Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future | The White House

Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future | The White House
President Obama wrote a letter this afternoon urging Congress to end subsidies for oil and companies.

Dear Speaker Boehner, Senator Reid, Senator McConnell, and Representative Pelosi:

I am writing to urge you to take immediate action to eliminate unwarranted tax breaks for the oil and gas industry, and to use those dollars to invest in clean energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

High oil and gasoline prices are weighing on the minds and pocketbooks of every American family. While our economy has begun to recover, with 1.8 million private sector jobs created over the last 13 months, too many Americans are still struggling to find a job or simply just to pay the bills. The recent steep increase in gas prices, driven by increased global demand and compounded by unrest and supply disruptions in the Middle East, has only added to those struggles. If sustained, these high prices have the potential to slow down the pace of our economy’s growth at precisely the moment when we need to be accelerating it.

March 30 video

While there is no silver bullet to address rising gas prices in the short term, there are steps we can take to ensure the American people don’t fall victim to skyrocketing gas prices over the long term. One of those steps is to eliminate unwarranted tax breaks to the oil and gas industry and invest that revenue into clean energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Our outdated tax laws currently provide the oil and gas industry more than $4 billion per year in these subsidies, even though oil prices are high and the industry is projected to report outsized profits this quarter. In fact, in the past CEO’s of the major oil companies made it clear that high oil prices provide more than enough profit motive to invest in domestic exploration and production without special tax breaks. As we work together to reduce our deficits, we simply can’t afford these wasteful subsidies, and that is why I proposed to eliminate them in my FY11 and FY12 budgets.

I was heartened that Speaker Boehner yesterday expressed openness to eliminating these tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry. Our political system has for too long avoided and ignored this important step, and I hope we can come together in a bipartisan manner to get it done.

In addition, we need to get to work immediately on the longer term goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and our vulnerability to price fluctuations this dependence creates. Without a comprehensive energy strategy for the future we will stay stuck in the same old pattern of heated political rhetoric when prices rise and apathy and neglect when they fall again.

I recently laid out my approach to a comprehensive strategy in my Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, which includes safe and responsible production of our domestic oil and gas resources and doubling down on fuel efficiency in the transportation sector while investing in everything from wind and solar to biofuels and natural gas. None of you will agree with every aspect of this strategy. But I am confident that, in many areas, we can work together to help show the American people that we can make progress on an energy policy that creates jobs and makes our country more secure.

And I hope we can all agree that, instead of continuing to subsidize yesterday’s energy sources, we need to invest in tomorrow’s. We need to invest in a 21st century clean energy economy that will keep America competitive. In the long term, that’s the answer. That’s the key to helping families avoid pain at the pump and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.


Sincerely,

Barack Obama

President Obama Reads "Where the Wild Things Are" | The White House

President Obama Reads "Where the Wild Things Are" | The White House

Ya just gotta love 'em. They are the cutest family ever.

April 2011@the White House

April 2011@theWhite House

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Obama attends Easter service at historic church - Forbes.com

Obama attends Easter service at historic church - Forbes.com

God's grace saves anyone who believes and follows him. Jesus said, "For I and the Father are one." Follow Jesus because God cannot accept you except if you come to him by Jesus. However, the choice is yours to make. Happy Resurrection Sunday!
(the choir sounds wonderful)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Obama's remarks at the N9NE restaurant (transcript) - Chicago Breaking News

Obama's remarks at the N9NE restaurant (transcript) - Chicago Breaking News

Here are President Barack Obama’s remarks at a Democratic fundraiser Thursday night at the N9NE restaurant in Chicago, according to a transcript provided by White House:

THE PRESIDENT: Hey! Hey! Hello, hello, hello! Hello! Hello, Chicago! (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, everybody. It’s good to be home. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. All right, everybody have a seat. Everybody have a seat. You’re making me blush. (Laughter.)

We’ve got some very special guests here today. First of all, my former seatmate in the Illinois state senate who is doing gangbuster work all over the state -- Attorney General Lisa Madigan is in the house. Where is Lisa? Where is she? There she is. (Applause.)

A guy who I basically follow around to see what he eats and drinks so I can look like him, somebody who never ages, always doing the right thing on behalf of communities all across the state, especially here in Chicago -- Secretary of State Jesse White is in the house. (Applause.)

Our newly elected Cook County President, one of my earliest supporters, and also my former alderwoman -- so I hope that my garbage is still being picked up -- Toni Preckwinkle is in the house. (Applause.) She’s around here somewhere.

And then I have to admit that I got a little confused. (Laughter.) I walk in and there are these two guys talking, both of them very animated, both of them a little intimidating, even though they’re not tall in statute. (Laughter.) I was trying to figure out who I should bow to first. I decided to go with the current mayor -- (laughter and applause) -- somebody who has done more to make Chicago not just a great American city but a great world city, and his legacy is going to be deep and lasting, as deep and lasting as his father’s was. We are grateful for his service -- the mayor of the city of Chicago, Richard Daley. (Applause.)

Bill is doing okay, Rich. (Laughter.) I mean, you know, there are times where he’s still kind of figuring out where everything is -- (laughter) -- but overall he’s making the grade. Of course, he had some big shoes to fill. And I could not be prouder of the job this man did on behalf of America as my chief of staff.

As Bill knows, there probably is not a harder job in government than being chief of staff. You get all the blame and little of the credit, and the pressures are enormous and they are constant. And I rely extraordinarily heavily, given everything that’s on our plate, on the person who essentially oversees the executive functions of the White House.

And so I am blessed now to have a great chief of staff, but I also am so lucky to have had in some of the toughest times that we’ve seen since the Great Depression somebody who is not only a great manager, a great strategist, a great political thinker, but also my friend. Yes, he is foul-mouthed. (Laughter.) Yes, that finger thing is a little creepy. (Laughter.) But I love him anyway, and, Chicago, you did the right thing by electing him the next mayor of the city of Chicago -- Rahm Emanuel. (Applause.)

Where did Rahm go? He’s in the back somewhere. He’s cutting a deal of some sort. (Laughter.)

Look, I don't want to make a long speech, mainly just because even though I'm not supposed to do it, I just want to go around and say hello to everybody -- (applause) -- because as I look around the room, I've got as good a collection of friends from every stage of my life in this room as anybody could hope for.

I've got people who helped me get started as a lawyer. I've got folks who helped me get started in politics. I've got folks who worked with me down in Springfield. I've got people who were some of my earliest supporters in my congressional race -- (applause) -- and nursed me back to health after a beating. (Laughter.) I've got folks who believed that I might be a United States senator when nobody could pronounce my name, long before I made a speech in Boston. And then I've got people that had the faith that I could perform the functions of the highest office in the land. (Applause.)

I've got some folks who taught with me at the University of Chicago. (Applause.) I've got some Hyde-Parkers in the house. (Applause.) I've got some folks who were there the summer I met my wife and folks who were there when my children were born. So as I look across the room it’s a record of my adult life and the people who helped me to become the man I am.

The last two and a half years have obviously been extraordinary. We understood when we put together our presidential campaign that the country was entering a crossroads, that we were going to have to make some fundamental decisions about who we were and who we are as a people. And I got into this race for President because I believed that what makes us great is our incredible commitment to individual freedom and individual responsibility; the fact that with some pluck and some hard work and some good fortune, here in America anybody can make it, regardless of race or creed or station.

But what made us great is also the fact that this collection of people from all around the world are somehow able to come together and pledge allegiance not just to a flag but to a creed; that we’re able to join together in this common enterprise; that we’re able to look out for one another; that when we make it, we’re saying to ourselves, who else can we pull up the ladder; that there’s a sense of community that is not defined simply by ethnicity or where we go to church or mosque or synagogue or temple, but a commitment to each other that somehow is greater than the sum of its parts.

That's why I decided to run for President. That's why you supported me. Those are the values that you helped teach me when I first came to Chicago so many years ago. And those values have been put to the test over the last two and a half years, because Americans have gone through a tough time.

I can’t describe night after night reading the letters that I get, the emails that I get, from people all across the country -- just heartbreaking stories: Children talking about their parents losing their jobs or losing their homes and wondering if they're going to be okay; folks sending out job application after job application after job application and nothing coming back.; parents of young men and women who’ve been killed in action, trying to describe how proud they are of those kids even though their heart just aches, and asking to make sure that as the Commander-in-Chief that I am living up to that full measure of devotion that they displayed.

And so for the last two and a half years, what I’ve tried to do is to make sure that every day when I wake up, I remember why I ran and I remember why you supported me. And whether it was passing a Recovery Act that would get the economy back on its feet and put people back to work; saving an auto industry that a lot of people had written off; making sure that we had a financial system that is functioning but also one that was sufficiently regulated, that consumers got a fair shake; making sure that we brought combat in Iraq to a close; making sure that anybody can serve in our military regardless of their sexual orientation -- (applause) -- making sure that in a country as wealthy as ours nobody is going bankrupt because they get sick, and no parent has to worry about selling their house because their child has a preexisting condition and he can’t get health insurance -- (applause) -- making sure that we got more women on the Supreme Court and that one of them is a Latina -- (applause) -- and making sure that women get equal pay for equal work so that my daughters when they come up -- (applause) -- are going to have the same chances as your sons.

Each and every time we’ve had to make a decision, my guiding principle, that North Star, has been those values that we talked about during the campaign: I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper. A belief in an America that is competitive and compassionate. A belief that there’s nothing we can’t accomplish if we come together, and that we have to think big in terms of what we need to accomplish.

And we’ve made extraordinary progress, but we still have so much work to do. There’s still too many people out there writing me letters that don’t have a job; too many folks who are worried about losing their home. There’s still too many kids trapped in poverty in cities and rural areas all across America that we haven’t been able to reach. There’s still discrimination out there. There’s still unfairness and injustice out there.

We’ve still got 100,000 troops in Afghanistan -- who are remarkable and doing everything they can to keep us safe. We still have roads that need to be fixed and bridges that need to be repaired. We still need an energy policy that doesn’t make us vulnerable to whatever spikes in the world oil market might occur.

Right now, there are folks in the Chicago-land area who are every day trying to figure out how am I going to fill up my gas tank. And all the tax cuts that we provided to help working-class and middle-class families, they’re worried about those tax breaks being entirely eaten up by $4.00 a gallon gas.

We still have to worry about making sure that as the world’s largest economy, as the world’s wealthiest nation, that we’re taking the lead when it comes to climate change. (Applause.) We still have an obligation to make sure that we have an immigration policy in this country that matches up with our values as a nation of laws, but also a nation of immigrants. (Applause.) There are still small businesses out there just waiting to be started if they’re getting the right financing. There are still young men and women who are just ready to seize the moment as engineers and scientists if we’re just making sure those research grants are flowing. And we got to do all this in a context, as I talked about yesterday, in which our fiscal challenges are real.

The speech I gave yesterday was not a partisan shot at the other side. It was an attempt to clarify the choice that we have as a country right now. (Applause.) We agree, Democrats and Republicans, that we’ve got to come together and have a government that lives within its means, that is lean, is smart, is effective; that we’ve got a country that pays its bills and isn’t borrowing 30 or 40 cents for every dollar that we spend. That is imperative.

And if we’re progressive, we’ve got to care about the deficit just as much as the other side does, because we won’t be able to fund the research that's necessary, or the Head Start programs, or the college loan programs, or the infrastructure that we need, unless it’s on a firm, solid footing.

But how we get there is important. And you’ve got right now one side that I believe is entirely sincere that says we no longer can afford to do big things in this country. We can't afford to be compassionate.

We can't afford Medicare so let’s make sure that seniors get a voucher, and if the health insurance companies aren’t giving them full coverage or they can’t afford coverage with the voucher they get, tough luck, they're on their own.

It’s a vision that says we can’t afford to rebuild our roads and our bridges. We can’t afford high-speed rail. We can’t afford broadband lines into rural areas so that everybody can be a part of this new global community. We can’t afford to make sure the poor kid can go to college. We can’t afford health care for another 50 million people. That’s the choice they pose.

Now, understand, it is a choice. Because they’re absolutely right -- if people like me, if most of the people in this room, can’t afford to pay a little bit more in taxes, then a lot of this stuff we can’t afford. If we’re insisting that those of us who are doing best in this society have no obligations to other folks, then, no, we can’t afford it.

But if we’re willing to go back to our deepest roots and say to ourselves, you know what, that’s not how America was built, that’s not how we became the greatest nation on Earth, that’s not what the American way is all about; if we say to ourselves I do have that commitment to that child on the South Side or on the West Side or out in the south suburbs, for them to succeed, too -- my life will be better if they succeed -- this is not charity, this is a good investment for me because I want to live in a society where all those kids have a shot; if we say to ourselves, you know what, I want people to have health care, I don’t want them going into the emergency room and sitting and waiting, and then getting the most expensive care; I think it makes sense for us to have a more effective health care system and one where everybody has basic coverage; if we’re saying to ourselves, I want to make sure that Malia and Sasha and your children and your grandchildren, that they’re inheriting a land that has clean rivers and air you can breathe and that's worth something to me, that's something I want to invest in because when I’m all finished here and I’m looking back on my life, I want to be able to say, we were good stewards of the planet --(applause) -- if that's what we believe, then we’ve got the ability to do that. We’ve got the ability to do it, and it doesn’t take that much. It just doesn’t take that much.

If we apply some practical common sense to this, we can solve our fiscal challenges and still have the America that we believe in. That's what this budget debate is going to be about. And that's what the 2012 campaign is going to be about.

And so over the next three months, six months, nine months, I’m going to be a little preoccupied. (Laughter.) I’ve got this day job that -- (laughter) -- that I’ve got to handle. And it means that I’m not going to see all of you as often I’d like. It means that I’m not going to be able to make that phone call to you and thank you even though my gratitude is profound.

It means that all of you are going to have to remember why I’m standing here, why we were successful -- because it wasn’t my campaign; it was your campaign. It was your investment. It was your time. It was your energy. It was your faith and it was your confidence that is allowing me to try to live up to those values that we share.

And if you remember that, and if you take ownership for that, and if you are just as fired up now -- despite the fact that your candidate is a little older and a lot grayer -- (laughter and applause) -- then I have every confidence that we are going to be able finish the job.

Thank you, Chicago. I love you. (Applause.)

Town Hall on America’s Fiscal Future | The White House

Town Hall on America’s Fiscal Future | The White House
The President is traveling the country this week explaining the "Economics of Being America." Being America is no small task-- it is an enormous, expensive task. We carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, often leading chin first. Nonetheless, we lead.

Easter Prayer Breakfast | The White House

Easter Prayer Breakfast | The White House

The 2011 Commander-in-Chief Trophy Presentation | The White House

The 2011 Commander-in-Chief Trophy Presentation | The White House
What a beautiful spring day in Washington D.C! Seems warm. (yes, its cold wet and stormy here)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Obama Budget is Better

Remarks by the President on Fiscal Policy | The White House
As the Baby Boomers start to retire in greater numbers and health care costs continue to rise, the situation will get even worse. By 2025, the amount of taxes we currently pay will only be enough to finance our health care programs -- Medicare and Medicaid -- Social Security, and the interest we owe on our debt. That’s it. Every other national priority -– education, transportation, even our national security -– will have to be paid for with borrowed money.
Now, ultimately, all this rising debt will cost us jobs and damage our economy. It will prevent us from making the investments we need to win the future. We won’t be able to afford good schools, new research, or the repair of roads -– all the things that create new jobs and businesses here in America. Businesses will be less likely to invest and open shop in a country that seems unwilling or unable to balance its books. And if our creditors start worrying that we may be unable to pay back our debts, that could drive up interest rates for everybody who borrows money -– making it harder for businesses to expand and hire, or families to take out a mortgage.

So here’s the truth. Around two-thirds of our budget -- two-thirds -- is spent on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national security. Two-thirds. Programs like unemployment
insurance, student loans, veterans’ benefits, and tax credits for working families take up another 20 percent. What’s left, after interest on the debt, is just 12 percent for everything else. That’s 12 percent for all of our national priorities -- education, clean energy, medical research, transportation, our national parks, food safety, keeping our air and water clean -- you name it -- all of that accounts for 12 percent of our budget.
Now, up till now, the debate here in Washington, the cuts proposed by a lot of folks in Washington, have focused exclusively on that 12 percent. But cuts to that 12 percent alone won’t solve the problem. So any serious plan to tackle our deficit will require us to put everything on the table, and take on excess spending wherever it exists in the budget.
A serious plan doesn’t require us to balance our budget overnight –- in fact, economists think that with the economy just starting to grow again, we need a phased-in approach –- but it does require tough decisions and support from our leaders in both parties now. Above all, it will require us to choose a vision of the America we want to see five years, 10 years, 20 years down the road.
Now, to their credit, one vision has been presented and championed by Republicans in the House of Representatives and embraced by several of their party’s presidential candidates. It’s a plan that aims to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years, and one that addresses the challenge of Medicare and Medicaid in the years after that.
These are both worthy goals. They’re worthy goals for us to achieve. But the way this plan achieves those goals would lead to a fundamentally different America than the one we’ve known certainly in my lifetime. In fact, I think it would be fundamentally different than what we’ve known throughout our history.
A 70 percent cut in clean energy. A 25 percent cut in education. A 30 percent cut in transportation. Cuts in college Pell Grants that will grow to more than $1,000 per year. That’s the proposal. These aren’t the kind of cuts you make when you’re trying to get rid of some waste or find extra savings in the budget. These aren’t the kinds of cuts that the Fiscal Commission proposed. These are the kinds of cuts that tell us we can’t afford the America that I believe in and I think you believe in. (These are the type of cuts that harm the everyday, average American citizen. LM)

In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90 percent of all working Americans actually declined. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. That’s who needs to pay less taxes?
They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that’s paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs. That’s not right. And it’s not going to happen as long as I’m President.
The President said the GOP Budget does not have to be our future. He proposes four steps to reign in the country's debt while still keeping it's promises to American citizens.
I’m proposing a more balanced approach to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 12 years. It’s an approach that borrows from the recommendations of the bipartisan Fiscal Commission that I appointed last year, and it builds on the roughly $1 trillion in deficit reduction I already proposed in my 2012 budget. It’s an approach that puts every kind of spending on the table -- but one that protects the middle class, our promise to seniors, and our investments in the future.
The first step in our approach is to keep annual domestic spending low by building on the savings that both parties agreed to last week. That step alone will save us about $750 billion over 12 years. We will make the tough cuts necessary to achieve these savings, including in programs that I care deeply about, but I will not sacrifice the core investments that we need to grow and create jobs. We will invest in medical research. We will invest in clean energy technology. We will invest in new roads and airports and broadband access. We will invest in education. We will invest in job training. We will do what we need to do to compete, and we will win the future.
The second step in our approach is to find additional savings in our defense budget. Now, as Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than protecting our national security, and I will never accept cuts that compromise our ability to defend our homeland or America’s interests around the world. But as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, has said, the greatest long-term threat to America’s national security is America’s debt. So just as we must find more savings in domestic programs, we must do the same in defense. And we can do that while still keeping ourselves safe.


Over the last two years, Secretary Bob Gates has courageously taken on wasteful spending, saving $400 billion in current and future spending. I believe we can do that again. We need to not only eliminate waste and improve efficiency and effectiveness, but we’re going to have to conduct a fundamental review of America’s missions, capabilities, and our role in a changing world. I intend to work with Secretary Gates and the Joint Chiefs on this review, and I will make specific decisions about spending after it’s complete.
The third step in our approach is to further reduce health care spending in our budget. Now, here, the difference with the House Republican plan could not be clearer. Their plan essentially lowers the government’s health care bills by asking seniors and poor families to pay them instead. Our approach lowers the government’s health care bills by reducing the cost of health care itself.
Already, the reforms we passed in the health care law will reduce our deficit by $1 trillion. My approach would build on these reforms. We will reduce wasteful subsidies and erroneous payments. We will cut spending on prescription drugs by using Medicare’s purchasing power to drive greater efficiency and speed generic brands of medicine onto the market. We will work with governors of both parties to demand more efficiency and accountability from Medicaid.
We will change the way we pay for health care -– not by the procedure or the number of days spent in a hospital, but with new incentives for doctors and hospitals to prevent injuries and improve results. And we will slow the growth of Medicare costs by strengthening an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers who will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending while protecting access to the services that seniors need.
Now, we believe the reforms we’ve proposed to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid will enable us to keep these commitments to our citizens while saving us $500 billion by 2023, and an additional $1 trillion in the decade after that. But if we’re wrong, and Medicare costs rise faster than we expect, then this approach will give the independent commission the authority to make additional savings by further improving Medicare.
But let me be absolutely clear: I will preserve these health care programs as a promise we make to each other in this society. I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs. I will not tell families with children who have disabilities that they have to fend for themselves. We will reform these programs, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment this country has kept for generations.
That includes, by the way, our commitment to Social Security. While Social Security is not the cause of our deficit, it faces real long-term challenges in a country that’s growing older. As I said in the State of the Union, both parties should work together now to strengthen Social Security for future generations. But we have to do it without putting at risk current retirees, or the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market. And it can be done.
The fourth step in our approach is to reduce spending in the tax code, so-called tax expenditures. In December, I agreed to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans because it was the only way I could prevent a tax hike on middle-class Americans. But we cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society. We can’t afford it. And I refuse to renew them again.
By the way, "nanny state" is a GOP term for keeping American promises to American citizens. America is a nanny state when it cares for the elderly, disabled and poor or when it extends tax breaks to the working class. Unfortunately education is such a low priority for most people, that they know not the history of American philanthropy that occurred before any of the social programs were put in place. It's a shame that people with so much of the American people's money--gained through capitalism--know so little about the American people. Maybe they should go to school. Greed is a disease.
What I would like to know is why when the budget needs to be cut, the neediest people are the ones who suffer the most. Why not make a law that any company that does business with America has to have the majority of their workforce located in America? Stop corporate welfare and subsidies to companies that don't hire American people into worthwhile positions.

Remarks by the President on Fiscal Policy | The White House

Remarks by the President on Fiscal Policy | The White House

as far back as the 1980s, America started amassing debt at more alarming levels, and our leaders began to realize that a larger challenge was on the horizon. They knew that eventually, the Baby Boom generation would retire, which meant a much bigger portion of our citizens would be relying on programs like Medicare, Social Security, and possibly Medicaid. Like parents with young children who know they have to start saving for the college years, America had to start borrowing less and saving more to prepare for the retirement of an entire generation.

To meet this challenge, our leaders came together three times during the 1990s to reduce our nation’s deficit -- three times. They forged historic agreements that required tough decisions made by the first President Bush, then made by President Clinton, by Democratic Congresses and by a Republican Congress. All three agreements asked for shared responsibility and shared sacrifice. But they largely protected the middle class; they largely protected our commitment to seniors; they protected our key investments in our future.

As a result of these bipartisan efforts, America’s finances were in great shape by the year 2000. We went from deficit to surplus. America was actually on track to becoming completely debt free, and we were prepared for the retirement of the Baby Boomers.

But after Democrats and Republicans committed to fiscal discipline during the 1990s, we lost our way in the decade that followed. We increased spending dramatically for two wars and an expensive prescription drug program -– but we didn’t pay for any of this new spending. Instead, we made the problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts -– tax cuts that went to every millionaire and billionaire in the country; tax cuts that will force us to borrow an average of $500 billion every year over the next decade.






Saturday, April 09, 2011

Weekly Address: President Obama on the Budget Compromise to Avoid a Government Shutdown | The White House

Weekly Address: President Obama on the Budget Compromise to Avoid a Government Shutdown | The White House
What the nation witnessed this week was democracy at work. America's democratic process at work is a thing to marvel. It is not a neat process but a bit messy sometimes--like anything that requires human involvement and a level of cooperation between teams of rivals. Our democratic process is a showcase for other countries that want to institute a democratic process in their country. It is a lot of hard work and it requires its participants to communicate in an effective manner. It also requires a belief that the democratic process works when the people work it.
God Bless America. Just think of those who lived on these lands before us and gave their lives for the right to do so. They were free white and black, enslaved black, working class, rich Native Americans, men and women and children--just like us.

President Obama's Statement on the Budget Agreement | The White House

President Obama's Statement on the Budget Agreement | The White House

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Building a Clean Energy Economy | The White House

Building a Clean Energy Economy | The White House
Staying the course, President Obama visited Wednesday, Gamesa Technology Corporation in Fairless Hills, PA. They make wind turbines and other 21st century clean energy products. Watch as President Obama holds a town hall discussion with workers at the plant. (The president is pulling America into the 21st century kicking and screaming! We're evolving!)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Remarks by the President After Meeting with House Republican and Senate Democratic Leadership | The White House

Remarks by the President After Meeting with House Republican and Senate Democratic Leadership | The White House

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Remarks by the President After Meeting with House Republican and Senate Democratic Leadership

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:02 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Good afternoon. As many of you know, this morning I had a meeting with Speaker Boehner, Leader Reid, as well as the two appropriations chairs, Inouye and Rogers, to discuss the situation with last year’s budget, and I wanted to give you and, more importantly, the American people an update on where we are.

From the outset, my goal has been to significantly cut our domestic spending but, at the same time, make sure we’re making key investments in things like education, infrastructure, innovation -- the things that are going to help us win the future.

And over the course of the last several months, we have identified areas where we can make substantial cuts. In fact, what we’ve been able to do is to present to the House Republicans a budget framework that would cut the same amount of spending as Speaker Boehner and Chairman Rogers originally proposed -- their original proposal for how much would be cut.


And several weeks ago, there were discussions between the White House and Speaker Boehner’s office in which we said, let’s start negotiating off of that number, $73 billion. We are now closer than we have ever been to getting an agreement. There’s no reason why we should not get an agreement. As I said before, we have now matched the number that the Speaker originally sought.

The only question is whether politics or ideology are going to get in the way of preventing a government shutdown. Now, what does this potentially mean for the American people? At a time when the economy is just beginning to grow, where we’re just starting to see a pickup in employment, the last thing we need is a disruption that’s caused by a government shutdown. Not to mention all the people who depend on government services, whether you’re a veteran or you’re somebody who’s trying to get a passport or you’re planning to visit one of the national monuments or you’re a business leader who’s trying to get a small business loan. You don’t want delays, you don’t want disruptions just because of usual politics in Washington.

So what I said to the Speaker today, and what I said to Leader Reid, and what I’ve said to the two appropriations chairs, is that myself, Joe Biden, my team, we are prepared to meet for as long as possible to get this resolved.

My understanding is that there’s going to be a meeting between Speaker Boehner and Harry Reid this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. The Speaker apparently didn’t want our team involved in that discussion. That’s fine. If they can sort it out then we’ve got more than enough to do. If they can’t sort it out, then I want them back here tomorrow. But it would be inexcusable for us to not be able to take care of last year’s business -- keep in mind we’re dealing with a budget that could have gotten done three months ago, could have gotten done two months ago, could have gotten done last month -- when we are this close simply because of politics.

And we are prepared to put whatever resources are required in terms of time and energy to get this done. But that’s what the American people expect. They don’t like these games. And we don’t have time for them. There are some things that we can’t control. We can’t control earthquakes; we can’t control tsunamis; we can’t control uprisings on the other side of the world. What we can control is our capacity to have a reasoned, fair conversation between the parties and get the business of the American people done. And that’s what I expect.

So, again, I want to reiterate, my understanding is the Speaker and Leader Reid are going to have a meeting at 4:00 p.m. If that issue does not get resolved and we don’t start seeing progress, I want a meeting again tomorrow here at the White House. I will invite the same folks that we invited today. And if that doesn’t work, we’ll invite them again the day after that. And I will have my entire team available to work through the details of getting a deal done.

But right now there’s no reason why we should not get this done. And we’ve got more than enough to do than to be spending our time going back and forth, quibbling around the edges on something this important to the American people.

With that, I’m going to take a couple questions.

Ben.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. If it came down to it, would you approve of a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown? And more broadly, as the American people are watching this, do you think that this is a test of your leadership? Do you think the American people are expecting you to make sure that this deal happens?

THE PRESIDENT: Let me take each question separately.

On the issue of a short-term extension, we’ve already done that twice. We did it once for two weeks, then we did another one for three weeks. That is not a way to run a government. I can’t have our agencies making plans based on two-week budgets. I can’t have the Defense Department, I can’t have the State Department, I can’t have our various agencies on food safety and making sure our water is clean and making sure that our airports are functioning, I can’t have them making decisions based on two-week-at-a-time budgets.

So I have been very clear that the last time we had an extension, it was to give the parties time to go ahead and get something done. We are now at the point where there is no excuse to extend this further.

If over the next 24 to 48 hours a deal is done and we just can’t get the paperwork through Congress quick enough and they want to do a clean extension for two or three days in order to go ahead and complete a deal, then that’s something that we could support. But what we’re not going to do is to once again put off something that should have gotten done several months ago.

Now, with respect to the second question, I think what the American people expect from me is the same thing that they expect from every member of Congress, and that is that we’re looking out for the interests of the American people and not trying to score political points.

I think what they’re looking from me is the same thing that they’re looking from Speaker Boehner and Harry Reid and everybody else, and that is, is that we act like grownups, and when we are in negotiations like this, that everybody gives a little bit, compromises a little bit in order to do the people’s business.

And I just want to set the context for this now. Again, I’m going to repeat. Speaker Boehner, Chairman Rogers, the Republican appropriations chairman -- their original budget proposed $73 billion in cuts. We have now agreed to $73 billion worth of cuts. What they are now saying is, well, we’re not sure that every single one of the cuts that you’ve made are ones that we agree to; we’d rather have these cuts rather than that cut. That’s not the basis for shutting down the government. We should be able to come up with a compromise in which nobody gets 100 percent of what they want, but the American people get the peace of mind in knowing that folks here in Washington are actually thinking about them -- because they’re going through a whole lot of struggles right now.

They’re worrying about gas prices and that’s what they want us worrying about. They’re worrying about jobs and that’s what we should be focused on. They’re worrying about what -- everything happening in the Middle East, what does that mean for them. And that’s certainly what I’m spending my time worrying about. And I shouldn’t have to oversee a process in which Congress deals with last year’s budget where we only have six months left -- especially when both parties have agreed that we need to make substantial cuts and we’re more or less at the same number.

All right?

Julianna.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Who should the American people blame if there is a government shutdown? And also, I was wondering if you could respond to the budget plan that the House Republicans unveiled today?

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t think the American people are interested in blaming somebody. They want people to fix problems and offer solutions. They’re not interested in finger pointing and neither am I. What I want to do is get the business of the American people done.

Now, we’ll have time to have a long discussion about next year’s budget, as well as the long-term debt and deficit issues, where we’re going to have some very tough negotiations. And there are going to be I think very sharply contrasting visions in terms of where we should move the country. That’s a legitimate debate to have. By the way, part of the reason that debate is doing to be important is because that’s where 88 percent of the budget is. What we’re spending weeks and weeks and weeks arguing about is actually only 12 percent of the budget, and is not going to significantly dent the deficit or the debt.

So I’m looking forward to having that conversation. But right now we’ve got some business in front of us that needs to be done, and that is making sure that we are cutting spending in a significant way, but we’re doing it with a scalpel instead of a machete to make sure that we can still make investments in education; we can still make investments in infrastructure; we can still make investments what put the American people back to work and build our economy for the long term.

Jeff.

Q Mr. President, thank you. What else does the White House have to offer to make sure that a deal happens by Friday? And separately, could you tell us a little a bit about your meeting with Mr. Peres?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, we’ve got -- we are happy to listen to any additional reasonable proposals. But I want to repeat what I just said: We are now at the figure that was Speaker Boehner’s original proposal. Now, Speaker Boehner originally called for $73 billion worth of cuts. Members of his caucus insisted on making it $100 billion. What we’ve said is we’re willing to go to $73 billion. Composition of those cuts, where they come from, those are all appropriate subjects of negotiation.

But by any standard, these would be reasonable cuts. In fact, if we made these cuts, they’d be in absolute terms the largest cuts in domestic discretionary spending in history. And in relative terms, they would be the largest cuts as a percentage of GDP since 1982. So I don’t think anybody is suggesting somehow that we haven’t been serious about this process.

As I said, there can be some negotiations about composition. What we can’t be doing is using last year’s budget process to have arguments about abortion; to have arguments about the Environmental Protection Agency; to try to use this budget negotiation as a vehicle for every ideological or political difference between the two parties. That’s what the legislature is for, is to have those arguments, but not stuff it all into one budget bill.

And, look, I think the American people recognize that we’re in some pretty unsettled times right now. Certainly businesses recognize that. Families recognize it. We don’t have time for games. We don’t have time for trying to score political points or maneuvering or positioning. Not on this. As I said, when it comes to long-term debt and deficit, there’s going to be a real debate about how do we make sure that we have a social safety net for the American people; when folks have a tough time, how do we make sure that we’re investing in the future, and how do we pay for it. And that is a legitimate debate to have.

But right now what we’re talking about is six months remaining on the 2011 budget. We have already hit a figure that by any standard would be historic in terms of cuts, and what we can’t do is have a “my way or the highway” approach to this problem. We can’t have a “my way or the highway” approach to this problem, because if we start applying that approach, where I’ve got to get 110 percent of everything I want or else I’m going to shut down the government, we’re not going to get anything done this year. And the American people are going to be the ones that suffer.

Most of the members of Congress, they’ve got enough of a cushion that they can probably put up with a government shutdown. But there are a lot of people out there who can’t.

If you’re small business right now and you’re counting on a small business loan that may make a difference as to whether or not you can keep that business going, and you find out that you can’t process it for three or four weeks, or five weeks or six weeks, because of some bickering in Washington, what does that say about our priorities? It doesn’t make sense.

I’m going to take one last question -- oh, I’m sorry.

Q I asked about Peres as well, if you had anything about your meeting today.

THE PRESIDENT: President Peres is I think an extraordinary statesman. We had a extensive discussion about what’s happened in the Middle East. I think he and I both share a belief that this is both a challenge and an opportunity; that with the winds of change blowing through the Arab world, it’s more urgent than ever that we try to seize the opportunity to create a peaceful solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and he has some very interesting ideas around those issues. He also recognizes the fact that in a country like Egypt, not only do we need to be nurturing democracy, but we also have to make sure that economic opportunity is growing there. And so we explored some ideas about how we can provide some help and make sure that young people there see a brighter future.

And that’s something that Secretary Clinton, during her trip in Egypt, spoke extensively about and will probably be rolling out some additional plans on that front.

Last question.

Q Mr. President, Speaker Boehner says it’s not just the specifics of what you guys want to cut and not cut, but that your cuts, the ones you have put on the table, are smoke and mirrors. How do you answer that?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, here’s -- I’ll let Jay or Jack Lew or others get into all the details, but here’s sort of a thumbnail of what’s happened.

The vast majority of the cuts that have been put forward, just as was true in the Republican budget, are direct cuts out of domestic discretionary spending. There are some cuts that we’ve proposed that have to do with mandatory spending. These are real cuts -- for example, Pell Grants. What we’ve said is, instead of being able to finance year-round Pell Grants so that you can get a Pell Grant for summer school as well, we’re going to have to cut that out. It’s a little too expensive. And we want to make sure that we preserve the levels for those young people or not-so-young people who are going to school full-time during the year.

And the way they are categorized means that those are called mandatory spending cuts as opposed to discretionary spending cuts. But they’re still cuts. They’re still reducing the size of government. They’re still getting rid of those things that we don’t need in order to pay for the things that we do need.

And I think that if you ask the budget analysts out there, independent budget analysts, including the CBO, about the composition of what we’ve proposed versus what was in House bill -- the House bill that passed a while back, H.R. 1, this is consistent with those basic principles.

So this notion that somehow we’re offering smoke and mirrors -- try to tell that to the Democrats out there, because part of what we’ve done is we’ve been willing to cut programs that we care deeply about, that are really important, but we recognize that given the fiscal situation that we’re in, everybody has got to make some sacrifices; everybody has got to take a haircut. And we’ve been willing to do that.

But what we’re not willing to do is to go out there and say we’re going to cut another 60,000 head slot starts -- Head Start slots. We’re not going to be willing to go out there and say that we’re going to cut medical research. We’re not going to cut those things that we think are absolutely vital to the growth of the American economy and putting people back to work.

And that means we’ve got to make some choices. And that is not just true for us; that’s true for the Republicans as well. Nobody gets 100 percent of what they want. And we have more than met the Republicans halfway at this point.

Okay? Thank you very much, everybody.

END
2:21 P.M. EDT

Monday, April 04, 2011

Young Voters Have Not Abandoned Obama - Poll - NYTimes.com

Young Voters Have Not Abandoned Obama - Poll - NYTimes.com

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Weekly Address: Gas Prices & Energy Security | The White House

Weekly Address: Gas Prices & Energy Security | The White House

Speaking from a UPS customer center as part of the new public-private Green Fleet Partnership, the President discusses his Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future to help free us from oil and boost the American economy.

President Obama on the Green Fleet Initiative | The White House

President Obama on the Green Fleet Initiative | The White House
The President visits a UPS customer center to speak about public and private Green Fleets as one small piece of his Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, gas prices, and the latest jobs numbers.

West Wing Week The White House

West Wing Week The White House

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