Full Text Political Transcripts August 15, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Press Conference on Infrastructure & Chalottesville, Virginia

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Donald Trump’s Press Conference on Infrastructure & Chalottesville, Virginia

Source: Politico, 8-15-17

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Hello, everybody. Great to be back in New York with all of our friends, and some great friends outside the building, I must tell you.

I want to thank all of our distinguished guests who are with us today, including members of our cabinet, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, and of course our Transportation Secretary, who’s doing a fabulous job, Elaine Chao.
Thank you all for doing a — a really incredible and creative job on what we’re going to be discussing today, which is infrastructure.
We just had a great set of briefings upstairs on our infrastructure agenda. My administration is working every day to deliver the world-class infrastructure that our people deserve, and frankly, that our country deserves. That’s why I just signed a new executive order to dramatically reform the nation’s badly broken infrastructure permitting process.
TRUMP: Just blocks away is the Empire State Building. It took 11 months to build the Empire State Building. But today, it can take as long as a decade and much more than that. Many, many stories where it takes 20 and 25 years just to get approvals to start construction of a fairly routine highway. Highway builders must get up to 16 different approvals involving 9 different federal agencies governed by 29 different statutes. One agency alone can stall a project for many, many years and even decades.
Not only does this cost our economy billions of dollars but it also denies our citizens the safe and modern infrastructure they deserve. This overregulated permitting process is a massive, self- inflicted wound on our country. It’s disgraceful. Denying our people much-needed investments in their community and I just want to show you this because it was just shown me and I think I’m going to show it to the media.
Both real and fake media, by the way. This is what it takes to get something approved today.
Elaine, you see that?
So this is what it takes. Permitting process flow chart, that’s a flow chart. So that can go out to 20 years, this shows about 10. But that can go out to about 20 years to get something approved. This is for a highway. I’ve seen a highway recently in a certain state, I won’t mention its name, it’s 17 years.
I could have built it for $4 million or $5 million without the permitting process. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars but it took 17 years to get it approved and many, many — many, many pages of environmental impact studies. This is what we will bring it down to. This is less than two years. This is going to happen quickly, that’s what I’m signing today.
This will be less than two years for a highway. So it’s going to be quick, it’s going to be a very streamlined process. And by the way, if it doesn’t meet environmental safeguards, we’re not going to approve it. Very simple. We’re not going to approve it. So this is — maybe this one, we’ll say “let’s throw the other one away.” Would anybody like it from the media? Would anybody like that long, beautiful chart? You can have it.
So my executive order also requires agencies to work together efficiently by requiring one lead agency for each major infrastructure project. It also holds agencies accountable if they fail to streamline their review process. So each agency is accountable. We’re going to get infrastructure built quickly; inexpensively, relatively speaking; and the permitting process will go very, very quickly.
No longer will we tolerate one job-killing delay after another. No longer will we accept a broken system that benefits consultants and lobbyists at the expense of hardworking Americans. Now, I knew the process very well, probably better than anybody. I had to get permits for this building and many of the buildings I built — all of the buildings I built in Manhattan and many other places.
And I will tell you that the consultants are rich people. They go around making it very difficult, they lobby Congress, they lobby state governments, city governments to make it very difficult so that you have to hire consultants and that you have to take years and pay them a fortune. So we’re streamlining the process and we won’t be having so much of that any more.
No longer will we allow the infrastructure of our magnificent country to crumble and decay. While protecting the environment, we will build gleaming new roads, bridges, railways, waterways, tunnels and highways. We will rebuild our country with American workers, American iron, American aluminum, American steel. We will create millions of new jobs and make millions of American dreams come true.
Our infrastructure will again be the best in the world. We used to have the greatest infrastructure anywhere in the world. And today we’re like a third world country. We’re literally like a third world country. Our infrastructure will again be the best and we will restore the pride in our communities, our nation and all over the United States, we’ll be proud again.
So I want to thank everybody for being here. God bless you, God bless the United States. And if you have any questions, we have — Mick, you could come up here, please. Come on up. Mick Mulvaney. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
QUESTION: Why do you think that CEOs are leaving your manufacturing council?
TRUMP: Because they’re not taking their job seriously as it pertains to this country. We want jobs, manufacturing in this country. If you look at some of those people that you’re talking about, they’re outside of the country. They’re having a lot of their product made outside. If you look at Merck, as an example, take a look where — excuse me — excuse me — take a look at where their product is made. It’s made outside of our country. We want products made in the country.
Now, I have to tell you, some of the folks that will leave, they’re leaving out of embarrassment because they make they’re products outside. And I’ve been lecturing them, including the gentleman that you’re referring to, about you have to bring it back to this country. You can’t do it necessarily in Ireland and all of these other places. You have to bring this work back to this country.
That’s what I want. I want manufacturing to be back into the United States so that American workers can benefit.
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: … wait so long (inaudible)?
TRUMP: I didn’t wait long. I didn’t wait long.
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: I didn’t wait long. I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement. But you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts. And it’s a very, very important process to me. And it’s a very important statement.
So, I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts. If you go back to my…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: I brought it. I brought it. I brought it.
QUESTION: What did you (inaudible)?
TRUMP: As I said on — remember this — Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America. And when I went on from there.
Now, here’s the thing. As to — excuse me — excuse me — take it nice and easy.
Here’s the thing. When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts. This event just happened. In fact, a lot of the event didn’t even happen yet, as we were speaking. This event just happened. Before I make a statement, I need the facts.
So I don’t want to rush into a statement. So making the statement when I made it was excellent. In fact, the young woman who I hear is a fantastic young women, and it was on NBC, her mother wrote me and said through, I guess, Twitter, social media, the nicest things and I very much appreciate that.
I hear she was a fine, a really — actually, an incredible young woman. But her mother on Twitter thanked me for what I said. And honestly, if the press were not fake and if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. But unlike you and unlike — excuse me — unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: They don’t. They don’t.
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: How about a couple of…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: How about a couple of infrastructure questions?
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: Mr. Trump, was it terrorism, that event? Was that terrorism?
TRUMP: Say, what?
QUESTION: The CEO of Walmart said you missed a (inaudible) opportunity to help bring the country together. Did you?
TRUMP: Not at all. I think the country — look, you take a look. I’ve created over a million jobs since I’m president. The country is booming. The stock market is setting records. We have the highest employment numbers we’ve ever had in the history of our country.
We’re doing record business. We have the highest levels of enthusiasm. So the head of Walmart, who I know is a very nice guy, was making a political statement. I mean…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: … it the same way. And you know why? Because I want to make sure when I make a statement that the statement is correct. And there was no way — there was no way of making a correct statement that early.
I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters — unlike a lot of reporters…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: I didn’t know David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts. And the facts as they started coming out were very well stated. In fact, everybody said his statement was beautiful; if he would have made it sooner, that would have been good. I couldn’t have made it sooner because I didn’t know all of the facts.
Frankly, people still don’t know all of the facts. It was very important that — excuse me, excuse me — it was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly. Because if I would have made a fast statement, and the first statement was made without knowing much other than what we were seeing.
The second statement was made after — with knowledge, with great knowledge. There are still things — excuse me — there are still things that people don’t know.
TRUMP: I want to make a statement with knowledge. I wanted to know the facts.
OK…
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: Was it — two questions. Was it terrorism? And can you tell us what you’re feeling about your…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: Well, I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family and his country. And that is — you can call it terrorism. You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I would just call it as the fastest one to come up with a good verdict. That’s what I’d call it. Because there is a question. Is it murder? Is it terrorism? And then you get into legal semantics.
The driver of the car is a murderer. And what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing.
QUESTION: Can you tell us how you’re feeling about your chief strategist, Mr. Bannon? Can you talk about that?
TRUMP: Go ahead.
QUESTION: I would echo Maggie’s (ph) question. Steve Bannon…
TRUMP: I never spoke to Mr. Bannon about it.
QUESTION: But can you tell us broadly what you’re — do you still have confidence in Steve (ph)?
TRUMP: Well, we see (ph) — and look, look. I like Mr. Bannon. He’s a friend of mine. But Mr. Bannon came on very late, you know that. I went through 17 senators, governors, and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that, and I like him. He’s a good man. He is not a racist, I can tell you that. He’s a good person. He actually gets a very unfair press in that regard.
But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon, but he’s a good person, and I think the press treats him, frankly, very unfairly.
QUESTION: Do you have confidence in him? Because he has called on you to defend your national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, against…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: I’ve already done it. I did it the last time.
QUESTION: And he called on it again (ph) linking this (ph)…
TRUMP: Senator McCain?
QUESTION: …the alt-right and…
TRUMP: Senator McCain, you mean the one who voted against Obamacare? Who is — you mean Senator McCain who voted against us getting good healthcare?
QUESTION: Senator McCain said that the alt-right is behind these attacks, and he linked that same group to those who perpetrated the attack in Charlottesville.
TRUMP: Well, I don’t know — I can’t tell you. I’m sure Senator McCain must know what he’s talking about. But when you say the “alt- right,” define “alt-right” to me. You define it, go ahead.
QUESTION: Well, I think that (ph)…
TRUMP: No, define it for me, come on. Let’s go. Define it for me.
QUESTION: Senator McCain defined them as the same group…
TRUMP: OK, what about the alt-left that came charging them (ph)? Excuse me. What about the alt-left that came charging at the — as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?
QUESTION: Mr. Trump…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: Let me ask you this. What about the fact they came charging — that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.
QUESTION: Sir…
TRUMP: As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.
Wait a minute, I’m not finished.
(CROSSTALK)
I’m not finished, fake news. That was a horrible day…
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)
TRUMP: I will tell you something. I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it. And you have — you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now. You had a group — you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent.
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Do you think that the — what you call the alt-left is the same as neo-Nazis?
TRUMP: Those people — all of those people — excuse me. I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were White Supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.
So — excuse me. And you take a look at some of the groups and you see — and you’d know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you’re not, but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.
So this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?
You know, you all — you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop? But they were there to protest — excuse me. You take a look, the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.
Infrastructure question, go ahead.
QUESTION: Should the statue of Robert E. Lee stay up?
TRUMP: I would say that’s up to a local town, community, or the federal government, depending on where it is located.
QUESTION: Are you against the Confederacy?
QUESTION: How concerned are you about race relations in America? And do you think things have gotten worse or better since you took office?
TRUMP: I think they’ve gotten better or the same — look, they’ve been frayed for a long time. And you can ask President Obama about that, because he’d make speeches about it.
But I believe that the fact that I brought in — it will be soon, millions of jobs, you see where companies are moving back into our country, I think that’s going to have a tremendous positive impact on race relations. We have companies coming back into our country. We have two car companies that just announced. We have Foxconn in Wisconsin just announce. We have many companies I say pouring back into the country.
I think that’s going to have a huge, positive impact on race relations. You know why? It’s jobs. What people want now, they want jobs. They want great jobs with good pay. And when they have that, you watch how race relations will be.
And I’ll tell you, we’re spending a lot of money on the inner cities. We’re going to fix — we’re fixing the inner cities. We’re doing far more than anybody’s done with respect to the inner cities. It’s a priority for me. And it’s very important.
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: Mr. President, are you putting what you’re calling the alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane?
TRUMP: I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I’m saying is this. You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible. And it was a horrible thing to watch.
But there is another side. There was a group on this side, you can call them the left. You’ve just called them the left — that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: … on both sides, sir?
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: You said there was hatred, there was violence on both sides. Are…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: Well, I do think there’s blame — yes, I think there’s blame on both sides. You look at — you look at both sides. I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either.
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: And — and — and if you reported it accurately, you would say (inaudible).
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: (inaudible) started this (inaudible) Charlottesville. They showed up in Charlottesville to protest…
(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. (inaudible) themselves (inaudible) and you have some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group — excuse me, excuse me — I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: George Washington and Robert E. Lee are not the same (inaudible)…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: George Washington was a slave-owner. Was George Washington a slave-owner? So, will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down — excuse me — are we going to take down — are we going to take down statues to George Washington?
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him?
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: OK. Good. Are we going to take down the statue? Because he was a major slave-owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue? So you know what? It’s fine. You’re changing history. You’re changing culture. And you had people, and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists.
OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You’ve got — you had a lot of bad — you had a lot of bad people in the other group…
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: … treated unfairly (inaudible) you were saying. You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly? (inaudible) understand what you’re saying.
TRUMP: No, no. There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. I’m sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day, it looked like they had some rough, bad people — neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them.
But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest, because you know — I don’t know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn’t have a permit.
So, I only tell you this, there are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country (sic).
Does anybody have a final — doesn’t anybody have a — you have an infrastructure…
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: What makes you think you can get an infrastructure bill? You didn’t get health care. You…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: Well, you know, I’ll tell you. We came very close with health care. Unfortunately, John McCain decided to vote against it at the last minute. You’ll have to ask John McCain why he did that. But we came very close to health care. We will end up getting health care, but we’ll get the infrastructure. And actually, infrastructure is something that I think we’ll have bipartisan support on. I actually think — I actually think Democrats will go along with the infrastructure.
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: Mr. President, have you spoken to the family — have you spoken to the family of the victim of the car…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: … I’ll be reaching out. I’ll be reaching out.
QUESTION: When will you be reaching out?
TRUMP: I was very — I thought that the statement put out — the mother’s statement I thought was a beautiful statement. I must tell you, I was — it was something that I really appreciated. I thought it was terrific. And really, under the — under the kind of stress that she’s under and the heartache that she’s under, I thought putting out that statement to me was really something I won’t forget.
Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.
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Full Text Political Transcripts August 14, 2017: President Donald Trump Delivers a Statement Condemning Charlottesville Violence

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Statement by President Trump

Source: WH, 8-14-17

Diplomatic Room

12:38 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  I’m in Washington today to meet with my economic team about trade policy and major tax cuts and reform.  We are renegotiating trade deals and making them good for the American worker.  And it’s about time.

Our economy is now strong.  The stock market continues to hit record highs, unemployment is at a 16-year low, and businesses are more optimistic than ever before.  Companies are moving back to the United States and bringing many thousands of jobs with them.  We have already created over one million jobs since I took office.

We will be discussing economic issues in greater detail later this afternoon, but, based on the events that took place over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, I would like to provide the nation with an update on the ongoing federal response to the horrific attack and violence that was witnessed by everyone.

I just met with FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack that killed one innocent American and wounded 20 others.  To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable.  Justice will be delivered.

As I said on Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence.  It has no place in America.

And as I have said many times before:  No matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God.  We must love each other, show affection for each other, and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry, and violence.  We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans.

Racism is evil.  And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.

We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal.  We are equal in the eyes of our Creator.  We are equal under the law.  And we are equal under our Constitution.  Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.

Two days ago, a young American woman, Heather Heyer, was tragically killed.  Her death fills us with grief, and we send her family our thoughts, our prayers, and our love.

We also mourn the two Virginia state troopers who died in service to their community, their commonwealth, and their country.  Troopers Jay Cullen and Burke Bates exemplify the very best of America, and our hearts go out to their families, their friends, and every member of American law enforcement.

These three fallen Americans embody the goodness and decency of our nation.  In times such as these, America has always shown its true character:  responding to hate with love, division with unity, and violence with an unwavering resolve for justice.

As a candidate, I promised to restore law and order to our country, and our federal law enforcement agencies are following through on that pledge.  We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear.  We will defend and protect the sacred rights of all Americans, and we will work together so that every citizen in this blessed land is free to follow their dreams in their hearts, and to express the love and joy in their souls.

Thank you.  God bless you.  And God bless America.  Thank you very much.

END
12:43 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts July 14, 2017: Vice President Mike Pence’s Speech at the National Governors Association

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the Vice President at the National Governors Association

Source: WH, 7-14-17

Rhode Island Convention Center
Providence, Rhode Island

1:30 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you all.  It is wonderful to be here.

To Prime Minister Trudeau, Governor McAuliffe — thank you for that warm introduction and that warm welcome — to Governor Sandoval, to all the Governors of these United States, especially our host, to Gina Raimondo, to all the distinguished guests who are here with us today — it is an honor to be back in Rhode Island at the 109th annual Summer Meeting of the National Governors Association.  (Applause.)

And I bring greetings today from my friend, a champion of federalism who is fighting every single day to restore power to the states and to the people, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

The President is actually returning as we speak from France, where he celebrated America’s first and oldest alliance with great pageantry and a productive meeting.  I spoke to the President aboard Air Force One this morning, and he asked me to convey his thanks to all of you for your service to your states and to give you his best regards.  And our President sent me and several members of our Cabinet here to reaffirm our administration’s commitment to partner with each and every one of you to advance the security and prosperity of all of the American people and all of the states across this country.  (Applause.)

For me, it’s great to be back at the NGA.  I’m, frankly, very humbled — very humbled to be with so many of the leaders I had the privilege to serve with when I was governor of the state of Indiana.  It’s amazing for me to think — my wife and I reflected on it this morning — that it was one year ago this weekend that the phone call came, and my life changed.  I reflected this morning on that ancient verse that I often thought about in those days:  Who am I, oh Lord, and who is my family that you brought me this far.

So let me just take this personal opportunity to say thank you to all of you.  Thank you for your friendship, your encouragement, and the prayers that have enabled us to serve in this new capacity.  It is great to be back with America’s governors.  (Applause.)

I’m here as your Vice President, but I want you to know that I bring the perspective of a former governor, to your discussions this weekend.  When I was a governor, I’d often come to Washington, D.C. representing my state’s interest, and my greatest hope was that I’d have an administration that would listen to me and work with me to improve the lives of the hardworking people of Indiana.  Well let me give you this promise:  Every governor in America has all that and more in President Donald Trump.

You heard it from the President himself when he addressed the NGA at the White House during your winter meeting earlier this year.  As the President said, “Under my administration, we’re going to have a true partnership of collaboration and cooperation with the states.”  And he meant every word of it.

Since day one of our administration, President Trump has been delivering on this promise.  In the past six months, President Trump has met with governors from no fewer than 47 states, individually, and five territories — including all of you that are gathered here today.  In June alone, President Trump welcomed 19 governors to the White House, and he met with three more on the road.  President Trump has involved you in our policy discussions, and let me assure you, this President values your continued input on issues ranging from infrastructure to energy to tax cuts to healthcare and so much more.

And if you haven’t noticed, this President likes to hire governors.   (Laughter.)  Not just present company, but I’m talking about our United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley; Secretary of Energy Rick Perry; our Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue; and the new United States Ambassador to China, who was the longest-serving Governor in American history, Ambassador Terry Branstad.  Let’s give all these former governors a round of applause.  (Applause.)

It really has been a privilege for me to continue to work so closely with all of you on the President’s behalf.  In February, Karen and I enjoyed welcoming many of you to the Vice President’s Residence in Washington, D.C. — the first time all of America’s governors, I was told, have ever been invited to the Naval Observatory, and we were honored that so many came.

Now my wife couldn’t be with us today.  She’s picking our daughter up from the airport — been doing some foreign travel.  But let me personally extend the President’s and our family’s heartfelt appreciation to the most important people in the room today:  the spouses and family members of those who serve as governors across this nation.  Could you give a round of applause to our spouses and family members that support the leadership of these great leaders?  (Applause.)

The truth is, America’s governors have a friend in President Donald Trump, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat.  And this President’s agenda will strengthen every state across this country.  I like to say that our President has a three-part agenda:  Jobs, jobs, and jobs.  And to be around him for any period of time, you know he’s focused on prosperity in this country, as more than anything else other than security.

The President has taken decisive action from the outset of this administration to put America back to work and get our economy moving again.  This President has signed more laws slashing job-killing red tape out of Washington, D.C. than any President in American history.  It’s already saved businesses and individuals up to $18 billion a year in regulatory cost.

And our President has been busy unleashing American energy.  He’s opening the way for more offshore drilling, rolling back the Clean Power Plan, and the President has approved the Keystone and Dakota pipelines to strengthen the energy infrastructure of this nation.  And speaking of infrastructure, President Trump has already begun the process of rebuilding American infrastructure.  And in partnership with governors like you, I promise you, before this session of Congress is out,  we’re going to pass an infrastructure bill that will rebuild America, and we’re going to work with each and every one of you to bring that about.  (Applause.)

This President has also taken decisive action to ensure that America’s trade deals are both free and fair.  Thanks to the President’s leadership, last month American companies were able to ship American beef to China for the first time in over 13 years.

The President has also opened up a new economic dialogue he asked me to lead with the nation of Japan, to strengthen our trade relationship with our valued ally.

And in the coming weeks, President Trump, and our nation will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.  And under this President’s leadership, we will modernize NAFTA for the 21st century so it is a win-win-win for all of our trading partners in North America.  (Applause.)

Now I know you’ll be hearing from Prime Minister Trudeau in just a few minutes.  And let me assure you the United States and Canada have already built a remarkably strong relationship under these two leaders, and the investment relationship that we enjoy today is worth more than $620 billion a year.  And we’re grateful for the Prime Minister’s leadership and his early outreach to this administration.  President Trump recognized that every trade relationship can improve, and as the Prime Minister knows, we’re looking forward to bringing NAFTA into the future in a way that will equally benefit both our countries.

The truth is, President Trump’s leadership is already making a difference, and I know you see it in your states every single day.  Under this President’s watch, businesses large and small have already created more than 800,000 new private sector jobs since the first of this year.  Company after company are making record investments in state after state — billions of dollars, tens of thousands of jobs.  And the stock market is soaring, closing at record highs again this week.

And with the continued input of America’s governors, President Trump is going to work with this Congress to drive forward an agenda for a more prosperous America of lower taxes, less regulation, more American energy, better infrastructure, better trade deals and yes, President Donald Trump is going to lead this Congress to rescue the American people from the collapsing policies of Obamacare.  (Applause.)

As a former governor myself, I know just how important healthcare is to each and every one of you as you lead your states.  The simple truth, though, is Obamacare is imploding all across America, and working families and small businesses are paying the price every day.  Our administration has found that the average premium on the individual market has more than doubled since Obamacare went into effect less than four years ago, and in many states, including some represented here, it’s more than tripled.

When Obamacare passed, we were promised that families would save up to $2,500 in premiums, but the average Obamacare plan today costs nearly $3,000 more than the average plan did in 2013.  And while costs are skyrocketing, choices are plummeting.

On Monday, our administration announced that 38 percent fewer health insurers plan on participating in Obamacare exchanges next year, and the number could rise, leaving millions of Americans with even fewer choices.  And come next year, 40 percent of American counties, including nine whole states, will have only one choice in a health insurance provider, meaning they essentially have no choice at all.  Even worse, dozens of counties will have no health insurance providers whatsoever on the Obamacare exchange in 2018.

I know you know these facts, because as governors you’re living that reality, not far afield in Washington, D.C. looking at statistics, but you’re seeing the impact of these failed policies each and every day in communities and enterprises across your state.  I don’t have to tell any of the governors gathered around here, whatever your politics, whatever your party, you know we’re talking about real people and you know we’re talking about a real crisis.  Because behind every number is a name, and behind every name is a story.

Since early this year, the President has had me traveling across the country to many of your states, and I’ve always made a point to sit down with your local citizens and local businesses to hear the story about the hardship that Obamacare has placed in your communities.  I’ve heard stories from small-business owners, working families, and parents with disabled children who have suffered terribly under the collapsing weight of this policy.  People like Julie Roberts, who I met with earlier this week in Lexington, Kentucky.  At her small business, premiums have spiked 25 percent every year under Obamacare and deductibles have tripled.

Then there’s Connie Mays, who has lived in the same small town in Ohio her entire life.  She has a disability she told me about.  It’s made her life tough, but she’s found her way forward.  But when Obamacare became law, she told me that she lost her health insurance plan, she lost her doctor, and today no healthcare provider in her county will take her Obamacare coverage.  So she essentially has no coverage at all.  She literally had tears in her eyes sitting next to me at the White House when she told me the story that that card in her pocketbook was essentially meaningless because no one in her home county would take it.

There’s Julie Champine from Wisconsin, who I met when I was visiting Governor Walker, whose health insurance costs increased so much that last year she told me with genuine emotion in her voice that she had to choose between paying for her Obamacare coverage and buying Christmas presents for her grandkids.  She literally took that preemptive three months where she could skip making her payments and skip coverage just so she could afford to buy some Christmas presents for her kids and grandkids.

I don’t have to tell all of you.  I mean, these stories are not rare, but they’re all heartbreaking.  They’re not the exception, they’re the rule.  But as I told each and every one of those that I mentioned and people all across this country:  Help is on the way.  We’re going to give the American people access to the kind of world-class healthcare every American deserves.  (Applause.)

I’m pleased to report, as you already know, just yesterday Senate leadership unveiled a new version of the Senate healthcare bill, and President Trump and I urge every member of the Senate to support it.  President Trump and I believe the Senate healthcare bill is the right bill at the right time to begin the end of Obamacare and rescue the American people from this failed policy.  And we look forward to the Senate taking up this bill as early as next week.

Now, President Trump laid out his vision for American healthcare months ago.  The President said he wanted a healthcare system that in his words is “far less expensive and far better.”  And we believe the Senate healthcare bill begins to make the President’s vision a reality.

The bill introduced in the Senate puts America back on the path to better, more affordable healthcare for every American.  The Senate healthcare bill repeals Obamacare’s individual and business mandates, and cuts taxes on American families and American businesses, restoring freedom and it will create jobs.

The Senate healthcare bill doubles the contribution limits for health savings accounts.  And for the first time ever, it allows health savings accounts to cover insurance premiums.  The bill also offers tax credits to help Americans buy the coverage they want at a price they can afford.  And the legislation ensures that every American with preexisting conditions has access to the coverage and care they need — no exceptions.  (Applause.)

And if you take nothing else from what I say today, know that the Senate healthcare bill gives states the freedom to redesign your health insurance markets.  And, most significantly, under this legislation, states across the country will have an unprecedented level of flexibility to reform Medicaid and bring better coverage, better care, and better outcomes to the most vulnerable in your states.

Now, I’m not speaking so much right now as your Vice President, but let me speak to you as a former governor and as someone who Terry McAuliffe pointed out — I made the decision in Indiana to expand Medicaid under a waiver.  I mean, you all know your states, you know your people.  You know how to create the innovative solutions to address the unique healthcare needs of the people of your states.  And I had that very same attitude when I was a governor.

But most of you also know that, under previous administrations — frankly, in both political parties — it’s been difficult, if not at times impossible, for states to act on your own ideas.  I actually learned that firsthand.

Right after I was elected governor, in early 2013, I went straight to work developing a serious Medicaid reform plan that would put vulnerable and low-income Hoosiers more in charge of their own healthcare decisions that would expand access to healthcare providers across the state.

Working with a remarkably talented woman whom I’m proud to say is now the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, we created a plan based on consumer-directed healthcare.  Indiana at the time, as some of you know, was home to a small pilot project that had promising results in that area.  And we believed that we could expand coverage in the state the Indiana way, in ways that would improve access and improve healthcare outcomes for our most vulnerable.  And we went straight to work.

But when we submitted our waiver to the prior administration to implement our plan, we — as many of you can attest in prior administrations — we encountered roadblocks and bureaucracy in Washington, D.C.

It took our state more than two years for the federal government to approve our waiver.  And even then, they, frankly, rejected an awful lot of what we were trying to do.  I know many of you have submitted waiver requests over recent years to Washington, D.C. and had the same result.

Now, President Trump and I both believe that governors should have the freedom to design and implement the reforms in healthcare that will work in your states.  And we’re going to fight to make that a reality in Washington, D.C.  (Applause.)

President Donald Trump is dedicated to getting the federal government out of your way and allowing you to develop those unique solutions that will work for the people of your state.  As the President told you in February, the federal government, in his words, should be not in your way but working with you to deliver needed reforms and services.  And that’s our commitment again today.

Now, tomorrow you’re going to hear from Secretary Tom Price from the Department of Health and Human Services, who accompanied me here today, and Administrator Seema Verma about our President’s commitment to work with each and every one of you.  Earlier this year, they sent a letter to every governor in America, in their words, to affirm the President’s partnership with all of your states.

And I got to tell you — and I hope you’ve already had this experience — Secretary Tom Price and Administrator Seema Verma, we’ve got the A-team.  They’re fighting for you.  They’re fighting for the states’ ability to innovate and meet the needs of our most vulnerable, and improve our healthcare system.  And I’d like you to give them a round of applause.  (Applause.)

As you’ve heard from those Cabinet officials, and I’m here to say again today:  Our administration wants you to innovate.  We want you to improve your own health insurance markets and strengthen your Medicaid programs.  And I promise you that this administration will work with you in a timely way so that you can move forward with the policies and plans that are best for your states and your citizens.

And a case in point:  Just a few days ago, Administrator Verma approved a state innovation waiver for Alaska to lower premiums and improve access to care for thousands of Alaskans.  And, Governor, we commend you for your leadership.

Our administration is committed to working with you as partners.  And the good news is that the Senate’s healthcare bill will expand state freedom and flexibility to an even greater degree than the law permits our administration to extend today.  The bill actually rolls back restrictions on waivers, giving states the ability to stabilize your insurance markets after they’ve been virtually destroyed in recent years.

And when it comes to Medicaid, not only does the Senate’s healthcare bill expand state flexibility, it ensures that every state in America has the resources you need to take care of your most vulnerable.

As a former governor who expanded Medicaid in our state with consumer-directed healthcare, I have to tell you I understand and appreciate, as the President does, the concerns that many of you have as we talk about Medicaid in the future going forward.  Our administration has paid very close attention to this issue, and we’ve had discussions with governors around this room and around the country.

So let me be clear:  President Trump and I believe the Senate healthcare bill strengthens and secures Medicaid for the neediest in our society.  And this bill puts this vital America program on a path to long-term sustainability.

Under the Senate healthcare bill, federal Medicaid spending will be $300 billion to $500 billion higher over the next decade relative to current amounts, ensuring that our states have the ability to provide for the most vulnerable and give them the care that they’re counting on.

And when it comes to receiving this funding, your states will have two options — a per-capita cap or a block grant.

The per-capita cap gives each state the money you need to cover Medicaid’s traditional beneficiaries, who need the most assistance.

And with the block grant option, you’ll be able to determine how to best use your Medicaid dollars.  And you can provide for your most vulnerable in ways that’s best for your state.

At the same time, the Senate healthcare bill creates a stability fund in addition to that that states can use to help people obtain personal coverage as they transition out of the Medicaid expansion.

People on Medicaid will be eligible for the new tax credits, which will help them purchase the affordable coverage that’s right for them.

The truth is that these reforms are long overdue.

Under Obamacare, the Medicaid expansion costs 50 percent more per enrollee than what we were told.  At this very moment, Medicaid is one of the largest and fastest growing budget items in nearly every state budget.  But you already know that.  And as Medicaid grows, there’s less and less money for schools, for roads, and for public safety.

The truth is for a long time Medicaid has been a broken system that’s been fundamentally unsustainable, and the expansion that occurred Obamacare only made the system worse.

This just can’t continue.  That’s why the Senate healthcare bill puts Medicaid on a budget for the first time in its history — ensuring for the long run that Medicaid will be there for the neediest in our society.

Obamacare has put far too many able-bodied adults on the Medicaid rolls, leaving many disabled and vulnerable Americans at the back of the line.  It’s true, and it’s heartbreaking.  I know Governor Kasich isn’t with us, but I suspect that he’s very troubled to know that in Ohio alone, nearly 60,000 disabled citizens are stuck on waiting lists, leaving them without the care they need for months or even years.

Just a few weeks ago at the White House, I met just such a family from a state that had expanded Medicaid.  Christine and Jacob Chalkey.  They’re a beautiful family, but they have a heartbreaking story, and it’s one that America needs to hear.

Jacob is Christine’s son, a courageous young man in his early 20s.  He has a rare disability, and for nearly his entire life, he depended on Medicaid in his state for the medicine that he needs.

But a few years back, when their state expanded traditional Medicaid, the state also announced that they were going to cut back on coverage for medication like Jacob’s.

One day, Christine told me with tears in her eyes, as well, that she got a letter in the mail saying that the state would no longer pay for Jacob’s medicine.  The family tried as hard as they could to get enough money together, but they just couldn’t do it.  They had to switch to a different, cheaper alternative that might not work.

And sure enough, it didn’t.  Young Jake’s health began to fail, she told me.  He even lost his ability to see, to walk, and to talk.  Only by the grace of God did he regain these skills and a loving family was there at his side.  But every day is now a struggle for him and their family.

Jake is not alone.  The truth is I’ve heard from special-needs families as I’ve traveled all across this country, and they’ve told me again and again that unless we reform Medicaid, our most vulnerable are going to continue to be crowded out of coverage that they rely on and depend on.

I don’t have to ask any one of you to know where your hearts are on this issue.  You know Medicaid was created in the very instances of its founding to support the aged, the blind, the disabled, and vulnerable children.  And unless we bring about needful reforms that you alone in your state know how to best implement, we’re going to continue to see scarce resources crowd out the help that our most vulnerable need.  And I know that no one around this table, no one sitting in a governor’s office in our states or territories wants that to happen.

This demands a compassionate response.  I know all of you care deeply about those families.  You want to provide for them and give them the best shot at a better life.

I say that with confidence because I know all of you.  Beyond the politics that may separate us, I have to tell you that being among governors was one of the most inspiring times in my season of public service.  Because as Gina and I were talking earlier, governors are doers.  You roll your sleeves up.  More often than not, you just check your politics at the door and go figure out how to solve problems.  And this room is filled with men and women who are problem-solvers.

So I want to say this is your chance.  The Senate healthcare bill restores Medicaid to its original purpose — caring for the disabled, the blind, the low-income elderly, pregnant women, and children.  And we can put you back in the driver’s seat to making sure that it does just that.

I really believe, as the President does, that we’re saving Medicaid for the sake of our most vulnerable and all that depend on it.  We’re providing all Americans with access to the high quality and affordable health insurance with the reforms that are moving through Congress today.

This really is about caring for the least among us, and it’s about doing the right thing.  And at the end of the day, I know in my heart of hearts the men and women around this table, and everyone in public service at every level longs to do just that.

Before I leave, I’d like to mention one more accomplishment in the Senate healthcare bill that I know is of great interest and has already been a subject of discussion appropriately at this gathering of the National Governors Association.  I’m pleased to report that the new Senate healthcare bill provides unprecedented new resources to address the opioid crisis that’s ravaging our states and communities across this nation.  (Applause.)

The President and I are grateful for each one of your leadership on this issue.  And in my days back in the Hoosier State, I sat around kitchen tables with families that were dealing with the loss of a loved one to opioid addiction, or dealing with the long, long road back from opioid addiction and abuse.

Now you all would be glad to know that President Trump has made a priority of this administration to end the scourge of opioid addiction in this country.  He knows the impact that it has on families, and we’re determined in this administration to bring the full resources of the national government to bear on assisting you as you come alongside these families.

President Trump has been giving our law enforcement community at every level the resources and backing they need to go after this on the law enforcement side.   We’ve been getting gang members, drug dealers, and violent criminals like MS-13 off the streets of our cities at an unprecedented pace.  The President has also created a commission devoted to addressing the opioid crisis because we know that we have to meet this crisis not just with law enforcement but also with compassion and with new resources for those that are caught up in the scourge of addiction.

With this President’s support, the Senate healthcare bill unveiled yesterday a remarkable $45 billion in new federal resources to confront opioid abuse and addiction in our states.  (Applause.)

And when this bill is signed into law, every state in America will benefit from this funding.  And passing this bill is a vital step to help those who suffer in the grip of addiction, our communities, and our country, and put our entire nation back on the road to healing.

As the Governor and I were just talking a moment ago, once again in your state, after Congress passed the Cures Act last year, you’re going to have the ability with these new resources to look at issues like not only treatment, but also treatment centers to build further capacity in your states to make resources available for people and their families to deal with the scourge of addition.  And we know your leadership will make a difference in lives.

The bottom line:  That the Senate healthcare act provides for the most vulnerable in our society.  It improves and strengthens Medicaid.  It gives you, America’s governors, the flexibility you need to bring better care, better coverage, and better outcomes to the citizens of your states.  The President and I truly believe it will be a historic day for American healthcare when the President has the privilege to sign this bill into law.  And we commend it.  We commend this bill to your attention, and we ask for your support.

But today, I want to ask all of you to continue to work with us to build on the good work being done in this Congress on healthcare and on so many other issues.  I want to challenge each one of you to work together with this administration to give the American people access to the world-class healthcare they deserve and to move forward the kind of policies that will strengthen our nation, strengthen our economy, and advance the security and safety of the American people.

But we truly do believe now is the time to act in the Congress in healthcare reform for the sake of the American people.  Now is the time to usher in a new era of state-based innovation.  Now is the time to make the best healthcare system the world even better.

And as I close, let me again thank you for the warm welcome today and the good fellowship.  When I arrived today one of my colleagues asked me if I missed you.  And the truth is, I do.  The privilege of serving as a governor of the state I grew up in was the greatest privilege of my life till that phone rang a year ago this weekend.

But there’s something special about governors, and I want you to know that President Trump and I know it.  And we’re just determined to seize this moment in the life of our nation to advance the interests and the well-being of people of our country.  And we ask for your support.

And as I ask it, I say with confidence that I know we will succeed as we confront the challenges in healthcare and beyond because I have faith.

So with boundless faith in the American people, with faith in you men and women in this room who lead the great states of this Union, with faith in our President’s vision and determination, and with faith in God who has ever watched over this Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, I say with confidence:  We will make America safe again.  We will make America prosperous again.  We will give Americans the opportunity to have access to world-class healthcare again.  And to borrow a phrase, working with all of you on behalf of all of the American people, we will Make America Great Again.

Thank you very much.  God bless you for your service to this nation.  God bless your states and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
2:02 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts March 15, 2017: Hawaii’s Order Granting Motion for Temporary Restraining Order on Trump Travel Ban

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Full Text Hawaii’s Order Granting Motion for Temporary Restraining Order on Trump Travel Ban

Source: United States District Court District of Hawaii, 3-15-17

Case 1:17-cv-00050-DKW-KSC Document 219 Filed 03/15/17 Page 1 of 43

4356 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT PageID #:

FILED IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF HAWAII 12:32 pm, Mar 15, 2017

FOR THE DISTRICT OF HAWAI‘I STATE OF HAWAI‘I and ISMAIL ELSHIKH,

SUE BEITIA, CLERK CV.

NO. 17-00050 DKW-KSC

Plaintiffs, ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER vs. DONALD J. TRUMP, et al., Defendants.

….READ MORE

Full Text Political Transcripts February 27, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at Meeting with the National Governors Association

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump in Meeting with the National Governors Association

Source: WH, 2-27-17

State Dining Room

9:45 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  That is pretty good, I’ll tell you.  Coming from governors, I can’t really — I can’t even believe it.  That’s so impressive.  And I very much appreciate you being here.  And thank you to Vice President Pence.  He has been so wonderful to work with.  He’s a real talent, a real guy.  And he is central casting, do we agree?  Central casting.  He’s been great.  (Applause.)

Good morning, everybody, and welcome back to the White House.  The First Lady and I were very, very happy last night to host you.  We saw some real talent, military talent, musicians who were fantastic.  And everybody enjoyed it.  (Applause.)

I’m very proud to have so many former governors in my Cabinet.  Vice President Pence, as you know, big governor from a very great state — I state I like very much — Indiana.  Nikki Haley at the U.N. — is Nikki here someplace?  I think so — yes.  We have Rick Perry — is going before.  We’re trying to get people approved, we can’t get them out.  But Rick is going to do a fantastic job.  Sonny Purdue will be joining the Cabinet very soon.  Terry Branstad will be our ambassador to China.  And an interesting story on Terry — every time I spoke in Iowa, he’d say, please don’t say anything bad about China. (Laughter.)  I said, what do you mean?  What do you mean?  He said, I like China and we do a lot of business with China.  “And really, just don’t” — and I said, “hmm.”  So when it came down to picking an ambassador, I called him up, I said, you like China.  And I can tell you, China is very, very happy with our choice.  So we made everybody happy.  (Applause.)  Right?  These governors — thank you.  And thank you, Terry.

These governors have been bold reformers, and their success shows why we need to make states the laboratories of democracy once again.  Many of you have shared past frustrations with waiting for permission from the federal government and agencies — and I understand that, and I’ve had many people tell me about it, and it’s been catastrophic for some of your states.  You know your citizens and you know they want things done.  But they don’t get things done and it’s not your fault.  Sometimes it’s your fault, but they understand that.  But sometimes it’s not your fault.  We’re going to speed it up.

Because that’s not how a partnership is supposed to work.  The government should not stand in your way in delivering needed reforms and services — and it won’t.  We’re going to move very, very quickly, environmentally, with Scott and so many others that are involved in the process of regulation.  We are going to be cutting — we’re going to be doing the right thing.  We’re going to be protecting people environmentally and safety-wise, but we’re going to be moving it quickly, very quickly.  (Applause.)

And speaking of that, I know many of you — and I’ve spoken to some of you last night about it — have many projects that are — I mean, just literally tied up because of environmental concerns, and it’s been in for years and years and years the project your state wants, great for employment — everybody wants them — and they couldn’t get them out of environmental protection.  And we will get them out.  Now, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be approved, but they’ll be rejected quickly one way or the other.  They’ll be either rejected quickly or they’re going to get approved.  I would say most will be approved, but you’re going to know you’re not going to wait nine years or eleven years — some of the horror stories that I’ve heard.

Under my administration, we’re going to have a true partnership of collaboration and cooperation.  We will get to the answers and we will get them quickly, and the flexibility you need to implement the reforms that you are going to have in order to make decision-making proper and decision-making fast.  So we’re going to do both those things — proper and fast.

One of the most important responsibilities for the federal government is the budget of the United States.  My first budget will be submitted to the Congress next month.  This budget will be a public safety and national security budget, very much based on those two with plenty of other things, but very strong.  And it will include a historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military of the United States of America at a time we most need it.  (Applause.)

And you’ll be hearing about that tomorrow night in great detail.  This is a landmark event, a message to the world, in these dangerous times, of American strength, security and resolve.  We must ensure that our courageous servicemen and women have the tools they need to deter war, and when called upon to fight in our name only do one thing:  Win.  We have to win.  We have to start winning wars again.

I have to say, when I was young, in high school and college, everybody used to say “we haven’t lost a war” — we never lost a war — you remember.  Some of you were right there with me, and you remember we never lost a war.  America never lost.  And now we never win a war.  We never win.  And we don’t fight to win.  We don’t fight to win.  So we either got to win, or don’t fight it at all.  But where we are — 17 years — almost 17 years of fighting in the Middle East.  I saw a chart the other day — as of about a month ago, $6 trillion we’ve spent in the Middle East — $6 trillion.  And I want to tell you, that’s just unacceptable.  And we’re nowhere.  Actually, if you think about it, we’re less than nowhere.  The Middle East is far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago.  There’s not even a contest.  So we’ve spent $6 trillion.  We have a hornet’s nest.  It’s a mess like you’ve never seen before.  We’re nowhere.  So we’re going to straighten it out.

This defense spending increase will be offset and paid for by finding greater savings and efficiencies across the federal government.  We’re going to do more with less.  I got involved in an airplane contract, I got involved in some other contracts, and we cut the hell out of the prices.  I mean, we saved a lot of money, tremendous amount of money, beyond anything that the generals that were involved — they said they’d never seen anything like this before.

On one plane, on a small order of one plane, I saved $725 million.  And I would say I devoted about, if I added it up, all those calls, probably about an hour.  So I think that might be my highest and best use.  (Laughter.)  Because if we can do that, our budget will be — might be my highest and best.  (Applause.)

And there are many other places; it’s all the same.  And in one way, that’s a good thing because we have an answer.  And David is going to do a fantastic job at the VA.  I see David is sitting there, shaking his head.  Stand up, David.  (Applause.)  So we can’t get our people through Cabinet, but he went through — was it 95 to nothing?

SECRETARY SHULKIN:  A hundred to zero.

THE PRESIDENT:  How the hell did you do that?  (Laughter.)  Boy, oh boy.  He must be good.  You were the one.  One hundred to zero, wow.  Chose you — hey, we can do it.  But we do — we have still quite a few Cabinet members, and they’re just in limbo waiting and waiting.  It’s like obstruction.  It’s obstruction.  But eventually we’ll get them, and they’ll put their people in, and we’ll get those agencies, et cetera, to work.

We’re going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people.  We can do so much more with the money we spend.  With $20 trillion in debt — can you imagine that — the government must learn to tighten its belt, something families all across the country have had to learn to do, unfortunately.  But they’ve had to learn to do it, and they’ve done it well.

My budget increases spending, and the increase in all spending, for federal law enforcement also.  And activities having to do with law enforcement will be substantially increased.  And we will fight violent crime.  If you look at what’s happening in our cities, you look at what’s happening in Chicago, what’s going on in Chicago — we will fight violent crime, and we will win.  And we’ll win that one fairly quickly.  Once we give the local police, the local law enforcement the right to go in and fight it, and we back them monetarily and also otherwise, we’re going to win that one.  We’re going to win it fairly quickly, I believe.

My budget also puts America first by keeping tax dollars in America to help veterans and first responders.  So important.  This budget follows through on my promise to focus on keeping Americans safe, keeping out terrorists, keeping out criminals, and putting violent offenders behind bars, or removing them from our country altogether.  And I must say that we’ve been treated very well — very, very well — on the job that General Kelly has done at the border.  It’s tough, it’s strong.

I was talking last night to Terry McAuliffe, and he said, you have to mention this — because he met with — where is Terry?  He’s around here someplace.  Terry — he met with General Kelly, and I think I can say you were impressed with General Kelly.  And he said, you have to get the point out that they’re removing the bad ones.  And that’s where our focus is — it’s the bad ones.  We’re getting some very, very bad players out of this country — drug lords, gang members, heads of gangs, killers, murderers — we’re getting them out.  That’s what we’re focused on.

The press isn’t covering that, unfortunately, but it’s something that is very important.  We’re getting the bad ones out.  And that’s always where I said I was going to start.  I was going to start with these bad players.  And they are bad.  They are rough and tough, and we’re getting them the hell out of our country, and we’re bringing them to where they started out.  Let their country do what they have to do with them.

So the budget, which is going to be a very big part of tomorrow night’s speech, it’s going to be I think a budget of great rationality.  But it’s going to have to do with military, safety, economic development, and things such as that.  Great detail tomorrow night.

We’re also going to do whatever we can to restore the authority of the states when that is the appropriate thing to do.  We’re going to give you back a lot of the powers that have been taken away from states and great people and great governors.  And you can control it better than the federal government because you’re right on top of it.  You have something that’s controllable.  So I think that’s going to be very important.  You see that already taking effect.

We have to let the states compete and to see who has the best solutions.  They know the best how to spend their dollars and how to take care of the people within each state.  And the states are different, and people are different.  So the governors are going to have a lot more decision-making ability than they have right now.

All states will benefit from our economic agenda.  We will reduce taxes very, very substantially, and simplify the tax code.  We’re also going to make taxes between countries much more fair.  We’re one of the only countries in the world that people can sell their product into us and have no tax, no nothing, and they get rich.  And yet if you want to do business with them, you’ll have taxes, I’ve seen, as high as 100 percent.  So they sell into us, no problem; we sell into them — because we don’t sell them because the tax is so high that they don’t want us to sell into them.

So I know that’s always been a point of contention, but to me it’s just fair.  It’s just fair.  It’s reciprocal.  It’s fair.  And so we’re going to be doing a lot of work on that, and that’s becoming a very, very important factor — fairness.  Because I believe in free trade.  I want so much trade — somebody said, oh, maybe he’s a total nationalist — which I am, in a true sense — but I want trade.  I want great trade between countries.

But the word “free” is very deceiving, because it’s good for them, it’s not good for us.  I want fair trade.  And if we’re going to be taxed, they should be taxed at the same amount, the other countries.  And one of two things is going to happen:  We’re going to make a lot of money or the other country is going to get rid of its tax.  And that’s good, too, because now the product, like Harley-Davidson — I was talking to them — the product will now flow into other countries where right now they can’t do it.

So we’re going to make it easier for states to invest in infrastructure, and I’m going to have a big statement tomorrow night on infrastructure.  We spent $6 trillion in the Middle East, and we have potholes all over our highways and our roads.  I have a friend who is in the trucking business.  He said, my trucks are destroyed going from New York to Los Angeles.  They’re destroyed.  He said, I’m not going to get the good trucks.  He always prided himself on buying the best equipment.  He said, the roads are so bad that, by the time we make the journey from New York to Los Angeles or back, he said the equipment is just beat to hell.  I said, when has it been like that before?  He said, it’s never — he’s been in the business for 40 years — he said it’s never been like that.  Forty years — never been like that.  So we’re going to take care of that.

Infrastructure — we’re going to start spending on infrastructure big.  And it’s not like we have a choice.  It’s not like, oh, gee, let’s hold it off.  Our highways, our bridges are unsafe.  Our tunnels — I mean, we have tunnels in New York where the tiles are on the ceiling, and you see many tiles missing.  And you wonder, you know, you’re driving at 40 miles an hour, 50 miles an hour through a tunnel.  Take a look at the Lincoln Tunnel and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and you’re driving, and you see all this loose material that’s heavy.  And it was made many years ago, so it’s heavy.  Today, it’s light.  It used to be better.  The problem is, you got to hold it up.  And I say to myself — every time I drive through, I say, I wonder how many people are hurt or injured when they are driving at 40, 50 miles an hour through a tunnel, and the tile falls off.  And there are so many missing tiles and such loose concrete.  So we have to fix our infrastructure.  It’s not like we have a choice.  We have no choice, and we’re going to do it, and it also happens to mean jobs, which is a good thing.

We’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, and get states the flexibility that they need to make the end result really, really good for them.  A very complicated issue.  We have Tom Price, just got confirmed — sitting here.  (Applause.)  Stand up, Tom.  And I spent a lot of time with Governor Walker and Governor Rick Scott the other day — we were talking about it.  They’re really very expert on the subject, and I want to thank them.  They spent a lot of time with me.  Governor Christie who’s here someplace.  Where’s Chris?  Governor Christie, thank you.  And so we have a lot of talent and a lot of expertise here, I will tell you.  And we have come up with a solution that’s really, really, I think, very good.

Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject.  Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated.  And statutorily and for budget purposes, as you know, we have to do healthcare before we do the tax cut.  The tax cut is going to be major, it’s going to be simple, and the whole tax plan is wonderful.  But I can’t do it until we do healthcare because we have to know what the healthcare is going to cost.  And, statutorily, that’s the way it is.  So for those people that say, oh, gee, I wish we could do the tax first — it just doesn’t work that way.  I would like to do that first.  It’s actually — tax cutting has never been that easy, but it’s a tiny, little ant compared to what we’re talking about with Obamacare.

And you have to remember — and I say this to Democrats in the room — of which we have many — Obamacare has failed.  If you go to Minnesota, where they had a 66-percent increase, and the governor of Minnesota, who is with us today, said, Obamacare — the Affordable Care Act — is no longer affordable — something to that effect.  I think that might be it exactly.  But the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable.  Obamacare has failed.

I say to the Republicans, if you really want to do politically something good, don’t do anything.  Sit back for a period of two years, because ’17 is going to be a disaster — a disaster — for Obamacare if we don’t do something.  Let it be a disaster because we can blame that on the Dems that are in our room, and we can blame that on the Democrats and President Obama.  Let it implode, and then let it implode in ’18 even worse.  Don’t do anything, and they will come begging for us to do something.  But that’s not the fair thing to do for the people.  It’s not the fair thing.

Politically, I think it would be a great solution, because as soon as we touch it, if we do the most minute thing — just a tiny, little change — what’s going to happen?  They’re going to say, it’s the Republicans’ problem.  That’s the way it is.  But we have to do what’s right because Obamacare is a failed disaster.

And it’s interesting, it’s sort of like, when you see — you see it with politicians, you see it with President Obama — when you know he’s getting out of office and the clock is ticking, and he’s not going to be there, his approval rating goes way up, even though, you know, not that active in the last period of time.  The approval rating goes up.  That’s not him; that’s like almost everybody.  I see it happening with Obamacare.  People hate it, but now they see that the end is coming, and they’re saying, oh, maybe we love it.  There’s nothing to love.  It’s a disaster, folks, okay?  So you have to remember that.

And, very importantly, we are going to work to restore local control to our nation’s education system.  Betsy is here someplace, and she is going to be, I think, fantastic.  (Applause.)  I think she’s going to be fantastic.  Stand up, Betsy.  Betsy feels so strongly, and she has had such support from so many people.  You know, you don’t see that too much because you see the anti, you never see the positive.  But I can tell you, I’ve had so many calls while she was going through that horrible process.  That was a tough, tough, nasty process.  And she hung in, she was as strong as you get.  But so many people were calling Betsy, saying you will do such a fantastic job once you get it.

It’s like sometimes I’d say, it’s much tougher to get into Harvard than it is to stay there.  Does that make sense?  It’s tougher to get into the Wharton School of Finance — you can’t get in.  But if you get in, it’s fine, you get through, right?  I think you’re going to do a fantastic job, and we’re very proud of you.  And you took a lot of heat, but you’re going to do great.  So she wants to bring decision-making powers back to parents, back to the families and back to the states, where they can really control education.

And just finally, I’m looking forward to working with you on these projects and so much more.  We’re going to do these projects and so many more.  And I thank you all again for being here.  It’s going to be a really productive discussion — so productive that I’m going to ask the press to start leaving because I wouldn’t want them to see any great, productive session.  (Laughter.)  But they’ll be seeing it and hearing about it.

Again, thank you very much all for being at the White House.  We’ll do this many times.  I want the opinions of the governors of the states of the United States.  So I want to just thank you all for being here, and let’s take some questions, okay?  (Applause.)  Thank you.

END
10:05 A.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts February 26, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at the 2017 Governors Ball

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at the 2017 Governors Ball

Source: WH, 2-26-17

State Dining Room

7:29 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, everybody.  I want to just congratulate the First Lady on having done a really beautiful job.  The room, they say, has never looked better, but who knows.  I’m sure it’s looked very good many times.  So, Melania, congratulations.  (Applause.)

I also want to congratulate and thank a truly great Vice President of the United States, and his wonderful wife, Karen.  And wherever you are, Mike, stand up just for a second.  Mike Pence.  (Applause.)

So I can say that after four weeks — they were a lot of fun — but we’ve accomplished almost everything we’ve started out to accomplish.  The borders are stricter, tighter.  We’re going a really good job.  General Kelly has does a fantastic job militarily.  As you know, we have a fantastic team.  We have an A team.  And I’m getting some good reports.  There are some big problems in the world — you know that very well — but we’re very happy with the way things are working.  And again, we’ve made a lot of promises over the last two years, and many of those promises already are kept.  So we’re very honored by that.  And I — (applause) — thank you, thank you.

I just want to salute and toast the governors — the great governors of the United States.  They have done an amazing job.  Such an easy job you have.  (Laughter.)  So easy.  But you have done a fantastic job, and your families and wives and — well, everybody is here.  I mean, I’ve seen daughters come tonight.  I’ve seen wives.  I’ve seen — all I know is, everybody is lovely, and we’re going to have a wonderful evening.

And tomorrow, we’re going to meet, and we’re going to discuss things, like perhaps healthcare will come up.  Perhaps.  (Laughter.)  And I think we’ve made a lot of progress on that.  And we’re going to have a speech on Tuesday night, and we’re going to be speaking very specifically about a very complicated subject.  Everybody is different, every state is different, and different requirements, but I think we have something that’s going to really be excellent.

And as most of you know, the Obamacare has had tremendous problems.  I won’t say in front of the Democrats, I’ll just say it to the Republicans — (laughter) — it doesn’t work.  But we’re going to have it fixed, and we’re going to repeal and replace.  And I think you’re going to see something very, very special.

And for all of you, and even tonight, because we have Tom Price with us — if you see something or want to discuss it, we don’t have to discuss all friendly stuff.  We can discuss a little bit of the healthcare.  We might as well start.  But tomorrow morning, we’re going to meet and have some pretty big sessions on healthcare and other things — whatever is on your mind.

So I hear this is a record number of governors — 46.  And that’s the highest number that have ever shown up for this evening.  (Applause.)  So, with that, I would like to toast the great, great governors of the United States.  Thank you.

(A toast is offered.)

Now, I know it’s inappropriate, but I’d like to ask a friend of mine — I’ve just destroyed his political career — (laughter) — from the other side, a man from Virginia — I’ve known him a long time, and he’s a very good guy — Governor Terry McAuliffe to come up and also, perhaps, make a toast.  Thank you.  Terry, where are you?  Come on up, Terry.  (Applause.)

GOVERNOR MCAULIFFE:  Well, good evening.  Let me, first of all, on behalf of our nation’s governors, I want to thank the President and the First Lady.  We have found out this is the first big social dinner of the calendar, and I think they did that out of respect to our nation’s governors.  So if we give a great round of applause to the President and the First Lady.  (Applause.)

Now, Mr. President, as you know, I am chairman of the National Governors Association, so I’m not sure if the 46 — the largest crowd ever — is due to my chairmanship or your presidency.  (Laughter.)  But tonight, in the spirit of bipartisanship, sir, we will both take credit for the greatest NGA meeting in the history of NGA meetings.  (Applause.)

I also want to thank the Vice President of the United States and Mrs. Pence.  On Friday, for the first time ever, they opened the Vice Presidential Mansion — the Naval Observatory — to host the governors for lunch.  That had never been done before.  So if we could give a great round of applause to the Vice President and Karen Pence.  (Applause.)

And let me just say, tomorrow we’re all going to meet, we’re going to discuss the issues tomorrow, but the one thing we all agree on — all of us governors and this administration, what every governor wants — we want good jobs.  We want a good economy.  We want the world-class education system in our respective states.  We want a healthcare delivery system that works, with great, quality healthcare, efficiently at a low cost.  We want people to get on our roads and our rail, and be able to ride around efficiently, and then go see their kids play a ballgame.  That’s what we all want.

And, Mr. President, I thank you for having us here tonight.  We have a common goal:  We are the greatest nation in the globe.  And I want to toast to you, Mr. President, and just say, we want to work with you to build on those ideals that have instilled and brought all of us governors together, that we can respectively grow our states and grow our nation to be truly the great destiny that we are.  So I would like to offer a toast to the President of the United States of America.

(A toast is offered.)

END
7:35 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 9, 2016: President-elect Donald Trump Get-Out-the-Vote Rally in Baton Rouge, LA

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION:

President-elect Donald Trump Get-Out-the-Vote Rally in Baton Rouge, LA

Full Text Political Transcripts February 10, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks in Address to the Illinois General Assembly

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President in Address to the Illinois General Assembly

Source: WH, 2-10-16

15

1:03 P.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey!  (Applause.)  Thank you!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much!  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you!  (Applause.)  Everybody, please have a seat.  Have a seat.  Thank you so much.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, members of the General Assembly, my fellow Illinoisans:  It’s actually kind of fun to start a speech like that twice in one month.  (Laughter.)

What an incredible privilege it is to address this chamber. And to Governor Rauner, Senator Durbin, members of Congress, Speaker Madigan, Former Governor Pat Quinn, Mayor Langfelder and the people of Springfield — thank you for such a warm welcome as I come back home.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  It’s good to be home.  (Applause.)  Thank you, guys. Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  It is great to see so many old friends like John Cullerton and Emil Jones.  I miss you guys.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Miss you!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s great to be in the State Capitol.  Being here today calls to mind the first time I spoke on the Senate floor, almost 20 years ago.  And I was passionate, idealistic, ready to make a difference.  Just to stand in that magnificent chamber was enough to fill me up with a heightened sense of purpose.

And I probably needed a little dose of reality when I first arrived.  So one day, I rose to speak about a bill.  And I thought I’d made some compelling points, with irrefutable logic. (Laughter.)  And I was about to sit down, feeling pretty good about myself, when Pate Philip sauntered over to my desk.  Now, there are some young people here, so for those of you who don’t remember, Pate Philip was the Senate Majority Leader at the time. He was a Marine, and big shock of white hair, chomped on a cigar; was so politically incorrect that you don’t even know how to describe it.  (Laughter.)  But he always treated me well.  And he came by and he slapped me on the back, he said, “Kid, that was a pretty good speech.  In fact, I think you changed a lot of minds. But you didn’t change any votes.”  (Laughter.)  Then he singled, and they gaveled, and we got blown out.  (Laughter.)

So that was my first lesson in humility.  The next came when I presented my own first bill.  It was a simple piece of legislation that would make it a lot easier for Illinois manufacturers to hire graduating community college students.  I didn’t know any serious opposition, so I asked for a vote.  And what I got was a good hazing.  I assume that this custom still exists.  (Applause and laughter.)

So a senior colleague put the vote on hold to ask, “Could you correctly pronounce your name for me?  I’m having a little trouble with it.”  “Obama,” I said.  “Is that Irish?” he asked.  (Laughter.)  And being in my early 30s at the time, I was a little cocky — I said, “It will be when I run countywide.”  (Laughter.)  “That was a good joke,” he said, but he wasn’t amused.  “This bill is still going to die.”

And he went on to complain that my predecessor’s name was easier to pronounce than mine, that I didn’t have cookies at my desk like she did, how would I ever expect to get any votes without having cookies on my desk.  “I definitely urge a no vote,” he said, “whatever your name is.”  (Laughter.)

And for the next several minutes, the Senate debated on whether I should add an apostrophe to my name for the Irish, or whether the fact that “Obama” ends in a vowel meant I actually belonged to the Italians — (laughter) — and just how many trees had had to die to print this terrible, miserable bill, anyway.

And I was chastened.  And I said, “If I survive this event, I will be eternally grateful and consider this a highlight of my legal and legislative career.”  And I asked for a vote.  And initially the tote board showed that it was going down, but at the last minute it flipped and my bill passed.  But I was duly reminded that I was a freshman in the minority.  And I want to thank all my former colleagues in both chambers for not letting me forget it.

To be a rookie in the minority party, as I was, is not much fun in any legislature.  We were called “mushrooms” — because we were kept in the dark and fed a lot of manure.  (Laughter.)  But one benefit of being in such a position — not being invited into the meetings where the big deals were being made — is that I had a lot of time to get to know my colleagues.  And many of us were away from our families, and so we became friends.

We went to fish fries together.  We’d go to union halls.  We’d play in golf scrambles.  We had a great bipartisan poker game at the Illinois Manufacturer’s Association.  Boro Relijie would host, and folks like Dave Luechtefeld and Terry Link, others would join in.  We’d eat downstairs — and I can’t say I miss the horseshoes.  (Laughter.)  But away from the glare of TV, or the tweets, or the GIFs of today’s media, what we discovered was that despite our surface differences — Democrats and Republicans, downstate hog farmers, inner-city African Americans, suburban businesspeople, Latinos from Pilsen or Little Village — despite those differences, we actually had a lot in common.  We cared about our communities.  We cared about our families.  We cared about America.

We fought hard for our positions.  I don’t want to be nostalgic here — we voted against each other all the time.  And party lines held most of the time.  But those relationships, that trust we’d built meant that we came at each debate assuming the best in one another and not the worst.

I was reminiscing with Christine Radogno — we came in in the same class.  And we were on opposite sides of most issues, but I always trusted her and believed that she was a good person. And if we had a bill that we might be able to work together on, it was a pleasure to work with her on.  Or Dave Syverson, who — we worked together on the Public Health and Welfare Committee, and we got some important work done that made a difference in people’s lives.

And we didn’t call each other idiots or fascists who were trying to destroy America.  Because then we’d have to explain why we were playing poker or having a drink with an idiot or a fascist who was trying to destroy America.  (Laughter.)

And that respect gave us room for progress.  And after I’d served here for six years, my party finally gained the majority. Emil Jones became the President of the Senate.  And by then, I had made some friends across the aisle — like Kirk Dillard, who I believe is here today, and we were able to pass the first serious ethics reform in 25 years.  And working closely with law enforcement, who knew by then that we cared about cops and sheriffs and prosecutors.  And working with folks like John Cullerton, we passed Illinois’ first racial profiling law, which was good for police officers and minority communities.

And because someone like my friend, John Bouman, who worked at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, helped us build coalitions across the state, including with business, and was able to then reach out to Republicans, we were able to increase tax credits for the working poor and expand health insurance to children in need.

And we wouldn’t bend on our most deeply held principles, but we were willing to forge compromises in pursuit of a larger goal. We were practical when we needed to be.  We could fight like heck on one issue and then shake hands on the next.  Somebody like Jesse White was able to travel around the state and people didn’t even know what party he was necessarily from because he brought so much joy with the tumblers and the work that they were doing.

So I want you to know that this is why I’ve always believed so deeply in a better kind of politics, in part because of what I learned here in this legislature.  Because of what I learned traveling across the state, visiting some of your districts, before I was running statewide, before I was a U.S. senator; learning all the corners of this state — this most-representative of states.  A state of small towns and rich farmland, and the world’s greatest city.  A microcosm of America, where Democrats and Republicans and independents, and good people of every ethnicity and every faith shared certain bedrock values.

I just saw a story the other day showing that if you rank all 50 states across categories like education levels and household incomes, and race and religion, the one state that most closely mirrors America as a whole is Illinois, this state.

And I learned by talking to your constituents that if you were willing to listen, it was possible to bridge a lot of differences.  I learned that most Americans aren’t following the ins and outs of the legislature carefully, but they instinctively know that issues are more complicated than rehearsed sound bites; that they play differently in different parts of the state and in the country.  They understand the difference between realism and idealism; the difference between responsibility and recklessness. They had the maturity to know what can and cannot be compromised, and to admit the possibility that the other side just might have a point.

And it convinced me that if we just approached our national politics the same way the American people approach their daily lives –- at the workplace, at the Little League game; at church or the synagogue — with common sense, and a commitment to fair play and basic courtesy, that there is no problem that we couldn’t solve together.

And that was the vision that guided me when I first ran for the United States Senate.  That’s the vision I shared when I said we are more than just a collection of red states and blue states, but we are the United States of America.  And that vision is why, nine years ago today, on the steps of the Old State Capitol just a few blocks from here, I announced my candidacy for President.

Now, over these nine years, I want you to know my faith in the generosity and the fundamental goodness of the American people has been rewarded and affirmed over and over and over again.  I’ve seen it in the determination of autoworkers who had been laid off but were sure that they could once again be part of a great, iconic Americans industry.  I’ve seen it in the single mom who goes back to school even as she’s working and looking after her kids because she wants a better life for that next generation.  I’ve seen it the vision and risk-taking of small businessmen.  I’ve seen it time and time again in the courage of our troops.

But it’s been noted often by pundits that the tone of our politics hasn’t gotten better since I was inaugurated, in fact it’s gotten worse; that there’s still this yawning gap between the magnitude of our challenges and the smallness of our politics.  Which is why, in my final State of the Union address, and in the one before that, I had to acknowledge that one of my few regrets is my inability to reduce the polarization and meanness in our politics.  I was able to be part of that here and yet couldn’t translate it the way I wanted to into our politics in Washington.

And people ask me why I’ve devoted so much time to this topic.  And I tell them it’s not just because I’m President, and the polarization and the gridlock are frustrating to me.  The fact is we’ve gotten a heck of a lot done these past seven years, despite the gridlock.  We saved the economy from a depression.  We brought back an auto industry from the brink of collapse.  We helped our businesses create 14 million new jobs over the past six years.  We cut the unemployment rate from 10 percent to 4.9 percent.  We covered nearly 18 million more Americans with health insurance.  We ignited a clean energy revolution.  We got bin Laden.  We brought the vast majority of our troops home to their families.  (Applause.)  We got a lot done.  We’re still getting a lot done.

And our political system helped make these things possible, and the list could go on.  There’s no doubt America is better off today than when I took office.  (Applause.)  I didn’t want this to be a State of Union speech where we have the standing up and the sitting down.  (Laughter.)  Come on, guys, you know better than that.  (Laughter and applause.)  No, no, no, I’ve got a serious point to make here.  I’ve got a serious point to make here because this is part of the issue, right?  We have an importation of our politics nationally, and on cable and talk radio, and it seeps into everything.

The point I’m trying to make is I care about fixing our politics not only because I’m the President today, or because some of my initiatives have been blocked by Congress — that happens to every President, happens to every governor, happens to everybody who participates — anybody who participates in a democracy.  You’re not going to get 100 percent of what you want all the time.

The reason this is important to me is, next year I’ll still hold the most important title of all, and that’s the title of citizen.  And as an American citizen, I understand that our progress is not inevitable — our progress has never been inevitable.  It must be fought for, and won by all of us, with the kind of patriotism that our fellow Illinoisan, Adlai Stevenson, once described not as a “short, frenzied outburst of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”  It requires citizenship and a sense that we are one.

And today that kind of citizenship is threatened by a poisonous political climate that pushes people away from participating in our public life.  It turns folks off.  It discourages them, makes them cynical.  And when that happens, more powerful and extreme voices fill the void.  When that happens, progress stalls.  And that’s how we end up with only a handful of lobbyists setting the agenda.  That’s how we end up with policies that are detached from what working families face every day.  That’s how we end up with the well-connected who publicly demand that government stay out of their business but then whisper in its ear for special treatment.

That’s how our political system gets consumed by small things when we are a people that are called to do great things — to give everybody a shot in a changing economy; to keep America safe and strong in an uncertain world; to repair our climate before it threatens everything we leave for our kids.

So that’s what’s on my mind as I come back to Illinois today.  This is what will be a focus of mine over the course of this year and beyond:  What can we do, all of us, together, to try to make our politics better?  And I speak to both sides on this.  As all of you know, it could be better, and all of you would feel prouder of the work you do if it was better.

So, first, let’s put to rest a couple of myths about our politics.  One is the myth that the problems with our politics are new.  They are not.  American politics has never been particularly gentle or high-minded — especially not during times of great change.

As I mentioned when I visited a mosque in Maryland last week, Thomas Jefferson’s opponent tried to stir things up by suggesting he was a Muslim.  So I’m in good company.  (Laughter.) But that’s nothing compared to the newspaper which warned that if Jefferson were elected, “murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced.”  (Laughter.)  His Vice President, Aaron Burr, literally killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.  (Laughter.)  I don’t even want to tell you what Andrew Jackson’s opponents said about his mamma.  (Laughter.)  Lincoln, himself, was routinely called “weak, wishy-washy,” a “yahoo,” “an unshapely man,” “the obscene ape of Illinois,” and, my favorite — a “facetious pettifogger.”  I don’t know what that means — (laughter) –but it sounds insulting.

So, comparatively speaking, today is not that bad — as long as you’ve got a thick skin.  (Laughter.)  As Harold Washington once said:  “Politics ain’t beanbag.”  It’s tough.  And that’s okay.

There’s also the notion sometimes that our politics are broken because politicians are significantly more corrupt or beholden to big money than they used to be.  There’s no doubt that lobbyists still have easier access to the halls of power than the average American.  There’s a lot of work that we need to do to make sure that the system works for ordinary people and not just the well-connected.  That’s true at the federal level; that’s true at the state level.  Folks aren’t entirely wrong when they feel as if the system too often is rigged and does not address their interests.

But, relative to the past, listen, I’m confident we’ve got enough rules and checks to prevent anyone in my Cabinet from siphoning whiskey tax revenue into their own pockets like President Grant’s administration did.  Until FDR went after the ward bosses of Tammany Hall, they controlled judges and politicians as they pleased — patronage, bribery, and money laundering.  It’s not as easy as it was to whip up tens of thousands of phantom votes, whether in Chicago or South Texas.

From the Teapot Dome to Watergate, history tells us we should always be vigilant and demand that our public servants follow the highest ethical standards.  But the truth is that the kind of corruption that is blatant, of the sort that we saw in the past, is much less likely in today’s politics.  And the Justice Department and the media work hard to keep it that way.  And that’s a very good thing.  So we don’t want to romanticize the past and think somehow it’s a difference in the people being elected.

And it also isn’t true that today’s issues are inherently more polarizing than the past.  I remember, we endured four years of Civil War that resulted in hundreds of thousands of dead Americans.  This country was divided on a fundamental question.

Before Pearl Harbor, entering into World War II was a highly charged debate.  The fault lines of Vietnam, the culture wars of the ‘60s — they still echo into our politics a half-century later.

We’ve been arguing since our founding over the proper size and role of government; the meaning of individual freedom and equality; over war and peace, and the best way to give all of our citizens opportunity.  And these are important debates that everybody should join, with all the rigor that a free people require.

My point is, the problem is not that politicians are worse, the problem is not that the issues are tougher.  And so it’s important for us to understand that the situation we find ourselves in today is not somehow unique or hopeless.  We’ve always gone through periods when our democracy seems stuck.  And when that happens, we have to find a new way of doing business.

We’re in one of those moments.  We’ve got to build a better politics — one that’s less of a spectacle and more of a battle of ideas; one that’s less of a business and more of a mission; one that understands the success of the American experiment rests on our willingness to engage all our citizens in this work.

And that starts by acknowledging that we do have a problem. And we all know it.  What’s different today is the nature and the extent of the polarization.  How ideologically divided the parties are is brought about by some of the same long-term trends in our politics and our culture.  The parties themselves have become more homogenous than ever.  A great sorting has taken place that drove Southern conservatives out of the Democratic Party, Northern moderates out of the Republican Party, so you don’t have within each party as much diversity of views.

And you’ve got a fractured media.  Some folks watch FOX News; some folks read the Huffington Post.  And very often, what’s profitable is the most sensational conflict and the most incendiary sound bites.  And we can choose our own facts.  We don’t have a common basis for what’s true and what’s not.  I mean, if I listened to some of these conservative pundits, I wouldn’t vote for me either.  I sound like a scary guy.  (Laughter.)

You’ve got advocacy groups that, frankly, sometimes benefit from keeping their members agitated as much as possible, assured of the righteousness of their cause.  Unlimited dark money — money that nobody knows where it’s coming from, who’s paying — drowns out ordinary voices.  And far too many of us surrender our voices entirely by choosing not to vote.  And this polarization is pervasive and it seeps into our society to the point where surveys even suggest that many Americans wouldn’t want their kids to date someone from another political party.  Now, some of us don’t want our kids dating, period.  But that’s a losing battle. (Laughter.)

But this isn’t just an abstract problem for political scientists.  This has real impact on whether or not we can get things done together.  This has a real impact on whether families are able to support themselves, or whether the homeless are getting shelter on a cold day.  It makes a difference as to the quality of the education that kids are getting.  This is not an abstraction.

But so often, these debates, particularly in Washington but increasingly in state legislatures, become abstractions.  It’s as if there are no people involved, it’s just cardboard cutouts and caricatures of positions.  It encourages the kind of ideological fealty that rejects any compromise as a form of weakness.  And in a big, complicated democracy like ours, if we can’t compromise, by definition, we can’t govern ourselves.

Look, I am a progressive Democrat.  I am proud of that.  I make no bones about it.  (Applause.)   I’m going to make another point here.  I believe that people should have access to health care.  I believe they should have access to a good public education.  I believe that workers deserve a higher minimum wage. I believe that collective bargaining is critical to the prospects of the middle class, and that pensions are vital to retirement, as long as they’re funded responsibly.  (Applause.)

Hold on a second.  Hold on a second.  (Applause.)  Sit down, Democrats.  Sit down.  Sit down — just for a second.  I appreciate that, but I want to make this larger point.  (Laughter.)

I believe we’re judged by how we care for the poor and the vulnerable.  I believe that in order to live up to our ideals, we have to continually fight discrimination in all its forms.   (Applause.)  I believe in science, and the science behind things like climate change, and that a transition to cleaner sources of energy will help preserve the planet for future generations.  (Applause.)

I believe in a tough, smart foreign policy that says America will never hesitate to protect our people and our allies, but that we should use every element of our power and never rush to war.

Those are the things I believe.  But here’s the point I want to make.  I believe that there are a lot of Republicans who share many of these same values, even though they may disagree with me on the means to achieve them.  I think sometimes my Republican colleagues make constructive points about outdated regulations that may need to be changed, or programs that even though well-intended, didn’t always work the way they were supposed to.

And where I’ve got an opportunity to find some common ground, that doesn’t make me a sellout to my own party.  (Applause.)  That applies — (laughter) — well, we’ll talk later, Duncan.  (Applause.)  This is what happens, everybody starts cherry-picking.  (Laughter.)  One thing I’ve learned is folks don’t change.  (Laughter.)

So trying to find common ground doesn’t make me less of a Democrat or less of a progressive.  It means I’m trying to get stuff done.

And the same applies to a Republican who, heaven forbid, might agree with me on a particular issue — or if I said America is great, decided to stand during a State of Union.  It’s not a controversial proposition.  (Laughter.)  You’re not going to get in trouble.  (Applause.)

But the fact that that’s hard to do is a testament to how difficult our politics has become.  Because folks are worried, well, I’m going to get yelled at by you, or this blogger is going to write that, or this talk show host is going to talk about me, and suddenly I’ve got to challenger, and calling me a RINO or a not a real progressive.

So when I hear voices in either party boast of their refusal to compromise as an accomplishment in and of itself, I’m not impressed.  All that does is prevent what most Americans would consider actual accomplishments — like fixing roads, educating kids, passing budgets, cleaning our environment, making our streets safe.  (Applause.)

It cuts both ways, guys.  See, suddenly everybody is standing.  This is fascinating to watch.  (Laughter.)  The point is, it cuts both ways.

Our Founders trusted us with the keys to this system of self-government.  Our politics is the place where we try to make this incredible machinery work; where we come together to settle our differences and solve big problems, do big things together that we could not possibly do alone.  And our Founders anchored all this in a visionary Constitution that separates power and demands compromise, precisely to prevent one party, or one wing of a party, or one faction, or some powerful interests from getting 100 percent of its way.

So when either side makes blanket promises to their base that it can’t possibly meet — tax cuts without cuts to services — “everything will be fine, but we won’t spend any money” — war without shared sacrifice — “we’re going to be tough, but don’t worry, it will be fine” — union bashing or corporate bashing without acknowledging that both workers and businesses make our economy run — that kind of politics means that the supporters will be perennially disappointed.  It only adds to folks’ sense that the system is rigged.  It’s one of the reasons why we see these big electoral swings every few years.  It’s why people are so cynical.

Now, I don’t pretend to have all the answers to this.  These trends will not change overnight.  If I did, I would have already done them through an executive action.  (Laughter and applause.) That was just a joke, guys.  Relax.  (Laughter.)   A sense of humor is also helpful.

But I do want to offer some steps that we can take that I believe would help reform our institutions and move our system in a way that helps reflect our better selves.  And these aren’t particularly original, but I just want to go ahead and mention them.

First is to take, or at least reduce, some of the corrosive influence of money in our politics.  (Applause.)

Now, this year, just over 150 families — 150 families — have spent as much on the presidential race as the rest of America combined.  Today, a couple of billionaires in one state can push their agenda, dump dark money into every state — nobody knows where it’s coming from — mostly used on these dark ads, everybody is kind of dark and the worst picture possible.  (Laughter.)  And there’s some ominous voice talking about how they’re destroying the country.

And they spend this money based on some ideological preference that really is disconnected to the realities of how people live.  They’re not that concerned about the particulars of what’s happening in a union hall in Galesburg, and what folks are going through trying to find a job.  They’re not particularly familiar with what’s happening at a VFW post.  (Phone rings.)  Somebody’s phone is on.  (Laughter.)  In Carbondale.  They haven’t heard personally from farmers outside of the Quads and what they’re going through.  Those are the voices that should be outweighing a handful of folks with a lot of money.  I’m not saying the folks with a lot of money should have no voice; I’m saying they shouldn’t be able to drown out everybody else’s.

And that’s why I disagree with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.  (Applause.)  I don’t believe that money is speech, or that political spending should have no limits, or that it shouldn’t be disclosed.  I still support a constitutional amendment to set reasonable limits on financial influence in America’s elections.

But amending the Constitution is an extremely challenging and time-consuming process — as it should be.  So we’re going to have to come up with more immediate ways to reduce the influence of money in politics.  There are a lot of good proposals out there, and we have to work to find ones that can gain some bipartisan support — because a handful of families and hidden interests shouldn’t be able to bankroll elections in the greatest democracy on Earth.

The second step towards a better politics is rethinking the way that we draw our congressional districts.  (Applause.)  Now, let me point this out — I want to point this out, because this is another case of cherry-picking here.  (Laughter.)  This tends to be popular in states where Democrats have been drawing the lines among Republicans, and less popular among Republicans where they control drawing the lines.  (Applause.)  So let’s be very clear here — nobody has got clean hands on this thing.  Nobody has got clean hands on this thing.

The fact is, today technology allows parties in power to precision-draw constituencies so that the opposition’s supporters are packed into as few districts as possible.  That’s why our districts are shaped like earmuffs or spaghetti.  (Laughter.)  It’s also how one party can get more seats even when it gets fewer votes.

And while this gerrymandering may insulate some incumbents from a serious challenge from the other party, it also means that the main thing those incumbents are worried about are challengers from the most extreme voices in their own party.  That’s what’s happened in Congress.  You wonder why Congress doesn’t work?  The House of Representatives there, there may be a handful — less than 10 percent — of districts that are even competitive at this point.  So if you’re a Republican, all you’re worried about is what somebody to your right is saying about you, because you know you’re not going to lose a general election.  Same is true for a lot of Democrats.  So our debates move away from the middle, where most Americans are, towards the far ends of the spectrum.  And that polarizes us further.

Now, this is something we have the power to fix.  And once the next census rolls around and we have the most up-to-date picture of America’s population, we should change the way our districts are drawn.  In America, politicians should not pick their voters; voters should pick their politicians.  (Applause.) And this needs to be done across the nation, not just in a select few states.  It should be done everywhere.  (Applause.)

Now, the more Americans use their voice and participate, the less captive our politics will be to narrow constituencies.  No matter how much undisclosed money is spent, no matter how many negative ads are run, no matter how unrepresentative a district is drawn, if everybody voted, if a far larger number of people voted, that would overcome in many ways some of these other institutional barriers.  It would make our politics better.

And that’s why a third step towards a better politics is making voting easier, not harder; and modernizing it for the way that we live now.  (Applause.)

Now, this shouldn’t be controversial, guys.  You liked the redistricting thing, but not letting people vote.  I should get some applause on that, too.  (Applause.)

Listen, three years ago, I set up a bipartisan commission to improve the voting experience in America.  It had the election lawyers from my campaign and from Mitt Romney’s campaign.  They got together outside of the context of immediate politics.  And I actually want to thank this assembly for moving to adopt some of its recommendations.  Thanks to the good work of my dear friend, Senator Don Harmon, and many of you, there’s a new law going into effect this year that will allow Illinoisans to register and vote at the polls on Election Day.  (Applause.)  It expands early voting — something that makes it a lot easier for working folks and busy parents to go vote.

Think about it.  If you’re a single mom, and you’ve got to take public transportation to punch a clock, work round the clock, get home, cook dinner on a Tuesday in bad weather — that’s tough.  Why would we want to make it so that she couldn’t do it on a Saturday or a Sunday?  (Applause.)  How is that advancing our democracy?

So this law will make a difference.  I’m proud of my home state for helping to lead the way.

And we know this works.  In 2012 and 2014, the states with the highest voter turnout all had same-day registration.  So today, I ask every state in America to join us — reduce these barriers to voting.  Make it easier for your constituents to get out and vote.

And I’d encourage this assembly to take the next step.  Senator Manar and Representative Gabel have bills that would automatically register every eligible citizen to vote when they apply for a driver’s license.  That will protect the fundamental right of everybody.  Democrats, Republicans, independents, seniors, folks with disabilities, the men and women of our military — it would make sure that it was easier for them to vote and have their vote counted.

And as one of your constituents, I think you should pass that legislation right away.  (Applause.)  I think the Governor should sign it without delay.  (Applause.)  Let’s make the Land of Lincoln a leader in voter participation.  That’s something we should be proud to do.  (Applause.)  Let’s set the pace — encourage other states across the country to follow our lead, making automatic voter registration the new norm across America.

Now, just during the course of this talk, it’s been interesting to watch the dynamics, obviously.  (Laughter.)  In part because so much of our politics now is just designed for short-term, tactical gain.  If you think that having more voters will hurt you on Election Day, then suddenly you’re not interested in participation.  And if you think that the gerrymandering is helping you instead of hurting you, then you’re not for those proposals.

We get trapped in these things.  We know better.  If we were setting up a set of rules ahead of time, and you didn’t know where you stood, which party you were going to be in, if you didn’t have all the data and the poll numbers to tell you what’s going to give you an edge or not, you’d set up a system that was fair.  You’d encourage everybody to be part of it.  That’s what we learned in our civics books.  That’s how it should work.

The fact that we can’t do that, that brings me to my last point, which is, even as we change the way system works, we also have a responsibility to change the way that we, as elected officials and as citizens, work together.  Because this democracy only works when we get both right — when the system is fair, but also when we build a culture that is trying to make it work.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about something a friend of mine, Deval Patrick, once said to his constituents when he was governor of Massachusetts.  He said, “Insist from us and from each other a modicum of civility as the condition for serving you.”  This is what he told voters.  “Insist on us having a modicum of civility.”

I think that’s something that all of us, as Americans, have to insist from each other.  Our children are watching what we do. They don’t just learn it in school, they learn it by watching us — the way we conduct ourselves, the way we treat each other.  If we lie about each other, they learn it’s okay to lie.  If we make up facts and ignore science, then they just think it’s just their opinion that matters.  If they see us insulting each other like school kids, then they think, well, I guess that’s how people are supposed to behave.  The way we respect — or don’t — each other as citizens will determine whether or not the hard, frustrating, but absolutely necessary work of self-government continues.

I’ve got daughters that are getting older now, and one of the most important things about being a parent I think is them just seeing what you do not when you’re out in public, not when you’re dealing with somebody important, but just how do you do — how do you treat people generally.  And it makes me much more mindful.  I want to live up to their expectations.

And in that same way, I want this democracy to live up to the people’s expectations.  We can’t move forward if all we do is tear each other down.  And the political incentives, as they are today, too often rewards that kind of behavior.  That’s what gets attention.  So it will require some courage just to act the way our parents taught us to act.  It shouldn’t, but in this political environment apparently it does.  We’ve got to insist to do better from each other, for each other.

Rather than reward those who’d disenfranchise any segment of America, we’ve got to insist that everybody arm themselves with information, and facts, and that they vote.  If 99 percent of us voted, it wouldn’t matter how much the 1 percent spends on our elections.  (Applause.)

Rather than reward the most extreme voices, or the most divisive language, or who is best at launching schoolyard taunts, we should insist on a higher form of discourse in our common life, one based on empathy and respect, — which does not mean you abandon principle.  It doesn’t mean you’re not tough.

Rather than paint those who disagree with us as motivated by malice, to suggest that any of us lack patriotism — we can insist, as Lincoln did, that we are not enemies, but friends; that our fellow Americans are not only entitled to a different point of view, but that they love this country as much as we do.

Rather than reward a 24/7 media that so often thrives on sensationalism and conflict, we have to stand up and insist, no, reason matters, facts matter; issues are complicated.  When folks just make stuff up, they can’t go unchallenged.  And that’s true for Democrats if you hear a Democratic make something up, and that’s true for a Republican if you see a Republican cross that line.

Rather than accept the notion that compromise is a sellout to one side, we’ve got to insist on the opposite — that it can be a genuine victory that means progress for all sides.  And rather than preventing our kids from dating people in other parties — well, I may have issues about dating, generally –(laughter) — but we can trust that we’ve raised our kids to do the right thing, and to look at the qualities of people’s character, not some label attached to them.

And maybe, most of all, whenever someone begins to grow cynical about our politics, or believes that their actions can’t make a difference or it’s not worth participating in, we’ve got to insist, even against all evidence to the contrary, that in fact they can make a difference.  And in this job of being a citizen of the United States of America, that’s a big deal.  It’s something we should revere and take seriously.

Abraham Lincoln wasn’t always the giant that we think of today.  He lacked formal schooling.  His businesses and his law practices often struggled.  After just one term in Congress, his opposition to the Mexican-American War damaged his reputation so badly he did not run for reelection.  He was denounced as a traitor, a demagogue, an enemy sympathizer.  He returned to his law practice and admitted he was losing interest in politics entirely.

And then something happened that shook his conscience.  Congress effectively overturned the Missouri Compromise, that flawed and fragile law that had prohibited slavery in the North and legalized it in the South, but left the question ultimately unsettled.  And stunned by this news, Lincoln said he’d been roused “as he had never been before” over what it meant for America’s future.

And so, here in Springfield, at the state fair, he got back in the game and he delivered the first of his great anti-slavery speeches to a crowd of thousands.  And over the next six years, even as he lost two more political races, his arguments with Douglas and others shaped the national debate.  That’s when he uttered those brilliant words on the steps of the Old State Capitol that “A house divided against itself cannot stand;” that “this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free.”

He became the first Republican President, and I believe our greatest President.  And through his will and his words and, most of all, his character, he held a nation together and he helped free a people.

And those victories did not solve all of our problems.  He would be attacked at times for the compromises he was prepared to make by abolitionists and folks from his own side.  It would be 100 years more until the law guaranteed African Americans the equal rights that they had been promised.  Even 50 years after that, our march is not yet finished.  But because Lincoln made that decision not to give up, and not to let other voices speak for him, and because he held in his mind the strength of principle but the vision, the ability to understand those who disagreed with him, and showed them respect even as he fought them — because of what he set in motion, generations of free men and women of all races and walks of life have had the chance to choose this country’s course.  What a great gift.  What a great legacy he has bestowed up.

And that’s the thing about America.  We are a constant work of progress.  And our success has never been certain, none of our journey has been preordained.  And there’s always been a gap between our highest ideals and the reality that we witness every single day.  But what makes us exceptional — what makes us Americans — is that we have fought wars, and passed laws, and reformed systems, and organized unions, and staged protests, and launched mighty movements to close that gap, and to bring the promise and the practice of America into closer alignment.  We’ve made the effort to form that “more perfect union.”

Nine years to the day that I first announced for this office, I still believe in that politics of hope.  And for all the challenges of a rapidly changing world, and for all the imperfections of our democracy, the capacity to reach across our differences and choose that kind of politics — not a cynical politics, not a politics of fear, but that kind of politics — sustained over the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime, that’s something that remains entirely up to us.

Thank you, Illinois.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)  It’s good to see all you.  I miss you guys.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END           2:04 P.M. CST

Full Text Political Transcripts January 12, 2016: Nikki Haley’s Republican response to State of the Union address Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Republican response to State of the Union address Transcript

Source: CNN, 1-12-16

Transcript of Nikki Haley’s Republican response to the 2016 State of the Union address. As prepared for delivery.

“Good evening.

“I’m Nikki Haley, Governor of the great state of South Carolina.

“I’m speaking tonight from Columbia, our state’s capital city. Much like America as a whole, ours is a state with a rich and complicated history, one that proves the idea that each day can be better than the last.

“In just a minute, I’m going to talk about a vision of a brighter American future. But first I want to say a few words about President Obama, who just gave his final State of the Union address.

“Barack Obama’s election as president seven years ago broke historic barriers and inspired millions of Americans. As he did when he first ran for office, tonight President Obama spoke eloquently about grand things. He is at his best when he does that.

“Unfortunately, the President’s record has often fallen far short of his soaring words.

“As he enters his final year in office, many Americans are still feeling the squeeze of an economy too weak to raise income levels. We’re feeling a crushing national debt, a health care plan that has made insurance less affordable and doctors less available, and chaotic unrest in many of our cities.

“Even worse, we are facing the most dangerous terrorist threat our nation has seen since September 11th, and this president appears either unwilling or unable to deal with it.

“Soon, the Obama presidency will end, and America will have the chance to turn in a new direction. That direction is what I want to talk about tonight.

“At the outset, I’ll say this: you’ve paid attention to what has been happening in Washington, and you’re not naive.

“Neither am I. I see what you see. And many of your frustrations are my frustrations.

“A frustration with a government that has grown day after day, year after year, yet doesn’t serve us any better. A frustration with the same, endless conversations we hear over and over again. A frustration with promises made and never kept.

“We need to be honest with each other, and with ourselves: while Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today, they do not bear it alone. There is more than enough blame to go around.

“We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership. We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken.

“And then we need to fix it.

“The foundation that has made America that last, best hope on earth hasn’t gone anywhere. It still exists. It is up to us to return to it.

“For me, that starts right where it always has: I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants who reminded my brothers, my sister and me every day how blessed we were to live in this country.

“Growing up in the rural south, my family didn’t look like our neighbors, and we didn’t have much. There were times that were tough, but we had each other, and we had the opportunity to do anything, to be anything, as long as we were willing to work for it.

“My story is really not much different from millions of other Americans. Immigrants have been coming to our shores for generations to live the dream that is America. They wanted better for their children than for themselves. That remains the dream of all of us, and in this country we have seen time and again that that dream is achievable.

“Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.

“No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.

“At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can’t do that. We cannot continue to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined.

“We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.

“I have no doubt that if we act with proper focus, we can protect our borders, our sovereignty and our citizens, all while remaining true to America’s noblest legacies.

“This past summer, South Carolina was dealt a tragic blow. On an otherwise ordinary Wednesdayevening in June, at the historic Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, twelve faithful men and women, young and old, went to Bible study.

“That night, someone new joined them. He didn’t look like them, didn’t act like them, didn’t sound like them. They didn’t throw him out. They didn’t call the police. Instead, they pulled up a chair and prayed with him. For an hour.

“We lost nine incredible souls that night.

“What happened after the tragedy is worth pausing to think about.

“Our state was struck with shock, pain, and fear. But our people would not allow hate to win. We didn’t have violence, we had vigils. We didn’t have riots, we had hugs.

“We didn’t turn against each other’s race or religion. We turned toward God, and to the values that have long made our country the freest and greatest in the world.

“We removed a symbol that was being used to divide us, and we found a strength that united us against a domestic terrorist and the hate that filled him.

“There’s an important lesson in this. In many parts of society today, whether in popular culture, academia, the media, or politics, there’s a tendency to falsely equate noise with results.

“Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.

“Of course that doesn’t mean we won’t have strong disagreements. We will. And as we usher in this new era, Republicans will stand up for our beliefs.

“If we held the White House, taxes would be lower for working families, and we’d put the brakes on runaway spending and debt.

“We would encourage American innovation and success instead of demonizing them, so our economy would truly soar and good jobs would be available across our country.

“We would reform education so it worked best for students, parents, and teachers, not Washington bureaucrats and union bosses.

“We would end a disastrous health care program, and replace it with reforms that lowered costs and actually let you keep your doctor.

“We would respect differences in modern families, but we would also insist on respect for religious liberty as a cornerstone of our democracy.

“We would recognize the importance of the separation of powers and honor the Constitution in its entirety. And yes, that includes the Second and Tenth Amendments.

“We would make international agreements that were celebrated in Israel and protested in Iran, not the other way around.

“And rather than just thanking our brave men and women in uniform, we would actually strengthen our military, so both our friends and our enemies would know that America seeks peace, but when we fight wars we win them.

“We have big decisions to make. Our country is being tested.

“But we’ve been tested in the past, and our people have always risen to the challenge. We have all the guidance we need to be safe and successful.

“Our forefathers paved the way for us.

“Let’s take their values, and their strengths, and rededicate ourselves to doing whatever it takes to keep America the greatest country in the history of man. And woman.

“Thank you, good night, and God bless.”

University Musings July 12, 2015: The end of tenure? Scott Walker wins war against professors and why he is right

EDUCATION BUZZ

EDUCATION & UNIVERSITY MUSINGS

The end of tenure? Scott Walker wins war against professors and why he is right

July 12, 2015
On the eve of declaring his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed the state’s $73 billion budget on Sunday, July 12, 2015 and won his fight against tenured professors at state and public…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency May 18, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Remarks on Steps to Demilitarize Local Police Forces

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Community Policing

Source: WH, 5-18-15 

Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center
Camden, New Jersey

2:42 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Have a seat.  Well, thank you so much.  It is good to be in Camden.  (Applause.)

I want to thank your Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guadagno; your Congressman, Donald Norcross; and your Mayor, Dana Redd, for being here.  Give them all a big round of applause.  (Applause.) I want to thank the outstanding facility, our hosts.  The Salvation Army is doing great work, and the Ray Kroc Center here seems like just a wonderful, wonderful facility.  (Applause.)  So we’re very proud of them.

I want to thank Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson for his outstanding work.  (Applause.)  Where’s the Chief?  There he is.

So I’ve come here to Camden to do something that might have been unthinkable just a few years ago — and that’s to hold you up as a symbol of promise for the nation.  (Applause.)  Now, I don’t want to overstate it.  Obviously Camden has gone through tough times and there are still tough times for a lot of folks here in Camden.  But just a few years ago, this city was written off as dangerous beyond redemption — a city trapped in a downward spiral.  Parents were afraid to let their children play outside.  Drug dealers operated in broad daylight.  There weren’t enough cops to patrol the streets.

So two years ago, the police department was overhauled to implement a new model of community policing.  They doubled the size of the force — while keeping it unionized.  They cut desk jobs in favor of getting more officers out into the streets.  Not just to walk the beat, but to actually get to know the residents — to set up basketball games, to volunteer in schools, to participate in reading programs, to get to know the small businesses in the area.

Now, to be a police officer takes a special kind of courage. And I talked about this on Friday at a memorial for 131 officers who gave their lives to protect communities like this one.  It takes a special kind of courage to run towards danger, to be a person that residents turn to when they’re most desperate.  And when you match courage with compassion, with care and understanding of the community — like we’ve seen here in Camden — some really outstanding things can begin to happen.

Violent crime in Camden is down 24 percent.  (Applause.)    Murder is down 47 percent.  (Applause.)  Open-air drug markets have been cut by 65 percent.  (Applause.)  The response time for 911 calls is down from one hour to just five minutes.  And when I was in the center, it was 1.3 minutes, right when I was there. (Applause.)  And perhaps most significant is that the police and residents are building trust.  (Applause.)  Building trust.

Now, nobody is suggesting that the job is done.  This is still a work in progress.  The Police Chief would be the first one to say it.  So would the Mayor.  Camden and its people still face some very big challenges.  But this city is on to something. You’ve made real progress in just two years.  And that’s why I’m here today — because I want to focus on the fact that other cities across America can make similar progress.

Everything we’ve done over the past six years, whether it’s rescuing the economy, or reforming our schools, or retooling our job training programs, has been in pursuit of one goal, and that’s creating opportunity for all of us, all our kids.  But we know that some communities have the odds stacked against them, and have had the odds stacked against them for a very long time  — in some cases, for decades.  You’ve got rural communities that have chronic poverty.  You have manufacturing communities that got hit hard when plants closed and people lost jobs.  There are not only cities but also suburbs where jobs can be tough to find, and tougher to get to because of development patterns and lack of transportation options.  And folks who do work, they’re working harder than ever, but sometimes don’t feel like they can get ahead.

And in some communities, that sense of unfairness and powerlessness has contributed to dysfunction in those communities.  Communities are like bodies, and if the immunity system is down, they can get sick.  And when communities aren’t vibrant, where people don’t feel a sense of hope and opportunity, then a lot of times that can fuel crime and that can fuel unrest.
We’ve seen it in places like Baltimore and Ferguson and New York.  And it has many causes — from a basic lack of opportunity to some groups feeling unfairly targeted by their police forces. And that means there’s no single solution.  There have to be a lot of different solutions and different approaches that we try.
So one of the things that we did to address these issues was to create a task force on the future of community policing.  And this task force was outstanding because it was made up of all the different stakeholders — we had law enforcement; we had community activists; we had young people.  They held public meetings across the country.  They developed concrete proposals that every community in America can implement to rebuild trust and help law enforcement.

The recommendations were released in March; they were finalized today.  They include everything from enhanced officer training to improving the use of body cameras and other technologies to make sure that police departments are being smart about crime and that there’s enough data for them to be accountable as well.

And we’re trying to support the great work that’s happening at the local level where cities are already responding to these recommendations.  And before I go further, I just want the members of our task force to stand, because they’ve done some outstanding work and they deserve to be acknowledged.  Thank you. (Applause.)

Now, we’ve launched a Police Data Initiative that’s helping Camden and other innovative cities use data to strengthen their work and hold themselves accountable by sharing it with the public.  Departments might track things like incidents of force so that they can identify and handle problems that could otherwise escalate.

Here in Camden, officers deal with some 41 different data systems, which means they have to enter the same information multiple times.  So today, we’ve brought a volunteer, Elite Tech Team, to help — a group of data scientists and software engineers, and tech leaders.  They’re going to work with the police department here to troubleshoot some of the technical challenges so it’s even easier for police departments to do the things they already want to do in helping to track what’s going on in communities, and then also helping to make sure that that data is used effectively to identify where there are trouble spots, where there are problems, are there particular officers that may need additional help, additional training.  All that can be obtained in a really effective, efficient way.

Today, we’re also releasing new policies on the military-style equipment that the federal government has in the past provided to state and local law enforcement agencies.  We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force, as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them.  It can alienate and intimidate local residents, and send the wrong message.  So we’re going to prohibit some equipment made for the battlefield that is not appropriate for local police departments. (Applause.)

There is other equipment that may be needed in certain cases, but only with proper training.  So we’re going to ensure that departments have what they need, but also that they have the training to use it.

We’re doing these things because we’re listening to what law enforcement is telling us.  The overwhelming majority of police officers are good and honest and fair.  They care deeply about their communities.  They put their lives on the line every day to keep them safe.  Their loved ones wait and worry until they come through the door at the end of their shift.  So we should do everything in our power to make sure that they are safe, and help them do the job the best they can.

And what’s interesting about what Chief Thomson has done, and what’s happening here in Camden, is these new officers — who I have to confess made me feel old — (laughter) — because they all look like they could still be in school.  (Laughter.)  The approach that the Chief has taken in getting them out of their squad cars, into the communities, getting them familiar with the people that they’re serving — they’re enjoying their jobs more because they feel as if, over time, they can have more of an impact, and they’re getting more help from the community because the community has seen them and knows them before there’s a crisis, before there’s an incident.

So it’s not just crisis response.  It’s not after the fact there’s a crime, there’s a dead body, there’s a shooting, and now we’re going to show up.  It’s, we’re here all the time, and hopefully, we can prevent those shootings from happening in the first place.  (Applause.)

But one of the things I also want to focus on is the fact that a lot of the issues that have been raised here, and in places like Baltimore and Ferguson and New York, goes beyond policing.   We can’t ask the police to contain and control problems that the rest of us aren’t willing to face or do anything about.  (Applause.)

If we as a society don’t do more to expand opportunity to everybody who’s willing to work for it, then we’ll end up seeing conflicts between law enforcement and residents.  If we as a society aren’t willing to deal honestly with issue of race, then we can’t just expect police departments to solve these problems. If communities are being isolated and segregated, without opportunity and without investment and without jobs — if we politicians are simply ramping up long sentences for nonviolent drug crimes that end up devastating communities, we can’t then ask the police to be the ones to solve the problem when there are no able-bodied men in the community, or kids are growing up without intact households.  (Applause.)

We can’t just focus on the problems when there’s a disturbance — and then cable TV runs it for two or three or four days, and then suddenly we forget about it again, until the next time.  Communities like some poor communities in Camden or my hometown in Chicago, they’re part of America, too.  The kids who grow up here, they’re America’s children.  Just like children everyplace else, they’ve got hopes and they’ve got dreams and they’ve got potential.  And if we’re not investing in them, no matter how good Chief Thomson and the police are doing, these kids are still going to be challenged.  So we’ve all got to step up.  We’ve all got to care about what happens.

Chief Thomson will tell you that his officers read to young children in the communities not just to build positive relationships, but because it’s in the interest of the community to make sure these kids can read — so that they stay in school and graduate ready for college and careers, and become productive members of society.  That’s in his interest not just as a police chief, but also as a citizen of this country, and somebody who grew up in this areas and knows this area.

And that’s why we’ve partnered with cities and states to get tens of thousands more kids access to quality early childhood education.  No matter who they are or where they’re born, they should get a good start in life.  (Applause.)

That’s why we’ve partnered with cities, including Camden, to create what we call Promise Zones — (applause) — where all-hands-on-deck efforts to change the odds for communities start happening because we’re providing job training, and helping to reduce violence, and expanding affordable housing.

It’s why we’re ready to work with folks from both sides of the aisle to reform our criminal justice system.  We all want safety, and we all know how pernicious the drug culture can be in undermining communities.  But this massive trend toward incarceration even of nonviolent drug offenders, and the costs of that trend are crowding out other critical investments that we can make in public safety.  If we’re spending a whole lot of money on prisons, and we don’t have computers or books or enough teachers or sports or music programs in our schools, we are being counterproductive.  It’s not a good strategy.  (Applause.)

And so, in addition to the work we’re doing directly on the criminal justice front, we’re also launching something that we call My Brother’s Keeper — an initiative to ensure that all young people, but with a particular focus on young men of color, have a chance to go as far as their dreams will take them.  (Applause.)  Now, over the coming weeks, members of my Cabinet will be traveling around the country to highlight communities that are doing great work to improve the lives of their residents.

We know these problems are solvable.  We’re know that we’re not lacking for answers, we’re just lacking political will.  We have to see these problems for what they are — not something that’s happening in some other city to some other people, but something that’s happening in our community, the community of America.  (Applause.)

And we know that change is possible because we’ve seen it in places like this.  We’ve seen it, thanks to people like Officer Virginia Matias.  Where is Virginia?  There she is right there.  (Applause.)  Earlier this year, Vice President Biden and I got to sit with Officer Matias and rank-and-file law enforcement officers from around the country.  And Virginia was talking about how when she was growing up in East Camden, crime was so bad she wasn’t allowed to go to the store alone.  Her mom was once robbed at gunpoint.  When she was 17, her uncle was shot and killed in his own store.  Instead of turning away from Camden, she decided she wanted to become a cop where she grew up to help the community she loved.  (Applause.)  And today, she is a proud member of the Camden County Police Department.  (Applause.)

And she’s a constant presence in the community, getting to know everybody she passes on her beat, even volunteering in a kindergarten.  Officer Matias isn’t just helping to keep her community safe, she’s also a role model for young people of Camden.  And anybody who thinks that things aren’t getting better, she says, “I see kids playing outside, riding bikes in the neighborhood, on their porches having a conversation.  That’s how I measure change.”

That’s how we should all measure change.  I had a chance to meet with some of the young people here who participated in a little roundtable with the officers, and they’re extraordinary young people.  And they’ve got hopes and dreams just like Malia and Sasha, and they’re overcoming some bigger barriers than my children ever had to go through, or I had to go through.  And they’re strong, and they’re focused.

But in talking to them, some of them — the reason they’ve been able to make it and do well is because their parents don’t let them out outside.  Well, you know what, children shouldn’t have to be locked indoors in order to be safe.  That’s not right. Some of them still have concerns about friends of theirs that have taken a wrong path and gotten involved in the streets and drugs.  That’s not the environment we need our kids to be growing up in.

I challenge everybody to get to know some of these young people.  They’re outstanding, and they’re going to do great things in their lives.  (Applause.)  But the point is, is that they shouldn’t have to go through superhuman efforts just to be able to stay in school and go to college and achieve their promise.  That should be the norm.  That should be standard.  And if it isn’t, we’re not doing something right.  We as a society are not doing something right if it isn’t.  (Applause.)

So, ultimately, that’s how we’re going to measure change:  Rising prospects for our kids.  Rising prospects for the neighborhood.  Do our children feel safe on the streets?  Do they feel cared for by their community?  Do they feel like the police departments care about them?  Do they feel as if when they work hard they can succeed?  Do they feel like the country is making an investment in them?  Do they see role models for success?  Are there pathways to jobs that they can identify?  Do they know that if they put in effort, they can make it?  Are they going to be treated fairly regardless of the color of their skin or what their last name is?

It’s pretty basic.  I travel around the country — the one thing that makes me always so optimistic is our children.  And what you realize is everywhere, kids are — kids are kids.  Sometimes they’ll drive you crazy.  (Laughter.)  They’ll make mistakes.  But there’s an inherent goodness in them.  They want to do the right thing.  They just need to be given a chance.

And some of them aren’t going to be lucky enough to have the structures at home that they need — in which case then, we all have to pick up the slack.  And if we do, they’ll respond.  They will.  But we got to feel like that they’re our kids.  We got to see our children in them, in their eyes.  And we haven’t done enough of that.  But we can.

This is a moment of great promise; this is a moment of great hope.  And if we’re seeing such extraordinary improvement in Camden because of the good efforts of a lot of elected officials, and an outstanding police chief and some wonderful police officers, and a community that’s supportive, and nonprofit organizations like the Salvation Army and others that are doing some great work — if it’s working here, it can work anywhere. (Applause.)  It can work anywhere.

On the City Hall of Camden you got an inscription by Walt Whitman:  “In a dream, I saw a city invincible.”  In a dream I see a country invincible — if we care enough to make the effort on behalf of every child in this country.  (Applause.)

Camden is showing that it can be done.  I want America to show everybody around the world that it can be done.

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

END
3:05 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency April 28, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Remarks on Baltimore Riots — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama’s Remarks on Baltimore Riots

Source: WH, 4-28-15

With respect to Baltimore, let me make a couple of points.  First, obviously our thoughts continue to be with the family of Freddie Gray.  Understandably, they want answers.  And DOJ has opened an investigation.  It is working with local law enforcement to find out exactly what happened, and I think there should be full transparency and accountability.

Second, my thoughts are with the police officers who were injured in last night’s disturbances.  It underscores that that’s a tough job and we have to keep that in mind, and my hope is that they can heal and get back to work as soon as possible.

Point number three, there’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday.  It is counterproductive.  When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting, they’re not making a statement — they’re stealing.  When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson.  And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities that rob jobs and opportunity from people in that area.

So it is entirely appropriate that the mayor of Baltimore, who I spoke to yesterday, and the governor, who I spoke to yesterday, work to stop that kind of senseless violence and destruction.  That is not a protest.  That is not a statement.  It’s people — a handful of people taking advantage of a situation for their own purposes, and they need to be treated as criminals.

Point number four, the violence that happened yesterday distracted from the fact that you had seen multiple days of peaceful protests that were focused on entirely legitimate concerns of these communities in Baltimore, led by clergy and community leaders.  And they were constructive and they were thoughtful, and frankly, didn’t get that much attention.  And one burning building will be looped on television over and over and over again, and the thousands of demonstrators who did it the right way I think have been lost in the discussion.

The overwhelming majority of the community in Baltimore I think have handled this appropriately, expressing real concern and outrage over the possibility that our laws were not applied evenly in the case of Mr. Gray, and that accountability needs to exist.  And I think we have to give them credit.  My understanding is, is you’ve got some of the same organizers now going back into these communities to try to clean up in the aftermath of a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place.  What they were doing, what those community leaders and clergy and others were doing, that is a statement.  That’s the kind of organizing that needs to take place if we’re going to tackle this problem.  And they deserve credit for it, and we should be lifting them up.

Point number five — and I’ve got six, because this is important.  Since Ferguson, and the task force that we put together, we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals — primarily African American, often poor — in ways that have raised troubling questions.  And it comes up, it seems like, once a week now, or once every couple of weeks.  And so I think it’s pretty understandable why the leaders of civil rights organizations but, more importantly, moms and dads across the country, might start saying this is a crisis.  What I’d say is this has been a slow-rolling crisis.  This has been going on for a long time.  This is not new, and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.

The good news is, is that perhaps there’s some newfound awareness because of social media and video cameras and so forth that there are problems and challenges when it comes to how policing and our laws are applied in certain communities, and we have to pay attention to it and respond.

What’s also good news is the task force that was made up of law enforcement and community activists that we brought together here in the White House have come up with very constructive concrete proposals that, if adopted by local communities and by states and by counties, by law enforcement generally, would make a difference.  It wouldn’t solve every problem, but would make a concrete difference in rebuilding trust and making sure that the overwhelming majority of effective, honest and fair law enforcement officers, that they’re able to do their job better because it will weed out or retrain or put a stop to those handful who may be not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

Now, the challenge for us as the federal government is, is that we don’t run these police forces.  I can’t federalize every police force in the country and force them to retrain.  But what I can do is to start working with them collaboratively so that they can begin this process of change themselves.

And coming out of the task force that we put together, we’re now working with local communities.  The Department of Justice has just announced a grant program for those jurisdictions that want to purchase body cameras.  We are going to be issuing grants for those jurisdictions that are prepared to start trying to implement some of the new training and data collection and other things that can make a difference.  And we’re going to keep on working with those local jurisdictions so that they can begin to make the changes that are necessary.

I think it’s going to be important for organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police and other police unions and organization to acknowledge that this is not good for police.  We have to own up to the fact that occasionally there are going to be problems here, just as there are in every other occupation.  There are some bad politicians who are corrupt.  There are folks in the business community or on Wall Street who don’t do the right thing.  Well, there’s some police who aren’t doing the right thing.  And rather than close ranks, what we’ve seen is a number of thoughtful police chiefs and commissioners and others recognize they got to get their arms around this thing and work together with the community to solve the problem.  And we’re committed to facilitating that process.

So the heads of our COPS agency that helps with community policing, they’re already out in Baltimore.  Our Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division is already out in Baltimore.  But we’re going to be working systematically with every city and jurisdiction around the country to try to help them implement some solutions that we know work.

And I’ll make my final point — I’m sorry, Mr. Prime Minister, but this is a pretty important issue for us.

We can’t just leave this to the police.  I think there are police departments that have to do some soul searching.  I think there are some communities that have to do some soul searching.  But I think we, as a country, have to do some soul searching.  This is not new.  It’s been going on for decades.

And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place in these communities, what we also know is that if you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity, where children are born into abject poverty; they’ve got parents — often because of substance-abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education themselves — can’t do right by their kids; if it’s more likely that those kids end up in jail or dead, than they go to college.  In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men; communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing has been stripped away; and drugs have flooded the community, and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a whole lot of folks — in those environments, if we think that we’re just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not going to solve this problem.  And we’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets, and everybody will feign concern until it goes away, and then we go about our business as usual.

If we are serious about solving this problem, then we’re going to not only have to help the police, we’re going to have to think about what can we do — the rest of us — to make sure that we’re providing early education to these kids; to make sure that we’re reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons; so that we’re not rendering men in these communities unemployable because of a felony record for a nonviolent drug offense; that we’re making investments so that they can get the training they need to find jobs.  That’s hard.  That requires more than just the occasional news report or task force.  And there’s a bunch of my agenda that would make a difference right now in that.

Now, I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities, and so we’ll try to find areas where we can make a difference around school reform and around job training, and around some investments in infrastructure in these communities trying to attract new businesses in.

But if we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could.  It’s just it would require everybody saying this is important, this is significant — and that we don’t just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.  We’re paying attention all the time because we consider those kids our kids, and we think they’re important.  And they shouldn’t be living in poverty and violence.

That’s how I feel.  I think there are a lot of good-meaning people around the country that feel that way.  But that kind of political mobilization I think we haven’t seen in quite some time.  And what I’ve tried to do is to promote those ideas that would make a difference.  But I think we all understand that the politics of that are tough because it’s easy to ignore those problems or to treat them just as a law and order issue, as opposed to a broader social issue.

Political Musings December 29, 2014: Majority Whip Scalise spoke to white supremacist group with Klu Klux Klan ties

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Majority Whip Scalise spoke to white supremacist group with Klu Klux Klan ties 

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The news media on Monday, Dec. 29, 2014 picked up some old news that is bound to hurt the Republican Party just as the new session of Congress is about to begin, in 2002 the new Majority Whip Steve Scalise…READ MORE

Political Musings December 6, 2014: Republican Bill Cassidy wins Louisiana Senate seat from Mary Landrieu in runoff

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Republican Bill Cassidy wins Louisiana Senate seat from Mary Landrieu in runoff

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The Republicans have won their 54th seat in the Senate, the ninth seat they picked up this midterm election over a month ago. Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy won the Louisiana Senate runoff over the incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu on Saturday…READ MORE

 

Political Musings December 1, 2014: Obama issues four-point plan to improve minority police relations after Ferguson

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Obama issues four-point plan to improve minority police relations after Ferguson

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Barack Obama wants to actively do something to curb the wave of police shootings of unarmed African Americans that seems to be plaguing the country. On Monday, Dec. 1, 2014 President Obama hosted three meetings at the White House…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency November 24, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks After Announcement of the Decision by the Grand Jury in Ferguson, Missouri — Transcript

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President After Announcement of the Decision by the Grand Jury in Ferguson, Missouri

Source: WH, 11-24-14

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

10:08 P.M. EST

     THE PRESIDENT:  As you know, a few moments ago, the grand jury deliberating the death of Michael Brown issued its decision. It’s an outcome that, either way, was going to be subject of intense disagreement not only in Ferguson, but across America.  So I want to just say a few words suggesting how we might move forward.

First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law.  And so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make.  There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry.  It’s an understandable reaction.  But I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully.  Let me repeat Michael’s father’s words:  “Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer.  No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain.  I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”  Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone.  We should be honoring their wishes.

I also appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and the region to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur.  Understand, our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day.  They’ve got a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law.  As they do their jobs in the coming days, they need to work with the community, not against the community, to distinguish the handful of people who may use the grand jury’s decision as an excuse for violence — distinguish them from the vast majority who just want their voices heard around legitimate issues in terms of how communities and law enforcement interact.

Finally, we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation.  The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color.  Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country.  And this is tragic, because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with higher crime rates.  The good news is we know there are things we can do to help.  And I’ve instructed Attorney General Holder to work with cities across the country to help build better relations between communities and law enforcement.

That means working with law enforcement officials to make sure their ranks are representative of the communities they serve.  We know that makes a difference.  It means working to train officials so that law enforcement conducts itself in a way that is fair to everybody.  It means enlisting the community actively on what should be everybody’s goal, and that is to prevent crime.

And there are good people on all sides of this debate, as well as in both Republican and Democratic parties, that are interested not only in lifting up best practices — because we know that there are communities who have been able to deal with this in an effective way — but also who are interested in working with this administration and local and state officials to start tackling much-needed criminal justice reform.

So those should be the lessons that we draw from these tragic events.  We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson, this is an issue for America.  We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the past several decades.  I’ve witnessed that in my own life.  And to deny that progress I think is to deny America’s capacity for change.

But what is also true is that there are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up.  Separating that from this particular decision, there are issues in which the law too often feels as if it is being applied in discriminatory fashion.  I don’t think that’s the norm.  I don’t think that’s true for the majority of communities or the vast majority of law enforcement officials.  But these are real issues.  And we have to lift them up and not deny them or try to tamp them down.  What we need to do is to understand them and figure out how do we make more progress.  And that can be done.

That won’t be done by throwing bottles.  That won’t be done by smashing car windows.  That won’t be done by using this as an excuse to vandalize property.  And it certainly won’t be done by hurting anybody.  So, to those in Ferguson, there are ways of channeling your concerns constructively and there are ways of channeling your concerns destructively.  Michael Brown’s parents understand what it means to be constructive.  The vast majority of peaceful protesters, they understand it as well.

Those of you who are watching tonight understand that there’s never an excuse for violence, particularly when there are a lot of people in goodwill out there who are willing to work on these issues.

On the other hand, those who are only interested in focusing on the violence and just want the problem to go away need to recognize that we do have work to do here, and we shouldn’t try to paper it over.  Whenever we do that, the anger may momentarily subside, but over time, it builds up and America isn’t everything that it could be.

And I am confident that if we focus our attention on the problem and we look at what has happened in communities around the country effectively, then we can make progress not just in Ferguson, but in a lot of other cities and communities around the country.

Okay?

Q    Mr. President, will you go to Ferguson when things settle down there?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, let’s take a look and see how things are going.  Eric Holder has been there.  We’ve had a whole team from the Justice Department there, and I think that they have done some very good work.  As I said, the vast majority of the community has been working very hard to try to make sure that this becomes an opportunity for us to seize the moment and turn this into a positive situation.

But I think that we have to make sure that we focus at least as much attention on all those positive activities that are taking place as we do on a handful of folks who end up using this as an excuse to misbehave or to break the law or to engage in violence.  I think that it’s going to be very important — and I think the media is going to have a responsibility as well — to make sure that we focus on Michael Brown’s parents, and the clergy, and the community leaders, and the civil rights leaders, and the activists, and law enforcement officials who have been working very hard to try to find better solutions — long-term solutions, to this issue.

There is inevitably going to be some negative reaction, and it will make for good TV.  But what we want to do is to make sure that we’re also focusing on those who can offer the kind of real progress that we know is possible, that the vast majority of people in Ferguson, the St. Louis region, in Missouri, and around the country are looking for.  And I want to be partners with those folks.  And we need to lift up that kind of constructive dialogue that’s taking place.

All right.

                         END              10:18 P.M. EST

Political Musings November 7, 2014: Gillespie concedes to Warner in Virginia Senate race, Examiner called it wrong

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Gillespie concedes to Warner in Virginia Senate race, Examiner called it wrong

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Three days after the midterm elections Republican Ed Gillespie finally conceded on Friday afternoon, Nov. 7, 2014 the race for Virginia’s Senate seat to incumbent Democrat Mark R. Warner in a press conference. With news of Gillespie’…READ MORE

Political Musings November 5, 2014: Republicans take control of the Senate win 52 seats in 2014 midterm elections

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Republicans take control of the Senate win 52 seats in 2014 midterm elections

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Just before 11:30 PM on election night, Tuesday, Nov. 4,2014, the Republicans won 52 seats in the Senate and the control they were looking for this election cycle. The GOP picked up seats from Democrats in Arkansas…READ MORE

Campaign Headlines November 4, 2014: Midterm Elections 2014: Live Updates & Blog

CAMPAIGN BUZZ

Campaign_Headlines

CAMPAIGN HEADLINES….

Midterm Elections 2014: Live Updates

Political Musings November 4, 2014: 2014 midterm elections results: Democrats or GOP take control of the Senate?

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

2014 midterm elections results: Democrats or GOP take control of the Senate?

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The midterm elections on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 will decide 36 seats, six of which will determine which party will control the chamber, specifically seats Democrats hold in states where 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney won. Additionally all 435 seats…READ MORE

Political Musings November 1, 2014: Geography test fail liberal media lie attack Scott Brown in New Hampshire debate

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

 

Political Musings October 3, 2014: Is Texas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan a terrorist, criminal or victim?

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Is Texas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan a terrorist, criminal or victim?

By Bonnie K. Goodman

After the Center for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed the first case of Ebola on United States soil on Tuesday evening, Sept. 30, 2014, slowly the picture is getting clearer about the circumstance around the case and the dangers it poses…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency September 3, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Murder of Steven Sotloff

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Gives a Statement on the Murder of Steven Sotloff

Source: WH, 9-3-14

Finally, I want to say that today the prayers of the American people are with the family of a devoted and courageous journalist, Steven Sotloff. Overnight, our government determined that, tragically, Steven was taken from us in a horrific act of violence. We cannot even begin to imagine the agony that everyone who loved Steven is feeling right now, especially his mother, his father and his younger sister. So today, our country grieves with them.

Like Jim Foley before him, Steve’s life stood in sharp contrast to those who have murdered him so brutally. They make the absurd claim that they kill in the name of religion, but it was Steven, his friends say, who deeply loved the Islamic world. His killers try to claim that they defend the oppressed, but it was Steven who traveled across the Middle East, risking his life to tell the story of Muslim men and women demanding justice and dignity.

Whatever these murderers think they’ll achieve by killing innocent Americans like Steven, they have already failed. They have failed because, like people around the world, Americans are repulsed by their barbarism. We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists. And those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.

Political Musings August 22, 2014: Holder’s visit to Ferguson calms community after Michael Brown shooting, unrest

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Holder’s visit to Ferguson calms community after Michael Brown shooting, unrest

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Attorney General Eric Holder was the first member of President Barack Obama’s administration to visit Ferguson, Missouri since unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown’s shooting death by a white police officer, Darren Wilson on Aug. 9…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency August 20, 2014: Attorney General Eric Holder’s Remarks in Ferguson, Missouri about Michael Brown Shooting and Unrest — Transcript

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Excerpts of Attorney General Eric Holder’s Remarks at a Community College

Souce: DOJ, 8-20-14

Florissant Valley Community College ~ Wednesday, August 20, 2014

“The eyes of the nation and the world are watching Ferguson right now. The world is watching because the issues raised by the shooting of Michael Brown predate this incident. This is something that has a history to it and the history simmers beneath the surface in more communities than just Ferguson.

“We have seen a great deal of progress over the years. But we also see problems and these problems stem from mistrust and mutual suspicion.

“I just had the opportunity to sit down with some wonderful young people and to hear them talk about the mistrust they have at a young age. These are young people and already they are concerned about potential interactions they might have with the police.

“I understand that mistrust. I am the Attorney General of the United States. But I am also a black man. I can remember being stopped on the New Jersey turnpike on two occasions and accused of speeding. Pulled over…“Let me search your car”…Go through the trunk of my car, look under the seats and all this kind of stuff. I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me.

“I think about my time in Georgetown – a nice neighborhood of Washington – and I am running to a picture movie at about 8 o’clock at night. I am running with my cousin. Police car comes driving up, flashes his lights, yells “Where you going? Hold it!” I say “Woah, I’m going to a movie.” Now my cousin started mouthing off. I’m like, “This is not where we want to go. Keep quiet.” I’m angry and upset. We negotiate the whole thing and we walk to our movie. At the time that he stopped me, I was a federal prosecutor. I wasn’t a kid. I was a federal prosecutor. I worked at the United States Department of Justice. So I’ve confronted this myself.”

“We are starting here a good dialogue. But the reality is the dialogue is not enough. We need concrete action to change things in this country. That’s what I have been trying to do. That’s what the President has been trying to do. We have a very active Civil Rights Division. I am proud of what these men and women have done. As they write about the legacy of the Obama administration, a lot of it is going to be about what the Civil Rights Division has done.

“So this interaction must occur. This dialogue is important. But it can’t simply be that we have a conversation that begins based on what happens on August 9, and ends sometime in December, and nothing happens. As I was just telling these young people, change is possible. The same kid who got stopped on the New Jersey freeway is now the Attorney General of the United States. This country is capable of change. But change doesn’t happen by itself.

“So let’s start here. Let’s do the work today.”

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