Full Text Obama Presidency July 26, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Remarks Before Cabinet Meeting Urges Congress to Pass Middle-Class Tax Cuts Extension

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Obama Urges House to ‘Do The Right Thing’ on Tax Cuts

Source: ABC News Radio, 7-26-12

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama is urging the Republican-led House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead and “do the right thing” to extend middle class tax cuts.
Speaking to reporters at a Cabinet meeting Thursday afternoon, the president praised the Senate for moving forward with his plan to extend the Bush-era tax rate for families earning less than $250,000 a year and let the rate expire for higher earners….READ MORE

Remarks by the President Before Cabinet Meeting

Source: WH, 7-26-12 

Cabinet Room

2:24 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, this is a good opportunity for me to bring my Cabinet together to thank them for the extraordinary work that they’re doing on a whole range of fronts.

You’ve got Tom Vilsack working very hard to make sure that farmers and ranchers are getting help at a time of devastating drought.

You have Secretary Clinton who has been logging more miles than any Secretary of State in history, dealing with a whole range of problems and opportunities around the globe.  Obviously, we’re going to be focusing a lot on the situation in Syria and what we can do there to make sure that we reduce the bloodshed.

But a whole range of Cabinet members and obviously my administration is focusing on our economy, and how do we make sure that this is an economy in which people who work hard, who act responsibly, can get ahead.

This is a particular challenge right now — we’re seeing some of the weaknesses in Europe — and it is a perfect time for us to focus on what are steps we can take now — not later, not a year from now, but right now — to strengthen the middle class, put more people back to work and provide business greater certainty.

And yesterday, the Senate voted to ensure that 98 percent of Americans don’t see their taxes go up next year, that 97 percent of small businesses don’t see their taxes go up next year.  It was the right thing to do.  It will provide certainty and security to families who are already being pinched because of the economy.  It will be good for the economy as a whole.

And now, the only thing that is going to prevent the vast majority of Americans from not seeing a tax increase next year is if the House doesn’t act.  We need 218 votes in the House of Representatives — 218 votes in the House of Representatives — to make sure that 98 percent of Americans don’t see their taxes go up next year.

And so one of the things that I’m going to be doing, my Cabinet members are going to be doing over the next several days is to make sure that the American people understand that we can provide them certainty right now for next year that their taxes will not go up, and that they will then be able to plan accordingly; small businesses will be able to plan accordingly, knowing that we’ve taken a whole bunch of uncertainty out of the economy at a time when the global economy is experiencing a number of disruptions.

So, again, I would urge the House of Representatives to do the right thing and I’m going to make sure that my Cabinet members amplify that message in the days to come.

Thank you very much, everybody.

Q    Mr. President, can you tell us, if what the Colorado shooter did was entirely legal, how do you do more on this subject without any new laws?

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  I’m sure we’ll have more opportunity to talk about this.

Q    This afternoon is fine.  I’m available.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thanks.  I’ll ask Jay for your number.  (Laughter.)

END
2:27 P.M. EDT

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Full Text January 25, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks at U.S. Department of Agriculture’s New School Lunch Nutrition Standards Announcement at Parklawn Elementary School

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Healthy Changes on the Menu for School Lunches

Source: WH, 1-25-12

First Lady Michelle Obama has lunch with Parklawn Elementary  School students
First Lady Michelle Obama joins children for lunch at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., Jan. 25, 2012. Mrs. Obama was joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and celebrity cook Rachael Ray for a Let’s Move! event celebrating the school’s food service employees serving healthy meals that meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new and improved nutrition standards for school lunches. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today introduced new rules that mean America’s school children will soon be eating healthier lunches in the cafeteria.

The new USDA guidelines, which implement important provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, substantially increase the amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on the menu, while reducing saturated fat, trans fats and sodium, and set calorie limits based on the age of children being served. The standards make the same kinds of practical changes that many parents are already encouraging at home, and that are a key pillar of Let’s Move, the First Lady’s initiative that is focused on improving child nutrition and reducing childhood obesity.

Speaking at the Parklawn elementary school in Alexandria, VA, Mrs Obama praised parents for their contribution to the movement to improve the food served in schools:

When we send our kids to school, we have a right to expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we’re trying to keep from them when they’re at home.  We have a right to expect that the food they get at school is the same kind of food that we want to serve at our own kitchen tables.

After the press conference, the First Lady and Secretary Vilsack joined students for a healthy lunch of turkey tacos, black bean and corn salad and fresh fruit, prepared by celebrity chef Rachael Ray.

 POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the First Lady in School Lunch Standards Announcement

Parklawn Elementary School
Alexandria, Virginia

11:32 A.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you, everyone.  Please, sit, rest.  This is exciting.  It is such a pleasure to be here today.  This is an exciting day.

I want to start by thanking Secretary Vilsack, not just for that very kind introduction but for his outstanding work as Secretary of Agriculture.  He has been just a major proponent on so many issues that are near and dear to me, and we wouldn’t be here without his efforts and the efforts of his entire agency.  So, thank you, sir.

I’d also like to thank Principal Akroyd and Jen Fitzgerald for their terrific work and for hosting us here today at Parklawn Elementary School.  Go, Panthers!  (Laughter.)  I hear you’re the “purring Panthers.”  (Laughter.)  It’s very, very good — very good.  We are so happy to be here and so proud of you all.

And I want to recognize all of the educators, the administrators, the food service workers and the advocates who are here today for everything that you do, every day, on behalf of our kids.  This is a great celebration for us all.

And of course, I want to give a special hello to Rachael Ray, who’s a special guest here.  I know she’s hard at work getting lunch ready, and I am hungry — (laughter) — so I’m looking forward to it.  But she has been a true advocate on this issue for quite some time, and we’re just thrilled that she’s here with us today.

And finally, I want to thank all of the parents who are here today — because, I just want to be clear that we can’t make any mistake about it — this movement to improve the food in our schools is happening in large part because of all of you, the parents.  It’s happening because you all stood up.  It’s happening because you all spoke out and you asked for something better for our kids.

Because, as parents, we all know that if left to their own devices, many of our kids would eat candy for breakfast, they’d follow it up with a few French fries for lunch and cookies and chips for snacks, and then they’d come home for a big chocolate sundae for dinner, right?  (Laughter.)  And we know that it is our responsibility, as adults, to make sure they don’t do that.  So it’s our responsibility to make sure that they get basic nutrition that they need to stay healthy.

And that’s why so many of us try so very hard to prepare decent meals at home, and to limit how much junk food they get at home, and to ensure that they have a reasonably balanced diet.   And when we’re putting forth this kind of effort at home — and many of us are, and it’s difficult to do every single day — it’s always a challenge, particularly with tough economic times and not enough time in the day — but when we’re putting forth these efforts, when we’re doing what we’re supposed to do at home, the last thing we want is to have all these hard efforts, all this hard work undone in the school cafeteria.

When we send our kids to school, we have a right to expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we’re trying to keep from them when they’re at home.  We have a right to expect that the food they get at school is the same kind of food that we want to serve at our own kitchen tables.

And let’s be clear, this isn’t just about our kids’ health. Studies have shown that our kids’ eating habits can actually affect their academic performance as well.  And I’m sure that comes as no surprise to the educators here today.  Anyone who works with kids knows that they need something other than chips and soda in their stomachs if they’re going to focus on math and science, right?  Kids can’t be expected to sit still and concentrate when they’re on a sugar high, or when they’re stuffed with salty, greasy food — or when they’re hungry.

And that brings me to another important point.  For many kids whose families are struggling, school meals can be their main — or only — source of nutrition for the entire day.  So when we serve higher-quality food in our schools, we’re not just fighting childhood obesity; we’re taking the important steps that are needed to fight child hunger as well.

And that’s why so many schools across this country have been working so hard to improve the food that they serve to our kids in school.  In fact, there are many schools that have been meeting these new standards for years, long before this legislation was passed.  Thousands more have made significant improvements, offering their students a whole array of healthy — and tasty, mind you — new options.

For example, right here at Parklawn and in schools throughout this district, you all are doing some wonderful things, serving baked chicken tenders instead of frying them — small things; replacing white rice with brown rice.  You’re offering all kinds of veggie side dishes, everything from succotash to broccoli, exposing kids to a whole array of wonderful tastes and flavors.

And we’re seeing changes like these in schools all across the country, of all sizes — rural, urban and suburban.  And I’m not just talking about schools in well-off areas with plenty of resources.  I’m talking about schools like F.S. Ervin — it’s an elementary school in Pine Hall [sic], Alabama.  Now, Pine Hall [sic] is a little-bitty town, rural town, with a population under 1,000 and an average household income of less than $26,000.  But they have made some important changes to their school menu already — things like replacing canned vegetables with fresh or frozen ones, moving in more whole grains, offering plenty of fresh fruit, and even baking their French fries instead of frying them.  These are small changes.

And plenty of schools like F.S. Ervin are getting creative in this way.  There are schools around the country that are holding taste tests and recipe contests to get kids really involved in the whole change — give kids a competition and they’ll get involved.  There are schools that are partnering with farmers and with chefs in their communities, and that’s making a difference.  They’re making these small, daily changes — simple things like replacing whole milk with skim milk — changes that add up over time and it can make a real difference in the life of our kids.

And again and again, schools are finding that when they actually offer these healthier options, kids aren’t just willing to try them, they actually like them.  That’s the thing, that’s the surprising thing.  I’ve been to so many schools across the country where parents see their kids eating fresh vegetables off the vine, kids they say would never try anything, but that’s the beauty of children — they change.  They change much easier than we do, and when we give them an opportunity to try something new, they embrace it oftentimes, and they come back for more.

So while budgets are tight right now, there are schools across the country that are showing that it doesn’t take a whole lot of money or resources to give our kids the nutrition they deserve.  What it does take, however, is effort.  What it does take is imagination.  What it does take is a commitment to our children’s futures.

So today, I am asking parents and educators and food service workers across this country to embrace this effort on behalf of our children.  Embrace it.  Because we all know that we are some of the best role models for our kids.  We are the first and best role models.  And if kids are like mine, if I’m excited about something, they’re excited about it — right?  If we as adults embrace it, the kids will follow suit.  They’re looking to us to figure out how to make this happen.  So if we get pumped up about this effort, get excited, get creative, the kids will follow suit and they will do it with vigor and vim, and they’ll be out there out front in a way that we would never expect.

So I want to thank you all once again for all that you do every day on behalf of our children.  I’m excited to be here.  This is a great day, a wonderful accomplishment.  And it’s just exciting to be able to highlight the work that’s being done here at Parklawn.

So now, as I mentioned, I’m a little hungry.  (Laughter.)  I understand that I get to hang out with the kids, have a little lunch.  And it’s turkey tacos!  Sounds really good.  So with that, I want to thank you all for being here, and we’re going to have some lunch.

Thank you all.  (Applause.)

END
11:42 A.M. EST

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