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

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President in Address to the Illinois General Assembly

Source: WH, 2-10-16

15

1:03 P.M. CST

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

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

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

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Miss you!  (Laughter.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

END           2:04 P.M. CST

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Political Headlines July 24, 2013: President Barack Obama Starts Economic Campaign, Accuses GOP of Obstruction

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Starts Economic Campaign, Accuses GOP of Obstruction

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Seeking to force the public debate back to the economy, President Obama slammed Republicans on Wednesday for standing in the way of his efforts to boost the middle class, as he launched a campaign to highlight his second-term priorities.

“With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball.  And I am here to say this needs to stop,” the president said in a speech at Knox College, the site of his first economic address on the national stage in 2005….READ MORE

Political Headlines July 24, 2013: President Barack Obama Focuses on Economy, Vowing to Help Middle Class in Knox College Speech

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Focuses on Economy, Vowing to Help Middle Class

Source: NYT, 7-24-13

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

President Obama spoke about the economy On Wednesday at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.

President Obama tried to move past months of debate over guns, surveillance and scandal on Wednesday and reorient his administration behind a program to lift a middling economy and help middle-class Americans who are stuck with stagnant incomes and shrinking horizons….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency July 24, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Economic Policy & Agenda Speech at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois – Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Obama’s Economics Speech at Knox College

Source: NYT, 7-24-13

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

President Obama spoke about the economy On Wednesday at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.

Following is the prepared text of President Obama’s speech in Galesburg, Ill., as provided by the White House.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Eight years ago, I came here to deliver the commencement address for the class of 2005. Things were a little different back then. I didn’t have any gray hair, for example. Or a motorcade. I didn’t even have a teleprompter. It was my first big speech as your newest senator, and I spent my time talking about what a changing economy was doing to the middle class – and what we, as a country, needed to do to give every American a chance to get ahead in the 21st century.

You see, I’d just spent a year traveling this state and listening to your stories – of proud Maytag workers losing their jobs when their plant moved down to Mexico; of teachers whose salaries weren’t keeping up with the rising cost of groceries; of young people who had the drive but not the money to afford a college education.

They were the stories of families who worked hard and believed in the American Dream, but felt that the odds were increasingly stacked against them. And they were right.

In the period after World War II, a growing middle class was the engine of our prosperity. Whether you owned a company, swept its floors, or worked anywhere in between, this country offered you a basic bargain – a sense that your hard work would be rewarded with fair wages and benefits, the chance to buy a home, to save for retirement, and, above all, to hand down a better life for your kids.

But over time, that engine began to stall. That bargain began to fray. Technology made some jobs obsolete. Global competition sent others overseas. It became harder for unions to fight for the middle class. Washington doled out bigger tax cuts to the rich and smaller minimum wage increases for the working poor. The link between higher productivity and people’s wages and salaries was severed – the income of the top 1% nearly quadrupled from 1979 to 2007, while the typical family’s barely budged.

Towards the end of those three decades, a housing bubble, credit cards, and a churning financial sector kept the economy artificially juiced up. But by the time I took office in 2009, the bubble had burst, costing millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, and their savings. The decades-long erosion of middle-class security was laid bare for all to see and feel.

Today, five years after the start of that Great Recession, America has fought its way back.

Together, we saved the auto industry, took on a broken health care system, and invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil and double wind and solar power.

Together, we put in place tough new rules on big banks, and protections that cracked down on the worst practices of mortgage lenders and credit card companies. We changed a tax code too skewed in favor of the wealthiest at the expense of working families, locking in tax cuts for 98% of Americans, and asking those at the top to pay a little more.

Add it all up, and over the past 40 months, our businesses have created 7.2 million new jobs. This year, we are off to our strongest private-sector job growth since 1999. And because we bet on this country, foreign companies are, too. Right now, more of Honda’s cars are made in America than anywhere else. Airbus will build new planes in Alabama. Companies like Ford are replacing outsourcing with insourcing and bringing more jobs home. We sell more products made in America to the rest of the world than ever before. We now produce more natural gas than any country on Earth. We’re about to produce more of our own oil than we buy from abroad for the first time in nearly 20 years. The cost of health care is growing at its slowest rate in 50 years. And our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years.

Thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, we’ve cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis and begun to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth. In our personal lives, we tightened our belts, shed debt, and refocused on the things that really matter. As a country, we’ve recovered faster and gone further than most other advanced nations in the world. With new American revolutions in energy, technology, manufacturing, and health care, we are actually poised to reverse the forces that have battered the middle class for so long, and rebuild an economy where everyone who works hard can get ahead.

But I’m here today to tell you what you already know – we’re not there yet. Even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, nearly all the income gains of the past ten years have continued to flow to the top 1%. The average CEO has gotten a raise of nearly 40% since 2009, but the average American earns less than he or she did in 1999. And companies continue to hold back on hiring those who have been out of work for some time.

Today, more students are earning their degree, but soaring costs saddle them with unsustainable debt. Health care costs are slowing, but many working families haven’t seen the savings yet. And while the stock market rebound has helped families get back much of what they lost in their 401ks, millions of Americans still have no idea how they’ll ever be able to retire. In many ways, the trends that I spoke of here in 2005 – of a winner-take-all economy where a few do better and better, while everybody else just treads water – have been made worse by the recession.

This growing inequality isn’t just morally wrong; it’s bad economics. When middle-class families have less to spend, businesses have fewer customers. When wealth concentrates at the very top, it can inflate unstable bubbles that threaten the economy. When the rungs on the ladder of opportunity grow farther apart, it undermines the very essence of this country.

That’s why reversing these trends must be Washington’s highest priority. It’s certainly my highest priority. Unfortunately, over the past couple of years in particular, Washington hasn’t just ignored the problem; too often, it’s made things worse.

We’ve seen a sizable group of Republican lawmakers suggest they wouldn’t vote to pay the very bills that Congress rang up – a fiasco that harmed a fragile recovery in 2011, and one we can’t afford to repeat. Then, rather than reduce our deficits with a scalpel – by cutting programs we don’t need, fixing ones we do, and making government more efficient – this same group has insisted on leaving in place a meat cleaver called the sequester that has cost jobs, harmed growth, hurt our military, and gutted investments in American education and scientific and medical research that we need to make this country a magnet for good jobs.

Over the last six months, this gridlock has gotten worse. A growing number of Republican Senators are trying to get things done, like an immigration bill that economists say will boost our economy by more than a trillion dollars. But a faction of Republicans in the House won’t even give that bill a vote, and gutted a farm bill that America’s farmers and most vulnerable children depend on.

If you ask some of these Republicans about their economic agenda, or how they’d strengthen the middle class, they’ll shift the topic to “out-of-control” government spending – despite the fact that we have cut the deficit by nearly half as a share of the economy since I took office. Or they’ll talk about government assistance for the poor, despite the fact that they’ve already cut early education for vulnerable kids and insurance for people who’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Or they’ll bring up Obamacare, despite the fact that our businesses have created nearly twice as many jobs in this recovery as they had at the same point in the last recovery, when there was no Obamacare.

With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball. And I am here to say this needs to stop. Short-term thinking and stale debates are not what this moment requires. Our focus must be on the basic economic issues that the matter most to you – the people we represent. And as Washington prepares to enter another budget debate, the stakes for our middle class could not be higher. The countries that are passive in the face of a global economy will lose the competition for good jobs and high living standards. That’s why America has to make the investments necessary to promote long-term growth and shared prosperity. Rebuilding our manufacturing base. Educating our workforce. Upgrading our transportation and information networks. That’s what we need to be talking about. That’s what Washington needs to be focused on.

And that’s why, over the next several weeks, in towns across this country, I will engage the American people in this debate. I will lay out my ideas for how we build on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class in America, and what it takes to work your way into the middle class in America. Job security, with good wages and durable industries. A good education. A home to call your own. Affordable health care when you get sick. A secure retirement even if you’re not rich. Reducing poverty and inequality. Growing prosperity and opportunity.

Some of these ideas I’ve talked about before, and some will be new. Some will require Congress, and some I will pursue on my own. Some will benefit folks right away; some will take years to fully implement. But the key is to break through the tendency in Washington to careen from crisis to crisis. What we need isn’t a three-month plan, or even a three-year plan, but a long-term American strategy, based on steady, persistent effort, to reverse the forces that have conspired against the middle class for decades.

Of course, we’ll keep pressing on other key priorities, like reducing gun violence, rebalancing our fight against al Qaeda, combating climate change, and standing up for civil rights and women’s rights. But if we don’t have a growing, thriving middle class, we won’t have the resources or the resolve; the optimism or sense of unity that we need to solve these other issues.

In this effort, I will look to work with Republicans as well as Democrats wherever I can. I believe there are members of both parties who understand what’s at stake, and I will welcome ideas from anyone, from across the political spectrum. But I will not allow gridlock, inaction, or willful indifference to get in our way. Whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class, I’ll use it. Where I can’t act on my own, I’ll pick up the phone and call CEOs, and philanthropists, and college presidents – anybody who can help – and enlist them in our efforts. Because the choices that we, the people, make now will determine whether or not every American will have a fighting chance in the 21st century.

Let me give you a quick preview of what I’ll be fighting for and why.

The first cornerstone of a strong and growing middle class has to be an economy that generates more good jobs in durable, growing industries. Over the past four years, for the first time since the 1990s, the number of American manufacturing jobs hasn’t gone down; they’ve gone up. But we can do more. So I’ll push new initiatives to help more manufacturers bring more jobs back to America. We’ll continue to focus on strategies to create good jobs in wind, solar, and natural gas that are lowering energy costs and dangerous carbon pollution. And I’ll push to open more manufacturing innovation institutes that turn regions left behind by global competition into global centers of cutting-edge jobs. Let’s tell the world that America is open for business – including an old site right here in Galesburg, over on Monmouth Boulevard.

Tomorrow, I’ll also visit the port of Jacksonville, Florida to offer new ideas for doing what America has always done best: building things. We’ve got ports that aren’t ready for the new supertankers that will begin passing through the new Panama Canal in two years’ time. We’ve got more than 100,000 bridges that are old enough to qualify for Medicare. Businesses depend on our transportation systems, our power grids, our communications networks – and rebuilding them creates good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced. And yet, as a share of our economy, we invest less in our infrastructure than we did two decades ago. That’s inefficient at a time when it’s as cheap as it’s been since the 1950s. It’s inexcusable at a time when so many of the workers who do this for a living sit idle. The longer we put this off, the more expensive it will be, and the less competitive we will be. The businesses of tomorrow won’t locate near old roads and outdated ports; they’ll relocate to places with high-speed internet; high-tech schools; systems that move air and auto traffic faster, not to mention get parents home to their kids faster. We can watch that happen in other countries, or we can choose to make it happen right here, in America.

In an age when jobs know no borders, companies will also seek out the country that boasts the most talented citizens, and reward them with good pay. The days when the wages for a worker with a high-school degree could keep pace with the earnings of someone who got some higher education are over. Technology and global competition aren’t going away. So we can either throw up our hands and resign ourselves to diminished living standards, or we can do what America has always done: adapt, pull together, fight back and win.

Which brings me to the second cornerstone of a strong middle class: an education that prepares our children and our workers for the global competition they’ll face.

If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century. If we don’t make this investment, we’ll put our kids, our workers, and our country at a competitive disadvantage for decades. So we must begin in the earliest years. That’s why I’ll keep pushing to make high-quality preschool available to every four year-old in America – not just because we know it works for our kids, but because it provides a vital support system for working parents. I’ll also take action to spur innovation in our schools that don’t require Congress. Today, for example, federal agencies are moving on my plan to connect 99% of America’s students to high-speed internet over the next five years. And we’ve begun meeting with business leaders, tech entrepreneurs, and innovative educators to identify the best ideas for redesigning our high schools so that they teach the skills required for a high-tech economy.

We’ll also keep pushing new efforts to train workers for changing jobs. Here in Galesburg, many of the workers laid off at Maytag chose to enroll in retraining programs like the ones at Carl Sandburg College. And while it didn’t pay off for everyone, many who retrained found jobs that suited them even better and paid even more. That’s why I asked Congress to start a Community College to Career initiative, so that workers can earn the skills that high-tech jobs demand without leaving their hometown. And I’m challenging CEOs from some of America’s best companies to hire more Americans who’ve got what it takes to fill that job opening, but have been laid off so long no one will give their resume an honest look.

I’m also going to use the power of my office over the next few months to highlight a topic that’s straining the budgets of just about every American family – the soaring cost of higher education.

Three years ago, I worked with Democrats to reform the student loan system so that taxpayer dollars stopped padding the pockets of big banks, and instead helped more kids afford college. I capped loan repayments at 10% of monthly income for responsible borrowers. And this week, we’re working with both parties to reverse the doubling of student loan rates that occurred a few weeks ago because of Congressional inaction.

It’s all a good start – but it isn’t enough. Families and taxpayers can’t just keep paying more and more into an undisciplined system; we’ve got to get more out of what we pay for. Some colleges are testing new approaches to shorten the path to a degree, or blending teaching with online learning to help students master material and earn credits in less time. Some states are testing new ways to fund college based not just on how many students enroll, but how well they do. This afternoon, I’ll visit the University of Central Missouri to highlight their efforts to deliver more bang for the buck. And in the coming months, I will lay out an aggressive strategy to shake up the system, tackle rising costs, and improve value for middle-class students and their families.

Now, if a good job and a good education have always been key stepping stones into the middle class, a home of your own has been the clearest expression of middle-class security. That changed during the crisis, when millions of middle-class families saw their home values plummet. Over the past four years, we’ve helped more responsible homeowners stay in their homes, and today, sales are up, prices are up, and fewer Americans see their homes underwater.

But we’re not done yet. The key now is to encourage homeownership that isn’t based on bubbles, but is instead based on a solid foundation, where buyers and lenders play by the same set of rules, rules that are clear, transparent, and fair. Already, I’ve asked Congress to pass a good, bipartisan idea – one that was championed by Mitt Romney’s economic advisor – to give every homeowner the chance to refinance their mortgage and save thousands of dollars a year. I’m also acting on my own to cut red tape for responsible families who want to get a mortgage, but the bank says no. And we’ll work with both parties to turn the page on Fannie and Freddie, and build a housing finance system that’s rock-solid for future generations.

Along with homeownership, the fourth cornerstone of what it means to be middle class in this country is a secure retirement. Unfortunately, over the past decade, too many families watched their retirement recede from their grasp. Today, a rising stock market has millions of retirement balances rising. But we still live with an upside-down system where those at the top get generous tax incentives to save, while tens of millions of hardworking Americans get none at all. As we work to reform our tax code, we should find new ways to make it easier for workers to put money away, and free middle-class families from the fear that they’ll never be able to retire. And if Congress is looking for a bipartisan place to get started, they don’t have to look far: economists show that immigration reform that makes undocumented workers pay their full share of taxes would actually shore up Social Security for years.

Fifth, I will keep focusing on health care, because middle-class families and small business owners deserve the security of knowing that neither illness nor accident should threaten the dreams you’ve worked a lifetime to build.

As we speak, we are well on our way to fully implementing the Affordable Care Act. If you’re one of the 85% of Americans who already have health insurance, you’ve got new benefits and better protections you didn’t have before, like free checkups and mammograms and discounted medicine on Medicare. If you don’t have health insurance, starting October 1st, private plans will actually compete for your business. You can comparison shop in an online marketplace, just like you would for TVs or plane tickets, and buy the one that fits your budget and is right for you. And if you’re in the up to half of all Americans who’ve been sick or have a preexisting condition, this law means that that beginning January 1st, insurance companies finally have to cover you, and at the same rates they charge everybody else.

Now, I know there are folks out there who are actively working to make this law fail. But despite a politically-motivated misinformation campaign, the states that have committed themselves to making this law work are finding that competition and choice are actually pushing costs down. Just last week, New York announced that premiums for consumers who buy their insurance in these online marketplaces will be at least 50% less than what they pay today. That’s right – folks’ premiums in the individual market will drop by 50%. For them, and for the millions of Americans who have been able to cover their sick kids for the first time, or have been able to cover their employees more cheaply, or who will be getting tax breaks to afford insurance for the first time – you will have the security of knowing that everything you’ve worked hard for is no longer one illness away from being wiped out.

Finally, as we work to strengthen these cornerstones of middle-class security, I’m going to make the case for why we need to rebuild ladders of opportunity for all those Americans still trapped in poverty. Here in America, we’ve never guaranteed success. More than some other countries, we expect people to be self-reliant, and we’ve tolerated a little more inequality for the sake of a more dynamic, more adaptable economy. But that’s always been combined with a commitment to upward mobility – the idea that no matter how poor you started, you can make it with hard work and discipline.

Unfortunately, opportunities for upward mobility in America have gotten harder to find over the past 30 years. That’s a betrayal of the American idea. And that’s why we have to do a lot more to give every American the chance to work their way into the middle class.

The best defense against all of these forces – global competition and economic polarization – is the strength of community. We need a new push to rebuild run-down neighborhoods. We need new partnerships with some of the hardest-hit towns in America to get them back on their feet. And because no one who works full-time in America should have to live in poverty, I will keep making the case that we need to raise a minimum wage that in real terms is lower than it was when Ronald Reagan took office. We are not a people who allow chance of birth to decide life’s big winners and losers; and after years in which we’ve seen how easy it can be for any of us to fall on hard times, we cannot turn our backs when bad breaks hit any of our fellow citizens.

Good jobs. A better bargain for the middle class and folks working to join it. An economy that grows from the middle-out. This is where I will focus my energies – not just over the next few months, but for the remainder of my presidency. These are the plans that I will lay out across this country. But I won’t be able to do it alone, and I’ll be calling on all of us to take up this cause.

We’ll need our businesses, the best in the world, to pressure Congress to invest in our future, and set an example by providing decent wages and salaries to their own employees. And I’ll highlight the ones that do just that – companies like Costco, which pays good wages and offers good benefits; or the Container Store, which prides itself on training its workers and on employee satisfaction – because these companies prove that this isn’t just good for their business, it’s good for America.

We’ll need Democrats to question old assumptions, be willing to redesign or get rid of programs that no longer work, and embrace changes to cherished priorities so that they work better in this new age. For if we believe that government can give the middle class a fair shot in this new century, we have an obligation to prove it.

And we’ll need Republicans in Congress to set aside short-term politics and work with me to find common ground. The fact is, there are Republicans in Congress right now who privately agree with me on many of the ideas I’ll be proposing, but worry they’ll face swift political retaliation for saying so. Others will dismiss every idea I put forward either because they’re playing to their most strident supporters, or because they have a fundamentally different vision for America – one that says inequality is both inevitable and just; one that says an unfettered free market without any restraints inevitably produces the best outcomes, regardless of the pain and uncertainty imposed on ordinary families.

In either case, I say to these members of Congress: I am laying out my ideas to give the middle class a better shot. Now it’s time for you to lay out yours. If you’re willing to work with me to strengthen American manufacturing and rebuild this country’s infrastructure, let’s go. If you have better ideas to bring down the cost of college for working families, let’s hear them. If you think you have a better plan for making sure every American has the security of quality, affordable health care, stop taking meaningless repeal votes and share your concrete ideas with the country. If you are serious about a balanced, long-term fiscal plan that replaces the mindless cuts currently in place, or tax reform that closes corporate loopholes and gives working families a better deal, I’m ready to work – but know that I will not accept deals that do not meet the test of strengthening the prospects of hard-working families.

We’ve come a long way since I first took office. As a country, we’re older and we’re wiser. And as long as Congress doesn’t manufacture another crisis – as long as we don’t shut down the government just as the economy is getting traction, or risk a U.S. default over paying bills we’ve already racked up – we can probably muddle along without taking bold action. Our economy will grow, though slower than it should; new businesses will form, and unemployment will keep ticking down. Just by virtue of our size and our natural resources and the talent of our people, America will remain a world power, and the majority of us will figure out how to get by.

But if that’s our choice – if we just stand by and do nothing in the face of immense change – understand that an essential part of our character will be lost. Our founding precept about wide-open opportunity and each generation doing better than the last will be a myth, not reality. The position of the middle class will erode further. Inequality will continue to increase, and money’s power will distort our politics even more. Social tensions will rise, as various groups fight to hold on to what they have, and the fundamental optimism that has always propelled us forward will give way to cynicism or nostalgia.

That’s not the vision I have for this country. That’s not the vision you have for this country. That is not the America we know. That’s not a vision we should settle for, or pass on to our children. I have now run my last campaign. I do not intend to wait until the next one before tackling the issues that matter. I care about one thing and one thing only, and that’s how to use every minute of the 1,276 days remaining in my term to make this country work for working Americans again. Because I believe this is where America needs to go. I believe this is where the American people want to go. It may seem hard today, but if we are willing to take a few bold steps – if Washington will just shake off its complacency and set aside the kind of slash-and-burn partisanship we’ve seen these past few years – our economy will be stronger a year from now. And five years from now. And ten years from now. More Americans will know the pride of that first paycheck; the satisfaction of flipping the sign to “Open” on their own business; the joy of etching a child’s height into the door of their brand new home.

After all, what makes us special has never been our ability to generate incredible wealth for the few, but our ability to give everyone a chance to pursue their own true measure of happiness. We haven’t just wanted success for ourselves – we’ve wanted it for our neighbors, too. That’s why we don’t call it John’s dream or Susie’s dream or Barack’s dream – we call it the American Dream. That’s what makes this country special – the idea that no matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from or who you love – you can make it if you try.

One of America’s greatest writers, Carl Sandburg, was born right here in Galesburg over a century ago. He saw the railroad bring the world to the prairie, and the prairie send its bounty to the world. He saw the advent of bustling new industries and technologies; he watched populations shift; he saw fortunes made and lost. He saw how change could be painful – how a new age could unsettle long-settled customs and ways of life. But possessed with a frontier optimism, he saw something more on the horizon. “I speak of new cities and new people,” he wrote. “…The past is a bucket of ashes…yesterday is a wind gone down, a sun dropped in the west…there is…only an ocean of tomorrows, a sky of tomorrows.”

America, we have made it through the worst of yesterday’s winds. And if we find the courage to keep moving forward; if we set our eyes on the horizon, we too will find an ocean of tomorrows, a sky of tomorrows – for America’s people, and for this great country that we love.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Political Headlines July 24, 2013: President Obama Pivots to Economy… Again

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Pivots to Economy… Again

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages

President Obama will once again try to refocus the public’s attention and the political debate on the economy this week, delivering what’s being billed as a major economic address in his home state of Illinois.

The White House is trying to drum up support for the speech, but it’s a tough sell, given how often the president has launched similar campaigns in recent years….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 15, 2013: President Barack Obama Warns of Sequester Impact on Energy Research in Speech Calling for Additional Energy Spending

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Warns of Sequester Impact on Energy Research

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-15-13

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

While calling for $2 billion in additional energy research spending Friday, President Obama warned of how the sequester cuts could cause the United States to fall behind in research and development in the energy sector during an event at a laboratory just outside of Chicago….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 15, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on American Energy & Increasing Research Spending at Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont, Illinois

POLITICAL BUZZ


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on American Energy — Lemont, Illinois

Source: WH, 3-15-13 

Argonne National Laboratory
Lemont, Illinois

1:31 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Hello, Illinois!  Hello!  It is good to be home!  (Applause.)

Well, let me begin by thanking Ann for the great introduction, the great work she’s doing, the leadership she’s showing with her team on so many different, amazing technological breakthroughs.  I want to thank Dr. Isaacs and Dr. Crabtree for giving me a great tour of your facilities.

It’s not every day that I get to walk into a thermal test chamber.  (Laughter.)  I told my girls that I was going to go into a thermal test chamber and they were pretty excited.  I told them I’d come out looking like the Hulk.  (Laughter.)  They didn’t believe that.

I want to thank my friend and your friend — a truly great U.S. Senator, Senator Dick Durbin — huge supporter of Argonne.  (Applause.)  An outstanding member of Congress who actually could explain some of the stuff that’s going on here — Bill Foster is here.  (Applause.)  Congressman Bobby Rush, a big supporter of Argonne — glad he’s here.  (Applause.)  We’ve got a number of state and local officials with us, including your Mayor, Brian Reaves.  (Applause.)

And I could not come to Argonne without bringing my own Nobel Prize-winning scientist, someone who has served our country so well over the past four years — our Energy Secretary, Dr. Steven Chu.  (Applause.)

Now, I’m here today to talk about what should be our top priority as a nation, and that’s reigniting the true engine of America’s economic growth — a rising, thriving middle class and an economy built on innovation.  In my State of the Union address, I said our most important task was to drive that economic growth, and I meant it.  And every day, we should be asking ourselves three questions:  How do we make America a magnet for good jobs?  How do we equip our people with the skills and training to do those jobs?  And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?

Those of you who have chairs — I wasn’t sure everybody had chairs there.  (Laughter.)  Please feel free to sit down — I’m sorry.  Everybody was standing and I thought Argonne — one of the effects of the sequester, you had to — (laughter) — get rid of chairs.  (Applause.)  That’s good, I’m glad we’ve got some chairs.

So I chose Argonne National Lab because right now, few areas hold more promise for creating good jobs and growing our economy than how we use American energy.

After years of talking about it, we’re finally poised to take control of our energy future.  We produce more oil than we have in 15 years.  We import less oil than we have in 20 years.  We’ve doubled the amount of renewable energy that we generate from sources like wind and solar — with tens of thousands of good jobs to show for it.  We’re producing more natural gas than we ever have before — with hundreds of thousands of good jobs to show for it.  We supported the first new nuclear power plant in America since the 1970s.  And we’re sending less carbon pollution into the environment than we have in nearly 20 years.

So we’re making real progress across the board.  And it’s possible, in part, because of labs like this and outstanding scientists like so many of you, entrepreneurs, innovators — all of you who are working together to take your discoveries and turn them into a business.

So think about this:  Just a few years ago, the American auto industry was flat-lining.  Today, thanks in part to discoveries made right here at Argonne, some of the most high-tech, fuel-efficient, pretty spiffy cars in the world are once again designed, engineered and built here in the United States.

And that’s why we have to keep investing in scientific research.  It’s why we have to maintain our edge — because the work you’re doing today will end up in the products that we make and sell tomorrow.  You’re helping to secure our energy future.  And if we do it well, then that’s going to help us avoid some of the perils of climate change and leave a healthier planet for our kids.  But to do it, we’ve got to make sure that we’re making the right choices in Washington.

Just the other day, Dr. Isaacs and directors of two of our other national laboratories wrote about the effects of the so-called sequester — these across-the-board budget cuts put in place two weeks ago — and specifically the effects it will have on America’s scientific research.  And one of the reasons I was opposed to these cuts is because they don’t distinguish between wasteful programs and vital investments.  They don’t trim the fat; they cut into muscle and into bone — like research and development being done right here that not only gives a great place for young researchers to come and ply their trade, but also ends up creating all kinds of spinoffs that create good jobs and good wages.

So Dr. Isaacs said these cuts will force him to stop any new project that’s coming down the line.  And I’m quoting him now — he says, “This sudden halt on new starts will freeze American science in place while the rest of the world races forward, and it will knock a generation of young scientists off their stride, ultimately costing billions of dollars in missed future opportunities.”  I mean, essentially because of this sequester, we’re looking at two years where we don’t start new research.  And at a time when every month you’ve got to replace your smartphone because something new has come up, imagine what that means when China and Germany and Japan are all continuing to plump up their basic research, and we’re just sitting there doing nothing.

We can’t afford to miss these opportunities while the rest of the world races forward.  We have to seize these opportunities.  I want the next great job-creating breakthroughs — whether it’s in energy or nanotechnology or bioengineering — I want those breakthroughs to be right here in the United States of America, creating American jobs and maintaining our technological lead.  (Applause.)

So I just want to be clear — these cuts will harm, not help, our economy.  They aren’t the smart way to cut our deficits.  And that’s why I’m reaching out to Republicans and Democrats to come together around a balanced approach, a smart, phased-in approach to deficit reduction that includes smart spending cuts and entitlement reforms and new revenue, and that won’t hurt our middle class or slow economic growth.  And if we do that, then we can move beyond governing from crisis to crisis to crisis, and we keep our focus on policies that actually create jobs and grow our economy, and move forward to face all of the other challenges we face, from fixing our broken immigration system to educating our kids to keeping them safe from gun violence.

And few pieces of business are more important for us than getting our energy future right.  So here at Argonne, and other labs around the country, scientists are working on getting us where we need to get 10 years from now, 20 years from now.  Today, what most Americans feel first when it comes to energy prices — or energy issues are prices that they pay at the pump. And over the past few weeks, we saw — we went through another spike in gas prices.  And people are nodding here.  They weren’t happy about it.  The problem is this happens every year.  It happened last year, the year before that.  And it’s a serious blow to family budgets.  It feels like you’re getting hit with a new tax coming right out of your pocket.  And every time it happens, politicians — they dust off their three-point plans for $2 gas, but nothing happens and then we go through the same cycle again.

But here’s the thing:  Over the past four years, we haven’t just talked about it, we’ve actually started doing something about it.  We’ve worked with the auto companies to put in place the toughest fuel economy standards in our history.  And what that means is, by the middle of the next decade, our cars will go twice as far on a gallon of gas.  And the standards that we set are part of what’s driving some of the amazing scientists and engineers who are working here at Argonne Labs.  We’ve set some achievable but ambitious goals.  So in the middle of the next decade, we expect that you’ll fill up half as often, which means you spend half as much.  And over the life of a new car, the average family will save more than $8,000 at the pump.  That’s worth applauding.  That’s big news.  (Applause.)

In fact, a new report issued today shows that America is becoming a global leader in advanced vehicles.  You walk into any dealership today, and you’ll see twice as many hybrids to choose from as there were five years ago.  You’ll see seven times as many cars that can go 40 miles a gallon or more.  And as costs go down, sales are going up.

Last year, General Motors sold more hybrid vehicles than ever before.  Ford is selling some of the most fuel-efficient cars so quickly that dealers are having a tough time keeping up with the demand.  So by investing in our energy security, we’re helping our businesses succeed and we’re creating good middle-class jobs right here in America.

So we’re making progress, but the only way to really break this cycle of spiking gas prices, the only way to break that cycle for good is to shift our cars entirely — our cars and trucks — off oil.  That’s why, in my State of the Union address, I called on Congress to set up an Energy Security Trust to fund research into new technologies that will help us reach that goal.
Now, I’d like to take credit for this idea because it’s a good idea, but I can’t.  Basically, my proposal builds off a proposal that was put forward by a non-partisan coalition that includes retired generals and admirals and leading CEOs.  And these leaders came together around a simple idea — much of our energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together.  So what they’ve proposed is let’s take some of our oil and gas revenues from public lands and put it towards research that will benefit the public so we can support American ingenuity without adding a dime to our deficit.

We can support scientists who are designing new engines that are more energy efficient; support scientists that are developing cheaper batteries that can go farther on a single charge; support scientists and engineers that are devising new ways to fuel our cars and trucks with new sources of clean energy — like advanced biofuels and natural gas — so drivers can one day go coast to coast without using a drop of oil.

And the reason so many different people from the private sector, the public sector, our military support this idea is because it’s not just about saving money; it’s also about saving the environment, but it’s also about our national security.  For military officials — like General Paul Kelley, a former Commandant of the Marine Corps — this is about national security.  Our reliance on oil makes us way too dependent on other parts of the world, many of which are very volatile.  For business leaders — like Fred Smith, the CEO of FedEx — this is about economic security, because when fuel prices shoot up, it’s harder to plan investments, expand operations, create new jobs.

So these leaders all say we need to fix this.  This is not a Democratic idea or a Republican idea.  This is just a smart idea. And we should be taking their advice.  Let’s set up an Energy Security Trust that helps us free our families and our businesses from painful spikes in gas once and for all.  (Applause.)  Let’s do that.  We can do it.  We’ve done it before.  We innovated here at Argonne.

And in the meantime, we’ll keep moving on the all-of-the-above energy strategy that we’ve been working on for the last couple years, where we’re producing more oil and gas here at home but we’re also producing more biofuels, we’re also producing more fuel-efficient vehicles; more solar power; more wind power.  We’re working to make sure that here in America we’re building cars and homes and businesses that waste less energy.

We can do this.  The nature of America’s miraculous rise has been our drive, our restless spirit, our willingness to reach out to new horizons, our willingness to take risks, our willingness to innovate.  We are not satisfied just because things — this is how things have been.  We’re going to try something that maybe we just imagine now, but if we work at it, we’ll achieve it.  That’s the nature of America.  That’s what Argonne National Lab is about.  That’s what this facility is about.  (Applause.)

Two decades ago, scientists at Argonne, led by Mike Thackeray, who’s here today — where is Mike?  There he is right here.  (Applause.)  Mike started work on a rechargeable lithium battery for cars.  And some folks at the time said the idea wasn’t worth the effort.  They said that even if you had the technology, the car would cost too much, it wouldn’t go far enough.

But Mike and his team knew better.  They knew you could do better.  And America, our government, our federal government made it a priority, and we funded those efforts.  And Mike went to work.  And when others gave up, the team kept on at it.  And when development hit a snag, the team found solutions.  And a few years ago, all of this hard work paid off, and scientists here at Argonne helped create a lithium ion battery that costs less, lasts longer than any that had come before.

So what was just an idea two decades ago is now rolling off assembly lines in cutting-edge fuel efficient cars that you can plug in at night.  Well, imagine all the ideas right now with all of these young scientists and engineers that 20 years ago — or 20 years from now will be offering solutions to our problems that we can’t even comprehend — as long as we’re still funding these young scientists and engineers; as long as the pipeline for research is maintained; as long as we recognize there are some things we do together as a country because individually we can’t do it — and, by the way, the private sector on its own will not invest in this research because it’s too expensive.  It’s too risky.  They can’t afford it in terms of their bottom lines.

So we’ve got to support it.  And we’ll all benefit from it, and our kids will benefit from it, and our grandkids will benefit from it.  That’s who we are.  That’s been the American story.

We don’t stand still, we look forward.  We invent.  We build.  We turn new ideas into new industries.  We change the way we can live our lives here at home and around the world.  That’s how we sent a man to the moon.  That’s how we invented the Internet.

When somebody tells us we can’t, we say, yes we can.  And I’m telling all of you, I am absolutely confident that America is poised to succeed in the same way as long as we don’t lose that spirit of innovation and recognize that we can only do it together.  And I’m going to work as hard as I can every single day to make sure that we do.

So congratulations, Argonne.  (Applause.)  Let’s keep it up.  Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless America.

END
1:50 P.M. CDT

Full Text Obama Presidency February 15, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Strengthening the Economy For The Middle Class & Gun Violence at Hyde Park Career Academy Chicago, Illinois

Giving Every Child a Chance in Life

Source: WH, 2-15-13

President Obama at the Hyde Park Career Academy Chicago, Illinois, Feb. 15, 2013President Barack Obama delivers remarks to discuss proposals unveiled in the State of the Union Address that focus on strengthening the economy for the middle class and those striving to get there, at Hyde Park Academy, Chicago, Ill., Feb. 15, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama was in Chicago on Friday to talk about the importance of making sure every child in America has every chance in life to succeed. Speaking at the Hyde Park Career Academy, which is less than a mile from the Obama’s home in that city, the President discussed the recent death of Hadiyah Pendleton, a Chicago teenager who was shot just days after attending the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, DC.

Hadiyah’s parents were guests of First Lady Michelle Obama at the State of the Union address on Tuesday, where President Obama discussed the need to prevent this kind of senseless violence and protect American children. But the important goal of  keeping guns out of the hands of criminals is not enough to ensure a bright future for all of our children, and the President also laid out a plan to rebuild ladders of opportunity for every American who is willing to work hard and climb them. This includes making sure every child in America has access to high-quality pre-K, and raising the minimum wage so that no family that works hard and relies on a minimum wage is living in poverty. But creating a path into the middle class also means transforming high-poverty communities into places of opportunity that can attract private investment, improve education, and create jobs, and President Obama talked about his plan to make that happen:

And that’s why on Tuesday I announced — and that’s part of what I want to focus on here in Chicago and across the country — is my intention to partner with 20 of the hardest-hit communities in America to get them back in the game — get them back in the game.

First, we’ll work with local leaders to cut through red tape and improve things like public safety and education and housing. And we’ll bring all the resources to bear in a coordinated fashion so that we can get that tipping point where suddenly a community starts feeling like things are changing and we can come back.

Second of all, if you’re willing to play a role in a child’s education, then we’ll help you reform your schools. We want to seed more and more partnerships of the kind that Rahm is trying to set up.

Third, we’re going to help bring jobs and growth to hard-hit neighborhoods by giving tax breaks to business owners who invest and hire in those neighborhoods.

Fourth, and specific to the issue of violence — because it’s very hard to develop economically if people don’t feel safe. If they don’t feel like they can walk down the street and shop at a store without getting hit over head or worse, then commerce dries up, businesses don’t want to locate, families move out, you get into the wrong cycle. So we’re going to target neighborhoods struggling to deal with violent crime and help them reduce that violence in ways that have been proven to work. And I know this is a priority of your Mayor’s; it’s going to be a priority of mine.

And finally, we’re going to keep working in communities all across the country, including here in Chicago, to replace run-down public housing that doesn’t offer much hope or safety with new, healthy homes for low- and moderate-income families.


Learn more about President Obama’s plan for a strong middle class and a strong America:

Remarks By The President On Strengthening The Economy For The Middle Class

Hyde Park Career Academy Chicago, Illinois

3:31 P.M. CST

THE PRESIDENT: Hey, Chicago! (Applause.) Hello, Chicago! Hello, everybody. Hello, Hyde Park! (Applause.) It is good to be home! It is good to be home. Everybody have a seat. You all relax. It’s just me. You all know me. It is good to be back home.

A couple of people I want to acknowledge — first of all, I want to thank your Mayor, my great friend, Rahm Emanuel for his outstanding leadership of the city and his kind introduction. (Applause.) I want to thank everybody here at Hyde Park Academy for welcoming me here today. (Applause.)

I want to acknowledge your principal and your assistant principal — although, they really make me feel old, because when I saw them — (laughter) — where are they? Where are they? Stand up. Stand up. (Applause.) They are doing outstanding work. We’re very, very proud them. But you do make me feel old. Sit down. (Laughter.)

A couple other people I want to acknowledge — Governor Pat Quinn is here doing great work down in Springfield. (Applause.) My great friend and senior Senator Dick Durbin is in the house. (Applause.) Congressman Bobby Rush is here. (Applause.) We’re in his district. Attorney General and former seatmate of mine when I was in the state senate, Lisa Madigan. (Applause.) County Board President — used to be my alderwoman — Tony Preckwinkle in the house. (Applause.)

And I’ve got — I see a lot of reverend clergy here, but I’m not going to mention them, because if I miss one I’m in trouble. (Laughter.) They’re all friends of mine. They’ve been knowing me.

Some people may not know this, but obviously, this is my old neighborhood. I used to teach right around the corner. This is where Michelle and I met, where we fell in love —

AUDIENCE: Aww —

THE PRESIDENT: This is where we raised our daughters, in a house just about a mile away from here — less than a mile. And that’s really what I’ve come here to talk about today — raising our kids.

AUDIENCE: We love you!

THE PRESIDENT: I love you, too. (Applause.) I love you, too.

I’m here to make sure that we talk about and then work towards giving every child every chance in life; building stronger communities and new ladders of opportunity that they can climb into the middle class and beyond; and, most importantly, keeping them safe from harm.

Michelle was born and raised here — a proud daughter of the South Side. (Applause.) Last weekend, she came home, but it was to attend the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton. And Hadiya’s parents, by the way, are here — and I want to just acknowledge them. They are just wonderful, wonderful people. (Applause.)

And as you know, this week, in my State of the Union, I talked about Hadiya on Tuesday night and the fact that unfortunately what happened to Hadiya is not unique. It’s not unique to Chicago. It’s not unique to this country. Too many of our children are being taken away from us.

Two months ago, America mourned 26 innocent first-graders and their educators in Newtown. And today, I had the high honor of giving the highest civilian award I can give to the parent — or the families of the educators who had been killed in Newtown. And there was something profound and uniquely heartbreaking and tragic, obviously, about a group of 6-year-olds being killed. But last year, there were 443 murders with a firearm on the streets of this city, and 65 of those victims were 18 and under. So that’s the equivalent of a Newtown every four months.

And that’s precisely why the overwhelming majority of Americans are asking for some common-sense proposals to make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. And as I said on Tuesday night, I recognize not everybody agrees with every issue. There are regional differences. The experience of gun ownership is different in urban areas than it is in rural areas, different from upstate and downstate Illinois. But these proposals deserve a vote in Congress. They deserve a vote. (Applause.) They deserve a vote. And I want to thank those members of Congress who are working together in a serious way to try to address this issue.

But I’ve also said no law or set of laws can prevent every senseless act of violence in this country. When a child opens fire on another child, there’s a hole in that child’s heart that government can’t fill — only community and parents and teachers and clergy can fill that hole. In too many neighborhoods today — whether here in Chicago or the farthest reaches of rural America — it can feel like for a lot of young people the future only extends to the next street corner or the outskirts of town; that no matter how much you work or how hard you try, your destiny was determined the moment you were born. There are entire neighborhoods where young people, they don’t see an example of somebody succeeding. And for a lot of young boys and young men, in particular, they don’t see an example of fathers or grandfathers, uncles, who are in a position to support families and be held up and respected.

And so that means that this is not just a gun issue. It’s also an issue of the kinds of communities that we’re building. And for that, we all share a responsibility, as citizens, to fix it. We all share a responsibility to move this country closer to our founding vision that no matter who you are, or where you come from, here in America, you can decide your own destiny. You can succeed if you work hard and fulfill your responsibilities. (Applause.)

Now, that means we’ve got to grow our economy and create more good jobs. It means we’ve got to equip every American with the skills and the training to fill those jobs. And it means we’ve got to rebuild ladders of opportunity for everybody willing to climb them.

Now, that starts at home. There’s no more important ingredient for success, nothing that would be more important for us reducing violence than strong, stable families — which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood. (Applause.) Don’t get me wrong — as the son of a single mom, who gave everything she had to raise me with the help of my grandparents, I turned out okay. (Applause and laughter.) But — no, no, but I think it’s — so we’ve got single moms out here, they’re heroic in what they’re doing and we are so proud of them. (Applause.) But at the same time, I wish I had had a father who was around and involved. Loving, supportive parents — and, by the way, that’s all kinds of parents — that includes foster parents, and that includes grandparents, and extended families; it includes gay or straight parents. (Applause.)

Those parents supporting kids — that’s the single most important thing. Unconditional love for your child — that makes a difference. If a child grows up with parents who have work, and have some education, and can be role models, and can teach integrity and responsibility, and discipline and delayed gratification — all those things give a child the kind of foundation that allows them to say, my future, I can make it what I want. And we’ve got to make sure that every child has that, and in some cases, we may have to fill the gap and the void if children don’t have that.

So we should encourage marriage by removing the financial disincentives for couples who love one another but may find it financially disadvantageous if they get married. We should reform our child support laws to get more men working and engaged with their children. (Applause.) And my administration will continue to work with the faith community and the private sector this year on a campaign to encourage strong parenting and fatherhood. Because what makes you a man is not the ability to make a child, it’s the courage to raise one. (Applause.)

We also know, though, that there is no surer path to success in the middle class than a good education. And what we now know is that that has to begin in the earliest years. Study after study shows that the earlier a child starts learning, the more likely they are to succeed — the more likely they are to do well at Hyde Park Academy; the more likely they are to graduate; the more likely they are to get a good job; the more likely they are to form stable families and then be able to raise children themselves who get off to a good start.

Chicago already has a competition, thanks to what the Mayor is doing, that rewards the best preschools in the city — so Rahm has already prioritized this. But what I’ve also done is say, let’s give every child across America access to high-quality, public preschool. Every child, not just some. (Applause.) Every dollar we put into early childhood education can save $7 down the road by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, reducing violent crime, reducing the welfare rolls, making sure that folks who have work, now they’re paying taxes. All this stuff pays back huge dividends if we make the investment. So let’s make this happen. Let’s make sure every child has the chance they deserve. (Applause.)

As kids go through school, we’ll recruit new math and science teachers to make sure that they’ve got the skills that the future demands. We’ll help more young people in low-income neighborhoods get summer jobs. We’ll redesign our high schools and encourage our kids to stay in high school, so that the diploma they get leads directly to a good job once they graduate. (Applause.)

Right here in Chicago, five new high schools have partnered with companies and community colleges to prepare our kids with the skills that businesses are looking for right now. And your College to Careers program helps community college students get access to the same kinds of real-world experiences. So we know what works. Let’s just do it in more places. Let’s reach more young people. Let’s give more kids a chance.

So we know how important families are. We know how important education is. We recognize that government alone can’t solve these problems of violence and poverty, that everybody has to be involved. But we also have to remember that the broader economic environment of communities is critical as well. For example, we need to make sure that folks who are working now, often in the hardest jobs, see their work rewarded with wages that allow them to raise a family without falling into poverty. (Applause.)

Today, a family with two kids that works hard and relies on a minimum wage salary still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong, and we should fix it. We should reward an honest day’s work with honest wages. And that’s why we should raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour and make it a wage you can live on. (Applause.)

And even though some cities have bounced back pretty quickly from the recession, we know that there are communities and neighborhoods within cities or in small towns that haven’t bounced back. Cities like Chicago are ringed with former factory towns that never came back all the way from plants packing up; there are pockets of poverty where young adults are still looking for their first job.

And that’s why on Tuesday I announced — and that’s part of what I want to focus on here in Chicago and across the country — is my intention to partner with 20 of the hardest-hit communities in America to get them back in the game — get them back in the game. (Applause.)

First, we’ll work with local leaders to cut through red tape and improve things like public safety and education and housing. And we’ll bring all the resources to bear in a coordinated fashion so that we can get that tipping point where suddenly a community starts feeling like things are changing and we can come back.

Second of all, if you’re willing to play a role in a child’s education, then we’ll help you reform your schools. We want to seed more and more partnerships of the kind that Rahm is trying to set up.

Third, we’re going to help bring jobs and growth to hard-hit neighborhoods by giving tax breaks to business owners who invest and hire in those neighborhoods. (Applause.)

Fourth, and specific to the issue of violence — because it’s very hard to develop economically if people don’t feel safe. If they don’t feel like they can walk down the street and shop at a store without getting hit over head or worse, then commerce dries up, businesses don’t want to locate, families move out, you get into the wrong cycle. So we’re going to target neighborhoods struggling to deal with violent crime and help them reduce that violence in ways that have been proven to work. And I know this is a priority of your Mayor’s; it’s going to be a priority of mine. (Applause.)

And finally, we’re going to keep working in communities all across the country, including here in Chicago, to replace run-down public housing that doesn’t offer much hope or safety with new, healthy homes for low- and moderate-income families. (Applause.)

And here in Woodlawn, you’ve seen some of the progress that we can make when we come together to rebuild our neighborhoods, and attract new businesses, and improve our schools. Woodlawn is not all the way where it needs to be, but thanks to wonderful institutions like Apostolic Church, we’ve made great progress. (Applause.)

So we want to help more communities follow your example. And let’s go even farther by offering incentives to companies that hire unemployed Americans who have got what it takes to fill a job opening, but they may have been out of work so long that nobody is willing to give them a chance right now. Let’s put our people back to work rebuilding vacant homes in need of repair. Young people can get experience — apprenticeships, learn a trade. And we’re removing blight from our community. (Applause.)

If we gather together what works, we can extend more ladders of opportunity for anybody who’s working to build a strong, middle-class life for themselves. Because in America, your destiny shouldn’t be determined by where you live, where you were born. It should be determined by how big you’re willing to dream, how much effort and sweat and tears you’re willing to put in to realizing that dream.

When I first moved to Chicago — before any of the students in this room were born — (laughter) — and a whole lot of people who are in the audience remember me from those days, I lived in a community on the South Side right up the block, but I also worked further south where communities had been devastated by some of the steel plants closing. And my job was to work with churches and laypeople and local leaders to rebuild neighborhoods, and improve schools, and help young people who felt like they had nowhere to turn.

And those of you who worked with me, Reverend Love, you remember, it wasn’t easy. Progress didn’t come quickly. Sometimes I got so discouraged I thought about just giving up. But what kept me going was the belief that with enough determination and effort and persistence and perseverance, change is always possible; that we may not be able to help everybody, but if we help a few then that propels progress forward. We may not be able to save every child from gun violence, but if we save a few, that starts changing the atmosphere in our communities. (Applause.) We may not be able to get everybody a job right away, but if we get a few folks a job, then everybody starts feeling a little more hopeful and a little more encouraged. (Applause.) Neighborhood by neighborhood, one block by one block, one family at a time.

Now, this is what I had a chance to talk about when I met with some young men from Hyde Park Academy who were participating in this B.A.M. program. Where are the guys I talked to? Stand up you all, so we can all see you guys. (Applause.) So these are some — these are all some exceptional young men, and I couldn’t be prouder of them. And the reason I’m proud of them is because a lot of them have had some issues. That’s part of the reason why you guys are in the program. (Laughter.)

But what I explained to them was I had issues too when I was their age. I just had an environment that was a little more forgiving. So when I screwed up, the consequences weren’t as high as when kids on the South Side screw up. (Applause.) So I had more of a safety net. But these guys are no different than me, and we had that conversation about what does it take to change. And the same thing that it takes for us individually to change, I said to them, well, that’s what it takes for communities to change. That’s what it takes for countries to change. It’s not easy.

But it does require us, first of all, having a vision about where we want to be. It requires us recognizing that it will be hard work getting there. It requires us being able to overcome and persevere in the face of roadblocks and disappointments and failures. It requires us reflecting internally about who we are and what we believe in, and facing up to our own fears and insecurities, and admitting when we’re wrong. And that same thing that we have to do in our individual lives that these guys talked about, that’s what we have to do for our communities. And it will not be easy, but it can be done.

When Hadiya Pendleton and her classmates visited Washington three weeks ago, they spent time visiting the monuments — including the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial just off the National Mall. And that memorial stands as a tribute to everything Dr. King achieved in his lifetime. But it also reminds us of how hard that work was and how many disappointments he experienced. He was here in Chicago fighting poverty, and just like a lot of us, there were times where he felt like he was losing hope. So in some ways, that memorial is a testament not to work that’s completed, but it’s a testament to the work that remains unfinished.

His goal was to free us not only from the shackles of discrimination, but from the shadow of poverty that haunts too many of our communities, the self-destructive impulses, and the mindless violence that claims so many lives of so many innocent young people.

These are difficult challenges. No solution we offer will be perfect. But perfection has never been our goal. Our goal has been to try and make whatever difference we can. Our goal has been to engage in the hard but necessary work of bringing America one step closer to the nation we know we can be.

If we do that, if we’re striving with every fiber of our being to strengthen our middle class, to extend ladders of opportunity for everybody who is trying as hard as they can to create a better life for themselves; if we do everything in our power to keep our children safe from harm; if we’re fulfilling our obligations to one another and to future generations; if we make that effort, then I’m confident — I’m confident that we will write the next great chapter in our American story. I’m not going to be able to do it by myself, though. Nobody can. We’re going to have to do it together.

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

END        3:58 P.M. CST

Campaign Buzz March 20 2012: Newt Gingrich Statement Reacting to the Results of the Illinois Republican Presidential Primary — Transcript

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Gingrich statement on Illinois results

Source: WaPo, 3-20-12
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich issued the following statement via his website reacting to the results of the Illinois Primary.

“To defeat Barack Obama, Republicans can’t nominate a candidate who relies on outspending his opponents 7-1. Instead, we need a nominee who offers powerful solutions that hold the president accountable for his failures. Over the past few weeks, my $2.50 gas plan has shown how America could have cheaper gas, more jobs and greater national security while putting the White House on the defense over their anti-American energy policies. This is the type of leadership I can offer as the nominee, and this campaign will spend (the time) between now and when the delegates vote in Tampa relentlessly taking the fight to President Obama to make this case.”

Campaign Buzz March 20 2012: Rick Santorum’s Speech / Remarks after Losing Illinois Republican Presidential Primary in Second Placed Finish to Mitt Romney — Transcript

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Rick Santorum: ‘Big things are adrift’ (Video, Speech transcript)

Source: WaPo, 3-20-12

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It is great to be back in Pennsylvania. Thank you for joining us here.

Let me just thank all of you for being here. And I know that they’re not going to be hearing me, but I — I just feel so bad. We have about 1,000-1,500 people who couldn’t get in here. We’re just overwhelmed by the response here, and I just want to say: I feel welcomed back home to Pennsylvania, so thank you very, very much.

It is — it is — first, I just want to congratulate Governor Romney. I gave him a call a little earlier and congratulated him on winning the state of Illinois. But I also want to say — I just want to thank all of the folks in Illinois, all in the — you know, if you look at what — what’s going to happen tonight, we’re going to win downstate, we’re going to win central Illinois, we’re going to win western Illinois. We won the areas that conservatives and Republicans populate, and we’re very happy about that. We’re happy about the delegates we’re going to get, too.

We wanted to come here tonight back to Pennsylvania, back to a favorite place of mine in Pennsylvania, the city and the town of Gettysburg. It’s…

Obviously, it’s — so many memories come to mind when we walk on here in the town and across the street where Abraham Lincoln finished the Gettysburg Address at the Wills House. And you think about the great elections of our past.

And I’ve gone around this country over the past year now and said this is the most important election in our lifetimes. And, in fact, I think it’s the most important election since the election of 1860.

The election in 1860 was about whether these united states — which is what it was mostly referred to prior to the election of 1860 — would become the United States, whether it would be a union, a country bound together to build a great and prosperous nation, a — a nation based on a concept, a concept that we were birthed with, a concept birthed with our founding document of the Declaration of Independence.

I’ve said throughout the course of this campaign that while other issues are certainly important — the economy, joblessness, national security concerns, the family, the issue of life — all of these issues are important, but the foundational issue in this race, the one that is, in fact, the cause of the other maladies that we are feeling, whether it’s in the economy or whether it’s in the budget crisis that we’re dealing with, all boils down to one word, and that’s what’s at stake in this election, and it’s right behind me on that banner, and that’s the word “freedom.”

I was pleased to hear before I came out that Governor Romney is now adopting that theme as his speech tonight.

I am — I am glad we are moving the debate here in the Republican Party. But I’ve been focused on this, because I’ve actually been out talking to people across this country, doing over a thousand town hall meetings. And I know the anxiety and the concerns that people have in this country about an ever-expanding government, a government that is trying to dictate how we’re going to live our lives, trying to order us around, trample our freedoms, whether it’s our economic freedoms or our religious liberty.

But in addition to trampling that freedom, in addition to building a dependency, a dependency on government, as we see government expand and grow, now almost half the people in this country depend on some form of federal payment to help them get — make ends meet in America. And after and if Obamacare is implemented, every single American will depend upon the federal government for something that is critical, their health and their life.

That’s why this election is so important. This is an election about fundamental and foundational things. This is an election about not who’s the best person to manage Washington or manage the economy. We don’t need a manager. We need someone who’s going to pull up government by the roots and throw it out and do something to liberate the private sector in America. That’s what we need.

It’s great to have Wall Street experience. I don’t have Wall Street experience, but I have experience growing up in a small town in western Pennsylvania, growing up in a steel town, growing up in public housing in apartments and seeing how men and women of this country scraped and clawed because they had the opportunity to climb the ladder of success in America.

A lot of those folks out there today feel like nobody in Washington and no one in this debate is really talking about them. That’s why this is a wonderful movement as I travel around this country and everywhere I go. I see people, people in work clothes, folks with children who are maybe not getting the educational opportunities that they hoped for so they could climb that ladder of success, people who are looking for someone to voice their concerns about how this economy is going to turn around for them, not just for those at the top of the income ladder.

That’s why I’ve talked about a manufacturing plan, an energy plan, someone who believes that if we create opportunities by, yes, cutting taxes, but reducing the oppressive regulatory burden that this administration has put on businesspeople and people who want to drill for energy, it needs someone who’s got a strong and clear record that can appeal to voters all across this country and someone who you can trust, someone that you know when they say they’re going to do something, they’re not saying it because, well, that happens to be the popular theme of the moment, but someone who has a long track record of deep convictions, someone who’s going to go out and stand and fight, because it’s not just what the pollster tells them to say or what’s on their TelePrompTer. I don’t happen to have one here tonight.

Because — because they know in their gut from their life experiences, from living in America, that this is what America needs and America wants. They want someone who’s not going to go to Washington, D.C., because they want to be the most powerful person in the world to manage Washington. They want someone who’s going to take that power and give it back to the people of this country.

There is one candidate in this race who can go out and make that contrast with the current occupant of the White House, someone who has a track record of being for you, being for limited government, being for solutions that empower people on the biggest issues of the day, whether it’s Obamacare, Romneycare. They’re interchangeable.

We need someone who understands that the solution to the problem with almost 1/17th of the economy is not government control over that sector economy, but your control over that sector of the economy.

We need someone who understands that we need to grow our energy supplies here in this country. And we need someone you can trust who when in good times and in bad, when times were tough and people thought, well, that — all this oil and gas and coal in the ground is all a source of carbon dioxide, and we can’t take that out of the ground because, well, there’s a finite supply and it could — it could damage our environment and cause global warming…

.. when the climate — when those who — who — who profess manmade global warming and climate science convinced many, many Republicans, including two who are running for president on the Republican ticket, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

But there was one who said: I know this isn’t climate science. This is political science.

And this was another attempt of those who want to take power away from you and control your access to energy, your utilization, whether it’s in your car or in your home of energy, because they are better to make these decisions about how you use energy than you do.

That’s what they believe. And unfortunately, just like in health care, Governor Romney and Speaker Gingrich went along with the ride. And guess what? When the climate changed, they changed their position. And now they’re all for drilling and they’re all for oil and gas and coal. I was for it because it was the right thing to do then; I’ll be for it tomorrow and the next day and the next day. I’m not going to change with the climate.

Ladies and gentlemen, I grew up in this great state, and this is the first day — this is the launch we wanted to come here to Pennsylvania, to launch our campaign here in Pennsylvania. We’ve got five weeks, five weeks to a big win and a big delegate sweep in Pennsylvania.

I come as a son of Pennsylvania, someone who grew up in western Pennsylvania. Everyone knows the story, I hope, of my grandfather, my dad coming to Pennsylvania to work in those coal mines in Somerset County. I learned everything, everything about freedom and opportunity and hard work, and growing up with folks who worked in the mills and the mines in western Pennsylvania.

And so when I speak and I speak from the heart, in the back of my mind are the pictures of those men and women who worked and scraped and clawed so their children and grandchildren could, yes, have a better quality of life, yes, maybe even go to college and not have to work in tough, manual labor, but, most importantly, they fought for the things that the people in this battlefield just down the road fought for.

They fought for big things, things that America’s always stood for, that Ronald Reagan referred to as that shining city on the hill. It’s things that I’m fighting for here today, the reason Karen and I decided, in the face of having seven children ages 20 to 3 — not exactly the best time to run for president of the United States when you have children 20 to 3…

… but Karen and I felt compelled. We felt compelled, because as Ronald Reagan said in one of his great speeches, we didn’t want to have to sit down someday and look at the eyes of our children and our children’s children and describe to them an America where once men were free.

We don’t want to be that generation that lost the torch of freedom. That’s why Karen and the kids behind me, all of whom born in Pennsylvania, all of those folks who understand the — the greatness of our state and the greatness of the values of this state, all of us understand what was sacrificed, in the mills and on the battlefields.

And that’s why we must go out and fight this fight. That’s why we must go out and nominate someone who understands, not because some pollster tells them, because they know in their gut — just like you do — all across this country, you know in your gut big things are adrift and at stake in this election.

So I ask each and every one of you to join us, to saddle up, like Reagan did in the cowboy movies, to saddle up, take on that responsibility over the next five weeks. We’re going to head to Louisiana from here. We’re feeling very, very good about winning Louisiana on Saturday, I might add.

We’re heading to Louisiana for the rest of the week, and then we’re going to be back here in Pennsylvania, and we’re going to pick up a whole boatload of delegates and close this gap and on to victory.

Thank you all very much. God bless you. Thank you.

Campaign Buzz March 20 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech / Remarks after Decisive Win in Illinois Republican Presidential Primary — Transcript

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Mitt Romney Delivers Remarks in Illinois

Mitt Romney goes on attack (Speech transcript, video)

Source: WaPo, 3-20-12
romney-2012-blog-photo-mitt-victory-speech-illinois.jpg
Thank you, Illinois! What a great night!

I’d like to congratulate my fellow candidates on a hard-fought contest. I’d like to thank our volunteers and our friends for their hard work and unwavering support. And, tonight, we thank the people of Illinois for their vote – and for this incredible victory.

Elections are about choices. And today hundreds of thousands of Illinois voters have joined millions across the country in our cause.

We began this movement on a small farm in New Hampshire on a sunny June day, surrounded by a small group of friends, family, and supporters. We shared a conviction that the America we loved was in trouble and adrift without strong leadership. Three years of Barack Obama had brought us fewer jobs and shrinking paychecks, but many of us believed we were in danger of losing something more than the value of homes and 401(k)s.

After the years of too many apologies and not enough jobs, historic drops in income and historic highs in gas prices, of a President who doesn’t hesitate to use all means necessary to force Obamacare on the American public but leads from behind in world affairs, it’s time to say, “Enough!”

We know our future is better and brighter than these troubled times. We still believe in America – and we deserve a President who believes in us.

Yesterday I gave a speech at the University of Chicago, not far from here and where Professor Barack Obama taught Constitutional Law. It was a speech on economic freedom and as I was writing it, I thought back to the lifetime of experiences I’ve had learning the unique genius of the American free enterprise system. It started when I was just a kid, and my dad, who never graduated from college, would tell me about his dad, who was a contractor and never quite made it but never gave up.

Later I helped start companies that began just as an idea and somehow made it through all the inevitable difficulties to create thousands of jobs. Those jobs helped families buy their first homes, put kids through school, live better lives, dream a little bigger.

For 25 years, I lived and breathed jobs, business, and the economy. I had successes and failures but each step of the way, I learned a little more about what it is that makes our American system so powerful.

You can’t learn that teaching Constitutional law. You can’t learn that as a community organizer. The simple truth is that this President just doesn’t understand the genius of America’s economy – or the secret of our success.

The American economy is fueled by freedom. Economic freedom is the only force that has consistently succeeded in lifting people out of poverty. It is the only principle that has ever created sustained prosperity.

But, over the last three years, this administration has been engaged in an assault on our freedom.

Under President Obama, bureaucrats prevent drilling rigs from going to work in the Gulf. They keep coal from being mined. They impede the reliable supply of natural gas. They even tell farmers what their 15-year-old sons and daughters can and can’t do on the family farm.

The administration’s assault on freedom has kept this so-called recovery from meeting their projections, let alone our expectations.

And now, the President is trying to erase his record with rhetoric. Just the other day, he said, “We are inventors. We are builders. We are makers of things. We are Thomas Edison. We are the Wright Brothers. We are Bill Gates. We are Steve Jobs.”

That’s true. But the problem is: he’s still Barack Obama. And under this President, those pioneers would have faced an uphill battle to innovate, invent, and create.

Under Dodd-Frank, they would have struggled to get a loan from their community bank.

A regulator would have shut down the Wright Brothers for their “dust pollution.”

And the government would have banned Thomas Edison’s light bulb. Oh, that’s right. They just did.

The real cost of these misguided policies are the ideas that are never pursued and the dreams that are never realized.

For centuries, the American Dream has meant the opportunity to build something new. Some of America’s greatest success stories are people who started out with nothing but a good idea and a corner in their garage. But today, Americans who want to start a new business or launch a new venture don’t see promise and opportunity. They see government standing in their way.

We once built the interstate highway system and the Hoover Dam. Today, we can’t even build a pipeline.

We once led the world in manufacturing, exports, and infrastructure investment. Today, we lead the world in lawsuits.

When we replace a law professor with a businessman, that will end.

Every great innovation, every world-changing business breakthrough begins with a dream. And nothing is more fragile than a dream. The genius of America is that we nurture these dreams and the dreamers. We honor them, and, yes, we reward them.

That’s part of what is uniquely brilliant about America. But day by day, job-killing regulation by job-killing regulation, bureaucrat by bureaucrat, this President is crushing the dream and the dreamers.

The proof is in this weak recovery. This administration thinks our economy is struggling because the stimulus was too small. The truth is our economy is struggling because the government is too big.

You and I know what President Obama still has not learned, even after three years and hundreds of billions of dollars in spending: The government does not create prosperity; prosperity is the product of free markets and free people.

This November, we face a defining decision. Our choice will not be one of party or personality. This election will be about principle. Our economic freedom will be on the ballot.

I am offering a real choice and a new beginning. I am running for President because I have the experience and the vision to get us out of this mess. We know what Barack Obama’s vision of America is – we’ve all lived it the last three years. Mine is very different.

I see an America where we know the prospects for our children will be better than our own; where the pursuit of success unites us, not divides us; when a government finally understands that it’s better for more to pay less in taxes than for a few to pay more; where the values we pass on to our children are greater than the debts we leave them; where poverty is defeated by opportunity, not enabled a government check.

I see an America that is humble but never humbled, that leads but is never led.

Today we took an important step toward that America. Tomorrow, we take another. Each day we move closer not just to victory but to a better America. Join us. Together, we will ensure that America’s greatest days are still ahead.

Thank you and God bless America.

Campaign Buzz March 20, 2012: Mitt Romney Wins Decisive Victory over Second Placed Rick Santorum in Illinois Republican Presidential Primary

CAMPAIGN 2012

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 late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Damon Winter/The New York Times

IN FOCUS: MITT ROMNEY WINS ILLINOIS PRIMARY BY A LARGE MARGIN OVER SECOND PLACED RICK SANTORUM

Romney Wins Illinois Republican Primary, Exit Polls Say: Mitt Romney won a commanding victory over Rick Santorum in Illinois on Tuesday, providing new ammunition for his argument that the Republican nomination contest should quickly give way to a focus on defeating President Obama.
Mr. Romney bested his chief rival among many types of voters, winning among voters of all ages and most income groups. Mr. Romney drew the support of more moderate voters — as he has in the past — but also won among voters who said they were supportive of the Tea Party movement.
For Mr. Santorum, the loss was a missed opportunity to blunt Mr. Romney’s momentum. Mr. Santorum’s victories have mostly come in the south and Tuesday’s primary was a moment that he could have used to demonstrate strength elsewhere…. – NYT, 3-20-12

Mitt Romney wins Republican primary in Illinois: Mitt Romney has won the Republican presidential primary in Illinois by a wide margin over chief rival Rick Santorum.
The victory renews questions about Santorum’s viability as a candidate, but it is unlikely to shake up the general geometry of the race, as Santorum has vowed to soldier on in hopes of a comeback before the Republican National Convention in August…. – WaPo, 3-20-12

Live blog: Romney wins Illinois primary: At stake are 54 delegates. Romney is nearly halfway to the 1,144 needed for the GOP nod…. – USA Today, 3-20-12

Live Coverage of the Illinois Primary: Follow along for live updates, analysis, results and exit polls from the Illinois primary…. – NYT, 3-20-12

Live blog of Illinois primaryCNN, 3-20-12

  • CBS News: Romney to win Illinois primary: CBS News estimates that Mitt Romney will defeat Rick Santorum and his other rivals to take the Republican presidential primary in Illinois…. – CBS News, 3-20-12
  • Mitt Romney wins Illinois presidential primary: Mitt Romney scored a decisive victory over Rick Santorum in the Illinois primary on Tuesday, tightening his grip on the Republican front-runner’s slot and improving his chances of locking up the nomination by the end of the presidential…. – LAT, 3-20-12
  • Romney sweeps Illinois primary: Mitt Romney swept to another primary victory Tuesday night, capturing a big chunk of Illinois’ early GOP primary vote…. – USA Today, 3-20-12
  • Romney takes the lead in Illinois, looking to gain a little distance on Santorum in GOP race: Backed by a crushing television ad advantage, Mitt Romney jumped ahead of Rick Santorum in early returns from the Illinois primary Tuesday night, bidding for yet another industrial-state triumph in the race for the Republican…. – WaPo, 3-20-12
  • Exit poll shows huge Romney IL edge from GOP voters looking for candidate to beat Obama: Early exit polling in the Illinois primary is showing Mitt Romney enjoying a big edge among voters seeking a candidate to oust President Barack Obama. Romney is also taking a large lead among those worrying about the economy and federal…. – WaPo, 3-20-12
  • Illinois Votes in Rare Turn in Spotlight: The Illinois primary has largely come down to a battle between Mitt Romney, who leads in delegates, and Rick Santorum, and in recent days the two campaigned furiously across the state….. – NYT, 3-20-12
  • Illinois Republican Primary: Mitt Romney and his allies have pounded Rick Santorum on television and radio, especially in the expensive market of Chicago, where the suburban vote could prove decisive for Mr. Romney. Mr. Santorum was still hoping for a strong vote from downstate…. – NYT, 3-20-12
  • Illinois Primary: Live coverage: The Republican presidential primaries continue Tuesday in Illinois, the land of Lincoln and of President Obama — although, it should be noted, neither was born there. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hopes that Illinois will give him the kind of … – LAT, 3-20-12
  • Live blog: Romney banking on big llinois victory: We’re live blogging the results from the Illinois primary, where it’s essentially a two-man battle between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Romney, the GOP front-runner, is hoping for a big win in President Obama’s home state … – USA Today, 3-20-12
  • Poll: Economy a top issue as Illinois voters head to polls: The economy appears to be a top issue for Illinois voters, just as it has been in other primary states…. – USA Today, 3-20-12
  • Illinois voters: Keep the primary going!: Even as the Washington Republican political establishment grumbles about the possible ill effects of an extended primary fight for the party’s presidential nomination, voters in today’s Illinois race seem perfectly content for the race to continue for … – WaPo, 3-20-12
  • Exit poll shows few IL voters worried about prolonged fight for GOP Presidential nomination: Even more months of battling for the Republican presidential nomination? Most voters in Tuesday’s Illinois primary have little problem with that, as long as their candidate wins. An exit poll of Illinois voters shows that around two-thirds…. – WaPo, 3-20-12
  • Illinois primary: Romney aims to restore inevitability aura: Mitt Romney is seeking a win in today’s Illinois Republican primary to restore the air of inevitability that once surrounded his presidential candidacy, as his closest rival Rick Santorum fights to stay viable with a strong…. – WaPo, 3-20-12
  • Santorum to speak tonight from Gettysburg: When TV cameras tonight record Rick Santorum’s speech after votes are counted in the Illinois primary, the GOP presidential hopeful won’t be anywhere in the Land of Lincoln. Santorum will be speaking from Gettysburg, Pa…. – USA Today, 3-20-12
  • Illinois primary: For Mitt Romney, delegates less important than ‘winning’: The Illinois primary Tuesday is an opportunity for Mitt Romney to extend his delegate lead on Rick Santorum. But a big win in the popular vote might be more important…. – CS Monitor, 3-20-12
  • Long GOP nomination fight worries few IL voters: A battle for the Republican presidential nomination that slogs on for months more? If that’s what it takes for their candidate to prevail, most voters in Tuesday’s Illinois GOP primary say it’s not a problem.
    Less than a third of them want the already prolonged GOP fight to end quickly, even if their favorite loses out, according to preliminary results of an exit poll Tuesday. About two thirds say they’re happy to let the contest continue for months more, as long as their candidate comes out on top.
    Illinois voters expressed that sentiment with the nomination fight already well into its third month and appearing likely to stretch into April and beyond…. – AP, 3-20-12
  • Five things to know about the Illinois presidential primary: On a balmy first day of spring, Illinois voters may be about to play a decisive role in a Republican presidential marathon that started in the winter chill in neighboring Iowa. 1. Voting early and often. It’s a tired political cliché…. – LAT, 3-20-12
  • CBS News early Illinois exit polls: 4 in 10 Romney, Santorum voters “have reservations”: More than four in ten of the people who voted for Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in Tuesday’s GOP primary in Illinois “have reservations” about their choice, according to early CBS News exit polls.
    Forty-seven percent of Romney voters “strongly” favor their candidate, as do 44 percent of Santorum voters. But 41 percent of Romney voters and 44 percent of Santorum voters say they have concerns about their choice. Another one in ten supporters of each candidate say they dislike the other candidates.
    The exit polls also found that two in three Illinois GOP voters would prefer that their candidate win the nomination even if the race goes on a long time. Twenty-nine percent said they would prefer that the race end soon even if it means their candidate loses…. – CBS News, 3-20-12

White House Recap August 13-19, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — Obama Embarks on Economic Rural Tour to the Midwest States of Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois — Job Plan Will be Announced After Labor Day

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: AUGUST 13-19, 2011

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at a town hall
White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 8/17/11

Weekly Wrap Up: On the Road

Source: WH, 8-19-11

This week most of the action took place far away from the West Wing, as the President and many of his senior advisors hit the road to talk with Americans in rural towns and communities in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

Rural Road Trip: From August 15-18, President Obama traveled through the Midwest, meeting with Americans in rural towns and communities in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. The purpose of his trip, dubbed the Economic Rural Tour 2011, was to have conversations with people from different walks of life about what is happening in our country right now. The President was there to talk, but also to listen. His message at the end of his trip? There’s nothing wrong with our country that can’t be fixed.

Summer Tour: The President was not the only member of the Administration on the road this week. In fact, this summer there are more than 100 events being held across the country in support of the White House’s Rural Economic Council, which this week released a Jobs and Economic Security report. The Council held a Rural Economic Forum in Iowa, where the President announced several new initiatives to help create jobs and grow the economy in rural communities.

VP in Asia: Vice President Joe Biden logged even more miles than the President this week, as he headed to China for the first stop on his three country trip through Asia. In addition to meeting with Chinese leaders in Beijing, the VP also attended a U.S.-China business roundtable and chatted with locals at a snack shop in the city. You can follow his travels live on Twitter – #VPin Asia.

Historic Appointments, Historic Delays: The President’s nominations for federal judges embody an unprecedented commitment to expanding the racial, gender and experiential diversity of the men and women who enforce our laws and deliver justice. Unfortunately, the delays these nominees are encountering on Capitol Hill are equally unprecedented. Check out this infographic to understand what this means for Americans seeking justice.

Immigration Update: The Department of Homeland Security announced a new strategy that focuses immigration resources in a way that puts public safety and national security first. Cecilia Muñoz, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, held Office Hours via Twitter to explain the change and what it means.

Super Bowl Champs in the House: On August 12, the Green Bay Packers paid a visit to the President, where he congratulated the team on their championship season. Team members took a tour of the White House and gave a shout out to the First Lady, whose work with Let’s Move inspires their own Fit Kids program, which helps educate Wisconsin children about good health and smart eating habits.

Political Buzz August 15-17, 2011: Recap — President Obama’s 3 Day Economic Bus Tour in the Midwest; Minnesota, Iowa & Illinois

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.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at a town hall
White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 8/17/11

IN FOCUS: PRESIDENT OBAMA’S 3 DAY ECONOMIC BUS TOUR IN THE MIDWEST; MINNESOTA, IOWA, & ILLINOIS

President Obama to Travel to Minnesota, Begin Three-Day Economic Bus Tour: On Monday August 15th, the President will travel to Minnesota to begin his three-day economic bus tour in the Midwest. After arriving in Minnesota, the President will host a town hall event in Cannon Falls, Minnesota at Lower Hannah’s Bend Park.
The economic bus tour will also feature events in Iowa including a Rural Economic Forum in Peosta as well as events in western Illinois. While in the Midwest, the President will discuss ways to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and accelerate hiring in communities and towns across the nation and hear directly from Americans, including small business owners, local families, private sector leaders, rural organizations, and government o fficials. The President knows we must do everything we can to promote economic growth, restore confidence in our nation’s future and enhance the sense of optimism for future generations. — White House Press Release, 8-11-11

“What is needed is action by Congress. It’s time for the games to stop. It’s time to put country first.” — President Barack Obama in Cannon Falls, Minn

“Obviously, with the markets going up and down last week and this downgrade, a lot of folks were feeling a little anxious and distressed and feeling like, boy, we’ve been working so hard over the last two and a half years to get this economy back out of recession, and some folks worry that we might be slipping back. I want all of you to understand: There is nothing that we’re facing that we can’t solve with some spirit of America first; a willingness to say, we’re going to choose party — we’re going to choose country over party, we’re going to choose the next generation over the next election.” — President Barack Obama

“Creating jobs and economic opportunity in rural America is a priority for the Obama administration, and the White House Rural Council has used an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to leverage resources across the federal government to achieve that goal.” — Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

“He is doing what Presidents do, which is go out in the country and engage with the American people. To suggest that any time the President leaves Washington it’s a political trip would mean that Presidents could never leave unless they were physically campaigning on their own behalf, and he’s not. He’s out here doing his job.” — Press Secretary Jay Carney

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

 

THE HEADLINES….

DAY 3

 

  • Obama to Press Committee on Jobs: President Obama will deliver a major address soon after Labor Day seeking to pressure a special Congressional committee to propose new measures to promote job creation as well as larger long-term deficit cuts than mandated … – NYT, 8-17-11
  • Obama to issue new proposals on job creation, debt reduction: President Obama plans to make a major speech in early September laying out new proposals for job creation and taming the federal debt, according to the White House. … – WaPo, 8-17-11
  • Obama set to go beyond $1.5 trln budget cuts-official: US President Barack Obama is preparing a detailed deficit-cutting plan that goes beyond the $1.5 trillion target a congressional committee is aiming for, White House officials said on Wednesday. … – Reuters, 8-17-11
  • Obama’s jobs package may include school renovations and a tax break for hiring: The president’s proposal would mean construction work and an incentive for businesses to add employees. It’s expected to come with a plan to reduce federal budget deficits…. – LAT, 8-17-11
  • Obama’s Job No. 1: Create jobs: Democrats are finally up for a fight — with President Obama. Having despaired that Obama gave in to the Tea Party on the debt deal, they now criticize him as too cautious in his proposals to boost American jobs. … – WaPo, 8-17-11
  • Obama turns focus to job creation: President Barack Obama isn’t on the panel tasked with slashing the national debt — but he hopes to help set the supercommittee’s agenda by presenting members with a limited but substantial new spending measure to create jobs. … – Politico, 8-17-11
  • Obama still wants taxes on the table: When he outlines a plan to boost the economy in what’s being described as a major speech after Labor Day, President Barack Obama is also expected to unveil a proposal to reduce the nation’s debt…. – AP, 8-17-11
  • President Weighs Asking Panel for Stimulus Measures: President Barack Obama is considering recommending that lawmakers on a deficit committee back new measures to stimulate the lagging economy, people familiar with White House discussions said Tuesday. … – WSJ, 8-16-11
  • Obama bus tour provides glimpse of reelection strategy: During a three-day tour by bus of the Midwest, President Obama provided an early snapshot of his reelection strategy, one in which he’ll try to convince voters that his approach offers the rational path and seek to define Republicans as so unwilling to compromise they would risk financial chaos.
    And despite alarming levels of unemployment and a volatile market, the president has also revived a theme from his first campaign — optimism — in a manner that paints Republicans as cynical and disinterested in solutions…. – LAT, 8-17-11
  • Obama previews campaign?: In tour, he revived theme from his first campaign: Optimism in US amid GOP cynicism. President Obama on Wednesday jumped onto the stage in Atkinson, Ill., where he said: “I need you to send a message to folks in Washington: It’s time to put country first…. – Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8-17-11
  • Obama slogan should channel Larry the Cable Guy: We know what to do – I’ll be putting forward specific plan in September to boost the economy. My attitude is get it done – if they don’t get it done, I’ll be running against Congress not doing anything for the American people. … – Chicago Tribune, 8-17-11
  • Obama’s three-day jobs tour: Did he connect with rural America?: Obama’s three-day bus tour of the Midwest wrapped up in front of mostly friendly audiences in small rural Illinois communities. The president talked of jobs, political pledges, and county fairs… – CS Monitor, 8-17-11
  • Far From Capital, Obama Still Finds Its Woes: It has been like that across the Midwest this week, where the president wrapped up his three-day bus tour in two Illinois farm hamlets: the welcome mat was out, but the mood was somber. Even here, in the state where he began his political career and makes his home, Mr. Obama got tough questions from people who said they were fearful about their future, frustrated by the paralyzed job market and fed up with a political culture in Washington that produced the debt-ceiling imbroglio…. – NYT, 8-17-11
  • Obama Wraps Up Bus Tour in Illinois: In Iowa on Tuesday he spoke with local business owners and farmers, and encouraged supporters to send a message to Washington and say it is time to put country first. Mitt Romney spoke on Tuesday and criticized the President…. – 9&10 News, 8-17-11
  • Obama wraps up bus tour in Illinois today: In this small Illinois farming community not far from the Iowa border, a shiny new fire station being built is testament to the stimulus plan that the Obama administration hoped would rescue the nation’s economy.
    The construction job, which won a $1.3 million grant, was the kind of project the White House thought would create jobs in small towns across the nation, all the better if the locals gave Obama a little of the credit.
    In the midst of a political storm over the state of the economy on his watch, Obama will find out if that’s the case when he holds one of two Illinois town halls in the community Wednesday as he wraps up a three-cay, campaign-style bus tour in the Midwest. The town of 1,000 is rolling out the red carpet for him by lining parts of its main thoroughfares with more than 900 donated American flags…. – Chicago Tribune, 8-17-11
  • President Wraps Up Bus Tour in Illinois: President Obama is now back in Washington and in vacation mode as he wrapped up his three-day Midwest bus tour in Illinois…. – WIFR, 8-17-11
  • Obama talks estate tax at final bus tour stop: The final stop on President Obama’s three-state Midwest bus tour was at the Country Corner Farm Market in the small town of Alpha, Illinois. The president was roughly an hour behind schedule due mostly to a visit with the Galesburg High School football team… – CNN, 8-17-11
  • Obama visits Illinois fair as bus tour rolls on: President Barack Obama has gotten off the bus for another surprise stop in the Midwest – this time, at a county fair.
    The president was making a quick visit Wednesday morning at the Whiteside County Fair in northwest Illinois, a local celebration that has been taking place for more than 140 years…. – AP, 8-17-11
  • Obama’s Warm Welcome in the Midwest Stands in Stark Contrast to Road Ahead: President Obama spent the last three days traveling throughout the Midwest promoting his proposals to get the economy moving again and telling Americans that he shares their frustration with partisan gridlock in Washington…. – ABC News, 8-17-11
  • ‘Ground Force One’ Makes Its Midwest Debut With Obama: As President Obama sets off on the last day of his three-day road trip across the Midwest, his high-tech, black, armored bus has become a familiar presence on the highways and byways here…. – NYT, 8-17-11

    DAY 2

  • Obama works to connect with Midwesterners: On the second day of his Midwestern economic tour, President Obama bussed through the idyllic landscapes of rural Iowa and came armed with several measures he said would boost the economy here…. – WaPo, 8-16-11
  • Day Two for Obama’s “Non-Political” Tour: White House officials had insisted that President Obama’s current bus trip through the Midwest would be non-political, designed to harvest impressions about America’s mood and allow him to explain his agenda…. – U.S. News & World Report, 8-16-11
  • Obama visits Midwest on bus tour: President Obama’s motorcade heads to Guttenberg, Iowa, for a breakfast stop. He is on a three-day, economy-oriented bus tour…. – USA Today, 8-16-11
  • Obama Getting Favorable Weather, Crowds on Midwest Tour: President Obama is waking up in Iowa this morning, hoping for more great weather, more friendly crowds and plenty of press coverage. So far, he’s getting his wish…. – FOX 9 News
  • Obama lauds rural America, announces growth initiatives in Iowa: On the second day of his Midwestern economic tour, President Obama spoke less about the particulars of policy and more about what Washington could learn from rural America…. – WaPo, 8-16-11
  • Obama works to connect with Midwesterners: On the second day of his Midwestern economic tour, President Obama bussed through the idyllic landscapes of rural Iowa and came armed with several measures he said would boost the economy here. … – WaPo, 8-16-11
  • Obama Continues Bus Tour In Iowa: As President Barack Obama continues his bus tour in Iowa, he’s seeking input from people directly affected by the tough economy. The president reassured farmers, businessmen and others taking part in an economic forum at Northeast Iowa…. – KCCI Des Moines, 8-16-11
  • In Iowa, Obama seeks ideas for jolting economy: President Barack Obama on Tuesday implored Iowans to share ideas with him about how leaders can give an economic jolt to the nation’s heartland. He promised better days in a time of relentless joblessness…. – Kansas City Star, 8-16-11
  • President Obama’s Iowa trip had feel of campaigning: With a back-drop of straw bales, a John Deere tractor and cowboy hats, President Barack Obama gave a healthy dose of campaign speak at rural economic forum Tuesday in Peosta, Iowa…. – KSDK, 8-16-11
  • Obama dares Republicans to block his coming jobs package: The president, visiting the Midwest, pledges to send Congress a plan in September and challenges Republicans to block it. Not all Democrats are comfortable with his hard-line stance…. – LAT, 8-17-11
  • Obama, 2012 Republicans clash on jobs: President Barack Obama has told Republicans to stop playing games that hurt the US economy, but his foes mocked his “Magical Misery” tour by bus through key Midwest swing states. Reeling from one of the bleakest patches of his crisis-strewn presidency, Obama on Monday boarded his new $1.1 million Secret Service armored bus for a three-day, three-state bus trip at a time of deep national gloom over the economy…. – AFP, 8-16-11
  • Obama tour a long way from ‘hope and change’ as he attacks Congress: “Frustration and bitterness” doesn’t exactly have the same ring as “hope and change,” but nonetheless it’s the message US President Barack Obama is hammering home on a swing through the Midwest that’s being derided as a taxpayer-funded campaign trip…. – Winnipeg Free Press, 8-16-11
  • Tea party, GOP lash out at Obama business plans: President Barack Obama’s reception in the Hawkeye State has been a mixed bag, as he travels across rural Iowa announcing different business-related growth initiatives specific to the state’s rural and farming … – Iowa Independent, 8-16-11
  • Iowa Republicans/Obama find something to agree on: A trade deal: Several key Iowa Republicans agree on at least one goal outlined by President Obama: A trade deal with South Korea. Obama broadly spoke about trade agreements but didn’t specifically mention the South Korea trade deal. However, it is one he supports … – DesMoines Register, 8-16-11
  • Obama Support Among White Voters Slumps: President Barack Obama’s Midwest trip this week has allowed him to address a central challenge for his reelection: His popularity has slumped among white voters—particularly young, poor and working-class…. – WSJ, 8-16-11
  • bus tour panned: This is what happens when a middle-aged rocker goes out on the road with no new material. Hecklers show up. Reviewers slam him. He gets irritable. And so too with President Obama: His Midwest bus tour is bombing. … – WaPo, 8-16-11
  • Midwest economy’s shine is wearing thin: As President Obama stumps his jobs message across the Midwest this week, he is encountering a regional economy that has lost some of its post-recession luster…. – Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8-16-11
  • Obama preaches compromise in the Midwest: As he travels past the farms, churches and corner stores of rural America, President Obama is crystallizing the differences between his style of government and those of the Republicans who want to replace him…. – USA Today, 8-16-11
  • Pres. Obama: “Ultimately the buck stops with me. I’m going to be accountable.”: CNN’s Wolf Blitzer sat down with President Barack Obama today in Peosta, Iowa. In this one-on-one interview, on the second day of the president’s bus tour across the Midwest, Blitzer and the president discussed a variety of topics from domestic to foreign policy…. – CNN, 8-16-11
  • Obama strikes realist tone in CNN interview: President Barack Obama acknowledged Tuesday that he may be a one-term president if voters’ patience with the pace of the economic recovery runs out by next November. “The mess has been bigger than a lot of people anticipated at the time,” Obama said…. – Politico, 8-16-11
  • Iowa no easy harvest for Obama in 2012: Once, Iowa highlighted Barack Obama’s soaring potential, but now the fabled swing state is a lens for his liabilities and challenges as he begins to ask voters for a second term in the White House…. – AFP, 8-17-11
  • Obama dares Republicans to block his coming jobs package: The president, visiting the Midwest, pledges to send Congress a plan in September and challenges Republicans to block it. Not all Democrats are comfortable with his hard-line stance. President Obama, visiting Decorah, Iowa, as part of his Midwest bus…. – LAT, 8-17-11
  • Obama Presses His Case in Crucial Iowa, but Perry Is Close on His Heels: President Obama pulled up to a bucolic community college here in his $1.1 million black armored bus on Tuesday and spent much of the day closeted in a conference with farmers and small-business owners…. – NYT, 8-17-11
  • His Anger Is a Start: Faced with a divided Congress and an economy in desperate straits, President Obama tried bargaining with Republicans, he tried adopting some of their ideas and he pleaded with them for reasonable policies to help stave off disaster. … – NYT, 8-17-11
  • Obama blasts GOP ‘rigidity’ in CNN interview: President Barack Obama placed the blame for Washington’s current political paralysis squarely at the feet of his Republican opponents Tuesday, telling CNN that the GOP’s “ideological rigidity” is standing in the way of compromises…. – CNN, 8-16-11
  • White House gives Obama big bullhorn and campaign advantages over Republicans: The presidency and all the attention it commands are giving Barack Obama a chance to frame the national story line this week, to try to put his imprint and spin on the economic and political wind shear that has been battering him…. – AP, 8-16-11

    DAY 1

  • The Presidential Planner: Obama Launches Midwest Bus TourABC News, 8-15-11
  • Obama Embarks on Midwest Tour: WSJ, 8-15-11
  • Obama fences, parries at start of Midwestern tour: President Barack Obama’s Midwestern tour is offering a mix of offense and defense that signals both his governing approach for the remainder of his term and the evolution of a campaign message for his re-election bid. … – AP, 8-15-11
  • Obama Tries to Reclaim Momentum With Midwest Bus Tour: For most of the summer, President Obama has been under siege in the White House. On Monday, he became a road warrior, kicking off a three-day bus tour of the Midwest that provided him campaign-style opportunities to strike back at Republicans in a region vital to his re-election. Traveling in a black bus with dark tinted windows and flashing red and blue lights that looked like something out of a “Mad Max” movie, the president urged audiences in Minnesota and Iowa to tell their elected officials they would no longer tolerate the partisan gridlock on display in the recent debt-ceiling talks…. – NYT, 8-15-11
  • Obama Bus Tour – Listening or Campaigning?: While the White House bills it as an opportunity for the president to talk about job growth and economic policy, some say the tour is nothing more than a campaign event. President Obama visited Minnesota and Iowa Monday, part of a three-day bus tour to … OzarksFirst.com, 8-16-11
  • In the Midwest, Obama Grapples for an Economic Fix and a Political Narrative: Barack Obama hit the road Monday for his three-day Midwestern bus tour toting an array of political baggage: a downgraded national credit rating, a faltering economy, a stretch of wild market … – Time, 8-16-11
  • Obama to talk of job creation and economic growth in three day tour: Barack Obama has embarked on a three day bus tour of Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota – the three Midwestern states that he will need to carry if he is to win re-election…. – New Statesman, 8-15-11
  • Obama, on tour, declares he has a jobs plan: Pushing back in Iowa against criticism that he’s not standing up to congressional Republicans, the president says he will campaign against lawmakers who refuse to pass his economic package…. – LAT, 8-16-11
  • Obama talks jobs, takes jabs at GOP: President Obama launched the first leg of his three-day bus tour of the Midwest on Monday with a stinging criticism of Republican politics and a wide-ranging promotion of his administration’s efforts to boost the ailing economy. … – Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8-16-11
  • President to voters: I’m still the man for the job: With jobs on the minds of most Americans, President Obama is working to keep his on a three day midwest bus tour full of promise, and promises…. – KARE, 8-16-11
  • Obama sets tone for governing, campaigning at beginning of three-day Midwest tour: President Barack Obama’s Midwestern tour is offering a mix of offense and defense that signals both his governing approach for the remainder of his term and the evolution of a campaign message for his re-election bid. … – AP, 8-16-11
  • Obama defends government action in Midwest bus tour: President Obama kicked off a three-day Midwest bus tour Monday by pledging to present Congress with a detailed jobs plan and warned that “if they don’t get it done, then we’ll be running against a Congress that won’t work for the American people.”
    It was the president’s most direct threat to Republicans who control the House and can block action in the Senate against a jobs package that already includes a payroll tax cut, extended unemployment benefits and a new public works program.
    Obama’s heated rhetoric was welcomed at his second town-hall-style meeting of the day, coming after several people asked why he wasn’t being tougher with Congress…. – USA Today, 8-17-11
  • Obama takes heat from Tea Partiers at Iowa town hall: President Obama got a little dose of Tea Party town hall anger on Monday during his three-day tour of the Midwest…. – CBS News, 8-16-11
  • Obama clashes with Tea Party member: President Obama came face-to-face with the Tea Party last night in Iowa, clashing with a member during and after a town hall last night. Ryan Rhodes, a group leader in the Hawkeye State, stood up and shouted a question … – USA Today, 8-16-11
  • Iowa Tea Party organizer interrupts Obama’s event; president shuts him down: Michele Bachmann supporter – stood up and screamed questions to President Obama today after he said the president ignored him. Obama firmly yet calmly told Ryan Rhodes that he can’t speak out of turn. “Sir, hold on a second,” Obama said. … – DesMoines Register, 8-16-11
  • Rick Perry On Obama: ‘We’ve Kind Of Got Competing Job Tours’: “I guess we’ve kind of got competing jobs tours, if you want to know the truth of the matter.” Perry criticized President Obama’s approach to returning the campaign trail…. – ABC News, 8-15-11
  • GOP hopeful Mitt Romney rips Obama, calling President’s heartland trip a ‘Magical Misery bus tour’: President Obama launched a stealth campaign in the heartland Monday in an unmarked black bus, complete with dark tinted windows – and apparently paid for by taxpayers.
    The White House insisted Obama was on an official meet-and-greet to reassure Midwesterners about the struggling economy, but his first stop was Minnesota – home of Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of the Republican presidential front-runners…. – NY Daily News, 8-16-11
  • Obama Checks In: You Can Now Follow Our President On Foursquare: First Facebook, then Twitter and now Foursquare; Obama sure gets around (social platforms). As announced today on the White House blog, Obama will be checking in to the location-based service as he hits stops on his economic bus tour…. – WaPo, 8-15-11
  • Obama’s bus tour: Like an aging rocker with plenty of visible gray hair and filled with hope that nostalgia will bring out the crowds, President Obama is on a bus trip…. – WaPo, 8-16-11
  • Obama talks economy, jobs and politics in Cannon Falls: President Obama speaks to crowds on Monday in Cannon Falls, Minn. The event kicked off a three-day bus tour of the Midwest…. – Twin Cities Planet, 8-16-11
  • New presidential bus attracts attention, criticism: Republicans criticize the cost and origin of the high-security bus used in President Obama’s Midwest tour. The Secret Service defends the $1.1-million vehicle, and says the GOP nominee will use one too…. – LAT, 8-17-11
  • Bus made in Canada nothing new for president: “[The president] will continue the ‘Yes, America Can’ bus tour with three stops in Iowa and Wisconsin. The president will participate in events focused on strength, optimism and resolve of the American people in … strengthening our economy, … – Chicago Sun-Times, 8-17-11

Full Text August 15, 16, 17, 2011: President Obama’s Midwestern Bus Tour Promoting Economic & Job Growth Plans

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

The Economic Bus Tour

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama holds a town hall in Decorah, Iowa

President Obama’s Town Hall Meetings this Week

map of President Obama's Rural Tour 2011

President Obama wants to hear from Americans about how national economic policies are affecting life in your communities. He is spending the next three days on the road in the Midwest, and will participate in four town hall meetings, two on Monday and two on Wednesday. Each of the question and answer sessions will be live streamed on whitehouse.gov/live.

The President kicks off his three day rural tour today in Cannon Falls, Minnesota with a meeting at Lower Hannah’s Bend Park at 1:05 pm EDT. Later this afternoon, he will be in Decorah, Iowa for another town hall session with locals at the Seed Savers Exchange, which starts at 6:15 EDT.

On Tuesday, the President will be in Peosta, Iowa, where he will hold a Rural Economic Forum with members of the White House Rural Council, which was created in June to report on the economic climate in rural America. The President’s opening remarks will be live streamed at 12:50 pm EDT, as will his closing remarks at 3:30 pm EDT.

The President will travel to his home state of Illinois on Wednesday, where he will hold two more town hall meetings, the first will be in Atkinson at 12:30 pm EDT, at the Wyffels Hybrids Atkinson Production Facility, followed by another that afternoon at the Country Corner Farm in Alpha at 4:30 pm EDT.

While on the road, the President will be discussing ways to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and accelerate hiring in communities and towns across the nation. He wants to hear directly from small business owners, local families, private sector leaders, rural organizations and government officials.  The President knows we must do everything we can to promote economic growth, restore confidence in our nation’s future and enhance the sense of optimism for future generations.

Live Stream Schedule for Town Hall Meetings at whitehouse.gov/live

Monday August 15, 2011

1:05 pm EDT — Town Hall at Lower Hannah’s Bend Park, Cannon Falls, MN

6:15 pm EDT — Town Hall at Seed Savers Exchange, Decorah, Iowa

Wednesday August 17, 2011

12:30 pm EDT — Townhall at Wyffels Hybrids Atkinson Production Facility, Atkinson, IL

4:30 pm EDT — Townhall at Country Corner Farm, Alpha, IL

Live Stream Schedule for the Rural Economic Forum at whitehouse.gov/live

Tuesday August 16, 2011

12:50 pm EDT — Opening Remarks at White House Rural Economic Forum, Peosta, Iowa
.

SPEECHES & QUOTES

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BLOG

  • Watch This: Highlights of the President’s Tour through Rural Iowa

    President Obama headed to Decorah, IA on Monday afternoon, where he joined a crowd of 500 locals for a town hall meeting. Topics covered ranged from the difference between divided government and dysfunctional government, America’s proud history as a nation of innovation and the importance of agriculture in the American economy. The next day, he was in Peosta for the White House Rural Economic Forum. Along the way, he enjoyed some of the state’s beautiful scenery.
    Go behind the scenes with the President as he meets with the people of Decorah and Peosta, attends the Rural Economic Forum, and travels through rural Iowa.

    Interested in seeing more of the President’s rural road trip? Take a look at how he spent his morning in Minnesota.

  • Watch This: Highlights of the President’s Tour through Rural Minnesota

    On Monday, President Obama visited Cannon Falls, Minnesota where he talked with a crowd of 500 locals at Hannah’s Bend Park. During the town hall meeting, the President discussed the challenges that Americans have faced over the past year and reiterated his belief that there is “nothing wrong with America that can’t be fixed; what’s broken is our politics.” Later, the President traveled to the Old Market Deli where he had lunch with a group of veterans and was welcomed to the state by a local cowboy.
    Go behind the scenes with the President as he meets with the people of Cannon Falls, eats at the Old Market Deli and travels through rural Minnesota.

    Interested in more White House video? Take a look at  the highlights of the President’s trip through Iowa.

  • Rural Tour Day Three: Last Stop, Alpha Illinois

    Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (469MB) | mp3 (45MB)

    President Obama ended his three day tour of the Midwest at a town hall meeting on a farm in rural Illinois, where he took questions that ranged from enhanced protection for law enforcement officers to the shrinking size of local county fairs. The President’s last day was filled with opportunities to enjoy the rural landscape and attractions of his home state, and included stops at the Whiteside County Fair and a Galesburg High School football practice, in addition to an earlier town hall meeting in Atkinson.

    The President told the crowd of 250 people  gathered at Alpha’s Country Corner Farm that they can expect to hear about new proposals that will put Americans back to work in the next few weeks.

    When folks tell you that we’ve got a choice between jobs now or dealing with our debt crisis, they’re wrong.  They’re wrong.  We can’t afford to just do one or the other.  We’ve got to do both.  And the way to do it is to make some — reform the tax code, close loopholes, make some modest modifications in programs like Medicare and Social Security so they’re there for the next generation, stabilize those systems.  And you could actually save so much money that you could actually pay for some of the things like additional infrastructure right now.

    We can close the deficit and put people to work, but what’s required is that folks work together.  That’s the big challenge.  That’s the big challenge.

    And over the course of the next few weeks, I’m going to be putting out more proposals to put people to work right now.  And some of them — yes, some of them cost money.  And the way we pay for it is by doing more on deficit reduction than the plan that we had to come up with right at the last minute in order to avoid default.  We didn’t do as much as we could have.

    The President also laid out a series of steps that Congress can take as soon as they return to Washington that will put money in people’s pockets and create good jobs, including

    • Extending the payroll tax cut that was passed in December that put $1,000 in the typical family’s pocket
    • Passing trade deals that have the support of both business and the United Auto Workers, deals that will help realize the President’s dream of seeing more products overseas that carry the stamp, “Made in America.”
    • Passing the America Invents Act which makes it easier to get patents for  new products, services or  inventions, they can turn it around without a lot of red tape and bureaucracy and start businesses that hire workers

    As his three day trip through rural America drew to a close, the President told the crowd why his time on the road, meeting Americans in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, had been so rewarding, “It inspires you, because it reminds you about what makes this country so great, why I love this country so much, and why we’ve got to be doing every single thing we can every minute of every day to make sure that you can continue to achieve your American Dream and pass it on to your kids and your grandchildren.”

    Use the jump links below to skip to the answers to questions you’re most interested in.The questions below are paraphrased from the questions asked by participants during the townhall:

    You can watch events throughout the economic bus tour live at WhiteHouse.gov/live and follow the White House page on Foursquare to keep up with the President’s trip.
  • Rural Tour Day Three: Encouraging Job Growth

    Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (604MB) | mp3 (58MB)

    The final day of President Obama’s bus tour across America’s heartland was jam packed with meetings and spontaneous stops to enjoy the local landscape. On his way to a town hall in Atkinson, Illinois to talk about strengthening the economy, the President pulled in to the Whiteside County Fair and checked out the dairy cow judging.

    President Barack Obama stops by the Whiteside County Fair in Morrison, Ill.

    President Barack Obama talks with people watching the dairy cow judging during a stop at the Whiteside County Fair in Morrison, Ill., , Aug. 17, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

    During the town hall, President Obama discussed how inspiring the conversations he’s having with Americans have been:

    Now, what’s been striking as I’ve been traveling through over the last few days — you guys, you’re all fulfilling your responsibilities.  You’re working hard, you’re looking after your families, you’re volunteering at church, you’re coaching Little League — you’re doing everything right.  And all you’re asking for, if I’m not mistaken, is that your political representatives take their responsibilities just as seriously.

    And part of that means that you have to put politics aside sometimes to do what’s right for the country.  People have been asking me, well, why didn’t you call Congress back after this whole debt ceiling thing?  Why’d you let them leave town?  I say, well, I don’t think it would be good for business confidence and certainty just to see members of Congress arguing all over again.  I figured it was time for them to spend a little time back in their districts, hear your frustrations, hear your expectations.

    As I’ve been driving on this bus, just seeing all those flags on the way in, seeing folks waving, little kids ready to go back to school, and grandparents in their lawn chairs, and folks out in front of the machine shop and out in front of the fire stations — you go through small towns all throughout America, and it reminds you how strong we are and how resilient we are and how decent we are.  And that should be reflected in our politics; that should be reflected in our government.

  • Last Stop on the Rural Tour: Alpha, Illinois

    Alpha, Illinois

    After a surprise stop at the Whiteside County Fair, President Obama is heading to the Country Corner Farm in Alpha, Illinois for his fourth town hall in three days. The President has been traveling through the Midwest discussing ideas on how the government can help promote economic growth, accelerate hiring and spur innovation in rural communities like Cannon Falls, MN, Decorah, IA and Atkinson, IL.

    Alpha, Illinois

  • Rural Tour Day Three: Atkinson, Illinois

    Atkinson, Illinois

    President Obama will meet with locals in Atkinson, Illinois later today for a town hall where he will take questions from the crowd and outline ways we can strengthen the middle class and increase economic opportunity for everyone. He’s been on the road for three days now, travelling to rural communities and talking directly with the American people about a wide variety of issues that impact our economy. In his closing remarks at the White House Rural Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa yesterday, the President told the crowd that this trip has reminded him why he wanted to go into public service in the first place:

    But getting out of Washington and meeting all of you, and seeing how hard you’re working, how creative you are, how resourceful you are, how determined you are, that just makes me that much more determined to serve you as best I can as President of the United States.

    Earlier this week, President Obama spoke with local citizens during town hall meetings in Cannon Falls, Minnesota and Decorah, Iowa before heading to Peosta, where he announced a series of new job initiatives.

  • President Obama: “Why I wanted to get into public service in the first place”

    Today in Peosta, Iowa, President Obama took a moment to reflect on what his trip through rural America has meant:

    As I was driving down those little towns in my big bus we slowed down, and I’m standing in the front and I’m waving, I’m seeing little kids with American flags, and grandparents in their lawn chairs, and folks outside a machine shop, and passing churches and cemeteries and corner stores and farms — I’m reminded about why I wanted to get into public service in the first place.  Sometimes there are days in Washington that will drive you crazy.  But getting out of Washington and meeting all of you, and seeing how hard you’re working, how creative you are, how resourceful you are, how determined you are, that just makes me that much more determined to serve you as best I can as President of the United States.

    President Obama Waves To People Along The Road In Decorah, Iowa

    President Barack Obama waves to people along the road in Decorah, Iowa, Aug. 15, 2011, during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest focusing on ways to grow the economy. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Rural Tour Day Two: Economic Forum Closing Remarks

    Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (110MB) | mp3 (11MB)

    President Obama ended today’s White House Rural Economic Forum feeling energized by the ideas he heard all day from small business owners, students, entrepreneurs, ranchers, farmers and clean energy companies. He told the crowd of 125 rural leaders at the Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa  that the task of the entire nation “has to be to get behind what you’re doing; our task has to be making sure that nothing stands in your way, that we remove any obstacles to your success.”

    In addition to the President’s opening and closing remarks, the day included breakout-sessions moderated by senior administration officials that covered topics ranging from initiatives on broadband access and renewable energy to job creation in small, rural towns nationwide. He told the crowd that his time on the road this week has underscored his deep confidence that the American people can put the nation’s economy back on track:

    I am absolutely confident about our future.  And I’m confident because I know that while we face serious challenges — and there’s no sugarcoating that — there’s not a nation on Earth that would not want to trade places with us.  There’s nothing wrong with our country — although there is some problems with our politics.  That’s what we need to fix.  That’s how we’re going to unlock the promise of America, and the incredible dynamism and creativity of our people.

    And having a chance to meet with some of the men and women in this room have only made me feel more confident.  I’m excited about the future that you’re working towards each and every day.  And it ought to remind us of a simple lesson:  It’s always a mistake to bet against America. It’s always a mistake to bet against the American worker.  It’s always a mistake to bet against the American worker, the American farmer, the American small business owner, the American people.

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the White House Rural Economic Forum

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the White House Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, Aug. 16, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

    The President emphasized the importance of government connecting directly with citizens. Rather than focusing on party or factions, he explained, the key is working together towards a better future for the country:

    When you sit in some of these breakout sessions, I had no idea who was Democrat, who was Republican, who was independent.  What everybody understood was there are times when government can make a huge difference.  There are times where that SBA office or that USDA office can make all the difference in the world…And so it’s a very practical way of thinking about these problems.  It’s not either/or.  It’s a recognition that the prime driver of economic growth and jobs is going to be our people and the private sector and our businesses.  But you know what, government can help.

    So I hope that I can count on you in the days ahead to lend your voice to this fight to strengthen our economy.  I need you to keep your pressure on your elected representatives for things like the payroll tax cuts or road construction funds or the other steps that will help to put our country back to work. That’s what ought to unite us as a country, regardless of party or ideology, because if we can do that — if we can put country ahead of party — I know that our future is bright.  I know that our best days are ahead of us.

    For more information, check out the White House Rural Council. And don’t forget to tune into the President’s town hall meetings throughout his Rural Tour on WhiteHouse.gov/live, or see the full schedule.

    Learn more about Economy, Rural
  • Giving Rural America More Tools to Grow and Create Jobs

    Posted by Tom Vilsack and Karen Mills on August 16, 2011 at 4:08 PM EDT

    Today, the President announced several important new initiatives to continue strengthening the rural economy and to create jobs in rural areas.

    As part of the White House Rural Council’s efforts to improve federal government coordination on rural economic development, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have been focused on rural small business growth. And for good reason: Half the people who work in America either own or work for a small business, and two out of three new private sector jobs are created by small businesses.

    Many of these small businesses are in rural areas and we are making sure that they have the tools they need to grow, create jobs and drive the economy.

    President Obama at a Breakout Session during the White House Rural Economic Forum

    President Barack Obama, accompanied by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, participates in a breakout session at the White House Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, Aug. 16, 2011, as part of his three-day economic bus tour of the Midwest. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

    Today, the President announced a series of initiatives that leverage existing programs and funding to help small businesses and to meet other critical needs in rural communities.  This included:

    • Committing up to $350 million in SBA growth capital to investors in rural small businesses over the next 5 years
    • Launching a series of events to connect private equity and venture capital investors with rural start ups
    • Creating teams to link federal funding opportunities with private investors interested in making rural investments
    • Making job search information available at 2,800 local USDA offices nationwide
    • Making HHS loans available to help more than 1,300 Critical Access Hospitals recruit additional staff
    • Helping rural hospitals purchase software and hardware to implement health IT
  • Rural Tour Day Two: Economic Forum Opening Remarks

    Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (123MB) | mp3 (12MB)

    On the second day of his tour through rural America, President Obama participated in a Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa. He and members of his Cabinet joined a group of farmers, small business owners, private sector leaders, rural organizations and government officials to discuss ideas and initiatives that will spur job creation and economic innovation in small towns across the nation. In his opening remarks, the President announced several new initiatives that will promote economic growth in rural communities, including:

    Helping Rural Small Businesses Access Capital

    • Doubling SBA Investment Funds for Rural Small Businesses over the Next 5 Years: As part of the Startup America Initiative, the Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced the creation of a $1 billion Impact Investment Fund through its Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program.  The Impact Fund will invest in distressed areas as well as in emerging sectors such as clean energy.  SBA provides up to a 2:1 match to private capital raised by this fund, partnering with private investors to target “impact” investments.  SBA and USDA will partner together to drive $350 million of investment capital through the Impact Fund and existing SBICs into rural small businesses over the next five years, doubling the current rate of investment.
    • Connecting Rural Small Businesses with Private Investment Capital: To further achieve this goal, SBA and USDA will launch a series of Rural Private Equity and Venture Capital conferences nationwide to provide a platform for connecting private equity and venture capital investors with rural start-ups.  USDA, SBA, Treasury, Interior and other relevant agencies will also create rural capital “marketing teams” that pitch federal funding opportunities to private investors.  These “marketing teams” will leverage existing personnel with expertise about rural funding sources across all federal departments and agencies.
  • Rural Tour Day One: Investing in America

    Download Video: mp4 (683MB) | mp3 (65MB)

    The second stop on President Obama’s tour of rural America was a town hall meeting in Decorah,Iowa, where he talked with 500 local citizens about how we can grow the economy and put people back to work. The crowd asked questions on topics ranging from reforming the tax code and the rights of unions to whether Congress is a good partner, and what the current Washington gridlock means for democracy.

    The President addressed the frustration that many have expressed with the dysfunctional government in Washington and said he shares that feeling:

  • Rural Tour Day Two: Economic Forum in Peosta, Iowa

    Peosta, Iowa

    After a full day spent talking and listening to Americans at town halls in Cannon Falls, Minnesota and Decorah, Iowa yesterday, this morning the President’s economic bus tour pulls into Peosta, Iowa for the White House Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College. President Obama and members of his Cabinet will meet with private sector leaders, farmers and small business owners to discuss ideas to grow the economy, accelerate hiring and spur innovation in small towns across the country.

    The focus of the forum is how we can create good jobs that put more Americans back to work, and President Obama will announce new job initiatives for rural America that will do just that. The initiatives will include recommendations from the White House Rural Council that include helping small businesses in rural areas access capital, expanding rural job search and training services and increasing rural access to health care workers and technology.

  • President Obama: Our Biggest Challenge Right Now Is Putting People to Work

    Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (582MB) | mp3 (56MB)

    During the first stop on his rural road trip, President Obama took questions on topics ranging from using renewable energy to create jobs and helping young farmers buy land and market their products effectively to the future of Social Security and his Administration’s plans to bolster education.

    Speaking with a crowd of 500 people at Hannah’s Bend Park in Cannon Falls, MN, the President discussed the “extraordinary challenges” our nation has faced over the last two and a half years, but extolled the “extraordinary hope that America represents” around the world, and reiterated his belief that there is “nothing wrong with America that can’t be fixed; what’s broken is our politics.”

    Many of the questions focused on health care, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, and the President stressed his commitment to making sure we preserve the integrity of these programs while ensuring they are still in place for future generations:

    Learn more about Economy, Rural
  • Second Stop on the Economic Bus Tour: Decorah, Iowa

    Decorah, Iowa

    Ed. Note: Watch the video or read the full transcript of the President’s town hall in Decorah, Iowa.

    For the second stop of President Obama’s economic tour, the bus pulls into Decorah, Iowa for a town hall meeting with 500 local residents. While in Decorah, the President will be at the Seed Savers Exchange to discuss ways to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and accelerate hiring.

    The Seed Savers Exchange is a 850-acre farm that saves and shares heirloom seeds like Strawberry Crown Squash, Lemon Drop Tomato, Stone Mountain Watermelon and Champion of England Pea for future generations. Shannon Carmody from the Seed Savers Exchange describes heirlooms as rare seeds with a historic context, “Maybe they were offered in a seed catalog in the 1930’s, and are no longer offered commercially today, or they could have been brought to North American by immigrant families and are maintained for generation after generation.” Watch the town hall live beginning at 6:15 p.m. EDT on WhiteHouse.gov/live.

    Decorah
  • President Obama Kicks Off the Economic Bus Tour in Cannon Falls, Minnesota

    This morning, President Obama will visit Cannon Falls, Minnesota to kick off his economic bus tour.  The President is traveling around the Midwest to stress the vital role rural America plays in ensuring the growth of our economy, the affordability of our food, the independence of our energy supply, and the strength of our communities. Cannon Falls, Minnesota, 35 miles south of Minneapolis and St. Paul, is the first stop in a three day tour across America’s heartland. President Obama will take questions from small business owners, rural organizations and local families during a town hall beginning at 1:05 pm EDT at Lower Hannah’s Bend Park. Tune in to the town hall live at WhiteHouse.gov/live.

    Cannon Falls
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