here’s what I want everybody to remember.  Over the last 23 months, businesses have added nearly 3.7 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  Manufacturing is coming back.  Companies are starting to bring jobs back.  The economy is getting stronger.  The recovery is speeding up.  (Applause.)  We’re moving in the right direction.  And now we have to do everything in our power to keep our foot on the gas.  (Applause.)  And the last thing we can afford to do is go back to the same policies that got us into this mess.

Milwaukee, we are not going back to an economy that’s weakened by outsourcing and bad debt and phony financial profits. We need an economy that is built to last, that is built on American manufacturing, and American know-how, and American-made energy, and skills for American workers, and the renewal of American values of hard work and fair play and shared responsibility.  (Applause.)  That’s what we’re about.  (Applause.)  That’s what we’re about.

And let me say — let me say this.  These are not Democratic values or Republican values.  These are American values.  (Applause.)  They have seen us through the most difficult challenges — through war and depressions and civil strife.  But we’ve always come out on the other side stronger than we were before.  We don’t give up.  This country does not give up.

And we make sure that everybody is brought along.  We don’t leave people behind.  We look out for one another.  (Applause.) We reach out to one another.  We are going for new opportunities, but we pull each other up.  That’s who we are.  (Applause.)

If we work together with common purpose, if we pull together with common effort, I’ve got no doubt we will rebuild this economy so it lasts.  We’re going to create more success stories like Master Lock — and we will remind the world just why it is the United States is the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
1:18 P.M. CST

History Buzz February 15, 2012: Carla L. Peterson: Answers About Black History in 19th-Century New York, Part 1

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Answers About Black History in 19th-Century New York, Part 1

Taking Questions

Source: NYT, 2-15-12
Carla L. Peterson, the author of "Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City."

The author of “Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City,” answers readers’ questions.

Here are the first set of answers to readers’ questions about black life in 19th-century New York City from Carla L. Peterson. Dr. Peterson is an English professor at the University of Maryland and the author of “Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City.” a book now out in paperback from Yale University Press.

Ask a Question »

Q.

What educational opportunities were available to children of the black members of the 19th-century middle class? Did members of this group work to secure education opportunities for blacks who were not of the same socioeconomic standing?—Sketco, Cleveland, OH

Q.

The article mentions black doctors and pharmacists in New York in the 1800s. Where did they receive their educations? Were there any schools open to them or did they simply work in hospitals and watch what others were doing?—Ed Schwab, Alexandria, VA

A.

In the 1790s the New York Manumission Society established several schools for black children. Its members maintained that education was a necessary component of freedom (despite the fact that several of them were themselves slave owners). These schools were known as African Free Schools, the most famous of which was African Free School No. 2 located on Mulberry Street. This was the school that my great-great-grandfather attended along with several boys who later became prominent leaders of the city’s black community and also worked nationally with men like Frederick Douglass. Until the 1830s, when the city took over their management, these schools offered as good an education as that of other charity schools of the time, probably even better.

Throughout this period, however, New York’s black leaders refused to stay on the sidelines when it came to educating their young. Since poor school attendance was a real problem (how can you send your kids to school in the winter when they have no shoes or overcoats?), black leaders visited homes to see how they could help out. They also established an educational society that set up its own schools, but few of them lasted due to lack of funds.

Getting a higher education was equally difficult. James McCune Smith was denied entrance to U.S. medical schools, so he went to the University of Glasgow medical school (graduating first in his class!). My great-grandfather Philip Augustus White attended the College of Pharmacy of the City of New York, graduating in 1844, even though professional certification in pharmacy was not required at the time. In the 1850s, Peter Williams Ray gained admission to an American medical school, Castleton medical college in Vermont. But when he tried to become a member of the Kings County Medical Society, he was rejected, the argument being that “by science that this was a white man’s Society. … Therefore a colored man could not be admitted.” Yet these black men surmounted the odds and went on to establish successful pharmacy and medical practices….READ MORE

Full Text February 14, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech with Vice President Xi of the People’s Republic of China Before Bilateral Meeting

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by President Obama and Vice President Xi of the People’s Republic of China Before Bilateral Meeting

Watch the Video

Oval Office

11:29 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I want to welcome Vice President Xi to the Oval Office and welcome him to the United States.  This is obviously a great opportunity for us to build on the U.S.-China relationship, but also an opportunity to return the extraordinary hospitality that Vice President Xi showed Vice President Biden during his recent visit to China.

As I indicated during my recent visit to APEC and the East Asia Summit, the United States is a Pacific nation.  And we are very interested and very focused on continuing to strengthen our relationships, to enhance our trade and our commerce, and make sure that we are a strong and effective partner with the Asia Pacific region.  And obviously, in order to do that, it is absolutely vital that we have a strong relationship with China.

Over the last three years I’ve had a great opportunity to develop a strong working relationship with President Hu.  And we have continually tried to move forward on the basis of recognizing that a cooperative relationship based on mutual interest and mutual respect is not only in the interests of the United States and China, but is also in the interest of the region and in the interest of the United States — in the interest of the world.

On the basis of that understanding, we have established very extensive strategic and economic dialogues between our two countries.  We have been able to pursue a significant consultation on opportunities for both countries to improve their economic relationship and their strategic relationship, and also manage areas of tension in a way that is constructive.

That includes working together in the G20 to manage the world economic crisis that had such an impact not only on both our countries, but on the entire world.  And because of U.S.-China cooperation, I think that we were able to help stabilize the situation at a very difficult time.  It also includes the work that we’ve been able to do together in dealing with regional hotspot issues, like the Korean Peninsula, and issues like Iran that obviously have an impact on everybody.

Throughout this process I have always emphasized that we welcome China’s peaceful rise, that we believe that a strong and prosperous China is one that can help to bring stability at prosperity to the region and to the world.  And we expect to be able to continue on the cooperative track that we’ve tried to establish over the last three years.

We have tried to emphasize that because of China’s extraordinary development over the last two decades, that with expanding power and prosperity also comes increased responsibilities.  And so we want to work with China to make sure that everybody is working by the same rules of the road when it comes to the world economic system, and that includes ensuring that there is a balanced trade flow between not only the United States and China, but around world.

It also means that on critical issues like human rights, we will continue to emphasize what we believe is the importance of recognizing the aspirations and rights of all people.  And we expect that China will continue to take a growing role in world affairs.  And we believe that it is critically important that the United States and China develop a strong working relationship to help to bring stability, order, and security that ultimately provides a better life for both the people of the United States and the people of China.

So, Mr. Vice President, I hope you have a wonderful visit while you’re here.  I’m sure the American people welcome you.  I’m glad that you’re going to get an opportunity to get out of Washington.  I know you’ll be visiting Iowa, where you visited many years ago when you were governor.  And I understand you’re also going to be going to Los Angeles and maybe even taking in a Lakers game.  So I hope you enjoy that very much.

But I want to extend my deepest welcome to you, and look forward to a future of improved dialogue and increased cooperation in the years to come.

VICE PRESIDENT XI:  (As interpreted.)  Honorable President Obama, it’s my great pleasure to meet you again.  First of all, I’d like to convey the sincere greetings from President Hu Jintao, the National People’s Congress Chairman Wu Banguo, and Premier Wen Jaibao.

I am paying an official visit to the United States at the kind invitation of Vice President Biden.  And we have received the warm and extraordinary hospitality from our hosts.  So here, I want to thank you for your personal attention and what you did to help prepare and make sure a successful visit for myself.

The main purpose of my visit is to implement the important agreement you had reached with President Hu Jintao and to do some work to move forward the China-U.S. relationship along in the right direction, set by you and President Hu — that is for our two countries to work together to build a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interests.  And I hope to engage with a broad cross-section of American society during my current visit, so as to deepen mutual understanding, expand consensus, strengthen cooperation, and deepen the friendship between the Chinese and American people.

Yesterday evening, soon after my arrival in Washington, D.C., I met with a very distinguished group of veteran U.S. political leaders.  I sought their advice on the future development of our relationship, and their wise and practical suggestions have provided me with much food for thought.

Just now I’ve had a set of large and small talks with Vice President Biden.  He and I had an extensive, candid, and in-depth exchange of views on the bilateral relationship and international and regional issues of shared interest.  Building on our discussions last August in Beijing and Chengdu, the Vice President and I reached some new consensus.

I look forward to my in-depth discussion with you, President Obama, in our meeting today.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you, everybody.

END
11:41 A.M. EST

Full Text February 14, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Urging Congress to Extend the Payroll Tax Cut & Unemployment Insurance

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on Extending the Payroll Tax Cut

Watch the Video

South Court Auditorium

10:55 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Well, good morning.  And let me start with a quick public service announcement for all the gentlemen out there:  Today is Valentine’s Day.  (Laughter.)  Do not forget.  I speak from experience here.  (Laughter.)  It is important that you remember this.  And go big — that’s my advice.  (Laughter.)

Lately, I’ve been saying that this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class in America, and for folks who want to be in the middle class.  We face a choice.  We can settle for a country where a few people do really, really well and everybody else struggles just to get by.  Or we can restore an economy where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  And that second option is, I strongly believe, the kind of America that we want for our kids and our grandkids.  That’s who we are. That’s the America that we believe in.  That’s what we have to roll up our sleeves and get back to doing, is creating an America where everybody is doing their fair share, everybody gets a fair shot, everybody is engaging in fair play.

We’re still fighting our way back from the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes, and we’ve still got a lot of work to do and a long way to go.  It’s going to take time to recover all the jobs that were lost when the recession was at its depth.  But the fight is beginning to turn our way.

Over the past two years, our businesses have added over 3.7 million new jobs.  Our manufacturers are hiring more new workers to make more new things here in America than at any time since the 1990s.  So our economy is growing stronger.  And the last thing we need, the last thing we can afford to do, is to go back to the same policies that got us in this mess in the first place.  The last thing we need is for Washington to stand in the way of America’s comeback.

First and foremost, that means Washington shouldn’t hike taxes on working Americans right now.  That’s the wrong thing to do.  But that’s exactly what’s going to happen at the end of this month — in a couple of weeks — if Congress doesn’t do something about it.  The payroll tax cut we put in place last year will expire.  The typical American family will shell out nearly a thousand dollars more in taxes this year.  You’ll lose about $40 out of every paycheck if Congress does not act.

And that can’t happen.  Not now.  And it doesn’t have to.  Congress needs to extend that tax cut — along with vital insurance lifelines for folks who’ve lost their jobs during this recession — and they need to do it now, without drama and without delay.  No ideological sideshows to gum up the works.  No self-inflicted wounds.  Just pass this middle-class tax cut.  Pass the extension of unemployment insurance.  Do it before it’s too late.  And I will sign it right away.  (Applause.)

Now, the good news is over the last couple of days, we’ve seen some hopeful signs in Congress that they realize that they’ve got to get this done and you’re starting to hear voices talk about how can we go ahead and make this happen in a timely way on behalf of the American people.  That is good news.  But as you guys know, you can’t take anything for granted here in Washington until my signature is actually on it.

So we’ve got to keep on making sure that the American people’s voices keep breaking through until this is absolutely, finally, completely done.  Until you see me sign this thing, you’ve got to keep on speaking up.  Until you see that photograph of me signing it at my desk — (laughter) — make sure it’s verified, certified.  If it’s not on the White House website, it hasn’t happened.  And I’m going to need to make sure that your voices are heard.

Last December, when we had this same fight, your voices made all the difference.  We asked folks to tell what it was like — what it would be like if they lost $40 out of every one of their paychecks — because we wanted to make sure that people understood this is not just an abstract argument, this is concrete.  This makes a difference in the lives of folks all across the country in very important ways.

Tens of thousands of working Americans flooded us with their stories, and some of them are here with me today.  And their feedback has been pretty unanimous.  Allowing this tax cut to expire would make people’s lives harder right now.  It would make their choices more difficult.  It would be $40 less for groceries to feed your kids; it would be $40 less for the medications you depend on; $40 less to cover bills and the rent; $40 less to take care of an elder parent, or to donate to a church or a charity.  And when gas prices are on the rise again — because as the economy strengthens, global demand for oil increases — and if we start seeing significant increases in gas prices, losing that $40 could not come at a worse time.

One local entrepreneur named Thierry — where’s Thierry?  He’s right here.  He told us that $40 would cover the gas that gets him to his day job, or, alternatively, the Internet service his small business depends on.  So he’d have to start making a choice — do I fill up my gas tank to get to my work, or do I give up my entrepreneurial dream.  “Forty dollars,” he wrote, “means a heck of a lot.”  Means a heck of a lot.

And that’s what this debate is all about.  This is what’s at stake for millions of Americans.  This is why it matters to people — it matters a heck of a lot.  And I’m asking the American people to keep their stories coming.  Tell us what $40 means to you.  If you tweet it, use the hashtag “40dollars.” (Laughter.)  Call, tweet, write your congressmen, write your senators.  Tell them, do not let up until this thing gets done.  Don’t let taxes go up on 160 million working Americans.  Don’t let millions of Americans who are out there looking for work right now, and the economy is starting to improve but they don’t have a job yet — don’t leave them without a lifeline in terms of cutting off their unemployment insurance.

When a plane is finally lifting off the ground, you don’t ease up on the throttle.  You keep the throttle on full.  You keep going.  And our plane is up there, but we’re not at cruising altitude yet.  (Laughter.)

After all, extending this tax cut and the unemployment insurance is the least of what we should be doing for working Americans.  It’s just a start.  We need to rebuild an economy where middle-class folks can focus on more than just getting by and folks who want to get in the middle class have those ladders to get into the middle class.  We’ve got to rebuild an economy where the middle class thrives and more Americans have a chance to earn their way into it — an economy built to last.

Yesterday, I released a blueprint for how we get there.  It’s a blueprint for an economy built on new American manufacturing, and new American energy sources, and new skills and education for American workers, and a new focus on the values that are the bedrock of this country — values like fairness and responsibility for all and from all.  We’re going to be better off if we start building that economy right now.

And we can do it, because we’ve done it before.  We have a common challenge; it’s time for us to meet it with a common purpose, and to show a sense of seriousness that’s equal to the task.

So on behalf of all the hardworking Americans who are standing behind me, I want to thank you for helping to tell your story, and tell the story of why this is so important.  And I just want everybody, all across the country, to keep the pressure so that we get this done.  It is going to make our economy stronger, and it’s going to put us in a position where we can start really rebuilding on behalf of not just this generation but future generations.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
11:03 A.M. EST

History Q & A February 14, 2012: Why do we Celebrate Valentine’s Day? The Roman Origins & Christian History of Valentine’s Day

HISTORY Q&A:

 

Valentine’s Day: Why Do We Celebrate It? (Hint: Naked Romans)

Source: National Geographic, 2-13-12

An illustration of the Roman Lupercalia festival.

Ancient Roman priests are depicted striking women in a Lupercalia fertility rite.

Illustration by Labrouste Del., Mary Evans Picture Library/Alamy

John Roach for National Geographic News

Where did Valentine’s Day come from? (Think naked Romans, paganism, and whips.) What does it cost? And why do we fall for it, year after year?

Valentine’s Day History: Roman Roots

More than a Hallmark holiday, Valentine’s Day, like Halloween, is rooted in pagan partying. (See “Halloween Facts: Costumes, History, Urban Legends, More.”)

The lovers’ holiday traces its roots to raucous annual Roman festivals where men stripped naked, grabbed goat- or dog-skin whips, and spanked young maidens in hopes of increasing their fertility, said classics professor Noel Lenski of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The annual pagan celebration, called Lupercalia, was held every year on February 15 and remained wildly popular well into the fifth century A.D.—at least 150 years after Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Lupercalia was “clearly a very popular thing, even in an environment where the [ancient] Christians are trying to close it down,” Lenski said. “So there’s reason to think that the Christians might instead have said, OK, we’ll just call this a Christian festival.”

The church pegged the festival to the legend of St. Valentine.

According to the story, in the third century A.D., Roman Emperor Claudius II, seeking to bolster his army, forbade young men to marry. Valentine, it is said, flouted the ban, performing marriages in secret.

For his defiance, Valentine was executed in A.D. 270—on February 14, the story goes.

While it’s not known whether the legend is true, Lenski said, “it may be a convenient explanation for a Christian version of what happened at Lupercalia.”

(Valentine’s Day Pictures: Animal Pairs.)

Valentine’s Day Cards

The first Valentine’s Day card was sent in 1415 from France’s Duke of Orléans to his wife when he was a prisoner in the Tower of London following the Battle of Agincourt, according to the association.

During the Revolutionary War, Valentine’s Day cards—mostly handwritten notes—gained popularity in the U.S. Mass production started in the early 1900s.

Valentine’s Day Candy:

Fifteenth-century Aztec emperor Moctezuma I believed “eating chocolate on a regular basis made him more virile and better able to serve his harem.”

The Origin of Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day

The origin of Valentine’s Day is mysterious. Valentine’s Day comes from a figure in Christian history but the exact identity of St. Valentine is difficult to prove. Tradition holds Valentine was a priest in Rome, who aided and sheltered Christians in persecution under Claudius II. In addition, he married Christian couples under the newly found faith of Christianity. Valentine was caught, and sent to Rome to renounce his faith. Valentine was be beaten with clubs and was be beheaded. He was executed on February 14, sometime around year 270.

One tradition holds that Valentine himself sent the first “Valentine” card:

While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.

Several “Valentine” names are mentioned in history with a connection to St. Valentine: One is described as a priest at Rome, another as bishop of Interamna (modern day Terni, Italy), or  martyred priest in Africa. Two of these two individuals seem to have suffered in the latter half of the third century and were buried on the Flaminian Way outside Rome, but at different distances from the city.

Valentine's Day

To confuse the understanding of Valentine’s Day and St. Valentine, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day around 498 A.D.  Many Christian historians believe that Pope Galasius did this to Christianize the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, which was a bloody and strange observance.

All of this uncertainty might lead one to believe that St. Valentine was just a made up saint. A figure of the imagination of Christians looking for a story. A myth. Such inconsistencies cause doubt and leave a rather murky past for this holiday. But, one piece of evidence may prove that St. Valentine was an actual historical figure.  A catacomb was discovered from the third century that was dedicated to Valentine.

Regardless if there was one or two individuals named Valentine, it is clear that ancient Christians believed in Valentine as an actual historical figure that they dedicated a tomb to in his honor.  His story inspired early Christians to continue their faith under persecution. It wasn’t until famous writers, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, who made it popular to send love notes to lovers on Valentine’s Feast Day.

History Buzz February 14, 2012: Molly Michelmore: New Book by Washington & Lee Historian Examines Tax and Spend Politics

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

 

New Volume by W&L Historian Examines Tax and Spend Politics

Molly Michelmore, assistant professor of history, Washington and Lee UniversityMolly Michelmore

Molly Michelmore, assistant professor of history at Washington and Lee University, hopes that her new book Tax and Spend: The Welfare State, Tax Politics, and the Limits of American Liberalism (University of Pennsylvania Press, February 2012) will not only help readers to think more clearly about taxes and government spending but also to re-think their ideas about what exactly constitutes welfare.

Michelmore traces the development of taxing and spending policy, two areas not usually examined together, from the New Deal of the 1930s through the Reagan revolution of the 1980s, providing a new interpretation of post-New Deal American liberalism in the process.

According to one review, “This most important book has the potential to transform how we think about the historical origins of the current crisis in the welfare state.” Another review declared that the book “shows why many Americans have come to hate government but continue to demand the security it provides.”

“Nobody ever talked about how taxes pay for the welfare state,” said Michelmore, “but it seemed that taxing policy and spending policy should be examined together. It’s impossible to talk about any kind of American political debate without thinking about how you’re going to pay for the things that people want.”

Drawing archival evidence from Congress, the White House, federal agencies and grassroots organizations, Michelmore shows how Democrats –even at the height of their power in the mid-20th century—adopted a political program that essentially hid government benefits from the people receiving those benefits.

“One of the things I point out in my book is that there has been a timidity on the part of liberals, including Roosevelt, the New Dealers, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy, to really embrace the idea that the state can be good,” said Michelmore. “Instead, they have done their best to obscure what it is that they’ve achieved. As a result, few Americans realize that, if you look beyond Cover of Tax and Spend, W&L History Professor Molly Michelmore's bookthe obvious programs that we call welfare, the middle class is quite dependent on federal assistance. It’s not simply the poor.

“But we have this erroneous idea as a nation that welfare is an illegitimate give-away program that taxes hard-working people in order to give money to irresponsible people who don’t want to work, can’t take care of themselves and make bad choices.”…READ MORE

Full Text February 13, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech as He Awards the 2011 National Medals of Arts and Humanities at the White House

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Awards the 2011 National Medals of Arts and Humanities at the White House

Source: WH, 2-13-12

President Barack Obama awards Robert Darnton a 2011 National Humanities Medal
President Barack Obama awards Robert Darnton, author and librarian, the National Humanities Medal for his determination to make knowledge accessible to everyone. President Obama awarded the 2011 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 13, 2012. 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The 2011 honorees of the National Medals of Arts and Humanities were at the White House today for an event that President Obama said he and First Lady Michelle Obama look forward to every single year. “It’s a moment when America has a chance to pay tribute to extraordinary men and women who have excelled in the arts and the humanities, and who, along the way, have left an indelible mark on American culture,” the President said before the ceremony in the East Room.

Today’s honorees represented the full spectrum of the arts and humanities, and included actors, poets, authors, singers, philosophers, sculptors, curators, musicians, historians and even an economist. President Obama praised the group for their contributions to the arts, and to American society:

You create new possibilities for all of us. And that’s a special trait.  And it assigns you a special task.  Because in moments of calm, as in moments of crisis; in times of triumph, as in times of tragedy:  you help guide our growth as a people.  The true power of the arts and the humanities is that you speak to everyone.  There is not one of us here who hasn’t had their beliefs challenged by a writer’s eloquence; or their knowledge deepened by a historian’s insights; or their sagging spirits lifted by a singer’s voice.  Those are some of the most endearing and memorable moments in our lives.

Equal to the impact you have on each of us every day as individuals is the impact you have on us as a society.  And we are told we’re divided as a people, and then suddenly the arts have this power to bring us together and speak to our common condition.

Mel Tillis shows off his 2011 National Medal of Arts
Performer Mel Tillis shows off his 2011 National Medal of Arts after being presented the award by President Barack Obama during a 2011 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 13, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

The full list of recipients is below:

2011 National Medal of Arts

  • Will Barnet
  • Rita Dove
  • Al Pacino
  • Emily Rauh Pulitzer
  • Martin Puryear
  • Mel Tillis
  • United Service Organization
  • André Watts

2011 National Humanities Medal

  • Kwame Anthony Appiah
  • John Ashbery
  • Robert Darnton
  • Andrew Delbanco
  • National History Day
  • Charles Rosen
  • Teofilo Ruiz
  • Ramón Saldívar
  • Amartya Sen

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at the 2011 National Medals of Arts and Humanities Ceremony

East Room

1:52 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  Hello, everybody.  (Applause.)   Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Thank you, everybody.  Please, please have a seat.  Thank you.

Thank you so much for joining us in this celebration of the arts and the humanities.  Two outstanding public servants and ambassadors for the arts are here:  Rocco Landesman.  Where’s Rocco?  There he is, right here — Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts.  And Jim Leach.  Where’s Jim?  Good to see you, Jim — the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

We also have two good friends and co-chairs of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities who are here:  Margo Lions and George Stevens.  And I also want to acknowledge one of our honorees who, unfortunately, could not make it.  Ever the artist, André Watts had a concert to give in Salt Lake City.  (Laughter.)  So give him a big round of applause in his absence.  (Applause.)

Michelle and I love this event.  This is something we look forward to every single year, because it’s a moment when America has a chance to pay tribute to extraordinary men and women who have excelled in the arts and the humanities, and who, along the way, have left an indelible mark on American culture.  That’s all the honorees we see here today.  We honor your talents, we honor your careers, and your remarkable contributions to this country that we love.

Throughout our history, America has advanced not only because of the will of our citizens, not only because of the vision of our leaders or the might of our military.  America has also advanced because of paintings and poems, stories and songs; the dramas and the dances that provide us comfort and instilled in us confidence; inspired in us a sense of mutual understanding, and a calling to always strive for a more perfect union.

Emily Dickinson wrote, “I dwell in possibility.”  “I dwell in possibility.”  And so does the American spirit.  That’s who we are as a people.  And that’s who our honorees are.  Each of you have traveled a unique path to get here.  And your fields represent the full spectrum of the arts and humanities.  With us are actors and poets, authors, singers, philosophers, sculptors, curators, musicians, and historians.  We even have an economist, which we don’t always get on stage.  (Laughter.)

But what connects every one of you is that you dwell in possibilities.  You create new possibilities for all of us.
And that’s a special trait.  And it assigns you a special task.  Because in moments of calm, as in moments of crisis; in times of triumph, as in times of tragedy:  you help guide our growth as a people.  The true power of the arts and the humanities is that you speak to everyone.  There is not one of us here who hasn’t had their beliefs challenged by a writer’s eloquence; or their knowledge deepened by a historian’s insights; or their sagging spirits lifted by a singer’s voice.  Those are some of the most endearing and memorable moments in our lives.

Equal to the impact you have on each of us every day as individuals is the impact you have on us as a society.  And we are told we’re divided as a people, and then suddenly the arts have this power to bring us together and speak to our common condition.

Recently, I’ve been reminded of Walt Whitman’s famous poem “I Hear America Singing.”  And it’s a poem that with simple eloquence spotlights our diversity and our spirit of rugged individualism — the messy, energized, dynamic sense of what it is to be an American.  And Whitman lifts up the voices of mechanics and carpenters; masons and boatmen; shoemakers, wood-cutters; the mother and the young wife at work, “each singing what belongs to him or her, and to none else.”

And it’s true that we all have songs in our souls that are only ours.  We all have a unique part in the story of America.  But that story is bigger than any one of us.  And it endures because we are all heirs to a fundamental truth:  that out of many, are one — this incredible multitude.
I hear America singing today.  I hear America singing through the artists and the writers that we honor this afternoon; the men and women who are following in the footsteps of Whitman and Hemingway, and Souza and Armstrong, and Eakins and Rockwell. But I also hear America singing through the artists and writers who will be sitting here a few decades from now with another President; the students in Denver who recently wrote a play about teenage homelessness; or the kids in Grand Rapids who designed a mural to bring joy to a struggling community.  They’re singing what Whitman called “strong melodious songs.”

And somewhere in America, the next great writer is wrestling with the first draft of an English paper.  (Laughter.)  Somewhere the next great actor is mustering up the courage to try out for that school play.  Somewhere the next great artist is doodling on their homework.  Somewhere the next great thinker is asking their teacher, “why not?”  They’re out there right now dwelling in possibility.

So as we honor the icons of today, we also have to champion the icons of tomorrow.  They need our support; we need them to succeed.  We need them to succeed as much as we need engineers and scientists.  We also need artists and scholars.  We need them to take the mantle from you; to do their part to disrupt our views and to challenge our presumptions, and most of all to stir in us a need to be our better selves.

The arts and the humanities do not just reflect America.  They shape America.  And as long as I am President, I look forward to making sure they are a priority for this country.  (Applause.)

It is now my distinct privilege to present these medals to the award winners who we have here today.  And as the citations are read, I’m sure you’ve gotten extensive instructions from our military aides.  (Laughter.)

MILITARY AIDE:  The National Medal of Arts recipients:

Will Barnet.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Medal of Arts to Will Barnet for his contributions as an American painter, printmaker, and teacher.  Widely celebrated for a lifelong exploration of abstraction, expressionism, and geometry that marry sophistication and emotion with beauty and form, Mr. Barnet has been a constant force in the visual arts world.  (Applause.)

Rita Dove.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Medal of Arts to Rita Dove for her contributions to American letters and her service as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1993 to 1995. Through works that blend beauty, lyricism, critique, and politics, Ms. Dove has illuminated American poetry and literature, and cultivated popular interest in the arts.  (Applause.)

Al Pacino.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Medal of Arts to Al Pacino for his iconic contributions to American film and theater as actor and director.  Recognized around the world for his signature intensity of the silver screen, Mr. Pacino stands among America’s most accomplished artists.  (Applause.)

Emily Rauh Pulitzer.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Medal of Arts to Emily Rauh Pulitzer for her contributions as a curator, art collector, and philanthropist.  The founder of the Pulitzer Prize for the Arts, Mrs. Pulitzer has broadened the impact of the arts in our national life by bringing great works into the public sphere.  (Applause.)

Martin Puryear.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Medal of Arts to Martin Puryear for his reflections on history, culture and identity through sculpture.  Mr. Puryear’s mastery of wood, stone and metal, and his commitment to manual skill offer a stirring counterpoint to an increasingly digital world.  (Applause.)

Mel Tillis.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Medal of Arts to Mel Tillis for his contributions to country music.  With over 1,000 songs and more than 60 albums to his name, Mr. Tillis’s unique blend of warmth and humor distinguishes him as one of the most inventive singer-songwriters of his generation.  (Applause.)

Accepting on behalf of the USO, United Service Organizations, Sloan Gibson.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Medal of Arts to United Service Organizations for lifting the spirits of service members and their families through the arts.  The USO continues to support members of our armed forces by bringing iconic American artists to share the sights and sounds of home with troops stationed around the world.  (Applause.)

The National Humanities Medal recipients:

Kwame Anthony Appiah.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to Kwame Anthony Appiah for his contributions to philosophy and the pursuit of truth in the contemporary world.  Dr. Appiah’s writing within and beyond his academic discipline sheds light on the idea of the individual in an era of globalization and evolving group identities.  (Applause.)

John Ashbery.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to John Ashbery for his contributions to American letters. One of the New York School of Poets, his work has profoundly influenced generation of writers and garnered awards spanning the Pulitzer Prize to the Grand Prix de Biennales Internationales de Poésie.  (Applause.)

Robert Darnton.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to Robert Darnton for his commitment to making knowledge accessible to everyone.  An eminent cultural historian and librarian, Dr. Darnton has illuminated the world of Enlightenment and Revolutionary France, and has pursued his vision for a national library of digitized books.  (Applause.)

Andrew Delbanco.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to Andrew Delbanco for his insight into the American character, past and present.  In writing that spans the literature of Melville and Emerson to contemporary issues in higher education, he has continually informed our understanding of what is means to live in America.  (Applause.)

Accepting on behalf of National History Day, Cathy Gorn.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to National History Day for sparking passion for history in students across our country.  Every year National History Day inspires more than half a million young Americans to write, perform, research, and document the human story.  (Applause.)

Charles Rosen.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to Charles Rosen for his contributions as a pianist and a scholar.  Demonstrating a rare ability to join artistry to the history of culture and ideas, his writings on Classical composers and the Romantic tradition highlight how music evolves and remains a vibrant, living art.  (Applause.)

Teofilo F. Ruiz.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to Teofilo F. Ruiz for his outstanding scholarship in history.  An accomplished teacher and author, Dr. Ruiz has captivated students and scholars by deepening our knowledge of medieval Spain and Europe, and exploring the role terror has played in society for centuries.  (Applause.)

Ramón Saldívar.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to Ramón Saldívar for his bold exploration of identity along the border separating the United States and Mexico.  In his studies of Chicano literature and the development of the novel in Europe and America, Dr. Saldívar highlights the cultural and literary markings that divide and unite us.  (Applause.)

Amartya Sen.  (Applause.)  The 2011 National Humanities Medal to Amartya Sen for his insights into the causes of poverty, famine, and injustice.  By applying philosophical thinking to questions of policy, he has changed how standards of living are measured and increased our understanding of how to fight hunger. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Let’s give a big hand to our award winners today.  (Applause.)

Well, we are just blessed to have this incredible array of talent and inspiration with us here today.  We are so glad we had the opportunity to make this small gesture of appreciation and thanks to all that you have contributed to us.

Each and every day you continue to inform who we are as a people, and we could not be prouder of everything that you’ve done, and we know you’ve got a lot more to do, so keep at it.

In the meantime, for everybody who is gathered here today, we have a wonderful reception.  So please enjoy.  The food is usually pretty good around here.  (Laughter.)  The music is even better.  I think the Marine Band will probably be out there playing a few tunes.  And again, we are very thankful to all the honorees here today for everything that you’ve done for our country.  Congratulations.  (Applause.)

END
2:16 P.M. EST

Full Text February 13, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Unveils 2013 Budget a Blueprint for an America Built to Last — Transcript

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the FY 2013 Budget (February 13, 2012)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks to students on the FY 2013 Budget at the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), Annandale, Va., campus, Feb. 13, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Obama budget: National debt will be $1 trillion higher in a decade than previously forecast:

President Obama on Monday unveiled a $3.8 trillion spending plan that seeks to pump billions of dollars into the economy while raising taxes on the rich to tame a soaring national debt now projected to grow significantly faster than previously forecast.

The president’s outlook for debt reduction has deteriorated markedly since September, when Obama told Congress that his proposals would hold annual deficits well under $600 billion after next year and permit the debt held by outside investors to rise to $17.7 trillion by 2021, or 73 percent of the overall economy.

The new 10-year blueprint shows annual deficits exceeding $600 billion every year except 2018. And the portion of the debt held by outside investors would grow to $18.7 trillion by 2021, or 76.5 percent of the economy — a full $1 trillion higher. — WaPo, 2-13-12

Obama Projects Lower Deficit by Taxing Rich: President Obama projected a deficit below $1 trillion and called for raising $1.5 trillion over 10 years by taxing the wealthiest and closing loopholes…. – NYT, 2-13-12

President Obama’s 2013 Budget is a Blueprint for an America Built to Last

Source: WH, 2-13-12

President Obama traveled to Annadale in northern Virginia this morning to talk about his budget for the 2013 fiscal year — and how it will boost job creation to speed our economic recovery.

A core set of themes helps to define this budget, and in talking to the crowd, the President laid out those ideas:

[An] economy built to last demands that we keep doing everything we can to help students learn the skills that businesses are looking for. It means we have to keep strengthening American manufacturing. It means we’ve got to keep investing in American energy. We’ve got to double down on the clean energy that’s creating jobs. But it also means we’ve got to renew the American values of fair play and shared responsibility.

To help reflect that shared responsibility, the President is proposing a new set of reforms that guarantees that millionaires don’t pay a lower rate in taxes than the middle class. He said:

Right now, we’re scheduled to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was intended to be a temporary tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. We’ve already spent about that much. Now we’re scheduled to spend another trillion. Keep in mind, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. You’ve heard me say it — Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. That’s not fair.  It doesn’t make sense at a time when we’ve got to pull together to get the country moving.

If you want to read the complete budget, you can download the PDF, or get a copy for your Barnes & Noble Nook. We’ll have a version for Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks soon.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on the Budget

Northern Virginia dale, Virginia

11:12 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Virginia!  Thank you, NOVA!  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Everybody who has a chair please have a seat.  I know not everybody has a chair.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Laughter.)  Great to be here.

First of all, I want to thank Mike for the wonderful introduction.  Please give Mike a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

It is great to be back here at NOVA.  I’ve been here so many times I’m about three credits short of graduation.  (Laughter.)  But there are a couple of reasons that I keep on coming back.  First of all, I think that Dr. Templin and the whole administration here is doing a great job, so I want to give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  The other reason is because Jill Biden keeps talking up how great you are.  And just as I do what Michelle tells me to do, I also do what Jill Biden tells me to do.  (Laughter.)

In addition, by the way, I just want to acknowledge that we also have our Secretary of Labor here, Hilda Solis, who’s doing an outstanding job.  (Applause.)

But the main reason I keep on coming back is I think this institution is an example of what’s best about America.  Some of you may have your eye on a four-year college.  Some of you may be trying to learn new skills that could lead to a new job, like Mike, or a job that pays more, gives you more opportunity.  But all of you are here because you believe in yourselves, you believe in your ability, you believe in the future of this country.  And that’s something that inspires me and you guys should take great pride in.

Now, the truth is, the skills and training you get here will be the best tools you have to achieve the American promise — the promise that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.

And the defining issue of our time is how to keep this promise alive today — for everybody.  Because we’ve got a choice:  We can settle for a country where a few people do really, really well, and everybody else struggles to get by.  Or we can restore an economy where everybody gets a fair shot, everybody does their fair share, everybody plays by the same set of rules — from Washington to Wall Street to Main Street.  That’s the America we believe in.  (Applause.)

Now, we’re still recovering from one of the worst economic crises in three generations.  We’ve got a long way to go before everybody who wants a good job can find one; before middle-class Americans regain that sense of security that’s been slipping away for too long — long before the recession hit.

But over the last 23 months, we’ve added 3.7 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  American manufacturers are creating jobs for the first time since the 1990s.  The economy is growing stronger.  The recovery is speeding up.  And the last thing we can afford to do right now is to go back to the very policies that got us into this mess in the first place.  We can’t afford it.  (Applause.)  The last thing we need is for Washington to stand in the way of America’s comeback.  (Applause.)

Now, what does that mean concretely?  For starters, Congress needs to stop taxes from going up on 160 million Americans by the end of this month.  And if they don’t act, that’s exactly what will happen.  (Applause.)  Congress needs to pass an extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance without drama, and without delay, and without linking it to some other ideological side issues.

We’ve been through this before, remember?  We’ve seen this movie.  We don’t need to see it again.  The time for self-inflicted wounds to our economy has to be over.  Now is the time for action.  Now is the time for all of us to move forward.

But preventing a tax hike on the middle class — that’s only the beginning, that’s just starters.  In the State of the Union, I outlined a blueprint for an economy that is built to last -– an economy built on new manufacturing, and new sources of energy, and new skills and education for the American people.

Today, we’re releasing the details of that blueprint in the form of next year’s budget.  And don’t worry, I will not read it to you.  (Laughter.)  It’s long and a lot of numbers.  But the main idea in the budget is this:  At a time when our economy is growing and creating jobs at a faster clip, we’ve got to do everything in our power to keep this recovery on track.

Part of our job is to bring down our deficit.  And if Congress adopts this budget, then along with the cuts that we’ve already made, we’ll be able to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion by the year 2022 — $4 trillion.  I’m proposing some difficult cuts that, frankly, I wouldn’t normally make if they weren’t absolutely necessary.  But they are.  And the truth is we’re going to have to make some tough choices in order to put this country back on a more sustainable fiscal path.

By reducing our deficit in the long term, what that allows us to do is to invest in the things that will help grow our economy right now.  We can’t cut back on those things that are important for us to grow.  We can’t just cut our way into growth. We can cut back on the things that we don’t need, but we also have to make sure that everyone is paying their fair share for the things that we do need.

We need to restore American manufacturing by ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, giving them to companies that are creating jobs right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  That’s something that everybody should agree on.

We need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by ending the subsidies for oil companies, and doubling down on clean energy that generates jobs and strengthens our security.  (Applause.)

And to make sure our businesses don’t have to move overseas to find skilled workers, we’ve got to invest in places like NOVA, and make sure higher education is affordable for every hardworking American.  (Applause.)

That’s what I want to focus on today — what we need to do in terms of higher education, and community colleges in particular.  Employers today are looking for the most skilled, educated workers.  I don’t want them to find them in India or China.  I want businesses to find those workers right here, in the United States.  The skills and training that employers are looking for begins with the men and women who educate our children.

All of us can point to a teacher who’s made a difference in our lives — and I know I can.  So I want this Congress to give our schools the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best teachers.  And in return, they also need to give schools the flexibility to stop just teaching to the test, and replace teachers who aren’t helping kids learn.  That’s something that we can do.  (Applause.)

So making sure we’ve got the most skilled workers starts early.  It starts with K-12 — it starts before K-12, making sure every child is prepared.  And when an American of any age wants to pursue any kind of higher education — whether it’s that high school grad who’s just trying to get that first couple years of college education, or somebody like Mike who’s in the process of retraining — whether it’s two years or four years or more, we’ve got to make sure that education is affordable and available to everybody who wants to go.

Now, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling this July.  That’s pretty important. (Applause.)  That’s in our budget.  We’re saying to Congress, now is not the time to make school more expensive for young people.  And they can act right now to make that change.

They also need to take the tuition tax credit that my administration put in the budget over these last few years -– a tax credit that saves families thousands of dollars on tuition -– and we need to make that permanent.  It shouldn’t be temporary, it should be permanent.  (Applause.)

So between the increases we’ve provided in Pell grants, these tax credits, keeping interest rates low — all that is going to help.  And millions of students across the country have benefitted from that.  But students and taxpayers can’t just keep on subsidizing skyrocketing tuition — we’re going to run out of money.  So that’s why I’ve asked states and colleges to do their part to keep costs down.

We’re putting colleges and universities on notice:  You can’t just keep on raising tuition and expect us to keep on coming up with more and more money.  Because tuition inflation has actually gone up even faster than health care.  That’s hard to do.  (Laughter.)

So what we’re saying to states, colleges and universities — if you can’t stop tuition from going up, then funding you get from taxpayers will go down.  Because higher education cannot be a luxury; it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.  That’s part of the American promise in the 21st century.  (Applause.)

So that’s what we need to do to get more Americans ready for the jobs of the future.  But what about the jobs that are open today?  I talked about this at the State of the Union.  There are millions of jobs open right now, and there are millions of people who are unemployed.  And the question is how do we match up those workers to those jobs?  What about the companies that are looking to hire right now?

I hear from business leaders all the time who want to hire in the United States, but at the moment, they cannot always find workers with the right skills.  Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do those jobs.  Think about that.  At a time when millions of Americans are looking for work, we shouldn’t have any job openings out there.  They should all be getting filled up.

Here in America, we’ve got the best workers and some of the fastest-growing companies in the world.  There’s no reason we can’t connect the two.  And places like NOVA are proving that we know how to do it.  This institution proves we know how to do it. (Applause.)

So let’s say you are a single parent, or a returning veteran, or somebody who just wants a shot at a better-paying job.  You’re a hard worker, you’re a fast learner, you’re motivated.  You know there are companies looking to hire.  You just need to figure out how to acquire some of the specific skills, the specialized skills that the companies need, and you need to figure that out as quickly as possible -– hopefully without taking on tons of debt.

Everybody in America should be able to get those skills at a community college like NOVA.  And companies looking to hire should be able to count on these schools to provide them with a steady stream of workers qualified to fill those specific jobs.

That’s why Mike was sharing his story.  As Mike mentioned, he worked in the mortgage and real estate industry for 10 years, but when business declined after 9/11, he decided to start over. So he began selling building materials.  Then the bottom fell out of the housing market, so Mike had to start all over again.  He’s got a knack for computers.  So he figured he’d try a career in cybersecurity, where there is a lot of hiring — that is going to be a growth industry.

Luckily for Mike, NOVA is home to a program called CyberWatch.  So he signed up — even though he’s driving a limo on the side, he’s still got to pay the bills.  So he’s working while going to school.  But in December, Mike earned two certificates — and, by the way, finished with a 4.0.  So we’re proud of that.  (Applause.)   Now he’s working towards his Associate’s degree.  And when he graduates, Mike will have access to a network of over 40 companies and government agencies to help him find a job.

So we need more stories like Mike’s.  That’s why my administration is helping community colleges redesign training programs, so students can learn the skills that are most in demand in industries like health care sciences and advanced manufacturing.  And that’s why we’re making a national commitment to train 2 million Americans with skills they need to get a job right now, or start their own business right now.  (Applause.)

We’ve lined up more companies that want to help.  We’ve already got model partnerships between major businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte and Orlando and Louisville — they’re already up and running.  We know how they work.  And that’s why I’ve asked Dr. Biden Secretary Solis to take a bus tour through several states, including Ohio and Kentucky and North Carolina, to highlight businesses and community colleges that are working together to train workers for careers that are in demand right now.  We’ve got to make these examples a model for the entire nation.

And we also need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers — places where folks can learn the skills that local business are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.  This should be an engine of job growth all across the country, these community colleges, and that’s why we’ve got to support them.  That’s why it’s such a big priority.  (Applause.)

So an economy built to last demands that we keep doing everything we can to help students learn the skills that businesses are looking for.  It means we have to keep strengthening American manufacturing.  It means we’ve got to keep investing in American energy.  We’ve got to double down on the clean energy that’s creating jobs.  But it also means we’ve got to renew the American values of fair play and shared responsibility.

The budget that we’re releasing today is a reflection of shared responsibility.  It says that if we’re serious about investing in our future and investing in community colleges, and investing in new energy technology, and investing in basic research, well, we’ve got to pay for it.  And that means we’ve got to make some choices.

Right now, we’re scheduled to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was intended to be a temporary tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.  We’ve already spent about that much.  Now we’re scheduled to spend another trillion.  Keep in mind, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households.  You’ve heard me say it — Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.  That’s not fair.  It doesn’t make sense at a time when we’ve got to pull together to get the country moving.

I don’t need a tax break.  We don’t need to be providing additional tax cuts for folks who are doing really, really, really well.  Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans?  Or do we want to keep investing in everything else — education, clean energy, a strong military, care for our veterans?  We can’t do both — we can’t afford it.

Some people go around, they say, well, the President is engaging in class warfare.  That’s not class warfare.  That’s common sense.  That’s common sense.  (Applause.)  Asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary when it comes to his tax rate — that’s just common sense.  Because Warren Buffet is doing fine, I’m doing fine.  We don’t need the tax breaks.  You need them.  (Applause.)  You’re the ones who see your wages stall.  You’re the one whose costs of everything from college to groceries has gone up.  You’re the ones who deserve a break.

And we don’t begrudge success in America; we aspire to it.  Everybody here — I want everybody here to go out there and do great.  I want you to make loads of money if you can.  That’s wonderful.  And we expect people to earn it — study hard, work hard for it.  So we don’t envy the wealthy.  But we do expect everybody to do their fair share, so that everybody has opportunity, not just some.

And given where our deficit is, it’s just a matter of math that folks like me are going to have to do a little bit more.  Because Americans understand if I get a tax break I don’t need and the country can’t afford, then one of two things is going to happen:  Either that means we have to add to our deficit, or it means you’ve got to pay for it.  It means a senior has got to pay for it, in terms of suddenly their Medicare benefits are costing more.  It means a student suddenly sees their interest rates go up higher at a time when they can’t afford it.  It means a family that’s struggling to get by is having to do more because I’m doing less.

That’s not right.  It’s not who we are.  Each of us is here only because somebody, somewhere, felt a responsibility to each other and to our country’s future.  That’s why they made investments in places like NOVA.

Here in America, the story has never been about what we can do just by ourselves; it’s about what we can do together.  It’s about believing in our future, and the future of our country.  You believe in that future.  That’s why you’re working hard. That’s why you’re putting in the long hours.  That’s why Mike is doing what he’s doing.  Some of you are balancing a job at the same time as you’re going to school.  You’re scrimping and scratching to make sure that you can pay tuition here.  You know that doing big things isn’t easy, but you haven’t given up.

That’s the spirit we’ve got to have right now.  We don’t give up in this country.  We look out for each other.  We pull together.  We work hard.  We reach for new opportunities.  We pull each other up.  That’s who we are.  (Applause.)  And if we work together in common purpose, we will build an economy that lasts, and remind people around the world why America is the greatest country on Earth.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
11:35 A.M. EST

The 2013 Budget

Source: WH, 2-13-12

Ed. Note: This has been cross-posted from the OMB blog

Earlier today, the President sent to Congress his budget for the 2013 fiscal year. This year’s budget reflects the President’s firm belief that our country has always done best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. It’s a document built around the recognition that this is a make or break moment for the middle class and those trying to reach it. What’s at stake is the very survival of the basic American promise that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, and put a little away for retirement.

The Budget continues our commitment to keeping that promise alive by creating an economy that’s built to last – with good jobs that pay well and security for the middle class.

It’s a commitment that starts with jumpstarting job creation so that our economic recovery quickens and more Americans are able to get back to work. The Budget proposes more than $350 billion in short-term measures for job growth starting this year. These proposals include the extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance benefits for rest of 2012; an upfront investment of $50 billion from the surface transportation reauthorization bill for roads, rails, and runways to create thousands of quality jobs in the short term; continuing to allow businesses to write-off the full amount of new investments; and $30 billion to modernize at least 35,000 schools, and $30 billion to help states and localities retain and hire teachers and first responders.

Building an economy that is built to last also requires that we transform our economy from one focused on speculating, spending, and borrowing to one constructed on the solid foundation of educating, innovating, and building. We need to make America the place with the highest-skilled, highest-educated workers; the most advanced transportation and communications networks; and cutting-edge research that will lead to the innovations and industries of tomorrow.  To get us there, the Budget targets resources to the areas critical to growing the economy and restoring middle-class security: education and skills for American workers, innovation and research and development, clean energy, and infrastructure.

It begins with giving our students and workers the education and training they need to take the jobs of today and tomorrow. The Budget includes $850 million for Race to the Top, and $300 million in new resources to improve child care quality and prepare children for success in school. It makes college more affordable and helps achieve the President’s goal of the U.S. leading the world in college graduates by 2020 by sustaining maximum Pell Grant award; prevents student loan rates from doubling this summer; doubles the number of work-study jobs over next five years; makes permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit; and creates news incentives for colleges to keep tuition rates under control. The Budget also supports State and community college partnerships with businesses to build the skills of American workers, and creates a Pathways Back to Work Fund, which will support summer and year-round jobs for low-income youth, and will help connect the long-term unemployed and low-income adults to subsidized employment and work-based training opportunities.

The Budget also invests in American innovation — especially clean energy — and manufacturing to create good jobs and more goods stamped “Made in America.”  For example, it includes more than $140 billion for R&D overall (including $2.2 billion for advanced manufacturing R&D), increases the level of investment in non-defense R&D by 5 percent from the 2012 level even as overall budgets decline, and maintains the President’s commitment to doubling the budgets of three key basic research agencies – the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and National Institute of Standards and Technology Laboratories. Also included are proposals to support the President’s goal of doubling share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035 and reducing buildings’ energy use by 20 percent by 2020.

To create thousands of jobs and modernize a critical foundation of our economic growth, the Budget also invests in a 21st century infrastructure. These investments include a six-year, $476 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill that’s expanded to included inter-city passenger rail, and that is fully paid for through current user-financed mechanisms and savings from ending the war in Iraq and winding down operations in Afghanistan. They also include the creation of a National Infrastructure Bank to fund projects of national importance, and the building of a next-generation, wireless broadband network.

Of course, even as we invest in the areas critical to creating an economy that’s built to last, we also have to reduce our deficit and bring down the debt. That’s why the Budget lives within very tight spending caps that reduce discretionary spending by $1 trillion over the next 10 years and, including that amount, has more than $4 trillion of balanced deficit reduction. In fact, discretionary spending in this Budget is reduced from 8.7 percent of GDP in 2011 to 5.0 percent in 2022. And by 2018, we cut the deficit to less than 3 percent of GDP, and stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio. For every $1 in new revenue from those making more than $250,000 per year and from closing corporate loopholes, the Budget has $2.50 in spending cuts including the deficit reduction enacted over the last year.

Achieving this type of deficit reduction in a balanced way requires asking all American to shoulder their fair share of the burden – and that’s what this Budget does.

Deficit Reduction Chart Budget 2013

For example, the Budget calls for tax reform that cuts the deficit by $1.5 trillion, including the expiration of the high-income 2001 and 2003 tax cuts; eliminates inefficient and unfair tax breaks for millionaires while making all tax breaks at least as good for the middle class as for the wealthy; and observes the Buffett Rule that no household making more than $1 million a year pays less than 30 percent of their income in taxes. It also calls on the largest financial institutions to fully compensate taxpayers for their extraordinary support by continuing to support a $61 billion Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee, which will offset cost of TARP and the President’s mortgage refinancing program.

The Budget implements the new defense strategy to spend $487 billion less in the Department of Defense’s base budget than was planned in last year’s Budget. This will bring the overall defense budget, including overseas contingency operations, 5 percent below last year’s enacted level.

We’ve also identified areas of the Budget to eliminate wasteful spending or improve efficiency. In fact, the Budget proposes scores of cuts and consolidations across the Federal government, including more than $7.5 billion in administrative savings. Beyond these cuts, the Budget creates more than $360 billion in savings to Medicare, Medicaid, and other health programs over 10 years to make these programs more effective and efficient and move our health system to one that rewards high-quality medicine. And it also saves $270 billion in non-health mandatory spending through reforms in areas like agriculture, federal civilian worker retirement, and the PBGC.

These deficit-reduction measures, paired with critical investments in priorities like education, innovation, and infrastructure, serve as a blueprint for building an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded. And in the weeks and months ahead, the Administration stands ready to partner with both sides of Capitol Hill to put this blueprint to work.

The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2013

Full Text February 13, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama’s CNN Op-ed for Let’s Move! 2nd Anniversary “Changing the Conversation on Healthy Eating”

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Michelle Obama: Changing the Conversation on Healthy Eating

Source: WH, 2-13-12

First Lady Michelle Obama Olive Garden Dinner

First Lady Michelle Obama holds a roundtable dinner discussion at an Olive Garden restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 9, 2012. Mrs. Obama met with the parents to hear their ideas on how Let’s Move! can continue to support families across the country. In September 2011, Darden, the world’s largest full service restaurant company which owns Olive Garden, made a commitment to improve their kids menus by offering a fruit or vegetable and low-fat milk with every meal, as well as reduce total calories and sodium across their menus. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

Back when we first launched Let’s Move! — a nationwide initiative to end our childhood obesity epidemic — in the back of my mind, I wondered whether it was really possible to make a difference.

I knew how serious this problem is. Nearly one in three of our children are overweight or obese, at risk for illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer that cost our economy billions of dollars each year to treat.

I also knew the conventional wisdom on this issue. There’s the assumption that kids don’t like healthy food, so why try to feed it to them? There’s the belief that healthy food doesn’t sell as well, so companies will never change the products they offer. And there’s the sense that this problem is so big and entrenched that no matter what we do, we’ll never be able to solve it.

But over the past two years, we have seen a new conversation in this country about how we live and eat and how that affects the health and well-being of our kids. Since we launched Let’s Move!, people from every corner of this country who care about our children’s futures have stepped up and proved the conventional wisdom wrong.

Read the entire op-ed from the First Lady at CNN.com

More from the Let’s Move tour:
Michelle Obama: If You Are Doing Great Work, Tell Me About It
Michelle Obama Judges “Top Chef”
On the Road with Let’s Move
Watch: Behind the Scenes on the Let’s Move Tour
Two Years of Healthy Changes for Our Nation’s Kids
View a slideshow from the tour

History Buzz February 13, 2012: John Covach: Rock, Pop Historian on the Death of Whitney Houston

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Rock, Pop Historian John Covach on the Death of Whitney Houston

Source: University of Rochester, 2-13-12

University of Rochester Music Historian John Covach describes Whitney Houston as “a trailblazer and a song stylist, much in the tradition of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley or her cousin, Dionne Warwick.” Covach, a professor of music and chair of the Department of Music at the University of Rochester and professor of music theory at the Eastman School of Music, is the author of What’s That Sound? An Introduction to Rock and its History (Norton, 2006) and the co-editor of Sounding Out Pop (University of Michigan Press, 2011). He reacted to Houston’s sudden death on Feb. 11 with this assessment:

“In these days after the tragic death of singer Whitney Houston, authorities cannot be certain of the precise cause of her death at the age of 48. Some suspect drugs played a role, since the singer had a history of addiction. But her death in a Hollywood hotel bathtub just hours before a Grammy party hosted by her mentor, Clive Davis, could also have been an accident. We can, however, be relatively confident of what did not kill Whitney Houston. It wasn’t music that killed her, or singing, or acting, or performing. In all likelihood, it was celebrity that killed the popular singer.

“Few artists survive the level of celebrity Whitney achieved without being damaged, and singers seem the most prone to emotional injury in this regard. Houston’s story is similar to those of Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, both of whom died young and some years into the downslide from their respective career peaks. It is also true that many others, such as Paul McCartney or Mick Jagger, continue to survive such superstardom, or at least are able to manage it.

“As shocking as such tragic deaths can be for fans and admirers, however, much of the gossip and scandal of current reports will be forgotten within a few years and Whitney Houston will be remembered for her accomplishments as a singer and actor. As a singer, few have dominated the charts as Whitney did in her prime, and her virtuosic approach to singing has had a significant impact on the development of popular-music history. Houston’s exceptional vocal prowess took control of every song she sang. It almost didn’t matter what the song was; once she began to sing, the focus of the performance was the singing itself. Like musical virtuosi throughout history—Niccolo Paganini, Franz Liszt, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane—there was a sense of wonder at what she could do, an expressive and technical command that astounded as it delighted.

“For all that’s been said about Whitney Houston as a trailblazer, her career was in many ways very old school. She was not a singer-songwriter, writing songs that reflected her own thoughts and experiences as so many rock singers have done since Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Whitney was a song stylist, and this is very much in the tradition of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley or her cousin, Dionne Warwick. Song stylists depend on others to write the songs and the arrangements; a song stylist’s job is to put his or her own personal stamp on a song. Back in the first half of the 20th century, many different singers would record the same hit song; the way to get fans to buy your version was to make the song distinctively yours. Song stylists had a trademark approach to performing and they depended on that to make their mark; nobody, however, expected them to be songwriters, producers, or arrangers. When Whitney sang a song, there was no doubt who was singing.

“Whitney was able to diversify her career by making films, beginning with The Bodyguard. Again, this is a tried-and-true approach to help insure a singer has a career after her first wave of success has subsided. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, and Diana Ross all moved into films later in their careers. Among her 1980s colleagues on the pop charts, Prince and Madonna both turned to films before Whitney. But Whitney’s films were blockbusters, and the songs that went with the movie soundtracks were chart-topping hits. All of this combined to make Whitney Houston one of the biggest stars in the world—a celebrity recognized wherever she went.

“Whitney Houston’s music and success are what she will be remembered for, but the overwhelming intensity of that success is probably what painted her into the celebrity corner that led to her demise. In the years following his death, nobody really thought much about the “fat Elvis”; it wasn’t long before our memories of Elvis were of the dangerous young man swiveling his hips on national TV. And only a year after Michael Jackson’s death, nobody much cared about the scandals and spectacles of his last years. He would forever be the fantastic performer of his “Billie Jean” video. Likewise with Whitney Houston: after all the hubbub surrounding her death has passed and the reporters have moved on to the next celebrity scandal, we will still marvel at that fantastic voice, and the phenomenal performances that made her one of the greatest singers in the history of popular music.”

Full Text February 9-11, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Second Anniversary Road Tour

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

First Lady Michelle Obama Is on the Road with Let’s Move

Source: WH, 2-9-12


First Lady Michelle Obama Celebrates Let's Move Day in Iowa
First Lady Michelle Obama dances with students at the event highlighting Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative during her tour celebrating the second anniversary of Let’s Move!, at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, Feb. 9, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Ed note: this has been cross-posted from Let’s Move!

To celebrate the second anniversary of Let’s Move!, First Lady Michelle Obama is on a three day, four state tour, visiting people across the country whose lives have been impacted by her signature initiative.

First stop was Des Moines, Iowa where more than 14,000 students gathered to join Governor Terry Branstad as he declared February 9, 2012  Let’s Move! Day in Iowa. The energy in the Wells Fargo Arena was electric, as Olympians Michelle Kwan and Shawn Johnson talked to the crowd of students waving “Let’s Get Moving” signs about how eating healthy had helped them achieve their dreams.

Mrs. Obama said she she was in Iowa to celebrate the state’s bold ambitions:

We could have had this party anywhere in the country, right? We could have gone anywhere, but there is a reason why we wanted to come here to Iowa to be with all of you. And that’s because I am so proud of what you all are doing to make Iowa the healthiest state in this country by 2016.

I am proud that you guys are starting community gardens, that you’re eating your fruits and vegetables.  I’m proud that you guys are walking to school instead of taking the bus.  I’m proud that you’re working hard to get that 60 minutes of activity a day, every day.  I’m also proud of your government, and businesses like Hy-Vee, and community leaders across the state who are all coming together to help you guys get healthy, to keep moving.

This is exactly what “Let’s Move” is all about.  We want every single state in this country to do exactly what Iowa is doing.

Before the whole audience joined in singing “Happy Birthday” to Let’s Move!, the First Lady led the crowd in dancing  the “Interlude” — which originated at the University of Northern Iowa.

Next stop for the Let’s Move! team was the Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas where Mrs. Obama announced a groundbreaking commitment being made by the Department of Defense to secure the health of our troops and their families: For the first time in 20 years, the DOD is updating their nutritional standards to include more fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats,and  low-fat dairy products with every meal.

The First Lady praised the military leadership for being role models in the fight to improve our nation’s health:

And I want to emphasize that in doing so, you’re not just sending a powerful message throughout the military community.  You’re sending a message to our entire country.  And that’s one of the reasons I wanted to be here, because whenever our men and women in uniform step forward, America takes notice.  We are all inspired by your courage.  We are all inspired by your service and your sacrifice.

So when you make healthy eating a priority in your lives, the rest of us are more likely to make it a priority in our lives.

Mrs. Obama ended her day at an Olive Garden in Fort Worth, Texas, where she met with local parents who shared their concerns about raising healthy children as they sampled some of the healthy menu options from the popular chain, whose parent company, Darden Restaurants, has made a commitment to reduce calories and sodium in their meals and to provide healthier options in their kids’ menus.

First Lady Michelle Obama at an Olive Garden restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas (February 9, 2012)

First Lady Michelle Obama holds a roundtable dinner discussion at an Olive Garden restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 9, 2012, during a tour celebrating the second anniversary of Let’s Move!. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

The Let’s Move! birthday tour continues tomorrow morning in Dallas, with a Chef’s Move to Schools event with local students.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

To celebrate the second anniversary of Let’s Move!, First Lady Michelle Obama is on a three-day, four-state tour.

First Lady Michelle Obama dances with students in in Des Moines, Iowa
First Lady Michelle Obama dances with students in in Des Moines, Iowa, White House Photo, Sonya N. Hebert, 2/9/12

Campaign Buzz February 11, 2012: Mitt Romney Wins Maine Caucuses by a Narrow Margin Over Ron Paul — Ends Losing Streak

CAMPAIGN 2012

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. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

IN FOCUS: MITT ROMNEY WINS MAINE CAUCUSES BY A NARROW MARGIN OVER RON PAUL

Romney wins support of Maine caucus-goers: Mitt Romney won the support of those attending Republican presidential caucuses Saturday in Maine, a key victory the former Massachusetts governor hopes will help him regain momentum after defeats in three nominating contests.

Romney won 39 percent of the votes of those who took part in a presidential poll at Maine caucus sites; Ron Paul took 36 percent of the vote, while former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum captured 18 percent…. – WaPo, 2-11-12

  • After Three Losses, Romney Edges Past Paul in Maine: Mitt Romney averted embarrassment on Saturday when he was declared the winner of a presidential straw poll in Maine’s nonbinding caucuses. He won 39 percent of the vote, barely edging out Representative Ron Paul of Texas, the only other Republican … – NYT, 2-11-12
  • Romney wins Maine caucuses by slim margin: Mitt Romney narrowly won Maine’s Republican caucuses, state party officials announced Saturday, providing his campaign with a much-needed boost after three straight losses earlier this week…. – AP, USA Today, 2-11-12
  • Mitt Romney wins Maine caucuses straw poll: He narrowly defeats Ron Paul, boosting his campaign after losses to Rick Santorum in three Republican nominating contests earlier in the week. Mitt Romney talks to a supporter at a caucus in Portland, Me. Though Romney won the caucus straw poll…. – LAT, 2-11-12
  • Maine caucus win gives Romney new momentum: Winning the Maine caucuses gives Mitt Romney a burst of momentum he hopes will carry him until the next major primaries in Arizona and Michigan, then Super Tuesday when 10 states hold elections…. – CS Monitor, 2-11-12
  • How Maine Helps Romney: There are essentially three ways in which the outcome of a caucus or primary helps us to understand who will eventually win the party nomination. The first way is the most literal: delegates are awarded, potentially bringing a candidate…. – NYT, 2-11-12
  • Romney adds to delegate lead after narrow victory in Maine caucuses: Mitt Romney added to his lead in the race for delegates Saturday with a narrow victory in the Maine Republican presidential caucuses. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, won 11 delegates and Texas Rep. Ron Paul won 10, according to … – WaPo, 2-11-12
  • Mitt Romney bounces back, wins Maine caucus straw poll: Reversing his embarrassing string of setbacks earlier this week when he lost Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri to Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney eked out a narrow win in the straw poll tied to Maine’s multiday caucuses Saturday…. – LAT, 2-11-12
  • Disappointment, optimism at Ron Paul headquarters in Maine: The moment Ron Paul’s narrow loss to Mitt Romney in the municipal caucuses here was announced on the TV screens Saturday night, supporters of the Texas congressman angrily greeted the news with booing, jeers…. – WaPo, 2-11-12
  • Maine sets up clash between Romney and Paul, who still steer clear of assailing each other: Mitt Romney and Ron Paul rarely even acknowledge each other in the Republican presidential race, focusing their attention and attacks on rivals Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum instead. That curious detente is being tested in Maine’s … – WaPo, 2-10-12
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