OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
- February 7, 2015
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 7, 2015
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 6, 2014
Source: WH, 9-26-14
The United Nations
New York, New York
10:43 A.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Welcome. And welcome to my co-hosts — the Secretary General, the President of Rwanda, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, the Prime Minister of Japan, and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and all the assembled leaders, ministers, ambassadors and distinguished guests. And as we say in the body I used to work in, the United States Senate, if you could excuse the point of personal privilege, I’d like to welcome my colleague, Senator Coons, who represents my home constituency. So I want to be able to go back home. (Laughter.)
We meet at a moment when the demand for international peacekeeping has never been greater. In one generation, U.N. peacekeeping has grown tenfold, to about 120,000 men and women deployed around the world.
And as the nature of conflict and combatants has evolved — to include sophisticated non-state actors as well as traditional armies -— the instruments of peacekeeping have evolved as well.
Today, we ask peacekeepers to protect civilians in South Sudan and the Central African Republic; to prevent sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and to help with the peace process in Mali, amid deadly attacks by extremists -— even as we continue to monitor longstanding ceasefires on three continents.
When we ask them to do more than ever, that is the peacekeepers, in even more difficult and more dangerous environments, we owe them more. The result is that peacekeeping is under greater strain than it ever has been. And I should say — and I’m sure I speak for everyone — we are grateful for the burdens peacekeepers have carried, and we honor the sacrifices that they have made.
But, today, we gather to offer more than just words of support. Together, our nations are here to offer resources, troops, police, and more for these missions. We have to meet the peacekeeping challenges today. We also have to look ahead what they’re going to be tomorrow; and we have to do it together.
The United States will do its part. Last month, President Obama launched the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership, a new commitment of $110 million dollars per year for the next three to five years to help six African partners build their capacity to rapidly — and I emphasize rapidly –deploy peacekeepers in emerging crises. Because rapid deployment, if done rapidly, can save tens of thousands of lives.
We thank the growing coalition, including several leaders here today, who are joining us in support of this initiative. We think they share the same view, and we thank them for their contributions.
We also will review U.S. contributions to peacekeeping, as well, to assess gaps that the United States is uniquely positioned to fill, like base camps we are building and helping the U.N. build for peacekeepers in the Central African Republic; to better share the U.S. military’s knowledge of confronting asymmetric threats; and to help the U.N. deploy advanced technology.
And we’ll continue to offer support during cases as we did — crises, I should say, as we did after the Haiti earthquake, and as we will be doing in Liberia to help contain the Ebola outbreak.
We are already making contributions, all of us. But we can and should do more together, and we can do it, in our view, more effectively. That’s why the United States, Mr. Secretary General, welcomes the comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations that you have put forward.
This is a chance not only to make commitments, but to think strategically together about future peacekeeping needs and related missions. My guess is — and I’ve been in this business a long time — had we met in the same fora 20 years ago, no one would be anticipating the type — have anticipated the type of peacekeeping operations from non-state actors that we’re engaged with. So when I say think strategically, we have to think ahead, as well.
And as to what kind of missions are going to be required in the future; what will be required to deploy them — these missions — rapidly and ensure they perform effectively; working in partnership with the African Union, NATO, and the European Union, and other organizations, we can do that. And we owe the United Nations our best and boldest thinking.
So the truth is the very fact that peacekeeping exists, that men and women sometimes from halfway around the world risk their lives to protect peace on the fault lines of conflict is one of the great achievements of this international system. Working together I’m confident we can strengthen that system and meet the challenges ahead.
And with that, let me now turn to His Excellency, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon.
10:50 A.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 28, 2014
Source: WH, 9-19-14
12:14 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Welcome to the White House, everybody. And thank you to Joe Biden not just for the introduction, not just for being a great Vice President — but for decades, since long before he was in his current office, Joe has brought unmatched passion to this cause. He has. (Applause.)
And at a time when domestic violence was all too often seen as a private matter, Joe was out there saying that this was unacceptable. Thanks to him and so many others, last week we were able to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the law Joe wrote, a law that transformed the way we handle domestic abuse in this country — the Violence Against Women Act.
And we’re here to talk today about an issue that is a priority for me, and that’s ending campus sexual assault. I want to thank all of you who are participating. I particularly want to thank Lilly for her wonderful presentation and grace. I want to thank her parents for being here. As a father of two daughters, I on the one hand am enraged about what has happened; on the other hand, am empowered to see such an incredible young woman be so strong and do so well. And we’re going to be thrilled watching all of the great things she is going to be doing in her life. So we’re really proud of her.
I want to thank the White House Council on Women and Girls. Good Job. Valerie, thank you. (Applause.) I want to thank our White House Advisor on Violence Against Women — the work that you do every day partnering with others to prevent the outrage, the crime of sexual violence.
We’ve got some outstanding lawmakers with us. Senator Claire McCaskill is right here from the great state of Missouri, who I love. (Applause.) And we’ve got Dick Blumenthal from the great state of Connecticut, as well as Congresswoman Susan Davis. So thank you so much, I’m thrilled to have you guys here. (Applause.)
I also want to thank other members of Congress who are here and have worked on this issue so hard for so long. A lot of the people in this room have been on the front lines in fighting sexual assault for a long time. And along with Lilly, I want to thank all the survivors who are here today, and so many others around the country. (Applause.) Lilly I’m sure took strength from a community of people — some who came before, some who were peers — who were able to summon the courage to speak out about the darkest moment of their lives. They endure pain and the fear that too often isolates victims of sexual assault. So when they give voice to their own experiences, they’re giving voice to countless others — women and men, girls and boys –- who still suffer in silence.
So to the survivors who are leading the fight against sexual assault on campuses, your efforts have helped to start a movement. I know that, as Lilly described, there are times where the fight feels lonely, and it feels as if you’re dredging up stuff that you’d rather put behind you. But we’re here to say, today, it’s not on you. This is not your fight alone. This is on all of us, every one of us, to fight campus sexual assault. You are not alone, and we have your back, and we are going to organize campus by campus, city by city, state by state. This entire country is going to make sure that we understand what this is about, and that we’re going to put a stop to it.
And this is a new school year. We’ve been working on campus sexual assault for several years, but the issue of violence against women is now in the news every day. We started to I think get a better picture about what domestic violence is all about. People are talking about it. Victims are realizing they’re not alone. Brave people have come forward, they’re opening up about their own experiences.
And so we think today’s event is all that more relevant, all that more important for us to say that campus sexual assault is no longer something we as a nation can turn away from and say that’s not our problem. This is a problem that matters to all of us.
An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years — one in five. Of those assaults, only 12 percent are reported, and of those reported assaults, only a fraction of the offenders are punished. And while these assaults overwhelmingly happen to women, we know that men are assaulted, too. Men get raped. They’re even less likely to talk about it. We know that sexual assault can happen to anyone, no matter their race, their economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity -– and LGBT victims can feel even more isolated, feel even more alone.
For anybody whose once-normal, everyday life was suddenly shattered by an act of sexual violence, the trauma, the terror can shadow you long after one horrible attack. It lingers when you don’t know where to go or who to turn to. It’s there when you’re forced to sit in the same class or stay in the same dorm with the person who raped you; when people are more suspicious of what you were wearing or what you were drinking, as if it’s your fault, not the fault of the person who assaulted you. It’s a haunting presence when the very people entrusted with your welfare fail to protect you.
Students work hard to get into college. I know — I’m watching Malia right now, she’s a junior. She’s got a lot of homework. And parents can do everything they can to support their kids’ dreams of getting a good education. When they finally make it onto campus, only to be assaulted, that’s not just a nightmare for them and their families; it’s not just an affront to everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve — it is an affront to our basic humanity. It insults our most basic values as individuals and families, and as a nation. We are a nation that values liberty and equality and justice. And we’re a people who believe every child deserves an education that allows them to fulfill their God-given potential, free from fear of intimidation or violence. And we owe it to our children to live up to those values. So my administration is trying to do our part.
First of all, three years ago, we sent guidance to every school district, every college, every university that receives federal funding, and we clarified their legal obligations to prevent and respond to sexual assault. And we reminded them that sexual violence isn’t just a crime, it is a civil rights violation. And I want to acknowledge Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for his department’s work in holding schools accountable and making sure that they stand up for students.
Number two, in January, I created a White House task force to prevent — a Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. Their job is to work with colleges and universities on better ways to prevent and respond to assaults, to lift up best practices. And we held conversations with thousands of people –- survivors, parents, student groups, faculty, law enforcement, advocates, academics. In April, the task force released the first report, recommending a number of best practices for colleges and universities to keep our kids safe. And these are tested, and they are common-sense measures like campus surveys to figure out the scope of the problem, giving survivors a safe place to go and a trusted person to talk to, training school officials in how to handle trauma. Because when you read some of the accounts, you think, what were they thinking? You just get a sense of too many people in charge dropping the ball, fumbling something that should be taken with the most — the utmost seriousness and the utmost care.
Number three, we’re stepping up enforcement efforts and increasing the transparency of our efforts. So we’re reviewing existing laws to make sure they’re adequate. And we’re going to keep on working with educational institutions across the country to help them appropriately respond to these crimes.
So that’s what we have been doing, but there’s always more that we can do. And today, we’re taking a step and joining with people across the country to change our culture and help prevent sexual assault from happening. Because that’s where prevention — that’s what prevention is going to require — we’ve got to have a fundamental shift in our culture.
As far as we’ve come, the fact is that from sports leagues to pop culture to politics, our society still does not sufficiently value women. We still don’t condemn sexual assault as loudly as we should. We make excuses. We look the other way. The message that sends can have a chilling effect on our young women.
And I’ve said before, when women succeed, America succeeds — let me be clear, that’s not just true in America. If you look internationally, countries that oppress their women are countries that do badly. Countries that empower their women are countries that thrive.
And so this is something that requires us to shift how we think about these issues. One letter from a young woman really brought this point home. Katherine Morrison, a young student from Youngstown, Ohio, she wrote, “How are we supposed to succeed when so many of our voices are being stifled? How can we succeed when our society says that as a woman, it’s your fault if you are at a party or walked home alone. How can we succeed when people look at women and say ‘you should have known better,’ or ‘boys will be boys?’?”
And Katherine is absolutely right. Women make up half this country; half its workforce; more than half of our college students. They are not going to succeed the way they should unless they are treated as true equals, and are supported and respected. And unless women are allowed to fulfill their full potential, America will not reach its full potential. So we’ve got to change.
This is not just the work of survivors, it’s not just the work of activists. It’s not just the work of college administrators. It’s the responsibility of the soccer coach, and the captain of the basketball team, and the football players. And it’s on fraternities and sororities, and it’s on the editor of the school paper, and the drum major in the band. And it’s on the English department and the engineering department, and it’s on the high schools and the elementary schools, and it’s on teachers, and it’s on counselors, and it’s on mentors, and it’s on ministers.
It’s on celebrities, and sports leagues, and the media, to set a better example. It’s on parents and grandparents and older brothers and sisters to sit down young people and talk about this issue. (Applause.)
And it’s not just on the parents of young women to caution them. It is on the parents of young men to teach them respect for women. (Applause.) And it’s on grown men to set an example and be clear about what it means to be a man.
It is on all of us to reject the quiet tolerance of sexual assault and to refuse to accept what’s unacceptable. And we especially need our young men to show women the respect they deserve, and to recognize sexual assault, and to do their part to stop it. Because most young men on college campuses are not perpetrators. But the rest — we can’t generalize across the board. But the rest of us can help stop those who think in these terms and shut stuff down. And that’s not always easy to do with all the social pressures to stay quiet or go along; you don’t want to be the guy who’s stopping another friend from taking a woman home even if it looks like she doesn’t or can’t consent. Maybe you hear something in the locker room that makes you feel uncomfortable, or see something at a party that you know isn’t right, but you’re not sure whether you should stand up, not sure it’s okay to intervene.
And I think Joe said it well — the truth is, it’s not just okay to intervene, it is your responsibility. It is your responsibility to speak your mind. It is your responsibility to tell your buddy when he’s messing up. It is your responsibility to set the right tone when you’re talking about women, even when women aren’t around — maybe especially when they’re not around.
And it’s not just men who should intervene. Women should also speak up when something doesn’t look right, even if the men don’t like it. It’s all of us taking responsibility. Everybody has a role to play.
And in fact, we’re here with Generation Progress to launch, appropriately enough, a campaign called “It’s On Us.” The idea is to fundamentally shift the way we think about sexual assault. So we’re inviting colleges and universities to join us in saying, we are not tolerating this anymore –- not on our campuses, not in our community, not in this country. And the campaign is building on the momentum that’s already being generated by college campuses by the incredible young people around the country who have stepped up and are leading the way. I couldn’t be prouder of them.
And we’re also joined by some great partners in this effort –- including the Office of Women’s Health, the college sports community, media platforms. We’ve got universities who have signed up, including, by the way, our military academies, who are represented here today. So the goal is to hold ourselves and each other accountable, and to look out for those who don’t consent and can’t consent. And anybody can be a part of this campaign.
So the first step on this is to go to ItsOnUs.org — that’s ItsOnUs.org. Take a pledge to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault. It’s a promise not to be a bystander to the problem, but to be part of the solution. I took the pledge. Joe took the pledge. You can take the pledge. You can share it on social media, you can encourage others to join us.
And this campaign is just part of a broader effort, but it’s a critical part, because even as we continue to enforce our laws and work with colleges to improve their responses, and to make sure that survivors are taken care of, it won’t be enough unless we change the culture that allows assault to happen in the first place.
And I’m confident we can. I’m confident because of incredible young people like Lilly who speak out for change and empower other survivors. They inspire me to keep fighting. I’m assuming they inspire you as well. And this is a personal priority not just as a President, obviously, not just as a husband and a father of two extraordinary girls, but as an American who believes that our nation’s success depends on how we value and defend the rights of women and girls.
So I’m asking all of you, join us in this campaign. Commit to being part of the solution. Help make sure our schools are safe havens where everybody, men and women, can pursue their dreams and fulfill their potential.
Thank you so much for all the great work. (Applause.)
12:34 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 19, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 7, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 7, 2014
Source: WH, 9-6-14
WASHINGTON, DC —In this week’s address, the Vice President discusses our continued economic recovery, with 10 million private sector jobs created over the past 54 months. Yet even with this good news, too many Americans are still not seeing the effects of our recovery. As the Vice President explains, there’s more that can be done to continue to bolster our economy and ensure that middle class families benefit from the growth they helped create, including closing tax loopholes, expanding education opportunities, and raising the minimum wage.
Remarks of Vice President Joe Biden
The White House
September 6, 2014
Ladies and gentlemen, this is Joe Biden, I’m filling in for President Obama, while he addresses the NATO summit in Wales.
When the President and I took office in January of 2009, this nation was in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the great depression. Our economy had plummeted at a rate of 8% in a single quarter – part of the fastest economic decline any time in the last half century. Millions of families were falling underwater on their homes and threatened with foreclosure. The iconic American automobile industry was under siege.
But yesterday’s jobs report was another reminder of how far we’ve come. We’ve had 54 straight months of job creation. And that’s the longest streak of uninterrupted job growth in the United States’ history.
We’ve gone from losing 9 million jobs during the financial crisis to creating 10 million jobs. We’ve reduced the unemployment rate from 10% in October of 2009 to 6.1% today. And for the first time since the 1990s, American manufacturing is steadily adding jobs – over 700,000 since 2010. And surveys of both American and foreign business leaders confirm that America once again is viewed as the best place in the world to build and invest.
That’s all good news. But an awful lot of middle class Americans are still not feeling the effects of this recovery. Since the year 2000, Gross Domestic Product – our GDP – has risen by 25%. And productivity in America is up by 30%. But middle class wages during that same time period have gone up by only fourteen cents.
Folks, it’s long past time to cut the middle class back into the deal, so they can benefit from the economic growth they helped create. Folks, there used to be a bargain in this country supported by Democrats and Republicans, business and labor. The bargain was simple. If an employee contributed to the growth and profitability of the company, they got to share in the profits and the benefits as well. That’s what built the middle class. It’s time to restore the bargain, to deal the middle class back in. Because, folks, when the middle class does well, everybody does well – the wealthy get wealthier and the poor have a way up.
You know, the middle class is not a number. It’s a value set. It means being able to own your home; raise your children in a safe neighborhood; send them to a good school where if they do well they can qualify to go to college and if they get accepted you’d be able to find a way to be able to send them to college. And in the meantime, if your parents need help, being able to take care of them, and hope to put aside enough money so that your children will not have to take care of you.
That’s the American dream. That’s what this country was built on. And that’s what we’re determined to restore.
In order to do that, it’s time to have a fair tax structure, one that values paychecks as much as unearned income and inherited wealth, to take some of the burden off of the middle class. It’s time to close tax loopholes so we can reduce the deficit, and invest in rebuilding America – our bridges, our ports, our highways, rails, providing good jobs.
With corporate profits at near record highs, we should encourage corporations to invest more in research and development and the salaries of their employees. It’s time for us to invest in educational opportunity to guarantee that we have the most highly skilled workforce in the world, for 6 out of every 10 jobs in the near term is going to require some education beyond high school. Folks, it’s long past due to increase the minimum wage that will lift millions of hardworking families out of poverty and in the process produce a ripple effect that boosts wages for the middle class and spurs economic growth for the United States of America. Economists acknowledge that if we do these and other things, wages will go up and we’ll increase the Gross Domestic Product of the United States.
My fellow Americans, we know how to do this. We’ve done it before. It’s the way we used to do business and we can do it that way again. All the middle class in this country want is a chance. No guarantee, just a chance.
Americans want to work. And when given a fair shot, the American worker has never, ever, ever, let his country down. Folks, it’s never a good bet to bet against the American people.
Thanks for listening.
May God bless you, and may God protect our troops.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 6, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 4, 2014
Source: WH, 7-22-14
12:18 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everyone. It’s great to be here. (Applause.) Please, thank you very much. Thank you, distinguished members of Congress and members of labor and business, and the community. Today, as the President signs the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, we’re using this occasion also to present to the President a roadmap he asked — requested in the State of the Union message, how to keep and maintain the highest-skilled workforce in the world. And this is a perfect build-on as to what the bipartisan consensus that Congress recently reached.
I had the best partners in preparing this report that I could ask for — Tom Perez at Labor, Penny Pritzker at Commerce and Arne Duncan at the Department of Education. I talked to governors, mayors, industry leaders, presidents of community colleges and colleges, and unions, and a lot of members of Congress, many of whom are here. And I have to acknowledge at the out front — at the outset, my wife, Jill, has been an incredible advocate for community colleges and the role they play in training the workforce.
But most importantly, I spoke with an awful lot of Americans who are — as all of you have, particularly members of Congress, who were hit exceedingly hard by the Great Recession, but are doing everything they possibly can to find a job — willing to learn new skills in order to have a decent, middle-class job. One thing I hope that’s been put to rest — and I know we all share this view — Americans want to work. They want to work. They’re willing to do anything that they need to do to get a good and decent job.
And they show us that our single greatest resource is not — and it’s not hyperbole — remains the American people. They’re the most highly-skilled workers in the world and the most capable people in the world. And they’re in the best position to learn the new skills of the 21st century that the workforce requires. There’s that phrase — all has changed, changed utterly. Well, all has changed. It’s a different world in which people are competing in order to get the kind of jobs they need, whether it’s in advanced manufacturing or clean energy or information technology or health care — all areas that are booming, all areas where America is back.
So the core question that we set out to answer — and I’m sure my colleagues did as well — was how do you connect? How do you connect these workers who desperately want a job, who will do all they need to do to qualify, how do you connect them with jobs? How do Americans know what skills employers need? It sounds like a silly question, but how do they know? And how do they get these skills once they know what skills are needed for the job? And where, where do they go to get those jobs?
This report is designed to help answer those extremely practical questions. It includes 50 actions that the federal government and our outside partners are taking now to help fill this skills gap. There is this new strategy that we think will lead directly to more middle-class jobs. These actions are going to help promote partnerships between educational institutions and workforce institutions. They’re going to increase apprenticeships, which will allow folks to learn — and earn while they learn. And it will empower job seekers and employers with better data on what jobs are available and what skills are needed to fill those jobs.
Let me tell you a story why all this matters. And I’ve been all over the country and invited by many of you into your districts and states in order to look at programs you have that are similar to what we’re proposing today. But I was recently — and I could talk about many of them, but I was recently in Detroit just last week. And I met with an incredible group of women at a local community college. Now, all of these women came from hardscrabble neighborhoods in Detroit. They happened to be all women, it was coincidence, but they all made it through high school. They ranged in age I’m guessing somewhere from 25 to their mid-50s. But they all got a high school education, and they were absolutely determined to do more to be able to provide for themselves and their family.
Through word of mouth, Tom, they heard about a coding boot camp, computer coding — a coding boot camp. And it’s called [Step] IT Up America. And it was a partnership between Wayne County Community College and a company called UST Global. Now, it’s an intensive, four-month — just four months, but intensive eight-hour day — I think it’s almost the whole day — don’t hold me to the exact number of hours, but intensive training program where these women happen to be, as I said, there were about a dozen and a half women learn IT skills needed to fill jobs at UST Global.
UST Global represents a lot of other IT companies as well. Knowing vacancies exist — they estimate over a thousand vacancies just in the greater Detroit area. And upon completion of this program, UST Global hires the students, and the lowest starting job is at $45,000 a year and the highest is $70,000 a year. These are coders, computer programmers. But there’s a key point: UST Global doesn’t train these women out of some altruistic sense of charity. They do it because it’s a very, very smart business decision.
There’s an overwhelming need for more computer coders -— as does not just UST Global, but the entire industry. By 2020, our research shows there will be 1.4 million new IT jobs all across this country. And the pay is in the $70,000 range.
I was so proud of these women. As I said, my wife teaches in a community college. Her average class age of people in her class is 28 to 30 years old. Just think of yourself, what courage it takes. You’re out of high school. You’re graduated. You’ve been bumping along in a job trying to make it. You’ve been out, two, five, 10, 15 years. And someone says, there’s this opportunity to take this program to learn Java, to learn a new language, to learn how to operate a computer in a way that you can code it. It takes a lot of courage to step up.
It takes a willingness to be ready to fail. These women were remarkable, but not just these women. They write code, so they look — they weren’t out there. They were — they knew someone who had gotten a job because of the program, and they thought they could do it. So they learned an entire new language, and they displayed an initiative that was remarkable to see. They showed up. They worked hard because they want a good-paying job. They want to make a decent living. They want to take care of themselves and their families.
Folks, that’s what — as I know all of my colleagues believe — that’s what this is all about. It’s not just information technology. Manufacturing — 100,000 high-tech manufacturing jobs available today in the United States because the employers cannot find workers with the right skills. That number of highly skilled manufacturing jobs is going to grow to 875,000 by 2020.
And, folks, I was recently up in Michigan. And Dow Kokam has a plant there that’s — they couldn’t find anybody with photovoltaic technology, didn’t know how to run the machines. So the community college and the business, they roll the machines right into the community college because of the help you all have provided in Congress, the funding. And it’s like an assembly line. These are good-paying jobs.
And in energy: 26 percent more jobs for petroleum engineers, average salary 130,000 bucks a year; 25 percent more jobs for solar panel installers, $38,000 a year; 20 percent more jobs needed — more electricians are needed, earning $50,000 a year -— all now and in the near term. These are real jobs. These are real jobs.
Health care: There are 20 percent more jobs -— or 526,000 more that are needed in the health care industry -— registered nurses, jobs that pay 65,000 bucks a year. There’s training programs in all of your states and districts, where you go out there, and while you’re a practical nurse, you can still be working and be essentially apprentice, while you are learning how to become — and taking courses to be a registered nurse.
Physician assistants — badly needed as the call for health care increases. What’s the number, Tom, 130,000 a year roughly? These are jobs all within the grasp of the American people if we give them the shot, if we show them the way, let them know how they can possibly pay for it while they are raising a family, and they’ll do the rest.
To maintain our place in the world we need to keep the world’s most skilled workforce right here in America, and to give a whole lot more hardworking Americans a chance at a good, middle-class job they can raise a family on.
But we also know the actions in this report are only a beginning, and as is the legislation. The fact of the matter is that so many people over the last two decades have fallen out of the middle class, and so many in the upcoming generation need to find a path back. Well, there is a path back if we all do our jobs — from industry, to education, to union leaders, to governors, to Congress, to the federal government.
And the mission is very simple. It goes back to the central economic vision that has guided most of us — I can speak for the President and I — from the first day we got here.
The mission is to widen the aperture to be able to get into the middle class by expanding opportunity. No guarantees, just expanding opportunity to American men and women who represent the backbone of the most dynamic, thriving economy in the world. That’s a fact. We are the most dynamic, thriving economy in the world.
But in order to thrive, their education and training has to be as just as dynamic and adaptable as our economy is. So, folks, America is back. We’re better positioned today than we ever have been. According to A.T. Kearney, we are the most attractive place in the world for foreign investments by a long shot, of every other country in the world. Since this survey has been kept, the gap between number one and number two is wider than it ever has been. Manufacturing is back, folks. They’re coming home. Instead of hearing — my kids, instead of hearing about outsourcing, what are you hearing now? You’re hearing about insourcing. Companies are coming back.
We’re in the midst of — we take no direct credit for it — we’re in the midst of an energy boom. North America will be the epicenter of energy in the 21st century — the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada. We remain the leader in innovation. We have the greatest research universities in the world. We have the most adaptive financing systems in the world, to go out and take chances on new startups. And American workers are the most productive in the world. They want to work.
But to seize this moment, we need to keep the world’s most skilled workforce here in America. And I think today in this bipartisan group — we’re ready. The American people are ready. And I know the man I’m about to introduce is ready. He wakes up every morning trying to figure out how do we give ordinary Americans an opportunity. This is just about opportunity, man. Simple opportunity — how do we give them — because they — an opportunity because they are so exceptional.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I think everyone in this room shares that goal — providing for opportunity. And the man I’m about to introduce, that’s all he talks about, it seems to me when he talks to me.
Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Barack Obama. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Everybody, please be seated. Thank you. Well, welcome to the White House, everybody. And I want to thank Joe for the generous introduction, but more importantly, for everything he does, day in, day out, on behalf of American workers. And I want to thank the members of Congress who are here from both parties who led the effort to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act.
When President Clinton signed the original Workforce Investment Act back in 1998, he said it was, “a big step forward in making sure that every adult can keep on learning for a lifetime.” And he was right — the law became a pillar of American job training programs. It’s helped millions of Americans earn the skills they need to find a new job or get a better-paying job.
But even back then, even in 1998, our economy was changing. The notion that a high school education could get you a good job and that you’d keep that job until retirement wasn’t a reality for the majority of people. Advances in technology made some jobs obsolete. Global competition sent other jobs overseas. And then, as we were coming into office, the Great Recession pulled the rug out from under millions of hardworking families.
Now, the good news is, today, nearly six years after the financial crisis, our businesses have added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months. Manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September of 2008 -– by the way, the fastest one-year drop in nearly 30 years. There are now more job openings than at any time since 2007, pre-recession. For the first time in a decade, as Joe mentioned, business leaders around the world have declared that the number-one place to do business, the number-one place to invest isn’t China, it’s the United States of America.
So thanks to the hard work of the American people and some decent policies, our economy has recovered faster and it has gone farther than most other advanced nations. As Joe said, we are well-positioned. We’ve got the best cards. So we have the opportunity right now to extend the lead we already have -– to encourage more companies to join the trend and bring jobs home; to make sure that the gains aren’t just for folks at the very top, but that the economy works for every single American. If you’re working hard, you should be able to get a job, that job should pay well, and you should be able to move forward, look after your family.
Opportunity for all. And that means that even as we’re creating new jobs in this new economy, we have to make sure that every American has the skills to fill those jobs. And keep in mind, not every job that’s a good job out there needs a four-year degree, but the ones that don’t need a college degree generally need some sort of specialized training.
Last month, I met just a wonderful young woman named Rebekah in Minnesota. A few years ago, she was waiting tables. Her husband lost his job, he was a carpenter doing construction work. He had to figure out how to scramble and get a new job that paid less. She chose to take out student loans, she enrolled in a community college, she retrained for a new career. Today, not only has her husband been able to get back into construction but she loves her job as an accountant — started a whole new career. And the question then is how do we give more workers that chance to adapt, to revamp, retool, so that they can move forward in this new economy.
In 2011, I called on Congress to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, update it for the 21st century. And I want to thank every single lawmaker who is here — lawmakers from both parties — who answered that call. It took some compromising, but, you know what, it turns out compromise sometimes is okay. Folks in Congress got past their differences and they got a bill to my desk. So this is not a win for Democrats or Republicans. It is a win for American workers. It’s a win for the middle class. And it’s a win for everybody who is fighting to earn their way into the middle class.
So the bill I’m about to sign will give communities more certainty to invest in job-training programs for the long run. It will help us bring those programs into the 21st century by building on what we know works based on evidence, based on tracking what actually delivers on behalf of folks who enroll in these programs -– more partnerships with employers, more tools to measure performance, more flexibilities for states and cities to innovate and to run their workforce programs in ways that are best suited for their particular demographic and their particular industries. And as we approach the 24th anniversary of the ADA, this bill takes new steps to support Americans with disabilities who want to live and work independently. So there’s a lot of good stuff in here.
Of course, as Joe said, there is still more that we can do. And that’s why we’ve rallied employers to give long-term unemployed a fair shot. It’s why we’re using $600 million in federal grants to encourage companies to offer apprenticeships and work directly with community colleges. It’s why, in my State of Union address this year, I asked Joe to lead an across-the-board review of America’s training programs to make sure that they have one mission: Train Americans with the skills employers actually need, then match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.
So today, I’m directing my Cabinet — even as we’re signing the bill — to implement some of Joe’s recommendations. First, we’re going to use the funds and programs we already have in a smarter way. Federal agencies will award grants that move away from what our Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, who has been working very hard on this, what he calls a “train and pray” approach, and I’ll bet a lot of you who have dealt with folks who are unemployed know what that means. They enroll, they get trained for something, they’re not even sure whether the job is out there, and if the job isn’t out there, all they’re doing is saddling themselves with debt, oftentimes putting themselves in a worse position. What we want to do is make sure where you train your workers first based on what employers are telling you they’re hiring for. Help business design the training programs so that we’re creating a pipeline into jobs that are actually out there.
Number two, training programs that use federal money will be required to make public how many of its graduates find jobs and how much they earn. And that means workers, as they’re shopping around for what’s available, they’ll know in advance if they can expect a good return on their investment. Every job seeker should have all the tools they need to take their career into their own hands, and we’re going to help make sure they can do that.
And finally, we’re going to keep investing in new strategies and innovations that help keep pace with a rapidly changing economy — from testing new, faster ways of teaching skills like coding and cybersecurity and welding, to giving at-risk youth the chance to learn on the job, we will keep making sure that Americans have the chance to build their careers throughout a lifetime of hard work.
So the bill I’m signing today and the actions I’m taking today will connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs. Of course, there is so much more that we can still do. And I’m looking forward to engaging all the members of Congress and all the businesses and not-for-profits who worked on this issue. I’m really interested in engaging them, see what else we can get going.
I’ll give you a couple of examples. Our high school graduation rate is the highest on record. More young people are earning their college degrees than ever before. But we still have work to do to make college more affordable and lift the burden of student loan debt. I acted to give nearly five million Americans the opportunity to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their income — particularly important for those who were choosing careers that aren’t as lucrative. But Congress could help millions more, and I’d like to work with you on that.
Minimum wage. This week marks five years since the last increase in the minimum wage. More and more states and business owners are raising their workers’ wages. I did the same thing for federal contractors. I’d like to work with Congress to see if we can do the same for about 28 million Americans — give Americans a raise right now.
Fair pay. Let’s make sure the next generation of women are getting a fair deal. Let’s make sure the next generation of good manufacturing jobs are made in America. Let’s make it easier, not harder, for companies to bring those jobs back home. Tomorrow, senators will get to vote on the Bring Jobs Home Act. Instead of rewarding companies for shipping jobs overseas or rewarding companies that are moving profits offshore, let’s create jobs right here in America and let’s encourage those companies.
So let’s build on what both parties have already done on many of these issues. Let’s see if we can come together and, while we’re at it, let’s fix an immigration system that is currently broken in a way that strengthens our borders and that we know will be good for business, we know will increase our GDP, we know will drive down our deficit.
So I want to thank all the Democrats and Republicans here today for getting this bill done. This is a big piece of work. You can see, it’s a big bill. (Laughter.) But I’m also inviting you back. Let’s do this more often. It’s so much fun. (Laughter and applause.) Let’s pass more bills to help create more good jobs, strengthen the middle class. Look at everybody — everybody is smiling, everybody feels good. (Laughter.) We could be doing this all the time. (Laughter.)
Our work can make a real difference in the lives of real Americans. That’s why we’re here. We’ll have more job satisfaction. (Laughter.) The American people, our customers, they’ll feel better about the product we produce.
And back in 1998, when President Clinton signed the original Workforce Investment Act into law, he was introduced by a man named Jim Antosy from Reading, Pennsylvania. And Jim spoke about how he had been laid off in 1995 at age 49, two kids, no college degree. With the help of job training programs, he earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science, found a new job in his field.
Today, Jim and his wife, Barb, still live in Reading. Over the past 16 years, he’s been steadily employed as a programmer, working his way up from contractor to full-time employee. In just a few months, Jim now is planning to retire after a lifetime of hard work. A job training program made a difference in his life. And one thing he’s thinking about doing in his retirement is teaching computer science at the local community college, so he can help a new generation of Americans earn skills that lead directly to a job, just like he had the opportunity to do.
Well, I ran for President because I believe even in a changing economy, even in a changing world, stories like Jim aren’t just possible, they should be the norm. Joe believes the same thing. Many of you believe the same thing. I believe America is — I don’t just believe, I know America is full of men and women who work very hard and live up to their responsibilities, and all they want in return is to see their hard work pay off, that responsibility rewarded.
They’re not greedy. They’re not looking for the moon. They just want to be able to know that if they work hard, they can find a job, they can look after their families, they can retire with dignity, they’re not going to go bankrupt when they get sick, maybe take a vacation once in a while — nothing fancy. That’s what they’re looking for, because they know that ultimately what’s important is family and community and relationships. And that’s possible. That’s what America is supposed to be about. That’s what I’m fighting for every single day as President.
This bill will help move us along that path. We need to do it more. Let’s get together, work together, restore opportunity for every single American. So with that, I’d like to invite up some of the outstanding folks who are sitting in the audience who helped make this happen. And I’m going to sign this bill with all those pens.
Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)
12:48 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 22, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 27, 2014
Source: WH, 5-16-14
12:12 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Let me say something to these folks real quick so we can eat our burgers in peace. And excuse me, my voice is a little hoarse — I had a cold at the beginning of the week. In addition to coming to Shake Shack — which has great burgers and pays its employees over 10 bucks an hour, so we’re very proud of them and the great work that they’re doing — we’ve been talking a lot all across the country about the importance of raising the minimum wage. These four individuals just completed a project here in D.C. –- an infrastructure project that put a lot of folks to work, it is going to make the economy move better, traffic move better. And as you know, earlier this week, both Joe and I highlighted the fact that we’re fast-tracking projects all across the country.
One of the things that we could do right now to put more Americans back to work is to fund our transportation more effectively and more consistently. And if Congress does not act, then by the end of this summer, we could have hundreds of thousands of projects like this all across the country stop. And people whose livelihoods depend on those projects sent home. And businesses that need improved infrastructure suffering under downgraded infrastructure.
So it is a no-brainer for Congress to do what it’s supposed to do: Pass transportation funding. We can do it without adding to the deficit simply by getting rid of some corporate tax loopholes that aren’t creating jobs and are basically giveaways to folks who don’t need them. And when people — when you ask Americans from all walks of life all across the country what’s their number one priority, it’s improving the economy and putting people back to work. And one of the best ways we can do it is to do something about the roads, the bridges, the ports, the airports, the sewer lines all across the country that need repair.
We know we’re going to have to do it. This is like deferred maintenance on your house. If you’ve got to do some tuck-pointing to fix the roof or fix the boiler, there’s no point in putting it off. Now is the time to do it, and we’ve got outstanding contractors and workers ready to work. So I hope Congress gets working, and I’m prepared to work with anybody on a bipartisan basis to get it done.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Mr. President, for 40 years it’s been a bipartisan notion.
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: For 40 years. This is the first time — I’ve been hanging around and it’s like, oh, infrastructure.
THE PRESIDENT: This shouldn’t be Democrat or Republican. This is American. We’ve got to rebuild America. And these are folks who are doing it.
So thank you very much, everybody. Enjoy your burgers if you guys are buying them.
12:14 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 16, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 19, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 5, 2014
Source: WH, 2-24-14
State Dining Room
11:15 A.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thanks for making the Cabinet stand up for me. (Laughter.) I appreciate it.
It’s great to see you all. And I don’t know about you all, I had a great time last night and got a chance to actually do what we should be doing more of — talking without thinking about politics and figuring how we can solve problems.
You’ve observed by now the reason the President and I like doing this every year is it’s nice dealing with people who know they got to get a job done, and they get a job done. And I’ve gotten a chance to work directly with an awful lot of you in the days of the Recovery Act, and even when we were working on the gun violence; rebuilding from that super storm Sandy, which hit my state as well, and tornadoes and floods in a number of your states.
But it never ceases to amaze me how you all mobilize. You just mobilize. When crises hit your states, you mobilize and you rebuild. And you rebuild your infrastructure not to the standards that existed before, but to 21st century standards. You balance your budgets, you save neighborhoods, and you bring back jobs to your communities.
And the other thing I pick up — and I may be wrong. I’m always labeled as the White House optimist, like I’m the kid who fell off the turnip truck yesterday, but I am the youngest here — (laughter) — and new. But it always amazes me your sense of optimism. You’re the one group of folks you go to with all the problems you have that you’re optimistic. You’re optimistic about it being able to be done, getting things done. That is not always the mood up in the place where I spent a large portion of my career.
And last night I got to speak to a bunch of you, particularly about the job skills initiative the President asked me to lead, and I had a chance to speak with some of you specifically, and I’m going to ask to — I’m going to get a chance to see more of you this afternoon. But this is more than just — at least from the President’s perspective and mine — more than just a job skills initiative. It’s about literally opening the aperture to the middle class. The middle class has actually shrunk.
And we always have these debates with our economists — is the middle class $49,820 or $52,000. The middle class to me, and I think to most of you, it’s really a state of mind. It’s about being able to own your home and not have to rent it. It’s about being able to send your kid to a park where you know you can send them out, and they’ll come home safely. It’s about being able to send them to school, that if they do well in the school, they’re going to be able to get to something beyond high school if they want to do that. And you’re going to be able to pay for it. And in the meantime, you may be able to take care of your mom and dad who are in tough shape and hope that your kids never have to take care of you. That’s the middle class.
And before the Great Recession, it was already beginning to shrink. So together, we got to open — Mary, you and I have talked about this — about opening the aperture here for access to the middle class. But we’ll be speaking a lot more about that in the next several months. A couple of you invited me to come out your way, including some of my Republican friends. And I’m going to be working with all of you.
But today I just want to say thank you. Thank you for what you always do. You come to town; you come to town with answers. You come to town with suggestions. You come to town to get things done. And believe me, we need that and the American people are looking for it.
And I want to welcome you back to the White House, and introduce you now to my friend, your President, Barack Obama. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Please, have a seat. Thank you so much.
Welcome to the White House. I know that you’ve already been doing a lot of work, and I’m glad to be able to come here and engage in a dialogue with all of you. I want to thank Mary and John for their leadership at the NGA. I want to thank my outstanding Vice President, Joe Biden, who is very excited I think about the jobs initiative, and is going to be — the job training initiative, and I think is going to be doing a great job on that.
Michelle and I had a wonderful time hosting you guys last night, and I hope all the spouses enjoyed it. And I know Alex enjoyed it. (Laughter.) One good thing about living here is that you can make all the noise you want and nobody is going to complain. (Laughter.) And I enjoyed watching some of you with your eyes on higher office size up the drapes — (laughter) –and each other.
We don’t have a lot of time today, so I want to be very brief, go straight to Q&A and discussion. We’re at a moment when our economy is growing; our businesses have now created over 8.5 million new jobs over the past four years. But, as I’ve said several times, the trends that have battered the middle class for a couple of decades now are still there and still have to be addressed. Those at the top are doing very well. Ordinary families still feeling squeezed. Too many Americans are working harder than ever, and just barely getting by.
And reversing these trends are going to require us to work together around what I’m calling an opportunity agenda based on four things. Number one, more good jobs that pay good wages. Number two, training more Americans to be able to take the jobs that are out there right now and the jobs that are created. Number three, guaranteeing access to a world-class education for every American child all across our 50 states and our territories. And making sure that hard work pays off — with wages that you can live on, savings that you can retire on, health insurance that you can count on.
And all of this is going to take some action. So far, just in the past few weeks, I’ve acted to lift the wages of workers who work for federal contractors to pay their — make sure their employees are getting paid at least $10.10 an hour. We’ve ordered an across-the-board reform of our job training programs, much of it aligned with some of the work that Mary has done during her tenure as head of the NGA. We directed our Treasury to create a new way for Americans to start saving for retirement. We’ve been able to rally America’s business leaders to help more of the long-term unemployed find work, and to help us make sure that all of our kids have access to high-speed Internet and high-tech learning tools in the classroom.
The point is, this has to be a year of action. And I’m eager to work with Congress wherever I can. My hope is, is that despite this being an election year, that there will be occasions where both parties determine that it makes sense to actually get some things done in this town. But wherever I can work on my own to expand opportunity for more Americans, I’m going to do that. And I am absolutely convinced that the time is right to partner with the states and governors all across the country on these agendas, because I know that you guys are doing some terrific work in your own states.
There may not be much of an appetite in Congress for doing big jobs bills, but we can still grow SelectUSA. Secretary Pritzker’s team has put together a terrific formula where we’re attracting investors from all around the world to see America as an outstanding place to invest. And I mentioned this at the State of the Union: For the first time last year, what we’re seeing is, is that world investors now see America as the number-one place to do business rather than China. And it’s a sign of a lot of things converging, both on the energy front, worker productivity, our innovation, our research, ease of doing business. And a lot of that work is as a consequence of steps we’ve taken not just at the federal level, but also at the state level. So we’ve got to take advantage of that.
Secretary Pritzker has been helping a Belgian company create jobs in Stillwater, Oklahoma; helping an Austrian company create jobs in Cartersville, Georgia. So we can do more of this, and we really want to engage with you over the next several months to find ways that we can help market America and your states to businesses all around the world and bring jobs back.
Since I called on Congress to raise the minimum wage last year, six states have gone ahead and done it on their own. Last month, I asked more business leaders to raise their workers’ wages. Last week, GAP said it would lift wages for about 65,000 of its employees. Several of you are trying to boost wages for your workers. I’m going to do everything I can to support those efforts.
While Congress decides what it’s going to do on making high-quality pre-K available to more kids, there is bipartisan work being done among the folks in this room. You’ve got governors like Robert Bentley and Jack Markell, Susana Martinez, Deval Patrick — all expanding funding or dedicating funds to make that happen in their states. And we want to partner with you. This year, I’ll pull together a coalition of philanthropists, elected officials and business leaders, all of whom are excited and interested in working with you to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K that they need.
And while Congress talks about repealing the Affordable Care Act or doing this or doing that to it, places like California and Kentucky are going gangbusters and enrolling more Americans in quality, affordable health care plans. You’ve got Republican governors here — I won’t name them in front of the press, because I don’t want to get you all in trouble — who have chosen to cover more people through new options under Medicaid. And as a result, millions of people are going to get help.
States that don’t expand Medicaid are going to be leaving up to 5.4 million Americans uninsured. And that doesn’t have to happen. Work with us to get this done. We can provide a lot of flexibility. Folks like Mike Beebe in Arkansas have done some terrific work designing programs that are right for their states but also provide access to care for people who need it. And I think Kathleen Sebelius, a former governor herself, has shown herself willing to work with all of you to try to find ways to get that done.
On the West Coast, you’ve got Governors Brown, Inslee, Kitzhaber who are working together to combat the effects of climate change on their states. We’ve set up a taskforce of governors and mayors and tribal leaders to help communities prepare for what we anticipate are going to be intensifying impacts of climate change. And we’re setting up climate hubs in seven states across the country to help farmers and ranchers adapt their operations to a changing environment.
In the budget that I’ll send to Congress next week, I’m going to propose fundamentally reforming the way federal governments fund wildfire suppression and prevention to make it more stable and secure, and this is an idea that’s supported by both Democrats and Republicans.
And finally, I want to thank those of you who have worked with Michelle and Jill Biden on their Joining Forces initiative to support our military families. At your meeting here two years ago, they asked for your help to make it easier for servicemembers and their spouses to carry licenses for professions like teaching or nursing from state to state, rather than have to get a new one every time they were reassigned. At the time, only 12 states had acted to make this easier for spouses; only nine had acted to make it easier for servicemembers. Today, 42 states have passed legislation to help spouses; 45 states have made it easier for servicemembers. We’ve got a few states remaining. Let’s get it done for everybody, because it’s the right thing to do for those men and women who are working every day to make sure we stay free and secure.
The point is, even when there is little appetite in Congress to move on some of these priorities, at the state level you guys are governed by practical considerations. You want to do right by your people and you see how good policy impacts your citizens, and you see how bad policy impacts your citizens, and that means that there’s less room for posturing and politics, and more room for getting stuff done.
We want to work with you. And I’m committed to making sure that every single member of my Cabinet, every single person in the White House, every single member of my team will be responsive to you. We won’t agree on every single issue every single time, but I guarantee you that we will work as hard as we can to make sure that you succeed — because when you succeed, the people in your states succeed and America succeeds, and that’s our goal.
So thank you very much, and I look forward to having a great discussion. Thank you, everybody. (Applause.)
11:27 A.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 24, 2014
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 2, 2014
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
From the White House to Capitol Hill to the Pentagon — and at countless ceremonies around the country — Wednesday brought a solemn step back from the frenetic campaign for U.S. military action in Syria and an acknowledgment of the terrorist attacks that shook the entire nation to its core 12 years ago.
President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, along with members of their staffs, began the day by marking the anniversary of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, first with a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House and then, for the president, a wreath-laying ceremony and speech at the Pentagon Memorial….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 11, 2013
Source: WH, 9-11-13
9:32 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning.
AUDIENCE: Good morning!
THE PRESIDENT: From Scripture, we learn of the miracle of restoration. “You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again. From the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.”
Secretary Hagel, General Dempsey, members of our Armed Forces and most of all, the survivors who bear the wounds of that day and the families of those we lost, it is an honor to be with you here again to remember the tragedy of twelve Septembers ago — to honor the greatness of all who responded and to stand with those who still grieve and to provide them some measure of comfort once more. Together we pause and we pray and we give humble thanks — as families and as a nation — for the strength and the grace that from the depths of our despair has brought us up again, has revived us again, has given us strength to keep on.
We pray for the memory of all those taken from us — nearly 3,000 innocent souls. Our hearts still ache for the futures snatched away, the lives that might have been — the parents who would have known the joy of being grandparents, the fathers and mothers who would have known the pride of a child’s graduation, the sons and daughters who would have grown, maybe married and been blessed with children of their own. Those beautiful boys and girls just beginning to find their way who today would have been teenagers and young men and women looking ahead, imagining the mark they’d make on the world.
They left this Earth. They slipped from our grasp. But it was written, “What the heart has once owned and had, it shall never lose.” What your families lost in the temporal, in the here and now, is now eternal. The pride that you carry in your hearts, the love that will never die, your loved ones’ everlasting place in America’s heart.
We pray for you, their families, who have known the awful depths of loss. And in the quiet moments we have spent together and from the stories that you’ve shared, I’m amazed at the will that you’ve summoned in your lives to lift yourselves up and to carry on, and to live and love and laugh again.
Even more than memorials of stone and water, your lives are the greatest tribute to those that we lost. For their legacy shines on in you — when you smile just like him, when you toss your hair just like her, when you foster scholarships and service projects that bear the name of those we lost and make a better world. When you join the firehouse or you put on the uniform or you devote yourself to a cause greater than yourself, just like they did, that’s a testimony to them. And in your resilience you have taught us all there is no trouble we cannot endure and there is no calamity we cannot overcome.
We pray for all those who have stepped forward in those years of war — diplomats who serve in dangerous posts, as we saw this day last year in Benghazi, intelligence professionals, often unseen and unheralded who protect us in every way — our men and women in uniform who defend this country that we love.
Today we remember not only those who died that September day. We pay solemn tribute to more than 6,700 patriots who have given their full measure since — military and civilians. We see their legacy in the friendships they forged, the attacks they prevented, the innocent lives they saved and in their comrades in Afghanistan who are completing the mission and who by the end of next year will have helped to end this war.
This is the path that we’ve traveled together. These are the wounds that continue to heal. And this is the faith in God and each other that carries us through, that restores us and that we summon once more each time we come to hallowed ground — beside this building or in a Pennsylvania field or where the towers once stood. Here, in such moments of grace, we are renewed. And it is here that we reaffirm the values and virtues that must guide us.
Let us have the strength to face the threats that endure, different though they may be from 12 years ago, so that as long as there are those who would strike our citizens, we will stand vigilant and defend our nation.
Let us have the wisdom to know that while force is at times necessary, force alone cannot build the world we seek. So we recommit to the partnerships and progress that builds mutual respect and deepens trust and allows more people to live in dignity, prosperity and freedom.
Let us have the confidence in the values that make us American, which we must never lose, the shining liberties that make us a beacon of the world; the rich diversity that makes us stronger, the unity and commitment to one another that we sustain on this National Day of Service and Remembrance.
And above all, let us have the courage like the survivors and families here today to carry on, no matter how dark the night or how difficult the day. “You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again. And from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and you will comfort me again.”
May God bless the memory of those that we lost. May he comfort you and your families and may God bless these United States of America. (Applause.)
9:40 A.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 11, 2013
Source: LAT, 8-29-13
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration said Thursday it had closed a loophole in the gun laws that allowed the acquisition of machine guns and other weapons and had banned U.S….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on August 29, 2013
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Ever since President Obama and Hillary Clinton appeared together for a joint network interview in January, it seemed like the president had unofficially made the former Secretary of State his heir apparent.
But on Friday, President Obama stood by Vice President Joe Biden in his hometown of Scranton, Pa., heaping praise on the man who has dutifully been at his side since Obama picked him as his running mate five years ago to the day….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on August 24, 2013
Source: ABC News Radio, 5-10-13
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Joe Biden sat for a wide-ranging interview published in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine in which the vice president answered questions on a variety of domestic and international issues while speaking candidly about his close relationship with President Obama….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 10, 2013
Source: ABC News Radio, 5-4-13
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
South Carolina got a taste of two very different political acts Friday night….
“One of the things that bothers me most about the new Republican party is how down on America they are, how down on our prospects they are, how they talk about how we’re getting clobbered, how they talk about things that have no relationship to reality, all in the name of making sure that the very few at the top do very well,” Biden said at the South Carolina Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner Friday night….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 4, 2013
Source: WH, 4-17-13
Surrounded by Americans whose lives and families had been forever changed by gun violence, President Obama spoke from the Rose Garden about today’s Senate vote on expanded background checks for gun sales.
A few months ago, in response to too many tragedies — including the shootings of a United States Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, who’s here today, and the murder of 20 innocent schoolchildren and their teachers –- this country took up the cause of protecting more of our people from gun violence.
Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders –- not just to honor the memory of their children, but to protect the lives of all our children. And a few minutes ago, a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery.
“A majority of senators voted “yes” to protecting more of our citizens with smarter background checks,” President Obama said. “But by this continuing distortion of Senate rules, a minority was able to block it from moving forward.”
The President said that the legislation showed respect for victims of gun violence and gun owners alike. “Nobody could honestly claim that this legislation infringed on our Second Amendment rights,” he said. “All it did was extend the same background check rules that already apply to guns purchased from a dealer to guns purchased at gun shows or over the Internet.”
But the fact is most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn’t want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun. There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this. It came down to politics — the worry that that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections.
“All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” President Obama said. “But this effort isn’t over. I want to make it clear to the American people that we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence, so long as you don’t give up. “
He promised that his administration would keep doing everything it can to protect our kids and communities. “But we can do more if Congress gets its act together,” he said.
“Those who care deeply about preventing more and more gun violence will have to be as passionate, and as organized, and as vocal as those who blocked these common-sense steps to help keep our kids safe.”
The President said that he sees today’s vote as the end of round one.
I believe we’re going to be able to get this done. Sooner or later, we are going to get this right. The memories of these children demand it. And so do the American people.
Make your voice heard. Speak out if you support common-sense steps to reduce gun violence
Source: WH, 4-17-13
5:35 P.M. EDT
MR. BARDEN: Hello. My name is Mark Barden. Just four months ago, my wife Jackie and I lost our son, and our children, James and Natalie, they lost their little brother Daniel. Daniel was a first-grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our sweet, 7-year-old Daniel was one of 20 children, six adults lost on December 14th. I have to say it feels like it was just yesterday.
In our deepest grief, we were supported by the love of our families and comforted by the love and prayers we received from millions of America, from every corner of the country.
What happened in Newtown can happen anywhere. In any instant, any dad in America could be in my shoes. No one should feel the pain. No one should feel our pain or the pain felt by the tens of thousands of people who’ve lost loved ones to senseless gun violence.
And that’s why we’re here. Two weeks ago, 12 of us from Newtown came to meet with U.S. senators and have a conversation about how to bring common-sense solutions to the issues of gun violence. We came with a sense of hope, optimistic that real conversation could begin that would ultimately save the lives of so many Americans. We met with dozens of Democrats and Republicans and shared with them pictures of our children, our spouses, our parents who lost their lives on December 14th.
Expanded background checks wouldn’t have saved our loved ones, but still we came to support the bipartisan proposal from two senators, both with “A” ratings from the NRA — a common-sense proposal supported by 90 percent of Americans. It‘s a proposal that will save lives without interfering with the rights of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.
We’ll return home now, disappointed but not defeated. We return home with the determination that change will happen — maybe not today, but it will happen. It will happen soon. We’ve always known this would be a long road, and we don’t have the luxury of turning back. We will keep moving forward and build public support for common-sense solutions in the areas of mental health, school safety, and gun safety.
We take strength from the children and loved ones that we lost, and we carry a great faith in the American people.
On behalf of the Sandy Hook Promise, I would like to thank President Obama, Vice President Biden for their leadership and for standing strong and continuing to fight for a safer America. I would like to thank Senators Toomey, Manchin, Schumer and Kirk on coming together to seek common ground on legislation that would keep guns out of the hands of criminals and save lives.
And I would like to thank Connecticut’s Senators Blumenthal and Murphy. They’ve been right with us. They stood by us right from the very beginning. From the first few hours after this tragedy they were with us.
We will not be defeated. We are not defeated, and we will not be defeated. We are here now; we will always be here because we have no other choice. We are not going away. And every day, as more people are killed in this country because of gun violence, our determination grows stronger.
We leave Washington hoping that others, both here and across the country, will join us in making the Sandy Hook Promise, a pledge that we’d had great hope that more U.S. senators would take literally. I’d like to end by repeating the words with which the Sandy Hook Promise begins: Our hearts are broken. Our spirit is not.
Thank you. It is now my great pleasure to introduce the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.
THE PRESIDENT: A few months ago, in response to too many tragedies — including the shootings of a United States Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, who’s here today, and the murder of 20 innocent schoolchildren and their teachers –- this country took up the cause of protecting more of our people from gun violence.
Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders –- not just to honor the memory of their children, but to protect the lives of all our children. And a few minutes ago, a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery.
By now, it’s well known that 90 percent of the American people support universal background checks that make it harder for a dangerous person to buy a gun. We’re talking about convicted felons, people convicted of domestic violence, people with a severe mental illness. Ninety percent of Americans support that idea. Most Americans think that’s already the law.
And a few minutes ago, 90 percent of Democrats in the Senate just voted for that idea. But it’s not going to happen because 90 percent of Republicans in the Senate just voted against that idea.
A majority of senators voted “yes” to protecting more of our citizens with smarter background checks. But by this continuing distortion of Senate rules, a minority was able to block it from moving forward.
I’m going to speak plainly and honestly about what’s happened here because the American people are trying to figure out how can something have 90 percent support and yet not happen. We had a Democrat and a Republican -– both gun owners, both fierce defenders of our Second Amendment, with “A” grades from the NRA — come together and worked together to write a common-sense compromise on background checks. And I want to thank Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey for their courage in doing that. That was not easy given their traditional strong support for Second Amendment rights.
As they said, nobody could honestly claim that the package they put together infringed on our Second Amendment rights. All it did was extend the same background check rules that already apply to guns purchased from a dealer to guns purchased at gun shows or over the Internet. So 60 percent of guns are already purchased through a background check system; this would have covered a lot of the guns that are currently outside that system.
Their legislation showed respect for gun owners, and it showed respect for the victims of gun violence. And Gabby Giffords, by the way, is both — she’s a gun owner and a victim of gun violence. She is a Westerner and a moderate. And she supports these background checks.
In fact, even the NRA used to support expanded background checks. The current leader of the NRA used to support these background checks. So while this compromise didn’t contain everything I wanted or everything that these families wanted, it did represent progress. It represented moderation and common sense. That’s why 90 percent of the American people supported it.
But instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. They claimed that it would create some sort of “big brother” gun registry, even though the bill did the opposite. This legislation, in fact, outlawed any registry. Plain and simple, right there in the text. But that didn’t matter.
And unfortunately, this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose, because those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners, and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators. And I talked to several of these senators over the past few weeks, and they’re all good people. I know all of them were shocked by tragedies like Newtown. And I also understand that they come from states that are strongly pro-gun. And I have consistently said that there are regional differences when it comes to guns, and that both sides have to listen to each other.
But the fact is most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn’t want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun. There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this. It came down to politics — the worry that that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections. They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-Second Amendment.
And obviously, a lot of Republicans had that fear, but Democrats had that fear, too. And so they caved to the pressure, and they started looking for an excuse — any excuse — to vote “no.”
One common argument I heard was that this legislation wouldn’t prevent all future massacres. And that’s true. As I said from the start, no single piece of legislation can stop every act of violence and evil. We learned that tragically just two days ago. But if action by Congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand — if it could have prevented those people from losing their lives to gun violence in the future while preserving our Second Amendment rights, we had an obligation to try.
And this legislation met that test. And too many senators failed theirs.
I’ve heard some say that blocking this step would be a victory. And my question is, a victory for who? A victory for what? All that happened today was the preservation of the loophole that lets dangerous criminals buy guns without a background check. That didn’t make our kids safer. Victory for not doing something that 90 percent of Americans, 80 percent of Republicans, the vast majority of your constituents wanted to get done? It begs the question, who are we here to represent?
I’ve heard folks say that having the families of victims lobby for this legislation was somehow misplaced. “A prop,” somebody called them. “Emotional blackmail,” some outlet said. Are they serious? Do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don’t have a right to weigh in on this issue? Do we think their emotions, their loss is not relevant to this debate?
So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.
But this effort is not over. I want to make it clear to the American people we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence, so long as the American people don’t give up on it. Even without Congress, my administration will keep doing everything it can to protect more of our communities. We’re going to address the barriers that prevent states from participating in the existing background check system. We’re going to give law enforcement more information about lost and stolen guns so it can do its job. We’re going to help to put in place emergency plans to protect our children in their schools.
But we can do more if Congress gets its act together. And if this Congress refuses to listen to the American people and pass common-sense gun legislation, then the real impact is going to have to come from the voters.
To all the people who supported this legislation — law enforcement and responsible gun owners, Democrats and Republicans, urban moms, rural hunters, whoever you are — you need to let your representatives in Congress know that you are disappointed, and that if they don’t act this time, you will remember come election time.
To the wide majority of NRA households who supported this legislation, you need to let your leadership and lobbyists in Washington know they didn’t represent your views on this one.
The point is those who care deeply about preventing more and more gun violence will have to be as passionate, and as organized, and as vocal as those who blocked these common-sense steps to help keep our kids safe. Ultimately, you outnumber those who argued the other way. But they’re better organized. They’re better financed. They’ve been at it longer. And they make sure to stay focused on this one issue during election time. And that’s the reason why you can have something that 90 percent of Americans support and you can’t get it through the Senate or the House of Representatives.
So to change Washington, you, the American people, are going to have to sustain some passion about this. And when necessary, you’ve got to send the right people to Washington. And that requires strength, and it requires persistence.
And that’s the one thing that these families should have inspired in all of us. I still don’t know how they have been able to muster up the strength to do what they’ve doing over the last several weeks, last several months.
And I see this as just round one. When Newtown happened, I met with these families and I spoke to the community, and I said, something must be different right now. We’re going to have to change. That’s what the whole country said. Everybody talked about how we were going to change something to make sure this didn’t happen again, just like everybody talked about how we needed to do something after Aurora. Everybody talked about we needed change something after Tucson.
And I’m assuming that the emotions that we’ve all felt since Newtown, the emotions that we’ve all felt since Tucson and Aurora and Chicago — the pain we share with these families and families all across the country who’ve lost a loved one to gun violence — I’m assuming that’s not a temporary thing. I’m assuming our expressions of grief and our commitment to do something different to prevent these things from happening are not empty words.
I believe we’re going to be able to get this done. Sooner or later, we are going to get this right. The memories of these children demand it. And so do the American people.
Thank you very much, everybody.
END 5:55 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 17, 2013
Source: ABC News Radio, 4-5-13
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Vice President Joe Biden is not planning on donating a portion of his salary, eschewing the lead of President Obama and other Cabinet members who are giving up part of their salary as some federal workers face furloughs because of the sequester.
While he is not donating his salary right now, the vice president could forgo a portion of his salary in the future should his staff face furloughs down the road….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 6, 2013
Source: ABC News Radio, 4-5-13
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Rounding out the week’s Easter celebrations, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden hosted faith leaders from across the country at a prayer breakfast in the East Room of the White House Friday morning.
“To all the pastors in the house, I hope you’ve enjoyed some well-deserved rest after a very busy Holy Week. I see some chuckles, so maybe not,” the president told the crowd of approximately 135 people. “Here at the White House, I’m pleased to say that we survived yet another Easter Egg Roll.”…READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 5, 2013
Source: WH, 4-5-13
9:28 A.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all for being here today. And welcome to the White House, and a belated happy Easter — this time of the year when we celebrate renewal and we reflect on the faith that brings us together.
For me, the essence of my faith is tolerance: not being judgmental about people of different faiths. When I was in Rome a few weeks ago, Pope Francis spoke movingly in his homily about our commitments to each other, not just as people of faith, but, he went on to say, but as human beings.
I grew up in a tradition of Catholic social doctrine, and I was incredibly impressed by His Holiness’s homily, his sense of social justice. But I believe his message reads something essential about all faiths, and that is ultimately we all believe that we have a responsibility to one another and we all are our brothers’ and our sisters’ keepers.
When it comes down to it, we all know that we’re connected by much more than divides us, although the focus is always on what divides us. As we move forward as a nation, I do believe we’re going to be judged on how we answer that call — that call of moral responsibility, to whether we stand up for those who have the least among us, whether we act on their behalf.
And one of the things that I think at least the President and I believe has been the essence of this administration is the most animating principle of the administration has been just that: to look out for the least among us. Those are the values that I know that the President — and I personally know — the President holds extremely close to his heart.
So I’d like to introduce to you now, my friend, and our President, President Barack Obama. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Everybody, please have a seat. Thank you.
Well, good morning, everybody.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
THE PRESIDENT: Welcome, once again, to the White House. It is always wonderful to see so many friends from all across the country. I want to thank you for joining us today. I want to thank everybody for their prayers, but, most importantly, I want to thank everybody for their good works through your ministries. It’s making a difference in communities all across this nation, and we could not be more proud to often have a chance to work with you.
To all the pastors in the house, I hope you’ve enjoyed some well-deserved rest after a very busy Holy Week. I see some chuckles, so maybe not. (Laughter.) Here at the White House, I’m pleased to say that we survived yet another Easter Egg Roll. (Laughter.)
Now, if you’ve been to this breakfast before, you know that I always try to avoid preaching in front of people who do it for a living. That’s sound advice. So this morning, I’m just going to leave the sermon to others and offer maybe a few remarks as we mark this — the end of this Easter season.
In these sacred days, those of us as Christians remember the tremendous sacrifice Jesus made for each of us –- how, in all His humility and His grace, He took on the sins of the world and extended the gift of salvation. And we recommit ourselves to following His example –- to loving the Lord our God with all our hearts and all our souls and with all our minds, and to loving our neighbors as ourselves.
That’s the eternal spirit of Easter. And this year, I had — I think was particularly special for me because right before Easter I had a chance to feel that spirit during my trip to the Holy Land. And I think so many of you here know there are few experiences more powerful or more humbling than visiting that sacred earth.
It brings Scripture to life. It brings us closer to Christ. It reminds us that our Savior, who suffered and died was resurrected, both fully God and also a man; a human being who lived, and walked, and felt joy and sorrow just like us.
And so for Christians to walk where He walked and see what He saw are blessed moments. And while I had been to Jerusalem before, where Jesus healed the sick, and cured the blind, and embraced the least of these, I also had a chance to go to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. And those of you who have been there know that entering the church is a remarkable experience, although it is a useful instruction to see how managing different sections of the church and different clergy — it feels familiar. (Laughter.) Let’s just put it that way. (Laughter.)
And as I approached the Altar of the Nativity, as I neared the 14-pointed Silver Star that marks the spot where Christ was born, the Patriarch of Jerusalem welcomed me to, in his words, “the place where heaven and Earth met.”
And there, I had a chance to pray and reflect on Christ’s birth, and His life, His sacrifice, His Resurrection. I thought about all the faithful pilgrims who for two thousand years have done the same thing — giving thanks for the fact that, as the book of Romans tells us, “just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
I thought of the poor and the sick who seek comfort, and the marginalized and the forsaken who seek solace, and the grateful who merely seek to offer thanks for the simple blessings of this life and the awesome glory of the next. I thought of all who would travel to this place for centuries to come and the lives they might know.
And I was reminded that while our time on Earth is fleeting, He is eternal. His life, His lessons live on in our hearts and, most importantly, in our actions. When we tend to the sick, when we console those in pain, when we sacrifice for those in need, wherever and whenever we are there to give comfort and to guide and to love, then Christ is with us.
So this morning, let us pray that we’re worthy of His many blessings, that this nation is worthy of His many blessings. Let us promise to keep in our hearts, in our souls, in our minds, on this day and on every day, the life and lessons of Christ, our Lord.
And with that, I’d like to ask Father Larry Snyder to deliver our opening prayer.
9:36 A.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 5, 2013