Full Text Obama Presidency October 6, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks After Meeting on Ebola Announcing Airport Screening — Transcript

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President After Meeting on Ebola

Source: WH, 10-6-14 

Roosevelt Room

4:04 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I just had an opportunity to get a full briefing from my entire team across administrations — across agencies on the aggressive steps that we are taking to fight the Ebola epidemic, to stop the epidemic at its source in West Africa but also to make sure that we are doing everything we need to do to prevent an outbreak here in the United States.

As I’ve said from the start of this outbreak, I consider this a top national security priority.  This is not just a matter of charity — although obviously the humanitarian toll in countries that are affected in West Africa is extraordinarily significant.  This is an issue about our safety.  It is also an issue with respect to the political stability and the economic stability in this region.

And so it is very important for us to make sure that we are treating this the same way that we would treat any other significant national security threat.  And that’s why we’ve got an all-hands-on-deck approach — from DOD to public health to our development assistance, our science teams — everybody is putting in time and effort to make sure that we are addressing this as aggressively as possible.

I know that the American people are concerned about the possibility of an Ebola outbreak, and Ebola is a very serious disease.  And the ability of people who are infected who could carry that across borders is something that we have to take extremely seriously.  At the same time, it is important for Americans to know the facts, and that is that because of the measures that we’ve put in place, as well as our world-class health system and the nature of the Ebola virus itself — which is difficult to transmit — the chances of an Ebola outbreak in the United States is extremely low.

Procedures are now in place to rapidly evaluate anybody who might be showing symptoms.  We saw that with the response of the airplane in Newark and how several hospitals across the United States have been testing for possible cases.  In recent months we’ve had thousands of travelers arriving here from West Africa, and so far only one case of Ebola has been diagnosed in the United States, and that’s the patient in Dallas.  Our prayers are obviously with him and his family.

We have learned some lessons, though, in terms of what happened in Dallas.  We don’t have a lot of margin for error.  The procedures and protocols that are put in place must be followed.  One of the things that we discussed today was how we could make sure that we’re spreading the word across hospitals, clinics, any place where a patient might first come in contact with a medical worker to make sure that they know what to look out for, and they’re putting in place the protocols and following those protocols strictly.  And so we’re going to be reaching out not only to governors and mayors and public health officials in states all across the country, but we want to continue to figure out how we can get the word out everywhere so that everybody understands exactly what is needed to be done.

Meanwhile, at the federal level, we’re constantly reviewing and evaluating the measures that we already have in place to see if there are additional improvements.  We continue to look at any additional steps that can be taken to make sure that the American people are safe, which is our highest priority.

And finally, we had a discussion about what we’re doing on site in West Africa.  There’s been already extraordinary work done by the Department of Defense in conjunction with the CDC in standing up isolation units and hospital beds.  We are making progress.  The environment is difficult because the public health system there has very few resources and is already extraordinarily fragile.

And I’ll be very honest with you — although we have seen great interest on the part of the international community, we have not seen other countries step up as aggressively as they need to.  And I said at the United Nations, and I will repeat, that this is an area where everybody has to chip in and everybody has to move quickly in order for us to get this under control.  Countries that think that they can sit on the sidelines and just let the United States do it, that will result in a less effective response, a less speedy response, and that means that people die, and it also means that the potential spread of the disease beyond these areas in West Africa becomes more imminent.

So I’m going to be putting a lot of pressure on my fellow heads of state and government around the world to make sure that they are doing everything that they can to join us in this effort.  We’ve got some small countries that are punching above their weight on this, but we’ve got some large countries that aren’t doing enough.  And we want to make sure that they understand that this is not a disease that’s going to discriminate, and this is something that all of us have to be involved in.

So the bottom line is, is that we’re doing everything that we can to make sure, number one, that the American people are safe; I’m confident that we’re going to be able to do that.  But we’re also going to need to make sure that we stop this epidemic at its source.  And we’re profoundly grateful to all our personnel — our medical personnel, our development personnel, our military personnel who are serving in this effort.  It’s because of their professionalism, their dedication and their skill that we are going to be able to get this under control, but this is a faraway place, with roads that in many cases are impassable, areas that don’t have even one hospital.  We’re having to stand up, essentially, a public health infrastructure in many of these areas that haven’t had it before, and that requires an enormous amount of effort.

I’m very grateful for the people who are on the front lines making this work.  It’s a reminder once again of American leadership.  But even with all the dedicated effort that our American personnel are putting in, there are going to be — they need to be joined by professionals from other countries who are putting up similar effort and similar resources.  And so I hope they’re going to be paying attention over the next several weeks so we can get on top of this.

Thank you.

Q    What do you say to the American people who remain nervous in spite of your assurances?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I just explained to them that the nature of this disease — the good news is, is that it’s not an airborne disease.  We are familiar with the protocols that are needed to isolate and greatly reduce the risks of anybody catching this disease, but it requires us to follow those protocols strictly, and that’s exactly what we are in the process of doing.  And the CDC is familiar with dealing with infectious diseases and viruses like this.  We know what has to be done and we’ve got the medical infrastructure to do it.  But this is an extraordinarily virulent disease when you don’t follow the protocols.

And so the key here is just to make sure that each step along the way — whether it’s a hospital admissions desk, whether it is the doctors, the nurses, public health officials — that everybody has the right information.  If they have the right information and they’re following those protocols, then this is something that we’re going to be able to make sure does not have the kind of impact here in the United States that a lot of people are worried about.  But that requires everybody to make sure that they stay informed.  Most particularly, we’ve got to make sure that our health workers are informed.

We’re also going to be working on protocols to do additional passenger screening, both at the source and here in the United States.  All of these things make me confident that here in the United States, at least, the chances of an outbreak, of an epidemic here are extraordinarily low.

But let’s keep in mind that, as we speak, there are children on the streets dying of this disease — thousands of them.  And so obviously my first job is to make sure that we’re taking care of the American people, but we have a larger role than that.  We also have an obligation to make sure that those children and their families are safe as well, because ultimately the best thing we can do for our public health is also to extend the kind of empathy, compassion and effort so that folks in those countries as well can be rid of this disease.

Thank you very much, everybody.

Q    Are you looking to the private sector —

THE PRESIDENT:  A lot of volunteering.  Thank you, everybody.

END
4:15 P.M. EDT

Political Musings August 4, 2014: Highway Trust Fund bill passes the Senate ends unemployment extension funding

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Highway Trust Fund bill passes the Senate ends unemployment extension funding

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Now that the Senate passed and President Barack Obama signed the Highway Trust Fund extension bill on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 the payment method for the unemployment benefits extension bill has been permanently taken away. The highway bill uses pension…READ MORE

Political Musings July 21, 2014: GOP highway fund bill takes away funding from unemployment benefits extension

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

GOP highway fund bill takes away funding from unemployment benefits extension

By Bonnie K. Goodman

When the House of Representatives passed the highway funding extension bill on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 they took away the payment method for the unemployment benefits extension bill that the bill’s co-authors Senators Jack Reed, D-RI…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency July 17, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Economy and on the Malaysia Airlines Jet Shot Down Over Ukraine

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Economy — Wilmington, DE

Source: WH, 7-17-14 

Port of Wilmington
Wilmington, Delaware

2:10 P.M.
THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Everybody, please have a seat.  Please have a seat.  It is wonderful to be back in Delaware.

Before I begin, obviously the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border.  And it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy.  Right now, we’re working to determine whether there were American citizens onboard.  That is our first priority.  And I’ve directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government.  The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why.  And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home.

I want to thank Jeremie for that introduction.  Give Jeremie a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  It is great to be in the state that gave us Joe Biden.  (Applause.)  We’ve got actually some better-looking Bidens with us here today.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got Beau and his wife, Hallie, are here.  Give them a big round of applause.  We love them.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Governor Jack Markell.  (Applause.)  Senator Chris Coons, Congressman John Carney, County Executive Tom Gordon, and the Mayor of Wilmington, Dennis Williams.  (Applause.)  We’ve also got two terrific members of my Cabinet — Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is here — (applause) — and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is here.  (Applause.)

Jack Lew’s signature is actually on your money.  (Laughter.) Although it’s kind of illegible.  We teased him when he first became Treasury Secretary that he was going to have to fix his signature a little bit because it looked just like a caterpillar running along the bottom.  (Laughter.)

Now, the bridge behind me used to carry 90,000 cars every day — 90,000.  Since last month, it’s been closed for repairs.  Once workers are done repairing it, this bridge will be safer, it will be more reliable for commuters and for commerce.  And thanks to a competitive grant program called TIGER — a program, by the way, that was part of the Recovery Act that we initiated when I first came into office and Joe Biden helped to manage — this port is rebuilding a wharf that will finally let Wilmington compete with other ports for the biggest cargo ships.  (Applause.)  For the biggest cargo ships.  So far, TIGER grants have given a boost to 270 infrastructure projects and thousands of jobs all across 50 states.

And that’s what I’m here to talk about today — and I’ve been talking about this all week — creating more good jobs rebuilding America, and the opportunity that we have to seize to rebuild the American middle class.

After the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, in part because of the actions we took, primarily because of the strength and determination of the American people, our businesses have now added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months.  (Applause.)  Construction and housing are rebounding.  The auto industry is booming — it was in a tailspin when we came in.  Manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.  The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September of 2008 — which is one of the fastest one-year drops in nearly 30 years.  (Applause.)

And the decisions we made — not only to rescue our economy, but to start rebuilding it on a firmer foundation — those decisions are starting to pay off.  We are more energy independent.  For the first time in nearly 20 years, we produce more oil here in the United States than we buy from abroad.  First time in 20 years we’re doing that.  (Applause.)
At the same time, we’re actually reducing our carbon pollution, and we’re creating new jobs in clean and renewable energies — three times as much wind power; 10 times as much solar power.

In education, our high school graduation rate is at a record high.  More young people are earning college degrees than ever before.  401(k)s are growing.  Fewer homes are underwater.  Millions more now have the peace of mind of having quality, affordable health care if they need it.  And the deficit is coming down to boot, been cut more than half.  (Applause.)

So by almost every economic measure, we’re doing a whole lot better now than we were when I came into office.  And as I said, most of it is thanks to you, the resilience and the resolve of the American people.  Because of that we’ve recovered faster and come farther than almost any other advanced country on Earth.  And business leaders, for the first time in a decade, around the world are saying that China is not the best place to invest; the United States of America is the most promising place to invest.

So we’ve got this huge opportunity to keep this momentum going, to keep growing the economy, but also to make sure that growth is broadly shared.  We got to make sure we’re creating not just more jobs, but also raising middle-class wages and incomes, and making it easier for folks, if they’re working hard and doing the right thing, to raise a family.

We got to make sure that we’re not just graduating more kids, we’ve got to also train more workers and make college more affordable.  We got to make sure our economy works for every American.  That’s why I ran for President.  That’s what I’m focused on every day.  And this is more than just some fleeting political story or made-up scandal; this is the challenge of our times — making sure that if you work hard and you’re responsible, anybody can get ahead in this country.  That’s what America is about.  And we can achieve that if we just see a few changes in Washington’s priorities.

So, today, I’m here to talk about just one example: creating good jobs of the sort that Jeremie just talked about — good jobs rebuilding America.  We know that in the 21st century economy, businesses are going to set up shop wherever they find the best roads, the best bridges, the fastest Internet connection, the fastest rail lines, the smartest airports, the best power grid.  First-class infrastructure attracts investment and it creates first-class jobs.  Unfortunately, right now, our investment in transportation lags behind a lot of other countries.  China is doing more.  Germany is doing more.  They’re putting money back into building the infrastructure we need to grow over the long term.

And if Washington were working the way it was supposed to, Congress would be creating jobs right now, jobs just like Jeremie talked about — jobs like these guys in the hard hats are doing right now rebuilding bridges and roads and airports and ports all across the country.  (Applause.)  It helps us now and it helps up create jobs tomorrow.  That’s what we should be doing.

But instead of creating jobs rebuilding our infrastructure in a predictable, sustainable way, the debate in Washington lately has been about something called the Highway Trust Fund.  It’s how America is supposed to support states on transportation projects.  Congress has to keep it funded, otherwise states have to put projects on hold, put construction workers back on the unemployment line.

The good news is, Democrats and Republicans are about to pass a short-term fix that will keep funding going for about another nine or ten months.  And I support that.  I mean, the least we can do is just support the jobs that are already there, keep Americans on the job.  But if that’s all Congress does, then we’re going to have the same kind of funding crisis nine months from now.  And that’s not how normally you fund infrastructure, because you got to plan it and you got to think about how are we helping folks and how are we helping states and cities and municipalities create plans for the future and make sure that the funding streams are level.  We don’t need unhelpful and unnecessary deadlines that crunch a few months from now.  And we shouldn’t have been this close to the deadline in the first place.

As your governor has pointed, even smaller transportation projects can take years to design and plan and build.  A few months of funding doesn’t cut it.  And so Jack said, “To call this a Band-Aid is an insult to a Band-Aid.”  That’s a pretty good line.   (Laughter.)  I’m going to have to try that out.  (Applause.)

So Congress shouldn’t be too proud.  It shouldn’t pat itself on the back for kicking the can down the road every few months.  Instead of barely paying our bills in the present, we should be planning and investing in our future.  That’s how the economy grows for everybody.  The American people work hard every single day, and your efforts shouldn’t be threatened every few months by a manufactured crisis in Washington.  Everything doesn’t have to be done at the last minute every time.

So what I’ve done is earlier this year put forward a plan to rebuild our transportation infrastructure in a long-term responsible way, a plan that would support millions of jobs, would give cities and states and private investors the certainty they need to hire more workers faster.  It would help small businesses ship their goods faster.  It would help parents get home from their commute faster so they can see their kids.

And it wouldn’t add to what is already a rapidly shrinking deficit because we pay for it in part by closing loopholes for companies that are shipping profits overseas and are avoiding paying their fair share of taxes.  So that’s what we need, a broad-based plan.  We got $2 trillion worth of deferred maintenance in this country in roads and bridges and sewer systems and water mains.  And we could put a lot of people back to work right now getting that done.  And we’re going to have to do it eventually anyway.

But so far, Congress has refused to act on the idea — which is strange because infrastructure should not be a partisan issue.  If you think about it, it was a Republican, Dwight Eisenhower, who built the Interstate Highway System.  Lincoln built the Transcontinental Railroad.  Both parties historically have understood that investing in this country for the long run pays off.  When we invest in infrastructure we’re making sure that the economy is growing not just for the next five years, but for another century.  That’s what right now Republicans in Congress don’t seem to be focused on.  But until they do get focused on it, I’m going to do whatever I can to create jobs rebuilding America on my own.  (Applause.)

So today, we’re launching what we call the Build America Investment Initiative.  And as part of it, we’re creating a one-stop shop for cities and states looking to partner with the private sector to fund infrastructure projects.  There are lots of investors who want to back infrastructure projects because, when it’s done right, they then get a steady, long-term investment.  They get a steady return.

And lots of states and local governments would welcome more private investment, but they need a partner in the federal government to help do some matchmaking and work through some of the complexities of private financing of infrastructure.  So my administration is going to help states and cities apply for federal loans, get more public-private partnerships up and running, get more investment flowing into communities like Wilmington.

And this builds on other actions we’ve taken to speed up the permitting process for big projects, and attract new manufacturing jobs to America, and raise more workers’ wages, help women fight for fair pay, ease loan burdens for millions of students.  We’re taking steps on our own, still hoping that Congress at some point actually does something.  (Applause.)

I keep hearing from folks all across the country who tell me if members of Congress have the same priorities that most Americans do, if they felt the same sense of urgency that you feel in your own lives, we could help a lot of families right now.
Instead of playing politics, we should be creating jobs by investing in what makes our economy strong -– infrastructure and manufacturing and energy, and research and development, and education.  All these things lead to new industries.
We should be training our workers to fill new jobs.  We should be preparing our kids to face global competition.  We should be making sure that hard work pays off with a higher minimum wage.

We should be seizing these opportunities.  And there’s a simple principle behind it.  When the middle class does good, and when people have ladders into the middle class if they work hard, everybody does better.  You have more customers for businesses.  Folks at the very top do better.  America grows best from the middle out, not from the top down.  That’s when we succeed.

So I’m going to keep on looking for areas where Republicans and Democrats agree to move this country forward.  But I’m not going to stand by when politics and inaction are holding us back.  (Applause.)
Wherever and whenever I have a chance to help families like yours I’m going to do it.  When I have a chance to help communities like Wilmington, I’m going to do it.  That’s when my administration takes these executive actions, when Congress won’t act.

And so far, the only response we’ve gotten from the Republicans is a lawsuit.  (Laughter.)  They’re suing me for doing my job, instead of going ahead and doing their job.  That’s disappointing.  It’s a political stunt.  And, by the way, they’re using taxpayer money to do it.  It’s your money that they’re wasting on this, which no serious lawyers think makes any sense.  It’s just a political stunt.  We could be spending the time, energy, and effort and money to help your families.

And maybe the folks behind this think it will help them politically.  I guarantee you, it’s not helping you.  We could do so much more if we rally around a sense of patriotism that says we can disagree on issues once in a while, but come on, let’s focus on our country, let’s focus on our people — a sense of common purpose, the understanding we rise or fall as one nation and as one people.  That’s how we built this country together.  And that’s what Washington has to remember.
And the one thing I know for certain — if we work together, if we believe in one another, then we’re going to keep on rebuilding our middle class.  We’re going to restore the American Dream for the next generation.  We will continue to make sure that America is the place where no matter what you look like, or where you come from, or how you started, you can make it if you try.  You’ve shown it here in Delaware.  We can show it all across the country.  We just need a little more focus in Washington.  So keep the pressure on everybody.  (Applause.)

Thank you.  God bless you.  Let’s build some bridges.  Let’s build some roads.  God bless America.

END
2:26 P.M. EDT

Political Musings July 11, 2014: Reed wants unemployment extension added to Obama border crisis spending bill

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Reed wants unemployment extension added to Obama border crisis spending bill

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Although Sens. Jack Reed, D-RI and Dean Heller, R-NV just released their own new version of a bill to extend long-term unemployment benefits for over 3 million Americans, they have also been looking to ensure its passage…READ MORE

Political Musings June 11, 2014: Levin wants unemployment extension be added to tax extenders or highway bills

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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Political Musings May 18, 2014: Obama’s weekly address urges Congress to act on jobs, transportation bill

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama’s weekly address urges Congress to act on jobs, transportation bill

May 18, 2014
President Barack Obama dedicated most of this past to domestic policy specifically highlighting infrastructure and transportation, and he spent he weekly address released on Saturday morning, May 17, 2014 entitled “Working When Congress Won’t Act” primarily…Continue

Full Text Obama Presidency May 16, 2014: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s Remarks on the Need for Congress to Pass Transportation Funding at the Shake Shack

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President and Vice President on the Need for Congress to Pass Transportation Funding

Source: WH, 5-16-14 

Shake Shack
Washington, D.C.

12:12 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Let me say something to these folks real quick so we can eat our burgers in peace.  And excuse me, my voice is a little hoarse — I had a cold at the beginning of the week.  In addition to coming to Shake Shack — which has great burgers and pays its employees over 10 bucks an hour, so we’re very proud of them and the great work that they’re doing —  we’ve been talking a lot all across the country about the importance of raising the minimum wage.  These four individuals just completed a project here in D.C. –- an infrastructure project that put a lot of folks to work, it is going to make the economy move better, traffic move better.  And as you know, earlier this week, both Joe and I highlighted the fact that we’re fast-tracking projects all across the country.

One of the things that we could do right now to put more Americans back to work is to fund our transportation more effectively and more consistently.  And if Congress does not act, then by the end of this summer, we could have hundreds of thousands of projects like this all across the country stop.  And people whose livelihoods depend on those projects sent home.  And businesses that need improved infrastructure suffering under downgraded infrastructure.

So it is a no-brainer for Congress to do what it’s supposed to do:  Pass transportation funding.  We can do it without adding to the deficit simply by getting rid of some corporate tax loopholes that aren’t creating jobs and are basically giveaways to folks who don’t need them.  And when people — when you ask Americans from all walks of life all across the country what’s their number one priority, it’s improving the economy and putting people back to work.  And one of the best ways we can do it is to do something about the roads, the bridges, the ports, the airports, the sewer lines all across the country that need repair.

We know we’re going to have to do it.  This is like deferred maintenance on your house.  If you’ve got to do some tuck-pointing to fix the roof or fix the boiler, there’s no point in putting it off.  Now is the time to do it, and we’ve got outstanding contractors and workers ready to work.  So I hope Congress gets working, and I’m prepared to work with anybody on a bipartisan basis to get it done.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Mr. President, for 40 years it’s been a bipartisan notion.

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  For 40 years.  This is the first time  — I’ve been hanging around and it’s like, oh, infrastructure.

THE PRESIDENT:  This shouldn’t be Democrat or Republican.  This is American.  We’ve got to rebuild America.  And these are folks who are doing it.

So thank you very much, everybody.  Enjoy your burgers if you guys are buying them.

END
12:14 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency March 1, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: Investing in Technology and Infrastructure to Create Jobs

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: Investing in Technology and Infrastructure to Create Jobs

Source: WH, 3-1-14

WASHINGTON, DC — In his weekly address, President Obama said he took action this week to launch new manufacturing hubs and expand a competition to fund transformative infrastructure projects.  Both are policies aimed at expanding economic opportunity for all by creating jobs and ensuring the long-term strength of the American economy.  Congress can boost this effort by passing a bipartisan proposal to create a nationwide network of high-tech manufacturing hubs and taking steps to invest in our nation’s infrastructure — rebuilding our transportation system, creating new construction jobs, and better connecting Americans to economic opportunities.

Transcript | mp4 | mp3

Video Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
March 1, 2014

Hi everybody.  In my State of the Union Address, I said that the best measure of opportunity is access to a good job.  And after the worst recession of our lifetimes, our businesses have created eight and a half million new jobs in the last four years.

But we need to do more to make America a magnet for good jobs for the future.  And in this year of action, where Congress won’t do that, I will do whatever I can to expand opportunity for more Americans.  This week, I took two actions to attract new jobs to America – jobs in American manufacturing, and jobs rebuilding America’s infrastructure.

Here’s why this is important.  In the 2000s alone, we lost more than one-third of all American manufacturing jobs.  One in three.  And when the housing bubble burst, workers in the construction industry were hit harder than just about anybody.  The good news is, today, our manufacturers have added more than 620,000 jobs over the last four years – the first sustained growth in manufacturing jobs since the 1990s.

Still, the economy has changed.  If we want to attract more good manufacturing jobs to America, we’ve got to make sure we’re on the cutting edge of new manufacturing technologies and techniques.  And in today’s global economy, first-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure.

That’s why, on Tuesday, I launched two new high-tech manufacturing hubs – places where businesses and universities will partner to turn groundbreaking research into real-world goods Made in America.  So far, we’ve launched four of these hubs, where our workers can master 3-D printing, energy-efficient electronics, lightweight metals, and digital manufacturing – all technologies that can help ensure a steady stream of good jobs well into the 21st century.

Then on Wednesday, I launched a new competition to build 21st century infrastructure – roads and bridges, mass transit, more efficient ports, and faster passenger rail.  Rebuilding America won’t just attract new businesses; it will create good construction jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.

Of course, Congress could make an even bigger difference in both areas.  Thanks to the leadership of a bipartisan group of lawmakers, there’s a bill in Congress right now that would create an entire network of high-tech manufacturing hubs all across the country.  And next week, I’ll send Congress a budget that will rebuild our transportation systems and support millions of jobs nationwide.

There’s a lot we can do if we work together.  And while Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’m going to keep doing everything in my power to rebuild an economy where everyone who works hard has the chance to get ahead – where we’re restoring our founding vision of opportunity for all.

Thanks, everybody, and have a great weekend.

Full Text Obama Presidency February 26, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech Unveils $300 Billion Plan for Upgrading Transportation Infrastructure

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Lays Out New Plan for Upgrading Our Transportation Infrastructure

Source: WH, 2-26-17

President Barack Obama sits in the cab and talks with a worker during a tour of the Light Rail Maintenance Building in St. Paul, Minn., Feb. 26, 2014.

President Barack Obama sits in the cab and talks with a worker during a tour of the Light Rail Maintenance Building in St. Paul, Minn., Feb. 26, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This afternoon, the President traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota to unveil a new plan to upgrade America’s transportation infrastructure and put people back to work….READ MORE

Remarks by the President on Jobs in American Infrastructure

Source: WH, 2-26-14

Watch the Video

President Obama Speaks on Investing in Infrastructure
February 26, 2014 6:54 PM

President Obama Speaks on Investing in Infrastructure

Union Depot
St. Paul, Minnesota

2:40 P.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, St. Paul!  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in Minnesota.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  That’s why I came here.  Good to see you.

Although, can I just say that when we got off the plane, Secretary Foxx, who is from North Carolina, turned to me and he said, this is the coldest I’ve ever been in my life.  (Laughter.)  Now, we were only out there for like a minute — (laughter) — which goes to show how soft these folks from North Carolina are when it comes to the weather.  (Laughter and applause).  I, on the other hand, am from Chicago — (applause) — I walked off those stairs and I was like, this is balmy, this is great.  (Laughter.)  February, in Minnesota — can’t beat it.  Cannot beat it.

Now, in addition to Secretary Foxx, who I want to — give him a big round of applause for that introduction.  (Applause.)  You’ve two champions for the people of Minnesota who are here today.  You’ve got Representative Betty McCollum — (applause)  — and Representative Keith Ellison.  (Applause.)  You’ve got your Mayor, Chris Coleman, in the house.  (Applause.)  The new Mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, is here.  (Applause.)  And my great friend, who actually told me I was running for President before I knew I was running for President — R.T. Rybak.  Love that name.  (Applause.)  Where’s R.T.?

Now, I want to thank everybody who showed me around Union Depot and gave me a preview of this new light rail line.  It is fantastic.  (Applause.)  And I also just want to say — even though he’s not here today — I want to say to everybody how Michelle and I have been keeping in our thoughts and prayers one of the great Americans that we know, as well as a great Minnesotan — Walter Mondale.  (Applause.)

Now, like millions of Americans, I’ve spent some time with Minnesotans lately — because I was watching the Olympics.  (Laughter.)  Minnesota sent 19 athletes to the games.  (Applause.)   That’s tied for second most of any state, and they did us all proud.  It is not shocking that Minnesotans might be pretty good at the Winter Olympics.  (Laughter.)  What is particularly interesting is that, once again, the tiny town of Warroad proved that it really is Hockeytown, USA, thanks to T.J. Oshie and Gigi Marvin, who we’re just so proud of.  And T.J.’s shootout performance against the Russians I might say I enjoyed a lot.  (Applause.)  I tweeted at him about it.

So we’ve spent some time over the last few weeks on hockey, but I’m not here to talk about hockey.  By the way, I cannot play hockey.  (Laughter.)  I grew up in Hawaii — we do not have hockey in Hawaii.  But I’m here to talk about what you’re doing in the Twin Cities, and how you’re helping to create new jobs and new opportunities for every American.

We are at a moment when our economy is growing.  Our businesses have created about 8.5 million new jobs in the past four years.  Unemployment is at the lowest it’s been in over five years; in Minnesota, it’s lower than it’s been in six and a half years.  (Applause.)  And, by the way, you’ve got a great governor who I served with in the Senate, Mark Dayton, who is helping to make that happen.  (Applause.)

So in a lot of ways things are looking up.  But in some ways, the trends that had been battering middle-class families for a long time have gotten even starker, because those at the top are doing better than ever, while wages and incomes for a lot of families have barely budged.  And too many families are working harder than ever just to keep up.  So as I said at the State of the Union address a few weeks back, our job is to reverse those trends.  (Applause.)  We’ve got to build an economy that works for everybody.  We’ve got to restore opportunity for all people, so that no matter who you are, where you come from, what you look like, you can get ahead if you work hard and you’re responsible.

And so I laid out an opportunity agenda that has four parts.  Number one, good jobs that pay good wages in manufacturing, in energy, in innovation and infrastructure.  Number two, train folks with the skills they need to get those good jobs, something that your senator, Al Franken, is doing great work on every single day.  He cares a lot about that job training issue.  (Applause.)  Number three, guaranteeing every child has access to a world-class education.  (Applause.)  And, number four, making sure that hard work is rewarded with wages you can live on, and savings you can retire on, and health care you can count on.  That’s what we’re fighting for.  (Applause.)

Minnesota is helping to lead the way on these issues.  Your state legislature is poised to raise your minimum wage this year.  (Applause.)  In my State of the Union address, I called for a new women’s economic agenda.  It’s actually a family economic agenda — equal pay for equal work, paid sick leave and more.  And there are leaders in your state legislature that are working hard at this, because they know when women succeed, America succeeds.  (Applause.)

So on all these issues, we’re reaching out to members of Congress, looking to see if they’re willing to work with us on some of these priorities.  But what I also said at the State of the Union is, in this year of action, whenever I can partner directly with states or cities or business leaders or civic leaders to act on this opportunity agenda, I’m going to go ahead and do it.  We can’t wait.  We’ve got to move.  We’ve got to get things going.  Too many families are counting on it.  (Applause.)

So yesterday, I launched new hubs to attract 21st century manufacturing jobs to America.  And today, I’m here to launch a new competition for 21st century infrastructure and the jobs that come with it, because any opportunity agenda begins with creating more good jobs.  And one of the fastest and best ways to create good jobs is by rebuilding America’s infrastructure — our roads, our bridges, our rails, our ports, our airports, our schools, our power grids.  We’ve got a lot of work to do out there, and we’ve got to put folks to work.  (Applause.)

One of the most difficult things about the financial crisis we went through was the housing bubble bursting, and construction workers were hammered harder than just about anybody.  And while we’ve cut the unemployment rate for construction workers almost in half since 2010, too many are still looking for jobs at a time when we’ve got so much that we could put them to work on rebuilding.  We’ve got ports that aren’t ready for the next generation of supertankers.  We’ve got more than 100,000 bridges that are old enough to qualify for Medicare.  (Laughter.)

Everybody knows, and nobody knows better than Minnesotans, when we’ve gone through a winter like this, roads are wrecked, full of potholes all across the country.  (Applause.)

Now, other countries are not waiting to rebuild their infrastructure.  They’re trying to out-build us today so they can out-compete us tomorrow.  As a percentage of GDP, countries like China, Germany, they’re spending about twice what we’re spending in order to build infrastructure — because they know that if they have the fastest trains on the planet or the highest-rated airports or the busiest, most efficient ports that businesses will go there.

But we don’t want businesses to go there.  We want them to come here to Minnesota.  (Applause.)  We want them to come here to the United States of America.  And that means the best airports and the best roads and the best trains should be right here in America.

At a time when companies are saying they intend to hire more people this year, we need to make that decision easier for them.  And we can create jobs at the same time, rebuilding our transportation systems, our power grids, our communications networks — all the things that commerce relies on and that help get workers to those jobs.

So the bottom line is there’s work to be done, workers ready to do it.  Rebuilding our infrastructure is vital to business.  It creates good-paying jobs that, by the way, cannot be outsourced.  (Applause.)  This is one of Congress’s major responsibilities — helping states and cities fund new infrastructure projects.  (Applause.)

And part of the reason I’m focused on this is Congress has an important deadline coming up.  If Congress doesn’t finish a transportation bill by the end of the summer, we could see construction projects stop in their tracks, machines sitting idle, workers off the job.

So next week, I’m going to send Congress a budget that funds rebuilding our transportation infrastructure in a more responsible way — by doing it over four years, which gives cities and states and private investors the certainty they need to plan major projects.  Projects like repairing essential highways and bridges; building new transit systems in fast-growing cities and communities, so folks who live there can get to work and school every day and spend less time sitting in traffic.  (Applause.)  And we’re going to have to construct smarter, more resilient transportation systems that can withstand the worst impacts of climate change, like bigger surges of water that we’ve seen in recent floods.

So, all told, my transportation budget will support millions of jobs nationwide.  And we’ll pay for these investments in part by simplifying the tax code.  We’re going to close wasteful tax loopholes, lower tax rates for businesses that create jobs here at home, stop rewarding companies for sending jobs to other countries, use the money we save in this transition to create good jobs with good wages rebuilding America.  It makes sense.  (Applause.)

Now, I’ll be honest with you, there are leaders in both parties who are willing to reach across the aisle in Congress when it comes to American infrastructure.  They know how important it is.  And infrastructure didn’t use to be a partisan issue — shouldn’t be Democrat or Republican.  Everybody uses roads, everybody uses ports, airports.  Unfortunately, time and again over the past few years, there have been some Republicans in Congress who refused to act on common-sense proposals that will create jobs and grow our economy.  It’s not that they’re — I guess they don’t like roads; they just don’t want to pay for them.  It doesn’t work that way.  You’ve got to come up with a way to get these projects going.

So while Congress is deciding what it’s going to do next, I’m just going to go ahead and do what I can to create more good jobs.  And that’s why I came here to St. Paul.  (Applause.)

Because this project symbolizes what’s possible.  Union Depot was renovated and expanded with the help of what we call TIGER grants.  These are competitive grants that we created as part of the Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus, which actually worked despite what everybody claims.  (Applause.)  So the idea is, if a city or state comes up with a plan to modernize transportation infrastructure that will have a significant impact on economic activity, and if they line up other sources of funding to help pay for it, they can win a TIGER grant and the federal government becomes a partner with these local communities.

So far, these grants have given a boost to 270 infrastructure projects across all 50 states.  (Applause.)  And you heard Secretary Foxx talk about — these grants are helping cities like LA and states like North Carolina, and they helped you rebuild this depot into a hub that will bring different modes of transportation together under one roof instead of scattered across the city.  Amtrak is going to be here.  The new Metro Green Line will be here.  Bus lines will be here.  (Applause.)

And I just had a chance to take a look at some of those spiffy new trains.  (Laughter.)  They are nice.  And they’re energy efficient.  They’re going to be reliable.  You can get from one downtown to the other in a little over 30 minutes instead of when it’s snowing being in traffic for two hours.  (Applause.)   The trains were made in California, which meant folks were put to work here in the United States building them.  (Applause.)

And here’s the best part of it:  Not only have you made a more efficient transportation system, cutting down commutes, saving on gas, reducing carbon pollution, but this depot has helped to boost economic development in Lowertown St. Paul.  (Applause.)  Just across the street the old downtown post office building is becoming apartments and shops.  All told, more than 4,000 jobs were created for this project.  (Applause.)  And we’re seeing businesses crop up and new development crop up all along the line.

So everybody is winning.  And in part because of some flexibility that we showed during the planning process, the line is also going to stop in some poor neighborhoods that oftentimes have difficulty getting to the places where there are jobs.  (Applause.)  So it’s going to help folks who are willing to work hard, trying to get into the middle class, it helps them get access — helps people get access to opportunity that, up until this point, had a tough time.

So we know this works.  Today, we’re kicking off the next round of competition for TIGER grants.  Mayors and governors, city councils, state legislatures, all of you who are watching here today, if you’ve got a great idea for your city or your state, then let us know your plan.  If it will encourage economic activity and support local businesses, and help put people to work, then your country is interested in partnering with you.

And TIGER grants aren’t the only way that we can help cities like St. Paul and Minneapolis rebuild their infrastructure.  You’ve got — federal funding helped to build the Green Line; that’s going to make it easier than ever to travel between the two cities.  You’ve got more than 5,000 construction workers from all over Minnesota helping to build it.  Nearly 200 police officers, train operators and maintenance workers are being hired.  And that’s not counting all the jobs that are being created from the offices and the apartment buildings that are going to be built along the line.  Because the trains stopped at neighborhoods that have access to public transportation, those folks are going to work.  And all of this can be duplicated all across the country.

But unfortunately, funding for these projects are going to be in jeopardy unless Congress passes this new transportation bill.  So I want everybody to understand.  Now, the good news is Keith Ellison, Betty, they’re already onboard.  (Applause.) They know this needs to happen.  Al Franken, all over it.  Some Democrats and Republicans are already working together to make sure transportation doesn’t — funding doesn’t run out.  And we’re seeing some glimmers of hope, because this new round of TIGER grants was the result of bipartisan cooperation.  That’s what needs to happen when we work together.

But we’re going to need your voices telling a story around the country about why this is so important.  Roads and bridges should not be a partisan issue.  More Americans should have access to the kind of efficient, affordable transit you’re going to have with the Green Line.  (Applause.)  There’s no faster way or better way for Congress to create jobs right now and to grow our economy right now, and have a positive impact on our economy for decades than if we start more projects and finish more projects like this one.

Let’s create more good jobs, build smarter schools, better airports, faster railways, better broadband networks.  Let’s educate our kids and our workers better.  Let’s rebuild an economy where everybody who is willing to hard has a chance to get ahead.  (Applause.)

This is the beginning, not the end.  We’ve got a lot more rail we got to lay.  We’ve got a lot more roads we got to travel.  Let’s get going, Minnesota.

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

END
3:00 P.M. CST

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