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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