Full Text Obama Presidency June 5, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the 25th Anniversary of Freedom Day — Warsaw, Poland

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama at the 25th Anniversary of Freedom Day

Source: WH, 6-4-14 

Castle Square

Warsaw, Poland

12:10 P.M. CET

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Hello, Warsaw!  (Applause.)  Witaj, Polsko!  (Applause.)

Mr. President; Mr. Prime Minister; Madam Mayor; heads of state and government, past and present — including the man who jumped that shipyard wall to lead a strike that became a movement, the prisoner turned president who transformed this nation — thank you, Lech Walesa, for your outstanding leadership.  (Applause.)

Distinguished guests, people of Poland, thank you for your extraordinary welcome and for the privilege of joining you here today.  I bring with me the greetings and friendship of the American people — and of my hometown of Chicago, home to so many proud Polish Americans.  (Applause.)  In Chicago, we think of ourselves as a little piece of Poland.  In some neighborhoods, you only hear Polish.  The faithful come together at churches like Saint Stanislaus Kostka.  We have a parade for Polish Constitution Day.  And every summer, we celebrate the Taste of Polonia, with our kielbasa and pierogies, and we’re all a little bit Polish for that day.  (Applause.)  So being here with you, it feels like home.  (Applause.)

Twenty-five years ago today, we witnessed a scene that had once seemed impossible — an election where, for the first time, the people of this nation had a choice.  The Communist regime thought an election would validate their rule or weaken the opposition.  Instead, Poles turned out in the millions.  And when the votes were counted, it was a landslide victory for freedom.  One woman who voted that day said, “There is a sense that something is beginning to happen in Poland.  We feel the taste of Poland again.”  She was right.  It was the beginning of the end of Communism — not just in this country, but across Europe.

The images of that year are seared in our memory.  Citizens filling the streets of Budapest and Bucharest.  Hungarians and Austrians cutting the barbed wire border.  Protestors joining hands across the Baltics.  Czechs and Slovaks in their Velvet Revolution.  East Berliners climbing atop that wall.  And we have seen the extraordinary progress since that time.  A united Germany.  Nations in Central and Eastern Europe standing tall as proud democracies.  A Europe that is more integrated, more prosperous and more secure.  We must never forget that the spark for so much of this revolutionary change, this blossoming of hope, was lit by you, the people of Poland.  (Applause.)

History was made here.  The victory of 1989 was not inevitable.  It was the culmination of centuries of Polish struggle, at times in this very square.  The generations of Poles who rose up and finally won independence.  The soldiers who resisted invasion, from the east and the west.  The Righteous Among the Nations — among them Jan Karski — who risked all to save the innocent from the Holocaust.  The heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto who refused to go without a fight.  The Free Poles at Normandy and the Poles of the Home Army who — even as this city was reduced to rubble — waged a heroic uprising.

We remember how, when an Iron Curtain descended, you never accepted your fate.  When a son of Poland ascended to the Chair of Saint Peter, he returned home, and here, in Warsaw, he inspired a nation with his words — “there can be no just Europe without the independence of Poland.”  (Applause.)  And today we give thanks for the courage of the Catholic Church and the fearless spirit of Saint John Paul II.  (Applause.)

We also recall how you prevailed 25 years ago.  In the face of beatings and bullets, you never wavered from the moral force of nonviolence.  Through the darkness of martial law, Poles lit candles in their windows.  When the regime finally agreed to talk, you embraced dialogue.  When they held those elections — even though not fully free — you participated.  As one Solidarity leader said at the time, “We decided to accept what was possible.”  Poland reminds us that sometimes the smallest steps, however imperfect, can ultimately tear down walls, can ultimately transform the world.  (Applause.)

But of course, your victory that June day was only the beginning.  For democracy is more than just elections.  True democracy, real prosperity, lasting security — these are neither simply given, nor imposed from the outside.  They must be earned and built from within.  And in that age-old contest of ideas — between freedom and authoritarianism, between liberty and oppression, between solidarity and intolerance — Poland’s progress shows the enduring strength of the ideals that we cherish as a free people.

Here we see the strength of democracy:  Citizens raising their voices, free from fear.  Here we see political parties competing in open and honest elections.  Here we see an independent judiciary working to uphold the rule of law.  Here in Poland we see a vibrant press and a growing civil society that holds leaders accountable — because governments exist to lift up their people, not to hold them down.  (Applause.)

Here we see the strength of free markets and the results of hard reforms — gleaming skyscrapers soaring above the city, and superhighways across this country, high-tech hubs and living standards that previous generations of Poles could only imagine. This is the new Poland you have built — an economic “Miracle on the Vistula” — Cud nad Wisłą.  (Applause.)

Here we see the strength of free nations that stand united. Across those centuries of struggle, Poland’s fate too often was dictated by others.  This land was invaded and conquered, carved up and occupied.  But those days are over.  Poland understands as few other nations do that every nation must be free to chart its own course, to forge its own partnerships, to choose its own allies.  (Applause.)

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Poland’s membership in NATO.  We honor Polish service in the Balkans, in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And as Americans, we are proud to call Poland one of our strongest and closest allies.  (Applause.)

This is the Poland we celebrate today.  The free and democratic Poland that your forebears and some who are here today dreamed of and fought for and, in some cases, died for.  The growing and secure Poland that you — particularly the young people who are here today — have enjoyed for your entire lives.

It’s a wonderful story, but the story of this nation reminds us that freedom is not guaranteed.  And history cautions us to never take progress for granted.  On the same day 25 years ago that Poles were voting here, tanks were crushing peaceful democracy protests in Tiananmen Square on the other side of the world.  The blessings of liberty must be earned and renewed by every generation — including our own.  This is the work to which we rededicate ourselves today.  (Applause.)

Our democracies must be defined not by what or who we’re against, but by a politics of inclusion and tolerance that welcomes all our citizens.  Our economies must deliver a broader prosperity that creates more opportunity — across Europe and across the world — especially for young people.  Leaders must uphold the public trust and stand against corruption, not steal from the pockets of their own people.  Our societies must embrace a greater justice that recognizes the inherent dignity of every human being.  And as we’ve been reminded by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, our free nations cannot be complacent in pursuit of the vision we share — a Europe that is whole and free and at peace.  We have to work for that.  We have to stand with those who seek freedom.  (Applause.)

I know that throughout history, the Polish people were abandoned by friends when you needed them most.  So I’ve come to Warsaw today — on behalf of the United States, on behalf of the NATO Alliance — to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Poland’s security.  Article 5 is clear — an attack on one is an attack on all.  And as allies, we have a solemn duty — a binding treaty obligation — to defend your territorial integrity.  And we will.  We stand together — now and forever — for your freedom is ours. (Applause.)  Poland will never stand alone.  (Applause.)  But not just Poland — Estonia will never stand alone.  Latvia will never stand alone.  Lithuania will never stand alone.  Romania will never stand alone.  (Applause.)

These are not just words.  They’re unbreakable commitments backed by the strongest alliance in the world and the armed forces of the United States of America — the most powerful military in history.  (Applause.)  You see our commitment today. In NATO aircraft in the skies of the Baltics.  In allied ships patrolling the Black Sea.  In the stepped-up exercises where our forces train together.  And in our increased and enduring American presence here on Polish soil.  We do these things not to threaten any nation, but to defend the security and territory of ourselves and our friends.

Yesterday, I announced a new initiative to bolster the security of our NATO allies and increase America’s military presence in Europe.  With the support of Congress, this will mean more pre-positioned equipment to respond quickly in a crisis, and exercises and training to keep our forces ready; additional U.S. forces — in the air, and sea, and on land, including here in Poland.  And it will mean increased support to help friends like Ukraine, and Moldova and Georgia provide for their own defense.  (Applause.)

Just as the United States is increasing our commitment, so must others.  Every NATO member is protected by our alliance, and every NATO member must carry its share in our alliance.  This is the responsibility we have to each other.

Finally, as free peoples, we join together, not simply to safeguard our own security but to advance the freedom of others. Today we affirm the principles for which we stand.

We stand together because we believe that people and nations have the right to determine their own destiny.  And that includes the people of Ukraine.  Robbed by a corrupt regime, Ukrainians demanded a government that served them.  Beaten and bloodied, they refused to yield.  Threatened and harassed, they lined up to vote; they elected a new President in a free election — because a leader’s legitimacy can only come from the consent of the people.

Ukrainians have now embarked on the hard road of reform.  I met with President-elect Poroshenko this morning, and I told him that, just as free nations offered support and assistance to Poland in your transition to democracy, we stand with Ukrainians now.  (Applause.)  Ukraine must be free to choose its own future for itself and by itself.  (Applause.)  We reject the zero-sum thinking of the past — a free and independent Ukraine needs strong ties and growing trade with Europe and Russia and the United States and the rest of the world.  Because the people of Ukraine are reaching out for the same freedom and opportunities and progress that we celebrate here today — and they deserve them, too.

We stand together because we believe that upholding peace and security is the responsibility of every nation.  The days of empire and spheres of influence are over.  Bigger nations must not be allowed to bully the small, or impose their will at the barrel of a gun or with masked men taking over buildings.  And the stroke of a pen can never legitimize the theft of a neighbor’s land.  So we will not accept Russia’s occupation of Crimea or its violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.  (Applause.)   Our free nations will stand united so that further Russian provocations will only mean more isolation and costs for Russia. (Applause.)  Because after investing so much blood and treasure to bring Europe together, how can we allow the dark tactics of the 20th century to define this new century?

We stand together because we know that the spirit of Warsaw and Budapest and Prague and Berlin stretches to wherever the longing for freedom stirs in human hearts, whether in Minsk or Caracas, or Damascus or Pyongyang.  Wherever people are willing to do the hard work of building democracy — from Tbilisi to Tunis, from Rangoon to Freetown — they will have a partner in our nations.  For in the struggles of these citizens we recall our own struggles.  In their faces we see our own.  And few see this more clearly than the people of Poland.

The Ukrainians of today are the heirs of Solidarity — men and women like you who dared to challenge a bankrupt regime.  When your peaceful protests were met with an iron fist, Poles placed flowers in the shipyard gate.

Today, Ukrainians honor their fallen with flowers in Independence Square.  We remember the Polish voter who rejoiced to “feel the taste of Poland again.”  Her voice echoes in the young protestor in the Maidan who savored what she called “a taste of real freedom.”  “I love my country,” she said, and we are standing up for “justice and freedom.”  And with gratitude for the strong support of the Polish people, she spoke for many Ukrainians when she said, “Thank you, Poland.  We hear you and we love you.”  (Applause.)

Today we can say the same.  Thank you, Poland — thank you for your courage.  Thank you for reminding the world that no matter how brutal the crackdown, no matter how long the night, the yearning for liberty and dignity does not fade away.  It will never go away.  Thank you, Poland, for your iron will and for showing that, yes, ordinary citizens can grab the reins of history, and that freedom will prevail — because, in the end, tanks and troops are no match for the force of our ideals.

Thank you, Poland — for your triumph — not of arms, but of the human spirit, the truth that carries us forward. There is no change without risk, and no progress without sacrifice, and no freedom without solidarity.  (Applause.)

Dziękuję, Polsko!  God bless Poland.  (Applause.)  God bless America.  God bless our unbreakable alliance.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END             12:28 P.M. CET

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Full Text Obama Presidency June 3-6, 2014: President Barack Obama’s 2014 Trip to Europe Schedule

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

The President’s 2014 Trip to Europe

Source: White House

Poland, Belgium, and France

June 3 to June 6

As part of the United States’ ongoing consultations with our allies, President Obama is traveling to Poland, Belgium, and France, June 3-6, 2014. While in Warsaw, the President will hold bilateral meetings and join other world leaders in commemorating the Polish Freedom Day, marking the 25th anniversary of Poland’s emergence from Communism. From Poland, the President will travel to Brussels for the G-7 Leaders’ Summit, and will then continue on to France to participate in commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day.


Trip Schedule

Tuesday, June 3

  • President Obama participates in an arrival ceremony at Warsaw Chopin Airport with President Komorowski, after which they meet American and Polish airmen.
  • President Obama and President Komorowski hold a bilateral meeting at Belweder Palace, followed by a press conference.
  • Afterward, President Obama and Prime Minister Tusk have a bilateral meeting at the Polish Chancellery, followed by remarks to the press.
  • In the afternoon, President Obama and President Komorowski co-host a meeting of Central and European Leaders at the Presidential Palace.
  • That evening, President Obama attends an official dinner at the Royal Castle to honor Poland’s Solidarity movement.
    View a wrap-up of the day’s activities

Wednesday, June 4

  • President Obama meets with President-elect Poroshenko of Ukraine.
  • In Brussels, President Obama meets with King Philippe and Prime Minister Di Rupo of Belgium at the Royal Palace.
  • That evening, President Obama attends the G-7 Summit, which begins with a leaders working dinner on foreign policy issues.
    View a wrap-up of the day’s activities

Thursday, June 5

  • President Obama participates in G-7 meetings on economics and energy and climate.
  • President Obama then attends the G-7 leaders working lunch on development.
  • Following the G-7, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom hold a bilateral meeting.
  • President Obama then departs for Paris.
  • In Paris, President Obama and President Hollande of France have a private dinner.
    View a wrap-up of the day’s activities

Friday, June 6

  • President Obama departs Paris for Normandy, France.
  • President Obama and President Hollande participate in a ceremony at the American cemetery close to Omaha Beach, the site of the American landing in Normandy.
  • President Obama then attends a lunch with leaders, hosted by France.
  • Later that afternoon, President Obama attends the official international 70th D-Day commemoration ceremony at Sword Beach, Normandy, and then departs for the USA.
    View a wrap-up of the day’s activities

Full Text Campaign Buzz July 31, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech in Warsaw, Poland: “Freedom And Friendship”

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Mitt Romney recovers footing in Poland

Source: Los Angeles Times, 7-31-12
Mitt Romney wrapped up a bumpy three-country overseas tour on a high note Tuesday, meeting with Poland’s leaders, being warmly received by large crowds as he visited sacred sites, and delivering a lofty speech about the persevering values….READ MORE

Mitt Romney Delivers Remarks In Poland: “Freedom And Friendship”

Source: Mitt Romney, 7-31-12

Mitt Romney today delivered remarks in Warsaw, Poland. The following remarks were prepared for delivery:

Thank you all very much for the warm welcome to this great city.

It has been a privilege to meet with President Komorowski, Prime Minister Tusk, Foreign Minister Sikorski, and Former President Walesa.

This is a nation with an extraordinary heritage that is crafting a remarkable future. At a time of widespread economic slowdown and stagnation, your economy last year outperformed all other nations in Europe.

I began this trip in Britain and end it here in Poland: the two bookends of NATO, history’s greatest military alliance that has kept the peace for over half a century. While at 10 Downing Street I thought back to the days of Winston Churchill, the man who first spoke of the Iron Curtain that had descended across Europe. What an honor to stand in Poland, among the men and women who helped lift that curtain.

After that stay in England, I visited the State of Israel – a friend of your country and mine. It’s been a trip to three places far apart on the map. But for an American, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country. Our nations belong to the great fellowship of democracies. We speak the same language of freedom and justice. We uphold the right of every person to live in peace.

I believe it is critical to stand by those who have stood by America. Solidarity was a great movement that freed a nation. And it is with solidarity that America and Poland face the future.

Yesterday, I saw the memorial at Westerplatte and the gate at the Gdansk Shipyard, where Polish citizens stood with courage and determination against daunting odds. And today, on the eve of the 68th anniversary of this city’s uprising against the Nazis, I will pay tribute at the monument to that historic struggle. Over 200,000 Poles were killed in those weeks, and this city was nearly destroyed. But your enduring spirit survived.

Free men and women everywhere, whether they have been here or not, already know this about Poland: In some desperate hours of the last century, your people were the witnesses to hope, led onward by strength of heart and faith in God. Not only by force of arms, but by the power of truth, in villages and parishes across this land, you shamed the oppressor and gave light to the darkness.

Time and again, history has recorded the ascent of liberty, propelled by souls that yearn for freedom and justice. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has noted that it is often one brave man or woman who says “no” to oppression, and in doing so, sparks a revolution of courage in hundreds, thousands or millions of others.

In 1955, in my country, Rosa Parks said “no” to a bus driver who told her to give up her seat to a white person, and in doing so, started a revolution of dignity and equality that continues to this day. Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor in Tunisia, was denied his business wares by a government functionary, and in protest committed suicide by self-immolation. With that act of defiance, the Arab Spring was born.

Nicolai Ceausescu stood before an audience of 200,000, recounting for them his supposed works on their behalf. One elderly woman shouted out what others only thought. “Liar,” she said. Others echoed her, first hundreds, then thousands. And with the fall of Ceausescu days later, the entire nation had awoken and a people were freed.

And here, in 1979, a son of Poland, Pope John Paul the Second, spoke words that would bring down an empire and bring freedom to millions who lived in bondage. “Be not afraid” – those words changed the world.

I, and my fellow Americans, are inspired by the path of freedom tread by the people of Poland.

Long before modern times, of course, the Polish and American people were hardly strangers. The name “Pulaski” is honored to this day in America, and so is the memory of other Poles who joined in our fight for independence. Two years after our young republic gave the New World its first freely adopted written constitution. Poland did the same for the Old World, with a preamble that called liberty “dearer than life.”

At every turn in our history, through wars and crises, through every change in the geopolitical map, we have met as friends and allies. That was true in America’s Revolutionary War. It was true in the dark days of World War II. And it has been true in Iraq and Afghanistan. There has never been a moment when our peoples felt anything but mutual respect and good will – and that is not common in history.

Americans watched with astonishment and admiration, as an electrician led a peaceful protest against a brutal and oppressive regime.

“It has to be understood,” as President Walesa has recently said, “that the solidarity movement philosophy was very simple. When you can’t lift a weight, you ask someone else for help and to lift it with you.”

Of course, among the millions of Poles who said “yes”, there was one who has a unique and special place in our hearts: Pope John Paul the Second. When he first appeared on the balcony above Saint Peter’s Square, a correspondent on the scene wrote to his editor with a first impression. This is not just a pope from Poland, he said, “This is a pope from Galilee.”

In 1979, Pope John Paul the Second celebrated Mass with you in a square not too far from here. He reminded the world there would be no justice in Europe without an independent Poland, and he reminded the Polish people, long deprived of their independence, from where they drew their strength.

While greeting a crowd huddled along a fence, he met a little girl. He paused and asked her, “Where is Poland?” But the girl – caught off guard – couldn’t answer. She laughed nervously until the great pope put his hand over her heart and said: “Poland is here.”

John Paul the Second understood that a nation is not a flag or a plot of land. It is a people – a community of values. And the highest value Poland honors – to the world’s great fortune – is man’s innate desire to be free.

Unfortunately, there are parts of the world today where the desire to be free is met with brutal oppression: Just to the east of here, the people of Belarus suffer under the oppressive weight of dictatorship. The Arab world is undergoing a historic upheaval, one that holds promise, but also risk and uncertainty. A ruthless dictator in Syria has killed thousands of his own people. In Latin America, Hugo Chavez leads a movement characterized by authoritarianism and repression. Nations in Africa are fighting to resist the threat of violent radical jihadism. And in Russia, once-promising advances toward a free and open society have faltered.

In a turbulent world, Poland stands as an example and defender of freedom.

Only last month, in Gdansk, a sculpture was unveiled of President Reagan and John Paul the Second. As President Walesa told a reporter, “Reagan should have a monument in every city.”

Czeslaw Nowak, recalled the days in 1981 when he, Walesa, and others were imprisoned by the communist regime. Just when it felt like they might be forgotten by the world, the captives learned that in the White House, the President of the United States was lighting candles. It was a demonstration of unity with them – a sign of solidarity. “When Reagan lit the candles,” Mr. Nowak recalled, “we knew we had a friend in the United States.”

This is a country that made a prisoner a president … that went from foreign domination to the proud and independent nation you are today. And now, for both our nations, the challenge is to be worthy of this legacy as we find a way forward. The false gods of the all-powerful state claim the allegiance of a lonely few. It is for us, in this generation and beyond, to show all the world what free people and free economies can achieve for the good of all.

Perhaps because here in Poland centralized control is no distant memory, you have brought a special determination to securing a free and prosperous economy. When the Soviet Empire breathed its last, Poland’s economy was in a state of perpetual crisis. When economists analyzed it from abroad, one heard talk of the prospect of starvation in major cities.

But from the depths of those dark times, this nation’s steady rise is a shining example of the prosperity that economic opportunity can bring. Your nation has moved from a state monopoly over the economy, price controls, and severe trade restrictions to a culture of entrepreneurship, greater fiscal responsibility, and international trade. As a result, your economy has experienced positive growth in each of the last twenty years. In that time, you have doubled the size of your economy. The private sector has gone from a mere 15 percent of the economy to 65 percent. And while other nations fell into recession in recent years, you weathered the storm and continued to flourish.

When economists speak of Poland today, it is not to lament chronic problems, but to describe how this nation empowered the individual, lifted the heavy hand of government, and became the fastest-growing economy in all of Europe.

Yesterday, one of your leaders shared with me an economic truth that has been lost in much of the world: “It is simple. You don’t borrow what you cannot pay back.”

The world should pay close attention to the transformation of Poland’s economy. A march toward economic liberty and smaller government has meant a march toward higher living standards, a strong military that defends liberty at home and abroad, and an important and growing role on the international stage.

Rather than heeding the false promise of a government-dominated economy, Poland sought to stimulate innovation, attract investment, expand trade, and live within its means. Your success today is a reminder that the principles of free enterprise can propel an economy and transform a society.

At a time of such difficulty and doubt throughout Europe, Poland’s economic transformation over these past 20 years is a fitting turn in the story of your country. In the 1980s, when other nations doubted that political tyranny could ever be faced down or overcome, the answer was, “Look to Poland.” And today, as some wonder about the way forward out of economic recession and fiscal crisis, the answer once again is “Look to Poland”.

It is not surprising that a people who waited so long, and endured so much, for the sake of liberty, are today enjoying liberty to the fullest.

Poland has no greater friend and ally than the people of the United States.

You helped us win our independence… your bravery inspired the allies in the Second World War… you helped bring down the Iron Curtain… and your soldiers fought side-by-side with ours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We have fought and died together.

We share a common cause, tested by time, inseparable by foe.

In times of trouble and in times of peace, we march together.

God bless you, God bless America, and God bless the great nation of Poland.

Full Text Obama Presidency June 20, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Press Conference at the End of the G20 Summit

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

The G20 Summit

President Obama meets with the leaders of the world’s major advanced and emerging economies in Los Cabos, Mexico for the G20 Summit.

President Obama greets President Felipe Calderón of Mexico
President Obama greets President Felipe Calderón of Mexico, Chuck Kennedy, 6/18/12

President Obama Speaks at the End of the G20 Summit

Source: WH, 6-20-12

After two days of policy discussions and meetings with leaders from the world’s major economies, President Obama held a press conference to discuss his takeaways from the G20 Summit.

The ongoing economic crisis in Europe was a central focus of the top-level conversations.

“[This] has been an opportunity for us to hear from European leaders on the progress they’re making and on their next steps — especially in the wake of the election in Greece,” he said. “It’s also been a chance for the international community, including the United States — the largest economy in the world, and with our own record of responding to financial crises — to stress the importance of decisive action at this moment.”

The President stressed that it’s important for Europeans to take ownership over the situation, and said that leaders from the continent understand the stakes and are ready to take the steps necessary to secure stability and growth.

But he also said that the United States could do more to bolster the global economy.

“As the world’s largest economy, the best thing the United States can do is to create jobs and growth in the short term, even as we continue to put our fiscal house in order over the long term,” he said.

Read President Obama’s full remarks, including his answers to reporters, here.

Or check out a photo gallery of images from the Summit.


Learn more:

Remarks by President Obama at Press Conference After G20 Summit

Convention Center
Los Cabos, Mexico

5:47 P.M. MDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I want to begin by thanking my good friend and partner, President Calderon, and the people of Los Cabos and Mexico for their outstanding hospitality and leadership.  Mexico is the first Latin American country to host a G20 summit, and this has been another example of Mexico playing a larger role in world affairs, from the global economy to climate change to development.

Since this is my last visit to Mexico during President Calderon’s time in office, I want to say how much I’ve valued Felipe’s friendship and the progress that we’ve made together over the past several years.  And building on the spirit here at Los Cabos, I’m absolutely confident that the deep ties between our countries will only grow stronger in the years to come.

Now, over the past three years, these G20 summits have allowed our nations to pull the global economy back from a free fall and put us back on the path of recovery and growth.  In the United States, our businesses have created jobs for 27 months in a row — more than 4 million jobs in all — and our highest priority continues to be putting people back to work even faster.

Today, we recognize that there are a wide range of threats to our ongoing global economic recovery and growth.  But the one that’s received the most focus obviously and that does have a significant impact on the United States as well as globally is the situation in Europe.  As our largest trading partner, slower growth in Europe means slower growth in American jobs.  So we have a profound interest in seeing Europe prosper.  That’s why I’ve been consulting closely with my European counterparts during this crisis, as we’ve done here at Los Cabos.

I do think it’s important to note, however, that most leaders of the eurozone, the economies are not part of the G20.  The challenges facing Europe will not be solved by the G20 or by the United States.  The solutions will be debated and decided, appropriately, by the leaders and the people of Europe.

So this has been an opportunity for us to hear from European leaders on the progress they’re making and on their next steps — especially in the wake of the election in Greece, and because they’re heading into the EU summit later this month.  It’s also been a chance for the international community, including the United States — the largest economy in the world, and with our own record of responding to financial crises — to stress the importance of decisive action at this moment.

Now, markets around the world as well as governments have been asking if Europe is ready to do what is necessary to hold the eurozone together.  Over the last two days European leaders here in Cabos have made it clear that they understand the stakes and they pledged to take the actions needed to address this crisis and restore confidence, stability, and growth.  Let me just be a little more specific.

First, our friends in Europe clearly grasp the seriousness of the situation and are moving forward with a heightened sense of urgency.  I welcome the important steps that they have already taken to promote growth, financial stability and fiscal responsibility.  I’m very pleased that the European leaders here said that they will take all necessary measures to safeguard the integrity and stability of the eurozone, to improve the functioning of the financial markets.  This will contribute to breaking the feedback loop between sovereigns and banks, and make sovereign borrowing costs sustainable.

I also welcome the adoption of the fiscal compact and it’s ongoing implementation, assessed on a structural basis, together with a growth strategy which includes structural reforms.

G20 leaders all supported Europe working in partnership with the next Greek government to ensure that they remain on a path to reform and sustainability within the eurozone.  Another positive step forward was the eurozone’s commitment to work on a more integrated financial architecture — including banking supervision, resolution, and recapitalization, as well as deposit insurance.  Also, in the coming days Spain will lay out the details of its financial support request for its banks restructuring agency, providing clarity to reassure markets on the form and the amount and the structure of support to be approved at the earliest time.

It’s also positive that the eurozone will pursue structural reforms to strengthen competitiveness in deficit countries, and to promote demand and growth in surplus countries to reduce imbalances within the euro area.

And finally, I welcome the fact that Europe is determined to move forward quickly on measures to support growth and investment including by completing the European single market and making better use of European funds.

Of course, Europe is not, as I said, the only source of concern when it comes to global growth.  The G20 also agreed that reversing the economic slowdown demands a renewed focus on growth and job creation.

As the world’s largest economy, the best thing the United States can do is to create jobs and growth in the short term, even as we continue to put our fiscal house in order over the long term.  And as part of that effort, we’ve made significant progress in advancing our trade agenda.  This is an essential to promoting growth, innovation and jobs in the United States.

Here in Los Cabos, we announced important steps towards closer integration with three of our major trading partners.  Both Mexico and Canada have been invited to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which is an ambitious 21st century trade agreement that will now include 11 countries.  And this agreement holds enormous opportunities to boost trade in one of the world’s fastest growing regions.

Even as we build this new framework for trade in the Asia Pacific, we’re also working to expand our trade with Europe.  So today, the United States and the European Union agreed to take the next step in our work towards the possible launching of negotiations on an agreement to strengthen our already very deep trade and investment partnership.

In addition, and in keeping with our commitments at the last G20 in Cannes, we agreed that countries should not intervene to hold their currencies at undervalued levels, and that countries with large surpluses and export-oriented economies needed to continue to boost demand.

So, in closing, I’d note that with Mexico’s leadership, we continue to make progress across a range of challenges that are vital to our shared prosperity — from food security to Greek economic growth that combats climate change, from financial education and protection for consumers to combating corruption that stifles economic growth, and in strengthening financial regulation to creating a more level playing field.  All of this happened in large part because of the leadership of President Calderón.  I want to thank him, and I want to thank my fellow leaders for their partnership as we work very hard to create jobs and opportunity that all of our citizens deserve.

So with that, I’m going to start with Ben Feller of AP.

Q    Thank you very much, Mr. President.  We’re all hearing a lot of encouraging promises about what Europe plans to do, but can you assure us that those actions, if they’re able to come together on them, will actually do anything to create jobs in America this year?  And if Europe is not able to rally in a big way pretty quickly, do you think that will cost you the election?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, I think that what I’ve heard from European leaders during the course of these discussions is they understand the stakes.  They understand why it’s important for them to take bold and decisive action.  And I’m confident that they can meet those tests.

Now, I always show great sympathy for my European friends because they don’t have to deal with one Congress — they have to deal with 17 parliaments, if you’re talking about the eurozone.  If you’re talking about the European Union, you’re talking about 27.  And that means that sometimes, even after they’ve conceived of approaches to deal with the crisis, they have to work through all the politics to get it done.  And markets are a lot more impatient.

And so what I’ve encouraged them to do is to lay out a framework for where they want to go in increasing European integration, in resolving the financial pressures that are on sovereign countries.  Even if they can’t achieve all of it in one full swoop, I think if people have a sense of where they’re going, that can provide confidence and break the fever.  Because if you think about Europe, look, this remains one of the wealthiest, most productive regions of the world.  Europe continues to have enormous strengths — a very well-educated, productive workforce.  They have some of the biggest, best-run companies in the world.  They have trading relationships around the world.  And all of these problems that they’re facing right now are entirely solvable, but the markets, when they start seeing potential uncertainty, show a lot more risk aversion, and you can start getting into a negative cycle.

And what we have to do is it to create a positive cycle where people become more confident, the markets settle down, and they have the time and the space to execute the kinds of structural reforms that not only Europe, but all of us are having to go through, in balancing the need for growth, but also dealing with issues like debt and deficits.  And I’m confident that over the next several weeks, Europe will paint a picture of where we need to go, take some immediate steps that are required to give them that time and space.  And based on the conversations that I’ve had here today and the conversations that I’ve had over the last several months, I’m confident that they are very much committed to the European project.

Now, all this affects the United States.  Europe as a whole is our largest trading partner.  And if fewer folks are buying stuff in Paris or Berlin, that means that we’re selling less stuff made in Pittsburgh or Cleveland.  But I think there are a couple of things that we’ve already done that help.  The financial regulatory reforms that we passed means that our banks are better capitalized.  It means that our supervision and our mechanisms for looking at trouble spots in our financial system are superior to what they were back in 2008.  That’s an important difference.  But there’s still some more things we can do.

And the most important thing we can do is something that I’ve already talked about.  If Congress would act on a jobs plan that independent economists say would put us on the path of creating an extra million jobs on top of the ones that have already been created — putting teachers back in the classroom, putting construction workers back on the job rebuilding infrastructure that badly needs to be rebuilt — all those things can make a significant difference.  And given that we don’t have full control over what happens in Europe or the pace at which things happen in Europe, let’s make sure that we’re doing those things that we do have control over and that are good policy anyway.

Q    ((inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I think it’s fair to say that any — all these issues, economic issues, will potentially have some impact on the election.  But that’s not my biggest concern right now.  My biggest concern is the same concern I’ve had over the last three and a half years, which is folks who are out of work or underemployed or unable to pay the bills — what steps are we taking to potentially put them in a stronger position.  And I consistently believed that if we take the right policy steps, if we’re doing the right thing, then the politics will follow.  And my mind hasn’t changed on that.

Jeff Mason, Reuters.  Where’s Jeff?

Q    Thank you, sir.  My question is about Syria.  Did President Putin of Russia indicate any desire on Russia’s part for Assad to step down or to leave power?  And did you make any tangible progress in your meetings with him or with Chinese President Hu in finding a way to stop the bloodshed there?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, these were major topics of conversation in both meetings.  And anybody who’s seen scenes of what’s happening in Syria I think recognizes that the violence is completely out of hand, that civilians are being targeted, and that Assad has lost legitimacy.  And when you massacre your own citizens in the ways that we’ve seen, it is impossible to conceive of a orderly political transition that leaves Assad in power.

Now, that doesn’t mean that that process of political transition is easy.  And there’s no doubt that Russia, which historically has had a relationship with Syria, as well as China, which is generally wary of commenting on what it considers to be the internal affairs of other countries, are and have been more resistant to applying the kind of pressure that’s necessary to achieve that political transition.

We had a very candid conversation.  I wouldn’t suggest that at this point the United States and the rest of the international community are aligned with Russia and China in their positions, but I do think they recognize the grave dangers of all-out civil war.  I do not think they condone the massacres that we’ve witnessed.  And I think they believe that everybody would be better served if Syria had a mechanism for ceasing the violence and creating a legitimate government.

What I’ve said to them is that it’s important for the world community to work with the United Nations and Kofi Annan on what a political transition would look like.  And my hope is, is that we can have those conversations in the coming week or two and that we can present to the world, but most importantly, to the Syrian people, a pathway whereby this conflict can be resolved.

But I don’t think it would fair to say that the Russians and the Chinese are signed on at this point.  I think what is fair to say is that they recognize that the current situation is grave; it does not serve their interests; it certainly does not serve the interests of the Syrian people.  And where we agree is that if we can help the Syrian people find a path to a resolution, all of us would be better off.

But it’s my personal belief — and I shared this with them  — that I don’t see a scenario in which Assad stays and violence is reduced.  He had an opportunity with the Annan plan.  They did not fulfill their side of the deal.  Instead we saw escalation and murder of innocent women and children.  And at this point, we have the international monitors that were sent in having to leave because of this violence that’s being perpetrated.  And although you’ll hear sometimes from some commentators that the opposition has engaged in violence as well, and obviously there’s evidence of that, I think it’s also fair to say that those haunting images that we saw in places like Hom were the direct result of decisions made by the Syrian government and ultimately Mr. Assad is responsible.

Q    Did either of them talk about Syria without Assad?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  We had an intensive conversation about it. If you’re asking me whether they signed on to that proposition, I don’t think it would be fair to say that they are there yet.  But my — I’m going to keep on making the argument and my expectation is, is that at some point there’s a recognition that it’s hard to envision a better future for Syria while Assad is still there.

Julianna Goldman.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  One of Mitt Romney’s economic advisors recently wrote in a German publication that your recommendations to Europe and to Germany in particular reveal ignorance of the causes of the crisis, and he said that they have the same flaws as your own economic policies.  I want to get your response to that, and also to follow up on Ben’s question.  Europe has been kicking the can down the road for years, so why are you any more convinced that we won’t see another three-month fix emerge out of Brussels at the end of the month?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, with respect to Mr. Romney’s advisors, I suggest you go talk to Mr. Romney about his advisors.  I would point out that we have one President at a time and one administration at a time, and I think traditionally the notion has been that America’s political differences end at the water’s edge.  I’d also suggest that he may not be familiar with what our suggestions to the Germans have been.  And I think sometimes back home there is a desire to superimpose whatever ideological arguments are taking place back home on to a very complicated situation in Europe.

The situation in Europe is a combination of things.  You’ve got situations where some countries did have undisciplined fiscal practices, public debt.  You had some countries like Spain whose problems actually arose out of housing speculation and problems in the private sector that didn’t have to do with public debt.

I think that there’s no doubt that all the countries in Europe at this point recognize the need for growth strategies inside of Europe that are consistent with fiscal consolidation plans — and by the way, that’s exactly what I think the United States should be thinking about.  The essence of the plan that I presented back in September was how do we increase growth and jobs now while providing clarity in terms of how we reduce our deficit and our debt medium and long term.

And I think that’s the right recipe generally — not just for us, but across the board.

You had a second question.  What was it?

Q    Why are you —

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Why am I confident?  Well, look, I don’t want to sound Pollyanna-ish here.  Resolving the issues in Europe is difficult.  As I said, there are a lot of players involved.  There are a lot of complexities to the problems, because we’re talking about the problems of a bunch of different countries at this point.  Changing market psychology is very difficult.  But the tools are available.  The sense of urgency among the leaders is clear.  And so what we have to do is combine that sense of urgency with the tools that are available and bridge them in a timely fashion that can provide markets confidence.  And I think that can be done.

Hopefully — just to give an example — when Spain clarifies exactly how it intends to draw down and utilize dollars — or not dollars, but euros to recapitalize its banking system, given that it’s already got support from other European countries, given that the resources are available, what’s missing right now is just a sense of specifics and the path whereby that takes place. When markets see that, that can help build confidence and reverse psychology.

So there are going to be a range of steps that they can take.  None of them are going to be a silver bullet that solves this thing entirely over the next week or two weeks or two months.  But each step points to the fact that Europe is moving towards further integration rather than breakup, and that these problems can be resolved — and points to the underlying strength in Europe’s economies.

These are not countries that somehow at their core are unproductive or dysfunctional; these are advanced economies with extraordinarily productive people.  They’ve got a particular challenge that has to do with a currency union that didn’t have all the best bells and whistles of a fiscal or a monetary union, and they’re catching up now to some of those needs.  And they just need the time and the space to do it.  In the meantime, they’ve got to send a strong signal to the market, and I’m confident they can do that.

All right.  Thank you very much, everybody.

END
6:12 P.M. MDT

Political Buzz June 8, 2012: President Barack Obama Press Conference: Obama Presses Congress to Pass his Jobs Proposal — Urges European Leaders to Fix Economic Crisis

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in 2011.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking in the White House Press Briefing Room in Washington, June 8, 2012. | Reuters

The bully pulpit is really the only source of leverage the president has. | Reuters

 IN FOCUS: PRESIDENT OBAMA PRESS CONFERENCE: OBAMA PRESSES CONGRESS TO PASS HIS JOBS PROPOSAL — URGES EUROPEAN LEADERS TO FIX ECONOMIC CRISIS

Obama Calls for Aid to States, Says ‘Private Sector Doing Fine’: Amid fresh concerns about the durability of the U.S. economic recovery and the threat of financial shocks from Europe’s debt crisis, President Obama today urged lawmakers to send more federal aid to states and localities to boost hiring, asserting “the private sector is doing fine.”
“We’ve created 4.3 million new jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,00 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine,” Obama said during a morning news conference in the White House briefing room.
“Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy has to do with state and local government. Often times, cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they had in the past from the federal government. And they don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government does in dealing with fewer revenues coming in,” he said…. – ABC News Radio, 6-8-12

  • President Obama prods European leaders to work on economy: Europe’s economic crisis could send shock waves roaring across the Atlantic that would drag down the fragile US economy and threaten President Barack Obama’s hopes for a second term. The president demonstrated Friday just how deeply he’s…. – San Jose Mercury News, 6-8-12
  • Obama news conference signals rising concern about economy: President Obama on Friday prodded European leaders to take further steps to stabilize their financial system while urging Congress to act on his jobs proposals at home, twin moves that signaled rising concern in his administration about…. – LAT, 6-8-12
  • Obama hits Republicans for lack of action on jobs: President Obama urged Congress to take steps to boost the economy and called on Republican lawmakers to explain why they are not taking action if they don’t…. – CBS News, 6-8-12
  • Obama tells Congress, European leaders to improve the economy, avert a crisis: President Obama on Friday put the country’s economic problems on the shoulders of Republicans in Congress, saying their failure to pass his entire jobs bill is keeps Americans out of work. “If Republicans want to be helpful … they should be asking…. – Fox News, 6-8-12
  • Obama: Congress has ‘no excuse’ not to pass jobs agenda: Facing a slowdown in the US economy, President Obama on Friday tried to inject new momentum behind his jobs agenda, declaring that Congress has “no excuse” not to support his proposals aimed at putting more Americans back to work…. – WaPo, 6-8-12
  • Romney: Obama’s private sector remark ‘out of touch’: Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney seized on President Obama’s comments today about the state of the private sector during a speech in Iowa calling the president’s remarks “out of touch.” “He said the private sector is doing fine.”… – USA Today, 6-8-12
  • Mitt Romney pounces on Obama saying private sector ‘doing fine’: Mitt Romney hit back at President Obama’s comments Friday morning that the private sector was “doing fine,” with the GOP nominee saying it was evidence that the president does not understand the economy nor the financial struggles facing Americans…. – LAT, 6-8-12
  • Obama: Congress, Europe must stem economic crisis: The economy at risk, President Barack Obama accused Republicans on Friday of pursuing policies that would weaken the US recovery. He simultaneously urged Europe’s leaders…. – AP, 6-8-12
  • Obama uses bully pulpit to talk economy: MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts talks to Melissa Harris-Perry, host of MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry show, about President Barack Obama’s remarks about the economy and Congress’ not approving his entire jobs plan…. – msnbc.com, 6-8-12
  • Obama: Europe Must Act as Crisis Puts Drag on Recovery: Play Obama: Congress Must Act on Economic Growth President Barack Obama pressed Europe’s leaders to take “decisive” action to stimulate growth while dealing with debt, saying the euro-zone crisis is putting a serious drag on the US economy…. – Bloomberg, 6-8-12
  • Obama Urges Europe to Act Decisively: President Barack Obama on Friday said the euro zone needs to take decisive steps to inject capital into its weak banks and deepen collaboration on its financial system and budgets to stem the financial crisis…. – WSJ, 6-8-12
  • Obama to speak on state of US economy, Europe’s woes as re-election campaign: President Barack Obama will address the state of the economy, including the debt crisis in Europe that’s become a drag on the US, in remarks at the White House Friday. The president will also call on Congress to pass proposals that he says…. – WaPo, 6-8-12

Full Text Obama Presidency June 8, 2012: President Obama’s Press Conference Discusses the State of the Economy — Urges Congress to Pass Jobs Proposal — Transcript

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama Discusses the State of the Economy

Source: WH, 6-8-12
President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the economy (June 8, 2012)President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the economy in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, June 8, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama today took to the podium in the White House Briefing Room to discuss the state of the economy and answer a few questions from reporters.

He began by addressing the ongoing crisis in Europe — America’s largest trading partner — and why it’s an area of focus for his administration.

“If there’s less demand for our products in places like Paris or Madrid,” he said, “It could mean less businesses…for manufacturers in places like Pittsburgh or Milwaukee.”

The President told reporters that, while there are reasons for concern, European leaders have the capacity to solve their problems — and they’ll have the support of the United States in that effort.

The President also said that the continued instability of the international economy is another reason why lawmakers need to do more to create jobs here at home:

[Since] the housing bubble burst, we’ve got more than a million construction workers out of work. There’s nothing fiscally responsible about waiting to fix your roof until it caves in. We’ve got a lot of deferred maintenance in this country. We could be putting a lot of people back to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges, some of our schools. There’s work to be done; there are workers to do it.  Let’s put them back to work right now.

The housing market is stabilizing and beginning to come back in many parts of the country. But there are still millions of responsible homeowners who’ve done everything right but still struggle to make ends meet. So, as I talked about just a few weeks ago, let’s pass a bill that gives them a chance to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage and taking advantage of these historically low rates.  That’s something we can do right now. It would make a difference.

Instead of just talking a good game about job creators, Congress should give the small business owners that actually create most of the new jobs in America a tax break for hiring more workers.

These are ideas that, again, have gotten strong validation from independent, nonpartisan economists. It would make a difference in our economy. And there’s no excuse for not passing these ideas. We know they can work.

Read the full remarks from the press conference, including President Obama’s answers to reporters, here.

Remarks by the President

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

10:40 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  I just want to say a few words about the economy, and then I will take some of your questions.

Today, we’re fighting back from the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression.  After losing jobs for 25 months in a row, our businesses have now created jobs for 27 months in a row — 4.3 million new jobs in all.  The fact is job growth in this recovery has been stronger than in the one following the last recession a decade ago.  But the hole we have to fill is much deeper and the global aftershocks are much greater.  That’s why we’ve got to keep on pressing with actions that further strengthen the economy.

Right now, one concern is Europe, which faces a threat of renewed recession as countries deal with a financial crisis.  Obviously this matters to us because Europe is our largest economic trading partner.  If there’s less demand for our products in places like Paris or Madrid it could mean less businesses — or less business for manufacturers in places like Pittsburgh or Milwaukee.

The good news is there is a path out of this challenge.  These decisions are fundamentally in the hands of Europe’s leaders, and fortunately, they understand the seriousness of the situation and the urgent need to act.  I’ve been in frequent contact with them over the past several weeks, and we know that there are specific steps they can take right now to prevent the situation there from getting worse.

In the short term, they’ve got to stabilize their financial system.  And part of that is taking clear action as soon as possible to inject capital into weak banks.  Just as important, leaders can lay out a framework and a vision for a stronger eurozone, including deeper collaboration on budgets and banking policy.  Getting there is going to take some time, but showing the political commitment to share the benefits and responsibilities of a integrated Europe will be a strong step.

With respect to Greece, which has important elections next weekend, we’ve said that it is in everybody’s interest for Greece to remain in the eurozone while respecting its commitments to reform.  We recognize the sacrifices that the Greek people have made, and European leaders understand the need to provide support if the Greek people choose to remain in the eurozone.  But the Greek people also need to recognize that their hardships will likely be worse if they choose to exit from the eurozone.

Over the longer term, even as European countries with large debt burdens carry out necessary fiscal reforms, they’ve also got to promote economic growth and job creation.  As some countries have discovered, it’s a lot harder to rein in deficits and debt if your economy isn’t growing.  So it’s a positive thing that the conversation has moved in that direction, and leaders like Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande are working to put in place a growth agenda alongside responsible fiscal plans.

The bottom line is the solutions to these problems are hard, but there are solutions.  The decisions required are tough, but Europe has the capacity to make them.  And they have America’s support.  Their success is good for us.  And the sooner that they act, and the more decisive and concrete their actions, the sooner people and markets will regain some confidence and the cheaper the costs of cleanup will be down the road.

In the meantime, given the signs of weakness in the world economy, not just in Europe but also some softening in Asia, it’s critical that we take the actions we can to strengthen the American economy right now.

Last September, I sent Congress a detailed jobs plan full of the kind of bipartisan ideas that would have put more Americans back to work.  It had broad support from the American people.    It was fully paid for.  If Congress had passed it in full, we’d be on track to have a million more Americans working this year.  The unemployment rate would be lower.  Our economy would be stronger.

Of course, Congress refused to pass this jobs plan in full. They did act on a few parts of the bill — most significantly the payroll tax cut that’s putting more money in every working person’s paycheck right now.  And I appreciate them taking that action.  But they left most of the jobs plan just sitting there. And in light of the headwinds that we’re facing right now, I urge them to reconsider.  Because there’s steps we can take right now to put more people back to work.  They’re not just my ideas; they’re not just Democratic ideas — they’re ideas that independent, nonpartisan economists believe would make a real difference in our economy.

Keep in mind that the private sector has been hiring at a solid pace over the last 27 months.  But one of the biggest weaknesses has been state and local governments, which have laid off 450,000 Americans.  These are teachers and cops and firefighters.  Congress should pass a bill putting them back to work right now, giving help to the states so that those layoffs are not occurring.

In addition, since the housing bubble burst, we’ve got more than a million construction workers out of work.  There’s nothing fiscally responsible about waiting to fix your roof until it caves in.  We’ve got a lot of deferred maintenance in this country.  We could be putting a lot of people back to work rebuilding our roads, our bridges, some of our schools.  There’s work to be done; there are workers to do it.  Let’s put them back to work right now.

The housing market is stabilizing and beginning to come back in many parts of the country.  But there are still millions of responsible homeowners who’ve done everything right but still struggle to make ends meet.  So, as I talked about just a few weeks ago, let’s pass a bill that gives them a chance to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage and taking advantage of these historically low rates.  That’s something we can do right now.  It would make a difference.

Instead of just talking a good game about job creators, Congress should give the small business owners that actually create most of the new jobs in America a tax break for hiring more workers.

These are ideas that, again, have gotten strong validation from independent, nonpartisan economists.  It would make a difference in our economy.  And there’s no excuse for not passing these ideas.  We know they can work.

Now, if Congress decides, despite all that, that they aren’t going to do anything about this simply because it’s an election year, then they should explain to the American people why.  There’s going to be plenty of time to debate our respective plans for the future.  That’s a debate I’m eager to have.  But right now, people in this town should be focused on doing everything we can to keep our recovery going and keeping our country strong.  And that requires some action on the part of Congress.  So I would urge them to take another look at some of the ideas that have already been put forward.

And with that, I’m going to take a couple of questions.  And I’m going to start with Caren Bohan — who is with Reuters, but as we all know, is about to go get a fancy job with National Journal.  (Laughter.)  And we’re very proud of her.  So congratulations to you, Caren.  You get the first crack at me.

Q    Thank you very much, Mr. President.  Could you tell the American people what role the United States is playing in the European debt crisis?  And also, do you think European leaders have a handle on what’s needed to stem the crisis?  And finally, you talked about a number of ideas that you’ve already put forth to shield the American economy.  Do you plan to give a speech or lay out additional ideas now that the crisis is really escalating?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, a couple of things.  First of all, the situation in Europe is not simply a debt crisis.  You’ve got some countries like Greece that genuinely have spent more than they’re bringing in, and they’ve got problems.  There are other countries that actually were running a surplus and had fairly responsible fiscal policies but had weaknesses similar to what happened here with respect to their housing market or the real estate markets, and that has weakened their financial system.  So there are a bunch of different issues going on in Europe.  It’s not simply a debt crisis.

What is true is, is that the markets getting nervous have started making it much more expensive for them to borrow, and that then gets them on a downward spiral.

We have been in constant contact with Europe over the last  — European leaders over the last two years, and we have consulted with them both at the head of government and head of state level.  I frequently speak to the leaders not only at formal settings like the G8 but also on the telephone or via videoconference.  And our economic teams have gone over there to consult.

As I said in my opening remarks, the challenges they face are solvable.  Right now, their focus has to be on strengthening their overall banking system — much in the same way that we did back in 2009 and 2010 — making a series of decisive actions that give people confidence that the banking system is solid, that capital requirements are being met, that various stresses that may be out there can be absorbed by the system.  And I think that European leaders are in discussions about that and they’re moving in the right direction.

In addition, they’re going to have to look at how do they achieve growth at the same time as they’re carrying out structural reforms that may take two or three or five years to fully accomplish.  So countries like Spain and Italy, for example, have embarked on some smart structural reforms that everybody thinks are necessary — everything from tax collection to labor markets to a whole host of different issues.  But they’ve got to have the time and the space for those steps to succeed.  And if they are just cutting and cutting and cutting, and their unemployment rate is going up and up and up, and people are pulling back further from spending money because they’re feeling a lot of pressure — ironically, that can actually make it harder for them to carry out some of these reforms over the long term.

So I think there’s discussion now about, in addition to sensible ways to deal with debt and government finances, there’s a parallel discussion that’s taking place among European leaders to figure out how do we also encourage growth and show some flexibility to allow some of these reforms to really take root.

Now, keep in mind that this obviously can have a potential impact on us because Europe is our largest trading partner.  The good news is, is that a lot of the work we did back in 2009 and 2010 have put our financial system on a much more solid footing. Our insistence of increasing capital requirements for banks means that they can absorb some of the shocks that might come from across the Atlantic.  Folks in the financial sector have been monitoring this carefully and I think are prepared for a range of contingencies.

But even if we weren’t directly hit in the sense that our financial system still stayed solid, if Europe goes into a recession that means we’re selling fewer goods, fewer services, and that is going to have some impact on the pace of our recovery.  So we want to do everything we can to make sure that we are supportive of what European leaders are talking about.  Ultimately, it is a decision that they’ve got to make in terms of how they move forward towards more integration, how they move forward in terms of accommodating the needs for both reform and growth.

And the most important thing I think we can do is make sure that we continue to have a strong, robust recovery.  So the steps that I’ve outlined are the ones that are needed.  We’ve got a couple of sectors in our economy that are still weak.  Overall, the private sector has been doing a good job creating jobs.  We’ve seen record profits in the corporate sector.

The big challenge we have in our economy right now is state and local government hiring has been going in the wrong direction.  You’ve seen teacher layoffs, police officers, cops, firefighters being laid off.  And the other sector that’s still weak has been the construction industry.  Those two areas we’ve directly addressed with our jobs plan.  The problem is that it requires Congress to take action, and we’re going to keep pushing them to see if they can move in that direction.

Jackie Calmes.  Where did Jackie go?  There she is.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I’d like to ask you a couple — about what a couple of other people have said about Europe.  And one is that I’d like to know if you agree with former President Bill Clinton, who said in the past week that the European’s policies that you’ve described here today are much like those of the Republicans in this country — politics of austerity that would take us in the same direction as Europe — if you agree with that.  The Republicans, for their part, have said that you’re simply blaming the Europeans for problems that have been caused by your own policies.  So I’d like you to respond to both of those.  And also, tell us precisely how much time you personally spend on the European situation.

THE PRESIDENT:  Any other aspects to the question?  (Laughter.)

Q    I do have more questions.  (Laughter.)

Q    Is she going to National Journal?  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  First of all, in terms of the amount of time I spend — look, I think it’s fair to say that over the last two years I’m in consistent discussions with European leadership and consistent discussions with my economic team.

This is one of the things that’s changed in the world economy over the last two or three decades, is that this is a global economy now, and what happens anywhere in the world can have an impact here in the United States.  Certainly that’s true after the kind of trauma that we saw in 2008 and 2009.

And if you think about the situation in Europe, they’re going through a lot of the things that we went through back in 2009, 2010, where we took some very decisive action.  The challenge they have is they’ve got 17 governments that have to coordinate — 27 if you count the entire European Union, not just the eurozone.  So imagine dealing with 17 Congresses instead of just one.  That makes things more challenging.

But what we’ve tried to do is to be constructive, to not frame this as us scolding them or telling them what to do, but to give them advice, in part based on our experiences here in having stabilized a financial situation effectively.  And ultimately, though, they’re going to have to make a lot of these decisions, and so what we can do is to prod, advise, suggest.  But ultimately, they’re going to have to make these decisions.

Now, in terms of characterizing the situation over there, what is absolutely true — this is true in Europe and it’s true here in the United States — is that we’ve got short-term problems and long-term problems.  And the short-term problems are:  How do we put people back to work?  How do we make the economy grow as rapidly as possible?  How do we ensure that the recovery gains momentum?

Because if we do those things, not only is it good for the people who find work, not only is it good for families who are able to pay the bills, but it actually is one of the most important things we can do to reduce deficits and debt.  It’s a lot easier to deal with deficits and debt if you’re growing, because you’re bringing in more revenue and you’re not spending as much because people don’t need unemployment insurance as much; they don’t need other programs that are providing support to people in need because things are going pretty good.

Now, that’s true here in the United States, and that’s true in Europe.  So the problem I think President Clinton identified is that if, when an economy is still weak and a recovery is still fragile, that you resort to a strategy of “let’s cut more” — so that you’re seeing government layoffs, reductions in government spending, severe cutbacks in major investments that help the economy grow over the long term — if you’re doing all those things at the same time as consumers are pulling back because they’re still trying to pay off credit card debt, and there’s generally weak demand in the economy as a whole, then you can get on a downward spiral where everybody is pulling back at the same time.  That weakens demand and that further crimps the desire of companies to hire more people.  And that’s the pattern that Europe is in danger of getting into.

Some countries in Europe right now have an unemployment rate of 15, 20 percent.  If you are engaging in too much austerity too quickly, and that unemployment rate goes up to 20 or 25 percent, then that actually makes it harder to then pay off your debts.  And the markets, by the way, respond in — when they see this kind of downward spiral happening, they start making a calculation, well, if you’re not growing at all, if you’re contracting, you may end up having more trouble paying us off, so we’re going to charge you even more.  Your interest rates will go up.  And it makes it that much tougher.

So I think that — what we want both for ourselves, but what we’ve advised in Europe as well is a strategy that says let’s do everything can to grow now, even as we lock in a long-term plan to stabilize our debt and our deficits, and start bringing them down in a steady, sensible way.

And by the way, that’s what we proposed last year; that’s what’s proposed in my budget.  What I’ve said is, let’s make long-term spending cuts; let’s initiate long-term reforms; let’s reduce our health care spending; let’s make sure that we’ve got a pathway, a glide-path to fiscal responsibility, but at the same time, let’s not underinvest in the things that we need to do right now to grow.  And that recipe of short-term investments in growth and jobs with a long-term path of fiscal responsibility is the right approach to take for, I think, not only the United States but also for Europe.

Q    What about the Republicans saying that you’re blaming the Europeans for the failures of your own policies?

THE PRESIDENT:  The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone.  The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government — oftentimes, cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.

And so, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is, how do we help state and local governments and how do we help the construction industry.  Because the recipes that they’re promoting are basically the kinds of policies that would add weakness to the economy, would result in further layoffs, would not provide relief in the housing market, and would result, I think most economists estimate, in lower growth and fewer jobs, not more.

All right.  David Jackson.

Q    Thank you, sir.  There are a couple of books out with, essentially, details about national security issues.  There are reports of terrorist kill lists that you supervise and there are reports of cyber-attacks on the Iranian nuclear program that you ordered.  Two things.  First of all, what’s your reaction of this information getting out in public?  And secondly, what’s your reaction to lawmakers who accuse your team of leaking these details in order to promote your reelection bid?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, I’m not going to comment on the details of what are supposed to be classified items.  Second, as Commander-in-Chief, the issues that you have mentioned touch on our national security, touch on critical issues of war and peace, and they’re classified for a reason — because they’re sensitive and because the people involved may, in some cases, be in danger if they’re carrying out some of these missions.  And when this information, or reports, whether true or false, surface on the front page of newspapers, that makes the job of folks on the front lines tougher and it makes my job tougher — which is why since I’ve been in office, my attitude has been zero tolerance for these kinds of leaks and speculation.

Now, we have mechanisms in place where if we can root out folks who have leaked, they will suffer consequences.  In some cases, it’s criminal — these are criminal acts when they release information like this.  And we will conduct thorough investigations, as we have in the past.

The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive.  It’s wrong.  And people I think need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me here approach this office.

We’re dealing with issues that can touch on the safety and security of the American people, our families, or our military personnel, or our allies.  And so we don’t play with that.  And it is a source of consistent frustration, not just for my administration but for previous administrations, when this stuff happens.  And we will continue to let everybody know in government, or after they leave government, that they have certain obligations that they should carry out.

But as I think has been indicated from these articles, whether or not the information they’ve received is true, the writers of these articles have all stated unequivocally that they didn’t come from this White House.  And that’s not how we operate.

Q    Are there leak investigations going on now — is that what you’re saying?

THE PRESIDENT:  What I’m saying is, is that we consistently, whenever there is classified information that is put out into the public, we try to find out where that came from.

Okay?  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.

END
11:09 A.M. EDT

Full Text November 4, 2011: President Barack Obama at the G20 in France — Press Conferences Transcripts

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Progress at the G-20

Source: WH, 11-4-11
20111104 POTUS G20 Press Conference

President Barack Obama answers a question at his press conference at the G20 Summit in Cannes, France, Nov. 4, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

When world leaders gathered this week in France, they acknowledged that the global economy was facing significant challenges that put recovery from the recession at risk.

The debt crisis in Europe has put stress on the continent’s banking system, and countries like Greece and Italy are struggling to restore fiscal order.

In our country, the economy hasn’t rebounded how anyone had hoped. We’re adding jobs, but not at anywhere near the pace we need, and too many remain out of work.

And in emerging economies, the rate of growth seems to be slowing as continued financial instability in the rest of the world begins to drag these countries down, as well.

To counter these threats, the G20 leaders in France pledged to coordinate actions and policies to reinvigorate the global economy.

And the focus of that coordination? Jobs.

“There’s no excuse for inaction,” President Obama said in a press conference earlier today. “That’s true globally and it’s certainly true back home right now.”

Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (229MB) | mp3 (22MB)

While European governments were vowing to do everything necessary to ensure the stability of the euro, the United States made a pledge of its own in the G20 action plan:

The US commits to the timely implementation of a package of near-term measures to sustain the recovery, through public investments, tax reforms, and targeted jobs measures, consistent with a credible plan for medium-term fiscal consolidation.

Press Conference by President Obama After G20 Summit

Press Center
Claude Debussy Theater
Cannes, France

3:40 P.M. CET

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I want to begin by thanking my friend, President Sarkozy, for his leadership and his hospitality.  And I want to thank the people of Cannes for this extraordinary setting.

Over the past two years, those of us in the G20 have worked together to rescue the global economy, to avert another depression, and to put us on the path to recovery.  But we came to Cannes with no illusions.  The recovery has been fragile.  And since our last meeting in Seoul we’ve experienced a number of new shocks — disruptions in oil supplies, the tragic tsunami in Japan, and the financial crisis in Europe.

As a result, advanced economies, including the United States are growing and creating jobs, but not nearly fast enough.  Emerging economies have started to slow.  Global demand is weakening.  Around the world, hundreds of millions of people are unemployed, or underemployed.  Put simply, the world faces challenges that put our economic recovery at risk.

So the central question coming into Cannes was this:  Could the world’s largest economies confront this challenge squarely — understanding that these problems will not be solved overnight, could we make progress?  After two days of very substantive discussions I can say that we’ve come together and made important progress to put our economic recoveries on a firmer footing.

With respect to Europe, we came to Cannes to discuss with our European friends how they will move forward and build upon the plan they agreed to last week to resolve this crisis.  Events in Greece over the past 24 hours have underscored the importance of implementing the plan, fully and as quickly as possible.

Having heard from our European partners over the past two days, I am confidence that Europe has the capacity to meet this challenge.  I know it isn’t easy, but what is absolutely critical, and what the world looks for in moments such as this, is action.

That’s how we confronted our financial crisis in the United States — having our banks submit to stress tests that were rigorous, increasing capital buffers, and passing the strongest financial reforms since the Great Depression.  None of that was easy, and it certainly wasn’t always popular.  But we did what was necessary to address the crisis, put ourselves on a stronger footing, and help rescue the global economy.

And that’s the challenge that Europe now faces.  Make no mistake, there’s more hard work ahead and more difficult choices to make.  But our European partners have laid a foundation on which to build, and it has all the elements needed for success:  a credible firewall to prevent the crisis from spreading, strengthening European banks, charting a sustainable path for Greece, and confronting the structural issues that are at the heart of the current crisis.

And here in Cannes we’ve moved the ball forward.  Europe remains on track to implement a sustainable path for Greece.  Italy has agreed to a monitoring program with the IMF — in fact, invited it.  Tools have been identified that will better enable the world to support European action.  And European finance ministers will carry this work forward next week.

All of us have an enormous interest in Europe’s success, and all of us will be affected if Europe is not growing — and that certainly includes the United States, which counts Europe as our largest trading partner.  If Europe isn’t growing, it’s harder for us to do what we need to do for the American people:  creating jobs, lifting up the middle class, and putting our fiscal house in order.  And that’s why I’ve made it clear that the United States will continue to do our part to support our European partners as they work to resolve this crisis.

More broadly, we agreed to stay focused on jobs and growth with an action plan in which each nation does its part.  In the United States, we recognize, as the world’s largest economy, the most important thing we can do for global growth is to get our own economy growing faster.  Back home, we’re fighting for the American Jobs Act, which will put people back to work, even as we meet our responsibilities to reduce our deficit in the coming years.

We also made progress here in Cannes on our rebalancing agenda.  In an important step forward, countries with large surpluses and export-oriented countries agreed to take additional steps to support growth and boost demand in their own countries. In addition, we welcome China’s determination to increase the flexibility of the RMB.  This is something we’ve been calling for for some time, and it will be a critical step in boosting growth.

Finally, we also made progress across a range of challenges to our shared prosperity.  Following our reforms in the United States, the G20 adopted an unprecedented set of high-level financial reforms to prevent a crisis in the future.  We agreed to keep phasing out fossil fuel subsidies — perhaps the single-most important step we can take in the near term to fight climate change and create clean-energy economies.

And even as our countries work to save lives from the drought and terrible famine in the Horn of Africa, we agreed on the need to mobilize new resources to support the development that lifts nations out of poverty.

So, again, I want to thank President Sarkozy and our French hosts for a productive summit.  I want to thank my fellow leaders for their partnership and for the progress we’ve made to create the jobs and prosperity that our people deserve.

So with that, let me take a few questions.  I’ll start with Jim Kuhnhenn of AP.

Q    New jobless numbers today back in the States.  You’re on a pace to face the voters with the highest unemployment rate of any postwar President.  And doesn’t that make you significantly vulnerable to a Republican who might run on a message of change?  And if I may add, given that you have just witnessed the difficulties of averting economic problems beyond your control, what state do you think the economy will be in when you face reelection next year?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Jim, I have to tell you the least of my concerns at the moment is the politics of a year from now.  I’m worried about putting people back to work right now, because those folks are hurting and the U.S. economy is underperforming. And so everything that we’re doing here in the — here at the G20 mirrors our efforts back home — that is, how do we boost growth; how do we shrink our deficits in a way that doesn’t slow the recovery right now; how do we make sure that our workers are getting the skills and the training they need to compete in a global economy.  And not only does the American Jobs Act answer some of the needs for jobs now, but it will also lay the foundation for future growth through investments in infrastructure, for example.

So my hope is, is that the folks back home, including those in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, when they look at today’s job numbers — which were positive but indicate once again that the economy is growing way too slow — that they think twice before they vote “no” again on the only proposal out there right now that independent economists say would actually make a dent in unemployment right now.  There’s no excuse for inaction.  That’s true globally; it’s certainly true back home as well.  And I’m going to keep on pushing it regardless of what the politics are.

Chuck Todd.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Clearly, there was some sort of dispute between you and the European leaders about how to fund this bailout.  And you, in your remarks, emphasized the fact that TARP was done with U.S. funds, that there wasn’t any international involvement here.  Are you confident now that the European leaders are going to own this firewall or bailout fund themselves, not looking for handouts from other countries, and that they will do what they have to do?

And the second part of my question is, how hard was it to convince these folks to do stimulus measures when your own stimulus measure — you’ve mentioned it twice now — is not going anywhere right now on Capitol Hill?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, we didn’t have a long conversation about stimulus measures, so that was maybe two or three G20s ago.  We had a discussion about what steps could be taken to continue to spur economic growth.  And that may not always involve government spending.  For example, the rebalancing agenda that I talked about is one way in which we can make a big difference in spurring on global demand.  It requires some adjustments, some changes in behavior on the part of countries.  But it doesn’t necessarily involve classic fiscal stimulus.

It wasn’t a dispute with the Europeans.  I think the Europeans agree with us that it is important to send a clear signal that the European project is alive and well, and that they are committed to the euro, and that they are committed to resolving this crisis.  And I think if you talk to European leaders, they are the first ones to say that that begins with European leaders arriving at a common course of action.

So essentially, what we’ve seen is all the elements for dealing with the crisis put in place, and we think those are the right elements.  The first is having a solution to the specific problem of Greece.  And although the actions of Papandreou and the referendum issue over the last couple of days I think got a lot of people nervous, the truth is, is that the general approach — which involved a voluntary reduction on the part of those who hold the Greeks’ debt, reducing the obligations of the Greek government — Greece continuing with reforms and structural change, that’s the right recipe.  It just has to be carried out. And I was encouraged by the fact that despite all the turmoil in Greece, even the opposition leader in Greece indicated that it’s important to move forward on the proposal.

The second component is recapitalization of Europe’s banks. And they have identified that need and they are resourcing that need.  And that I think is going to be critical to further instill confidence in the markets.

And the third part of it is creating this firewall, essentially sending a signal to the markets that Europe is going to stand behind the euro.  And all the details, the structure, how it operates, are still being worked out among the European leaders.  What we were able to do was to give them some ideas, some options in terms of how they would put that together.

And what we’ve said is — and I’m speaking now for the whole of the G20 — what we’ve said is the international community is going to stand ready to assist and make sure that the overall global economy is cushioned by the gyrations in the market and the shocks that arise as Europe is working these issues through. And so they’re going to have a strong partner in us.  But European leaders understand that ultimately what the markets are looking for is a strong signal from Europe that they’re standing behind the euro.

Q    So you’re discouraging them from looking for money — outside money?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  No, what we were saying is that — and this is reflected in the communiqué — that, for example, creating additional tools for the IMF is an important component of providing markets overall confidence in global growth and stability, but that is a supplement to the work that is being done here in Europe.

And based on my conversations with President Sarkozy, Chancellor Merkel, and all the other European leaders, I believe they have that strong commitment to the euro and the European project.

David Muir.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I’m curious what you would say to Americans back home who’ve watched their 401(k)s recover largely when the bailout seemed a certainty, and then this week with the brand new political tumult in Greece, watched themselves lose essentially what they had gained back.  You mentioned you’re confident in the bailout plan.  Are you confident this will actually happen, and if so, that it will work?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, if you’re talking about the movements of the U.S. stock market, the stock market was down when I first took office and the first few months I was in office about 3,000 points lower than it is now.  So nothing has happened in the last two weeks that would suggest that somehow people’s 401(k)s have been affected the way you describe.

Am I confident that this will work?  I think that there’s more work to do.  I think there are going to be some ups and downs along the way.  But I am confident that the key players in Europe — the European political leadership — understands how much of a stake they have in making sure that this crisis is resolved, that the eurozone remains intact, and I think that they are going to do what’s necessary in order to make that happen.

Now, let’s recognize how difficult this is.  I have sympathy for my European counterparts.  We saw how difficult it was for us to save the financial system back in the United States.  It did not do wonders for anybody’s political standing, because people’s general attitude is, you know what, if the financial sector is behaving recklessly or not making good decisions, other folks shouldn’t have to suffer for it.

You layer on top of that the fact that you’re negotiating with multiple parliaments, a European parliament, a European Commission — I mean, there are just a lot of institutions here in Europe.  And I think several  — I’m not sure whether it was Sarkozy or Merkel or Barroso or somebody, they joked with me that I’d gotten a crash course in European politics over the last several days.  And there are a lot of meetings here in Europe as well.  So trying to coordinate all those different interests is laborious, it’s time consuming, but I think they’re going to get there.

What is also positive is — if there’s a silver lining in this whole process, it’s the fact that I think European leaders recognize that there are some structural reforms, institutional modifications they need to make if Europe and the eurozone is to be as effective as they want it to be.

I think that what this has exposed is that if you have a single currency but you haven’t worked out all the institutional coordination and relationships between countries on the fiscal side, on the monetary side, that that creates additional vulnerabilities.  And there’s a commitment on the part of European leaders, I think, to examine those issues.  But those are long term.  In the short term, what they’ve got to do is just make sure that they’re sending a signal to the markets that they stand behind the euro.

And if that message is sent, then I think this crisis is averted, because some of this crisis is psychological.  Italy is a big country with a enormous industrial base, great wealth, great assets, and has had substantial debt for quite some time — it’s just the market is feeling skittish right now.  And that’s why I think Prime Minister Berlusconi’s invitation to the IMF to certify that the reform plan that they put in place is one that they will, in fact, follow is an example of the steady, confidence-building measures that need to take place in order for us to get back on track.

Norah O’Donnell.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  The world leaders here have stressed growth — the importance of growth.  And yet growth back at home has been anemic, the new jobs report today showing just 88,000 jobs added.  The Republicans in Congress have made it clear that they’re going to block your jobs bill because they believe the tax hikes in it hurt small businesses.  At what point do you feel that you declare stalemate to try and reach common ground?  And do you feel like you have been an effective leader when it comes to the economy?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, wherever Republicans indicate an interest in doing things that would actually grow the economy, I’m right there with them.  So they’ve said that passing trade bills with South Korea and Panama and Colombia would help spur growth — those got done, with significant bipartisan support.  They’ve suggested that we need to reform our patent laws — that’s something that was part of my long-term program for economic growth; we’ve got that done.  What I’ve said is all those things are nice and they’re important, but if we want to grow the economy right now then we have to think bigger; we’ve got to do something bolder and more significant.

So we put forward the American Jobs Act, which contains ideas that are historically supported by Democrats and Republicans — like rebuilding our infrastructure, our roads and our bridges; putting teachers back in the classroom; providing tax credits to small businesses.

You say, Norah, that the reason they haven’t voted for them is because they don’t want to tax small business.  Well, actually, that’s not — if that’s their rationale then it doesn’t fly, because the bill that they voted down yesterday — a component of the American jobs bill — essentially said we can create hundreds of thousands of jobs, rebuilding our infrastructure, making America more competitive, and the entire program will be paid for by a tax not on millionaires but people making a million dollars a year or more, which in the United States is about — a little over 300,000 people.

Now, there aren’t a lot of small businesses across the country that are making that kind of money.  In fact, less than 3 percent of small businesses make more than $250,000 a year.  So what they’ve said is, we prefer to protect 300,000 people rather than put hundreds of thousands of people back to work and benefit 300 million Americans who are hurting because of low growth.

So we’re going to keep on pushing.  Now, there are steps that we can take absent congressional action.  And the refinancing proposal that we put forward in Las Vegas is an example of that — helping students with student loans.  We’re going to keep on rolling out administrative steps that we can take that strengthen the economy.  But if we’re going to do something big to jumpstart the economy at a time when it’s stabilized but unemployment is way too high, Congress is going to need to act.

And in terms of my track record on the economy — well, here’s just a simple way of thinking about it:  When I came into office, the U.S. economy had contracted by 9 percent — the largest contraction since the Great Depression.  Little over a year later, the economy was growing by 4 percent, and it’s been growing ever since.

Now, is that good enough?  Absolutely not.  We’ve got to do more.  And as soon as I get some signal from Congress that they’re willing to take their responsibilities seriously, I think we can do more.  But that’s going to require them to break out of the rigid ideological positions that they’ve been taking.  And the same is true, by the way, when it comes to deficit reduction.

We can solve all our problems.  We can grow our economy now, put people back to work, reduce our deficit.  And you get surprising consensus from economists about how to do it, from both the left and the right.  It’s just a matter of setting politics aside.  And we’re constantly remembering that the election is one year away.  If we do that, there’s no reason why can’t solve these problems.

All right?  Thank you, everybody.

END
4:04 P.M. CET

President Obama at the G20

Source: WH, 11-3-11
20111103 President Obama at the G20

President Barack Obama is greeted by French President Nicholas Sarkozy for the start of the G20 Summit in Cannes, France, Nov. 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Today, President Obama is in France for a meeting of the G20 — a gathering of 20 nations that represent the world’s most important industrialized economies. In addition to working sessions with the full assembly of leaders, the President also held bilateral talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In his conversation with President Sarkozy, he discussed the focus of this week’s talks:

I think it’s no surprise that we spent most of our conversation focused on strengthening the global economic recovery so that we are creating jobs for our people and stabilizing the financial markets around the world. The most important aspect of our task over the next two days is to resolve the financial crisis here in Europe. President Sarkozy has shown extraordinary leadership on this issue. I agree with him that the EU has made some important steps towards a comprehensive solution, and that would not have happened without Nicolas’s leadership. But here at the G20 we’re going to have to flesh out more of the details about how the plan will be fully and decisively implemented.

The President elaborated on that theme in his conversation with Chancellor Merkel:

This is going to be a very busy two days. Central to our discussions at the G20 is how do we achieve greater global growth and put people back to work. That means we’re going to have to resolve the situation here in Europe. And without Angela’s leadership we would not have already made the progress that we’ve seen at the EU meeting on October 27th.

 

Remarks by President Obama and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France in a Joint Statement

Convention Center
Cannes, France

10:38 A.M. CET

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it is wonderful to be back in France. And I want to thank my excellent friend and colleague, Nicolas Sarkozy, for his hospitality. He and I obviously have worked together on a wide range of issues since I’ve been President, and I always welcome his frank and honest assessment of the situations here.

It’s also nice to be back visiting in France — the last time I was in the south of France — or the first time, rather, was as a college student, and I’ve never forgotten the extraordinary hospitality of the French people and the extraordinary views that are available here.

This morning, President Sarkozy and I reaffirmed our strong and enduring ties, and I’ve said on many occasions that France is not only our oldest ally, but also one of our closest, and I consider Nicolas to be an outstanding and trusted partner on the world stage.

I think it’s no surprise that we spent most of our conversation focused on strengthening the global economic recovery so that we are creating jobs for our people and stabilizing the financial markets around the world. The most important aspect of our task over the next two days is to resolve the financial crisis here in Europe. President Sarkozy has shown extraordinary leadership on this issue. I agree with him that the EU has made some important steps towards a comprehensive solution, and that would not have happened without Nicolas’s leadership. But here at the G20 we’re going to have to flesh out more of the details about how the plan will be fully and decisively implemented.

And we also discussed the situation in Greece and how we can work to help resolve that situation as well. And the United States will continue to be a partner with the Europeans to resolve these challenges.

We had the opportunity to also talk about a range of security issues. One in particular that I want to mention is the continuing threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program. The IAEA is scheduled to release a report on Iran’s nuclear program next week and President Sarkozy and I agreed on the need to maintain the unprecedented international pressure on Iran to meet its obligations.

And finally, I’m looking forward to joining Nicolas and service members from both of our countries tomorrow to celebrate the alliance between our two countries, which spans more than 200 years — from Yorktown to Libya.

And finally, I want to make mention that this is our first meeting since the arrival of the newest Sarkozy, and so I want to congratulate Nicolas and Carla on the birth of Giulia. And I informed Nicolas on the way in that I am confident that Giulia inherited her mother’s looks rather than her father’s — (laughter) — which I think is an excellent thing. And so now we share one of the greatest challenges and blessings of life, and that is being fathers to our daughters.

So again, Nicolas, thank you for your friendship. Thank you for our partnership. And thank you for your gracious hospitality.

PRESIDENT SARKOZY: (As interpreted.) Well, you see Barack Obama’s tremendous influence. For four years now, he’s been explaining to me that to be a father to daughters is a fantastic experience — he who has two daughters. So I have listened to him. As a matter of fact, I followed his example.

I must tell you that we had a heavy agenda because there is no lack of subjects for our concern. We need the leadership of Barack Obama. We need the solidarity and the support of the United States of America. We need joint common analysis as to the way we can put the world back on the path of growth and stability.

Together, President Obama and myself are trying to build the unity of the G20. And I wish to pay tribute to the United States for understanding about all the issues we’ll be discussing over the next 48 hours, and in particular, the issue of the Greek crisis — the difficulty that the euro is facing, the need to be hand-in-glove with the United States on the language of the final communiqué.

Again, I want to thank President Obama for his understanding on all matters, including that of a levy or a tax on financial transactions, where I think we found common ground, at least common analysis, mainly that the world of finance must contribute to solving the crisis that we are all facing today.

I also want to say how delighted I am that President Obama has agreed to stay a few hours after the end of the summit in order to participate in ceremonies to pay tribute to American and French troops who have fought together so many times throughout the course of our joint histories. And I’m delighted to have the opportunity to join President Obama in a television interview, because he is much loved and much liked here in France.

So we have a very heavy agenda ahead of us, and we’ll have many opportunities to see you again and explain to you what decisions we’ve been led to take.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much.

END
10:53 A.M. CET

 

Remarks by President Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany Before Bilateral Meeting

Intercontinental Carlton Cannes Hotel
Cannes, France

11:05 A.M. CET

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It’s wonderful to be back together with my good friend, Angela Merkel. I think that the last time we were in Washington, D.C. together we presented her with the Medal of Freedom, and that indicated the high esteem that not only I, but the United States, hold her and her leadership.

This is going to be a very busy two days. Central to our discussions at the G20 is how do we achieve greater global growth and put people back to work. That means we’re going to have to resolve the situation here in Europe. And without Angela’s leadership we would not have already made the progress that we’ve seen at the EU meeting on October 27th.

We are now, having seen some progress, looking forward to working together to figure out how we can implement this in an effective way to make sure that not only is the eurozone stable, but the world financial system is stable as well. And hopefully during our bilateral meeting we’ll also have the ability to discuss a wide range of other issues, including security issues that are so important to both our countries.

But I just want to say, once again, how much I enjoy working with Angela. She exhibits the kind of practical common sense that I think has made her a leader not only in Germany but around the world.

So thank you very much.

Hold on, hold on, hold on — translation. (Laughter.) All the Americans reporters speak German, but just in case. (Laughter.)

CHANCELLOR MERKEL: (As interpreted.) Thank you very much, and let me say that I’m delighted that we have the opportunity for this meeting here. And mainly, the G20 will afford us an opportunity, during these two days of meeting, not only to talk about European matters but also about global matters that matter to both of us and that are of common interest.

And let me say, again, that I very fondly remember the evening in the White House and the award.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, everybody.

END
11:08 A.M. CET

Political Buzz US Economy in Crisis August 10, 2011: Dow Again Plunges 520 Points

US ECONOMY IN CRISIS

THE HEADLINES….

Stocks plunge after another day of volatile trading: Stocks finished the day down sharply as sellers returned to the market in full force following Tuesday’s dramatic rebound.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down about 520 points, or 4.6 percent, putting the blue-chip index below the 11,000 level it had managed to break through during Tuesday’s rally. The Standard & Poor’s 500, a broader market measure, was down about 52 points, or 4.4 percent, while the Nasdaq, a more tech-heavy index, was down 101 points, or about 4 percent.

The plunge on Wall Street, which reached around 4 percent in late trading, drove home a powerful message to investors: That the rally of about 4.7 percent in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and other indexes on Tuesday had no basis to last. — NYT, 8-9-11

  • Banks drag Wall Street lower on Europe debt: Fear returned to Wall Street on Wednesday, sending the S&P 500 to another 4 percent decline, triggered by worries that Europe’s debt crisis could engulf French banks and spill onto the U.S. financial sector.
    Trading was once again marked by sharp moves on heavy volume. For a fifth straight day, the Dow industrials fluctuated in a range of more than 400 points…. – Reuters, 8-10-11
  • Dow Closes Down 520 Points, Reverses Tuesday Gains: The rollercoaster stock market took another downward turn Wednesday, with the Dow closing down 520 points, wiping out Tuesday’s recovery from a 600-point dip on Monday…. – PBS Newshour, 8-10-11
  • Stocks Drop 4%, Dow Skids 500, Led by Banks: Stocks finished near session lows in choppy trading Wednesday, with the Dow and S&P wiping out all of the previous session’s gains led by financials, as investors continued to cautiously monitor developments in the European banks. … – CNBC.com, 8-10-11
  • Wall Street Loses Previous Day’s Gains: A major sell-off in the last minutes of today’s trading made the Dow Jones Industrial Average lose 520 points, making Wall Street lose the gains it earned yesterday. A few minutes before 4 p.m., the Dow fell about 150 points, making today’s total its ninth-largest loss in history. The S&P 500 fell 51 points and the technology-heavy Nasdaq also fell 101 points…. NY1, 8-10-11
  • Dow Declines 520 Points, Volatility Spikes: There was little to cheer in the market Wednesday, a day in which the Dow’s 4.6% decline negated Tuesday’s gains, gold prices surged and volatility spiked. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 519.83 points to 10719.94. … – Barron’s, 8-10-11
  • Wall Street Veterans Struggle To Comprehend Recent Market Moves: The stock market’s steep declines have not only produced jittery daily gyrations and heightened volatility, but they have also stunned some of Wall Street’s well-known veterans. … – WSJ, 8-10-11
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