White House Recap December 30, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s 2011 Year in Review

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: 2011

West Wing Week

Source: WH, 12-30-11

Come take a look back at the President’s third year in office as we highlight behind-the-scenes footage and some of our favorite presidential moments. That’s January 1st to December 31st or, “Best of the West (Wing Week).”

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West Wing Week

Full Text December 5, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Statement Urging Congress to Pass the Payroll Tax Cut Extension & Expansion

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Urges Congress to Extend and Expand the Payroll Tax cut

Source: WH, 12-5-11
20111205 POTUS podium

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the Press in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Dec. 05, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Just after 2:00 PM ET, President Obama stopped by the White House press briefing room to talk about the fight to extend the payroll tax cut.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said — not just for the economy, but for American workers and their families:

Although the unemployment rate went down last month, our recovery is still fragile, and the situation in Europe has added to that uncertainty. And that’s why the majority of economists believe it’s important to extend the payroll tax cut. And those same economists would lower their growth estimates for our economy if it doesn’t happen.

Not only is extending the payroll tax cut important for the economy as a whole, it’s obviously important for individual families.  It’s important insurance for them against the unexpected.  It will help families pay their bills.  It will spur spending.  It will spur hiring.

On Thursday, the Senate voted on extending the tax cut, but Republicans blocked the proposal. The President, however, said we’re starting to see evidence that lawmakers might be ready to put politics aside and do the right thing for the middle class:

Now, the good news is I think the American people’s voices are starting to get through in this town.  I know that last week Speaker Boehner said this tax cut helps the economy because it allows every working American to keep more of their money.  I know that over the weekend Senate Republican leaders said we shouldn’t raise taxes on working people going into next year.

Congress has 26 days to find a solution to this impasse.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Statement by the President

Source: WH, 12-5-11

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:10 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.

My number-one priority right now is doing everything that I can, every single day, to create jobs faster and to provide more security for middle-class families and those trying to get into the middle class.  And at this moment, that means making sure that nearly 160 million hardworking Americans don’t see an increase in their taxes on January 1st.

A year ago at this time, both parties came together to cut payroll taxes for the typical American family by about $1,000.  But as soon as this year ends, so does that tax cut.  If Congress fails to renew this tax cut before then, that same family will see a tax hike of about $1,000 a year.  There aren’t many folks either in the middle class or those trying to get into the middle class who can afford to give up $1,000 — not right now.  And that’s why Congress must act.

Although the unemployment rate went down last month, our recovery is still fragile, and the situation in Europe has added to that uncertainty.  And that’s why the majority of economists believe it’s important to extend the payroll tax cut.  And those same economists would lower their growth estimates for our economy if it doesn’t happen.

Not only is extending the payroll tax cut important for the economy as a whole, it’s obviously important for individual families.  It’s important insurance for them against the unexpected.  It will help families pay their bills.  It will spur spending.  It will spur hiring.  And it’s the right thing to do.

And that’s why in my jobs bill I proposed not only extending the tax cut but expanding it to give a typical working family a tax cut of $1,500 next year.  And it was paid for by asking a little more from millionaires and billionaires — a few hundred thousand people paying a little bit more could have not only extended the existing payroll tax cut but expanded it.

Last week, virtually every Senate Republican voted against that tax cut.  Now, I know many Republicans have sworn an oath never to raise taxes as long as they live.  How could it be that the only time there’s a catch is when it comes to raising taxes on middle-class families?  How can you fight tooth and nail to protect high-end tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, and yet barely lift a finger to prevent taxes going up for 160 million Americans who really need the help?  It doesn’t make sense.

Now, the good news is I think the American people’s voices are starting to get through in this town.  I know that last week Speaker Boehner said this tax cut helps the economy because it allows every working American to keep more of their money.  I know that over the weekend Senate Republican leaders said we shouldn’t raise taxes on working people going into next year.

I couldn’t agree more.  And I hope that the rest of their Republican colleagues come around and join Democrats to pass these tax cuts and put money back into the pockets of working Americans.

Now, some Republicans who have pushed back against the idea of extending this payroll tax cut have said that we’ve got to pay for these tax cuts.  And I’d just point out that they haven’t always felt that way.  Over the last decade, they didn’t feel the need to pay for massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans — which is one of the reasons that we face such large deficits.  Indeed, when the Republicans took over the House at the beginning of this year, they explicitly changed the rules to say that tax cuts don’t have to be paid for.  So forgive me a little bit of confusion when I hear folks insisting on tax cuts being paid for.

Having said that, we all recognize that we’ve got to make progress on the deficit, and I’m willing to work with Republicans to extend the payroll tax cut in a responsible way.  What I’m not willing to do is to pay for the extension in a way that actually hurts the economy.

As Americans are well aware, this summer I signed into law nearly $1 trillion in spending cuts, with another trillion dollars in cuts in the pipeline.  And it would be irresponsible to now make additional deep cuts in areas like education or innovation or our basic safety net that are critical to the economy in order to pay for an extension of the payroll tax cut. We’re not going to do that.  Nor are we going to undo the budget agreement that I signed just a few short months ago.

Finally, with millions of Americans still looking for work, it would be a terrible mistake for Congress to go home for the holidays without extending unemployment insurance.  If that happens, then in January they’ll be leaving 1.3 million Americans out in the cold.  For a lot of families, this emergency insurance is the last line of defense between hardship and catastrophe.  Taking that money out of the economy now would do extraordinary harm to the economy.

And if you believe that government shouldn’t take money out of people’s pockets, I hope members of Congress realize that it’s even worse when you take it out of the pockets of people who are unemployed and out there pounding the pavement looking for work.

We are going through what is still an extraordinary time in this country and in this economy.  And I get letters every single day, and I talk to people who say to me:  This unemployment insurance is what allowed me to keep my house before I was able to find another job.  This is what allowed me to still put gas in the tank to take my kids to school.

We cannot play games with unemployment insurance when we still have an unemployment rate that is way too high.  I’ve put forward a whole range of ideas for reform of the unemployment insurance system, and I’m happy to work with Republicans on those issues.  But right now, the most important thing is making sure that that gets extended as well.

This isn’t just something that I want.  This isn’t just a political fight.  Independent economists, some of whom have in the past worked for Republicans, agree that if we don’t extend the payroll tax cut and we don’t extend unemployment insurance, it will hurt our economy.  The economy won’t grow as fast and we won’t see hiring improve as quickly.  It will take money out of the pockets of Americans just at a time when they need it.  It will harm businesses that depend on the spending just at the time when the economy is trying to get some traction in this recovery. It will hurt all of us.  And it will be a self-inflicted wound.

So my message to Congress is this:  Keep your word to the American people and don’t raise taxes on them right now.  Now is not the time to slam on the brakes; now is the time to step on the gas.  Now is the time to keep growing the economy, to keep creating jobs, to keep giving working Americans the boost that they need.  Now is the time to make a real difference in the lives of the people who sent us here.  So let’s get to work.

Thank you very much.

END
2:17 P.M. EST

Full Text November 30, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the American Jobs Act at Scranton High School in Scranton, PA — Urges Congress to Extend Payroll Tax

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama at Scranton High

Source: WH, 11-30-11
20111130 POTUS in Scranton

President Barack Obama delivers remarks about the American Jobs Act at Scranton High School in Scranton, Pa., Nov. 30, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

If Congress doesn’t extend the payroll tax cut, 6.7 million people in Pennsylvania will see their taxes go up.

That’s the message that President Obama took to Scranton this afternoon. He told a crowd assembled in the town’s high school auditorium that if Congress fails to extend the tax cut through 2012, it would deliver a “massive blow” to the nation’s economy:

[If] Congress doesn’t act to extend this tax cut — then most of you, the typical middle-class family, is going to see your taxes go up by $1,000 at the worst possible time. A young lady just said she can’t afford that. It would be tough for you.

The Senate is set to vote on extending these tax cuts as early as this week, and the President told people in Scranton to send their lawmakers a message:

[To] everybody who is here, everybody who is watching, send your Senate a message — send your senators a message. Tell them, “Don’t be a Grinch.” … Don’t vote to raise taxes on working Americans during the holidays.  Make sure to renew unemployment insurance during the holidays.  Stop saying “no” to steps that would make our economy stronger. Put our country before party. Put money back into the pockets of working Americans. Do your job. Pass this bill.

Read the full remarks here.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on the American Jobs Act

Scranton High School
Scranton, Pennsylvania

2:37 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Scranton!  Thank you.  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in Scranton.  Go, Knights!  (Applause.)  It is good to be here.  Thank you, Principal Schaeffer, for letting us hold this little assembly here at the high school.  (Laughter.)  The principal was bragging about both the basketball team and the football team.  I understand they’re — (applause) — right up there?  All right.

Thank you, Donna, for the wonderful invitation.  We had a chance to visit in the Festas’ living room, and just a wonderful family, and their kids are doing great.  So I’m really, really proud to be with all of you.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Can you come to my house?  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  What did she say?  You want — next time, your house.  (Laughter.)  All right?  (Applause.)

Now, I will say, Donna put out some really good cookies.  So — (laughter) — I’m just saying.  (Laughter.)  All right.

Now, I also want to bring greetings from somebody you guys know pretty well -– a guy named Joe Biden.  (Applause.)  Joe is in Iraq as we speak, and he’s visiting with our brave men and women in uniform, thanking them for their service.  (Applause.)  And part of the reason he’s going now is because, pretty soon, we’ll all get a chance to say thank you.  This holiday season is going to be a season of homecomings, because by the end of December, all of our troops are going to be out of Iraq.  They’re going to be back home.  (Applause.)

Now, I mention Joe, first of all, because he loves Scranton.  (Applause.)  He was born here in Scranton.  He spent his early years here in Scranton.  This town helped make him who he is.  This is a town where he and so many of you grew up with a faith in an America where hard work matters.  Where responsibility matters.  Where if you stay true to those things, you can get ahead.  Where no matter who you are, no matter what you look like -– whether you own a factory or you work on the factory floor –- America is a place where you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

That’s why Joe and I ran for this office.  You are why we spent so much time in this state a few years ago.  Because even then, those ideas -– the idea that’s at the very heart of the American Dream –- felt like it was slipping away for a lot of people.  It was wonderful visiting with Patrick and Donna, and we were talking about the fact that Patrick has been — Patrick Festa has been teaching in the school system for 25 years now; Donna has been a graphic artist.  But they’re still worried about if the washer/dryer goes out, or if they have to do a car repair.  Things are tight.  And they’re pretty lucky that they’ve got a good job, steady jobs.  For a lot of folks, it’s a lot tougher.

And we’ve gone through a difficult decade for middle-class Americans.  More good jobs in manufacturing left our shores over the last decade.  More of our prosperity was built on risky financial deals and homes that a lot of folks couldn’t afford.  And a lot of you watched your incomes fall or your wages flatline.  Meanwhile, the costs of everything from college to health care were all going up.  And then, after all that, the financial crisis hit because of the irresponsibility of some on Wall Street.  (Applause.)  And that made things a whole lot tougher.

Today, we all know folks who’ve spent months looking for work.  We all know families making deep sacrifices just to get by.  We all know young people who have gone to college, they’ve taken on a bunch of debt.  Now they’re finding that the opportunity that they worked so hard to find is getting harder and harder to come by.  So there’s a sense of deep frustration among people who’ve done the right thing, but don’t see that hard work and that responsibility pay off.  And that’s not the way things are supposed to be, not here in America.

But here today with all of you, I’m thinking about something that is probably Joe’s favorite expression.  And some of you know Joe’s story.  He went through some tough times when he was a kid.  And his father used to tell him, Champ, when you get knocked down, you get up.  You get up.
And Scranton, we’ve taken some punches these last few years.  But there’s one thing I know about people here in Scranton, people in Pennsylvania, and people all across America:  We are tougher than the times.  We are America.  We get back up.  We fight back.  We move forward.  (Applause.)  We don’t give up.  We get back up.  (Applause.)

And even though our economic problems weren’t caused overnight and so they’re not going to be solved overnight — even though it’s going to take a few more years to meet all the  challenges that were decades in the making — we’re fighting to make things right again.  We’re fighting to make sure that if you are working hard and you are carrying out your responsibilities and you’re looking out for your family, that you can live a good, solid, middle-class life.  That is what America is all about.  And we are going to be fighting for that every day, every week, every month and every year that we’re in office.  (Applause.)

We want an America where hard work is valued and responsibility is rewarded.  We’re fighting to rebuild an economy that restores security for the middle class and renews opportunity for folks that are trying to get into the middle class.  We’re fighting to build an economy that’s not based on outsourcing and tax loopholes and risky financial schemes, but one that’s built to last — one where we invest in things like education and small businesses — (applause) — an economy that’s built on manufacturing and building things again and selling them all around the world.  (Applause.)

And we’re going to keep fighting to make our economy stronger and put our friends and neighbors back to work, to give our young people opportunities greater than the opportunities that we had.  (Applause.)  That’s what we’ve been doing for the last three years.

But two months ago, I sent a particular piece of legislation to Congress called the American Jobs Act.  (Applause.)  This is a jobs bill that will put more Americans to work, put more money back in the pockets of working families. It’s contains ideas that historically have been supported by Democrats and Republicans.  It’s paid for by asking our wealthiest citizens to pay their fair share.  (Applause.)  And independent economists said that it would create up to 2 million jobs, and grow the economy by as much as 2 percent.  And that’s what we need right now.

Now, here’s the problem — there is a problem.  Folks in Washington don’t seem to be getting the message.  When this jobs bill came to a vote, Republicans in the Senate got together and they blocked it.  They refused to even debate it.  Even though polls showed that two-thirds of Americans of all political stripes supported the ideas in this bill, not one single Republican stepped up to say, this is the right thing to do.

AUDIENCE:  Booo!

THE PRESIDENT:  Not one.  But here’s the good news, Scranton.  Just like you don’t quit, I don’t quit.  (Applause.)  I don’t quit.  So I said, look, I’m going to do everything that I can do without Congress to get things done.  (Applause.)

So let’s just take a look over the past several weeks.  We said, we can’t wait.  We just went ahead and started taking some steps on our own to give working Americans a leg up in a tough economy.  For homeowners, I announced a new policy that will help families refinance their mortgages and save thousands of dollars.  (Applause.)  For all the young people out here — (applause) — we reformed our student loan process to make it easier for more students to pay off their debts earlier.  (Applause.)  For our veterans out here — and I see some veterans in the crowd — (applause) — we ordered several new initiatives to help our returning heroes find new jobs and get trained for those jobs.  (Applause.)  Because you shouldn’t have to fight for a job when you come home after fighting for America — you shouldn’t have to do that.  (Applause.)

And in fact, last week I was able to sign into law two new tax breaks for businesses that hire veterans, because nobody out here who is a veteran should — we have to make sure that they are getting the help that they need.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you, Mr. President!

THE PRESIDENT:  And by the way, I think we’re starting to get, maybe, to the Republicans a little bit, because they actually voted for this veterans bill.  I was glad to see that.  (Applause.)  I was glad that Democrats and Republicans got together with this bipartisan legislation.

Now, there’s a lot more to do, though, if we’re going to get every American back to work who wants to work, and to rebuild an economy that works for every American, which is why we’re going to give Congress another chance to do the right thing with the American Job Act.  We’re going to give them another chance to help working families like yours.  (Applause.)

Last year, both parties came together to cut payroll taxes for the typical household by $1,000.  Now, that’s been showing up in your paychecks each week.  You may not be aware of it, because times are tight.  But you actually got a tax cut of $1,000 this year.  Now, I know you hear a lot of folks on cable TV claiming that I’m this big tax-and-spend liberal.  Next time you hear that, you just remind the people who are saying it that since I’ve taken office, I’ve cut your taxes.  (Applause.)

Your taxes today — the average middle-class family, your taxes today are lower than when I took office, just remember that.  (Applause.)  We have cut taxes for small businesses not once, not twice, but 17 times.  The average family’s tax burden is among the lowest it’s been in the last 60 years.

So the problem is not that we’ve been raising taxes.  We’ve actually been trying to give families a break during these tough times.  But here’s the thing:  That payroll tax cut that we passed in December of last year, it’s set to expire at the end of this year, one month from now.  If that happens — if Congress doesn’t act to extend this tax cut — then most of you, the typical middle-class family, is going to see your taxes go up by $1,000 at the worst possible time.  A young lady just said she can’t afford that.  It would be tough for you.  It would also be a massive blow for the economy, because we’re not fully out of the recession yet.  Don’t take my word for it; this is what every independent economist says.  We can’t let this tax cut lapse right now.

And that’s why my jobs bill — part of the American Jobs Act was to extend this tax cut for another year.  In fact, it does one better.  It says, let’s expand that tax cut.  Instead of a $1,000 tax cut next year, the typical working family under my plan would get a tax cut of $1,500.  (Applause.)  Instead of it coming out of your paycheck, it would be going into your pocket.  Now, that’s money that you can spend on a small business right here in Scranton.  If you’re a small business owner, my jobs bill will cut your payroll taxes in half.  So if you’ve got 50 employees making $50,000 each, you’d get a tax cut of nearly $80,000.  That’s money that you can then use to hire some more workers and get this economy moving again.  That’s a good thing.  (Applause.)

Now, this really should not be controversial.  A lot of Republicans have agreed with this tax cut in the past.  The Republican leader in the Senate said it would — I’m quoting here — it would “put a lot of money back in the hands of business and in the hands of individuals.”  That’s what he said.  Another Republican leader said it would help small business owners create jobs and help their employees spend more money, creating even more jobs.  One Republican even called it a “conservative approach to help put our economy back on track.”  So what’s the problem?

The bad news is some of those same Republicans voted “no” on my jobs bill and those tax cuts.  I don’t know whether it’s just because I proposed it.  I don’t know.  They said “no” to cutting taxes for small business owners and working families.  One of them said just two years ago that this kind of tax cut would boost job creation, and now that I’m proposing it, he said we should let it expire.  I mean, what happened?

Republicans say they’re the party of tax cuts.  That’s what they say.  A lot of them have sworn an oath to never raise taxes on anybody as long as they live.  That doesn’t square with their vote against these tax cuts.  I mean, how is it that they can break their oath when it comes to raising your taxes, but not break their oath when it comes to raising taxes for wealthy people?  That doesn’t make any sense.  (Applause.)  I mean, I hope that they don’t want to just score political points.  I hope that they want to help the economy.

This cannot be about who wins and loses in Washington.  This is about delivering a win for the American people.  That’s what this is about.  (Applause.)  You know, $1,500 — that’s not a Band-Aid for middle-class families, that’s a big deal.  How many people here could use an extra $1,500?  (Applause.)  Yes, I thought so.

So I’ll tell you what, Scranton.  They may have voted “no” on these tax cuts once.  But I’m already filled with the Christmas spirit.  There’s kind of some chill in the air.  I saw some Christmas decorations at the Festas.  So I’m in a Christmas spirit.  I want to give them another chance.  I want to give them a chance to redeem themselves.  We’re going to give them another chance.

So as early as Friday, this Friday, in a couple of days, we’re going to give them a chance to take a simple vote on these tax cuts.  If they vote “no,” then the typical family’s taxes will go up by $1,000 next year.  If they vote “yes,” then the typical family will have an extra $1,500 in their pocket.  (Applause.)  So let’s just be clear:  If they vote “no,” your taxes go up; vote “yes,” you get a tax cut.  Which way do you think Congress should vote?  They should vote “yes,” it’s pretty simple.

Now, if you want to see what this vote will mean for your bottom line, we have this spiffy new tax calculator on our Internet site, WhiteHouse.gov.  So you can go on there and you can punch in your numbers and figure out what it would mean to your family.  But this is real money that would go into the economy at a time it needs it.

Now, I really do think your voices are already getting
through, because some of the folks in Congress are starting to say, well, maybe we’re open to this thing.  Maybe we’ll be open to these tax cuts.  And that’s good news.  But I want to make sure that we do this responsibly.  So what I’ve said is, to pay for this tax cut, we need to ask wealthy Americans to pay their fair share.  (Applause.)

We’re asking — what we’ve said is let’s ask the folks who’ve seen their incomes rise fastest, who’ve gotten bigger tax breaks under Bush, let’s ask them to help out a little bit, because they made it better through the recession than most of us.  Let’s ask them to contribute a little bit more to get the economy going again.

And I just want to point out I’ve done pretty well over these last few years.  So I’ve said, let me pay a little bit more.  I promise you, I can afford it.  (Laughter.)  I really can.  We’re asking people like me to sacrifice just a little bit so that you guys have a little bit of a leg up.

And by the way, let me say this:  When you talk to most folks who are making a million dollars a year, they are willing to do more if they’re asked.  Warren Buffett is a good example.  They’re willing to do more if they’re asked.  (Applause.)

Now, I mean, I don’t want to exaggerate.  It’s not like they’re volunteering.  (Laughter.)  But if they’re asked, if they feel like it’s going to help middle-class families, help grow the economy, help to reduce the deficit, they’re willing to help.  I can’t tell you how many well-to-do folks I meet who say, look, America gave me a chance to succeed.  Somewhere along the line, somebody gave me a good education.  Somewhere along the line, somebody gave me a college scholarship.  Somewhere along the line, somebody built the information and transportation networks that have helped my business grow.  Somewhere along the line, somebody gave me a shot.  And so now it’s my turn to do the next generation that same good thing.  I’ve got to give something back to them as well.  (Applause.)

Because, Scranton, this is something everybody in this audience understands.  When you think about the history of Scranton and the immigrants who came here and worked hard, each successive generation doing a little bit better — you guys know that what America is about is that we’re all in this together; that each of us has to do our own individual part, but we also have to be looking out for one another.

And that’s the very simple choice that’s facing Congress right now:  Are you going to cut taxes for the middle class and those who are trying to get into the middle class?  Or are you going to protect massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, many of whom don’t even want those tax breaks?  Are you going to ask a few hundred thousand people who have done very, very well to do their fair share?  Or are you going to raise taxes for hundreds of millions of people across the country — 160 million Americans?  Are you willing to fight as hard for middle-class families as you do for those who are most fortunate?  What’s it going to be?

That’s the choice in front of Congress.  And I hope members of Congress think hard about this, because their actions lately don’t reflect who we are as a people.  What does it say about our priorities when we’d rather protect a few really well-to-do people than fight for the jobs of teachers and firefighters?  (Applause.)  What does it say when we — about our values when we’d rather fight for corporate tax breaks than put construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our schools?  (Applause.)  What does it say about us if we’re willing to cut taxes for the people who don’t need them, and raise them on folks who do need a tax break?

We are better than that.  America is better than that.  We celebrate individual achievement, we expect everybody to work hard, but we don’t believe in every person for themselves; we believe that out of many, we come together as one.  (Applause.)  We’re a people who reach for our own success, but we also reach back for the people — to bring somebody up.  Reach back to help others earn their own success as well.  (Applause.)  And we believe that if the folks at the bottom and the folks in the middle succeed, then American succeeds, and the folks at the top succeed as well.  (Applause.)

The decisions we make today are going to determine whether or not our kids grow up in a country where those values still thrive.  And Scranton, I don’t know about you, but I want our kids to grow up — I want Malia and Sasha and all your kids, I want them to come into a country that is built on those big, generous values — (applause) — an America that reflects the values that we inherited from our parents and our grandparents.

So if you agree with me, I need you to tell Congress where your priorities lie.  Members of Congress, they work for you.  Scranton, you’ve got a great senator in Senator Casey.  I love Senator Casey.  (Applause.)

So I want you to know, Casey is already on the program.  (Applause.)  But to everybody who is here, everybody who is watching, send your Senate a message — send your senators a message.  Tell them, “Don’t be a Grinch.”  (Laughter.)  “Don’t be a Grinch.”  Don’t vote to raise taxes on working Americans during the holidays.  Make sure to renew unemployment insurance during the holidays.  (Applause.)  Stop saying “no” to steps that would make our economy stronger.  Put our country before party.  Put money back into the pockets of working Americans.  Do your job.  Pass this bill.  (Applause.)

Scranton, the American people are with us on this.  It is time for folks to stop running around spending all their time talking about what’s wrong with America.  Spend some time, roll up your sleeves, and help us rebuild America.  That’s what we need to do.  (Applause.)

There is nothing wrong with this country that we can’t fix.  We’re Americans, and our story has never been about things coming easy to us.  That’s not what Scranton has been about.  That’s not what Pennsylvania, that’s not what America is about.  It’s been about rising to the moment, and meeting the moment when things are hard.  It’s about doing what’s right.

So let’s do what’s right.  Let’s prove that the best days of America are still ahead of us.

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

END
3:03 P.M. EST

Full Text November 22, 2011: President Barack Obama’s New Hampshire Speech on the American Jobs Act at Manchester Central High School, Manchester, NH

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Talks Taxes

Source: WH, 11-22-11
20111122 POTUS NH Podium

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the American Jobs Act at Manchester Central High School, Manchester, New Hampshire, Nov. 22, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In 40 days, our taxes will go up — unless Congress steps in to change that. And speaking from New Hampshire today, President Obama talked about that situation:

[Last] year, both parties came together to cut payroll taxes for the typical household by $1,000 this year. That’s been showing up in your paychecks each week. You may not know it, but it’s been showing up because of the action that we took. Which reminds me, by the way, the next time you hear one of these folks from the other side coming in talking about raising your taxes, you just remind them that ever since I’ve gotten into office, I’ve lowered your taxes, haven’t raised them. That’s worth reminding them. But this payroll tax is set to expire at the end of next month. End of next month, end of the year, this tax cut ends. And if we allow that to happen -– if Congress refuses to act -– then middle-class families are going to get hit with a tax increase at the worst possible time. For the average family, your taxes will go up $1,000 if Congress does not act by the end of the month.

Now, we can’t let that happen. Not right now. It would be bad for the economy. It would be bad for employment.

The American Jobs Act, the President said, actually does one better. It expands expands the tax cut for individuals and cuts payroll taxes for small business owners:

Instead of a $1,000-a-year tax cut next year, the average working family would get a tax cut of more than $1,500. And that’s $1,500 that would have been taken out of your paycheck, would instead be going into your pocket. And that means you’d be spending in small businesses, and that would increase their business, which means they would potentially hire more people.

The American Jobs Act would also cut payroll taxes in half for small business owners.  Say you have 50 employees making $50,000 apiece. You’d get a tax cut of nearly $80,000. That is real money that you can use to hire new workers or buy new equipment.

When Congress takes up this issue after the holiday, the President said, lawmakers have a choice:

Do you want to cut taxes for the middle class and those who are trying to get into the middle class?  Or do you want to protect massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, many of whom want to actually help?  Do you want to help working families get back on solid ground and grow this economy for all of us?  Or do you really want to vote to raise taxes on nearly 160 million Americans during the holidays?  When push comes to shove, are you willing to fight as hard for working families as you are for the wealthiest Americans?  What’s it going to be?  That’s the choice.

Read the full remarks here.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on the American Jobs Act

Manchester Central High School
Manchester, New Hampshire

12:20 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, New Hampshire!  (Applause.)  It is good to be back.  Hello, Little Green!  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in New Hampshire, although I have to say that I feel a little winter coming on around here.  (Laughter.)  This is what happens when you fly north.

It is wonderful to be here.  I had a chance to see backstage Principal Mailhot, and he reminded me of what I said to him four years ago almost to the day that I was here.  It was snowing that day; we were — surprising enough, there was a snowstorm in New Hampshire.  (Laughter.)  And we ended up having to leave a little bit early.  And we weren’t able to do everything that we wanted, talking to some of the students.  And we were worried that folks were going to be disappointed, and I promised him that I would be back.  I just want to point out, we’re keeping our promise — we are back.  (Applause.)  We are back.

In addition to Principal Mailhot, I want to acknowledge the Superintendent, Tom Brennan, who is here with his lovely wife Wendy.  Please give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

Happy Thanksgiving a little bit early, everybody.  To the — I understand we got the senior class here at Central High.  (Applause.)

STUDENTS:  Seniors!  Seniors!  Seniors!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  You guys are pretty excited about being seniors, aren’t you?  (Applause.)  I want to thank also somebody who is doing outstanding work each and every day, was doing it up here as a wonderful governor, is now one of your most outstanding senators in the country — Jeanne Shaheen is in the house.  (Applause.)

So before I came to school today, I had coffee —

(Audience interruption.)

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s okay.  All right, okay, guys.

STUDENTS:  Obama!  Obama!  Obama!

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, it’s okay.  That’s all right.  Listen, I’m going to be talking about a whole range of things today, and I appreciate you guys making your point.  Let me go ahead and make mine, all right?  And I’ll listen to you, you listen to me.  All right?

Now, what I was saying was, I was having some coffee with some of your neighbors.  And one of them was the Corkerys.  You may know, as Mr. Corkery just said, that he’s a math teacher here at Central High.  And even though a visit from me tends to disrupt things a little bit — (laughter) — he did want me to remind all his students you still have homework to do.  (Laughter.)

But as Chris said, he’s also a colonel, recently retired after 26 years in the military; tours of duty in Iraq, in Kuwait, in Haiti.  And I couldn’t thank him enough for his service, because obviously we know our service members, our veterans, they’re the ones who keep us safe, they’re the ones who are preserving our freedom — at enormous sacrifice to themselves and their families.  (Applause.)  And in fact, this holiday season is going to be a season of homecomings for folks all across America, because by the end of next month, all of our troops will be out of Iraq.  (Applause.)

Now, over coffee, we were joined by Chris’s wife of 16 years, Kathy, who owns part of a local business.  And they’ve got two sons; they’re trying to save for their sons’ college education.  And like millions of families all across the country, they’re doing the best that they can in some tough times.

And families like the Corkerys, families like yours, young people like the ones here today, including the ones who were just chanting at me, you’re the reason I ran for office in the first place.  (Applause.)  Because it’s folks like you who are why I spent so much time up here in the dead of winter four years ago.  Because even then, we were going through a difficult decade for the middle class — more good jobs in manufacturing that was leaving our shores.  More of our prosperity was built on risky financial deals and homes that weren’t properly financed.  And families watched their incomes fall, and wages flatline, and the cost of everything from college to health care kept on going up.  And then the financial crisis hit in the closing weeks of the campaign — and that made things even tougher.

Today, many Americans have spent months looking for work, and others are doing the best they can to get by.  There are a lot of folks out there who are giving nights up — nights out, they just can’t do that anymore because they’ve got to save on gas or make the mortgage.  There are families who are putting off retirement to make sure their kids can go to college.  And then there are young people who have gone to college, gotten a whole bunch of debt, and find themselves unable to find opportunity.

So a lot of the folks who have been down in New York and all across the country, in the Occupy movement, there is a profound sense of frustration — (applause) — there is a profound sense of frustration about the fact that the essence of the American Dream — which is if you work hard, if you stick to it, that you can make it — feels like that’s slipping away.  And it’s not the way things are supposed to be.  Not here.  Not in America.  (Applause.)

This is a place where your hard work and your responsibility is supposed to pay off.  It’s supposed to be a big, compassionate country where everybody who works hard should have a chance to get ahead -– not just the person who owns the factory, but the men and women who work on the factory floor.  (Applause.)

This is a place that’s always prospered most when we stay fundamental — we stay true to a fundamental idea -– the idea that we’re all in this together.

That’s what we’re fighting for.  That’s what is at stake right now.

So we’ve been weathering some hard years.  We’ve been taking some tough punches.  But one thing I know about folks in Manchester and folks in New Hampshire and folks all across the country is we’re tough.  We’re fighting back.  We are moving forward.  And we are going to get this right so that every single American has opportunity in this country.  (Applause.)  We are not going to have an America in which only a sliver of folks have opportunity.  We’re going to have an America where everybody has opportunity.  And that’s going to take some time, because our economic problems weren’t caused overnight and they won’t be solved overnight.

It’s going to take time to rebuild an economy where hard work is valued and responsibility is rewarded.  It’s going to take time to rebuild an economy that restores security for the middle class and renews opportunity for folks trying to reach the middle class.  It’s going to take time to rebuild an economy that’s not based on outsourcing or tax loopholes or risky financial deals, but one that is built to last, where we invest in education and small business and manufacturing and making things that the rest of the world is willing to buy.  (Applause.)

And we’re going to get it done.  We’re going to get there.  And right now, we’ve got to do everything we can to put our friends and neighbors back to work and help families like the Corkerys get ahead and give the economy the jolt that it needs.

And that’s why two months ago I sent Congress the American Jobs Act.  It’s a jobs bill that will put more Americans to work, put more money back into the pockets of working Americans.  It’s full of the kinds of ideas that in the past have been supported by Democrats and Republicans.  And it’s paid for by asking our wealthiest citizens to pay their fair share.  (Applause.)  Independent economists said it would create nearly 2 million jobs, grow the economy by an extra 2 percent.  That’s not my opinion, that’s not my team’s opinion; that’s the opinion of folks who evaluate these things for a living.  But you know what?  Some folks in Washington don’t seem to get the message that people care right now about putting folks back to work and giving young people opportunity.

So when this bill came up for a vote, Republicans in the Senate got together and blocked it.  They refused to even debate it.  A hundred percent of Republicans opposed it, even though almost two-thirds of Americans supported the ideas in this bill -– Democrats, Republicans and independents alike.  Not one Republican in Washington was willing to say it was the right thing to do.  Not one.

Now, what we’ve done is we’ve refused to quit.  So I said I will do everything in my power to act on behalf of the American people –- with or without Congress.  (Applause.)  So over the past several weeks, we’ve taken steps on our own to give working Americans a leg up in a tough economy.

We announced — on our own — a new policy that will help families refinance their mortgages and save thousands of dollars.  A lot of the young people who are in New York and around the country, they’re worrying about student loans.  On our own, without Congress, we reformed the student loan process to make it easier for more young people to pay off their debt.  (Applause.)  By the way, that was building on top of legislation we passed a year ago that said instead of sending $60 billion to banks to manage the student loan program, let’s give it directly to students so that millions more young people can afford a college education.  (Applause.)

We enacted several new initiatives to help our returning veterans find new jobs and get trained for those jobs.  (Applause.)  The kind of outstanding young men and women that Chris was talking about, who come home — I was up in Minnesota, met a young man who had been an emergency medic Iraq, saving lives under the most severe circumstances.  He came home and he was having to take nursing classes all over again, even though for the last two years he had been saving lives in the field.  Didn’t get any credit for it.  So we’re starting to make changes to say if you’re qualified to save a life on the battlefield, you can save a life in an ambulance.  (Applause.)

And yesterday, I signed into law two new tax breaks for businesses that hire America’s vets –- because nobody who fights for America overseas should have to fight for a job when they come home.  (Applause.)  Now, I proposed these tax breaks back in September as part of my jobs bill, and thanks to folks like Jeanne Shaheen — and some Republicans — we actually got this part of the bill passed.  We finally got them to say “yes” to taking action that will create jobs and boost this economy.

But there is a lot more that we’ve got to do if we’re going to get folks back to work and rebuild an economy that works for everybody.  And next week, Congress is going to have another chance to do the right thing.  Congress is going to have another chance to say “yes” to helping working families like the Corkerys.

You see, last year, both parties came together to cut payroll taxes for the typical household by $1,000 this year.  That’s been showing up in your paychecks each week.  You may not know it, but it’s been showing up because of the action that we took.  Which reminds me, by the way, the next time you hear one of these folks from the other side coming in talking about raising your taxes, you just remind them that ever since I’ve gotten into office, I’ve lowered your taxes, haven’t raised them.  That’s worth reminding them.  (Applause.)  But this payroll tax is set to expire at the end of next month.  End of next month, end of the year, this tax cut ends.  And if we allow that to happen -– if Congress refuses to act -– then middle-class families are going to get hit with a tax increase at the worst possible time.  For the average family, your taxes will go up $1,000 if Congress does not act by the end of the month.

Now, we can’t let that happen.  Not right now.  It would be bad for the economy.  It would be bad for employment.  That’s why my jobs bill extends that tax cut.  In fact, it does it one better -– it expands the tax cut.  Instead of a $1,000-a-year tax cut next year, the average working family would get a tax cut of more than $1,500.  (Applause.)  And that’s $1,500 that would have been taken out of your paycheck, would instead be going into your pocket.  And that means you’d be spending in small businesses, and that would increase their business, which means they would potentially hire more people.

The American Jobs Act would also cut payroll taxes in half for small business owners.  Say you have 50 employees making $50,000 apiece.  You’d get a tax cut of nearly $80,000.  That is real money that you can use to hire new workers or buy new equipment.

Now, the Republicans in the Senate voted “no” on my jobs bill and those tax cuts.  But in the spirit of Thanksgiving — (laughter) — we are going to give them another chance.  (Laughter and applause.)  Absolutely.  Next week, they’re going to get to take a simple vote.

If they vote “no” again, the typical family’s taxes will go up $1,000 next year.  If they vote “yes,” the typical working family will get a $1,500 tax cut.  All right?  So I just wanted to be clear for everybody:  “No” –- your taxes go up.  “Yes” -– you get a tax cut.  Which way do you think Congress should vote?

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  Pretty simple.  And we set up a straightforward tax calculator on whitehouse.gov — that’s our website — so you can see what each vote would mean for your bottom line.

Now, I know Republicans like to talk about we’re the party of tax cuts.  A lot of them have sworn an oath — we’re never going to raise taxes on anybody for as long as we live –- even though they have already voted against these middle-class tax cuts once.  But the question they’ll have to answer when they get back from Thanksgiving is this:  Are they really willing to break their oath to never raise taxes, and raise taxes on the middle class just to play politics?

I sure hope not.  This isn’t about who wins or loses in Washington.  This is about delivering a win for the American people.  (Applause.)  Now, a $1,500 tax cut for middle-class families — that isn’t a Band-Aid.  That is a big deal for people.  How many business owners could stand to see their customers taking $1,000 less next year?   That’s $1,000 less that they can spend at a small business.

Now, how many of you could use an extra $1,000?  (Applause.)  An extra $1,500 in your pocket?  It makes a big difference for families here in New Hampshire and all across America.  And keep in mind, we’re going to do it responsibly — because unlike several tax cuts that were instituted over the past several years, we’re going to make sure that it doesn’t add to our deficit.  We’re asking the wealthiest Americans -– the folks who got the biggest tax cuts over the past decade, the folks who made it through the recession better than most, folks who have seen their incomes go up much more quickly than anybody else over the last three decades, exponentially -– we’re asking them to contribute a little bit more to get our economy working for everybody.  (Applause.)  We’re asking people like me to pay our fair share so middle-class families can get a tax cut.  And I believe that most Americans are willing to do their part.

The truth of the matter is, I can’t tell you how many well-to-do Americans that I meet say to me, look, I want to do more because I know that the only reason I’m doing well is because somewhere along the line, somebody gave me a good education; somewhere along the line, somebody gave me a college scholarship; somewhere along the line, somebody gave me a chance.  And I want to do the same thing for the young people who are coming up now.  (Applause.)  That is what America is all about.  (Applause.)

So Congress has a very simple choice next week:  Do you want to cut taxes for the middle class and those who are trying to get into the middle class?  Or do you want to protect massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, many of whom want to actually help?  Do you want to help working families get back on solid ground and grow this economy for all of us?  Or do you really want to vote to raise taxes on nearly 160 million Americans during the holidays?  When push comes to shove, are you willing to fight as hard for working families as you are for the wealthiest Americans?  What’s it going to be?  That’s the choice.

As I look around this room and I see these young people, but I also see their parents, I’m thinking, folks in Manchester, you guys work hard.  You play by the rules.  You’re meeting your responsibilities.  (Applause.)  And if you’re working hard and you’re meeting your responsibilities, at the very least you should expect Congress to do the same.  They should be doing everything in their power to make our economy stronger, not weaker.  They should be doing everything they can to protect the middle class from tax hikes — not hike your taxes.

And this is where you can help.  Now, your members of Congress, they work for you.  You’ve got an outstanding senator here.  She’s already on the program.  (Applause.)  But to everyone who’s here or watching at home or online — if your members of Congress aren’t delivering, you’ve got to send them a message.  Make sure they’re listening.

Tell them, “Don’t be a Grinch.”  (Laughter.)  Don’t vote to raise taxes on working Americans during the holidays.  Put the country before party.  Put money back in the pockets of working families.  Do your job.  Pass our jobs bill.

The American people are with us on this.  And it’s time for the folks who are running around spending all their time talking about what’s wrong with America to spend some time rolling up their sleeves to help us rebuild America and rebuild our middle class and give young people opportunity.  (Applause.)  There is nothing wrong with this country that we can’t fix.

I was just traveling in Asia over the last week, and let me tell you, this is the fastest-growing region in the world.  But what was amazing was how everybody still looked to America.  They did a poll in Asia.  They said, what do you think about America compared to China?  Eight out of nine countries in Asia, they said, America is the country that we look to.

They understand that this experiment in democracy — this belief that everybody can make it if they try; this belief in a broad middle class that lifts everybody up, not just some — they know that that idea of America is more powerful than anything else.

But we’ve got to have folks in Washington who have that same belief; that same sense that when this economy is going well it’s going well because it’s going well for everybody, and when it goes well for everybody, it’s good for folks at the top as well as folks at the bottom.  And it’s certainly good for folks in the middle. (Applause.)

So those values that built this country, those values that all of you represent, that’s what we’re fighting for.  That’s what the American Jobs Act is all about, that’s what the debates in Washington are all about.  And we’ve got to constantly remind ourselves of who we are and what we believe in.

We are Americans.  And our story has never been about doing things easy.  It’s been about rising to the moment when the moment is hard.  It’s about doing what’s right.  It’s about making sure that everybody has a chance, not just a few.

So let’s do the right thing.  Let’s meet the moment.  Let’s prove once again that the best days of the United States of America are still ahead of us.

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

END
12:46 P.M. EST

Full Text November 12, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Honors America’s Military Veterans on Veterans Day

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama speaks from the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego during Veterans Day and calls on all Americans to rededicate themselves to serving our brave men and women in uniform as well as they have served us.

President Obama tapes the Weekly Address
President Obama tapes the Weekly Address, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 11/11/11

Weekly Address: Honoring Our Veterans for Their Service and Sacrifice

Source: WH, 11-12-11

President Obama speaks from the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego during Veterans Day and calls on all Americans to rededicate themselves to serving our brave men and women in uniform as well as they have served us.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Honoring our Veterans for their Service and Sacrifice

In this week’s address, President Obama spoke from the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego during Veterans Day, and he called on all Americans to rededicate themselves to serving our brave men and women in uniform as well as they have served us.  Today, there are more than 850,000 veterans unemployed, which is why the President issued a challenge to private companies to hire or train more than 100,000 post-9/11 veterans or their spouses by 2013, and he was pleased to see the Senate pass proposals in his American Jobs Act on Thursday to give businesses tax credits for hiring veterans.  President Obama told veterans that just as they have fought for us, he will continue to fight for jobs and opportunities for them, and that the United States will always honor their service and sacrifice.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
San Diego, California
Saturday, November 12, 2011

I’m speaking to you from the bridge of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in San Diego.  This is one of the biggest ships in the Navy, and on Friday it was home to one of the most unique college basketball games I’ve ever seen.  It also gave members of our military and our veterans a chance to unwind a little bit, and on this Veterans Day, I want to take this opportunity to thank all our men and women in uniform for their service and their sacrifice.

But this day isn’t just about thanking our veterans.  It’s about rededicating ourselves to serving our veterans as well as they’ve served us.  And right now, that’s more important than ever.

Last month, I announced that, as promised, we will end the war in Iraq by the end of the year.  Many of our military families will be welcoming loved ones home for the holidays.  At the same time, we’ve begun to wind down the war in Afghanistan.  And in the next five years, over a million servicemembers will transition back into civilian life – joining the 3 million who have already done so over the last decade.

These are men and women who have served with distinction in some of the most dangerous places on the planet.  But for many of them, the challenges don’t end when they take off the uniform.  Today, more than 850,000 veterans remain unemployed.  And too many are struggling to find a job worthy of their talents and experience.

That’s not right.  We ask these men and women to leave their families and their jobs and risk their lives to fight for our country.  The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they get home.

To give our veterans the opportunities they’ve earned, I’ve directed the federal government to lead by example – and already, we’ve hired 120,000 veterans.  We’ve also challenged private companies to hire or train 100,000 post-9/11 veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013.  So far, many patriotic companies have answered the call, hiring more than 16,000 Americans.  And yesterday, thanks to the hard work of Michelle and Dr. Jill Biden, companies announced their commitment to train or hire 125,000 more over the next two years.

But we need to do more.  That’s why, as part of the American Jobs Act, I called on Congress to pass a Returning Heroes Tax Credit, which would give businesses a tax break for each unemployed veteran they hire; and a Wounded Warriors Tax Credit, which would give businesses a tax break for hiring an unemployed veteran with a disability related to their service in uniform.

These proposals will go a long way towards putting our veterans back to work.  And on Thursday, I was pleased to see the Senate put partisanship aside and come together to pass these tax credits.  After all, standing up for our veterans isn’t a Democratic responsibility or a Republican responsibility – it’s an American responsibility.  It’s one that all of us have an obligation to meet.  And the House should pass this bill as soon as possible so I can sign it into law.

As Commander-in-Chief, I want every veteran to know that America will always honor your service and your sacrifice – not just today, but every day.  And just as you fought for us, we’re going to keep fighting for you – for more jobs, for more security, for the opportunity to keep your families strong and America competitive in the 21st century.

So to all our veterans – thank you for your service.  God bless you.  And may God bless the United States of America.

Full Text November 4, 2011: Vice President Joe Biden Gives Weekly Address at University of Pittburgh — October Job Numbers Demonstrate that Congress Should Pass the American Jobs Act

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Speaking from the University of Pittsburgh, Vice President Biden argues that this month’s jobs numbers demonstrate that Congress should pass the American Jobs Act to strengthen our economy and create jobs right away.

Vice President Joe Biden tapes the Weekly Address
Vice President Joe Biden tapes the Weekly Address, White House Photo, David Lienemann, 11/4/11

Weekly Address: We Have to Increase the Pace

Source: WH, 11-5-11

Speaking from the University of Pittsburgh, Vice President Biden argues that this month’s jobs numbers demonstrate that Congress should pass the American Jobs Act to strengthen our economy and create jobs right away.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: “We Have to Increase the Pace”

WASHINGTON—In this week’s address, Vice President Biden noted that this month’s jobs numbers demonstrated that Congress should pass the American Jobs Act to strengthen our economy and create jobs right away.  Republicans in Congress have voted against components of the bill to put teachers and firefighters back to work and they have unanimously opposed a bill to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create jobs for 400,000 construction workers, even though these are the kinds of programs they have supported in the past.  The President is acting without Congress through executive actions to help our veterans find jobs, save families thousands of dollars by refinancing their mortgages, and reducing the cost of student loans, but that is not enough.  Democrats and Republicans must come together to pass the American Jobs Act to strengthen the economy, because the American people can’t wait any longer for Congress to act.

Remarks of Vice President Joe Biden
Weekly Address
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hi, this is Joe Biden.  I’m speaking to you from the University of Pittsburgh, where I just spoke to students here about what we’ve done to help ease the burden on them when it comes to the rising cost of tuition and the accumulating student debt and what we’re going to do to help create jobs when they graduate.

Today we found out we’ve had the 20th month in a row where we’ve increased private sector jobs — 104,000 this month, 104,000 private sector jobs.  And as all you know, that’s not nearly enough.  We have to increase the pace.  We have to act now to do everything in our power to keep this economy moving and to grow jobs.

President Obama is on his way back from France where he just met with the leaders of the 20 largest economies in the world, where he urged our European friends to step up and stabilize their own economies because if they fail, it will affect the whole world.

Too many Americans are still struggling.  Too many college students here at the University of Pittsburgh and elsewhere are worrying about the rising cost of their tuition, and the increasing accumulation of debt.  And too many of their parents are in stagnant jobs or out of work, wondering if they’re going to be able to send their child back to college next semester.

My dad used to have a saying.  He said, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck.  It’s about dignity.  It’s about respect.

And too many Americans have been stripped of their dignity through no fault of their own.  So we can’t wait to help them.  The President and I believe we have to act now.  That’s why we’ve introduced the jobs bill which independent validators said would create 2 million new jobs.

Although 51 senators voted for that jobs bill, our Republican colleagues in the Senate used a procedural requirement that requires it to have 60 votes, so it failed.

And since then we’ve taken every important piece of the jobs bill and demanded that we have a separate vote.  But our Republican colleagues in the Senate have voted unanimously to vote down each and every part so far:  to restore 400,000 jobs for teachers, police officers, firefighters, putting them back in classrooms, on the streets and in the fire houses.

And then on Thursday, they unanimously voted down the second part of our program:  to rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges, which would have created more than 400,000 good-paying jobs.

These are all programs that the Republicans in the past have supported, but once again, every Republican voted no — blocking the majority will to put these folks back to work.

I think the assumption is that they’re voting no because of the way we would pay for these jobs, and we do pay for them.  We think everybody should pay their fair share, so that’s why we put a small surtax on the first dollar after a person has already made $1 million.  That seems fair to us, and it pays for the bill.  It’s a small price to pay to put hundreds of thousands of people back to work.

So, look, we can’t wait.  We can’t wait for the Congress to start acting responsibly, and that’s why the President has used his executive power to announce that hundreds of thousands of people will be able to refinance their homes from 6 percent interest rates to 4 percent, saving them an average of $2,000 a year.  That’s why the President announced that beginning next year, no student will have to pay back more than 10 percent of their discretionary income toward their student debt.  He also announced new regulations regarding prescription drugs to prevent price gouging.  And there’s more to come.

If the Republican Congress won’t join us, we’re going to continue to act on our own to make the changes that we can to bring relief to middle-class families and those aspiring to get in the middle class.

Look, it’s simple:  We refuse to take no for an answer.  We know these steps taken alone are not going to solve all of our problems, but they will make a difference in the lives of millions of American families struggling to hold on.  And you know and I know if the Republicans would just let the Congress do its job, let it step up and meet its responsibilities, we could do so much more, and we could do it immediately.

That’s why the President and I need your help to tell your Republican congressmen and senators to step up.  Tell them to stop worrying about their jobs and start worrying about yours because we’re all in this together, and together is the way we’re going to bring America back even stronger than it was before.

Thank you.

White House Recap October 29-November 4, 2011: Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Continues Urging Congress to Pass the American Jobs Act, Signs Executive Orders & Celebrates Halloween & Diwali

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: OCTOBER 29-NOVEMBER 4, 2011

This week the President continued to urge Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, celebrated Diwali, hosted Halloween, spoke at the Italian American Heritage Gala, signed two Executive Orders, and welcomed NASA Astronauts.

West Wing Week

West Wing Week: 11/04/11 or “Let’s Get Moving”

Source: WH, 11-4-11

This week, the President urged Congress to pass the infrastructure component of the American Jobs Act and continued to take executive action to strengthen the economy and put folks back to work. The President also celebrated Diwali and hosted Halloween, spoke at the Italian American Heritage Gala, signed two Executive Orders, welcomed NASA Astronauts in the Oval Office, and interviewed with local news stations from across the country.

Full Text October 29, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address on Not Waiting for Congress to Grow the Economy & Create Jobs

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: We Can’t Wait to Create Jobs

President Obama says that we can’t wait for Congress to take action to grow the economy and create jobs — and highlights actions he took to help families refinance their mortgages, put veterans to work, and lower the cost of student loans.

President Barack Obama tapes his Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 10/28/11
Source: WH, 10-29-11

President Obama says that we can’t wait for Congress to take action to grow the economy and create jobs — and highlights actions he took to help families refinance their mortgages, put veterans to work, and lower the cost of student loans.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: “We Can’t Wait” to Strengthen the Economy and Create Jobs

In this week’s address, President Obama told the American people that we can’t wait for Congress to take action to grow the economy and create jobs, and highlighted the executive actions he took this week to help families save thousands of dollars by refinancing their mortgages, put veterans to work, and lower the cost of student loans.  The President continued to urge Congress to do its part and pass the American Jobs Act now, which will put more money in the pockets of middle class families, create jobs and strengthen our economy right away.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
Saturday, October 29, 2011

This week, a new economic report confirmed what most Americans already believe to be true: over the past three decades, the middle class has lost ground while the wealthiest few have become even wealthier.  In fact, the average income for the top one percent of Americans has risen almost seven times faster than the income of the average middle class family.  And this has happened during a period where the cost of everything from health care to college has skyrocketed.

Now, in this country, we don’t begrudge anyone wealth or success – we encourage it.  We celebrate it.  But America is better off when everyone has had the chance to get ahead – not just those at the top of the income scale.  The more Americans who prosper, the more America prospers.

Rebuilding an economy where everyone has the chance to succeed will take time.  Our economic problems were decades in the making, and they won’t be solved overnight.  But there are steps we can take right now to put people back to work and restore some of the security that middle-class Americans have lost over the last few decades.

Right now, Congress can pass a set of common-sense jobs proposals that independent economists tell us will boost the economy right away.  Proposals that will put more teachers, veterans, construction workers and first responders back on the job.  Proposals that will cut taxes for virtually every middle class family and small business in America. These are the same kinds of proposals that both Democrats and Republicans have supported in the past.  And they should stop playing politics and act on them now.

These jobs proposals are also paid for by asking folks who are making more than a million dollars a year to contribute a little more in taxes.  These are the same folks who have seen their incomes go up so much, and I believe this is a contribution they’re willing to make.  One survey found that nearly 7 in 10 millionaires are willing to step up and pay a little more in order to help the economy.

Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress aren’t paying attention.  They’re not getting the message.  Over and over, they have refused to even debate the same kind of jobs proposals that Republicans have supported in the past – proposals that today are supported, not just by Democrats, but by Independents and Republicans all across America.  And yet, somehow, they found time this week to debate things like whether or not we should mint coins to celebrate the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Meanwhile, they’re only scheduled to work three more weeks between now and the end of the year.

The truth is, we can no longer wait for Congress to do its job.  The middle-class families who’ve been struggling for years are tired of waiting.  They need help now.  So where Congress won’t act, I will.

This week, we announced a new policy that will help families whose home values have fallen refinance their mortgages and save thousands of dollars.  We’re making it easier for veterans to get jobs putting their skills to work in hospitals and community health centers.  We reformed the student loan process so more young people can get out of debt faster.  And we’re going to keep announcing more changes like these on a regular basis.

These steps will make a difference.  But they won’t take the place of the bold action we need from Congress to get this economy moving again.  That’s why I need all of you to make your voices heard.  Tell Congress to stop playing politics and start taking action on jobs.  If we want to rebuild an economy where every American has the chance to get ahead, we need every American to get involved.  That’s how real change has always happened, and that’s how it’ll happen today.

Thank you.

White House Recap October 15-21, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Barack Obama’s Bus Tour to NC & VA Supporting the American Jobs Act — Obama Addresses Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dedication & Announces End of Iraq War & Return of All Troops

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: OCTOBER 15-21, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up: Bringing Home the Troops

Source: WH, 10-21-11

This week, the President traveled to Detroit with the President of South Korea, dedicated the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, embarked on a three day American Jobs Act bus tour, bestowed the Presidential Citizens Medal.

West Wing Week
Download Video: mp4 (202MB)

Home for the Holidays Friday afternoon the President announced that the remaining  troops in Iraq will be officially coming back home, thus ending the war in Iraq. “Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq—tens of thousands of them—will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home. The last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq—with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops. That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.”

Road Trip President Obama embarked on a three day bus tour to spread the word about the American Jobs Act. Starting the journey in Asheville, NC and ending in North Chesterfield, VA, he also made stops in Millers Creek, NC, Jamestown, NC, Emporia, VA and Hampton, VA.The President visited schools, an airport, a military base, and a fire station along the way all of which will benefit from the American Jobs Act. On the last day of the tour, the First Lady joined the President at Joint Base Langley-Eustis announcing a commitment from the private sector to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses. The jobs bill would put Americans back to work, upgrade our country’s infrastructure, and keep teachers and emergency responders on the job.

Citizens Award Tuesday in the East Room, the President honored 13 Americans with the Citizens Medal, one of the highest honors a civilian can receive. The award is given to Americans who have “performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.” The recipients chosen to receive this year’s medal were nominated by the public, and then carefully selected by the White House. Click here to learn more about the recipients and to watch a video showing their reactions to the news that they’d been chosen.

“We Will Overcome” Tens of thousands came to the National Mall Sunday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Dedication. President Obama, joined by the First Family, toured the memorial and then spoke at the dedication ceremony in honor of Dr. King’s work. During his speech, President Obama reminded us that the progress towards Dr. King’s vision has not come easily and there is still more to do to expand opportunity and make our nation more just:“We can’t be discouraged by what is.  We’ve got to keep pushing for what ought to be, the America we ought to leave to our children, mindful that the hardships we face are nothing compared to those Dr. King and his fellow marchers faced 50 years ago, and that if we maintain our faith, in ourselves and in the possibilities of this nation, there is no challenge we cannot surmount.”

MLB support U.S. Veterans As a part of their Joining Forces Initiative, the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, for Game One of the World Series to meet with military families and to recognize Major League Baseball’s support of those who serve and their families. Earlier that day, the First Lady announced at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia a commitment from the private sector to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses.

Cutting Waste As a part of the Campaign to Cut Waste, the White House recently updated the Excess Property map that uses new data to pinpoint the location and status of federal properties that agencies have targeted for closure and consolidation. Ending this waste and improving the management of the government’s real estate will save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

Full Text October 17-19, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Bus Tour in North Carolina & Virginia in Support of The American Jobs Act

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visit Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia and announce a commitment from the private sector to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses.

President Obama on the American Jobs Act at Joint Base Langley-Eustis
President Obama on the American Jobs Act at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 10/19/11

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

The American Jobs Act Bus Tour

Source: WH, 10-17-19-11

The American Jobs Act Bus Tour

The American Jobs Act Bus Tour map

The American Jobs Act Bus Tour

The American Jobs Act Bus Tour took President Obama from the mountains of North Carolina to the Tidewater of Virginia — a road trip spanning more than 500 miles. The President talked infrastructure in Asheville, sat down with teachers in Jamestown, met with veterans in Hampton, and visited a fire station in Chesterfield.

Throughout the trip, President Obama pressed Congress to take action and create jobs immediately by passing the American Jobs Act. In community after community, he challenged lawmakers get to work and pass every element of the American Jobs Act, piece-by-piece — starting with the proposal to prevent teacher layoffs, keep police officers on the beat, and keep firefighters on the job.

Schedule




Full Text October 15, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address at a GM Plant in Detroit, Michigan Highlights the Bipartisan Trades Bill Passed by Congress

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

From a GM plant in Detroit, President Obama highlights landmark trade agreements which will support American jobs, level the playing field for American workers and help us meet our goal of doubling our exports.

President Barack Obama tapes his Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 10/14/11

Weekly Address: “Made in America”

Source: WH, 10-15-11

From a GM plant in Detroit, President Obama highlights the landmark trade agreements passed this week which will support tens of thousands of American jobs, level the playing field for American workers, and help us meet our goal of doubling our exports.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Working Together to Create Jobs

Speaking to the American people from Detroit, Michigan, President Obama highlighted the landmark trade agreements passed in a bipartisan way this week which will support tens of thousands of American jobs, level the playing field for American workers, and help us meet our goal of doubling our exports.  The President will continue to urge Congress to do more and pass the American Jobs Act so we can grow our economy and create jobs now.  Republicans in Congress will get a chance to support these common-sense measures or explain why they oppose providing tax breaks for working Americans, putting teachers, firefighters, and cops back to work, and repairing our crumbling infrastructure.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 15, 2011

I’m here in Detroit visiting workers at a GM plant in the heart of a resurgent American auto industry.  And I brought a guest with me – President Lee of South Korea.

We’re here because this week, Congress passed landmark trade agreements with countries like Korea, and assistance for American workers that will be a big win for our economy.

These trade agreements will support tens of thousands of American jobs.  And we’ll sell more Fords, Chevys and Chryslers abroad stamped with three proud words – “Made in America.”

So it was good to see Congress act in a bipartisan way on something that will help create jobs at a time when millions of Americans are out of work and need them now.

But that’s also why it was so disappointing to see Senate Republicans obstruct the American Jobs Act, even though a majority of Senators voted “yes” to advance this jobs bill.

We can’t afford this lack of action.  And there is no reason for it.  Independent economists say that this jobs bill would give the economy a jumpstart and lead to nearly two million new jobs.  Every idea in that jobs bill is the kind of idea both parties have supported in the past.

The majority of the American people support the proposals in this jobs bill.  And they want action from their elected leaders to create jobs and restore some security for the middle class right now.  You deserve to see your hard work and responsibility rewarded – and you certainly deserve to see it reflected in the folks you send to Washington.

But rather than listen to you and put folks back to work, Republicans in the House spent the past couple days picking partisan ideological fights.  They’re seeing if they can roll back clean air and water protections.  They’re stirring up fights over a woman’s right to make her own health care choices.  They’re not focused on the concrete actions that will put people back to work right now.

Well, we’re going to give them another chance.  We’re going to give them another chance to spend more time worrying about your jobs than keeping theirs.

Next week, I’m urging Members of Congress to vote on putting hundreds of thousands of teachers back in the classroom, cops back on the streets, and firefighters back on the job.

And if they vote “no” on that, they’ll have to tell you why.  They’ll have to tell you why teachers in your community don’t deserve a paycheck again.  They’ll have to tell your kids why they don’t deserve to have their teacher back.  They’ll have to tell you why they’re against commonsense proposals that would help families and strengthen our communities right now.

In the coming weeks, we’ll have them vote on the other parts of the jobs bill – putting construction workers back on the job, rebuilding our roads and bridges; providing tax cuts for small businesses that hire our veterans; making sure that middle-class families don’t see a tax hike next year and that the unemployed and our out-of-work youth have a chance to get back in the workforce and earn their piece of the American Dream.

That’s what’s at stake.  Putting people back to work.  Restoring economic security for the middle class.  Rebuilding an economy where hard work is valued and responsibility is rewarded – an economy that’s built to last.  And I’m going to travel all over the country over the next few weeks so that we can remind Congress that’s their job.  Because there’s still time to create jobs and grow our economy right now.  There’s still time for Congress to do the right thing.  We just need to act.

Thank you.

White House Recap October 8-14, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Fights for American Jobs Act Passage, Hosts 1985 Chicago Bears & Tunisian Prime Minister & South Korean President’s State Visit

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: OCTOBER 8-14, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up: Building Relationships

Source: WH, 10-14-11

This week, the President continued to fight for the proposals in the American Jobs Act, welcomed the 1985 Chicago Bears and the Tunisian Prime Minister, traveled to Pittsburgh and hosted the President of South Korea for a State Visit.

West Wing Week

Download Video: mp4 (195.1MB)

A Strong Bond The President and Mrs.Obama hosted President Lee Myung-Bak of South Korea for an official White House State visit. On a rainy Thursday President Lee and his wife arrived at the White House to a crowd of people on the South Lawn. Later that day President Obama and President Lee held a joint press conference to discuss theglobal economy and how to capitalize on the strong U.S.-Korean relationship to create jobs. That evening, the Obamas hosted a State Dinner in honor of President Lee, featuring produce from the White House kitchen garden fall harvest.  On Friday, both leaders travelled to Detroit where they toured General Motors Orion Assembly and gave remarks on the recent Landmark Trade Agreement between the two countries.

Breaking Records  On Thursday the First Lady led 400 local students in a bid to help break the Guinness World Records title for the most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period. National Geographic Kids Magazine “jumped” in on the fun on the South Lawn in support of the First Lady’s Lets Move! Initiative. Figure skater Michelle Kwan and Today show host Al Roker were also on hand.

Fighting for Jobs The morning after the Senate’s failure to pass the American Jobs Act, the president addressed student, business, and cultural leaders at the Forum on Latino Heritage where he talked about his unwavering focus on creating jobs and putting people back to work. “The media will look at last night’s vote and say, well that’s it—let’s move on to the next bill. But I’ve got news for them… not this time. Not with so many American outs of work…we will not take no for an answer.”

Jobs for Law Enforcement Vice President Biden visited Flint, Michigan, a town that has been forced to cut its police force in half due to budget cuts. The Vice President talked with local law enforcement and firefighters about the American Jobs Act and how it would both create jobs and protect the nation’s “most basic obligation” to keep our citizens safe by putting cops and firefighters back to work. “This is a fight for the soul of this country. It’s a fight for the middle class. … It’s about making sure America’s fire departments, police departments continue to be a large part of the American fabric and be able to do their job.”

Full Text October 11, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Senate Vote Against the American Jobs Act

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Statement by the President on the Senate Vote on the American Jobs Act

Source: WH, 10-11-11

Tonight, a majority of United States Senators voted to advance the American Jobs Act.  But even though this bill contains the kind of proposals Republicans have supported in the past, their party obstructed the Senate from moving forward on this jobs bill.

Tonight’s vote is by no means the end of this fight.  Independent economists have said that the American Jobs Act would grow the economy and lead to nearly two million jobs, which is why the majority of the American people support these bipartisan, common-sense proposals.  And we will now work with Senator Reid to make sure that the individual proposals in this jobs bill get a vote as soon as possible.

In the coming days, Members of Congress will have to take a stand on whether they believe we should put teachers, construction workers, police officers and firefighters back on the job.  They’ll get a vote on whether they believe we should cut taxes for small business owners and middle-class Americans, or whether we should protect tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.

With each vote, Members of Congress can either explain to their constituents why they’re against common-sense, bipartisan proposals to create jobs, or they can listen to the overwhelming majority of American people who are crying out for action.  Because with so many Americans out of work and so many families struggling, we can’t take “no” for an answer.  Ultimately, the American people won’t take “no” for an answer.  It’s time for Congress to meet their responsibility, put their party politics aside and take action on jobs right now.

Full Text October 11, 2011: President Barack Obama Remarks & Attends Meeting of Council on Jobs and Competitiveness

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama Attends Meeting of Council on Jobs and Competitiveness

Source: WH, 10-11-11

President Obama maintains that our problems are imminently solvable and discusses smart steps that can be taken to grow the economy and create jobs.

President Obama meets on jobs
Samantha Appleton, 10/11/1

President Obama today attended a meeting of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, where he heard recommendations from the group on how to get the economy moving and create more jobs. The advisory council, which includes leaders from business, labor and academia, was created by the President earlier this year to provide diverse perspectives and ideas on how to create jobs and strengthen our competitiveness.

The third quarterly meeting of the Council today in Pittsburgh was focused on a report that team presented to the President  that offered five major initiatives to increase employment while improving competitiveness:

  • Measures to accelerate investment into job-rich projects in infrastructure and energy development
  • A comprehensive drive to ignite entrepreneurship and accelerate the number and scale of young, small businesses and high-growth firms that produce an outsized share of America’s new jobs
  • A national investment initiative to boost jobs-creating inward investment in the United States, both from global firms headquartered elsewhere and from multinational corporations headquartered here
  • Ideas to simplify regulatory review and streamline project approvals to accelerate jobs and growth;
  • Steps to ensure America has the talent in place to fill existing job openings as well as to boost future job creation.

The President called the report “outstanding” and highlighted some of the Council’s recommendations that have already been acted upon, including the announcement today of 14 high-priority infrastructure projects  which the permitting process has been significantly expedited  through administrative action. He also discussed the American Jobs Act, which offers solutions to the infrastructure issues the Council raised and has provisions in place to accelerate job creation as well as tax breaks that will enable small companies grow more quickly:

The good news is — and it’s reflected in your Jobs Council report — there’s just a bunch of stuff that we can do right now that not only helps the economy immediately but puts us on a more stable path over the long term.  And most of it should not be controversial.  The good news is, is that our problems are imminently solvable and does not necessarily fall into the classic ideological divisions between left and right, conservative, liberal, but are just smart things to do to respond to a historic challenge that we face as a country.

The bad news is that there is a big gap between sensible solutions and what either the political process seems to be willing to act on and also, I think, people’s perceptions, which are clouded by news reports that would make it seem as if there is nothing we can do and that we’re automatically on a downward decline.

And so I think what the Job Council has been invaluable in providing is a road map for the American people — not comprehensive, this is just a piece of the puzzle, but pointing to examples of where, if we do some smart things now, we can have a lot better outcomes in the future.  And that can help to build back a sense of confidence — or a sense of confidence about our ability to meet these challenges.

The full report is available for download at www.jobs-council.com

Full Text October 8, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Urges the Public to Convince their Senators to Support & Vote for the American Jobs Act

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: Making Your Voice Heard on the American Jobs Act

Source: WH, 10-8-11

President Obama urges Congress to pass the American Jobs Act to put more people to work, put more money in the pockets of working Americans and give the economy the jolt it needs right now.

President Barack Obama tapes his Weekly Address

President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 10/7/1

President Obama urges Congress to pass the American Jobs Act to put more people to work, put more money in the pockets of working Americans and give the economy the jolt it needs right now.

 

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Growing the Economy with the American Jobs Act

In this week’s address, President Obama told the American people that the Senate will vote on the American Jobs Act next week, which independent economists have said will put Americans back to work, grow the economy, and give working people and small businesses a tax break.  It is time for those who oppose the jobs act to explain why they are fighting against something that we know will improve the American economy, put teachers in classrooms, cops on the streets, and construction workers back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges.  President Obama urged all Americans who support the American Jobs Act to call their Senators and tell them to put a stop to the gridlock in Washington and pass the jobs act next week.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
Saturday, October 8, 2011

Next week, the Senate will vote on the American Jobs Act.  It’s a bill that will put more people to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans.  And it will provide our economy with the jolt that it really needs right now

This is not the time for the usual games or political gridlock in Washington.  The challenges facing financial markets around the world could have very real effects on our own economy at a time when it’s already fragile.  But this jobs bill can help guard against another downturn here in America.

This isn’t just my belief.  This is what independent economists have said.  Not just politicians.  Not just people in my administration.  Independent experts who do this for a living have said that this jobs bill will have a significant effect for our economy and middle-class families all across America.  But if we don’t act, the opposite will be true – there will be fewer jobs and weaker growth.

So any Senator out there who’s thinking about voting against this jobs bill needs to explain why they would oppose something that we know would improve our economic situation.  If the Republicans in Congress think they have a better plan for creating jobs right now, they should prove it.  Because one of the same independent economists who looked at our plan just said that their ideas, quote, wouldn’t “mean much for the economy in the near term.”

If their plan doesn’t measure up, the American people deserve to know what it is that Republicans in Congress don’t like about this jobs plan.  You hear a lot of our Republican friends say that one of the most important things we can do is cut taxes.  Well, they should love this plan.  The American Jobs Act would cut taxes for virtually every worker and small business in America.  And if you’re a small business owner that hires new workers, raises wages, or hires a veteran, you get an additional tax cut.

Right now, hundreds of thousands of teachers and firefighters and police officers have been laid off because of state budget cuts.  This jobs bill will put a lot of these men and women back to work.  Right now, there are millions of laid-off construction workers who could be repairing our bridges and roads and modernizing our schools.  Why wouldn’t we want to put these men and women to work rebuilding America?

The proposals in this bill are steps we have to take if we want to build an economy that lasts; if we want to be able to compete with other countries for jobs that restore a sense of security for the middle-class.  But we also have to rein in our deficit and start living within our means, which is why this jobs bill is paid for by asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.

Some see this as class warfare.  I see it as a simple choice.  We can either keep taxes exactly as they are for millionaires and billionaires, or we can ask them to pay at least the same rate as a plumber or a bus driver.  And in the process, we can put teachers and construction workers and veterans back on the job.  We can either fight to protect their tax cuts, or we can cut taxes for virtually every worker and small business in America.  But we can’t afford to do both.  It’s that simple.

There are too many people hurting in this country for us to simply do nothing.  The economy is too fragile for us to let politics get in the way of action.  The people who represent you in Washington have a responsibility to do what’s best for you – not what’s best for their party or what’s going to help them win an election that’s more than a year away.  So I need you to keep making your voices heard in Washington.  I need you to remind these folks who they work for.  And I need you to tell your Senators to do the right thing by passing this jobs bill right away. Thank you.

White House Recap October 1-7, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Gives a News Conference Urging Congressional Passage of the American Jobs Acts

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: OCTOBER 1-7, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up: Keeping Teachers in the Classroom

Source: WH, 10-7-11

This week, the President continued to call on Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, welcomed a new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hosted a Cabinet meeting, traveled to Texas, and convened a televised news conference.

West Wing Week
Equality for All Americans  President Obama spoke at the 15th Annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., stressing his continuing commitment to the cause of equality for all Americans. He also talked about the most recent progress made for human rights, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Putting America Back to Work President Obama held a press conference in the East Room to discuss the American Jobs Act, which would put thousands of teachers back to work, rebuild our nation’s old and broken infrastructure and provide tax cuts that will benefit hard-working Americans. He also traveled to Texas to meet with students and teachers at Eastfield College in Mesquite, where he explained how the Jobs Act will prevent up to 280,000 teachers from losing their jobs. The President met with the members of his cabinet to emphasize the importance of  all agencies doing everything possible to help pass the American Jobs Act and put thousands of people back to work.

Fall Harvest Students from two local elementary schools joined First Lady Michelle Obama for the 3rd Annual Fall Harvest of the White House kitchen garden. Mrs. Obama designed the garden as a way to connect children with the food they eat — an essential component to her Let’s Move! initiative. The students joined Mrs. Obama for grilled garden pizzas made from the produce they picked.

Girl Power The president hosted the three winners of the first Google Global Science Fair. The impressive young women—all American high school students — made remarkable scientific discoveries and beat out over 10,000 students from 91 countries.

Fun on the Field It was a week of celebrating athletic achievements as several major sports figures visited the White House, including the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team, who participated in a Let’s Move soccer clinic, the Texas A&M  women’s basketball team, who won  the 2011 NCAA championship and the 1985 Chicago Bears, who were recognized 25 years after winning the Super Bowl.

Pretty in Pink In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the White House illuminated the exterior of the White House in a glowing pink. Actress Jennifer Aniston, who recently directed a new Lifetime Original movie exploring a family affected by breast cancer, joined Dr. Jill Biden, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and a group of breast cancer survivors to discuss lessons learned from those who have been treated for breast cancer.

Full Text October 6, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Press Conference on the American Jobs Act — Challenges Republicans in Congress to Pass Jobs Bill or Get Run “Out of Town”

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama: Our Economy Really Needs a Jolt Right Now

Source: WH, 10-6-11
President Obama's News Conference on the American Jobs Act

President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 6, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama held a press conference today to talk about the American Jobs Act and the upcoming Senate vote on his plan to put people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans.

Before taking questions from the reporters who were gathered in the White House, the President talked about the very real danger that fallout from the economic situation in Europe could further jeopardize our own economic recovery:

This is not a game; this is not the time for the usual political gridlock. The problems Europe is having today could have a very real effect on our economy at a time when it’s already fragile. But this jobs bill can help guard against another downturn if the situation in Europe gets any worse. It will boost economic growth; it will put people back to work.

And by the way, this is not just my belief. This is what independent economists have said — not politicians, not just people in my administration. Independent experts who do this for a living have said this jobs bill will have a significant effect for our economy and for middle-class families all across America. And what these independent experts have also said is that if we don’t act, the opposite will be true. There will be fewer jobs; there will be weaker growth.

The American Jobs Act would put thousands of teachers back to work, rebuild old and broken down bridges and roads and provide tax cuts that will benefit hard working Americans. As President Obama said

The proposals in this bill are not just random investments to create make-work jobs. They are steps we have to take if we want to build an economy that lasts, if we want to be able to compete with other countries for jobs that restore a sense of security to middle-class families. And to do that, we’ve got to have the most educated workers. We have to have the best transportation and communications networks. We have to support innovative small businesses. We’ve got to support innovative manufacturers.

You can jump to see President Obama’s answers to specific questions posed by the reporters by clicking on the links below.

Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (698MB) | mp3 (67MB)

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama holds a press conference

White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 10/6/11

News Conference by the President

East Room

11:00 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. I will take your questions in a second. But first, I just want to say a few words about the economy.

Next week, the Senate will vote on the American Jobs Act. And I think by now I’ve made my views pretty well known. Some of you are even keeping a tally of how many times I’ve talked about the American Jobs Act. And the reason I keep going around the country talking about this jobs bill is because people really need help right now. Our economy really needs a jolt right now.

This is not a game; this is not the time for the usual political gridlock. The problems Europe is having today could have a very real effect on our economy at a time when it’s already fragile. But this jobs bill can help guard against another downturn if the situation in Europe gets any worse. It will boost economic growth; it will put people back to work.

And by the way, this is not just my belief. This is what independent economists have said — not politicians, not just people in my administration. Independent experts who do this for a living have said this jobs bill will have a significant effect for our economy and for middle-class families all across America. And what these independent experts have also said is that if we don’t act, the opposite will be true. There will be fewer jobs; there will be weaker growth.

So as we look towards next week, any senator out there who’s thinking about voting against this jobs bill, when it comes up for a vote, needs to explain exactly why they would oppose something that we know would improve our economic situation at such an urgent time for our families and for our businesses.

Congressional Republicans say one of the most important things we can do is cut taxes. Then they should love this plan. This jobs bill would cut taxes for virtually every worker and small business in America. If you’re a small business owner that hires someone or raises wages, you would get another tax cut. If you hire a veteran, you get a tax cut. Right now, there’s a small business in Ohio that does high-tech manufacturing and they’ve been expanding for the past two years. They’re considering hiring more, and this tax break would encourage them to do it.

Hundreds of thousands of teachers and firefighters and police officers have been laid off because of state budget cuts. This jobs bill has funding to put a lot of those men and women back to work. It has funding to prevent a lot more from losing their job. I had a chance to meet a young man named Robert Baroz. He’s an English teacher in Boston who came to the White House a few weeks ago. He’s got two decades of teaching experience, he’s got a Master’s degree, he’s got an outstanding track record of helping his students make huge gains in reading and writing. In the last few years, he’s received three pink slips because of budget cuts. Why wouldn’t we want to pass a bill that puts somebody like Robert back in the classroom teaching our kids?

Some of you were with me when we visited a bridge between Ohio and Kentucky that’s been classified as “functionally obsolete.” That’s a fancy way of saying it’s old and breaking down. We’ve heard about bridges in both states that are falling apart, and that’s true all across the country.

In Maine, there is a bridge that is in such bad shape that pieces of it were literally falling off the other day. And, meanwhile, we’ve got millions of laid-off construction workers who could right now be busy rebuilding roads, rebuilding bridges, rebuilding schools. This jobs bill gives them a chance to get back to work rebuilding America. Why wouldn’t we want that to happen? Why would you vote against that?

The proposals in this bill are not just random investments to create make-work jobs. They are steps we have to take if we want to build an economy that lasts, if we want to be able to compete with other countries for jobs that restore a sense of security to middle-class families. And to do that, we’ve got to have the most educated workers. We have to have the best transportation and communications networks. We have to support innovative small businesses. We’ve got to support innovative manufacturers.

Now, what’s true is we’ve also got to rein in our deficits and live within our means, which is why this jobs bill is fully paid for by asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. Some see this as class warfare. I see it as a simple choice: We can either keep taxes exactly as they are for millionaires and billionaires, with loopholes that lead them to have lower tax rates in some cases than plumbers and teachers, or we can put teachers and construction workers and veterans back on the job.

We can fight to protect tax cuts for folks who don’t need them and weren’t asking for them, or we can cut taxes for virtually every worker and small business in America. But we can’t afford to do both. That’s the choice that’s going to be before the Senate.

There are too many people hurting in this country for us to do nothing and the economy is just too fragile for us to let politics get in the way of action.

We’ve got a responsibility to the people who sent us here. So I hope every senator thinks long and hard about what’s at stake when they cast their vote next week.

With that, I will take your questions, and I will start with Ben Feller of Associated Press.

Q Thank you very much, Mr. President. I’d like to ask you about two economic matters. Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke warned Congress this week that the economic recovery is “close to faltering.” Do you agree?

And secondly, on your jobs bill, the American people are sick of games — and you mentioned games in your comments. They want results. Wouldn’t it be more productive to work with Republicans on a plan that you know could pass Congress as opposed to going around the country talking about your bill and singling out — calling out Republicans by name?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, with respect to the state of the economy, there is no doubt that growth has slowed. I think people were much more optimistic at the beginning of this year. But the combination of a Japanese tsunami, the Arab Spring, which drove up gas prices, and most prominently Europe I think has gotten businesses and consumers very nervous. And we did not help here in Washington with the debt ceiling debacle that took place, a bit of game-playing that was completely unnecessary, completely unprecedented in terms of how we dealt with our responsibilities here in Washington.

You combine all that — there is no doubt that the economy is weaker now than it was at the beginning of the year. And every independent economist who has looked at this question carefully believes that for us to make sure that we are taking out an insurance policy against a possible double-dip recession, it is important for us to make sure that we are boosting consumer confidence, putting money into their pockets, cutting taxes where we can for small businesses, and that it makes sense for us to put people back to work doing the work that needs to be done. That’s exactly what this jobs bill does.

Now, with respect to working with Congress, I think it’s fair to say that I have gone out of my way in every instance, sometimes at my own political peril and to the frustration of Democrats, to work with Republicans to find common ground to move this country forward — in every instance, whether it was during the lame duck session, when we were able to get an agreement on making sure that the payroll tax was cut in the first place, and making sure that unemployment insurance was extended, to my constant efforts during the debt ceiling to try to get what’s been called a grand bargain, in which we had a balanced approach to actually bringing down our deficit and debt in a way that wouldn’t hurt our recovery.

Each time, what we’ve seen is games-playing, a preference to try to score political points rather than actually get something done on the part of the other side. And that has been true not just over the last six months; that’s been true over the last two and a half years.

Now, the bottom line is this: Our doors are open. And what I’ve done over the last several weeks is to take the case to the American people so that they understand what’s at stake. It is now up to all the senators, and hopefully all the members of the House, to explain to their constituencies why they would be opposed to common-sense ideas that historically have been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past. Why would you be opposed to tax cuts for small businesses and tax cuts for American workers?

My understanding is that for the last decade, they’ve been saying we need to lower taxes for folks. Well, why wouldn’t we want to do that through this jobs bill? We know that we’ve got roads and bridges and schools that need to be rebuilt. And historically, Republicans haven’t been opposed to rebuilding roads and bridges. Why would you be opposed now?

We know that the biggest problem that we’ve had in terms of unemployment over the last several months has not been in the private sector; it’s actually been layoffs of teachers and cops and firefighters. We created over 2 million jobs in the private sector — a million jobs this year alone in the private sector, but in the public sector, we keep on seeing these layoffs having an adverse effect on economies in states all across the country. Why wouldn’t we want to make sure that those teachers are in the classroom teaching our kids?

So here’s the bottom line: My expectation and hope is that everybody will vote for this jobs bill because it reflects those ideas that traditionally have been supported by both Democrats and Republicans. If it turns out that there are Republicans who are opposed to this bill, they need to explain to me — but more importantly, to their constituencies and the American people — why they’re opposed and what would they do.

We know that this jobs bill, based on independent analysis, could grow the economy almost an additional 2 percent. That could mean an additional 1.9 million jobs. Do they have a plan that would have a similar impact? Because if they do, I’m happy to hear it. But I haven’t heard them offer alternatives that would have that same kind of impact, and that’s what we need right now.

A lot of the problems that this economy is facing are problems that predate the financial crisis — middle-class families seeing their wages and their incomes flat, despite rising costs for everything from health care to a college education. And so folks have been struggling not just for the last three years; they’ve been struggling for over a decade now. And at a time when so many people are having such a hard time, we have to have an approach, we have to take action, that is big enough to meet the moment. And what I’ve heard from Republicans is, well, we’re agreeing to do these trade bills. That’s great. I’m in favor of those trade bills and I’m glad they’re passing, but that’s not going to do enough to deal with the huge problems we have right now with respect to unemployment.

We passed patent legislation. That was bipartisan work. I’m thrilled that we were able to get Republicans and Democrats to work together on that. But that is a long-term issue for our economic competitiveness. It’s not putting Americans to work right now.

So the bottom line is this, Ben: If next week senators have additional ideas that will put people back to work right now and meet the challenges of the current economy, we are happy to consider them. But every idea that we put forward are ones that traditionally have been supported by Democrats and Republicans alike. And I think it’s important for us to have a vote on those ideas, because I believe that it’s very hard to argue against them.

And if Mr. McConnell chooses to vote against it, or if members of his caucus choose to vote against it, I promise you we’re going to keep on going, and we will put forward maybe piece by piece each component of the bill. And each time they’re going to have to explain why it is that they’d be opposed to putting teachers back in the classroom, or rebuilding our schools, or giving tax cuts to middle-class folks, and giving tax cuts to small businesses.

Q Do you think the recovery is close to faltering?

THE PRESIDENT: I think that if we don’t take action, then we could end up having more significant problems than we have right now. And some of it is just simple math. The payroll tax cut that we passed is set to expire. The jobs plan includes an extension of the payroll tax cut.

Now, if that is not extended then that is over $1,000 out of the pockets of the average American family at a time when they’re already feeling a severe pinch. That means they’re going to be spending less. That means businesses are going to have less customers. And that’s going to have an adverse effect on an economy that is already weaker than it should be.

Okay. Chuck Todd.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Before I get to my question, do we assume by how you’re talking about the bill in the Senate that you are okay with the change in how to pay for it, the surtax — the 5.6 percent surtax on millionaires?

THE PRESIDENT: We’ve always said that we would be open to a variety of ways to pay for it. We put forward what we thought was a solid approach to paying for the jobs bill itself. Keep in mind, though, that what I’ve always said is that not only do we have to pay for the jobs bill, but we also still have to do more in order to reduce the debt and deficit.

So the approach that the Senate is taking I’m comfortable with in order to deal with the jobs bill. We’re still going to need to reform this tax code to make sure that we’re closing loopholes, closing special interest tax breaks, making sure that the very simple principle, what we call the Buffett rule, which is that millionaires and billionaires aren’t paying lower tax rates than ordinary families, that that’s in place. So there’s going to be more work to do with respect to making our tax system fair and just and promoting growth. But in terms of the immediate action of getting this jobs bill passed, I’m fine with the approach that they’re taking.

Q My question has to do with your powers of persuasion. During the debt ceiling debate, you asked for the American public to call members of Congress and switchboards got jammed. You have done a similar thing while going around the country doing this. Talking to members of Congress, there’s not the same reaction; you’re not seeing — hearing about phones being jammed. Talking to one member of Congress, he told me there’s a disillusionment he’s concerned about with the public that maybe they just don’t believe anything can get done anyway. Are you worried about your own powers of persuasion, and maybe that the American public is not listening to you anymore?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, no. What we’ve seen is the American people respond very enthusiastically to the specific provisions of the jobs bill. They are very skeptical about Congress’s ability to act right now, and that’s understandable. The American people are very frustrated. They’ve been frustrated for a long time. They don’t get a sense that folks in this town are looking out for their interests. They get a sense that folks in this town are thinking about their own jobs, their own careers, their own advancement, their party interests. And so if the question is, Chuck, are people feeling cynical and frustrated about the prospects of positive action in this city — absolutely. And I can go out there and make speeches, but until they actually see action, some of that cynicism is going to be there.

As you said, during the debt ceiling debate, a very solid majority — I think maybe even higher than 70 percent — agreed with the approach that I talked about, which was we should have a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

And what the American people saw is that Congress didn’t care — not just what I thought; they didn’t care about what the American people thought. They had their own agenda. And so if they see that over and over again, that cynicism is not going to be reduced until Congress actually proves their cynicism wrong by doing something that would actually help the American people. This is a great opportunity to do it. This is a great opportunity to do it.

And keep in mind, if the American jobs bill passes, we’re still going to have challenges. We’re still going to have to make sure that we’ve got the best education system in the world, because that is going to be critical for our long-term competitiveness and creating good, solid middle-class jobs. We’re still going to have to keep investing in basic research and science. We’re still going to have to make sure that we do even more on infrastructure. I mean, what’s contained in the American jobs bill doesn’t cover all the roads and bridges and infrastructure that needs to be improved around the country.

So it’s not as if that’s going to solve all our problems, but it is an important start that we know would end up growing the economy and putting hundreds of thousands, millions of people back to work at a time when they need it the most. And it’s paid for.

The one persuasive argument that the Republicans previously had made against a bill like this is the deficit is growing — we can’t afford it. Well, we can afford it, if we’re willing to ask people like me to do a little bit more in taxes. We can afford it without affecting our deficit. Our proposal is paid for. So that can’t be the excuse.

And so, yes, until they see Congress actually putting country ahead of party politics and partisanship, they’re going to be skeptical. And it doesn’t matter how many times I preach to them, this is not a reflection of their lack of faith in the American jobs bill. They haven’t seen Congress able to come together and act.

This is a good opportunity, though.

Q — disillusionment?

THE PRESIDENT: What we’ve seen is, is that they agree with what we’ve put forward. Now, here’s what I’ll also say, is that based on the debt ceiling vote, what they’ve seen is that the Republicans in Congress, even when the American people agree with me, oftentimes will vote against something I’m proposing.

So there may be some skepticism that I personally can persuade Republicans to take actions in the interest of the American people. But that’s exactly why I need the American people to try to put some pressure on them. Because I think, justifiably, what they’ve seen is that oftentimes — even ideas that used to be supported by Republicans, if I’m proposing them, suddenly Republicans forget it and they decide they’re against it.

Jackie.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. As you travel the country, you also take credit for tightening regulations on Wall Street through the Dodd-Frank law, and about your efforts to combat income inequality. There’s this movement — Occupy Wall Street — which has spread from Wall Street to other cities. They clearly don’t think that you or Republicans have done enough, that you’re in fact part of the problem.

Are you following this movement, and what would you say to its — people that are attracted to it?

THE PRESIDENT: Obviously I’ve heard of it. I’ve seen it on television. I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel — that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street, and yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place.

So, yes, I think people are frustrated, and the protestors are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works. Now, keep in mind I have said before and I will continue to repeat, we have to have a strong, effective financial sector in order for us to grow. And I used up a lot of political capital, and I’ve got the dings and bruises to prove it, in order to make sure that we prevented a financial meltdown, and that banks stayed afloat. And that was the right thing to do, because had we seen a financial collapse then the damage to the American economy would have been even worse.

But what I’ve also said is that for us to have a healthy financial system, that requires that banks and other financial institutions compete on the basis of the best service and the best products and the best price, and it can’t be competing on the basis of hidden fees, deceptive practices, or derivative cocktails that nobody understands and that expose the entire economy to enormous risks. That’s what Dodd-Frank was designed to do. It was designed to make sure that we didn’t have the necessity of taxpayer bailouts; that we said, you know what? We’re going to be able to control these situations so that if these guys get into trouble, we can isolate them, quarantine them, and let them fail. It says that we’re going to have a consumer watchdog on the job, all the time, who’s going to make sure that they are dealing with customers in a fair way, and we’re eliminating hidden fees on credit cards, and mortgage brokers are going to have to — actually have to be straight with people about what they’re purchasing.

And what we’ve seen over the last year is not only did the financial sector — with the Republican Party in Congress — fight us every inch of the way, but now you’ve got these same folks suggesting that we should roll back all those reforms and go back to the way it was before the crisis. Today, my understanding is we’re going to have a hearing on Richard Cordray, who is my nominee to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He would be America’s chief consumer watchdog when it comes to financial products. This is a guy who is well regarded in his home state of Ohio, has been the treasurer of Ohio, the attorney general of Ohio. Republicans and Democrats in Ohio all say that he is a serious person who looks out for consumers. He has a good reputation. And Republicans have threatened not to confirm him not because of anything he’s done, but because they want to roll back the whole notion of having a consumer watchdog.

You’ve got Republican presidential candidates whose main economic policy proposals is, we’ll get rid of the financial reforms that are designed to prevent the abuses that got us into this mess in the first place. That does not make sense to the American people. They are frustrated by it. And they will continue to be frustrated by it until they get a sense that everybody is playing by the same set of rules, and that you’re rewarded for responsibility and doing the right thing as opposed to gaining the system.

So I’m going to be fighting every inch of the way here in Washington to make sure that we have a consumer watchdog that is preventing abusive practices by the financial sector.

I will be hugely supportive of banks and financial institutions that are doing the right thing by their customers. We need them to be lending. We need them to be lending more to small businesses. We need them to help do what traditionally banks and financial services are supposed to be doing, which is providing business and families resources to make productive investments that will actually build the economy. But until the American people see that happening, yes, they are going to continue to express frustrations about what they see as two sets of rules.

Q Do you think Occupy Wall Street has the potential to be a tea party movement in 2012?

THE PRESIDENT: What I think is that the American people understand that not everybody has been following the rules; that Wall Street is an example of that; that folks who are working hard every single day, getting up, going to the job, loyal to their companies, that that used to be the essence of the American Dream. That’s how you got ahead — the old-fashioned way. And these days, a lot of folks who are doing the right thing aren’t rewarded, and a lot of folks who aren’t doing the right thing are rewarded.

And that’s going to express itself politically in 2012 and beyond until people feel like once again we’re getting back to some old-fashioned American values in which, if you’re a banker, then you are making your money by making prudent loans to businesses and individuals to build plants and equipment and hire workers that are creating goods and products that are building the economy and benefitting everybody.

Jake Tapper.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Just to follow up on Jackie’s question — one of the reasons why so many of the people of the Occupy Wall Street protests are so angry is because, as you say, so many people on Wall Street did not follow the rules, but your administration hasn’t really been very aggressive in prosecuting. In fact, I don’t think any Wall Street executives have gone to jail despite the rampant corruption and malfeasance that did take place. So I was wondering if you’d comment on that.

And then just as a separate question — as you’re watching the Solyndra and Fast and Furious controversies play out, I’m wondering if it gives you any pause about any of the decision-making going on in your administration — some of the emails that Democrats puts out indicating that people at the Office of Management and Budget were concerned about the Department of Energy; some of the emails going on with the Attorney General saying he didn’t know about the details of Fast and Furious. Are you worried at all about how this is — how your administration is running?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first on the issue of prosecutions on Wall Street, one of the biggest problems about the collapse of Lehmans and the subsequent financial crisis and the whole subprime lending fiasco is that a lot of that stuff wasn’t necessarily illegal, it was just immoral or inappropriate or reckless. That’s exactly why we needed to pass Dodd-Frank, to prohibit some of these practices.

The financial sector is very creative and they are always looking for ways to make money. That’s their job. And if there are loopholes and rules that can be bent and arbitrage to be had, they will take advantage of it. So without commenting on particular prosecutions — obviously that’s not my job; that’s the Attorney General’s job — I think part of people’s frustrations, part of my frustration, was a lot of practices that should not have been allowed weren’t necessarily against the law, but they had a huge destructive impact. And that’s why it was important for us to put in place financial rules that protect the American people from reckless decision-making and irresponsible behavior.

Now, with respect to Solyndra and Fast and Furious, I think I’ve been very clear that I have complete confidence in Attorney General Holder in how he handles his office. He has been very aggressive in going after gun running and cash transactions that are going to these transnational drug cartels in Mexico. There has been a lot of cooperation between the United States and Mexico on this front. He’s indicated that he was not aware of what was happening in Fast and Furious; certainly I was not. And I think both he and I would have been very unhappy if somebody had suggested that guns were allowed to pass through that could have been prevented by the United States of America.

He has assigned an Inspector General to look into how exactly this happened, and I have complete confidence in him and I’ve got complete confidence in the process to figure out who, in fact, was responsible for that decision and how it got made.

Solyndra — this is a loan guarantee program that predates me that historically has had support from Democrats and Republicans as well. And the idea is pretty straightforward: If we are going to be able to compete in the 21st century, then we’ve got to dominate cutting-edge technologies, we’ve got to dominate cutting-edge manufacturing. Clean energy is part of that package of technologies of the future that have to be based here in the United States if we’re going to be able to succeed.

Now, the loan guarantee program is designed to meet a particular need in the marketplace, which is — a lot of these small startups, they can get angel investors, they can get several million dollars to get a company going, but it’s very hard for them to then scale up, particularly if these are new cutting-edge technologies. It’s hard for them to find private investors. And part of what’s happening is China and Europe, other countries, are putting enormous subsidies into these companies and giving them incentives to move offshore. Even if the technology was developed in the United States, they end up going to China because the Chinese government will say, we’re going to help you get started. We’ll help you scale up. We’ll give you low-interest loans or no-interest loans. We will give siting. We will do whatever it takes for you to get started here.

And that’s part of the reason why a lot of technologies that developed here, we’ve now lost the lead in — solar energy, wind energy. And so what the loan guarantee program was designed to do was to close that gap and say, let’s see if we can help some of those folks locate here and create jobs here in the United States.

Now, we knew from the start that the loan guarantee program was going to entail some risk, by definition. If it was a risk-free proposition, then we wouldn’t have to worry about it. But the overall portfolio has been successful. It has allowed us to help companies, for example, start advanced battery manufacturing here in the United States. It’s helped create jobs. There were going to be some companies that did not work out; Solyndra was one of them. But the process by which the decision was made was on the merits. It was straightforward. And of course there were going to be debates internally when you’re dealing with something as complicated as this.

But I have confidence that the decisions were made based on what would be good for the American economy and the American people and putting people back to work.

And by the way, let me make one last point about this. I heard there was a Republican member of Congress who’s engaging in oversight on this, and despite the fact that all of them in the past have been supportive of this loan guarantee program, he concluded, you know what? We can’t compete against China when it comes to solar energy. Well, you know what? I don’t buy that. I’m not going to surrender to other countries’ technological leads that could end up determining whether or not we’re building a strong middle class in this country. And so we’re going to have to keep on pushing hard to make sure that manufacturing is located here, new businesses are located here, and new technologies are developed here. And there are going to be times where it doesn’t work out, but I’m not going to cave to the competition when they are heavily subsidizing all these industries.

Q Just a follow-up on Wall Street. Are you satisfied with how aggressive your administration has been when it comes to prosecuting? Because I know a lot of it was legal, but a lot of was not. There was fraud that took place.

THE PRESDIENT: Right. Well, let me say this: The President can’t go around saying, prosecute somebody. But as a general principle, if somebody is engaged in fraudulent actions, they need to be prosecuted. If they violated laws on the books, they need to be prosecuted. And that’s the Attorney General’s job, and I know that Attorney General Holder, U.S. attorneys all across the country, they take that job very seriously. Okay?

Hans.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. You just spoke of the need for banks to start lending, you talked earlier about how creative they can be in chasing profit, and yet earlier in the week you said that banks “don’t have some inherent right to just, you know, get a certain amount of profit.” You also said in that interview that you can stop them. How do you plan on stopping them from charging this $5 fee, or whatever the fee is? And do you think that your government has a right to dictate how much profits American companies make?

THE PRESIDENT: I absolutely do not think that. I was trying to make a broader point, which is that people have been using financial regulation as an excuse to charge consumers more. Right? I mean, basically the argument they’ve made is, well, you know what, this hidden fee was prohibited and so we’ll find another fee to make up for it. Now, they have that right, but it’s not a good practice. It’s not necessarily fair to consumers. And my main goal is to make sure that we’ve got a consumer watchdog in place who is letting consumers know what fair practices are, making sure that transactions are transparent and making sure that banks have to compete for customers based on the quality of their service and good prices.

Now, the frustrating thing that we have right now is that you’ve got folks over in Congress, Republicans, who have said that they see their role as eliminating any prohibitions on any practices for financial companies. And I think that’s part of the frustration that the American people feel, because they’ve just gone through a period in which they were seeing a bunch of hidden fees, rate hikes that they didn’t know about, fine print that they could not understand. That’s true for credit cards. That’s true for mortgages. It contributed to overall weakness in the economy.

And, yes, I think it is entirely appropriate for the government to have some oversight role to make sure that consumers are protected. So banks — and any business in America — can price their products any way they want. That’s how the free market works. As long as there’s transparency and accountability, and consumers understand what they’re getting — and there are going to be instances where a policy judgment is made that, you know what, there are certain practices that just aren’t fair. And that’s how the market has always operated.

Q So is it your understanding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can’t actually prevent the debit card fees from going in place, like the ones that are being —

THE PRESIDENT: I think that what the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau could do is to make sure that consumers understood exactly what they were getting, exactly what was happening. And I think that Congress could make determinations with respect to whether or not a certain practice was fair or not.

David Nakamura.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Just following up on Jake’s question about Solyndra — the loan program, guaranteed loan program that you talked about was giving out $38 billion in guaranteed loans, and promised to save or create 65,000 jobs, green jobs, in clean energy. And there’s been reports that actually only 3,500 new jobs have been created in that industry. Why has that industry been so slow to respond to the investment that your administration has provided? And what do you see going forward as to how it will respond?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that what has been true historically is that businesses that rely on new technologies, a lot of times it’s going to take a while before they get takeoff. And there are a lot of upfront investments that have to be made in research and capital and so forth, a lot of barriers for companies that are trying to break in. Keep in mind that clean energy companies are competing against traditional energy companies. And traditional energy is still cheaper in a lot of ways.

The problem is, is it’s running out, it’s polluting, and we know that demand is going to keep on increasing so that if we don’t prepare now, if we don’t invest now, if we don’t get on top of technologies now, we’re going to be facing 20 years from now a China that — and India having a billion new drivers on the road; the trendlines in terms of oil prices, coal, et cetera, going up; the impact on the planet increasing. And we’re not just going to be able to start when all heck is breaking loose and say, boy, we better find some new energy sources.

So in the meantime, we’ve got to make these investments, but that makes it more difficult for a lot of these companies to succeed. What’s also a problem, as I said, is that other countries are subsidizing these industries much more aggressively than we are — hundreds of billions of dollars the Chinese government is pouring into the clean energy sector, partly because they’re projecting what’s going to happen 10 or 20 years from now.

So, look, I have confidence in American businesses and American technology, and American scientists and entrepreneurs being able to win that competition. We are not going to be duplicating the kind of system that they have in China where they are basically state-run banks giving money to state-run companies, and ignoring losses and ignoring bad management. But there is a role to play for us to make sure that these companies can at least have a fighting shot. And it does mean that there are going to be some that aren’t successful, and it’s going to be an uphill climb for some. And obviously it’s very difficult for all companies right now to succeed when the economy is as soft and as weak as it.

Q There have been reports with Solyndra in particular that investors warned your administration that the government — that loan of $500 million in that company might not be a wise use of taxpayers’ money. In retrospect, do you think your administration was so eager for Solyndra to succeed that it missed some of the critical warnings?

THE PRESIDENT: I will tell you that even for those projects under this loan guarantee program that have ended up being successful, there are those in the marketplace who have been doubtful. So, I mean, there’s always going to be a debate about whether this particular approach to this particular technology is going to be successful or not.

And all I can say is that the Department of Energy made these decisions based on their best judgment about what would make sense. And the nature of these programs are going to be ones in which for every success there may be one that does not work out as well. But that’s exactly what the loan guarantee program was designed by Congress to do, was to take bets on these areas where we need to make sure that we’re maintaining our lead.

Bill Plante.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Anybody on Capitol Hill will say that there’s no chance that the American Jobs Act, in its current state, passes either House. And you’ve been out on the campaign trail banging away at them saying, pass this bill. And it begins, sir, to look like you’re campaigning, and like you’re following the Harry Truman model against the do-nothing Congress instead of negotiating.

Are you negotiating? Will you?

THE PRESIDENT: I am always open to negotiations. What is also true is they need to do something. I’m not — look, Bill, I think it is very clear that if members of Congress come in and say, all right, we want to build infrastructure — here’s the way we think we can do it. We want to put construction workers back to work; we’ve got some ideas — I am ready, eager, to work with them. They say, we’ve got this great idea for putting teachers back in the classroom; it’s a little different than what you’ve proposed in the jobs bill. I’m ready, eager, to work with them. But that’s not what we’re hearing right now. What we’re hearing is that their big ideas, the ones that make sense, are ones we’re already doing.

They’ve given me a list of, well, here’s the Republican job creation ideas: Let’s pass free trade agreements. It’s great that we’re passing these free trade agreements. We put them forward; I expect bipartisan support. I think it’s going to be good for the American economy. But it’s not going to meet the challenge of 9 percent unemployment, or an economy that is currently weakening. It’s not enough.

Patent reform: very important for our long-term competitiveness. There’s nobody out there who actually thinks that that’s going to immediately fill the needs of people who are out of work, or strengthen the economy right now.

So what I’ve tried to do is say, here are the best ideas I’ve heard. Not just from partisans, but from independent economists. These are the ideas most likely to create jobs now and strengthen the economy right now. And that’s what the American people are looking for. And the response from Republicans has been: No. Although they haven’t given a good reason why they’re opposed to putting construction workers back on the job, or teachers back in the classroom.

If you ask them, well, okay, if you’re not for that, what are you for? Trade has already been done; patent reform has been done. What else? The answer we’re getting right now is, well, we’re going to roll back all these Obama regulations. So their big economic plan to put people back to work right now is to roll back financial protections and allow banks to charge hidden fees on credit cards again or weaken consumer watchdogs, or alternatively they’ve said we’ll roll back regulations that make sure we’ve got clean air and clean water, eliminate the EPA. Does anybody really think that that is going to create jobs right now and meet the challenges of a global economy that are — that is weakening with all these forces coming into play?

I mean, here is a good question, here’s a little homework assignment for folks: Go ask the Republicans what their jobs plan is if they’re opposed to the American Jobs Act, and have it scored, have it assessed by the same independent economists that have assessed our jobs plan. These independent economists say that we could grow the economy as much as 2 percent, and as many as 1.9 million workers would be back on the job. I think it would be interesting to have them do a similar assessment — same people. Some of these folks, by the way, traditionally have worked for Republicans, not just Democrats. Have those economists evaluate what, over the next two years, the Republican jobs plan would do. I’ll be interested in the answer. I think everybody here — I see some smirks in the audience because you know that it’s not going to be real robust.

And so, Bill, the question, then, is, will Congress do something? If Congress does something, then I can’t run against a do-nothing Congress. If Congress does nothing, then it’s not a matter of me running against them; I think the American people will run them out of town, because they are frustrated, and they know we need to do something big and something bold.

Now, the American people are also concerned about making sure that we have a government that lives within its means, which is why I put forward a plan that would also reduce our deficit and our debt in a more aggressive way than what the special committee has been charged with.

Folks want to talk about corporate tax reform. I’ve already said I’m happy to engage with them on corporate tax reform. I’m happy to engage with them, working to see what we can do to streamline and simplify our tax code, eliminate all the loopholes, eliminate these special interest carveouts and potentially lower rates in the process while raising more revenue.

I am happy to negotiate with them on a whole host of issues, but right now we’ve got an emergency. And the American people are living that emergency out every single day and they have been for a long time. They are working really hard. And if they’re not on the job, then they’re working really hard to find a job. And they’re losing their homes and their kids are having to drop out of school because they can’t afford student loans. And they’re putting off visiting a doctor because when they lost their job they lost their health insurance. They are struggling.

And as a consequence, by the way, all of us are struggling, even those who are well off. The irony is the same folks that the Republicans claim to be protecting, the well off — the millionaires and the billionaires — they’d be doing better, they’d be making more money if ordinary Americans had some money in their pockets and were out there feeling more confident about the economy. That’s been the lesson of our history — when folks in the middle and at the bottom are doing well, the folks at the top do even better.

Q Is this kind of public pressure the only leverage you have, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Look, we have a democracy. And right now, John Boehner is the Speaker of the House and Mitch McConnell is the Republican Leader. And all I can do is make the best arguments and mobilize the American people so that they’re responsive.

So far they haven’t been responsive to not just me but public opinion. We saw that during the debt ceiling vote. But we’re just going to keep on making the case. But I guess what I’m saying, though, here, Bill, is — and I said this when I made my speech at the joint session — the election is 13, 14 months away. I would love nothing more than to not have to be out there campaigning because we were seeing constructive action here in Congress. That’s my goal. That’s what I’m looking for.

But I’m also dealing with a Republican Majority Leader who said that his number-one goal was to beat me — not put Americans back to work, not grow the economy, not help small businesses expand, but to defeat me. And he’s been saying that now for a couple of years. So, yes, I’ve got to go out and enlist the American people to see if maybe he’ll listen to them if he’s not listening to me.

Matt Spetalnick. Where’s Matt?

Q Thank you, Mr. President. One question on the economy and one on foreign policy. First of all, the Senate has taken up today a bill aimed at pressuring China to let its currency rise. What’s your position on that bill? Would you veto or sign it, should it hit your desk?

On the foreign policy front, do you agree with Admiral Mullen’s accusation that Pakistan’s intelligence agency has used the Haqqani network as a virtual arm? And what, if any, consequences up to and including a cut-off of aid would you be willing to consider?

THE PRESIDENT: Obviously we’ve been seeing a remarkable transformation of China over the last two decades, and it’s helped to lift millions of people out of poverty in China. We have stabilized our relationship with China in a healthy way. But what is also true is that China has been very aggressive in gaming the trading system to its advantage and to the disadvantage of other countries, particularly the United States. And I have said that publicly, but I’ve also said it privately to Chinese leaders. And currency manipulation is one example of it, or at least intervening in the currency markets in ways that have led their currency to be valued lower than the market would normally dictate. And that makes their exports cheaper, and that makes our exports to them more expensive. So we’ve seen some improvement, some slight appreciation over the last year, but it’s not enough.

It’s not just currency, though. We’ve also seen, for example, intellectual property, technologies that were created by U.S. companies with a lot of investment, a lot of upfront capital, taken, not protected properly by Chinese firms. And we’ve pushed China on that issue as well.

Ultimately, I think that you can have a win-win trading relationship with China. I’m very pleased that we’re going to be able to potentially get a trade deal with South Korea. But I believe what I think most Americans believe, which is trade is great as long as everybody is playing by the same rules.

Now, the legislation that is being presented in Congress is an effort to get at that. My main concern — and I’ve expressed this to Senator Schumer — is whatever tools we put in place, let’s make sure that these are tools that can actually work, that they’re consistent with our international treaties and obligations. I don’t want a situation where we’re just passing laws that are symbolic knowing that they’re probably not going to be upheld by the World Trade Organization, for example, and then suddenly U.S. companies are subject to a whole bunch of sanctions. We’ve got a — I think we’ve got a strong case to make, but we’ve just got to make sure that we do it in a way that’s going to be effective.

Last point is, my administration has actually been more aggressive than any in recent years in going after some of these practices. We’ve brought very aggressive enforcement actions against China for violations in the tire case, for example, where it’s been upheld by the World Trade Organization that they were engaging in unfair trading practices. And that’s given companies here in the United States a lot of relief.

So my overall goal is, I believe U.S. companies, U.S. workers, we can compete with anybody in the world. I think we can make the best products. And a huge part of us winning the future, a huge part of rebuilding this economy on a firm basis that’s not just reliant on maxed-out credit cards and a housing bubble and financial speculation, but is dependent on us making things and selling things — I am absolutely confident that we can win that competition. But in order to do it, we’ve got to make sure that we’re aggressive in looking out for the interests of American workers and American businesses, and that everybody is playing by the same rules, and that we’re not getting cheated in the process.

Q Is China (inaudible)?

THE PRESIDENT: That is a — that is a term of art, so the Treasury Secretary, I’ve got to be careful here — it’s his job to make those decisions. But it’s indisputable that they intervene heavily in the currency markets, and that the RMB, their currency, is lower than it probably would be if they weren’t making all those purchases in the currency markets to keep the RMB lower.

With respect to Pakistan, I have said that my number-one goal is to make sure that al Qaeda cannot attack the U.S. homeland and cannot affect U.S. interests around the world. And we have done an outstanding job, I think, in going after, directly, al Qaeda in this border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. We could not have been as successful as we have been without the cooperation of the Pakistan government. And so, on a whole range of issues they have been an effective partner with us.

What is also true is that our goal of being able to transition out of Afghanistan and leave a stable government behind — one that is independent, one that is respectful of human rights, one that is democratic — that Pakistan, I think, has been more ambivalent about some of our goals there. And I think that they have hedged their bets, in terms of what Afghanistan would look like. And part of hedging their bets is having interactions with some of the unsavory characters who they think might end up regaining power in Afghanistan after coalition forces have left.

What we’ve tried to persuade Pakistan of is that it is in their interest to have a stable Afghanistan; that they should not be feeling threatened by a stable, independent Afghanistan. We’ve tried to get conversations between Afghans and Pakistans going more effectively than they have been in the past, but we’ve still got more work to do. And there is no doubt that there is some connections that the Pakistani military and intelligence services have with certain individuals that we find troubling. And I’ve said that publicly, and I’ve said it privately to Pakistani officials as well.

They see their security interests threatened by an independent Afghanistan in part because they think it will ally itself to India, and Pakistan still considers India their mortal enemy. Part of what we want to do is actually get Pakistan to realize that a peaceful approach towards India would be in everybody’s interests, and would help Pakistan actually develop, because one of the biggest problems we have in Pakistan right now is poverty, illiteracy, a lack of development, civil institutions that aren’t strong enough to deliver for the Pakistani people. And in that environment you’ve seen extremism grow. You’ve seen militancy grow that doesn’t just threaten our efforts in Afghanistan but also threatens the Pakistani government and the Pakistani people as well. So trying to get that reorientation is something that we’re continuing to work on; it’s not easy.

Q I’m sorry, sir — consequences of being (inaudible)?

THE PRESIDENT: We will constantly evaluate our relationship with Pakistan based on, is, overall, this helping to protect Americans and our interests. We have a great desire to help the Pakistani people strengthen their own society and their own government. And so I’d be hesitant to punish aid for flood victims in Pakistan because of poor decisions by their intelligence services. But there is no doubt that we’re not going to feel comfortable with a long-term strategic relationship with Pakistan if we don’t think that they’re mindful of our interest as well.

I’ll make this the last question. Aamer Madhani.

Q Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Caught you by surprise, huh? (Laughter.)

Q You did. What should European leaders do to resolve the sovereign debt crisis going forward? And second, how risky is this continued situation to the U.S. economy? And finally, do you feel that the European leaders have been negligent in pushing austerity too soon?

THE PRESIDENT: Those are good questions. The biggest headwind the American economy is facing right now is uncertainty about Europe, because it’s affecting global markets. The slowdown that we’re seeing is not just happening here in the United States, it’s happening everywhere. Even in some of the emerging markets like China, you’re seeing greater caution, less investment, deep concern.

In some ways, as frustrating as the financial sector has been here in the United States after the Lehmans collapse, the aggressive actions that were taken right after Lehmans did help us to strengthen the financial sector and the banking sector in ways that Europe did not fully go through. And uncertainty around Greece and their ability to pay their debts runs on — in the capital markets — on the debt that many of these southern European countries have been facing, as well as Ireland and Portugal. All that has put severe strain on the world financial system.

I speak frequently with Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy; they are mindful of these challenges. I think they want to act to prevent a sovereign debt crisis from spinning out of control, or seeing the potential breakup of the euro. I think they’re very committed to the European project.

But their politics is tough because, essentially, they’ve got to get agreement with not only their own parliaments; they’ve got to get agreement with 20 parliaments, or 24 parliaments, or 27 parliaments. And engineering that kind of coordinated action is very difficult.

But what I’ve been seeing over the last month is a recognition by European leaders of the urgency of the situation. And nobody is obviously going to be affected more than they will be if the situation there spins out of control.

So I’m confident that they want to get this done. I think there are some technical issues that they’re working on in terms of how they get a big enough — how do they get enough firepower to let the markets know that they’re going to be standing behind euro members who may be in a weaker position.

But they’ve got to act fast. And we’ve got a G20 meeting coming up in November. My strong hope is that by the time of that G20 meeting, that they have a very clear, concrete plan of action that is sufficient to the task. It will have an effect — it’s already having an effect here in the United States; it will continue to have an effect on our economy because the world is now interconnected in ways that it’s never been before.

And that’s one of the biggest challenges that we have post-2008, after this financial crisis, is that America has always been — well, over the last 20 years — has been the engine for world economic growth. We were the purchasers of last resort, we were the importers of last resort, we would stimulate our economies and our American consumers would buy stuff around the world. And so if they got into trouble, they could always say, well we’re going to sell to the U.S.

Well, we’re now going through a situation where families are cutting back and trying to reduce their debts; businesses are more cautious. And the U.S. government obviously has its own fiscal challenges. I mean, we’ve got to make sure that we’re living within our means, although we’ve got to do it gradually and not in ways that immediately affect a fragile economy.

So what that means is, Europe is not going to be able to export its way out of this problem. They’re going to have to fix that problem. And part of the goal that I’ve been trying to promote for the last two years and I’ll repeat at the G20 is more balanced economic growth worldwide. We’ve got to get into a posture where the U.S. is always going to be a big market, and we’re going to welcome goods from all around the world, but we’ve also got to be selling goods around the world. We can’t just be running up our debt in order to help other folks’ economies. We’ve got to have — as not only families, our businesses and our government — we’ve got to make sure that we’re being prudent and we’re producing here in the United States. And by the way, that’s what’s going to create strong middle-class jobs here in the United States.

I think part of what’s going on for the country generally is this sense of, you know what, a lot of that debt that had been built up prior to 2008, that we were living on borrowed time because the underlying fundamentals of the economy weren’t as strong as they needed to be.

And that’s why not only do we have to put Americans back to work now, but we’ve also got to keep on reforming our education system so it’s producing the highest-skilled graduates in the world. It’s why we’ve got to keep on investing in basic research and science. It’s why we’ve got to make sure that we’re rebuilding our infrastructure. It’s why we’ve got to have a smarter energy policy, because that’s a huge source of us having to import from other countries instead of being able to export to other countries.

All those things are going to be important, and all those things are going to be challenging. They’re going to be hard. But right now, we’ve got the problem of putting people back to work. That’s why Congress needs to pass this jobs bill.

And last point I’ll make: If Bill is right and everybody on Capitol Hill is cynical and saying there’s no way that the overall jobs bill passes in its current form, we’re just going to keep on going at it. I want everybody to be clear. My intention is to insist that each part of this, I want an explanation as to why we shouldn’t be doing it, each component part: putting people back to work rebuilding our roads, putting teachers back in the classroom, tax cuts for small businesses and middle-class families, tax breaks for our veterans. We will just keep on going at it and hammering away until something gets done. And I would love nothing more than to see Congress act so aggressively that I can’t campaign against them as a do-nothing Congress.

All right? Thank you very much, everybody.

END
12:14 P.M. EDT

Full Text October 4, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the American Jobs Act Impact on Teachers in Mesquite, Texas

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama: American Jobs Act Will Prevent Up to 280,000 Teachers from Losing their Jobs

Source: WH, 10-4-11
President Barack Obama at the Lab School in Mesquite, Texas

President Barack Obama tours the Lab School at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas, Oct. 4, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The White House today released a report that outlines the devastating impact the recession has had on schools and students across the country. Teacher Jobs at Risk highlights the significant cuts in education spending that have resulted from state budget shortfalls since 2008, including the loss of nearly 300,000 teaching jobs across the country (see chart below).

And in the coming school year, without additional support, many school districts will have to make another round of difficult decisions. As a result of state and local funding cuts, as many as 280,000 teacher jobs could be at risk. Unless they receive federal assistance, many school districts will be forced to reduce the number of teachers in their classrooms, or turn to other measures such as shortening the school year or cutting spending on schoolbooks and supplies.

President Obama, speaking today in Texas, compared the situation here with South Korea, where their President said they can’t hire teachers fast enough:

“They call them “nation builders” — that’s what they call teachers in Korea, “nation builders,” because they know that educating their children is the best way to make sure their economy is growing, make sure that good jobs are locating there, making sure they’ve got the scientists and the engineers and the technicians who can build things and ship them all around the world. That’s what he understands. And the whole country supports him. Here in America, we’re laying off teachers in droves. It makes no sense. It has to stop. It has to stop.”

The President was at Eastfield Community College, in Mesquite, Texas where he toured a pre-school before talking about the impact the American Jobs Act will have on schools, and on teachers, across the country. He told the crowd there that the stakes for addressing this situation are high, with “nothing less than our ability to compete in this 21st century economy” at risk.

This is why one of the central components of the American Jobs Act, which the President introduced last month at a Joint Session of Congress, is funding to avoid and reverse teacher layoffs now, and to provide support for the re-hiring and hiring of educators.

Specifically, the American Jobs Act will invest $30 billion to support state and local efforts to retain, rehire, and hire early childhood, elementary, and secondary educators. If enacted, these teacher stabilization funds would help prevent layoffs and support the hiring or re-hiring of nearly 400,000 educators, includ¬ing teachers, guidance counselors, classroom assistants, afterschool personnel, tutors, and literacy and math coaches. These funds will ensure that schools are able to keep teachers in the classroom, preserve or extend the regular school day and school year, and maintain important afterschool activities.

The impact of this funding is clear:

  • In the states with the largest numbers of students, the American Jobs Act will support tens of thousands of educator jobs—California (37,300), Florida (25,900), Illinois (14,500), New York (18,000) and Texas (39,500).
  • Funding is targeted to the school districts most in need of support across the country, especially those with a high share of students living in poverty. The Department of Education projects that New York City will receive around $950 million, Los Angeles Unified School District will receive around $570 million, Dade County School District will receive around $250 million, and Houston and Dallas Independent School Districts will each receive more than $100 million.
  • Even in states with smaller student enrollments, the American Jobs Act will have a significant impact—supporting over a thousand educator jobs in states like Montana (1,400), Arkansas (4,100), Nevada (3,600), and Iowa (4,100). Medium-size school districts like those in Wake County, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee will receive funding ranging from $50 million to $75 million.

As the President said today in Texas, Americans cannot afford to wait for things to get better, it is time to act:

We are not people who sit back in tough times. We step up in tough times. We make things happen in tough times. We’ve been through tougher times before, and we got through them. We’re going to get through these to a brighter day, but we’re going to have to act. God helps those who help themselves. We need to help ourselves right now.

Let’s get together. Let’s get to work. Let’s get busy. Let’s pass this bill. Let’s make sure that we are shaping a destiny for our children that we are proud of, and let’s remind the entire world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on the planet.

Year-Over-Year Change, Local Government Employment in Educational Services

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama on the American Jobs Act
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 10/4/11

Remarks by the President on the American Jobs Act

Eastfield College
Mesquite, Texas

2:47 P.M. CDT

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

It’s good to be back in Texas.  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in Texas.  I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be with all of you.

I want to thank a couple of people.  First of all, the mayor of Mesquite, John Monaco is here.  (Applause.)  And the mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings is in the house.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank the former mayor of Dallas, who I stole from you to be one of the best trade representatives this country has ever had — my dear friend Ron Kirk is in the house.  (Applause.)

I also want to thank — I want to thank the folks over at the Children’s Lab School, who gave me a tour, and I want to especially thank Kim Russell for sharing her story.  Thank you, Kim.  (Applause.)

Now, teachers like Kim are why I came here today.  Teachers like Kim and her former students.  That’s why I’ve been traveling all across this country for the last few weeks.  These are the toughest times we’ve been through since the Great Depression.  And because the problems that led to the recession weren’t caused overnight, they won’t be solved overnight.  That’s the hard truth.  It took us a decade to see the culmination of some of the bad ideas that had been put into place — the lack of regulation on Wall Street, middle-class folks struggling.

So we’re not going to solve all those problems overnight.  But that doesn’t mean we have to sit back and do nothing about this economy.  There are steps we can take right now to put people back to work.  There are steps we can take right now to put money in the pockets of working Americans.  There are things we can do right now to restore some of the security and fairness that has always defined this great country of ours.  And that’s what will happen if this Congress will finally get its act together and pass the American Jobs Act.  (Applause.)

It has now been three weeks since I sent this bill to Congress.  It’s a detailed plan to get this economy moving.  It’s the kind of proposals that, in the past, Democrats and Republicans have supported.  There’s nothing radical in this proposal.  These are the kinds of things that in the past we’ve had bipartisan support for.  It’s fully paid for.  And that’s why I need you to help me convince the people you sent to Washington that it’s time to pass this jobs bill and get America working again.  (Applause.)

Now, you just heard Kim’s story.  There are teachers and educators like Kim all over the country.  I met a first-grade teacher from Minnesota at the White House who was laid off after having been named the Teacher of the Year in her school district.  Her peers, students, determined she was the best teacher in her school district — she got laid off.  There’s a teacher over in Grand Prairie, Texas, who actually chose to resign in order to protect the job of a single mom who also taught at the school.  Think about that.  Here in Dallas, all across the state of Texas, you’ve seen too many teachers lose their jobs because of budget cuts.  And thousands more could be at risk in the coming year.

Now, understand, this doesn’t just hurt these teachers.  It doesn’t just hurt them and their families.  It hurts our children.  It undermines our future as a nation.  If you’ve got Kim, an AP teacher, not in the classroom, those kids aren’t going to have the same opportunities.  And I want everybody to understand that what is at stake is nothing less than our ability to compete in this 21st century economy.

I told the story — a while back I was visiting South Korea and had lunch with the President there.  And I asked the President, I said, what’s your biggest challenge right now?  He said, well, my biggest challenge is our parents are way too demanding.  He said, they want their kid to learn English when they’re in first grade.  So in addition to all the science and all the math classes, I’m now having to ship in teachers from outside the country just to teach our kids English, starting in elementary school.  This is what the President of South Korea said.

They can’t hire teachers fast enough.  They call them “nation builders” — that’s what they call teachers in Korea, “nation builders,” because they know that educating their children is the best way to make sure their economy is growing, make sure that good jobs are locating there, making sure they’ve got the scientists and the engineers and the technicians who can build things and ship them all around the world.  That’s what he understands.  And the whole country supports him.  Here in America, we’re laying off teachers in droves.  It makes no sense.  It has to stop.  It has to stop.  (Applause.)

Now, this bill will prevent up to 280,000 teachers from losing their jobs.  (Applause.)  This bill will support almost 40,000 jobs right here in the great state of Texas.  (Applause.)  So here’s what I need you to do:  Tell Congress to pass this bill and put teachers back in the classroom where they belong.  (Applause.)

It’s not just teachers.  Tell Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, and there also will be funding to save the jobs of firefighters and police officers and first responders who risk their lives to keep us safe.  That’s what happens if they pass this bill.  (Applause.)

Pass this jobs bill, and hundreds of thousands of unemployed construction workers will get back on the job rebuilding our schools, rebuilding our roads, rebuilding our bridges, rebuilding our ports, rebuilding our airports.  The other day I visited a busy bridge in Ohio — actually it’s between Ohio and Kentucky.  Speaker Boehner, he’s from Ohio; Republican Leader McConnell is from Kentucky.  I thought it would be a good place to have an event.  (Laughter.)  This bridge is classified as functionally obsolete.  That’s a fancy way of saying it’s old and needs to be fixed.  (Laughter.)

There’s a public transit project in Houston that would help clear up one of the worst areas of traffic in the country.  There are schools all over this country that are literally falling apart — roof crumbling, rain dripping in, too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter, science labs all worn out, got a couple of beakers and that’s it, built back in the ‘50s before the Internet was invented.  (Laughter.)

That’s an outrage.  Understand, America became an economic superpower in part because we had the best infrastructure.  We built the transcontinental railroad, the Interstate Highway System, the Hoover Dam, Grand Central Station.  How can we sit back and now we’re seeing China build better airports than us, Europe build better railroads than us, Korea more broadband access than us — at a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could be building all that stuff right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

My question to Congress is, what are you waiting for?  The work is there to be done.  There are workers ready to do it.  Contractors, they’re begging for work.  They’ll come in on time, under budget.  Interest rates have never been lower.  It is time for us to put those folks back to work.  It’s time for them to pass the American Jobs Act.  Pass this bill.  (Applause.)

If Congress passes this jobs bill, new companies will get new tax credits for hiring America’s veterans.  Think about it.  We ask these men and women to leave their families, disrupt their careers, risk their lives for our nation.  The last thing they should have to do is to fight for a job when they come home.  (Applause.)

Tell Congress pass this bill so we can help the people who create most of the new jobs in this country:  America’s small businesses.  Folks in the other party, they like to talk a good game about helping America’s job creators.  “Let’s help America’s job creators.”  Okay, let’s do that.  This jobs bill provides tax cuts for nearly every small business in America.  If you hire new employees, or raise your workers’ wages, you get an extra tax cut.  (Applause.)  So my message to Congress is, don’t just talk about helping job creators; actually help some job creators by passing this bill.  (Applause.)

Here’s another reason why they need to pass this bill.  On January 1st, if nothing is done, everybody here is going to get a tax hike.

AUDIENCE:  Booo!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.  See, back in December, I got an agreement with the Republicans to lower the payroll tax so that there would be more money in folks’ pockets and we could protect ourselves against recession.  Now, since that time, we’ve had a tsunami in Japan; we’ve had the Arab Spring, which shot up gas prices.  We’ve had problems in Europe.  And so the economy has gotten weaker.

That tax cut is scheduled to expire by the end of this year.  But if the American Jobs Act passes, the typical working family in Texas will have an extra $1,400 in their pockets.  (Applause.)  Now, if the bill doesn’t pass, virtually every worker in America will see their taxes go up — at the worst possible time.

So I’m not about to let that happen, Texas.  (Applause.)  Look, Republicans say they’re the party of tax cuts.  Tell them to prove it.  Tell them to fight just as hard for tax cuts for working Americans as they do for the wealthiest Americans.  (Applause.)  Pass this bill.

Now, what you’ll hear from some of these folks is, well, we’re not going to support any new spending that’s not paid for.  All right, I agree with that.  I think that’s important.  So I laid out a plan to pay for the American Jobs Act, and then some — a plan that not only pays for the bill to put folks back to work to raise our growth rate, but to also pay down more of our debt over time.  It builds on the $1 trillion in spending cuts that I already signed this summer, making it one of the biggest spending cuts in history.

So, look, I believe we’ve got to make cuts in programs that don’t work and things that aren’t helping the economy grow so we can pay for the things that are.  Right?  (Applause.)  We all believe that a government needs to live within its means.  We all agree with that.  But we also believe that how you bring down the deficit is important.  If we want to actually close the deficit — not just talk about closing the deficit, not just using it for a campaign slogan, not just playing politics — if we want to actually close the deficit, then you’ve got to combine the tough cuts with a strategy to ask the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations to do their part, to pay their fair share.  (Applause.)

Look, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.  Do you really think the tax code is written for you?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  You think the tax code — maybe you’ve got a bunch of lobbyists in Washington.  Maybe you’ve got a bunch of special interests in there in the back rooms trying to carve something out — I don’t know.  But most folks don’t.  So the tax code, the way it’s structured, is not fair.  And so what we’ve said is, let’s reform our tax code based on a very simple principle, and it will raise more money without hurting working families.  Here’s the principle:  Middle-class families, working families, should not pay higher tax rates than millionaires or billionaires.  (Applause.)  I don’t know how you argue against that; seems pretty straightforward to me.  Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett.  (Applause.)

Now, when I point this out — it seems very logical to me, but when I point this out, some of the Republicans in Congress, they say, oh, you’re engaging in class warfare.  Class warfare?  Let me tell you something.  Years ago, a great American had a different view.  All right?  I’m going to get the quote just so you know I’m not making this up.  (Laughter.)  Great American, said that he thought it was “crazy” that certain tax loopholes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary.  All right?

You know who this guy was?  Wasn’t a Democrat.  Wasn’t some crazy socialist.  It was Ronald Reagan.  (Applause.)  It was Ronald Reagan.  Last time I checked, Republicans all thought Reagan made some sense.  (Laughter.)  So the next time you hear one of those Republicans in Congress accusing you of class warfare, you just tell them, I’m with Ronald Reagan.  (Laughter.)  I agree with Ronald Reagan that it’s crazy that a bus driver pays a higher tax rate than a millionaire because of some loophole in the tax code.  (Applause.)

And by the way, I don’t mind being called a warrior for the working class.  You guys need somebody fighting for you.  (Applause.)  The only warfare I’ve been seeing is the war against middle-class families and their ability to get ahead in this economy.

And let me make one last point, because you’ll hear this argument made:  This is not about trying to punish success.  This is the land of opportunity.  And what’s great about our country is our belief that anybody can succeed.  You’ve got a good idea?  Go out there and start a new business.  You’ve got a great product?  You invented something?  I hope you make millions of dollars.  We want to see more Steve Jobs and more Bill Gates — creating value, creating jobs.  That’s great.

Your current mayor did great work in the private sector creating jobs, creating value.  That’s important.  But remember, nobody got there on their own.  I’m standing here today, Michelle is standing here today — or Michelle’s not standing here today — (laughter) — but I know you wish she was.  I’m standing here today, Michelle — we always remind ourselves, the reason we’ve had this extraordinary opportunity is because somewhere along the line, some teacher helped us.  Somewhere along the line, we got a student loan.  We lived in a country that could move products and services everywhere.  We lived in a country where if there’s a fire, somebody comes and puts out the fire.  If you’re burglarized, somebody is coming to try to solve the crime.  I’m sure the mayor of Dallas feels the same way.  We’re here because somebody laid the foundation for success.  So the question is, are we going to maintain that foundation and strengthen that foundation for the next generation?

And this is all about priorities.  This is about choices.  If we want to actually lower the deficit and put people back to work — if we want to invest in our future, if we want to have the best science, the best technology, the best research, we want to continue to be inventing new drugs to solve cancer and making sure that the new cars of the future that are running on electricity are made here in America — if we want to do all those things, then the money has got to come from somewhere.  I wish I could do it all for free.  I wish I could say to all of you, you don’t have to pay any taxes and companies can keep all their stuff and rich people don’t have to do anything, and somehow it all works out.

But you know what, we tried it and it didn’t work.  So now you’ve got a choice.  Would you rather keep tax loopholes for big corporations that don’t need it?  Or would you rather put construction workers back to work rebuilding our schools and our roads and our bridges?  (Applause.)  Would you rather I keep a tax break that I don’t need and wasn’t looking for, didn’t ask for and if I don’t have it, I won’t miss it?  Or do you want to put teachers like Kim back to work and help small businesses and cut taxes for middle-class families?  (Applause.)  This is a choice that we’ve got to make.

And I believe, and I think you believe, it’s time we build an economy that creates good, solid, middle-class jobs in this country.  It’s time to build an economy that values the — that honors the values of hard work and responsibility.  It’s time for us to build an economy that lasts, that’s not just based on speculation and financial shenanigans, but rather is based on us making stuff and selling things to other people around the world instead of just importing from all around the world.  (Applause.)  That’s the America I believe in.  That’s the America you believe in.

And, Dallas, that starts now.  That starts with your help.  Yesterday, the Republican Majority Leader in Congress, Eric Cantor, said that right now he won’t even let this jobs bill have a vote in the House of Representatives.

AUDIENCE:  Booo!

THE PRESIDENT:  This is what he said.  Won’t even let it be debated.  Won’t even give it a chance to be debated on the floor of the House of Representatives.  Think about that.  I mean, what’s the problem?  Do they not have the time?  (Laughter.)  They just had a week off.  (Laughter.)  Is it inconvenient?

Look, I’d like Mr. Cantor to come down here to Dallas and explain what exactly in this jobs bill does he not believe in.  What exactly is he opposed to?

Does he not believe in rebuilding America’s roads and bridges?  Does he not believe in tax breaks for small businesses, or efforts to help our veterans?

Mr. Cantor should come down to Dallas and look Kim Russell in the eye and tell her why she doesn’t deserve to be back in the classroom doing what she loves, helping our kids.  Come tell her students why they don’t deserve to have their teacher back.

Come tell Dallas construction workers why they should be sitting idle instead of out there on the job.

Tell small business owners and workers in this community why you’d rather defend tax breaks for folks who don’t need them — for millionaires — rather than tax cuts for middle-class families.

And if you won’t do that, at least put this jobs bill up for a vote so that the entire country knows exactly where members of Congress stand.  (Applause.)
Put your cards on the table.  I realize that some Republicans in Washington are resistant, partly because I proposed it.  (Laughter and applause.)  I mean, they — if I took their party platform and proposed it, they’d suddenly be against it.  (Laughter.)

We’ve had folks in Congress who have said they shouldn’t pass this bill because it would give me a win.  So they’re thinking about the next election.  They’re not thinking about folks who are hurting right now.  They’re thinking, well, how is that going to play in the next election?

Give me a win?  Give me a break!  (Laughter.)  That’s why folks are fed up with Washington.  (Applause.)  This isn’t about giving me a win.  This isn’t about giving Democrats or Republicans a win.  This is about giving people who are hurting a win.  (Applause.)  This is about giving small business owners a win, and entrepreneurs a win, and students a win, and working families a win.  This is about giving America a win.  (Applause.)

Dallas, the next election is 13 months away.  The American people don’t have the luxury of waiting 13 months.  A lot of folks are living week to week; some are living paycheck to paycheck; some folks are living day to day.  (Applause.)  They need action on jobs, and they need it now.  They want Congress to do what they were elected to do.  They want Congress to do their job.  Do your job, Congress!  (Applause.)

I need you all to lift your voice — (applause)  –-  not just here in Dallas, but anyone watching, anyone listening, everybody following online.  I need you to call and tweet and fax and visit and email your congressperson and tell them the time for gridlock and games is over.  The time for action is now.  (Applause.)

Tell them that if you want to create jobs — pass this bill.  (Applause.)

If you want to put teachers back in the classroom — pass this bill.  (Applause.)

If you want construction workers back on the job — pass this bill.  (Applause.)

If you want tax cuts for the middle class and small business owners — pass this bill.

You want to help some veterans?  Pass this bill.  (Applause.)

Now is the time to act.  We are not people who sit back in tough times.  We step up in tough times.  We make things happen in tough times.  (Applause.)  We’ve been through tougher times before, and we got through them.  We’re going to get through these to a brighter day, but we’re going to have to act.  God helps those who help themselves.  We need to help ourselves right now.

Let’s get together.  Let’s get to work.  Let’s get busy.  Let’s pass this bill.  Let’s make sure that we are shaping a destiny for our children that we are proud of, and let’s remind the entire world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on the planet.  (Applause.)

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

END                 3:18 P.M. CDT

Full Text October 1, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Urging Republicans & Democrats in Congress to Pass the American Jobs Act

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama tapes his Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 9/30/11

Weekly Address: Fighting for the American Jobs Act

Source: WH, 10-1-11

President Obama discusses the letters he receives every day asking for action on jobs and calls on Congress to pass the American Jobs Act right away to cut taxes, create jobs and provide a win for the American people.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Democrats and Republicans Should Get Together and Pass the American Jobs Act

WASHINGTON—In this week’s address, President Obama told the American people that it has been nearly three weeks since he sent Congress his jobs bill, and now it is time for Congress to send it back so that it can be signed into law.  Economists agree that the American Jobs Act will spur hiring and boost the economy, and it will give workers and small businesses tax cuts, get construction workers back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges, and put more teachers in classrooms and cops on the streets.  Too many Americans are struggling and need help now, and so Republicans and Democrats should come together without delay to pass the American Jobs Act.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 1, 2011

Hello, everyone.  It’s been almost three weeks since I sent the American Jobs Act to Congress – three weeks since I sent them a bill that would put people back to work and put money in people’s pockets.  This jobs bill is fully paid for.  This jobs bill contains the kinds of proposals that Democrats and Republicans have supported in the past.  And now I want it back.  It is time for Congress to get its act together and pass this jobs bill so I can sign it into law.

Some Republicans in Congress have said that they agree with certain parts of this jobs bill.  If so, it’s time for them to tell me what those proposals are.  And if they’re opposed to this jobs bill, I’d like to know what exactly they’re against.  Are they against putting teachers and police officers and firefighters back on the job?  Are they against hiring construction workers to rebuild our roads and bridges and schools?  Are they against giving tax cuts to virtually every worker and small business in America?

Economists from across the political spectrum have said that this jobs bill would boost the economy and spur hiring.  Why would you be against that?  Especially at a time when so many Americans are struggling and out of work.

This isn’t just about what I think is right.  It’s not just about what a group of economists think is right.  This is about what the American people want.  Everywhere I go, they tell me they want action on jobs.  Every day, I get letters from Americans who expect Washington to do something about the problems we face.

Destiny Wheeler is a sixteen year old from Georgia who wants to go to college.  She wrote to me saying, “Now-a-days it is hard to see myself pushing forward and putting my family in a better position, especially since the economy is rough and my starting situation is so poor.  Yet, the American Jobs act gives me hope that I might start to receive a better education, that one day job opportunities will be open for me to grasp, and that one day my personal American Dream will be reached.”  Destiny needs us to pass this jobs bill.

Alice Johnson is an Oregon native who, along with her husband, has been looking for a job for about two years.  She writes, “I have faithfully applied for work every week…Of the hundreds of applications I have put in, I received interview requests for about 10…I too, am sick of all the fighting in Washington DC.  Please tell the Republicans that people are hurting and are hungry and need help, pass the jobs bill.”  Alice Johnson needs our help.

Cathleen Dixon sent me pictures of the aging bridge she drives under when she takes her kids to school in Chicago every day.  She worries about their safety, and writes, “I am angry that in this country of vast resources we claim that we cannot maintain basic infrastructure.  How can we ever hope to preserve or regain our stature in this world, if we cannot find the will to protect our people and take care of our basic needs?”

I also heard from Kim Faber, who told me about the small carpet business her husband owns in New Jersey.  “We hang on by a shoe String,” she writes, “my husband worries every day about if checks might bounce, he uses our home loan to put money in the business so they will be covered.  Please pass this jobs bill! This is the job creating we need right now! It breaks my husband’s heart when he has to let people go! Pass the bill!”

Kim said it best: Pass the bill.  I know one Republican was quoted as saying that their party shouldn’t pass this jobs bill because it would give me a win.  Well this isn’t about giving me a win, and it’s not about them.  This is about Destiny Wheeler and Alice Johnson. It’s about Cathleen Dixon’s children, and the Fabers’ family business.  These are the people who need a win, and I will be fighting for this jobs bill every day on their behalf.  If anyone watching feels the same way, don’t be shy about letting your Congressman know.  It is time for the politics to end.  Let’s pass this jobs bill.

White House Recap September 25-30, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama’s Linkedin Townhall — Back-to-School Speech & Education Reforms — Hispanic Community Roundtable

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: SEPTEMBER 25-30, 2011

This week, the President announced reforms to No Child Left Behind, held a town hall on job growth at LinkedIn, spoke on what the American Jobs Act could mean for schools and gave his third annual Back To School address.

West Wing Week

Weekly Wrap Up: Spreading the Word

Source: WH, 9-30-11

LinkedIn Town Hall: On Monday, President Obama participated in a live Town Hall meeting with LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, out in Silicon Valley, California. Taking questions from the audience and online submissions, the President talked about the American Jobs Act and how it will create jobs and boost the overall economy.

Ending Violence Against Women: Vice President Biden travelled to New York City Tuesday to sit down with the women of The View. The main topic of discussion was his campaign to end violence against women and his current initiative to reduce domestic abuse among younger Americans. The Vice President told the ladies that the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 is his proudest legislative achievement, and that it has decreased domestic violence by over 50% since being signed into law.

‘Set your Sights High’: The President welcomed students back to school in his third annual Back-to-School speech at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C. Admitting that he was not a perfect student himself, he explained that doing well in school carries weight beyond college admissions. “Because you’re not just kids. You’re this country’s future. You’re young leaders. And whether we fall behind or race ahead as a nation is going to depend in large part on you.”

President Barack Obama with students after delivering his third annual Back-to-School Speech

President Barack Obama shakes hands with students after delivering his third annual Back-to-School speech at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C. Sept. 28, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Rebuilding America’s Schools:  President Obama  visited Denver’s Abraham Lincoln High School to discuss how the American Jobs Act is going to not only put workers back on the job, but also rebuild and modernize schools across the country.  The President is proposing a $25 billion investment in school infrastructure to repair and upgrade at least 35,000 public schools because, “Every child deserves a great school – and we can give it to them. We can rebuild our schools for the 21st century, with faster internet, smarter labs and cutting-edge technology.”

Talking to the Hispanic Community: During a roundtable conversation with three of the largest Hispanic online outlets, the President discussed a range of issues from immigration and education to Social Security and the American Jobs Act. Jose Siade from Yahoo Español, Karine Medina from MSN Latino and Gabriel Lerner from AOL Latino and Huff-Post Latino Voices joined the President in the White House Map Room for an hour-long chat centered on the issues that matter most to Hispanic Americans.

Full Text September 26, 2011: President Barack Obama Answers Questions at Linkedin Townhall Transcript

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama at a Town Hall sponsored by LinkedIn
White House Photo, Pete Souza, 9/26/11

President Obama’s Town Hall with LinkedIn: “We are in this thing Together”

Source: WH, 9-26-11
Today, President Obama was at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California for a discussion on putting America back to work with members of LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network with more than 120 million users worldwide. LinkedIn members from Gainesville, Florida to Phoenix, Arizona submitted their questions on the economy and jobs for the President to answer during the live Town Hall.

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner kicked off the Town Hall, noting the role of passing the American Jobs Act in putting the country back to work:

There’s one number you may be less familiar with, and that’s 3.2 million, the number of available jobs in this country — 3.2 million.  We have everything we need to begin to put this country back to work — the raw materials, the basic building blocks and, perhaps most importantly, the will of a nation.  What we need is the way.  With the American Jobs Act, our President is leading the way.

Then he turned it over to President Obama to say a few words before diving into questions:

As you mentioned, I put forward a proposal, the American Jobs Act, that would put thousands of teachers back into the classrooms who have been laid off due to downturns in state and local budgets; that would make sure that we are rebuilding our infrastructure — taking extraordinary numbers of construction workers who have been laid off when the housing bubbles went bust and putting them to work rebuilding our roads and our airports and our schools, and laying broadband lines — all the things that help us make a success; and also make sure that we’re providing small businesses the kinds of tax incentives that will allow them to hire and allow them to succeed.

During the discussion, the President addressed topics ranging from Social Security and Medicare to strengthening our education system and ways to jumpstart the economy. He also addressed the need to invest in our future and pay for those investments in part by making sure everyone, including the wealthiest among us, is contributing a fair share:

If we don’t prepare our people with the skills that they need to compete, we’re going to have problems.  If we don’t make sure that we continue to have the best infrastructure in the world, we’re going to have problems.  If we’re not continuing to invest in basic research, we’re going to have challenges.  If we don’t get our fiscal house in order in a way that is fair and equitable so that everybody feels like they have responsibilities to not only themselves and their family but also the country that’s given them so much opportunity, we’re going to have problems.

And so I am extraordinarily confident about America’s long-term future.  But we are going to have to make some decisions about how we move forward.  And what’s striking to me is, when we’re out of Washington and I’m just talking to ordinary folks, I don’t care whether they’re Republicans or Democrats, people are just looking for common sense.  The majority of people agree with the prescriptions I just offered.  The majority of people by a wide margin think we should be rebuilding our infrastructure.  The majority of folks by a wide margin think that we should be investing in education.  The majority of people by a wide margin think we should be investing in science and technology.  And the majority of people think by a wide margin that we should be maintaining programs like Social Security and Medicare to provide a basic safety net.

The majority of people by a significant margin think that the way we should close our deficit is a balance of cutting out those things that we don’t need, but also making sure that we’ve got a tax code that’s fair and everybody is paying their fair share.

President Obama concluded by saying, “that’s why your voices are going to be so important.” The President called on those who had joined the conversation to keep making their voices heard:

I want to hear from you directly, but I also want your voices heard in the halls of Congress.  I need everybody here to be speaking out on behalf of the things that you care about, and the values that made this country great, and to say to folks who you’ve elected — say to them, we expect you to act responsibly, and not act in terms of short-term political interest.  Act in terms of what’s going to be good for all of us over the long term.

Watch the full video from the Town Hall or use the  links below to jump to the questions you’re interested in:

Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (577MB) | mp3 (55MB)

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President in Town Hall with Linkedin

 

President Barack Obama answers a question during a Town Hall sponsored by LinkedIn

President Barack Obama answers an audience member’s question during a Town Hall meeting sponsored by LinkedIn at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, Sept. 26, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

 

Computer History Museum
Mountain View, California

10:58 A.M. PDT

MR. WEINER: Good morning, everyone.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes!

MR. WEINER: Oh, very nice. (Laughter.) Thank you so much for joining us here today for a very special town hall discussion on a subject we all know to be truly important, and that’s putting America back to work. In just a moment, I’m going to be introducing a very special guest, but before I do, just a few brief introductory remarks.

I think today’s venue, the Computer History Museum, here in Silicon Valley, is a very fitting one for our discussion. There’s a number of folks who’ve come to Silicon Valley not just for a job, or even a career path, but because they’re interested in changing the world. And that’s possible here because of the amazing technologies and companies that have been born in this area.

You think back to the semiconductor revolution, the age of computing, and of course, the Internet — and most recently, with regard to the Internet, the rise of social networks connecting hundreds of millions of people around the world in milliseconds. Perhaps more importantly are the behavioral changes taking place as a result. The way in which we go online, represent our identities; stay connected to friends, family and colleagues; and of course, share information, knowledge, ideas and opinions is fundamentally transforming the world — the way we live, the way we play, and the way we work.

And it’s that last dynamic, changing the way we work, which is where LinkedIn is focused. We connect hundreds of millions of people ultimately around the world by connecting talent with opportunity — today, 120 million members on a global basis, and that’s growing north of two members per second, the fastest rate of growth in our history.

When we talk about connecting talent with opportunity we’re not just referring to enabling people to find a job or their dream jobs. We’re also talking about enabling people to be great at the jobs that they’re already in. This is what we do, day in and day out. But our dream is even bigger than that. There are 153 million people in the American workforce; there are 3.3 billion people in the global workforce. Ultimately, our vision is to create economic opportunity for every one of them.

What’s somewhat unusual about this vision is it won’t simply be manifested by the employees of our company but by our members as well, because every individual that joins the LinkedIn network is in a position to, in turn, create economic opportunity for others. We’re very fortunate today to be joined by several of our members and we’re going to be hearing from them shortly.

Lastly, on the subject of economic opportunity, there seems to be one number on everybody’s minds these days — 9.1 percent, the unemployment rate in this country. Over 14 million Americans are unemployed, and that number grows to north of 25 million when you factor in those that are underemployed and marginally attached to the workforce.

There’s one number you may be less familiar with, and that’s 3.2 million, the number of available jobs in this country — 3.2 million. We have everything we need to begin to put this country back to work — the raw materials, the basic building blocks and, perhaps most importantly, the will of a nation. What we need is the way. With the American Jobs Act, our President is leading the way.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great honor and privilege to introduce the President of the United States. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Everybody, please have a seat. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. It’s a nice crowd. (Laughter.) And I have to say, Jeff, you warmed them up very well.

MR. WEINER: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much for your hospitality. And let me begin by just saying how excited I am to be here. Every time I come to Silicon Valley, every time that I come to this region, I am excited about America’s future. And no part of the country better represents, I think, the essence of America than here, because what you see is entrepreneurship and dynamism, a forward-orientation, an optimism, a belief that if you got a good idea and you’re willing to put in the sweat and blood and tears to make it happen, that not only can you succeed for yourself but you can grow the economy for everybody. And it’s that driving spirit that has made America an economic superpower.

But obviously we’re in a period of time right now where the economy is struggling, and a lot of folks all across the country are struggling. And so part of what I hope to do is to have a conversation with all of you about, how can we continue to spark the innovation that is going to ensure our economic success in the 21st century? How can we prepare our workforce to be able to plug in to this new economy? How do we recognize that, in this competitive environment, there are all kinds of opportunities that LinkedIn presents for interconnectedness and people being able to work together and spread ideas around the world and create value, but at the same time, understanding that there are some perils as well?

If our kids aren’t properly educated, if we don’t have an infrastructure that is world-class, if we are not investing in basic research in science — if we’re not doing all the things that made us great in the past, then we’re going to fall behind.

And we’ve got a short-term challenge, which is how do we put people back to work right now. And so, as you mentioned, I put forward a proposal, the American Jobs Act, that would put thousands of teachers back into the classrooms who have been laid off due to downturns in state and local budgets; that would make sure that we are rebuilding our infrastructure — taking extraordinary numbers of construction workers who have been laid off when the housing bubbles went bust and putting them to work rebuilding our roads and our airports and our schools, and laying broadband lines — all the things that help us make a success; and also make sure that we’re providing small businesses the kinds of tax incentives that will allow them to hire and allow them to succeed.

And I have said to Congress, I understand that there’s an election 14 months away and it’s tempting to say that we’re not going to do anything until November of 2012, but the American people cannot afford to wait. The American people need help right now. And all the proposals we’ve put forward in the American Jobs Act will not only help us now, but will also help us in the future — will lay the foundation for our long-term success.

Last point I’ll make — and then I want to get to questions — it’s all paid for. And it’s paid for in part by building on some very tough cuts in our budget to eliminate waste and things we don’t need — that we’ve already made a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. We’ve proposed an additional half a trillion dollars over the next 10 years of spending cuts and adjustments on programs that we want to keep intact but haven’t been reformed in too long.

But what I’ve also said is in order to pay for it and bring down the deficit at the same time, we’re going to have to reform our tax code in a way that’s fair and makes sure that everybody is doing their fair share. I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again: Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t be paying a lower tax rate than Warren Buffett. Somebody who’s making $50,000 a year as a teacher shouldn’t be paying a higher effective tax rate than somebody like myself or Jeff, who’ve been incredibly blessed — I don’t know what you make Jeff, but I’m just guessing (laughter) — who’ve been blessed by the incredible opportunities of this country.

And I say that because whenever America has moved forward, it’s because we’ve moved forward together. And we’re going to have to make sure that we are laying the foundation for the success of future generations, and that means that each of us are doing our part to make sure that we’re investing in our future.

So, with that, thank you so much for the terrific venue. I look forward to a bunch of great questions, both live and through whatever other linkages that we’ve got here. (Laughter.)

MR. WEINER: You’ve got it. So we’re going to be going back and forth between folks in the audience members and some previously generated questions from the LinkedIn group. So we’re going to start.

Our first question is from LinkedIn member Chuck Painter. And, Chuck we’re going to get you a mic —

Q Good morning, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning.

Q I’m from Austin, Texas. I’ve been in sales in the plastics industry for 20 years. I lost my job in 2009 and fortunate enough to have found another position, become reemployed. My question is what can we do as American citizens to unite ourselves and help the economy?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, are you a native of Austin? Because that’s one of my favorite cities in the country.

Q Actually, I’m a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, but just relocated to Austin, and I love it there.

THE PRESIDENT: Austin is great. Charlotte is not bad. (Laughter.)

Q Thank you, thank you, thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s the reason why I’m having my convention in Charlotte, because I love North Carolina as well. But how long did it take you to find a new job after you had gotten laid off?

Q It took nine months.

THE PRESIDENT: It took nine months?

Q Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: And that’s one of the challenges that a lot of folks are seeing out there. You’ve got skilled people with experience in an industry. That industry changes, and you were fortunate enough to be able to move. Some folks, because of the decline in the housing industry, are having trouble with mobility in finding new jobs and relocating in pursuit of opportunity.

Q Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: The most important thing that we can do right now is to help jumpstart the economy, which has stalled, by putting people back to work. And so, not surprisingly, I think the most important thing we can do right now is pass this jobs bill.

Think about it. Independent economists have estimated that, if we pass the entire package, the American Jobs Act, we would increase GDP by close to 2 percent; we would increase employment by 1.9 million persons. And that is the kind of big, significant move in the economy that can have ripple effects and help a recovery take off.

There’s been a lot of dispute about the kind of impact that we had right after the financial crisis hit. But the fact is, the vast majority of economists who looked at it have said that the Recovery Act, by starting infrastructure projects around the country, by making sure that states had help on their budgets so they didn’t have to lay off teachers and firefighters and others, by providing tax cuts to small businesses — and by the way, we’ve cut taxes about 16 times since I’ve been in office for small businesses to give them more capital to work with and more incentives to hire — all those things made a big difference.

The American Jobs Act is specifically tailored to putting more of those folks back to work. It’s not going to solve all our problems. We’ve still got a housing situation in which too many homes are underwater. And one of the things that we’ve proposed as part of the American Jobs Act is, is that we’re going to help reduce the barriers to refinancing so that folks can get record-low rates. That will put more money into people’s pockets. It will provide tax cuts to not only small businesses, but almost every middle-class family. That means they’ve got more money in their pockets, and that means that they’re going to be able to spend it on products and services, which provide additional incentives for business to hire folks like you.

So it’s the right step to take right now. Long term, we’re going to have to pull together around making sure our education system is the best in the world, making sure our infrastructure is the best in the world, continuing to invest in science and technology. We’ve got to stabilize our finances, and we’ve got to continue to drive down health care costs, which are a drag on our whole economy. And we’ve got to continue to promote trade, but make sure that that trade is fair and that intellectual property protection, for example, is available when we’re doing business in other countries, like China.

So there are a lot of long-term agendas that we’ve got to pursue. Right now, though, the most important thing I can do for you, even if you already have a job, is to make sure that your neighbors and your friends also have jobs, because those are ultimately the customers for your products.

Q Yes, sir. Yes, thank you Mr. President.

MR. WEINER: All right. Thank you, Chuck.

We’d now like to take a question from the audience. So anyone interested?

THE PRESIDENT: This young lady right here.

MR. WEINER: Okay. Could we get a mic over there, please? Thank you.

Q Hi. I have a question actually from my mother, who is going to be 65 next March. And she lives in Ohio, which has a very high unemployment rate. She has a GED, and she’s always worked in food service. She’s currently unemployed, just got approved for Section 8 housing, gets Social Security and food stamps. And she wants to know, when can she get a job, and what’s going to happen to Social Security and Medicare?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, where does you mom live in Ohio?

Q Mentor.

THE PRESIDENT: Mentor — what part of Ohio is that?

Q It’s east side of Cleveland.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Well, tell mom hi. (Laughter.) You get points for being such a good daughter and using your question to tell me what’s on her mind.

Q Oh, you have no idea. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: My mother-in-law lives at home, and so I — in the White House — so I’ve got some idea. (Laughter.)

First of all, let me talk about Social Security and Medicare, because this has obviously been an issue that has been discussed a lot in the press lately as we think about our long-term finances. You can tell your mom that Medicare and Social Security will be there for her — guaranteed. There are no proposals out there that would affect folks that are about to get Social Security and Medicare, and she’ll be qualifying — she already is starting to qualify for Medicare, and she’ll be qualifying for Social Security fairly soon.

Social Security and Medicare, together, have lifted entire generations of seniors out of poverty. Our most important social safety net, and they have to be preserved. Now, both of them have some long-term challenges that we’ve got to deal with, but they’re different challenges.

Social Security is actually the easier one; it’s just a pure, simple math problem, and that is that right now the population is getting older, so more people are going on Social Security; you’ve got fewer workers supporting more retirees. And so if we don’t do anything, Social Security won’t go broke, but in a few years what will happen is that more money will be going out than coming in. And over time, people who are on Social Security would only be getting about 75 cents on every dollar that they thought they’d be getting.

And so the Social Security system is not the big driver of our deficits, but if we don’t want — if we want to make sure that Social Security is there for future generations then we’ve got to make some modest adjustments. And when I say modest, I mean, for example, right now Social Security contributions are capped at a little over $100,000 of earnings, and that means the vast majority of people pay Social Security taxes on everything they earn. But if you’re earning a million dollars, only one-tenth of your income is taxed for Social Security. We could make that modification; that would solve a big chunk of the problem.

Medicare is a bigger issue because not only is the population getting older and more people are using it, but health care costs have been going up way too fast. And that’s why part of my health care reform bill two years ago was let’s start changing how our health care system works to make it more efficient. For example, if your mom goes in for a test, she shouldn’t have to then, if she goes to another specialist, take the same test all over again and have Medicare pay for two tests. That first test should be emailed to the doctor who’s the specialist. But right now that’s not happening. So what we’ve said is let’s incentivize providers to do a more efficient job and, over time, we can start reducing those costs.

I’ve made some suggestions about how we can reform Medicare, but what I’m not going to do is what, frankly, the House Republicans proposed, which was to voucherize the Medicare system, which would mean your mom might pay an extra $6,000 every year for her Medicare.

Q Which she doesn’t have.

THE PRESIDENT: I’m assuming she doesn’t have it.

Q No.

THE PRESIDENT: So we are going to be pushing back against that kind of proposal. And that raises the point I made earlier. If people like myself aren’t paying a little more in taxes, then the only way you balance the budget is on the backs of folks like your mom, who end up paying a lot more in Medicare and they can’t afford it, whereas I can afford to pay a little more in taxes.

So that’s on Medicare and Social Security. In terms of her finding a job, the most important thing we can do right now is to pass the American Jobs Act, get people back to work. Because, think about it, if she’s been in the food service industry, that industry is dependent on people spending money on food, whether it’s at a restaurant, or a cafeteria, or buying more groceries. And if a construction worker and a teacher or a veteran have a job because of the programs that we proposed in the American Jobs Act, they’re going to be spending more money in food services, and that means that those businesses are going to have to hire more, and your mom is going to be more likely to be hired. All right?

Q Yes. And one of the other issues, though, is just a matter that there’s a big age gap between her and the other folks who are willing to come in and work for less money. They’ve got less experience.

THE PRESIDENT: That is a challenge. It is tough being unemployed if you’re in your 50s or early 60s, before retirement. That’s the toughest period of time to lose your job. Obviously, it’s never fun to lose your job, and it’s always hard in this kind of really deep recession, but it’s scariest for folks who are nearing retirement and may also be worrying about whether they’ve got enough saved up to ever retire.

So that’s part of the reason why one of the things that we’re also proposing, separate and apart from the jobs bill, is we’ve got to do a better job of retraining workers so that they, in their second or third or fourth careers, are able to go back to a community college, maybe take a short six-month course or a one-year course that trains them on the kinds of skills that are going to be needed for jobs that are actually hiring, or businesses that are actually hiring right now.

We’ve done some great work working with community colleges to try to make sure that businesses help design the training programs so that somebody who enrolls — like your mom, if she goes back to school, she knows that after six months she will be trained for the particular job that this business is looking for.
All right? Thanks so much.

Q Great.

THE PRESIDENT: Tell her I said hi.

Q Thank you. Okay.

MR. WEINER: We’re going to go to the group, the LinkedIn group. We had thousands of questions submitted, and here’s one of them from LinkedIn member Marla Hughes. Marla is from Gainesville, Florida. She is the owner of Meticulously Clean, home and apartment cleaning service, and her question is: As a small business owner, regulation and high taxes are my worst enemies when it comes to growing my business. What are you going to do to lessen the onerous regulations and taxation on small businesses?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s hard to say exactly what regulations or taxes she may be referring to, because obviously it differs in different businesses. But as I said, we’ve actually cut taxes for small business 16 times since I’ve been in office. So taxes for small businesses are lower now than they were when I came into office.

Small businesses are able to get tax breaks for hiring; they’re able to get tax breaks for investment in capital investments; they are able to get tax breaks for hiring veterans. They’re able to get tax breaks for a whole host of areas, including, by the way, a proposal we put forward that says there should be no capital gains tax on a start-up, to encourage more small businesses to go out there and create a business.

In terms of regulations, most of the regulations that we have been focused on are ones that affect large businesses, like utilities, for example. In terms of how they deal with safety issues, environmental issues, we have been putting forward some tough regulations with respect to the financial sector, because we can’t have a repeat of what happened in 2007.

And the fact of the matter is, is that if what happened on Wall Street ends up having a spillover effect to all of Main Street, it is our responsibility to make sure that we have a dynamic economy, we have a dynamic financial sector, but we don’t have a mortgage brokerage operation that ends up providing people loans that can never be repaid and end up having ramifications throughout the system.

So you’re going to hear from, I think, Republicans over the next year and a half that somehow if we just eliminated pollution controls, or if we just eliminated basic consumer protections, that somehow that, in and of itself, would be a spur to growth. I disagree with that. What I do agree with is that there’s some regulations that have outlived their usefulness. And so what I’ve done is I’ve said to all the agencies in the federal government, number one, you have to always take cost as well as benefits into account when you’re proposing new regulations. Number two, don’t just be satisfied with applying that analysis to new regulations, look back at the old regulations to see if there are some that we can start weeding out.

And we initiated the most aggressive — what we call look-back provisions — when it comes to regulations, where we say to every agency, go through all the regulations that you have on your books that flow through your agencies and see if some of them are still necessary. And it turns out that a lot of them are no longer necessary. Well, let’s get rid of them if they’ve outlived their usefulness.

I think that there were some regulations that had to do with the transportation sector, for example, that didn’t take into account that everybody operates on GPS now. Well, you’ve got to adjust and adapt to how the economy is changing and how technology has changed. And we’ve already identified about $10 billion worth of savings just in the initial review, and we anticipate that that’s only going to be a fraction of some of the paperwork and bureaucracy and red tape that we’re going to be able to eliminate.

But I will never apologize for making sure that we have regulations in place to ensure that your water is clean, that your food is safe to eat — that the peanut butter you feed your kids is not going to be contaminated; making sure that if you take out a credit card there’s some clarity about what it exactly is going to do and you’re not seeing a whole bunch of hidden fees and hidden charges that you didn’t anticipate. That’s always been part of what makes the marketplace work, is if you have smart regulations in place, that means the people who are providing good value, good products, good services, those businesses are going to succeed. We don’t want to be rewarding folks who are gaming the system or cheating consumers.

And I think that’s how most Americans feel about regulations as well. They don’t want more than is necessary, but they know that there’s some things that we’ve got to do to protect ourselves and our environment and our children.

MR. WEINER: Thank you for your question, Marla.

Now we’re going to take a question from LinkedIn member Esther Abeyja (phonetic). Esther is an IT analyst from Chicago, Illinois —

THE PRESIDENT: There you go. Chicago is all right, too. (Laughter.)

MR. WEINER: Esther, what is your question for the President?

Q Good morning, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning.

Q As Jeff said, I’m from Chicago, recently unemployed, and my fear is that the longer I’m unemployed the harder it is going to be for me to get employed. It seems that nowadays employers are hiring people who are currently employed because they’re in touch with their skill set. What programs do you think should be in place for individuals such as myself to keep in touch with our skills, be in demand, marketable and eventually get hired?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, you obviously are thinking ahead about how to keep your skills up. And the most important thing you can do is to make sure that, whether it’s through classes or online training, or what have you, that you’re keeping your skill sets sharp.

We, as part of the American Jobs Act, are actually supporting legislation in Congress that says employers can’t discriminate against somebody just because they’re currently unemployed — because that doesn’t seem fair. That doesn’t make any sense. But the most important thing probably we can do for you is just make sure that the unemployment rate generally goes down, the labor market gets a little tighter so that employers start looking beyond just the people who are currently employed to folks who have terrific skills and just have been out of the market for a while.

So passing the American Jobs Act is going to be important. There’s legislation in there that says you can’t be discriminated against just because you don’t have a job. The one other thing that we can do is, during this interim, as you’re looking for a job, making it easier for you to be able to go back to school if you think there’s some skill sets that you need — making it economical for you to do it.

One of the things that we did during the last two and a half years — it used to be the student loan program was run through the banks. And even though the federal government guaranteed all these loans, so the banks weren’t taking any risks, they were taking about $60 billion out of the entire program, which meant that there was less money to actually go directly to students. We ended that. We cut out the middleman and we said let’s use that money to expand the availability of Pell Grants, to increase the amount that Pell Grants — each Pell Grant a student could get. And through that process, you’ve got millions of people all across the country who are able to actually go back to school without incurring the huge debt loads that they had in the past — although, obviously, the cost of a college education is still really high.

But if we can do more to make it easier for you to keep your skills up even when you’re not already hired, hopefully that will enhance your marketability to employers in the future. All right? Just looking at you I can tell you’re going to do great.

Q Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

MR. WEINER: Thanks, Esther.

Our next question is from LinkedIn member Wayne Kulich (phonetic). Wayne is from Phoenix, Arizona. He spent 25 years flying aircraft for the U.S. Navy and is now program director for American Express. Wayne.

Q Good morning, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, sir.

Q I’m from Phoenix, Arizona, where I’m a program director, as Jeff had said. I retired in 2007. When I retired, networking was essentially how I got all my jobs after retirement. How do you envision the government’s role in integrating networking tools that aid veterans that are leaving the service and getting jobs?

THE PRESIDENT: It’s a great question. And first of all, let me thank you for your service to this country.

Q My honor.

THE PRESIDENT: We are very grateful to you for that. (Applause.) Thank you. But you were extraordinarily skilled, and even then it sounds like you had to rely on informal networks rather than a formal set of processes for veterans in order for you to find a job that used all your skills. We have not done as good of a job in the past in helping veterans transition out of the armed services as we should have.

I’ll give you an example. I actually had lunch with a group of veterans from the Iraq and Afghan wars up in Minnesota. And a young man I was talking to had just gone back to school. He was getting his nursing degree. He had worked in emergency medicine in Iraq, multiple deployments; had probably dealt with the most incredible kinds of medical challenges under the most extreme circumstances; had received years of training to do this. But when he went back to nursing school, he had to start as if he had never been involved in medicine at all. And so he had to take all the same classes and take the same debt burdens from taking those classes as if I had just walked in and could barely put a Band-Aid on myself. But he had to go through the same processes.
Well, that’s an example of a failure on the part of both DOD and the VA — the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration — to think proactively, how can we help him make the transition?

So what we’ve started to say is let’s have a sort of a reverse boot camp. As folks are thinking about retiring, as folks are thinking about being discharged, let’s work with them while they’re still in the military to say is there a way to credential them so that they can go directly into the job and work with state and local governments and employers, so that if they’ve got a skill set that we know is applicable to the private sector, let’s give them a certification, let’s give them a credential that helps them do that right away.

We’ve also then started to put together a network of business, and I actually asked for a pledge from the private sector, and we’ve got a commitment that 100,000 veterans will be hired over the next several years. And that creates a network — and maybe they’ll end up using Linkedin, I don’t know. But what we want to do is to make sure that, whether it’s the certification process, whether it’s the job search process, whether it’s resume preparation, whether it’s using electronic networking, that we’re using the huge capacity of the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense, and all the federal agencies, to link up together more effectively.

Because not only is the federal government obviously a big employer itself — and we’ve significantly increased the hiring of veterans within the federal government, including, by the way, disabled veterans and wounded warriors — but the federal government is also a big customer of a lot of businesses. And there’s nothing wrong with a big customer saying to a business, you know what, we’re not going to tell you who to hire, but here’s a list of extremely skilled veterans who are prepared to do a great job and have shown incredible leadership skills. Now, you think of these — you’ve got 23, 24, 25-year-olds who are leading men into battle, who are handling multimillion-dollar pieces of equipment, and they do so flawlessly. Those leadership skills, those technical skills should be able to translate directly into jobs.

The last thing I’ll say is, obviously, the American Jobs Act also would be helpful because it provides additional tax incentives for companies to hire our veterans.

Q Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. WEINER: Thank you, Wayne. And thank you again for your service.

Let’s turn to the audience now. A lot of hands going up. Mr. President, want to pick someone?

THE PRESIDENT: Well — (laughter) — you kind of put me on the spot here. That guy — the guy in the glasses right back in the — right in the back there. Why not?

Q Thank you, Mr. President. I don’t have a job, but that’s because I’ve been lucky enough to live in Silicon Valley for a while and work for a small startup down the street here that did quite well. So I’m unemployed by choice. My question is would you please raise my taxes? (Laughter and applause.) I would like very much to have the country to continue to invest in things like Pell Grants and infrastructure and job training programs that made it possible for me to get to where I am. And it kills me to see Congress not supporting the expiration of the tax cuts that have been benefiting so many of us for so long. I think that needs to change, and I hope that you will stay strong in doing that.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate it. What was the startup, by the way? You want to give me a little hint?

Q It’s a search engine. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Worked out pretty well, huh?

Q Yes. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, let me just talk about taxes for a second. I’ve made this point before, but I want to reiterate this. So often the tax debate gets framed as “class warfare.” And, look, as I said at the outset, America’s success is premised on individuals, entrepreneurs having a great idea, going out there and pursuing their dreams and making a whole lot of money in the process. And that’s great. That’s part of what makes America so successful.

But as you just pointed out, we’re successful because somebody invested in our education, somebody built schools, somebody created incredible universities. I went to school on scholarship. Michelle — her dad was what’s called a stationary engineer at the water reclamation district; never owned his own home, but he always paid his bills; had multiple sclerosis, struggled to get to work every day, but never missed a day on the job; never went to college, but he was able to send his daughter to Princeton and on to Harvard Law School. We benefited from somebody, somewhere making an investment in us. And I don’t care who you are, that’s true of all of us.

Look at this room. I mean, look at the diversity of the people here. A lot of us are — parents came from someplace else, or grandparents came from someplace else. They benefited from a public school system, or an incredible university network, or the infrastructure that allows us to move products and services around the globe, or the scientific research that — Silicon Valley is built on research that no individual company would have made on their own because you couldn’t necessarily capture the value of the nascent Internet.

So the question becomes: If we’re going to make those investments, how do we pay for it? Now, the income of folks at the top has gone up exponentially over the last couple of decades, whereas the incomes and wages of the middle class have flat-lined over the last 15 years. So this young lady’s mom, who’s been working in food services, she doesn’t have a lot of room to spare. Those of us who have been fortunate, we do. And we’re not talking about going to punitive rates that would somehow inhibit you from wanting to be part of a startup or work hard to be successful. We’re talking about going back to the rates that existed as recently as in the ‘90s, when, as I recall, Silicon Valley was doing pretty good, and well-to-do people were going pretty well. And it turns out, in fact, during that period, the rich got richer. The middle class expanded. People rose out of poverty, because everybody was doing well.

So this is not an issue of do we somehow try to punish those who have done well. That’s the last thing we want to do. It’s a question of how can we afford to continue to make the investments that are going to propel American forward.

If we don’t improve our education system, for example, we will all fall behind. We will all fall behind. That’s just — that’s a fact. And the truth is, is that on every indicator — from college graduation rates to math and science scores — we are slipping behind other developed countries. And that’s going to have an impact in terms of, if you’re a startup, are you going to be able to find enough engineers? It’s going to have an impact in terms of, is the infrastructure here good enough that you can move products to market? It’s going to have an impact on your ability to recruit top talent from around the world. And so we all have an investment in improving our education system.

Now, money is not going to solve the entire problem. That’s why we’ve initiated reforms like Race to the Top that says we’re going to have higher standards for everybody. We’re going to not just have kids taught to the test, but we’re going to make sure that we empower teachers, but we’re also going to hold them accountable, and improve how we train our principals and our teachers. So we’re willing to make a whole bunch of reforms, but, at some point, money makes a difference. If we don’t have enough science teachers in the classroom, we’re going to have problems. Somebody has got to pay for it.

And, right now, we’ve got the lowest tax rates we’ve had since the 1950s. And some of the Republican proposals would take it back — as a percentage of GDP — back to where we were back in the 1920s. You can’t have a modern industrial economy like that.

So I appreciate your sentiment. I appreciate the fact that you recognize we’re in this thing together. We’re not on our own. And those of us who’ve been successful, we’ve always got to remember that.

Q I know a lot of people in that same situation, and every one of them has said that they would support an increase in their taxes — so, please. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re going to get to work. Thank you.

MR. WEINER: Thank you. Thank you for your question.

Next question was submitted to the Linkedin group — it actually comes from a Linkedin employee named Theresa Sullivan. It’s a two-part question.

First, do you think our public education system and our unemployment rates are related? And second, what, if any, overhaul in education is necessary to get Americans ready for the jobs of tomorrow, rather than the jobs of 20 years ago?

THE PRESIDENT: There is no doubt that there is a connection, long term, between our economic success, our productivity, and our education system. That’s indisputable. When we were at our peak in terms of growth, back in the ’60s and the ’70s, in large part it was because we were doing a better job of training our workforce than anybody else in the world.

Now the rest of the world has caught up — or is catching up. They’re hungry. And as I said before, we are slipping behind a lot of developed countries. So our proportion of college graduates has not gone up, while everybody else’s has gone up. Our proportion of high school graduates has not gone up, while everybody else’s has gone up. And if you’ve got a billion Chinese and Indians and Eastern Europeans, all who are entering into a labor force and are becoming more skilled, and we are just sitting on the status quo, we’re going to have problems.

Now, what can we do? This is a decade-long project; it’s not a one-year project. And we’ve been pushing since we came into office to look at the evidence, to base reforms on what actually works. The single-most important ingredient in improving our schools is making sure we’ve got great teachers in front of the — in front of every classroom.

And so what we’ve said is let’s make sure that we’ve hired enough teachers; let’s train them effectively; lets pay them a good wage; let’s make sure that we’re putting a special emphasis on recruiting more math and science teachers — STEM education is an area where we’ve fallen significantly behind. Let’s make sure they’re accountable, but lets also give them flexibility in the classroom so that they don’t have to do a cookie-cutter, teach-to-the-test approach that squashes their creativity and prevents them from engaging students. But at the end of the year, let’s make sure that they’re doing a good job. And if there are teachers out there who are not doing a good job, let’s work to retrain them. And if they’re not able to be retrained, then we should probably find them a different line of work. We’ve got to have top-flight principals and leadership inside the schools. That makes a big difference.

We’ve also got to focus on — there are some schools that are just dropout factories where less than half of the kids end up graduating — a lot of them, the students are black and brown, but that’s also the demographic that’s growing the fastest in this country. So if we don’t fix those schools we’re going to have problems. So we’ve said to every state, you know what, focus on the lowest-performing schools and tell us what your game plan is to improve those schools’ performance.

And it may be that we’ve got to also, in some cases, rethink how we get students interested in learning. IBM is engaged in a really interesting experience in New York where they’re essentially setting up schools — similar to the concept I was talking about with community colleges — where they’re saying to kids pretty early on — I think as early as 8th grade — we’re going to design a program — IBM worked with the New York public schools to design a program — and this is not for the kids who are in the top 1 percent, this is for ordinary public school kids. You follow this program, you work hard, IBM will hire you at the end of this process. And it suddenly gives kids an incentive. They say, oh, the reason I’m studying math and science is there’s a practical outcome here. I will have a job. And there are practical applications to what I’m doing in the classroom.

And that’s true at high-end jobs, but it’s also true — we want to do more to train skilled workers even if they don’t have a four-year degree. It may be that the more the concept of apprenticeship and the concept of a rigorous vocational approach is incorporated in the high schools so the kids can actually see a direct connection to what they’re learning and a potential career, they’re less likely to drop out and we’re going to see more success.

So one last point I’ll make about this is George Bush actually was sincere I think in trying to improve the education system across the country through something called No Child Left Behind, that said we’re going to impose standards, there’s going to be accountability; if schools don’t meet those standards we’re going to label them as failures and they’re going to have to make significant changes. The intent was good. It wasn’t designed as well as it could have been. In some cases, states actually lowered their own standards to make sure that they weren’t labeled as failures. There wasn’t enough assistance given to these schools to meet the ambitious goals that had been set.

So what we’ve said is, look, we’ll provide states some waivers to get out from under No Child Left Behind if you can provide us with a plan to make sure that children are going to be college and career ready. And we’ll give you more flexibility but we’re still going to hold you accountable and we will provide you the tools and best practices that allow you to succeed.

So, last point I’ll make on this — there is also a cultural component to this, though. We, as a country, have to recognize that all of us are going to have to up our game and we, as parents, have to instill in our kids a sense of educational excellence. We’ve got to turn off the TV set. I know it’s dangerous to say in Silicon Valley, but put away the video games sometimes, and all the electronics, unless it’s school-related. And we’ve just got to get our kids more motivated and internalizing that sense of the importance of learning.

And if we don’t do that, we’re going to continue to slip behind, even if some of these school reform approaches that we’re taking are successful.

MR. WEINGER: Thank you, Theresa.

Our next question comes from LinkedIn member Robert Holly (phonetic) who is joining us from Charlotte, North Carolina. After a promising career in financial services, Robert was, unfortunately, recently laid off. Robert, what is your question?

Q Good morning, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning.

Q As Jeff mentioned, I have a 22-year, very successful career in IT management, but I find myself displaced. And not only that, I look at the statistics of unemployment — 16.7 percent for African Americans. My question would be — and not just for the African Americans, but also for other groups that are also suffering — what would you be your statement of encouragement for those who are looking for work today?

THE PRESIDENT: What I would say is just, given your track record, given your history, seeing you stand here before this group, you’re going to be successful. You’ve got a leg up on a lot of folks. You’ve got skills, you’ve got experience, you’ve got a track record of success. Right now your challenge is not you, it’s the economy as a whole. And by the way, this is not just an American challenge; this is happening worldwide.

I hope everybody understands our biggest problem right now, part of the reason that this year, where at the beginning of the year, economists had estimated, and financial analysts had estimated that the economy was going to be growing at about 3.5 percent, and that has not happened, in part has to do with what happened in the Middle East and the Arab Spring, which disrupted energy prices and caused consumers to have to pull back because gas was getting so high; what’s happening in Europe, which they have not fully healed from the crisis back in 2007 and never fully dealt with all the challenges their banking system faced. It’s now being compounded by what’s happening in Greece. So they’re going through a financial crisis that is scaring the world. And they’re trying to take responsible actions, but those actions haven’t been quite as quick as they need to be.

So the point is, is that economies all around the world are not growing as fast as they need to. And since the world is really interconnected, that affects us as well. The encouraging thing for you is that when the economy gets back on track in the ways that it should, you are going to be prepared to be successful. The challenge is making sure that you hang in between now and then.

That’s why things like unemployment insurance, for example, are important. And part of our jobs act is to maintain unemployment insurance. It’s not a end all, be all, but it helps folks meet their basic challenges. And by the way, it also means that they’re spending that money and they’re re-circulating that into the economy so it’s good for businesses generally.

Some of the emergency measures that we’ve been taking and we’ve proposed to take help to bridge the gap to where the economy is more fully healed. And historically, after financial crises, recessions are deeper and they last longer than after the usual business cycle recessions.

So I guess the main message I have for you is the problem is not you; the problem is the economy as a whole. You are going to be well equipped to succeed and compete in this global economy once it’s growing again. My job is to work with everybody I can — from the business community to Congress, to not-for-profits, you name it — to see if we can speed up this process of healing and this process of recovery.

And in the meantime, we will make sure that things like unemployment insurance that are there to help people during tough times like this are going to continue to be available. And if there are — since you’re in IT, if there are areas where you need to be sharpening your skills, as the young lady here mentioned, we are going to make sure that the resource is available for you to be able to go back to school and do that.

Thank you.

MR. WEINER: Thank you. That was our last question. We’re going to begin to wrap it up, and before I turn it over to you for some concluding remarks, I just wanted to say thank you, and let you know how much we appreciate the work that you’re doing. I know I speak for a lot of people when I say I can’t think of anything more important than creating economic opportunity when it comes to profoundly and sustain-ably improving the quality of an individual’s life, the lives of their family members, the lives of the people that they in turn can create jobs for.

And in hard-hit American cities and developing countries around the world, these folks are creating role models for the next generation of entrepreneurs and professionals that didn’t know it was possible.

So on behalf of myself, on behalf of our visionary founder, Reid Hoffman, without whom none of this would have been possible, on behalf of our employees, of course our members, on behalf of our country, thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you so much. (Applause.) Thank you. Well, let me just say these have been terrific questions and I so appreciate all of you taking the time to do this. I appreciate LinkedIn helping to host this. And for those of you who are viewing, not in this circle but around the country, maybe around the world, I appreciate the chance to share these ideas with you.

Look, we’re going through a very tough time. But the one thing I want to remind everybody is that we’ve gone through tougher times before. And the trajectory, the trend of not just this country but also the world economy is one that’s more open, one that’s more linked, one that offers greater opportunity, but also one that has some hazards. If we don’t prepare our people with the skills that they need to compete, we’re going to have problems. If we don’t make sure that we continue to have the best infrastructure in the world, we’re going to have problems. If we’re not continuing to invest in basic research, we’re going to have challenges. If we don’t get our fiscal house in order in a way that is fair and equitable so that everybody feels like they have responsibilities to not only themselves and their family but also the country that’s given them so much opportunity, we’re going to have problems.

And so I am extraordinarily confident about America’s long-term future. But we are going to have to make some decisions about how we move forward. And what’s striking to me is, when we’re out of Washington and I’m just talking to ordinary folks, I don’t care whether they’re Republicans or Democrats, people are just looking for common sense. The majority of people agree with the prescriptions I just offered. The majority of people by a wide margin think we should be rebuilding our infrastructure. The majority of folks by a wide margin think that we should be investing in education. The majority of people by a wide margin think we should be investing in science and technology. And the majority of people think by a wide margin that we should be maintaining programs like Social Security and Medicare to provide a basic safety net.

The majority of people by a significant margin think that the way we should close our deficit is a balance of cutting out those things that we don’t need, but also making sure that we’ve got a tax code that’s fair and everybody is paying their fair share.

So the problem is not outside of Washington. The problem is, is that things have gotten so ideologically driven and everybody is so focused on the next election and putting party ahead of country that we’re not able to solve our problems. And that’s got to change. And that’s why your voices are going to be so important.

The reason I do these kinds of events is I want you to hear from me directly. I want to hear from you directly, but I also want your voices heard in the halls of Congress. I need everybody here to be speaking out on behalf of the things that you care about, and the values that made this country great, and to say to folks who you’ve elected — say to them, we expect you to act responsibly, and not act in terms of short-term political interest. Act in terms of what’s going to be good for all of us over the long term.

If that spirit, which all of you represent, starts asserting itself all across the country, then I’m absolutely confident the 21st century is going to be the American century just like the 20th century way.

So thank you very much everybody. God bless you.

MR. WEINER: Thank you, everybody.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)

END
11:58 A.M. PDT

White House Recap September 17-24, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Addresses 66th Session United Nations General Assembly — Selling the American Jobs Act and Revising America’s Education System

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: SEPTEMBER 17-24, 2011

West Wing Week

Weekly Wrap Up: Rebuilding America

Source: WH, 9-23-11

We the People: President Obama released the U.S.’s Open Government National Action Plan, and a highlight of that plan is We the People, a new platform that gives all Americans a way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. In the first days following the launch, numerous Americans have created petitions and are currently collecting signatures.

Promoting World Peace: The President spent two days in New York City for the 66th session of United Nations General Assembly. While there, he held numerous meetings with world leaders and addressed the General Assembly speaking about the remarkable year we have had around the world and also the many challenges that stand in the way of a lasting peace. He also attended the Clinton Global Initiative, where he talked about the positive impact the American Jobs Act will have on the global economy.

Rebuilding America: President Obama visited the Ohio River’s Brent Spence Bridge, a functionally obsolete crossing on one of North America’s busiest trucking routes that connects Cincinnati, Ohio with Kentucky. The President spoke about the pressing need to improve our national infrastructure, and detailed the provisions in the American Jobs Act that will rebuild our country and put ironworkers, construction workers and carpenters back to work.

Creating a Fair Tax System: The President laid out a balanced plan to get our fiscal house in order, based on the values of shared responsibility and shared sacrifice.  The President is calling on Congress to undertake comprehensive tax reform to simplify the system, make it more fair and efficient, and lay a stronger foundation for economic growth.  The plan details how to pay for the American Jobs Act, while also paying down our debt over time.

Improving our Education System: President Obama and representatives from the education community gathered at the White House to announce that it’s time to take action and build a world class education system. In exchange for a real commitment to undertake education reform, the Administration will enable states to request flexibility from specific mandates under No Child Left Behind.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: The country marked an important milestone this week when the era of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” officially came to an end. The law that was signed in December 2010 by President Obama allows people of the LGBT community to serve openly in the military.

Full Text September 19, 2011: President Barack Obama Unveils $4 Trillion Economic Growth & Deficit Reduction Plan — $3 Trillion Deficit Cuts in Over 10 Years — $1.5 Trillion in New Taxes

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama announces his Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction

President Barack Obama delivers a statement announcing his Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Sept. 19, 2011.(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

The President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction

Source: WH, 9-19-11

President Obama’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction — Full Text — PDF

The health of our economy depends on what we do right now to create the conditions where businesses can hire and middle-class families can feel a basic measure of economic security. In the long run, our prosperity also depends on our ability to pay down the massive debt the federal government has accumulated over the past decade. Today, the President sent to the Joint Committee his plan to jumpstart economic growth and job creation now – and to lay the foundation for it to continue for years to come.

The President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction lives up to a simple idea: as a Nation, we can live within our means while still making the investments we need to prosper – from a jobs bill that is needed right now to long-term investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure. It follows a balanced approach: asking everyone to do their part, so no one has to bear all the burden.  And it says that everyone – including millionaires and billionaires – has to pay their fair share.

Overall, it pays for the American Jobs Act and produces net savings of more than $3 trillion over the next decade, on top of the roughly $1 trillion in spending cuts that the President already signed into law in the Budget Control Act – for a total savings of more than $4 trillion over the next decade. This would bring the country to a place, by 2017, where current spending is no longer adding to our debt, debt is falling as a share of the economy, and deficits are at a sustainable level.

Now, let me review some of its main components.

First, the plan includes the American Jobs Act – a set of ideas supported by both Democrats and Republicans that will put people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans. It’s imperative that we pass this bill now both to get the economy moving again and creating jobs at the pace we need it, and to help with deficit reduction since a growing economy is a vital part to reducing our deficits and debt.

Second, the plan lays out a way to live within our means so that we can invest in the things that will power economic growth for decades to come: education, innovation, clean energy, and infrastructure. To do this, it follows a balanced approach to deficit reduction by drawing from across the Budget for savings and by asking everyone to pay their fair share.

Specifically, the President is proposing approximately $580 billion in cuts and reforms to a wide range of mandatory programs from cuts to agricultural subsidies that are no longer necessary to reform of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and modest changes to federal civilian worker retirement and health benefits for military retirees.

In health care programs, the President is recommending a series of reforms that builds on the historic savings and reforms in the Affordable Care Act to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid so that these vital programs are robust and healthy to serve Americans for years to come.

These proposals will save $248 billion in Medicare and $72 billion in Medicaid and other health programs over 10 years, and extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by three years. This is accomplished in a way that does not shift risks unfairly onto the individuals they serve; slash benefits; or undermine the fundamental compact they represent to our Nation’s seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income families. Any savings that affect beneficiaries do not begin until 2017 and do not affect middle-income and current beneficiaries. Other health and Medicaid savings amount to $72 billion, and because of the structural nature of these reforms to both programs, health savings grow to over $1 trillion in the second decade. Moreover, as he said today, the President will veto any bill that takes one dime from the Medicare benefits seniors rely on without asking the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share.

The President’s plan reflects the Administration’s current policy of drawing down our troop presence in Afghanistan and the transition from a military to a civilian-led mission in Iraq for a savings of $1 trillion.

Finally, the President calls on the Committee to undertake comprehensive tax reform and lays out five key principles. Reform should: 1) lower tax rates; 2) cut wasteful loopholes and tax breaks; 3) reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion; 4) boost job creation and growth; and 5) comport with the “Buffett Rule” that people making more than $1 million a year should not pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than middle-class families pay.

To advance this debate, the President is offering a detailed set of specific tax loophole closers and measures to broaden the tax base that, together with the expiration of the high-income tax cuts, would be more than sufficient to hit the $1.5 trillion target for additional revenue. These measures include cutting tax preferences for high-income households, eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies, closing the carried interest loophole for investment fund managers, and eliminating benefits for those who own corporate jets.

We have little doubt that some of these proposals will not be popular with many of those who benefit from these affected programs and currently enjoy special tax breaks. These are tough choices that we had to make — and some of these changes we are only putting forward to address our fiscal situation. But we are all in this together, and all of us must contribute to getting our economy moving again and on a firm fiscal footing.

If we don’t take a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes asking the wealthiest 2 percent of families and big corporations to pay their fair share, then everyone else must shoulder the load. That could mean drastic cuts to things like education, research and development, infrastructure, and food safety; and could mean severe cuts to Medicare that would burden seniors with thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.

Second, if we do nothing, our economy will not get the jolt it needs now and it will be weighed down by our debt or years to come. If we don’t take these steps now, it will only get harder.

I’ve been working on these issues for three decades, and I can tell you that making these changes in this plan will require some tough choices. Everyone will have a cut or a new policy that they do not like – or wish that they could avoid. But remember: the challenge we face is one that we all face – together – as Americans. We are in this together, and the only way that we can have a balanced approach is that we all do our part.

So read the plan, and join the debate about how we can jumpstart our economy, reduce our deficit, and win the future.

President Obama: Washington Has to Live within its Means

Source: WH, 9-19-11

President Obama today unveiled a plan for economic growth and deficit reduction that details how to pay for the American Jobs Act while also paying down our debt over time. The plan, which is being sent to the Congressional Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, offers a balanced approach to further reduce our nation’s deficit and get our fiscal house in order, based on the values of shared responsibility and shared sacrifice.

The President’s plan lays out a blueprint that will enable Washington to live within its means, something Americans across the country have been doing for years. And the balanced approach means that no one group has to bear the burden alone. It means that everyone – including millionaires and billionaires – has to pay their fair share.

The plan, which will reduce the deficit by $4 trillion, includes many of the proposals the President has previously discussed — closing tax loopholes for oil companies and hedge fund managers and asking the very wealthiest and special interests to pay their fair share. It also includes difficult spending cuts and making adjustments to strengthen programs like Medicare and Medicaid for future generations. As part of the plan, the President is also calling on Congress to undertake comprehensive tax reform to simplify the system, make it more fair and efficient, and lay a stronger foundation for economic growth:

It comes down to this: We have to prioritize. Both parties agree that we need to reduce the deficit by the same amount — by $4 trillion. So what choices are we going to make to reach that goal? Either we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes, or we’re going to have to ask seniors to pay more for Medicare. We can’t afford to do both.

Either we gut education and medical research, or we’ve got to reform the tax code so that the most profitable corporations have to give up tax loopholes that other companies don’t get. We can’t afford to do both.

This is not class warfare. It’s math. The money is going to have to come from someplace. And if we’re not willing to ask those who’ve done extraordinarily well to help America close the deficit and we are trying to reach that same target of $4 trillion, then the logic, the math says everybody else has to do a whole lot more: We’ve got to put the entire burden on the middle class and the poor. We’ve got to scale back on the investments that have always helped our economy grow. We’ve got to settle for second-rate roads and second-rate bridges and second-rate airports, and schools that are crumbling.

That’s unacceptable to me. That’s unacceptable to the American people. And it will not happen on my watch. I will not support — I will not support — any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans. And I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share. We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable.

According to Jack Lew, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, taking the steps outlined in this plan would bring the country to a place, by 2017, where current spending is no longer adding to our debt, debt is falling as a share of the economy, and deficits are at a sustainable level.

You can read the entire proposal that was submitted to the Joint Committee or read an overview in this fact sheet

 

Full Text September 19, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Rose Garden Speech on Economy, American Jobs Act Introduces Deficit Reduction Plan, Including Tax Increases (Transcript)

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Obama discussed his deficit plan at the White House on Monday.

Remarks by the President on Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction

Source: WH, 9-19-11

Rose Garden

10:56 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  Please have a seat.

A week ago today, I sent Congress the American Jobs Act.  It’s a plan that will lead to new jobs for teachers, for construction workers, for veterans, and for the unemployed.  It will cut taxes for every small business owner and virtually every working man and woman in America.  And the proposals in this jobs bill are the kinds that have been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past.  So there shouldn’t be any reason for Congress to drag its feet.  They should pass it right away.  I’m ready to sign a bill.  I’ve got the pens all ready.

Now, as I said before, Congress should pass this bill knowing that every proposal is fully paid for.  The American Jobs Act will not add to our nation’s debt.  And today, I’m releasing a plan that details how to pay for the jobs bill while also paying down our debt over time.

And this is important, because the health of our economy depends in part on what we do right now to create the conditions where businesses can hire and middle-class families can feel a basic measure of economic security.  But in the long run, our prosperity also depends on our ability to pay down the massive debt we’ve accumulated over the past decade in a way that allows us to meet our responsibilities to each other and to the future.

During this past decade, profligate spending in Washington, tax cuts for multi-millionaires and billionaires, the cost of two wars, and the recession turned a record surplus into a yawning deficit, and that left us with a big pile of IOUs.  If we don’t act, that burden will ultimately fall on our children’s shoulders.  If we don’t act, the growing debt will eventually crowd out everything else, preventing us from investing in things like education, or sustaining programs like Medicare.

So Washington has to live within its means.  The government has to do what families across this country have been doing for years.  We have to cut what we can’t afford to pay for what really matters.  We need to invest in what will promote hiring and economic growth now while still providing the confidence that will come with a plan that reduces our deficits over the long-term.

These principles were at the heart of the deficit framework that I put forward in April.  It was an approach to shrink the deficit as a share of the economy, but not to do so so abruptly with spending cuts that would hamper growth or prevent us from helping small businesses and middle-class families get back on their feet.

It was an approach that said we need to go through the budget line-by-line looking for waste, without shortchanging education and basic scientific research and road construction, because those things are essential to our future.  And it was an approach that said we shouldn’t balance the budget on the backs of the poor and the middle class; that for us to solve this problem, everybody, including the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations, have to pay their fair share.

Now, during the debt ceiling debate, I had hoped to negotiate a compromise with the Speaker of the House that fulfilled these principles and achieved the $4 trillion in deficit reduction that leaders in both parties have agreed we need — a grand bargain that would have strengthened our economy, instead of weakened it.  Unfortunately, the Speaker walked away from a balanced package.  What we agreed to instead wasn’t all that grand.  But it was a start — roughly $1 trillion in cuts to domestic spending and defense spending.

Everyone knows we have to do more, and a special joint committee of Congress is assigned to find more deficit reduction. So, today, I’m laying out a set of specific proposals to finish what we started this summer — proposals that live up to the principles I’ve talked about from the beginning.  It’s a plan that reduces our debt by more than $4 trillion, and achieves these savings in a way that is fair — by asking everybody to do their part so that no one has to bear too much of the burden on their own.

All told, this plan cuts $2 in spending for every dollar in new revenues.  In addition to the $1 trillion in spending that we’ve already cut from the budget, our plan makes additional spending cuts that need to happen if we’re to solve this problem. We reform agricultural subsidies — subsidies that a lot of times pay large farms for crops that they don’t grow.  We make modest adjustments to federal retirement programs.  We reduce by tens of billions of dollars the tax money that goes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  We also ask the largest financial firms — companies saved by tax dollars during the financial crisis — to repay the American people for every dime that we spent.  And we save an additional $1 trillion as we end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These savings are not only counted as part of our plan, but as part of the budget plan that nearly every Republican on the House voted for.

Finally, this plan includes structural reforms to reduce the cost of health care in programs like Medicare and Medicaid.  Keep in mind we’ve already included a number of reforms in the health care law, which will go a long way towards controlling these costs.  But we’re going to have to do a little more.  This plan reduces wasteful subsidies and erroneous payments while changing some incentives that often lead to excessive health care costs.  It makes prescriptions more affordable through faster approval of generic drugs.  We’ll work with governors to make Medicaid more efficient and more accountable.  And we’ll change the way we pay for health care.  Instead of just paying for procedures, providers will be paid more when they improve results — and such steps will save money and improve care.

These changes are phased in slowly to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid over time.  Because while we do need to reduce health care costs, I’m not going to allow that to be an excuse for turning Medicare into a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry.  And I’m not going to stand for balancing the budget by denying or reducing health care for poor children or those with disabilities.  So we will reform Medicare and Medicaid, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment that this country has kept for generations.

And by the way, that includes our commitment to Social Security.  I’ve said before, Social Security is not the primary cause of our deficits, but it does face long-term challenges as our country grows older.  And both parties are going to need to work together on a separate track to strengthen Social Security for our children and our grandchildren.

So this is how we can reduce spending:  by scouring the budget for every dime of waste and inefficiency, by reforming government spending, and by making modest adjustments to Medicare and Medicaid.  But all these reductions in spending, by themselves, will not solve our fiscal problems.  We can’t just cut our way out of this hole.  It’s going to take a balanced approach.  If we’re going to make spending cuts — many of which we wouldn’t make if we weren’t facing such large budget deficits — then it’s only right that we ask everyone to pay their fair share.

You know, last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner gave a speech about the economy.  And to his credit, he made the point that we can’t afford the kind of politics that says it’s “my way or the highway.”  I was encouraged by that.  Here’s the problem: In that same speech, he also came out against any plan to cut the deficit that includes any additional revenues whatsoever.  He said — I’m quoting him — there is “only one option.”  And that option and only option relies entirely on cuts.  That means slashing education, surrendering the research necessary to keep America’s technological edge in the 21st century, and allowing our critical public assets like highways and bridges and airports to get worse.  It would cripple our competiveness and our ability to win the jobs of the future.  And it would also mean asking sacrifice of seniors and the middle class and the poor, while asking nothing of the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.

So the Speaker says we can’t have it “my way or the highway,” and then basically says, my way — or the highway.  (Laughter.)  That’s not smart.  It’s not right.  If we’re going to meet our responsibilities, we have to do it together.

Now, I’m proposing real, serious cuts in spending.  When you include the $1 trillion in cuts I’ve already signed into law, these would be among the biggest cuts in spending in our history. But they’ve got to be part of a larger plan that’s balanced –- a plan that asks the most fortunate among us to pay their fair share, just like everybody else.

And that’s why this plan eliminates tax loopholes that primarily go to the wealthiest taxpayers and biggest corporations –- tax breaks that small businesses and middle-class families don’t get.  And if tax reform doesn’t get done, this plan asks the wealthiest Americans to go back to paying the same rates that they paid during the 1990s, before the Bush tax cuts.

I promise it’s not because anybody looks forward to the prospects of raising taxes or paying more taxes.  I don’t.  In fact, I’ve cut taxes for the middle class and for small businesses, and through the American Jobs Act, we’d cut taxes again to promote hiring and put more money into the pockets of people.  But we can’t afford these special lower rates for the wealthy -– rates, by the way, that were meant to be temporary.  Back when these first — these tax cuts, back in 2001, 2003, were being talked about, they were talked about temporary measures.  We can’t afford them when we’re running these big deficits.

Now, I am also ready to work with Democrats and Republicans to reform our entire tax code, to get rid of the decades of accumulated loopholes, special interest carve-outs, and other tax expenditures that stack the deck against small business owners and ordinary families who can’t afford Washington lobbyists or fancy accountants.  Our tax code is more than 10,000 pages long. If you stack up all the volumes, they’re almost five feet tall.  That means that how much you pay often depends less on what you make and more on how well you can game the system, and that’s especially true of the corporate tax code.

We’ve got one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, but it’s riddled with exceptions and special interest loopholes.  So some companies get out paying a lot of taxes, while the rest of them end up having to foot the bill.  And this makes our entire economy less competitive and our country a less desirable place to do business.

That has to change.  Our tax code shouldn’t give an advantage to companies with the best-connected lobbyists.  It should give an advantage to companies that invest in the United States of America and create jobs in the United States of America.  And we can lower the corporate rate if we get rid of all these special deals.

So I am ready, I am eager, to work with Democrats and Republicans to reform the tax code to make it simpler, make it fairer, and make America more competitive.  But any reform plan will have to raise revenue to help close our deficit.  That has to be part of the formula.  And any reform should follow another simple principle:  Middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires.  That’s pretty straightforward.  It’s hard to argue against that.  Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett.  There is no justification for it.

It is wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50 million.  Anybody who says we can’t change the tax code to correct that, anyone who has signed some pledge to protect every single tax loophole so long as they live, they should be called out.  They should have to defend that unfairness — explain why somebody who’s making  $50 million a year in the financial markets should be paying 15 percent on their taxes, when a teacher making $50,000 a year is paying more than that — paying a higher rate.  They ought to have to answer for it.  And if they’re pledged to keep that kind of unfairness in place, they should remember, the last time I checked the only pledge that really matters is the pledge we take to uphold the Constitution.

Now, we’re already hearing the usual defenders of these kinds of loopholes saying this is just “class warfare.”  I reject the idea that asking a hedge fund manager to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher is class warfare.  I think it’s just the right the thing to do.  I believe the American middle class, who’ve been pressured relentlessly for decades, believe it’s time that they were fought for as hard as the lobbyists and some lawmakers have fought to protect special treatment for billionaires and big corporations.

Nobody wants to punish success in America.  What’s great about this country is our belief that anyone can make it and everybody should be able to try -– the idea that any one of us can open a business or have an idea and make us millionaires or billionaires.  This is the land of opportunity.  That’s great.  All I’m saying is that those who have done well, including me, should pay our fair share in taxes to contribute to the nation that made our success possible.  We shouldn’t get a better deal than ordinary families get.  And I think most wealthy Americans would agree if they knew this would help us grow the economy and deal with the debt that threatens our future.

It comes down to this:  We have to prioritize.  Both parties agree that we need to reduce the deficit by the same amount — by $4 trillion.  So what choices are we going to make to reach that goal?  Either we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes, or we’re going to have to ask seniors to pay more for Medicare.  We can’t afford to do both.

Either we gut education and medical research, or we’ve got to reform the tax code so that the most profitable corporations have to give up tax loopholes that other companies don’t get.  We can’t afford to do both.

This is not class warfare.  It’s math.  (Laughter.)  The money is going to have to come from someplace.  And if we’re not willing to ask those who’ve done extraordinarily well to help America close the deficit and we are trying to reach that same target of $4 trillion, then the logic, the math says everybody else has to do a whole lot more:  We’ve got to put the entire burden on the middle class and the poor.  We’ve got to scale back on the investments that have always helped our economy grow.  We’ve got to settle for second-rate roads and second-rate bridges and second-rate airports, and schools that are crumbling.

That’s unacceptable to me.  That’s unacceptable to the American people.  And it will not happen on my watch.  I will not support — I will not support — any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans.  And I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share.  We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable.

None of the changes I’m proposing are easy or politically convenient.  It’s always more popular to promise the moon and leave the bill for after the next election or the election after that.  That’s been true since our founding.  George Washington grappled with this problem.  He said, “Towards the payment of debts, there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; [and] no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.”  He understood that dealing with the debt is — these are his words — “always a choice of difficulties.”  But he also knew that public servants weren’t elected to do what was easy; they weren’t elected to do what was politically advantageous.  It’s our responsibility to put country before party.  It’s our responsibility to do what’s right for the future.

And that’s what this debate is about.  It’s not about numbers on a ledger; it’s not about figures on a spreadsheet.  It’s about the economic future of this country, and it’s about whether we will do what it takes to create jobs and growth and opportunity while facing up to the legacy of debt that threatens everything we’ve built over generations.

And it’s also about fairness.  It’s about whether we are, in fact, in this together, and we’re looking out for one another.  We know what’s right.  It’s time to do what’s right.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
11:16 A.M. EDT

Full Text September 17, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Urges Congess to Pass the American Jobs Act

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Weekly Address: Passing the American Jobs Act

President Obama discusses the need for Congress to pass the American Jobs Act to put more people back to work, and more money back in the pockets of people who are working. Read the jobs bill.

 

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POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Barack Obama tapes his Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 9/16/11

Weekly Address: Passing the American Jobs Act

In this week’s address, President Obama urged Congress to pass the American Jobs Act without delay so that businesses will be able to hire more workers and every American who wants a job will be able to find one.  The President’s jobs bill keeps cops on the streets and teachers in the classrooms, cuts taxes for small businesses, and puts construction workers back to work without adding to the deficit.  All Americans who agree with the President’s plan should call their elected officials and tell them that it’s time to pass the jobs bill, which will ensure that everyone pays their fair share and that we live within our means as we help the economy continue to grow.

Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House September 17, 2011

I’ve spent some time lately traveling the country and talking with folks outside of Washington.  And the number one issue for the people I meet is how we can get back to a place where we’re creating good, middle-class jobs that pay well and offer some security.

That’s the idea behind the American Jobs Act.  It’s a jobs bill that does two simple things: put more people back to work, and more money back in the pockets of people who are working.

This jobs bill puts construction workers back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges and modernizing our schools.

This jobs bill puts teachers back in the classroom, and keeps cops and firefighters on our streets.

This jobs bill gives tax credits to companies that hire our veterans, because if you sign up to fight for our country, the last thing you should have to do is fight for a job when you come home.

This jobs bill connects the long-term unemployed to temporary work to keep their skills sharp while they look for a job, and it gives hundreds of thousands of young people the hope of a job next summer.

This jobs bill cuts taxes for every small business owner in America.  It cuts them even more for small business owners that hire new workers and raise workers’ salaries.  And it cuts taxes for every working family in America so that you’ll have more money in your pockets, and businesses know they’ll have customers to buy what they sell.

That’s the American Jobs Act, and you can check it out for yourself on WhiteHouse.gov.

It will create new jobs.  It will cut taxes for every worker and small business in the country.  And it will not add to the deficit.  It will be paid for.

On Monday, I’ll lay out my plan for how we’ll do that – how we’ll pay for this plan and pay down our debt by following some basic principles: making sure we live within our means and asking everyone to pay their fair share.

But right now, we’ve got to get Congress to pass this jobs bill.  Everything in the American Jobs Act is the kind of idea that’s been supported by Democrats and Republicans before.  And if they’re ideas you agree with, too, every one of you can help make it happen by telling your congressperson to pass this jobs bill right away.

I know some of them would rather wait another year to wage another election than work together right now.  But most Americans don’t have the luxury of waiting.  It was three years ago this week that a financial crisis on Wall Street made things much more difficult for working folks on Main Street.  And too many are still hurting as a result.

So the time for action is now.  No more games or gridlock.  No more division or delay.  It’s time for the people you sent to Washington to put country before party – to stop worrying so much about their jobs and start worrying more about yours.

It’s time to get to work and show the world once again why the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you.

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