Political Musings October 18, 2013: President Obama delivers post-shutdown speech blaming GOP, laying out agenda

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama delivers post-shutdown speech blaming GOP, laying out agenda (Video)

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Barack Obama speaking from the White House’s state dining room on Thursday morning, Oct. 17, 2013 delivered his first remarks after signing the bill reopening the government from a 16-day partial shutdown and raised the debt…

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Full Text Obama Presidency October 17, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Reopening of the Government after Shutdown, Lays Out Year-End Agenda

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Reopening of the Government

Source: WH, 10-17-13

President Obama Speaks on Reopening the Government

President Obama Speaks on Reopening the Government

State Dining Room

11:00 A.M. EDT

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

Well, last night, I signed legislation to reopen our government and pay America’s bills.  Because Democrats and responsible Republicans came together, the first government shutdown in 17 years is now over.  The first default in more than 200 years will not happen.  These twin threats to our economy have now been lifted.  And I want to thank those Democrats and Republicans for getting together and ultimately getting this job done.

Now, there’s been a lot of discussion lately of the politics of this shutdown.  But let’s be clear:  There are no winners here.  These last few weeks have inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy.  We don’t know yet the full scope of the damage, but every analyst out there believes it slowed our growth.

We know that families have gone without paychecks or services they depend on.  We know that potential homebuyers have gotten fewer mortgages, and small business loans have been put on hold.  We know that consumers have cut back on spending, and that half of all CEOs say that the shutdown and the threat of shutdown set back their plans to hire over the next six months.  We know that just the threat of default — of America not paying all the bills that we owe on time — increased our borrowing costs, which adds to our deficit.

And, of course, we know that the American people’s frustration with what goes on in this town has never been higher. That’s not a surprise that the American people are completely fed up with Washington.  At a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum, we’ve got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back.  And for what?

There was no economic rationale for all of this.  Over the past four years, our economy has been growing, our businesses have been creating jobs, and our deficits have been cut in half. We hear some members who pushed for the shutdown say they were doing it to save the American economy — but nothing has done more to undermine our economy these past three years than the kind of tactics that create these manufactured crises.

And you don’t have to take my word for it.  The agency that put America’s credit rating on watch the other day explicitly cited all of this, saying that our economy “remains more dynamic and resilient” than other advanced economies, and that the only thing putting us at risk is — and I’m quoting here — “repeated brinksmanship.”  That’s what the credit rating agency said.  That wasn’t a political statement; that was an analysis of what’s hurting our economy by people whose job it is to analyze these things.

That also happens to be the view of our diplomats who’ve been hearing from their counterparts internationally.  Some of the same folks who pushed for the shutdown and threatened default claim their actions were needed to get America back on the right track, to make sure we’re strong.  But probably nothing has done more damage to America’s credibility in the world, our standing with other countries, than the spectacle that we’ve seen these past several weeks.  It’s encouraged our enemies.  It’s emboldened our competitors.  And it’s depressed our friends who look to us for steady leadership.

Now, the good news is we’ll bounce back from this.  We always do.  America is the bedrock of the global economy for a reason.  We are the indispensable nation that the rest of the world looks to as the safest and most reliable place to invest — something that’s made it easier for generations of Americans to invest in their own futures.  We have earned that responsibility over more than two centuries because of the dynamism of our economy and our entrepreneurs, the productivity of our workers, but also because we keep our word and we meet our obligations.  That’s what full faith and credit means — you can count on us.
And today, I want our people and our businesses and the rest of the world to know that the full faith and credit of the United States remains unquestioned.

But to all my friends in Congress, understand that how business is done in this town has to change.  Because we’ve all got a lot of work to do on behalf of the American people — and that includes the hard work of regaining their trust.  Our system of self-government doesn’t function without it.  And now that the government is reopened, and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do, and that’s grow this economy; create good jobs; strengthen the middle class; educate our kids; lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul.  That’s why we’re here.  That should be our focus.

Now, that won’t be easy.  We all know that we have divided government right now.  There’s a lot of noise out there, and the pressure from the extremes affect how a lot of members of Congress see the day-to-day work that’s supposed to be done here. And let’s face it, the American people don’t see every issue the same way.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t make progress.  And when we disagree, we don’t have to suggest that the other side doesn’t love this country or believe in free enterprise, or all the other rhetoric that seems to get worse every single year.  If we disagree on something, we can move on and focus on the things we agree on, and get some stuff done.

Let me be specific about three places where I believe we can make progress right now.  First, in the coming days and weeks, we should sit down and pursue a balanced approach to a responsible budget, a budget that grows our economy faster and shrinks our long-term deficits further.

At the beginning of this year, that’s what both Democrats and Republicans committed to doing.  The Senate passed a budget; House passed a budget; they were supposed to come together and negotiate.  And had one side not decided to pursue a strategy of brinksmanship, each side could have gotten together and figured out, how do we shape a budget that provides certainty to businesses and people who rely on government, provides certainty to investors in our economy, and we’d be growing faster right now.

Now, the good news is the legislation I signed yesterday now requires Congress to do exactly that — what it could have been doing all along.

And we shouldn’t approach this process of creating a budget as an ideological exercise — just cutting for the sake of cutting.  The issue is not growth versus fiscal responsibility — we need both.  We need a budget that deals with the issues that most Americans are focused on:  creating more good jobs that pay better wages.

And remember, the deficit is getting smaller, not bigger.  It’s going down faster than it has in the last 50 years. The challenges we have right now are not short-term deficits; it’s the long-term obligations that we have around things like Medicare and Social Security.  We want to make sure those are there for future generations.

So the key now is a budget that cuts out the things that we don’t need, closes corporate tax loopholes that don’t help create jobs, and frees up resources for the things that do help us grow — like education and infrastructure and research.  And these things historically have not been partisan.  And this shouldn’t be as difficult as it’s been in past years because we already spend less than we did a few years ago.  Our deficits are half of what they were a few years ago.  The debt problems we have now are long term, and we can address them without shortchanging our kids, or shortchanging our grandkids, or weakening the security that current generations have earned from their hard work.

So that’s number one.  Number two, we should finish fixing the job of — let me say that again.  Number two, we should finish the job of fixing our broken immigration system.

There’s already a broad coalition across America that’s behind this effort of comprehensive immigration reform — from business leaders to faith leaders to law enforcement.  In fact, the Senate has already passed a bill with strong bipartisan support that would make the biggest commitment to border security in our history; would modernize our legal immigration system; make sure everyone plays by the same rules, makes sure that folks who came here illegally have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, meet their responsibilities.  That bill has already passed the Senate. And economists estimate that if that bill becomes law, our economy would be 5 percent larger two decades from now.  That’s $1.4 trillion in new economic growth.

The majority of Americans think this is the right thing to do.  And it’s sitting there waiting for the House to pass it.  Now, if the House has ideas on how to improve the Senate bill, let’s hear them.  Let’s start the negotiations.  But let’s not leave this problem to keep festering for another year, or two years, or three years.  This can and should get done by the end of this year.

Number three, we should pass a farm bill, one that American farmers and ranchers can depend on; one that protects vulnerable children and adults in times of need; one that gives rural communities opportunities to grow and the long-term certainty that they deserve.

Again, the Senate has already passed a solid bipartisan bill.  It’s got support from Democrats and Republicans.  It’s sitting in the House waiting for passage.  If House Republicans have ideas that they think would improve the farm bill, let’s see them.  Let’s negotiate.  What are we waiting for?  Let’s get this done.

So, passing a budget; immigration reform; farm bill.  Those are three specific things that would make a huge difference in our economy right now.  And we could get them done by the end of the year if our focus is on what’s good for the American people. And that’s just the big stuff.  There are all kinds of other things that we could be doing that don’t get as much attention.

I understand we will not suddenly agree on everything now that the cloud of crisis has passed.  Democrats and Republicans are far apart on a lot of issues.  And I recognize there are folks on the other side who think that my policies are misguided — that’s putting it mildly.  That’s okay.  That’s democracy.  That’s how it works.  We can debate those differences vigorously, passionately, in good faith, through the normal democratic process.

And sometimes, we’ll be just too far apart to forge an agreement.  But that should not hold back our efforts in areas where we do agree.  We shouldn’t fail to act on areas that we do agree or could agree just because we don’t think it’s good politics; just because the extremes in our party don’t like the word “compromise.”

I will look for willing partners wherever I can to get important work done.  And there’s no good reason why we can’t govern responsibly, despite our differences, without lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis.  In fact, one of the things that I hope all of us have learned these past few weeks is that it turns out smart, effective government is important.  It matters.  I think the American people during this shutdown had a chance to get some idea of all the things, large and small, that government does that make a difference in people’s lives.

We hear all the time about how government is the problem.  Well, it turns out we rely on it in a whole lot of ways.  Not only does it keep us strong through our military and our law enforcement, it plays a vital role in caring for our seniors and our veterans, educating our kids, making sure our workers are trained for the jobs that are being created, arming our businesses with the best science and technology so they can compete with companies from other countries.  It plays a key role in keeping our food and our toys and our workplaces safe.  It helps folks rebuild after a storm.  It conserves our natural resources.  It finances startups.  It helps to sell our products overseas.  It provides security to our diplomats abroad.

So let’s work together to make government work better, instead of treating it like an enemy or purposely making it work worse.  That’s not what the founders of this nation envisioned when they gave us the gift of self-government.  You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president, then argue for your position.  Go out there and win an election.  Push to change it. But don’t break it.  Don’t break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building.  That’s not being faithful to what this country is about.

And that brings me to one last point.  I’ve got a simple message for all the dedicated and patriotic federal workers who’ve either worked without pay or been forced off the job without pay these past few weeks, including most of my own staff: Thank you.  Thanks for your service.  Welcome back.  What you do is important.  It matters.

You defend our country overseas.  You deliver benefits to our troops who’ve earned them when they come home.  You guard our borders.  You protect our civil rights.  You help businesses grow and gain footholds in overseas markets.  You protect the air we breathe and the water our children drink.  And you push the boundaries of science and space, and you guide hundreds of thousands of people each day through the glories of this country. Thank you.  What you do is important.  And don’t let anybody else tell you different.  Especially the young people who come to this city to serve — believe that it matters.  Well, you know what, you’re right.  It does.

And those of us who have the privilege to serve this country have an obligation to do our job as best we can.  We come from different parties, but we are Americans first.  And that’s why disagreement cannot mean dysfunction.  It can’t degenerate into hatred.  The American people’s hopes and dreams are what matters, not ours.  Our obligations are to them.  Our regard for them compels us all, Democrats and Republicans, to cooperate, and compromise, and act in the best interests of our nation –- one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Thanks very much.

END
11:20 A.M. EDT

Political Headlines January 22, 2013: Republicans Express Skepticism Following President Barack Obama’s Second Inaugural Address

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Republicans Express Skepticism Following Obama’s Address

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-22-13

ABC News

Given the statements made about President Obama’s second inaugural address, it appears that he won’t have an easy go of it with GOP lawmakers this term either.

Some prominent Republicans lawmakers criticized Obama’s inaugural address on Monday, saying he failed to reach out to their party….READ MORE

Campaign Headlines August 2, 2012: Mitt Romney Promises to ‘Bury The Hatchet,’ Work with Democrats

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Romney Promises to ‘Bury The Hatchet,’ Work with Democrats

Source: ABC News Radio, 8-2-12

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Mitt Romney appeared in Colorado today and promoted his bipartisan work as governor of Massachusetts. He told supporters at a rally that Americans need a president who “buries the hatchet.”

Hopping onto a park bench outside, Romney spoke to an overflow crowd prior to his grassroots events, telling the crowd he wanted them to know he wasn’t a “dismembered spirit” on a microphone but a “real person.”

“I worked in a state. I found a way to work across the aisle, by the way. And when I look — we’ve got to have someone that goes to Washington that buries the hatchet and says you know what, there are good Democrats, there are good Republicans that care about America, let’s work together to get the American people working, get some growth again. This is important. Getting America working, this isn’t a statistic we’re talking about.  Twenty-three million Americans out work or underemployed. Twenty-three million. It’s a tragedy. It’s a moral failing for a country as successful as successful and wealthy as ours to have had policies that kept people from going to work. I want to get people back to work that want to work. Put them in good jobs with more take home pay.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency June 16, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address on Ending the Stalemate in Washington — Urges Congress to Pass Jobs Bill for the Middle Class

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Obama’s Weekly Address: Ending the Stalemate in Washington

Source: ABC News Radio, 6-16-12

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama is blaming Republicans in Congress for the flailing economic recovery, saying “every problem we face is within our power to solve.  What’s lacking is our politics.”

“We have the answers to these problems.  We have plenty of big ideas and technical solutions from both sides of the aisle.  That’s not what’s holding us back.  What’s holding us back is a stalemate in Washington,” the president said in his weekly address….READ MORE

President Obama tells the American people that the stalemate in Washington is holding our economy back during this make-or-break moment for the middle class.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address., White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 6/15/12

Weekly Address: Ending the Stalemate in Washington

Source: WH, 6-16-12
President Obama tells the American people that the stalemate in Washington is holding our economy back during this make-or-break moment for the middle class.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Ending the Stalemate in Washington

In this week’s address, President Obama told the American people that the stalemate in Washington is holding our economy back during this make-or-break moment for the middle class.  The President’s jobs bill could create more than one million additional jobs if Congress were to drop its opposition to common sense ideas like giving small businesses tax cuts for hiring more workers, helping states keep thousands of teachers, firefighters and police officers on the job, and putting thousands of construction workers back to work. It’s time for Congress to end this partisan gridlock and work with the President on behalf of the American people to help grow the economy and support new jobs.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
June 16, 2012

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been talking a lot about America’s economic future.  I’ve told you how I believe we should go about creating strong, sustained growth; how we should pay down our long-term debt in a balanced way; and most of all, what we should do right now to create good, middle-class jobs, so people who work hard can get ahead.

This isn’t some abstract debate or trivial argument.  I’ve said that this is the defining issue of our time, and I mean it.  I’ve said that this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and I believe it.  The decisions we make over the next few years will have an enormous impact on the country we live in, and the one we pass on to our children.

Right now, we’re still fighting our way back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  The economy is growing again, but it’s not growing fast enough.  Our businesses have created 4.3 million new jobs over the last 27 months, but we’re not creating them fast enough.  And we’re facing some pretty serious headwinds – from the effects of the recent spike in gas prices, to the financial crisis in Europe.

But here’s the thing.  We have the answers to these problems.  We have plenty of big ideas and technical solutions from both sides of the aisle.  That’s not what’s holding us back.  What’s holding us back is a stalemate in Washington.

Last September, I sent Congress a jobs bill full of the kinds of bipartisan ideas that could have put over a million Americans back to work and helped bolster our economy against outside shocks.  I sent them a plan that would have reduced our deficit by $4 trillion in a balanced way that pays for the investments we need by cutting unnecessary spending and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more in taxes.

Since then, Congress has passed a few parts of that jobs bill, like a tax cut that’s allowing working Americans to keep more of your paycheck every week.  But on most of the ideas that would create jobs and grow our economy, Republicans in Congress haven’t lifted a finger.  They’d rather wait until after the election in November.  Just this past week, one of them said, “Why not wait for the reinforcements?”  That’s a quote.  And you can bet plenty of his colleagues are thinking the same thing.

I think that’s wrong.  This isn’t about who wins or loses in Washington.  This is about your jobs, your paychecks, your children’s future.  There’s no excuse for Congress to stand by and do nothing while so many families are struggling.  None.

Right now, Congress should pass a bill to help states put thousands of teachers, firefighters and police officers back on the job.  They should have passed a bill a long time ago to put thousands of construction workers back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges and runways.  And instead of just talking about job creators, they should give small-business owners a tax break for hiring more workers and paying them higher wages.

Right now, Congress should give every responsible homeowner the opportunity to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage.  They should extend tax credits for clean energy manufacturers so we don’t walk away from 40,000 good jobs.  And instead of giving tax breaks to companies who ship jobs overseas, Congress should take that money and use it to cover moving expenses for companies that are bringing jobs back to America.  There’s no reason to wait.

Every problem we face is within our power to solve.  What’s lacking is our politics.  Remind your Members of Congress why you sent them to Washington in the first place.  Tell them to stop worrying about the next election and start worrying about the next generation.  I’m ready to work with anyone – Republican, Democrat, or Independent – who is serious about moving this country forward.  And I hope Members of Congress will join me.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Full Text Political Headlines May 23, 2012: Sen. Marco Rubio Laments Divisive & Partisan Politics in Keynote Address at the Latino Coalition’s Annual Economic Summit in Washington, DC — Speech Transcript

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Sen. Marco Rubio Laments Divisive Politics

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-23-12

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Speaking before a crowd of Latino business leaders, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., lamented the state of politics, accusing politicians of fostering a culture of partisanship and campaigning on a message of division.  Without mentioning President Obama by name, Rubio swiped at the president for failing to deliver on his promise of “hope” that both sides of the aisle craved.

“The one that’s troubled me the most is this deliberate division of the American people against each other.  Last three and a half years after our elections, irrespective of how you felt about how they turned out, we all had hope that this nation would embark at a new moment, where somehow we would rise above the petty politics of the moment and have a real honest societal wide conversation about what kind of country we want to be, what kind of role we want to play in the world, and what kind of role we want our government to play in our lives. Well any hope of that is now gone,” Rubio said during his keynote address at the Latino Coalition’s Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C., Wednesday afternoon. “What you have today is nothing less than a wholesale effort to pit one group of Americans against each other on issue after issue.”…READ MORE

Rubio Addresses The Latino Coalition’s Annual Economic Summit

Rubio: “It’s not fair for the story of America to end with us. On the contrary, the way I hope to render tribute to my parents and my grandparents, the way we should hope to give a lasting tribute to our parents and our grandparents is to ensure that the America they made possible and left for us does not end with us, but in fact, continues to shine for decades and even centuries to come.”

Senator Marco Rubio
Speech at The Latino Coalition’s Annual Economic Summit
May 23, 2012
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqQvXymOKIY&feature=youtu.beQuiero empezar brevemente en español.  Tenemos prensa aquí en español y quiero darles un poco de un mensaje que pueden llevar hacia a los televidentes y a los radioescuchas que tendrán la oportunidad de escuchar este día. Primero es un honor para mí recibir este premio, lo cual no siento que me lo merezco pero me lo tendré que ganar ahora en el tiempo que tenga aquí en los próximos cuatro años y medio en el Senado en los Estados Unidos.

Para mi siempre es especial en estos momentos que puedo venir no solamente aceptar de parte de esta comunidad, si no también a dar tributo a mis padres, a mis abuelos y a mi comunidad por los sacrificios que hicieron por todos nosotros.  Cada uno de nosotros entendemos esa realidad porque es la historia de nuestra vida.  Nos encontramos aquí en el día de hoy porque hay personas que se sacrificaron por nosotros.  Y creo que más que cualquier otra comunidad en este país tenemos una obligación especial de proteger esa parte del legado americano.  Tenemos una obligación especial de proteger esa identidad de este país de ser un lugar donde cualquiera puede lograr cualquier cosa si está dispuesto a trabajar y sacrificarse.  Eso no puede terminar con nosotros.  Ese tipo de país no puede terminar con nosotros. Y vuelvo y repito, más que cualquier otra comunidad nosotros lo hemos vivido y por eso tenemos una sagrada obligación de mantenerlo y protegerlo para nuestros hijos y para nuestros nietos. Así que muchísimas gracias.  Se los agradezco mucho.

For those that do not speak Spanish, I gave a brief synopsis of how I saved a bunch of money on my car insurance.

Thank you so much for this opportunity. I’m honored and I’m privileged to be here with you today and to receive this award, which I’m not sure I deserve, but now I’ll have to earn. I appreciate it so much, particularly because of what it means. Obviously, it is named after an individual who, as you saw from the short video, his story is very typical of our story. The story of a person who spent their entire lives not just accomplishing things for himself, but more importantly opening doors and pathways for their children and grandchildren.

This is a typical American story and yet it’s also one unique to each of us. And no community in this country understands that more than the community made up of Americans of Hispanic descent. I begin today by just examining the current state of affairs because we’re called to remember who we are and how we got here at a moment of great uncertainty. That’s not a remarkable observation for any of you, perhaps you’re living those moments of uncertainty.

All around us people are really concerned about the future. This downturn seems different. We’ve lived through downturns before even in recent memory, whether it was the dot-com bust or post-9/11, we have seen the downturn before. But this one feels different, and rightfully so. It feels longer and perhaps even more permanent. There are a lot of factors behind this downturn. There obviously were shocking things that happened in the financial markets and continue to happen in Europe. There is continuing bad news about the debt as it grows and creates greater uncertainty over us. There’s divisive politics where people are constantly being pitted against each other. And tragically there’s this pervasive sense that perhaps this is the beginning of a long and steady decline. That the America that our parents and grandparents found when they came here, the America you found when you came here, the America that you were raised in, and the America that allowed you to reach this point in your life is gone. That somehow that America is over and we’re entering a new era where our nation will be less special and less unique. That’s the sense that you get from some people.

What I want to do here over the next few moments is try to outline to you why that doesn’t need to be the case. And what special role I believe our community plays in ensuring that is not the case.

I begin with the economics of what we’re facing today. The modern debate about a lot of times they’re constantly trying to differentiate between the debt and jobs, as if they’re two separate issues. And yet, they’re intricately related to one another. Now certainly we need spending reforms in this country. You cannot have a government that continues to spend a lot more money than it takes in. But the single most important thing we can do to bring our debt problem under control is rapid growth in our economy. And yet, one of the things that stands in the way of rapid growth in our economy is our debt. These two issues are interrelated. And as Europe is having this debate about whether it’s time for austerity or growth, the answer is you cannot have one without the other. In this country or anywhere on this planet. The two issues are interrelated.

How does growth begin? Well I’m in a room full of people that have started businesses, so you don’t need a lecture from me on how growth begins, but let’s remind ourselves. Growth is very simple. Growth happens when someone starts a new business or when someone grows a business that now exists. That’s growth. And when you grow you create jobs. And when you create jobs people earn a paycheck, which they can use to pay things like their mortgage and their kids’ college education. Not to mention spend it in other businesses, who then go employ people themselves.

But today that growth isn’t happening. And more than anything else that’s probably what’s leading to the sense of anxiety across our country, is that we are not growing. Our economy is not growing the way we expect it to grow as Americans or the way we have seen it grow in the past. In essence those businesses are not being created and those jobs are not being churned out. What are the reasons for that? Because if you don’t understand the reasons you cannot solve it. And the reasons are pretty straightforward. I know sometimes we’re in a process where people want there to be some sort of novel new approach, but the basics of economics have not changed. And the basics that are impeding our country from moving forward are not difficult to understand.

There is significant uncertainty about the future of our tax code. We don’t know what it’s going to be on January first of this year. We know what it is today, and that is one of the most complicated and burdensome in the world. And it’s not just the tax rate that people pay, it’s what it costs to figure it out. And so the tax code is a real impediment. And the lack of any plan as to what it’s going to look like in just a few months is making things harder, not easier, to start a business or grow an existing one.

There is also extraordinary regulatory uncertainty. Now look, we need regulations. We want our water to be clean. We want our air to be breathable. We don’t want people cheating the system. But there’s a problem when those regulations go too far. When they seem to exist solely for the purpose of justifying the existence of the regulators. When these bureaucracies that enforce them somehow do not undertake any sort of cost-benefit analysis when they employ these regulations that they put in place. There’s something wrong when federal bureaucrats openly gloat about how they’re going to crucify businesses in order to make an example out of them. And there’s been no shortage of runaway regulations in the last decade, but especially in the last three years. The National Labor Relations Board alone is a source of continuous consternation for anyone who is trying to start a business or expand an existing business.

We’ve seen the energy sector, one of the most promising sectors in our country’s future, being specifically targeted. And we have seen this health care law, which is nothing but a string of rules one after the other, create extraordinary uncertainty. That is not a partisan observation. I did not make that up. I have heard that from real job creators. From people who own businesses with fifteen and twenty employees who have told me they are afraid of this law because they do not know what it means and they cannot figure out how much it’s going to cost them to comply with it. These are not bad people. These are not folks that want to deny their employees’ health care, but they can’t be in business if they can’t make money. And they have no idea how much it’s going to cost them to comply with ObamaCare. This is not a partisan observation. This is what people told me throughout my campaign and continue to tell me today. By the way, not people in Fortune 500 companies, people in companies that employ five, ten, or fifteen people.

There’s also anti-business rhetoric in American politics. Where people today are told that the reason why our economy is not doing well is because some people are making too much money. That the root cause of our decline economically is because there are corporations and individuals in the private sector who are doing too well. And that anti-business rhetoric, combined with regulations, combined with a complicated tax code, make it harder, not easier, for people to start a business or grow an existing one. Add to all of that the fact that we have missed golden opportunities and continue to miss them right now.

For example, we have an immigration system, a legal immigration system, that’s broken. A legal immigration system that makes it harder for someone who has millions of dollars to invest, to come to this country legally and invest it. A legal immigration system that educates the world’s best Ph.D.’s and Master’s degree holders and then we ask them to leave. And an immigration system in a country that has hundreds of thousands of young people that have grown up among us, who find themselves in an undocumented status through no fault of their own, and who now desire to contribute to America’s future, and yet because of partisan politics we have been unable to figure out a way to accommodate them within the confines of our heritage as a nation of laws, but also our legacy as a nation of immigrants.

There’s also our educational system. And I understand that Governor Romney spoke to you about it earlier today. The federal government has a limited role to play when it comes to education. True innovation in education happens at the state level, but I can tell you from the federal level it is very clear where our educational system is lacking. There are literally hundreds of thousands of jobs available in America today that go unfilled because not enough people in America are trained to fill them. Our children are not learning to compete and succeed in the 21st century. They’re being taught as if they are going into a world where their competition lives in Mississippi or in Alabama, when in fact it lives in China and India and all over the world. These are things that have to be confronted.

An educational system that sadly has stigmatized career education. At a time where we know that some of the fastest growing professions in America will require less than a four year education, but more than a high school diploma. Look at the unemployment rate among people that only have a high school diploma versus those who have a college degree. It’s a cliché, but it is true: education, the ability to learn a skill, in this century, is indispensable. There are going to be no jobs in the 21st century, literally there will be no new jobs in the 21st century for people that do not have advanced education in some form. We have to provide access to that, as well as affordability. And I’m glad that the nominee of my party has taken the lead in that regard in the hopes of spurring on innovation at the state level that will allow us to take this opportunity and embrace it.

Another missed opportunity, by the way, is some of the emerging industries of the 21st century. We are an energy rich country. Because of recent discoveries, we are the most rich we are the most energy rich country in the world. And yet somehow, we don’t have energy policy in America. We have energy politics. Our allies in Canada have also become energy rich and they recently gave us a choice. They are intent on building a pipeline, so they can transfer that energy wealth and allow it to be sold to the world. And they have two choices: they can run a pipeline through China or they can run a pipeline through the United States. And the government of the United States told them “No, thank you.” This is insane. These are the kind of things that historians write about 100 years from now, when they discuss the decline of a civilization and of a nation. Ridiculous decisions that were made because of politics, not because of policy. The truth is we are an energy rich nation, so much so that in addition to accomplishing energy independence we can become an exporter of energy and the creation of American jobs. This is not a theory. Ask the people of North Dakota, where today it is a fact, where unemployment hovers at under 3% because of advances they have made there in energy technologies.

These are real opportunities that we are walking away from. The tourism industry, one of the great developments of the 21st century is there’s middle class folks all over the world, millions of people, who just a decade ago were living in poor neighborhoods near open sewage, are now members of the middle class with enough money to travel overseas and they want to come here. And sometimes, they can’t even get a visa to come to Orlando and leave thousands of dollars at Disney World or anywhere else that you want them to go. It’s another emerging opportunity for us in the tourism industry, and yet our policies don’t reflect those opportunities.

These are the economic problems that we face. These are the impediments to us economically. But something deeper is happening. We are being challenged on our very identity as a nation and as a people.

Our political system is broken. You’ve heard that so many times before. It bears repeating. I ran because I was frustrated by the political process. Nothing has happened over the last year and a half to change that frustration, unfortunately. Too often times in the United States Senate especially, most of the votes we take are nothing but messaging points. Bills are brought to the floor that people know are not going to pass for one purpose alone: and that’s to give people talking points on the Sunday evening shows.

Our people deserve better. It’s not like we don’t have major issues to confront. But they are not being confronted. The only thing that’s being done in the Senate these days is creating material for television commercials in the fall. And it’s sad.

There’s a lack of urgency too. No one seems in a hurry here to solve anything. There is this notion that somehow things will just solve themselves. That we can wait one more election; we can get away with a few more months. We can’t. These issues will not solve themselves, and the longer they go unresolved the more difficult they become to solve, and the less options we have to solve them with and the more painful those options are. And yet, there is this total lack of urgency.

The exact same issues we were facing two years ago we still face today. This nation and this political process has not solved one single major issue in the last three and a half to four years. In fact, it’s been incapable of even passing a budget. The single largest organization in the world, a $3.8 trillion endeavor called the United States federal government has not had a budget in almost four years.

There’s something even more sinister that’s crept into the political process. And it’s something that actually asks us to abandon the essence of who we’ve always been as a people and as a nation. It starts with this argument that no longer, too often, in politics today do people even want to engage in debate on the issues anymore. It’s no longer about debating jobs plans or tax plans or regulatory plans. They skip straight to trying to convince you that it’s not their ideas that are bad, they are bad. That your political opponents are bad people, that you shouldn’t even listen to them because somehow they don’t care about you or any of us, all they are, are selfish people that care about themselves. And it is impossible for this republic to function if people refuse to debate ideas, and instead skip straight to the direct defamation of their political opponents. And that’s now being celebrated. That’s now being encouraged. It’s now a mark of how good you are in politics if you’re willing to do that. And the more outrageous you’re willing to be, the more attention you get for it.

Now this is not about hurting anyone’s feelings. This is about the fact that we will never solve the issues that we face if all people want to do is debate how bad the other guy is as opposed to debate whether their ideas have merit or not, and whether your ideas are better than their ideas.

But perhaps the one that has troubled me the most is the deliberate division of the American people against each other. The last three and a half years, after our elections, irrespective of how you felt about how they turned out, we all had hope that this nation would embark at a new moment. Where somehow we would rise above the petty politics of the moment, and have a real, honest society wide conversation about what kind of country we want to be, what kind of role we want to play in the world, and what kind of role we want our government to play in our lives. Well, any hope of that is now gone.

What you have today is nothing less than a wholesale effort to pit one group of Americans against each other on issue after issue, to convince people that the reason why things aren’t going well for them is because they are going too well for someone else. To convince people that somehow we can make your life better if only you give us the power to make someone else’s life a little worse. That the reason why you don’t have enough is because someone else has too much.

This un-American idea, quite frankly, that somehow the pie will always be limited, and so we must carve up the limited scope of our economy among a growing number of people. And yet, that has never been who we are. In fact, it is what has distinguished us from the rest of the world.

As a people we have never believed that. Americans have never believed that the way you climb the economic ladder is to pull other people down from it. And I think I can speak for almost anywhere and anyone in this room when I say that our parents never taught us that we could not be successful unless someone else was less successful.

Our parents and grandparents never taught us that the way for us to move up is for our boss and our employer to do worse. They never taught us that there was no way we could ever own our own business unless other people made less money. They never took us through neighborhoods of people that accomplished things and said to us, “You will never be successful as long as these people are too successful.”

On the contrary, I believe that I speak for most of the people in this room and, in fact, most of the people in this nation, when I say that our parents always pointed at people that were successful as a source of inspiration. And said to us: “One day you too can do what they did because you are blessed with the privilege and the honor of living in the single greatest nation that man has ever known.” A place where it doesn’t matter if your parents worked with their hands. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t born into a family that was wealthy or connected. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t go to the right schools or run in the right social circles. If you have a really good idea and you’re willing to work hard, you can accomplish anything you want.

This is what has made us different from the rest of the world. And now, really what we’re being asked to do is abandon that. Whether it’s for political expediency or an effort to advance their own ideological agenda, we are being asked to give up one of the distinguishing characteristics of our society and of our nation. And I for one think that’s a terrible idea. And I know of no community in this country that should reject it more than ours.

And here is why. Because as that video reminds us, the reason why you’re sitting here today has a lot more to do with the people that came here before you than it does with you necessarily. It has to do with your grandparents, who perhaps were born into very difficult circumstances, but did everything they could in the hopes and dreams that you one day would have the chances they would not. It has to do with parents, who gave up their own dreams so you could live yours, who made it the mission and the purpose of their lives for everything that was impossible for them to be possible for you.

All of us have a different story and yet, at the end, it’s the same. It’s the story of the people whose purpose in life was to ensure that we had the chance to do everything that they could not. That all they wanted was for us never to feel the limitations that they felt. Now parents all over the world feel that. That’s neither uniquely Hispanic nor uniquely American.

All over the world, people want their kids to do better than them. All over the world, people want something better for themselves than they have right now. The problem is that all over the world, and for almost all of human history, what you were going to get to do with your life was decided for you before you were even born. If your parents weren’t the right people, or if they didn’t know the right people, you were never going to do anything more than they did. And yet, we have lived a very different life.

We have lived a very different life because our parents worked hard and because they sacrificed. But we really have lived a very different life because we got to live it here. In a place that teaches us that all men and women are created equal. That our rights don’t come from government or our President or even from our laws, that we’re born with them, given to us by our Creator. That no one, no government, no power, no one, has a right to deny us those rights. In fact, anyone who does is illegitimately using power. Those principles are powerful because they created for us the free enterprise system that has made the dreams and hopes of millions of people possible.

And so, as we try to examine how we can continue to be a great nation, don’t fall into the trap of looking to our politics. Our politics are important. There is a role for our politics to play. We need roads and bridges that aren’t crumbling. We need schools that teach our children. We need tax laws that can be complied with. We need regulations that make sense. But our politics and our politicians have never been the source of our greatness.

The source of our greatness has always been our people.

And so you will find optimism about America not on the cover of newspapers or magazines, but in the everyday stories of people that surround us, even as we speak. You know their stories because they were once your stories. You’ll find America’s greatness this morning, in a single mother who dropped her child off at a bus stop to go to school, and as that child boarded that bus, onto that bus not just went her child but all the things that have gone wrong in her life that she hopes will go right for that child. All the things she herself never got a chance to do, that she will do anything to ensure her child can.

The greatness of America could be seen in the people that served you your lunch today. Who have children somewhere else in school even as we speak. And if you ask them, they’ll brag to you about how their son’s going to be a lawyer and their daughter is going to be a doctor. They are proud to work with their hands. They are proud to serve you your lunch and your dinner because they know that their sacrifice is paving the way for someone that they love.

And you’ll find America’s future greatness in the stories of the people who will make your rooms tonight. Because, you see, after they’re done working here, they’re headed to English classes or maybe even a community college. They’re working in a hotel today, but tomorrow they may run one. And they believe that that’s possible because they live here.

And so what is our goal? Our goal is to ensure that all those things are possible. Our goal is to create an economy big enough to accommodate these big dreams and these big hopes. An economy where people literally have enough money to spend at these hotels and restaurants, so these people can make a living. An economy that raises enough tax revenue for its government, so it can afford to provide that child with the economic opportunities that they deserve and need to succeed. An economy creating enough jobs and new businesses so that when she gets out of the school, the man or woman that made your bed today in the hotel, has a job to walk into.

That is what we need to be focused on. The creation of an economy that grows the way we are accustomed to America’s economy growing. And I don’t know of any community in this country that has a more special obligation to ensure that happens than ours. For literally, we are but a generation removed from a very different life. We are all but a generation removed from people who lived a very different experience.

It’s not fair for the story of America to end with us. On the contrary, while I am honored to receive this award today, the way I hope to render tribute to my parents and my grandparents, the way we should hope to give a lasting tribute to our parents and our grandparents is to ensure that the America they made possible and left for us does not end with us, but in fact, continues to shine for decades and even centuries to come. Thank you. Muchísimas gracias.

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

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

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

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

Weekly Address: “Made in America”

Source: WH, 10-15-11

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

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Working Together to Create Jobs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Featured Historian Julian E. Zelizer: What happened to spirit of 9/12?

FEATURED HISTORIANS

What happened to spirit of 9/12?

Former President George W. Bush, first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama at the 9/11 Memorial in New York during the 1oth anniversary observance.
Former President George W. Bush, first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama at the 9/11 Memorial in New York during the 1oth anniversary observance.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Julian Zelizer: Politicians of both parties pledged to work together after 9/11
  • He says that bipartisan spirit after attacks evaporated quickly
  • Zelizer says Democrats, GOP clashed over status of TSA workers
  • He says partisan forces too powerful for most politicians to overcome

Julian E. Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” (Times Books) and editor of a book assessing former President George W. Bush’s administration, published by Princeton University Press.

In the days following the horrendous attacks against the United States on 9/11, all the talk in Washington was about the need for bipartisanship. Republicans and Democrats promised that they would work together to protect the home front and capture those who were responsible.

On the day after, Democrats and Republicans followed the traditional post-military crisis ritual of promising to work on policies in bipartisan fashion. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton — who was still struggling to gain her sea legs in her first year on Capitol Hill, after having spent eight years serving as the first lady during some bruising partisan battles — announced that it was important to be “united behind our president and our government, sending a very clear message that this is something that transcends any political consideration or partisanship.”

Republicans also promised political peace. House Speaker Dennis Hastert assured the nation that “we are in complete agreement that we will work together, that we want to share information, that we will be ready to move on whatever the president suggests, and we will go through the debate and the actions of Congress in a bipartisan way to make that happen.” The kind of partisan sniping that voters were accustomed to, he and his colleagues said, would be a thing of the past.

The political question on September 12 was how long this unity would last: Would the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil really transform the politics of national security?

Ten years later, it is evident that the answer was clearly no. The period of good feelings did not last long. One of the most striking aspects of 9/11 was that even a tragedy of this scale could not tame the partisan forces that shape American politics….

Could the promise of September 12 ever be fulfilled? Certainly today there are enormous areas of consensus between the parties, such as over most counterterrorism policies, over the need for strong homeland security programs and even for strong military vigilance with countries such as North Korea and Pakistan.

Nonetheless, the partisan forces that play out on the campaign trail are simply too great to overcome. If 9/11 taught us anything, it’s how deeply rooted partisanship is in our modern political culture. Even a tragedy of its magnitude could barely contain the forces that perpetually rip apart members of the two parties.

Ten years ago, the parties came together. But they came together just for a brief spell. In the long span of history, it was as if the moment ended before either side could even blink.

Full Text August 20, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Discusses Midwestern Tour, States Plans to Create Jobs & Strengthen the Economy More Important than Partisan Politics

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama tapes his Weekly Address

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/17/11

QUOTES

Weekly Address: Putting Country Ahead of Party

Source: WH, 8-20-11

From a farm in the Midwest, President Obama talks about the determination and integrity of the American people and calls on Congress to put aside their differences to grow the economy.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Getting America Back to Work

WASHINGTON— In this week’s address, President Obama spoke to the American people from the Corner Country Farm in Alpha, Illinois on the need to create jobs and strengthen the economy. President Obama reminded the American people that we still have the best workers, entrepreneurs, and students in the world, and called on both parties to come together and act on a series of steps we can take right away to get our nation back to work.

Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address Saturday, August 20, 2011 Alpha, Illinois

Hello from the Country Corner Farm in Alpha, Illinois! For the past few days, I’ve been traveling to small towns and farm towns here in the heartland of this country. I sat down with small business owners in Gutenberg, Iowa; and ranchers and farmers in Peosta. I had lunch with veterans in Cannon Falls, Minnesota; and talked to plant workers at a seed distributor in Atkinson, Illinois. And to the girls volleyball team at Maquoketa High School, let me just say one thing: Go Cardinals.

Now, I’m out here for one reason: I think Washington, DC can learn something from the folks in Atkinson and Peosta and Cannon Falls. I think our country would be a whole lot better off if our elected leaders showed the same kind of discipline and integrity and responsibility that most Americans demonstrate in their lives every day.

Because, the fact is, we’re going through a tough time right now. We’re coming through a terrible recession; a lot of folks are still looking for work. A lot of people are getting by with smaller paychecks or less money in the cash register. So we need folks in Washington – the people whose job it is to deal with the country’s problems, the people who you elected to serve – we need them to put aside their differences to get things done.

There are things we can do right now that will mean more customers for businesses and more jobs across the country. We can cut payroll taxes again, so families have an extra $1,000 to spend. We can pass a road construction bill so construction crews – now sitting idle – can head back to the worksite, rebuilding roads, bridges, and airports. We’ve got brave, skilled Americans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Let’s connect them with businesses that could use their skills. And let’s pass trade deals to level the playing field for our businesses. We have Americans driving Hyundais and Kias. Well, I want to see folks in Korea driving Fords, Chevys and Chryslers. I want more products sold around the globe stamped with three words: Made in America.

These are commonsense ideas – ideas that have been supported by both Democrats and Republicans. The only thing holding them back is politics. The only thing preventing us from passing these bills is the refusal by some in Congress to put country ahead of party. That’s the problem right now. That’s what’s holding this country back. That’s what we have to change.

Because, for all the knocks we’ve taken, despite all the challenges we face, this is still the greatest country on earth. We still have the best workers and farmers, entrepreneurs and businesses, students and scientists. And you can see that here in Alpha. You can see it along the country roads that connect these small towns and farmlands.

These past few days, I’ve been seeing little kids with American flags and grandparents in lawn chairs. I’ve shaken hands with folks outside machine shops and churches, corner stores and farms. It reminds me why I got into public service in the first place. Getting out of Washington and spending time with the people of this country – seeing how hard you’re working, how creative you are, how resourceful you are, how determined you are – that only makes me more determined to serve you as best I can as President. And it only makes me more confident in our future.

That’s why it’s so important that folks in Washington put country before party. That’s why it’s so important that our elected leaders get past their differences to help grow the economy and put this nation back to work. Because here in Alpha it couldn’t be more clear: if we can come together, there’s no stopping the United States of America. There’s no doubt that our future is bright.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

Political Highlights February 10, 2009: Reactions to Obama First Press Conference and the Economic Stimulus Plan

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

Also: February 9, 2009: President Obama’s First Press Conference

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

The First Lady read to children at Mary's Center in Washington,  D.C.

White House photo 2/10/09 by Joyce N. Boghosian

FLOTUS at Mary’s Center

That was Mrs. Obama’s message to a group of young people at a non-profit community organization in Washington, D.C. — where she spoke about her own humble beginnings.Watch the video

President Obama at a town hall in Ft. Myers, FL

White House photo 2/10/09 by Pete Souza

POTUS in Ft. Myers, FL

On Tuesday, February 10, 2009, President Obama held a town hall in Ft. Myers, FL — one of the towns hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis.See the slideshow

Mrs. Obama visits the Department of the Interior

White House photo 2/9/09 by Joyce N. Boghosian

FLOTUS at Interior

In a visit the Department of the Interior, Mrs. Obama spoke about how important it is to protect our natural resources and move towards a clean, sustainable energy future.Read the First Lady's remarks

President Obama addresses town hall in Elkhart, Indiana

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • Gallop Poll: Feb. 6-7 Gallup poll released yesterday that shows 67 percent of the public approves of the way the president is handling the stimulus debate and only 31 percent approve of Republican efforts on the legislation, 48 percent approve of how Democrats are handling it. — Bloomberg, 2-10-09
  • FACTBOX: How Obama plan ranks against New Deal, other programs – Reuters, 2-10-09
  • Treasury Department Fact Sheet on the Rescue Plan Overhaul [PDF] – Download PDF

THE HEADLINES….

The Headlines…

  • House and Senate close in on compromise: Top lawmakers and White House officials ended more than nine hours of closed-door negotiations on the economic stimulus bill shortly before midnight Tuesday indicating a final deal on the roughly $800 billion bill is possible as early as Wednesday. – CNN, 2-11-09
  • $3 trillion! — Senate, Fed, Treasury attack crisis: On a single day filled with staggering sums, the Obama administration, Federal Reserve and Senate attacked the deepening economic crisis Tuesday with actions that could throw as much as $3 trillion more in government and private funds into the fight against frozen credit markets and rising joblessness.
    “It’s gone deep. It’s gotten worse,” President Barack Obama said of the recession at a campaign-style appearance in Fort Myers, Fla., where unemployment has reached double digits. “The situation we face could not be more serious.” – AP, 2-11-09
  • Bailout Plan: $2.5 Trillion and a Strong U.S. Hand: The White House plan to rescue the nation’s financial system, announced on Tuesday by Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary, is far bigger than anyone predicted and envisions a far greater government role in markets and banks than at any time since the 1930s. – NYT, 2-11-09
  • GOP group gets tough against Republicans who support stimulus: An influential conservative political action committee is pledging to support primary challengers to any Republican senator who supports President Obama’s stimulus package — the latest public show of dissatisfaction from the right over the massive measure before Congress. – CNN, 2-10-09
  • Deal on stimulus bills mired in details: The Senate approves its version of the economic stimulus package, but reconciling it with the smaller House bill will be no easy task. Obama stumps for his plan in Florida. – LAT, 2-10-09
  • Geithner’s bear of a day: The Obama administration’s revamped program to fix the nation’s ailing financial markets was met with harsh criticism Tuesday, as the stock market tumbled and lawmakers complained that it lacked details and missed essential targets. – AP, 2-10-09
  • For Geithner’s Debut, a Lukewarm Reception: For Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner as much as for the troubled government program to bail out the financial system, Tuesday amounted to a do-over. – NYT, 2-10-09
  • Angered by stimulus plan vote, Republican vows to oust Specter: U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter’s vote for the Senate stimulus bill is stimulating long-festering Republican opposition to his re-election. Mr. Specter, whose term expires next year, was one of three GOP senators who voted for the Senate version of the economic recovery measure. The vote prompted Glen Meakem, the CEO of the former Internet firm FreeMarkets, to declare his determination to play a still unspecified role in ousting the veteran Republican in the 2010 GOP primary. – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2-10-09
  • Stimulus, Partisanship Mean Obama Faces a Harsh New Reality Although the bill passed the Senate, only three Republicans signed on: It took only two weeks from Inauguration Day for harsh reality to overtake Barack Obama. But he is now facing a burgeoning list of challenges that have plagued his predecessors for at least a generation, starting with the intense partisanship of Washington and the difficulty of finding compromise on critical issues—coupled with a unique economic crisis that seems to worsen by the day. A massive economic stimulus package passed the Senate Tuesday after winning House approval earlier, but major compromises will be needed to reconcile the two versions of the plan, which Obama says is vital to economic recovery. “The realization hits pretty quickly. He is beginning to confront the enormity of the challenges of governing,” says Rutgers political scientist Ross Baker. – US News & World Report, 2-10-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

The First Lady read to children at Mary's Center in Washington,  D.C.

White House photo 2/10/09 by Joyce N. Boghosian

FLOTUS at Mary’s Center

That was Mrs. Obama’s message to a group of young people at a non-profit community organization in Washington, D.C. — where she spoke about her own humble beginnings.Watch the video

President Obama at a town hall in Ft. Myers, FL

Political Quotes

  • Treasury Secretary Geithner speaking about the new Financial Stability Plan: “Our plan will help restart the flow of credit, clean up and strengthen our banks, and provide critical aid for homeowners and for small businesses. As we do each of these things, we will impose new, higher standards for transparency and accountability.” – WH Blog, 2-10-09
  • Liveblog: Ft. Myers, FL townhallWH Blog, 2-10-09
  • Obama: ‘There Is No Easy Out’ for Wall Street: In Exclusive Interview, President Warns of ‘a Perfect Storm of Financial Problems’ – ABC News, 2-10-09
  • Obama: No ‘Easy Out’ for Wall Street Transcript Excerpts: Terry Moran Interviews President Obama:
    Well, you know, Wall Street, I think, is hoping for an easy out on this thing and there is no easy out. Essentially, what you’ve got are a set a banks that have not been as transparent as we need to be in terms of what their books look like.
    And we’re going to have to hold out the Band-Aid a little bit and go ahead and just be clear about some of the losses that have been made because until we do that, we’re not going to be able to attract private capital into the marketplace…..Well, because ultimately, what happens is going to depend on how the markets respond over the long term, not today or the next day but a month from now or two months from now. How effective we are in actually cleaning out some of these bad assets out of these banks.
    If we’re doing a good job and we’ve got a template that creates transparency and accountability, clarity and consistency in terms of how we’re applying this program, then what we’ll end up seeing is private capital coming back into the marketplace.
    If we do a poor job, then private capital will continue to stay out and frankly, at, at a certain point, the government can’t replace all that private capital, so you know, our job is to get this right, get the model right….

    Well, you know, I’m constantly trying to thread the needle between sounding alarmist but also letting the American people know the circumstances that we’re in. And the fact of the matter is that we are in not just an ordinary recession, we are in a perfect storm of financial problems and now, a decline in worldwide demand that is resulting in huge numbers of jobs being shed, the lowest consumer confidence we’ve seen, credit locked up.
    And so this was a big difficult situation. Now, I think we’ve got to keep perspective. We’re not going through the Great Depression. I know there have been some analogies there but when FDR took over, unemployment at that time was 30 percent, as opposed to 7.5 or 7.6.
    And so, you know, I think it’s important to recognize we’ve still got enormous assets, we’ve got the same workforce that we did that’s as productive as it’s ever been, we’ve still got some of the best universities in the country and, you know, a wonderful infrastructure and some great companies.
    You know, I spoke with the CEO of International yesterday, who’s investing billions of dollars in opening up new plants in the face of this recession. And so some of what we need is just a restoration of confidence and people’s belief that in fact, we can harness all these resources to continue to be the most dynamic economy on earth.
    But we’re not going to get there by pretending that we don’t have some very big problems and I think the American people understand that.

    Let me, first of all, point out, I — I think there are a number of different arguments that have been leveled at, at this recovery package. There are a set of folks who just don’t believe in government intervening in the marketplace, period. I mean, they’re still fighting FDR and the New Deal and you have — these are the same folks who think we should be privatizing Social Security and you know, we — there’s no room for government to help people get health care and on and on and on.
    So there’s a big ideological battle that they want to fight. Frankly, I think that fight’s already been won, the American people certainly think so. That’s not the argument that makes much sense to them. There are then people who I think are making a sincere argument that if you look at the stimulus package, that maybe some things are more stimulative and some things are not….

    I think that they made a decision that they want to continue the same fights that we’ve been having over the last decade. The American people, on the other hand, realize that we want something different; hence, the results of the election.
    And, you know, I think if you look at how people are doing right now and how the Republicans have responded to a great deal of overtures by me, I think it’s pretty clear that the American people would like to see a different way of doing business. But old habits break hard and, and you know, I, I understand that and so we’re going to keep on reaching out and eventually, I have confidence that it’s going to pay off.

    I think there are going to be other areas where we can potentially work together and I’m still hopeful that some Republicans take their cues from Republican governors and Republican mayors like Charlie Christ down here in Florida who recognize that not doing anything is simply not an option…. – ABC News, 2-10-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Historians’ Comments

  • Martha Kumar “Obama Press Conference”: According to Towson University presidential historian Martha Kumar, Obama held a prime time press conference earlier than any president in history, beating Richard Nixon by almost a month. Now, he needs to hold 31 more to pass Ronald Reagan for total number of East Room get togethers with the White House press corps. – Real Clear Politics, 2-9-09
  • Douglas Brinkley “Obama Adopts Elkhart as Everytown in Pitch for Stimulus Plan”: That’s what he should have done in the first place, rather than getting bogged down in negotiations with Congress, Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University in Houston, said. “Obama needs to show that he’s a leader of a movement, that a change isn’t just having a black man in the White House, that we really are in an era of clean government and progressive reform,” Brinkley said. – Bloomberg, 2-10-09
  • Allan Lichtman “Obama Adopts Elkhart as Everytown in Pitch for Stimulus Plan”: Obama’s news conference, broadcast live on major broadcast and cable news channels, was “highly forceful and successful and should help the president with the American people and the Congress,” said Allan Lichtman, a political history professor at American University in Washington. “He did not shrink from the magnitude of the crisis, but like FDR expressed confidence that the problem could be solved with decisive action.” – Bloomberg, 2-10-09
  • Charles Calomiris “What’s Missing in Geithner’s Bank Plan The Obama Administration’s Financial Stability Plan isn’t a clean break with the past, because it doesn’t spell out clearly who will lose “: Charles Calomiris, a Columbia University economic historian who has studied banking crises, says the key mistake of the Obama Administration is trying to come up with a plan that emphasizes political palatability over economic reality. To buy support, Calomiris says, the plan emphasizes “very careful investments over a period of time with a lot of upside potential for taxpayers, and with all sorts of limits on what bankers can do.” The problem with that approach, Calomiris says, is that it doesn’t do enough to make the banks truly healthy, and just prolongs the crisis. He favors taking strong action to improve banks’ health dramatically and quickly by guaranteeing them a floor price on their real estate assets, even though such action would be criticized as a giveaway. Says Calomiris: “What makes sense economically doesn’t make sense politically, so I’m not very optimistic.” – Business Week, 2-10-09
  • Charles Geisst “Vague rescue plan disappoints Dow plunges 380 points as Geithner rolls out stimulus package; investors say lack of detail sparked mass sell-off”: Charles Geisst, a financial historian and professor of finance at Manhattan College, said he doesn’t believe the public-private partnership will work, and suggested Mr. Obama’s team may be stalling with yesterday’s announcement. “It’s too vague, it’s not firm enough, and it’s just more of the same,” said Prof. Geisst, author of a forthcoming book called Collateral Damage. “I think they’re trying to buy time … I think what they’re trying to do is tread water until they can figure it out.” – Globe and Mail, 2-10-09
  • Richard Skinner: “Political Partisanship Deeply Rooted, Says Professor”: “If Obama thinks it will be easy to overcome these divisions, he’ll end up being disappointed,” notes Bowdoin Visiting Professor of History Richard Skinner. “Partisanship is an underlying part of our political system now and a lot of Republicans just don’t like the direction he’s taking the country.”
    “We need to move beyond outdated notions of presidents above party politics,” he writes, “and instead understand presidents who are passionately engaged in them and seek to use their parties as tools of governance.” – Bowdoin News, 2-10-09
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