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

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the Vice President at the National Governors Association

Source: WH, 7-14-17

Rhode Island Convention Center
Providence, Rhode Island

1:30 P.M. EDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The truth is that these reforms are long overdue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

END
2:02 P.M. EDT

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

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump in Meeting with the National Governors Association

Source: WH, 2-27-17

State Dining Room

9:45 A.M. EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECRETARY SHULKIN:  A hundred to zero.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

END
10:05 A.M. EST

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

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at the 2017 Governors Ball

Source: WH, 2-26-17

State Dining Room

7:29 P.M. EST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(A toast is offered.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(A toast is offered.)

END
7:35 P.M. EST

Political Musings February 25, 2014: Obama, Governors have turbulent dinner and meeting over 2016, economy, pipeline

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama, Governors have turbulent dinner and meeting over 2016, economy, pipeline

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Barack Obama spent his weekend with the National Governors Association (NGA) at what were suppose to be bipartisan events, a dinner hosted at the White House on Sunday evening, Feb. 23, 2014 and a White House meeting on Monday…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency February 24, 2014: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s Remarks at National Governors’ Association White House Meeting

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President and Vice President at NGA Meeting

Source: WH, 2-24-14

State Dining Room

11:15 A.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Thanks for making the Cabinet stand up for me.  (Laughter.)  I appreciate it.

It’s great to see you all.  And I don’t know about you all, I had a great time last night and got a chance to actually do what we should be doing more of — talking without thinking about politics and figuring how we can solve problems.

You’ve observed by now the reason the President and I like doing this every year is it’s nice dealing with people who know they got to get a job done, and they get a job done.  And I’ve gotten a chance to work directly with an awful lot of you in the days of the Recovery Act, and even when we were working on the gun violence; rebuilding from that super storm Sandy, which hit my state as well, and tornadoes and floods in a number of your states.

But it never ceases to amaze me how you all mobilize.  You just mobilize.  When crises hit your states, you mobilize and you rebuild.  And you rebuild your infrastructure not to the standards that existed before, but to 21st century standards.  You balance your budgets, you save neighborhoods, and you bring back jobs to your communities.

And the other thing I pick up — and I may be wrong.  I’m always labeled as the White House optimist, like I’m the kid who fell off the turnip truck yesterday, but I am the youngest here — (laughter) — and new.  But it always amazes me your sense of optimism.  You’re the one group of folks you go to with all the problems you have that you’re optimistic.  You’re optimistic about it being able to be done, getting things done.  That is not always the mood up in the place where I spent a large portion of my career.

And last night I got to speak to a bunch of you, particularly about the job skills initiative the President asked me to lead, and I had a chance to speak with some of you specifically, and I’m going to ask to — I’m going to get a chance to see more of you this afternoon.  But this is more than just — at least from the President’s perspective and mine — more than just a job skills initiative.  It’s about literally opening the aperture to the middle class.  The middle class has actually shrunk.

And we always have these debates with our economists — is the middle class $49,820 or $52,000.  The middle class to me, and I think to most of you, it’s really a state of mind.  It’s about being able to own your home and not have to rent it.  It’s about being able to send your kid to a park where you know you can send them out, and they’ll come home safely.  It’s about being able to send them to school, that if they do well in the school, they’re going to be able to get to something beyond high school if they want to do that.  And you’re going to be able to pay for it.  And in the meantime, you may be able to take care of your mom and dad who are in tough shape and hope that your kids never have to take care of you.  That’s the middle class.

And before the Great Recession, it was already beginning to shrink.  So together, we got to open — Mary, you and I have talked about this — about opening the aperture here for access to the middle class.  But we’ll be speaking a lot more about that in the next several months.  A couple of you invited me to come out your way, including some of my Republican friends.  And I’m going to be working with all of you.

But today I just want to say thank you.  Thank you for what you always do.  You come to town; you come to town with answers.  You come to town with suggestions.  You come to town to get things done.  And believe me, we need that and the American people are looking for it.

And I want to welcome you back to the White House, and introduce you now to my friend, your President, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  Please, have a seat.  Thank you so much.

Welcome to the White House.  I know that you’ve already been doing a lot of work, and I’m glad to be able to come here and engage in a dialogue with all of you.  I want to thank Mary and John for their leadership at the NGA.  I want to thank my outstanding Vice President, Joe Biden, who is very excited I think about the jobs initiative, and is going to be — the job training initiative, and I think is going to be doing a great job on that.

Michelle and I had a wonderful time hosting you guys last night, and I hope all the spouses enjoyed it.  And I know Alex enjoyed it.  (Laughter.)  One good thing about living here is that you can make all the noise you want and nobody is going to complain.  (Laughter.)  And I enjoyed watching some of you with your eyes on higher office size up the drapes — (laughter) –and each other.

We don’t have a lot of time today, so I want to be very brief, go straight to Q&A and discussion.  We’re at a moment when our economy is growing; our businesses have now created over 8.5 million new jobs over the past four years.  But, as I’ve said several times, the trends that have battered the middle class for a couple of decades now are still there and still have to be addressed.  Those at the top are doing very well.  Ordinary families still feeling squeezed.  Too many Americans are working harder than ever, and just barely getting by.

And reversing these trends are going to require us to work together around what I’m calling an opportunity agenda based on four things.  Number one, more good jobs that pay good wages.  Number two, training more Americans to be able to take the jobs that are out there right now and the jobs that are created.  Number three, guaranteeing access to a world-class education for every American child all across our 50 states and our territories.  And making sure that hard work pays off — with wages that you can live on, savings that you can retire on, health insurance that you can count on.

And all of this is going to take some action.  So far, just in the past few weeks, I’ve acted to lift the wages of workers who work for federal contractors to pay their — make sure their employees are getting paid at least $10.10 an hour.  We’ve ordered an across-the-board reform of our job training programs, much of it aligned with some of the work that Mary has done during her tenure as head of the NGA.  We directed our Treasury to create a new way for Americans to start saving for retirement.  We’ve been able to rally America’s business leaders to help more of the long-term unemployed find work, and to help us make sure that all of our kids have access to high-speed Internet and high-tech learning tools in the classroom.

The point is, this has to be a year of action.  And I’m eager to work with Congress wherever I can.  My hope is, is that despite this being an election year, that there will be occasions where both parties determine that it makes sense to actually get some things done in this town.  But wherever I can work on my own to expand opportunity for more Americans, I’m going to do that.  And I am absolutely convinced that the time is right to partner with the states and governors all across the country on these agendas, because I know that you guys are doing some terrific work in your own states.

There may not be much of an appetite in Congress for doing big jobs bills, but we can still grow SelectUSA.  Secretary Pritzker’s team has put together a terrific formula where we’re attracting investors from all around the world to see America as an outstanding place to invest.  And I mentioned this at the State of the Union:  For the first time last year, what we’re seeing is, is that world investors now see America as the number-one place to do business rather than China.  And it’s a sign of a lot of things converging, both on the energy front, worker productivity, our innovation, our research, ease of doing business.  And a lot of that work is as a consequence of steps we’ve taken not just at the federal level, but also at the state level.  So we’ve got to take advantage of that.

Secretary Pritzker has been helping a Belgian company create jobs in Stillwater, Oklahoma; helping an Austrian company create jobs in Cartersville, Georgia.  So we can do more of this, and we really want to engage with you over the next several months to find ways that we can help market America and your states to businesses all around the world and bring jobs back.

Since I called on Congress to raise the minimum wage last year, six states have gone ahead and done it on their own.  Last month, I asked more business leaders to raise their workers’ wages.  Last week, GAP said it would lift wages for about 65,000 of its employees.  Several of you are trying to boost wages for your workers.  I’m going to do everything I can to support those efforts.

While Congress decides what it’s going to do on making high-quality pre-K available to more kids, there is bipartisan work being done among the folks in this room.  You’ve got governors like Robert Bentley and Jack Markell, Susana Martinez, Deval Patrick — all expanding funding or dedicating funds to make that happen in their states.  And we want to partner with you.  This year, I’ll pull together a coalition of philanthropists, elected officials and business leaders, all of whom are excited and interested in working with you to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K that they need.

And while Congress talks about repealing the Affordable Care Act or doing this or doing that to it, places like California and Kentucky are going gangbusters and enrolling more Americans in quality, affordable health care plans.  You’ve got Republican governors here — I won’t name them in front of the press, because I don’t want to get you all in trouble — who have chosen to cover more people through new options under Medicaid.  And as a result, millions of people are going to get help.

States that don’t expand Medicaid are going to be leaving up to 5.4 million Americans uninsured.  And that doesn’t have to happen.  Work with us to get this done.  We can provide a lot of flexibility.  Folks like Mike Beebe in Arkansas have done some terrific work designing programs that are right for their states but also provide access to care for people who need it.  And I think Kathleen Sebelius, a former governor herself, has shown herself willing to work with all of you to try to find ways to get that done.

On the West Coast, you’ve got Governors Brown, Inslee, Kitzhaber who are working together to combat the effects of climate change on their states.  We’ve set up a taskforce of governors and mayors and tribal leaders to help communities prepare for what we anticipate are going to be intensifying impacts of climate change.  And we’re setting up climate hubs in seven states across the country to help farmers and ranchers adapt their operations to a changing environment.

In the budget that I’ll send to Congress next week, I’m going to propose fundamentally reforming the way federal governments fund wildfire suppression and prevention to make it more stable and secure, and this is an idea that’s supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

And finally, I want to thank those of you who have worked with Michelle and Jill Biden on their Joining Forces initiative to support our military families.  At your meeting here two years ago, they asked for your help to make it easier for servicemembers and their spouses to carry licenses for professions like teaching or nursing from state to state, rather than have to get a new one every time they were reassigned.  At the time, only 12 states had acted to make this easier for spouses; only nine had acted to make it easier for servicemembers.  Today, 42 states have passed legislation to help spouses; 45 states have made it easier for servicemembers.  We’ve got a few states remaining.  Let’s get it done for everybody, because it’s the right thing to do for those men and women who are working every day to make sure we stay free and secure.

The point is, even when there is little appetite in Congress to move on some of these priorities, at the state level you guys are governed by practical considerations.  You want to do right by your people and you see how good policy impacts your citizens, and you see how bad policy impacts your citizens, and that means that there’s less room for posturing and politics, and more room for getting stuff done.

We want to work with you.  And I’m committed to making sure that every single member of my Cabinet, every single person in the White House, every single member of my team will be responsive to you.  We won’t agree on every single issue every single time, but I guarantee you that we will work as hard as we can to make sure that you succeed — because when you succeed, the people in your states succeed and America succeeds, and that’s our goal.

So thank you very much, and I look forward to having a great discussion.  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
11:27 A.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency February 23, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the National Governors Association Dinner

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at the National Governors Association Dinner

Source: WH, 2-23-14

Watch the Video

President Obama Speaks to National Governors Association
February 23, 2014 8:42 PM

President Obama Speaks to National Governors Association

State Dining Room

7:11 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, everybody.  Please have a seat.  Have a seat.  Well, welcome to the White House.  Everybody looks fabulous.  I am truly honored to be one of Michelle Obama’s guests tonight here at dinner.  (Laughter.)  I want to thank all the governors and their better halves for being here tonight, especially your chair, Mary Fallin, and your vice chair, John Hickenlooper.  (Applause.)

Tonight, we want to make sure that all of you make yourselves at home, to which I’m sure some of you are thinking that’s been the plan all along.  (Laughter.)  But keep in mind what a wise man once wrote:  “I am more than contented to be governor and shall not care if I never hold another office.”  Of course, that was Teddy Roosevelt.  (Laughter.)  So I guess plans change.

I look forward to working with each of you not just in our meetings tomorrow, but throughout this year, what I hope to be a year of action.  Our partnership on behalf of the American people, on issues ranging from education to health care to climate change runs deep, deeper than what usually hits the front page.

Being here tonight, I’m thinking about moments that I’ve spent with so many of you during the course of the year — with Governor Patrick in a hospital in Boston, seeing the survivors of the Boston bombing, seeing them fight through their wounds, determined to return to their families, but also realizing that a lot of lives were saved because of the preparations that federal and state and local officials had carried out beforehand; with Governor Fallin at a firehouse in Moore, thanking first responders who risked their lives to save others after a devastating tornado, but once again seeing the kind of state-federal cooperation that’s so vital in these kinds of circumstances; spending time with Governor O’Malley at the Naval Academy graduation last spring and looking out over some of our newest sailors and Marines as they join the greatest military in the world, and reminding ourselves that on national security issues, the contributions of the National Guard obviously are extraordinary and all of you work so closely with them.

So if there’s one thing in common in the moments like these, it’s that our cooperation is vital to make sure that we’re doing right by the American people.  And what’s common also is the incredible resilience and the goodness and the strength of the American people that we’re so privileged to serve.  And that resilience has carried us from the depths of the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes to what I am convinced can be a breakthrough year for America and the American people.

That of course will require that we collectively take action on what matters to them — jobs and opportunity.  And when we’ve got a Congress that sometimes seems to have a difficult time acting, I want to make sure that I have the opportunity to partner with each of you in any way that I can to help more Americans work and study and strive, and make sure that they see their efforts and their faith in this country rewarded.

I know we’ll talk more about areas where we can work together tomorrow.  So tonight, I simply would like to propose a toast to the families that support us, to the citizens that inspire us and to this exceptional country that has given us so much.  Cheers.

END
7:16 P.M. EST

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