Full Text Obama Presidency July 6, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech When Signing the Transportation and Student Loan Bill

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama Signs the Transportation and Student Loan Bill

Source: WH, 7-6-12

President Barack Obama delivers remarks before signing HR 4348 (July 6, 2012)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks before signing HR 4348, the Transportation and Student Loan Interest Rate bill, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, July 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This afternoon, President Obama signed legislation that accomplishes two important goals — keeping thousands of construction workers on the job rebuilding America’s infrastructure and preventing interest rates on federal student loans from doubling.

“These steps will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans — some of whom are standing with us here today,” the President said. “But make no mistake — we’ve got a lot more to do.”

The President addressed an audience of students and construction workers from the East Room of the White House.

“[Let’s] make sure that we are keeping folks on the job and we’re keeping our students in school,” he said.

Remarks by the President at the Signing of the Transportation and Student Loan Interest Rate Bill

East Room

5:25 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  I apologize for keeping you waiting a little bit, and I hope everybody is staying hydrated — (laughter) — because it is hot.

Welcome to the White House.  We wouldn’t normally keep you this late on a Friday afternoon unless we had a good reason — and the bill that I’m about to sign is a pretty good reason.

I want to very much thank the members of Congress who are here.  We got a number in the front row, but, in particular, I want to recognize Senator Boxer and Congressman Mica, whose leadership made this bill a reality.  And although Barbara couldn’t make it, we want to make sure that everybody acknowledges the hard work that John did on this on bill.  (Applause.)

Now, we’re doing this late on Friday afternoon because I just got back from spending the past two days talking with folks in Ohio and Pennsylvania about how our challenge as a country isn’t just to reclaim all the jobs that were lost to the recession — although obviously that’s job number one.  It’s also to reclaim the economic security that so many Americans have lost over the past decade.

And I believe with every fiber of my being that a strong economy comes not from the top down but from a strong middle class.  That means having a good job that pays a good wage; a home to call your own; health care, retirement savings that are there when you need them; a good education for your kids so that they can do even better than you did.

And that’s why — for months — I’ve been calling on Congress to pass several common-sense ideas that will have an immediate impact on the economic security of American families.  I’m pleased that they’ve finally acted.  And the bill I’m about to sign will accomplish two ideas that are very important for the American people.

First of all, this bill will keep thousands of construction workers on the job rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure.  Second, this bill will keep interest rates on federal student loans from doubling this year — which would have hit nearly 7.5 million students with an average of a thousand dollars more on their loan payments.

These steps will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans — some of whom are standing with us here today.  But make no mistake — we’ve got a lot more to do.  The construction industry, for example, was hit brutally hard when the housing bubble burst.  So it’s not enough just to keep construction workers on the job doing projects that were already underway.  We’ve got Mayor Villaraigosa and Governor O’Malley here as representatives of organizations of mayors and governors who know how desperate we need to do some of this work.

And for months, I’ve been calling on Congress to take half the money we’re no longer spending on war and use it to do some nation-building here at home.  There’s work to be done building roads and bridges and wireless networks.  There are hundreds of thousands of construction workers that are ready to do it.

The same thing is true for our students.  The bill I’m about to sign is vital for millions of students and their families.  But it’s not enough just to keep interest rates from doubling.

I’ve asked Congress to reform and expand the financial aid that’s offered to students.  And I’ve been asking them to help us give 2 million Americans the opportunity to learn the skills that businesses in their areas are looking for right now through partnerships between community colleges and employers.

In today’s economy, a higher education is the surest path to finding a good job and earning a good salary, and making it into the middle class.  So it can’t be a luxury reserved for just a privileged few.  It’s an economic necessity that every American family should be able to afford.

So this is an outstanding piece of business.  And I’m very appreciative of the hard work that Congress has done on it.  My hope is, is that this bipartisan spirit spills over into the next phase, that we can start putting more construction workers back to work — not just those that were already on existing projects who were threatened to be laid off, but also getting some new projects done that are vitally important to communities all across the nation and that will improve our economy, as well as making sure that now that we’ve prevented a doubling of student loan rates, we actually start doing more to reduce the debt burden that our young people are experiencing.

I want to thank all the Americans — the young or the young at heart — who took the time to sit down and write a letter or type out an email or make a phone call or send a tweet, hoping that your voice would be heard on these issues.  I promise you, your voices have been heard.  Any of you who believed your voice could make a difference — I want to reaffirm your belief.  You made this happen.

So I’m very pleased that Congress got this done.  I’m grateful to members of both parties who came together and put the interests of the American people first.  And my message to Congress is what I’ve been saying for months now — let’s keep going.  Let’s keep moving forward.  Let’s keep finding ways to work together to grow the economy and to help put more folks back to work.  There is no excuse for inaction when there are so many Americans still trying to get back on their feet.

With that, let me sign this bill.  And let’s make sure that we are keeping folks on the job and we’re keeping our students in school.

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

(The bill is signed.)

END
5:30 P.M. EDT

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White House Recap April 27-May 4, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Barack Obama’s Surprise Afghanistan Visit — Signs Strategic Partnership Agreement

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: APRIL 27-MAY 4, 2012

West Wing Week: 5/4/12 or “Out of Many, We are One.”

Source: WH, 5-4-12
This week, the President traveled to Afghanistan to sign an historic Strategic Partnership Agreement, visit with our troops, and address the American people about responsibly ending the war. The President also traveled to Fort Stewart to sign an Executive Order to protect service members and their families from deceptive marketing practices, spoke at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, welcomed the Prime Minister of Japan, and spoke at the Building and Construction Trades conference.

Weekly Wrap Up: Driving America Forward

Source: WH, 5-4-12

Correspondents’ Dinner: At the annual Correspondents’ Dinner, which has been held since 1920, President Obama joked about himself and the coverage he has received from the reporters in attendance. In case you missed it – or if you want to watch it again – you can watch President Obama’s speech here.

US-Japan Friendship: On Monday, President Obama met with Prime Minister Noda of Japan at the White House to reaffirm the U.S.-Japan Alliance, a 60-year old partnership and friendship that was exemplified in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the tsunami and nuclear crisis that followed. After a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, the two leaders laid out a new joint vision to guide the alliance for decades to come.

Rebuilding America: Speaking to 3,000 attendees of the Building and Construction Trades Department conference in Washington, D.C. Monday, President Obama made an argument for investing in rebuilding America and urged Congress to get construction workers on the job by passing a bipartisan bill that could guarantee work for millions of construction workers.

2012 Warrior Games: The First Lady joined Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Warrior Games Monday – an event that enables men and women who suffered injuries during a tour of duty to compete in a variety of athletic events. “No matter how seriously you’re injured, no matter what obstacles or setbacks you face, you just keep moving forward,” the First Lady remarked. “You just keep pushing yourselves to succeed in ways that just mystify and leave us all in awe.”

Surprise Trip: President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Tuesday, where he signed an historic agreement – the Strategic Partnership Agreement – that defines how the partnership between the two countries will be normalized as we look toward a responsible end to the war. After his meeting with President Karzai, President Obama met with U.S. troops at Bagram Air Base, and took the opportunity to thank them for the sacrifices that they and their families have made over the past decade of war.

Cinco de Mayo: President Obama hosted a Cinco de Mayo reception Thursday – a few days early – at the White House. Speaking from the Rose Garden, President Obama remarked, “Right now, there are more than 50 million Americans of Latino descent – one sixth of our population. You’re our neighbors, our coworkers, our family, our friends. You’re starting businesses. You’re teaching in classrooms. You’re defending this country. You’re driving America forward.”

Continuing Student Loan Push: On Friday, President Obama headed to Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia, where he continued his push to prevent interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1st like they are currently scheduled to. “You guys shouldn’t have to pay an extra $1,000 just because Congress can’t get it together,” the President said. “This should be a no-brainer. This is something we need to get done.”

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