Friday, February 25, 2011

Remarks by the President at Meeting with the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness | The White House

Remarks by the President at Meeting with the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness | The White House
Just to brief you on this meeting: One main point made to the president is that consumer spending patterns are changing. People are not utilizing all of the available credit extended to them--either by not taking on new debt or by not maxing out cards.
This pattern has led to 75 percent unused consumer and business credit. "Alarming" was the word used to describe this emerging pattern. People are paying balances down and future extensions of credit are being recinded as lenders are becoming more conservative with the lower-middle class or the working class. It was determined by the advisory group that lower middle class consumers should have more access to credit.
Fourth quarter 2009 credit card write-offs were at 10 percent. A write-off is when credit card balances are left unpaid and companies write-them off at the end of the fiscal year as a loss. By the end of 2009 they had fallen to 7.5 percent and by January 2010 write-offs fell to 3.8 percent, which is normal for the credit industry.
Overall the credit industry is described as "bright." Some people spend to save and some spend to pay down debt.
Online spending is impacting traditional retail sales. Even with traditional retailers, the online spending is the biggest growth for them.
This advisory group reports to the president and was formed two years ago.
Feel free to view the video to find out more about how business and retail sales are affecting the U.S. economy. This is clarity in government at it's best.




West Wing--week in review with the President

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Big Things Are Happening in Cleveland: Turning the Rust Belt into the Tech Belt - Associated Content from Yahoo! - associatedcontent.com

Big Things Are Happening in Cleveland: Turning the Rust Belt into the Tech Belt - Associated Content from Yahoo! - associatedcontent.com

There are many states who have similar training programs and can do what Cleveland, Ohio is doing to help employ those who retrain and want to work. I hope politics is not standing in the way of progress. Our president seems more than willing to help in a bipartisan way, get America working again. I know for a fact Indiana has a trades training program that is excellent.

2012 Ad Blitz for Obama Planned - WSJ.com

2012 Ad Blitz for Obama Planned - WSJ.com
"Mr. Obama discouraged independent groups from working on his behalf during the 2008 presidential race. Democratic strategists now believe the Obama campaign will give them the green light to create independent advertising efforts for 2012 to rival the well-funded conservative groups that appeared in the 2010 congressional elections."--WSJ

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Resolute Desk

Pres. Obama prepares remarks regarding Egyptian freedom at the Resolute desk Fri. Feb. 11.

Obama budget to cut deficit by $1.1 trillion - Yahoo! News

Obama budget to cut deficit by $1.1 trillion - Yahoo! News

So Republicans wish to see President Obama in the role of Hercules? The big gray Elephant had 16 years to do whatever it was they wanted to do. Apparently their crown jewel, the North American Free Trade Agreement, is not enough. Isn't the President doing enough clean-up? Oh to be able to be so sophomoric as to say whatever the President does, Republicans can do better. Give it a rest, please. President Obama actually cares about the American People and it shows in how he leads the country towards prosperity and out of debt. So little red honey, stop your tantrum, get back into the car and be quiet. We'll wait. (I got jokes;0)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Remarks by the President on Egypt


Grand Foyer

3:06 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place. This is one of those moments. This is one of those times. The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same.

By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people’s hunger for change. But this is not the end of Egypt’s transition. It’s a beginning. I’m sure there will be difficult days ahead, and many questions remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt can find the answers, and do so peacefully, constructively, and in the spirit of unity that has defined these last few weeks. For Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day.
The military has served patriotically and responsibly as a caretaker to the state, and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people. That means protecting the rights of Egypt’s citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible, and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free. Above all, this transition must bring all of Egypt’s voices to the table. For the spirit of peaceful protest and perseverance that the Egyptian people have shown can serve as a powerful wind at the back of this change.



The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt. We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary -- and asked for -- to pursue a credible transition to a democracy. I’m also confident that the same ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that the young people of Egypt have shown in recent days can be harnessed to create new opportunity -- jobs and businesses that allow the extraordinary potential of this generation to take flight. And I know that a democratic Egypt can advance its role of responsible leadership not only in the region but around the world.
Egypt has played a pivotal role in human history for over 6,000 years. But over the last few weeks, the wheel of history turned at a blinding pace as the Egyptian people demanded their universal rights.

We saw mothers and fathers carrying their children on their shoulders to show them what true freedom might look like.

We saw a young Egyptian say, “For the first time in my life, I really count. My voice is heard. Even though I’m only one person, this is the way real democracy works.”

We saw protesters chant “Selmiyya, selmiyya” -- “We are peaceful” -- again and again.

We saw a military that would not fire bullets at the people they were sworn to protect.

And we saw doctors and nurses rushing into the streets to care for those who were wounded, volunteers checking protesters to ensure that they were unarmed.

We saw people of faith praying together and chanting – “Muslims, Christians, We are one.” And though we know that the strains between faiths still divide too many in this world and no single event will close that chasm immediately, these scenes remind us that we need not be defined by our differences. We can be defined by the common humanity that we share.
And above all, we saw a new generation emerge -- a generation that uses their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears; a government that is responsive to their boundless aspirations. One Egyptian put it simply: Most people have discovered in the last few days…that they are worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore, ever.

This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence -- not terrorism, not mindless killing -- but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more.

And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can’t help but hear the echoes of history -- echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path of justice.

As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, “There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.” Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square, and the entire world has taken note.

Today belongs to the people of Egypt, and the American people are moved by these scenes in Cairo and across Egypt because of who we are as a people and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in.

The word Tahrir means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people -- of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world.
Thank you.
END 3:13 P.M. EST



Remarks by the President on the National Wireless Initiative in Marquette, Michigan

February 10, 2011


Before I begin, I just want to say that we are following today’s events in Egypt very closely. And we’ll have more to say as this plays out. But what is absolutely clear is that we are witnessing history unfold. It’s a moment of transformation that’s taking place because the people of Egypt are calling for change. And they’ve turned out in extraordinary numbers representing all ages and all walks of life, but it’s young people who’ve been at the forefront -- a new generation, your generation, who want their voices to be heard. And so going forward, we want those young people and we want all Egyptians to know America will continue to do everything that we can to support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy in Egypt.
THE PRESIDENT: Have a seat, have a seat. It is wonderful to be here in the Upper Peninsula with so many Yoopers. (Applause.) How many of you are Green Bay fans, too? (Applause.) I’ve been seeing too many Green Bay fans lately. (Laughter.)

It is great to be here. It is great to be at Northern Michigan University. We’ve got some wonderful guests here that I just want to mention. First of all, somebody who is as good a public servant, not just good at what he does but good at heart and works tirelessly on behalf of the entire state, your senior senator, Carl Levin, is here. (Applause.) Now, his partner in the Senate could not be here because she’s actually leading a Democratic caucus retreat, but she’s been fighting for manufacturing, for broadband, for a lot of things that we’re talking about here today. So I just want to acknowledge Debbie Stabenow, who deeply cares about the work that you do up here. (Applause.)

I want to thank the great hospitality of Mayor John Kivela, who has been showing me around town. Thank you so much, Mayor Kivela. (Applause.) The President of Northern Michigan University, Dr. Les Wong, is here. (Applause.) And all of you are here. (Laughter.) And you guys are pretty special. Absolutely.

Now, as we watch what’s taking place, we’re also reminded that we live in an interconnected world. What happens across the globe has an impact on each and every one of us. And that’s why I’ve come to Marquette today -- not only because it’s beautiful, and the people are really nice -- which is true. (Applause.) But I’ve come here because in the 21st century, it’s not just the big cities where change is happening. It’s also in towns like this where the jobs and businesses of tomorrow will take root, and where young and talented Americans can lead. It’s towns like this where our economic future will be won.




Now, in the short term, the best thing we can do to speed up economic growth is to make sure families and businesses have more money to spend, and that’s exactly what -- got a little applause there. (Laughter.) That’s exactly why we passed those tax cuts in December. That’s what it’s doing. Because Democrats and Republicans came together, Americans’ paychecks will be a little bigger this year and businesses will be able to write off their investments and companies will grow and they’ll add workers. But we’ve got more to do.

Our measure of success has to be whether every American who wants a job can find a job; whether this country is still the place where you can make it if you try. In a world that’s more connected and more competitive, other nations look at this moment as their moment, their turn to win the jobs and industries of our time. I see things differently. I see this as America’s moment to win the future, so that the 21st century is the American century just like the 20th century was. (Applause.) Yes we can. (Applause.)

But to do this, we’re going to have to up our game, Marquette. We got to up our game. To attract the best jobs, the newest industries, we’re going to have to out-innovate, out-educate, out-build. We’re going to have to out-hustle the rest of the world. (Applause.) That means investing in cutting-edge research and technology, like the new advanced battery manufacturing industry that’s taking root right here in the state of Michigan. It means investing in the skills and training of our people, just like it’s taking place at this university. It means investing in transportation and communications networks that move goods and information as fast as possible.

And to make room for these investments, we’re going to have to cut whatever spending we can do without. We’ve got a real issue with debts and deficit, and so we’ve got to live within our means. And that means that we’ve got to cut out things that aren’t adding to growth and opportunity in order to invest in those things that are.

And that’s why I’ve proposed that we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. That will reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade. It will bring spending to the lowest share of our economy since Eisenhower was President. That’s a long time ago. Even I wasn’t born then. (Laughter.)

So government has to do what American families do every day: live within our means. But even as we do so, we can’t sacrifice our future. I’ll just give you guys an analogy. If you’re trying to cut back in your family, you might decide, we’re not going to go out to dinner so often; maybe we’ll skip the vacation; we’re not going to remodel the kitchen. But you wouldn’t stop saving for your child’s college education. You wouldn’t stop saving for your own retirement. If your boiler was broken or your roof had a leak, you’d still go ahead and make those investments.

Well, the same is true with our country. We’ve got to cut out the equivalence of eating out and vacations. I know there may be some restaurant owners here -- go eat at their restaurants -- (laughter) -- but I’m just making a general point. Even as we cut out the things we can afford to do without, we got a responsibility to invest in those areas that will have the biggest impact on our future, and those things are innovation, education and infrastructure.

And that last area –- infrastructure -– is why I’ve come here today. Connecting a country of our size has never been easy. Just imagine what Americans experienced when they fanned out from 13 colonies to settle a continent. If you wanted to get from one coast to the other, it would take you months; it would cost you a small fortune. If you settled in the heartland, you were an island, with no real market to sell your goods or buy what you needed. You might have to wait until the traders came by before you stocked up.

So we decided to build a railroad to span a continent -– one that would blast through mountains of granite and use thousands of miles of steel, and put to work an army of citizens and immigrants to work. It was an endeavor that would also require support of our government. It didn’t just happen on its own. As General William T. Sherman said, “Uncle Sam is the only giant I know who can grapple the subject.”

So even as President Lincoln tried to hold the North and South together, he was determined to see this railroad unite East and West. And private companies joined the charge, racing one another to meet in the middle. And eventually, a telephone operator -- a telegraph operator sent out a simple message to the cheers of a waiting nation. The telegraph just said: “Done.” Done. Now, if he knew that we were still talking about it today, he might have come up with something more inspiring. (Laughter.)

But overnight, the transcontinental railroad laid the way for a nationwide economy, not a bunch of local economies, but a nationwide economy. Suddenly, a cross-country trip was cut from months to days. The cost to move goods and mail plummeted. Cowboys drove cattle to railcars that whisked them back East. Entrepreneurs could sell anything, anywhere.

After the railroad was completed, a newspaper proclaimed: “We are the youngest of peoples. But we are teaching the world to march forward.” Teaching the world to march forward.

That’s who we are. We are a nation that has always been built to compete. And that’s why, decades later, FDR set up the Rural Electrification Administration to help bring power to vast swaths of America that were still in darkness. Companies said that building lines to rural areas would be too costly. I mean, big cities already had electricity. But they said, it’s too costly to go out into remote areas. It’s too costly to come up into the Upper Peninsula.

So Americans in these towns went without refrigeration or running water. If you wanted a glimpse of the larger world, your town might run a movie off a small diesel engine. It might not even last the full film.

Once power lines were laid down, electricity flowed to farms across the country, transforming millions of lives. There’s a well-known story of a Texas family returning home the first night their farmhouse was hooked up, and a woman thought it was on fire. And her daughter said, “No, Mama, the lights are on.” Think about that. That wasn’t that long ago, and government was there to help make sure that everybody -- everybody, not just some -- but everybody -- not just those who folks could make an immediate profit off of -- but everybody had access to electricity.

So years later, as our nation grew by leaps and bounds, we realized that a patchwork system of back roads and dirt paths couldn’t handle the biggest economy in the world. So President Eisenhower helped make it possible to build an Interstate Highway System, and that, too, transformed the nation -- as much as the railways had.

And finally, we could ship goods and services to places that the railroads didn’t reach. It meant that we could live apart from where we worked. We could travel. We could see America.

Each of these achievements -- none of them just happened. We chose to do them. We chose to do big things. And every American benefited -– not just from new conveniences. Not just from the jobs created by laying down new lines or tracks or pavement. We benefited enormously from new economic growth -– from the scores of businesses that opened near each town’s new train station, or new power line, or new off-ramp.

So this is a new century, and we can’t expect tomorrow’s economy to take root using yesterday’s infrastructure. We got to think about what’s the next thing, what’s the next big thing, and make sure that we’re at the forefront -- just like we were in the last century.

Today, new companies are going to seek out the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods and information, whether they are in Shanghai or in Chicago. So if we want new jobs and businesses here in America, we’ve got to have the best transportation system and the best communication network in the world. It’s like that movie, Field of Dreams: If we build it, they will come. (Laughter.) But we’ve got to build it. We’ve got to build it.

Over the last two years, we’ve begun rebuilding for the 21st century. This is a national project that has meant thousands of jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. And I’ve now proposed redoubling these efforts. We want to put more Americans to work repairing crumbling bridges and roads. Within 25 years, our goal is to have 80 percent of Americans with access to high-speed rail, which could allow you to go to places in half the time it takes by car. Within five years, we want to make it possible for businesses to put high-speed wireless services in reach of virtually every American.

And that last part, high-speed wireless, is why I chose to come to Northern Michigan University today. (Applause.) Now let me give you some context. Today, more than 90 percent of homes in South Korea subscribe to high-speed broadband. They just have better networks than we do. In America, the nation that created the Internet -- by the way, because of government investment; it didn’t just happen by itself magically -- because of government R&D, we created the Internet, but yet only 65 percent of households here in America can say the same. When it comes to high-speed Internet, the lights are still off in one-third of our households. One out of every three households in America don’t have that same access. For millions of Americans, the railway hasn’t showed up yet.

For our families and our businesses, high-speed wireless service, that’s the next train station; it’s the next off-ramp. It’s how we’ll spark new innovation, new investment, new jobs.

And you know this here in Northern Michigan. That’s why I showed up, in addition to it being pretty and people being nice. (Laughter and applause.) For decades now, this university has given a new laptop to every incoming student. Wi-Fi stretched across campus. But if you lived off-campus, like most students and teachers here, you were largely out of luck. Broadband was often too expensive to afford. And if you lived a bit further out of town, you were completely out of luck, because broadband providers, they often won’t build networks where it’s not profitable, just like they wouldn’t build electrical lines where it wasn’t profitable.

So this university tried something new. You partnered with various companies to build a high-speed, next-generation wireless network. And you managed to install it with six people in only four days without raising tuition. Good job. Good job, Mr. President. (Applause.) By the way, if you give me the name of these six people -- (laughter) -- there’s a whole bunch of stuff in Washington I’d like to see done in four days with six people. (Laughter.)

So today, this is one of America’s most connected universities, and enrollment is near the highest it’s been in 30 years.

And what’s more -- and this is what makes this special -- you told nearby towns that if they allowed you to retrofit their towers with new equipment to expand your network, then their schools, their first responders, their city governments could use it too. And as a result, police officers can access crime databases in their cars. And firefighters can download blueprints on the way to a burning building. And public works officials can save money by monitoring pumps and equipment remotely.

And you’ve created new online learning opportunities for K-12 students as far as 30 miles away, some of whom -- (applause) -- some of whom can’t always make it to school in a place that averages 200 inches of snow a year. (Laughter and applause.) Now, some of these students don’t appreciate the end of school [snow] days. I know Malia and Sasha get really excited about school [snow] days. Of course, in Washington things shut down when there’s an inch of snow. (Laughter.) But this technology is giving them more opportunity. It’s good for their education, it’s good for our economy. In fact, I just came from a demonstration of online learning in action. We were with Professor Lubig and he had plugged in Negaunee High School -- (applause) -- and Powell Township School in Big Bay. (Applause.) So I felt like the guy in Star Trek. I was being beamed around -- (laughter) -- across the Upper Peninsula here. But it was remarkable to see the possibilities for these young people who are able to, let’s say, do a chemistry experiment, and they can compare the results with kids in Boston.

Or if there’s some learning tool or material they don’t have immediately accessible in their school, they can connect here to the university, and they’re able to tap into it.

It’s opening up an entire world to them. And one of the young people who I was talking to, he talked about foreign policy and what we were seeing in places like Egyptian. And he said, what’s amazing especially for us is that now we have a window to the entire world, and we can start understanding other cultures and other places in ways that we could never do without this technology.

For local businesses, broadband access is helping them grow and prosper and compete in a global economy. In fact, Marquette has been rated one of the top five “eCities” in Michigan for entrepreneurship. (Applause.) That’s right.

So here’s a great example, Getz’s Clothiers. (Applause.) The Getzes are here. Where are the Getzes? They’re around here somewhere. There they are right there.


This is a third-generation, family-owned, Marquette institution. They’ve occupied the same downtown store for more than a century -– but with the help of broadband, they were recently listed as one of America’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies. Now how did they pull that off? (Applause.)

Obviously they’ve got great products, great service. But what’s also true is online sales now make up more than two-thirds of their annual revenue. Think about that. You got a downtown department store; now two-thirds of its sales are online. It can process more than 1,000 orders a day, and its workforce has more than doubled. So you’ve got a local business with a global footprint because of technology.

Now, if you can do this in snowy U.P. -- (laughter) -- we can do it all across America. In fact, many places already are. So in Wagner, South Dakota, patients can receive high-quality, lifesaving medical care from a Sioux Falls specialist who can monitor their EKG and listen to their breathing -- from 100 miles away. In Ten Sleep, Wyoming -- I love the name of that town, Ten Sleep -- it’s a town in Wyoming of 300 people. A fiber-optic network allowed a company to employ several hundred teachers who teach English to students in Asia over the Internet, 24 hours a day. You’ve all heard about outsourcing. Well, this is “insourcing” -- where overseas work is done right here in the United States of America. (Applause.)

So we want to multiply these stories -- we want to multiply your story -- all over the country. We want to invest in the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage for 98 percent of Americans.

This isn’t just about faster Internet or being able to find a friend on Facebook. It’s about connecting every corner of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers can monitor weather across the state and market across the globe. It’s about an entrepreneur on Main Street with a great idea she hopes to sell to the big city. It’s about every young person who no longer has to leave his hometown to seek new opportunity -- because opportunity is right there at his or her fingertips. (Applause.)

So to make this happen, we’re going to invest in research and development of emerging technologies and applications. We’re going to accelerate breakthroughs in health and education and transportation, and deploy a new nationwide, interoperable wireless network for first responders -– making sure they’ve got the funding and the frequencies that they were promised and that they need to keep us safe. (Applause.) It’s important. By selling private companies the rights to these airwaves, we won’t just encourage private investment and expand wireless access; we’re actually going to bring in revenues that lower our deficits.

Now, access to high-speed Internet by itself won’t make a business more successful, or a student smarter, or a citizen more informed. That takes hard work. It takes those late nights. It takes hustle. It takes that quintessentially American drive to be the best. That’s what’s the most important ingredient for our success.

But we’ve always believed that we have a responsibility to guarantee all our people every tool necessary for them to meet their full potential. So if they’re willing to work hard, they can succeed. And in a 21st-century economy, that has never been more important. Every American deserves access to the world’s information. Every American deserves access to the global economy. We have promised this for 15 years. It’s time we delivered on that promise. (Applause.) It’s time we delivered on that promise.

So connecting our people. Competing with the rest of the world. Living within our means without sacrificing what’s required to win the future. We can do all this because we’ve done it before.

In 1960, at the height of his presidential campaign, JFK came to Michigan. And it was a moment similar to this one. Other nations were doing their best to try to take our place at the top. And here in Michigan, he made it clear that if we wanted to keep from being knocked off our perch, there could only be one goal for the United States. It could be summed up in one word: “first.” First.

“I do not mean first, but,” he said. “I don’t mean first, when. I don’t mean first, if. I mean first -– period.” And “The real question now,” he continued, “The real question,” he continued, “is whether we’re up to the task –- whether each and every one of us is willing to face the facts, to bear the burdens, to provide the risks, and to meet our dangers.” That was 50 years ago. But things haven’t changed in terms of what’s required to succeed.

And we were up to the task then. I believe we’re up to the task today. Time and again, whether westward or skyward, with each rail and road that we’ve laid, in every community, we’ve connected with our own science and imagination, and we forged anew our faith that we can do anything. We do big things. That’s who we are. And that’s who we’re going to have to be again -– a young nation that teaches the world to march forward.

That’s what you’re doing up here in U.P. That’s what you’re doing here at Northern Michigan University. That’s what we’re all going to do together in the months and years to come.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END

2:07 P.M. EST











Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Remarks by the President to the Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Please, have a seat. Thank you very much, Tom, for the gracious introduction. I want to make a few other acknowledgments. To Tom Bell, the Chamber Board President, thank you for helping to organize this. There are some members of my administration I want to make sure are introduced. My Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, is here. (Applause.) Senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, who is interfacing with many of you and has gotten terrific advice from many of you, is here as well. Secretary Ray LaHood, our Transportation Secretary. Ambassador Ron Kirk, who is working hard to get trade deals around the world. Our Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills. My director of the National Economic Council, Gene Sperling, is here. And I also want to make mention, Fred Hochberg, our Export-Import Bank Chairman; Elizabeth Littlefield, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation President. And I also want to acknowledge a good friend, Paul Volcker, the outgoing chair of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Thank you all for being here. (Applause.)






Now, Tom, it is good to be here today at the Chamber of Commerce. I’m here in the interest of being more neighborly. (Laughter.) I strolled over from across the street, and look, maybe if we had brought over a fruitcake when I first moved in, we would have gotten off to a better start. (Laughter.) But I’m going to make up for it.



The truth is, this isn’t the first time I’ve been to the Chamber, or the first time that we’ve exchanged ideas. Over the last two years, I’ve sought advice from many of you as we were grappling with the worst recession most of us have ever known. It’s a recession that led to some very difficult decisions. For many of you, that meant restructuring and branch closings and layoffs that I know were very painful to make. For my administration, it meant a series of emergency measures that I would not have undertaken under normal circumstances, but that were necessary to stop our economy from falling off a cliff.



Now, on some issues, like the Recovery Act, we’ve found common cause. On other issues, we’ve had some pretty strong disagreements. But I’m here today because I am convinced, as Tom mentioned in his introduction, that we can and we must work together. Whatever differences we may have, I know that all of us share a deep, abiding belief in this country, a belief in our people, a belief in the principles that have made America’s economy the envy of the world.



America’s success didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen by accident. It happened because [of] the freedom that has allowed good ideas to flourish, that has allowed capitalism to thrive; it happened because of the conviction that in this country hard work should be rewarded and that opportunity should be there for anybody who’s willing to reach for it. And because it happened at every juncture in our history -- not just once, not just twice, but over and over again -- we came together to remake ourselves; we came together as one nation and did what was necessary to win the future. That is why I am so confident that we will win the future again.



That’s the challenge that we face today. We still have, by far, the world’s largest and most vibrant economy. We have the most productive workers, the finest universities and the freest markets. The men and women in this room are living testimony that American industry is still the source of the most dynamic companies, and the most ingenious entrepreneurs.



But we also know that with the march of technology over the last few decades, the competition for jobs and businesses has grown fierce. The globalization of our economy means that businesses can now open up a shop, employ workers and produce their goods wherever an Internet connection exists. Tasks that were once done by 1,000 workers can now be done by 100 or in some cases even 10. And the truth is, as countries like China and India and Brazil grow and develop larger middle classes, it’s profitable for global companies to aggressively pursue these markets and, at times, to set up facilities in these countries.



These forces are as unstoppable as they are powerful. But combined with a brutal and devastating recession, these forces have also shaken the faith of the American people -- in the institutions of business and government. They see a widening chasm of wealth and opportunity in this country, and they wonder if the American Dream is slipping away.



They wonder if the middle class, rather than expanding as it has through our lifetimes, is in the midst of an inexorable contraction. And we can’t ignore these concerns. We have to renew people’s faith in the promise of this country –- that this is a place where you can make it if you try. And we have to do this together: business and government; workers and CEOs; Democrats and Republicans.



We know what it will take for America to win the future. We need to out-innovate, we need to out-educate, we need to out-build our competitors. We need an economy that’s based not on what we consume and borrow from other nations, but what we make and what we sell around the world. We need to make America the best place on Earth to do business.



And this is a job for all of us. As a government, we will help lay the foundation for you to grow and innovate and succeed. We will upgrade our transportation and communication networks so you can move goods and information more quickly and more cheaply. We’ll invest in education so that you can hire the most skilled, talented workers in the world. And we’ll work to knock down barriers that make it harder for you to compete, from the tax code to the regulatory system.



But I want to be clear: Even as we make America the best place on Earth to do business, businesses also have a responsibility to America.



I understand the challenges you face. I understand you are under incredible pressure to cut costs and keep your margins up. I understand the significance of your obligations to your shareholders and the pressures that are created by quarterly reports. I get it.



But as we work with you to make America a better place to do business, I’m hoping that all of you are thinking what you can do for America. Ask yourselves what you can do to hire more American workers, what you can do to support the American economy and invest in this nation. That’s what I want to talk about today –- the responsibilities we all have -- the mutual responsibilities we have -- to secure the future that we all share.



Now, as a country, we have a responsibility to encourage American innovation. I talked about this quite a bit at my State of the Union.



Companies like yours have always driven the discovery of new products and new ideas. You do it better than anybody. But what you also know is that it’s not always profitable to -- in the short-term, at least -- for you to invest in basic research. It’s very expensive, and the payoffs are not always clear and they’re not always localized. And that’s why government has traditionally helped invest in this kind of science, planting the seeds that ultimately grew into technologies from the computer chips to the Internet.



That’s why we’re making investments today in the next generation of big ideas -– in biotechnology, in information technology and in clean energy technology. We’re reforming our patent system so innovations can move more quickly to market. Steve Case is heading up a new partnership called Startup America to help entrepreneurs turn new ideas into new businesses and new jobs. And I’ve also proposed a bigger, permanent tax credit for all the research and development your companies do in this country. I believe that is a priority.



We also have a responsibility as a nation to provide our people with -- and our businesses -- with the fastest, most reliable way to move goods and information. The costs to business from outdated and inadequate infrastructure is enormous. And that’s what we have right now -- outdated, inadequate infrastructure.



And any of you that have been traveling to other countries, you know it, you see it, and it affects your bottom lines. That’s why I want to put more people to work rebuilding crumbling roads, rebuilding our bridges. That’s why I’ve proposed connecting 80 percent of the country with high-speed -- to high-speed rail, and making it possible for companies to put high-speed Internet coverage in the reach of virtually all Americans.



You understand the importance of this. The fact is, the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO don’t agree on a whole lot. Tom Donohue and Richard Trumka are not Facebook friends. (Laughter.) Well, maybe -- I don’t think you are anyway. (Laughter.) I didn’t check on this, but -- but they agree on the need to build a 21st-century infrastructure. And I want to thank the Chamber for pushing Congress to make more infrastructure investments, and to do so in the most cost-effective way possible: with tax dollars that leverage private capital, and with projects that are determined not by politics, but by what’s best for our economy.



Third responsibility that we have as a nation is to invest in the skills and education of our young people. If we expect companies to do business and hire in America, America needs a pool of trained, talented workers that can out-compete anybody in the world. And that’s why we’re reforming K-12 education; that’s why we’re training 100,000 new math and science teachers; that’s why we’re making college more affordable, and revitalizing our community college system.



Recently I visited GE in Schenectady, which has partnered with a local community college. And while students train for jobs available at the nearby GE plant, they earn a paycheck and they’ve got their tuition covered. And as a result, young people can find work, GE can fill high-skill positions, and the entire region has become more attractive to businesses. It’s a win-win for everybody, and it’s something we’re trying to duplicate across the country.



Now, to make room for these investments in education, in innovation, in infrastructure, government also has a responsibility to cut spending that we just can’t afford. That’s why I’ve promised to veto any bill that’s larded up with earmarks. That’s why I’ve proposed that we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. Understand what this means. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and bring this spending -- domestic discretionary spending -- down to the lowest share of our economy since Eisenhower was president. That was a long time ago.



Now, it’s not going to be enough. We’re going to have to do more. Because the driving force on our deficits are entitlements spending. And that’s going to require both parties to work together, because those are some tough problems that we’re going to have to solve. And I am eager to work with both parties and with the Chamber to take additional steps across the budget to put our nation on a sounder fiscal footing.



By stopping spending on things we don’t need, we can make investments in the things that we do need, the same way families do. If they’ve got a fiscal problem, if they’ve got to tighten their belt, they don’t stop paying for Johnny to go to college. They cut out things they don’t need, but they still make investments in the thing that are going to make sure we win the future. And that’s what we have to do as a country: make some smart choices -- tough choices, but smart ones.



Now, in addition to making government more affordable, we’re also making it more effective and more consumer-friendly. We’re trying to run the government a little bit more like you run your business -- with better technology and faster services. So in the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America. And we want to start with the 12 different agencies that deal with America’s exports. If we hope to help our businesses sell more goods around the world, we should ensure we’re all pulling in the same direction. And frankly, with 12 different agencies in charge, nobody is in charge. So we’re going to fix that as an example of how we can make a government that’s more responsive to the American people and to American businesses.



Which brings me to the final responsibility of government: breaking down some of the barriers that stand in the way of your success. As far as exports are concerned, that means seeking new opportunities and opening new markets for your goods. And I will tell you I will go anywhere anytime to be a booster for American businesses, American workers and American products. We recently signed -- (applause) -- and I don’t charge a commission. (Laughter.)



We recently signed export deals with India and China that will support more than 250,000 jobs here in the United States. We finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs. And by the way, it’s a deal that has unprecedented support from business and labor, Democrats and Republicans. That’s the kind of deal that I will be looking for as we pursue trade agreements with Panama and Colombia, as we work to bring Russia into the international trading system. Those are going to be our top priorities because we believe Americans have the best products and the best businesses, and if we’re out there selling and we’re out there hustling, there’s no reason why we can’t do a lot better than we’re doing right now when it comes to our exports.



Now, another barrier government can remove -- and I hear a lot about this from many of you -- is a burdensome corporate tax code with one of the highest rates in the world. You know how it goes: because of various loopholes and carve-outs that have built up over the years, some industries pay an average rate that is four or five times higher than others. Companies are taxed heavily for making investments with equity, yet the tax code actually pays companies to invest using leverage. As a result, you’ve got too many companies ending up making decisions based on what their tax director says instead of what their engineer designs or what their factories produce. And that puts our entire economy at a disadvantage. We need something smarter, something simpler, something fairer. That’s why I want to lower the corporate rate and eliminate these loopholes to pay for it, so that it doesn’t add a dime to our deficit. And I’m asking for your help in this fight. I think it can be done.



Which brings me to the last barriers we’re trying to remove, and those are outdated and unnecessary regulations. I’ve ordered a government-wide review, and if there are rules on the books that are needlessly stifling job creation and economic growth, we will fix them.



Already we’re dramatically cutting down on the paperwork that saddles businesses with huge administrative costs. We’re improving the way FDA evaluates things like medical devices, to get innovative and lifesaving treatments to market faster. And the EPA, based on the need for further scientific analysis, delayed the greenhouse gas permitting rules for biomass.



I’ve also ordered agencies to find ways to make regulations more flexible for small businesses. And we’ve turned a tangle of fuel economy regulations and pending lawsuits into a single standard that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, save consumers money at the pump and give car companies the certainty that they need -- all negotiated by the various stakeholders without the need for congressional legislation.



But ultimately, winning the future is not just about what the government can do for you to succeed. It’s also about what you can do to help America succeed.



So we were just talking about regulations. Even as we eliminate burdensome regulations, America’s businesses have a responsibility as well to recognize that there are some basic safeguards, some basic standards that are necessary to protect the American people from harm or exploitation. Not every regulation is bad. Not every regulation is burdensome on business. A lot of the regulations that are out there are things that all of us welcome in our lives.



Few of us would want to live in a society without rules that keep our air and water clean; that give consumers the confidence to do everything from investing in financial markets to buying groceries. And the fact is, when standards like these have been proposed in the past, opponents have often warned that they would be an assault on business and free enterprise. We can look at the history in this country. Early drug companies argued the bill creating the FDA would “practically destroy the sale of … remedies in the United States.” That didn’t happen. Auto executives predicted that having to install seatbelts would bring the downfall of their industry. It didn’t happen. The President of the American Bar Association denounced child labor laws as “a communistic effort to nationalize children.” That’s a quote.



None of these things came to pass. In fact, companies adapt and standards often spark competition and innovation. I was travelling when I went up to Penn State to look at some clean energy hubs that have been set up. I was with Steve Chu, my Secretary of Energy. And he won a Nobel Prize in physics, so when you’re in conversations with him you catch about one out of every four things he says. (Laughter.)



But he started talking about energy efficiency and about refrigerators, and he pointed out that the government set modest targets a couple decades ago to start increasing efficiency over time. They were well thought through; they weren’t radical. Companies competed to hit these markers. And they hit them every time, and then exceeded them. And as a result, a typical fridge now costs half as much and uses a quarter of the energy that it once did -- and you don’t have to defrost, chipping at that stuff -- (laughter) -- and then putting the warm water inside the freezer and all that stuff. It saves families and businesses billions of dollars.



So regulations didn’t destroy the industry; it enhanced it and it made our lives better -- if they’re smart, if they’re well designed. And that’s our goal, is to work with you to think through how do we design necessary regulations in a smart way and get rid of regulations that have outlived their usefulness, or don’t work.



I also have to point out the perils of too much regulation are also matched by the dangers of too little. And we saw that in the financial crisis, where the absence of sound rules of the road, that wasn’t good for business. Even if you weren’t in the financial sector it wasn’t good for business. And that’s why, with the help of Paul Volcker, who is here today, we passed a set of common-sense reforms.



The same can be said of health insurance reform. We simply could not continue to accept a status quo that’s made our entire economy less competitive, as we’ve paid more per person for health care than any other nation on Earth. Nobody is even close. And we couldn’t accept a broken system where insurance companies could drop people because they got sick, or families went into bankruptcy because of medical bills.



I know that folks here have concerns about this law. And I understand it. If you’re running a business right now and you’re seeing these escalating health care costs, your instinct is if I’ve got even more laws on top of me, that’s going to increase my costs even more. I understand that suspicion, that skepticism.



But the non-partisan congressional watchdogs at the CBO estimate that health care tax credits will be worth nearly $40 billion for small businesses over the next decade -- $40 billion, directly to small businesses who are doing the right thing by their employees.



And experts –- not just from the government, but also those commissioned by the Business Roundtable –- suggest that health insurance reform could ultimately save large employers anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 per family -- your employees and your bottom line.



I’ve said in the State of the Union and I’ll repeat here today: I am willing and happy to look at other ideas to improve the law, including incentives to improve patient safety and medical malpractice reforms. And I want to correct a flaw that’s already placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on too many small businesses, and I appreciate the Chamber’s help in doing that.



But we have to recognize that some common-sense regulations often will make sense for your businesses, as well as your families, as well as your neighbors, as well as your coworkers. Of course, your responsibility goes beyond recognizing the need for certain standards and safeguards. If we’re fighting to reform the tax code and increase exports to help you compete, the benefits can’t just translate into greater profits and bonuses for those at the top. They have to be shared by American workers, who need to know that expanding trade and opening markets will lift their standards of living as well as your bottom line.



We can’t go back to the kind of economy and culture that we saw in the years leading up to the recession, where growth and gains in productivity just didn’t translate into rising incomes and opportunity for the middle class. That’s not something necessarily we can legislate, but it’s something that all of us have to take responsibility for thinking about. How do we make sure that everybody’s got a stake in trade, everybody’s got a stake in increasing exports, everybody’s got a stake in rising productivity? Because ordinary folks end up seeing their standards of living rise as well. That’s always been the American promise. That’s what JFK meant when he said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Too many boats have been left behind, stuck in the mud.



And if we as a nation are going to invest in innovation, that innovation should lead to new jobs and manufacturing on our shores. The end result of tax breaks and investments can’t simply be that new breakthroughs and technologies are discovered here in America, but then the manufacturing takes place overseas. That, too, breaks the social compact. It makes people feel as if the game is fixed and they’re not benefiting from the extraordinary discoveries that take place here.



So the key to our success has never been just developing new ideas; it’s also been making new products. So Intel pioneers the microchip, then puts thousands to work building them in Silicon Valley. Henry Ford perfects the assembly line, and then puts a generation to work in the factories of Detroit. That’s how we built the largest middle class in the world. Those folks working in those plants, they go out and they buy a Ford. They buy a personal computer. And the economy grows for everyone. And that’s how we’ll create the base of knowledge and skills that propel the next inventions and the next ideas.



Right now, businesses across this country are proving that America can compete. Caterpillar is opening a new plant to build excavators in Texas that used to be shipped from Japan. In Tennessee, Whirlpool is opening their first new U.S. factory in more than a decade. Dow is building a new plant in Michigan to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles. A company called Geomagic, a software maker, decided to close down its overseas centers in China and Europe and move their R&D here to the United States. These companies are bringing jobs back to our shores. And that’s good for everybody.



So if I’ve got one message, my message is now is the time to invest in America. Now is the time to invest in America. (Applause.) Today, American companies have nearly $2 trillion sitting on their balance sheets. And I know that many of you have told me that you’re waiting for demand to rise before you get off the sidelines and expand, and that with millions of Americans out of work, demand has risen more slowly than any of us would like.



We’re in this together, but many of your own economists and salespeople are now forecasting a healthy increase in demand. So I just want to encourage you to get in the game. As part of the bipartisan tax deal we negotiated, with the support of the Chamber, businesses can immediately expense 100 percent of their capital investments. And as all of you know, it’s investments made now that will pay off as the economy rebounds. And as you hire, you know that more Americans working will mean more sales for your companies. It will mean more demand for your products and services. It will mean higher profits for your companies. We can create a virtuous circle.



And if there’s a reason you don’t share my confidence, if there’s a reason you don’t believe that this is the time to get off the sidelines –- to hire and to invest -– I want to know about it. I want to fix it. That’s why I’ve asked Jeff Immelt of GE to lead a new council of business leaders and outside experts so that we’re getting the best advice on what you’re facing out there –- and we’ll be holding our first meeting two weeks from now, on the 24th. So you can get your emails in early, with your ideas, with your thoughts about how we keep moving forward to create this virtuous cycle.



Together, I am confident we can win the competition for new jobs and industries. And I know you share my enthusiasm. Here’s one thing I know. For all the disagreements, Tom, that we may have sometimes on issues, I know you love this country. I know you want America to succeed just as badly as I do.



So, yes, we’ll have some disagreements; and, yes, we’ll see things differently at times. But we’re all Americans. And that spirit of patriotism, and that sense of mutual regard and common obligation, that has carried us through far harder times than the ones we’ve just been through.



And I’m reminded, toward the end of the 1930s, amidst the Depression, the looming prospect of war, FDR, President Roosevelt, realized he would need to form a new partnership with business if we were going to become what he would later call the “arsenal of democracy.” And as you can imagine, the relationship between the President and business leaders during the course of the Depression had been rocky at times. They’d grown somewhat fractured by the New Deal.



So Roosevelt reached out to businesses, and business leaders answered the call to serve their country. After years of working at cross purposes, the result was one of the most productive collaborations between the public and private sectors in American history.



Some, like the head of GM, hadn’t previously known the President, and if anything had seen him as an adversary. But he gathered his family and he explained that he was going to head up what would become the War Production Board. And he said to his family, “This country has been good to me, and I want to pay it back.” I want to pay it back.



And in the years that followed, automobile factories converted to making planes and tanks. And corset factories made grenade belts. A toy company made compasses. A pinball machine maker turned out shells. 1941 would see the greatest expansion of manufacturing in the history of America. And not only did this help us win the war; it led to millions of new jobs and helped produce the great American middle class.



So we have faced hard times before. We have faced moments of tumult and moments of change. And we know what to do. We know how to succeed. We are Americans, and as we have done throughout our history, I have every confidence that once again we will rise to this occasion; that we can come together, we can adapt and we can thrive in this changing economy. And we need to look no further than the innovative companies in this room. If we can harness your potential and the potential of your people across this country, I think there’s no stopping us.



So thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)




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