Dick Armey

The Two Faces of President Obama


 

He is FINALLY proving to be a Warrior for Freedom & American Values


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Senator John Barrasso

Presented by: The Religious Freedom Coalition of the SouthEast

Senator John Barrasso

Bush and Wicca and Doreen Valiente

Question:  "Separation between Church and State."  Who coined the Phrase?  Give up?  Answer:   Thomas Jefferson - one of the founding fathers of this great Nation and a creator of the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment to that same Constitution.  Thomas Jefferson, in 1802, wrote a Letter to the Dansbury Baptist Convention, referring to the First Amendment to the US Constitution.  In it he said:

"Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."


CONTENTS

Democratic Morality: President Obama and Pope Francis Highlight the Importance of Empathy

President Obama is Progressive. Here Are 235 Examples of Progress So Far

    Returned The Executive Branch To Fiscal Responsibility

    Prevented a Bush Depression and Improved the Economy

    Brought Much-Improved Transparency and Better Government

    Wall Street Reforms and Consumer Protection

    Enhanced Civil Rights and Anti-Discrimination

    Major Improvements in Foreign Relations, American Status Around the World

    A More Realistic Approach to “Defense” and National Security

    Returned Government to Treating Soldiers and Veterans with  Dignity and Respect

    Refocused the Federal Government on Education, Made Rational  Reforms

    Took an Adult View on Science, Technology and Health Care

    Strengthened the Middle Class and Families, and Fought Poverty

    Concrete Steps to Improve The Environment and Address Our Energy Needs

    But That’s Not All…

Remarks of President Barack Obama in an Address to a Joint Session of Congress

Obama Jobs Plan: $447 Billion, More Than Half In Tax Cuts, To Be Paid For By Super     Committee

Bridge To Work: Obama's Plan For Long-Term Unemployed


Democratic Morality: President Obama and Pope Francis Highlight the Importance of Empathy

more from Sarah Jones

 
Friday, March, 28th, 2014, 12:15 pm
 

Pope and President

White House Strategic Communications Director Ben Rhodes told the press today that one of the highlights of the President’s trip has been meeting with Pope Francis.

“Obviously, the meeting with the Pope was a highlight for the President. Not only is Pope Francis somebody that he has great admiration for, but their discussion I think — the President was commenting — recalled his own roots working for a Catholic organization on the Southside of Chicago and that sense of trying to help bring hope to the hopeless places I think was something that the President found very moving in his conversation with the Pope. And so obviously that was a highlight for him.”

In a press conference yesterday, the President talked about his meeting with the Pope. He noted that the theme that “stitched our conversation together was a belief that in politics and in life the quality of empathy, the ability to stand in somebody else’s shoes and to care for someone even if they don’t look like you or talk like you or share your philosophy — that that’s critical.”

Watch the beginning of their meeting here:

The focus on empathy is the vital part of this meeting. One place where this President really shines is in his ability to find a common thread with other leaders and build a consensus from there. Obama knew that he and the Pope shared the value of empathy. From empathy, much growth is possible. So people can be far apart on certain issues, but if there is empathy, there is hope of consensus building on certain issues.

Asked about the potential “social schisms” between the Pope and himself, the President said they did not talk a lot about any social schisms. Rather they focused on the Pope’s concerns about the poor and marginalized as well as the challenges of conflict and how elusive peace is around the world.

President Obama said, “… he reminds us of what our moral and ethical obligations are. It happens also to be good economics and good national security policy.” President Obama articulated that the Pope’s job isn’t to come up with policies to address these problems, but rather to shine a light on them.

“His Holiness has the capacity to open people’s eyes and make sure they’re seeing that this is an issue,” President Obama said. “And he’s discussed in the past I think the dangers of indifference or cynicism when it comes to our ability to reach out to those less fortunate or those locked out of opportunity.”

Obama may not have said it right there, but this is a big issue with him. President Obama ran on “hope” for a reason. Cynicism only benefits the oppressors, it does nothing for the oppressed. A hopeful people will vote. Hopeful people will engage in the processes of political power. Hopeful people will work hard toward what they believe they can accomplish. Cynicism is a powerful tool of oppressors and that is why certain people work so hard to stoke the fires of cynicism while misinforming the populace.

“And then we spent a lot of time talking about the challenges of conflict and how elusive peace is around the world,” Obama continued.

The President explained that a lack of empathy is what makes it so easy to go to war and turn our backs on our own, “It’s the lack of empathy that makes it very easy for us to plunge into wars. It’s the lack of empathy that allows us to ignore the homeless on the streets. And obviously central to my Christian faith is a belief in treating others as I’d have them treat me. And what’s I think created so much love and excitement for His Holiness has been that he seems to live this, and shows that joy continuously.”

It’s amazing that Republicans can’t see the spiritual joy Obama finds in trying to take care of our own and trying to build toward a more peaceful world. This blindness says a lot about them, because it’s impossible to miss and it’s one of the reasons many people voted for Obama. For some reason this isn’t discussed in the media or polls — perhaps it comes down to a “trust” or like issue.

I’m personally familiar with several former Republicans who voted for Obama because of what they saw as his morality. This matters. It suggests that many more people than we know wish to have a country that takes care of its own. It is this quality, as evinced in their platform (not just words), that distinguishes the Democratic Party’s sense of morality from the Republican claim to own God.

Much can be made of their differences on certain social issues, but President Obama didn’t focus on differences with the Pope. The Pope doesn’t need to agree with President Obama on a woman’s sovereignty over her body. The Pope is not running this country. The Pope can and does shine a light on other matters of great importance to civilized people. His positions on the poor and marginalized are a breath of fresh air. When he discusses the morality of taking care of our own, it gives Obama more political capital to push his own policies toward the same goal.

This is how we build toward peace. It’s not clean and easy. We don’t wait until we find the perfect person with whom we already agree — that accomplishes nothing. We struggle our way past the differences and focus on the basic value of empathy.

As this lofty discussion was being had, Republican Senator Rand Paul was making frat boy jokes on twitter aimed at making fun of Obama while he met with the Pope. Rand Paul the twitter troll is so far from being able to do what Obama just did, it’s not even in his wheelhouse.

Obama just showed the world how a real leader gets things done.


 

President Obama is Progressive. Here Are 235 Examples of Progress So Far

It’s 2014, and once again, we have a very important election ahead of us. Yet, there are a lot of very loud progressives who have done nothing since President Obama was elected five years ago but complain, because he’s not perfect. They claim that he’s no progressive.

That’s a lie. What do these folks think “progressive” mean? The root word is “progress,” and we’ve seen a hell of a lot of progress since January 20, 2009. We have a national health care plan, for the first time in our history. We recovered from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression in quick order; we would be well on our way to a full recovery, except that Republicans in Congress are blocking everything anyone in the Democratic Party proposes, out of fear that the first black president may actually look good. Yet, with all of that blockage of progress, some progressives still spend all of their time going after Obama and Democrats.

In addition to health care and the economy, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is history. Same-sex couples are getting married and enjoying the same benefits of other married couples. The marijuana prohibition is frittering away. The stock market has more than doubled. Manufacturing is starting to come back from Asia. The auto industry is not only whole again, but they’re producing a record number of hybrid and electric cars, and we’re on pace to double average vehicle gas mileage by 2020, even as the government both reduces our dependence on foreign oil and makes record investments in developing renewable energy sources.

Name a Republican – ANY Republican – who can boast of such a record, and perhaps then, you can complain about Obama not being “progressive” enough. He is as progressive as he can be, given that progressive complaints helped give him the current Republican House – A Republican House who can’t pass a universal gun background checks law that more than 90% of Americans support, including most gun owners. If you blame Obama or the minority Democratic Party for anything bad, you don’t understand how politics works. If you want progressive government, you can’t help elect the opposite to office.

That’s what makes this list so important. Every time someone complains that Obama’s not progressive, send them the link, or print it out and hand it to them. Every entry I started this list in late 2011, with about 140 entries. And you can see how it’s grown. And it’s grown despite the fact that Republicans are blocking everything. Given the obstacles, this President will leave a hell of a legacy. If we want to win elections – and in a democracy, that has to be our main goal – we have to make people want to vote for us. That means accentuating the positive, and talking about how great we are, especially compared to the alternative.

Is President Obama perfect? No, he’s human. Does he deserve some criticism? Of course (the sequester is a great example). But does he deserve the level of criticism that’s been leveled at him by self-proclaimed “progressives”? Hell no. He’s compiled a STELLAR record, given the circumstances.

Pass this list around to everyone you know, especially those who whine that Obama has done nothing. Then keep being positive, and encouraging people to vote. We can’t allow 2014 to be like 2010.

Here’s What He’s Done

Returned The Executive Branch To Fiscal Responsibility

1. Within his first week, he signed an Executive Order ordering an audit of government contracts, and combating waste and abuse.   http://1.usa.gov/dUvbu5

2. Created the post of Chief Performance Officer, whose job it is to make operations more efficient to save the federal government money.   http://n.pr/hcgBn1

3. On his first full day, he froze White House salaries.  http://on.msnbc.com/ewJUIx

4. He appointed the first Federal Chief Information Officer to oversee federal IT spending.http://www.cio.gov

5. He committed to phasing out unnecessary and outdated weapons systems. To that end, he also signed the Democratic-sponsored Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act, which attempted to put a stop to waste, fraud and abuse in the defense procurement and contracting system.  http://bit.ly/hOw1t1    http://bit.ly/fz8GAd

6. Through an executive order, he created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. http://bit.ly/hwKhKa

Prevented a Bush Depression and Improved the Economy

7. Pushed through and signed the Democratic-sponsored American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as “the stimulus package.” The bill passed, even though only three Republicans voted for it. In a major departure from the previous administration, he launched recovery.gov, a website that allows taxpayers to track spending from the Act.   http://1.usa.gov/ibiFSs   http://1.usa.gov/e3BJMk

8. The Bush-led Great Recession was costing the economy nearly 800,000 jobs per month by the time President Obama took office. But by the end of his first year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created and sustained 2.1 million jobs and stimulated the economy by  3.5%.  http://reut.rs/i46CEE

9. Not only did he completed the massive TARP financial and banking rescue plan, he also leaned on the banks and others, and recovered virtually all of the bail-out money. http://1.usa.gov/eA5jVS  http://bit.ly/eCNrD6

10. He created the Making Home Affordable home refinancing plan.  http://1.usa.gov/goy6zl

11. Oversaw the creation of more jobs in 2010 alone than Bush did in eight years. http://bit.ly/hrrnjY

12. Along with Democrats, and almost no Republicans, implemented an auto industry rescue plan, and saved as many as 1 million jobs.  http://bit.ly/ibhpxr   Many are of the opinion that he saved the entire auto industry, and even the economy of the entire Midwest.  http://bit.ly/gj7mt5 This resulted in GM returning to its place as the top car company in the world.  http://lat.ms/zIJuQx

13. Doubled funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which is designed to improve manufacturing efficiency.  http://bit.ly/eYD4nf

14. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act giving the federal government more tools to investigate and prosecute fraud in every corner of the financial system, and create a bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to investigate the financial fraud that led to the economic meltdown.  http://abcn.ws/g18Fe7

15. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, which was designed to to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive credit card practices. http://1.usa.gov/gIaNcS

16. Increased infrastructure spending after years of neglect. http://bit.ly/f77aOw

17. Signed the Democratic-sponsored and passed Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, expanding on the Making Home Affordable Program to help millions of Americans avoid preventable foreclosures. The bill also provided $2.2 billion to help combat homelessness, and to stabilize the housing market. http://bit.ly/eEpLFn

18. Through the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, he and Congressional Democrats provided tax credits to first-time home buyers, which helped the U.S. housing market recovery.   http://bit.ly/dZgXXw   http://bit.ly/gORYfL

19. Initiated a $15 billion plan designed to encourage increased lending to small businesses. http://1.usa.gov/eu0u0b

20. Created business.gov, which allows for online collaboration between small businesses and experts re managing a business. (The program has since merged with SBA.gov.)   http://www.business.gov

21. Played a lead role in getting the G-20 Summit to commit to a $1.1 trillion deal to combat the global financial crisis.   http://nyti.ms/gHlgp5

22. Took steps to improve minority access to capital. http://bit.ly/f9xVE7

23. Signed an Executive Order instructing federal agencies to review all federal regulations and remove any unnecessary and/or burdensome regulations from the books.  http://1.usa.gov/Lpo5bd

24. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, saved at least 300,000 education jobs, such as teachers, principals, librarians, and counselors that would have otherwise been lost.  http://1.usa.gov/ez30D

25. Dismantled the Minerals Management Service, thereby cutting ties between energy companies and the government. http://nyti.ms/bw1MLu

26. Along with Congressional Democrats, provided funding to states and the Department of Homeland Security to save thousands of police and firefighter jobs from being cut during the recession. http://bit.ly/g0IKWR

27. Used recovered TARP money to fund programs at local housing finance agencies in California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan.   http://on.msnbc.com/i1i8eV

28. Crafted and signed an executive order establishing the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability to assist in financial education for all Americans. http://bit.ly/eyqsNE

29. China’s largest manufacturer, Foxconn, is building a large plant in Pennsylvania http://cnnmon.ie/1k7LT4S

30. Worked with Apple Computer to get them to build more product here, and thecompany is building two large plants to manufacture products here; one in Texas http://zd.net/1nkpt2O  and one in Arizona http://bit.ly/1mXY5Vg

31. Oversaw increase of manufacturing jobs by more than 500,000 since 2010, and created an institute to invest in more manufacturing jobs in the technology fields of the future. http://nyti.ms/1egyXrV

32. Ordering all federal contractors to pay a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour, leading the way to a national increase. http://wapo.st/1iaU5kd

Brought Much-Improved Transparency and Better Government

33. Signed an order banning gifts from lobbyists to anyone in the Executive Branch.  http://bit.ly/fsBACN

34. Signed an order banning anyone from working in an agency they had lobbied in previous years, and put strict limits on lobbyists’ access to the White House.   http://nyti.ms/gOrznV

35. Held the first-ever first online town hall from the White House, and took questions from the public. http://bit.ly/gVNSgX

36. Became the first to stream every White House event, live.  http://1.usa.gov/kAgOP5

37. Established a central portal for Americans to find service opportunities.   http://www.serve.gov

38. Provided the first voluntary disclosure of the White House Visitors Log in history. http://1.usa.gov/hQ7ttV

39. Issued an Executive Order on Presidential Records, which restored the 30-day time frame for former presidents to review records, and eliminated the right for the vice president or family members of former presidents to do the reviews. Provides the public with greater access to historic  White House documents, and severely curtails the ability to use executive privilege to shield them.  http://1.usa.gov/gUetLb

40. Improved aspects of the Freedom of Information Act, and issued new guidelines to make FOIA more open and transparent when processing FOIA requests.  http://1.usa.gov/gjrnp2

Wall Street Reforms and Consumer Protection

41. Ordered 65 executives who took bailout money to cut their own pay until they paid back all bailout money.  http://huff.to/eAi9Qq

42. Along with Congressional Democrats, pushed through and got passed Dodd-Frank, one of the largest and most comprehensive Wall Street reforms since the Great Depression.  http://bit.ly/hWCPg0  http://bit.ly/geHpcD

43. Through Dodd-Frank legislation, created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau http://1.usa.gov/j5onG

44. Through Dodd-Frank, the Executive Branch fashioned rules that reduce the influence of speculators in the oil market.  http://bit.ly/MDnA1t

45. Fashioned rules so that banks can no longer use YOUR money to invest in high-risk financial instruments that work against their own customers’ interests.  http://bit.ly/fnTayj

46. Supported the concept of allowing stockholders to vote on executive compensation. http://bit.ly/fnTayj

47. Endorsed and supported the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2009 that would close offshore tax avoidance loopholes.   http://bit.ly/esOdfB    http://bit.ly/eG4DPM

48. Negotiated a deal with Swiss banks that now permits the US government to gain access to the records of criminals and  tax evaders.  http://bit.ly/htfDgw

49. Signed the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, which closed many of the loopholes that allowed companies to send jobs overseas, and avoid paying US taxes by moving money offshore. http://1.usa.gov/bd1RTq

50. Established a Consumer Protection Financial Bureau designed to protect consumers from financial sector excesses.  http://bit.ly/fnTayj

51. Oversaw and then signed a Democratic bill constituting the most sweeping food safety legislation since the Great Depression.  http://thedc.com/gxkCtP

52. Through the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, extended the False Claims Act to combat fraud by companies and individuals usingmoney from the TARP and Stimulus programs.  http://bit.ly/SLTcSa

53. Set up rules for banks in handling legal marijuana money. http://nyti.ms/1b80o2K

 Enhanced Civil Rights and Anti-Discrimination

54. Along with Congressional Democrats, advocated for and signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which made it a federal crime to assault anyone based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.  http://bit.ly/gsMSJ7

55. Pushed through, signed and demanded the Pentagon enact a repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that forced soldiers to lie in order to be eligible to fight for their country, and put our troops at risk by disqualifying many qualified soldiers from helping.  http://bit.ly/fdahuH   http://bit.ly/mZV4Pz

56. Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.  http://1.usa.gov/g2RLCj

57. Appointed more openly gay officials than anyone in history.  http://bit.ly/g1lA7D

58. Appointed first openly transgender Cabinet Official in History.  http://bit.ly/58zUp7

59. Changed HUD rules to prohibit gender and sexual orientation-based discrimination in housing  bit.ly/9RxEnP

60. Changed his mind and publicly expressed support for the right to enter into a same-sex marriage. http://bit.ly/JsiFKp

61. Issued a Presidential Memorandum reaffirming the rights of gay couples to make medical decisions for each other. http://1.usa.gov/aUueGT

62. Wrote and signed an Executive Order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies evaluate the effect of their policies and programs on women and families. http://bit.ly/e1puTk   http://1.usa.gov/rFfqMM

63. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restored basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers. This was after the GOP blocked the bill in 2007. Only 5 Republican Senators voted for the bill.   http://bit.ly/fT3Cxg

64. Expanded funding for the Violence Against Women Act. http://1.usa.gov/dSbI0x

65. Under his guidance, National Labor Relations Board issued final rules that require all employers to prominently post employees’ rights where all employees or prospective employees can see it, including all websites and intranets.  http://1.usa.gov/qu2EhQ

66. Advocated that United Nations adopt a policy supporting gay rights worldwide.  http://lat.ms/pQe1RS

67. Issued an order requiring hospitals to allow visitation by same-sex couples.   http://reut.rs/llNJek

68. Appointed Kareem Dale as the first ever Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy. http://1.usa.gov/fi5IY0

69. Helped Democrats in Congress pass and signed the Civil Rights History Act. http://bit.ly/th0JC8

70. Established the White House Council of Native American Affairs, to improve government-to-government relations with Native American nations. http://1.usa.gov/1cIEeEv

71. Formed a commission to examine and make recommendations for fixing the broken voting system. http://wapo.st/16K0D

72. As soon as the Supreme Court invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act, he moved to extend federal benefits to same-sex couples.   http://wapo.st/1avDjue

73. At a press conference August 9, 2013, gave up a small measure of executive power, promising to create adversarial process in FISA regarding NSA surveillance.  http://1.usa.gov/1dQmnyQ

74. Shattered another glass ceiling by naming Janet Yellen chair of the Federal Reserve beginning Feb. 1, 2014. http://usat.ly/1gqMBfk

75. Appointed several prominent gay athletes and others, and plans to show US government’s commitment to gay rights to anti-gay Russia. http://on.cpsj.com/1fckN9h

Major Improvements in Foreign Relations, American Status Around the World

76. Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any previous president during his first six months in office.   http://bit.ly/hZycda

77. As he promised, he gave a speech at a major Islamic forum in Cairo early in his administration.http://nyti.ms/dKvY4g

78. Helped to restore America’s reputation around the world as a global leader that does the “right thing” in world affairs, at least according to the rest of the world.   http://bit.ly/h743y7   http://bit.ly/ho4TCr

79. Re-established and reinforced our partnership with NATO and other allies on strategic international issues.  http://1.usa.gov/e7QuDj

80. Closed a number of secret detention facilities. http://nyti.ms/rpUc9l

81. Improved relations with Middle East countries by appointing special envoys. http://1.usa.gov/tiGAGe

82. Pushed forward the first realistic Middle East peace strategy in more than a decade, without abandoning the two-state solution. http://wapo.st/1avyste

83. Pushed for military to emphasize devlopment of foreign language skills. http://bit.ly/AxUCLV

84. Offered $400 million to the people living in Gaza, called on both Israel and the Palestinians to stop inciting violence.  http://bit.ly/9axfWh

85. Refused to give Israel the green light to attack Iran over their possible nuclear program, and thus avoid another war that Republicans wanted.  http://bit.ly/xVmSZK

86. Worked with Democratic Congress to make donations to Haiti tax deductible in 2009. http://huff.to/6YkAVY

87. Established a new U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.   http://1.usa.gov/eX28DP

88. Issued Executive Order blocking interference and helping to stabilize Somalia. http://1.usa.gov/hxdf8U

89. Established new, more reasonable policies in our relations with Cuba, such as allowing Cuban-Americans to visit their families and send money to support them.  http://n.pr/hY3Kwa  http://nyti.ms/emQBde

90. Ordered the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. It was Republicans (and, unfortunately, progressive Democrats) who prevented follow through.  http://bit.ly/eW6CVF

91. Ordered a review of our detention and interrogation policy, and prohibited the use of torture, or what Bush called “enhanced interrogation.” He ordered interrogators to limit their actions to the Army Field manual.  http://bit.ly/g6MTuC

92. Ordered all secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere to be closed. http://bbc.in/h6N9ax

93. Released the Bush torture memos.  http://bit.ly/hWJ5z0

94. On his second day in office, he signed a detailed Executive Order that banned torture, reversed all  Bush torture policies, and put the United States in compliance with the Geneva Convention. http://1.usa.gov/dL6Zve    http://nyti.ms/hzWWys

95. In response to the emerging “Arab Spring,” he created a Rapid Response fund, to assist emerging democracies with foreign aid, debt relief, technical assistance and investment packages in order to show that the United States stands with them. http://bit.ly/zfmGv9

96. Ended the F-22 program, saving $4 billion. Though the single-seat, twin-engine, fighter aircraft cost $358 million each, and the military had 187 built, the F-22 never flew a combat mission. http://slate.me/PYzmzT (Just as an aside, that “fiscally conservative” Republican Party fought to keep it.)

97. Passed the Iran Sanctions Act, to prevent war and encourage the Iranian government to give up their nuclear program. http://1.usa.gov/wLtNjb

98. Ended the Iraq War. http://tgr.ph/ru0tyS

99. Worked to keep our withdrawal from Afghanistan on track, despite GOP opposition.http://reut.rs/1cIOsF1 Reiterated that commitment in 2014. http://nyti.ms/1exnmRF

100. Authorized and oversaw a secret mission by SEAL Team Six to rescue two hostages held by Somali pirates. http://bit.ly/y8c9Fz

101. Through United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, helped negotiate a peaceful split of Sudan into two countries, this allowing for the creation of an independent South Sudan.   http://reut.rs/qzE0Tj

A More Realistic Approach to “Defense” and National Security

102. Created a comprehensive new strategy for dealing with the international nuclear threat. http://1.usa.gov/gDX1nE

103. Authorized a $1.4 billion reduction in Star Wars program in 2010. http://1.usa.gov/gLFZl2

104. Restarted nuclear nonproliferation talks and built up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols to where they had been before Bush.   http://lat.ms/gkcl3i

105.  Signed and pushed through ratification a new SALT Treaty.  http://bit.ly/f3JVtw

106. Negotiated and signed a new START Treaty that will lst until at least 2021.  http://1.usa.gov/cI1bC4

107. Through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), reversed the Bush Administration and committed to no permanent military bases in Iraq.   http://bit.ly/hk73OJ

108. Developed first comprehensive strategy with regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan designed to facilitate the defeat of al Qaeda and the withdrawal of most troops, as well as the rebuilding of Afghanistan.  http://wapo.st/ee4Xcs

109. Returned our focus to Afghanistan, stabilized the country, and began the process of withdrawing our troops from the country. http://bit.ly/lNXUna

110. Negotiated a deal with Afghan govenment, to withdraw troops and military support, while assisting in rebuilding and modernizing of the country.  http://bit.ly/K362an

111. Took steps to severely weaken al Qaeda and limited their ability to terrorize the world. http://yhoo.it/n5lXs6

112. Negotiated and signed a nuclear nonproliferation treaty with India.  http://1.usa.gov/aHp0Cn

113. Took decisive action to use NATO to limit the slaughter of innocents in Libya, so that the Libyan people could topple the despotic Khadaffy government and determine their own fate. http://aje.me/qAh4Sj

114. Got Egyptian President/dictator Mubarak to leave the Egyptian government to the people, to determine their own fate.    http://f24.my/efvgNZ

115.  In 2011, reoriented American focus from the Middle East to the Asian-Pacific region by simultaneouly engaging China and crafting new alliances with Asian countries uncomfortable with Chinese behavior.    http://bit.ly/RGlMDi

116. Restored federal agencies such as FEMA to the point that they have been able to manage a huge number of natural  disasters successfully.   http://bit.ly/h8Xj7z

117. Authorized Navy SEALS to successfully secure the release of a US captain held by Somali pirates and increased patrols off the Somali coast. http://nyti.ms/efBO7B

118. Has repeatedly beefed up border security http://bit.ly/mMYB4i

119. Ordered and oversaw the Navy SEALS operation that killed Osama bin Laden.  http://bit.ly/jChpgw

120. Throughan executive order, established the Homeland Security Partnership Council, which will attempt to enhance the nation’s ability to “address homeland security priorities, from responding to natural disasters to preventing terrorism, by utilizing diverse perspectives, skills, tools, and resources.” http://1.usa.gov/VJjLXO

121. Breaking with presidential tradition, especially recent tradition, instead of just attacking Syria in the wake of chemical weapons attacks on Syrians, Obama ordered a full report on the decision-making process, should he decide to order one.  http://cbsn.ws/184RFgu

Returned Government to Treating Soldiers and Veterans with  Dignity and Respect

122. Along with Congressional Democrats, not only reauthorized families of fallen soldiers to be able to visit when the body arrives at Dover AFB, but also provided funding for it.  Ended the media blackout on coverage of the return of fallen soldiers.  http://nyti.ms/glqN66   http://bbc.in/gWSSkA

123. Funded Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with an extra $1.4 billion to improve veterans’ services.  http://1.usa.gov/huhqfo

124. Provided active combat troops with better body armor.  http://bit.ly/hzSv2h

125. Created Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record program for military personnel, in order  to improve the quality of their medical care.  http://1.usa.gov/f4yaxW

126. Put an end to the Bush-era stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan beyond their enlistment date. (personal note: my son will be in harm’s way for six fewer months with Obama as president, so you know I love this one.) http://nyti.ms/e2YQ7Q

127. Along with Congressional Democrats, supported and signed Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, which made more money available to enable better medical care for veterans. http://1.usa.gov/fN4ur1

128. Along with Congressional Democrats, ushered through largest spending increase in 30 years for Department of Veterans Affairs, with money to go to improved medical facilities, and to assist states in acquiring or constructing state nursing homes and extended care facilities.    http://1.usa.gov/gY8O3x

129. Created the Green Vet Initiative, which provided special funding to the Labor Department to provide veterans with training in green jobs.  http://bit.ly/epwUQY

130.  Initiated and signed a recruitment and employment plan to get more veterans into government jobs.  http://bit.ly/b48coi

131. Oversaw a $4.6 billion expansion of the Veterans Administration budget to pay for more mental health professionals.  http://bit.ly/gjzTxX

132. Signed the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act, which ensures that spouses of military personnel who are forced to move because their spouse is posted for military duty will be able to avoid state taxes in their temporary residence.   http://bit.ly/1Gh0NX

133. Issued an Executive Order to improve access to mental health care for veterans, military personnel and their families.  http://1.usa.gov/TP7PVZ

Refocused the Federal Government on Education, Made Rational  Reforms

134. Repeatedly increased funding for student financial aid, and at the same time cut the banks completely out of the process, thus us creating greater accountability.   http://bit.ly/gYWd30   http://bit.ly/e9c7Dr  http://bit.ly/eEzTNq

135. Reformed student loan program, to make it possible for students to refinance at a lower rate.  http://nyti.ms/dMvHOt

136. Created a rating system for colleges, so that those applying for student financial aid know better what they’re paying for.   http://bit.ly/14Dn7UL

137. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , invested heavily in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education.   http://1.usa.gov/gGRIAr

138.  Created the Race to the Top program, which encouraged states to come up with effective school reforms and rewards the best of them.   http://bit.ly/NHtZ7L

139. Oversaw major expansion of broadband availability in K-12 schools nationwide.   http://bit.ly/fNDcj3

140. Oversaw major expansion in school construction.  http://bit.ly/fYwNrV

141. Also through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he put $5 billion into early education, including Head Start. http://1.usa.gov/tzT2Rr

142. Signed the Democratic-sponsored Post-9/11 GI Bill, also known as GI Bill 2.0  http://bit.ly/hPhG7J

143. Oversaw expansion of the Pell Grants program, to expand opportunity for low and middle income students to go to college.  http://bit.ly/hI6tXz

144. Along with Democratic Congress, passed and signed Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provided an extra $12.2 billion in funds.  http://1.usa.gov/dQvtUe

145. Took major new steps to protec students from ineffective for-profit colleges through “gainful employment” measures, whereby schools have to demonstrate that its students actually find work to get federal aid.  http://1.usa.gov/jkzQe2

145. With First Lady Michelle Obama, passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which will improve nutrition in schools and make children healthier.   http://1.usa.gov/GAXkSk

146. In his continuing effort to make college more affordabl and accountable, will begin rating colleges with regard to affordability and value. http://bit.ly/14Dn7UL

Took an Adult View on Science, Technology and Health Care

147. Created a Presidential Memorandum to restore scientific integrity in government decision-making. http://1.usa.gov/g2SDuw

148. Opened up process for fast-tracking patent approval for green energy projects. http://bit.ly/j0KV2U

149. Eliminated Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, and provided increased federal support for biomedical and stem cell research.   http://bit.ly/h36SSO    http://ti.me/edezge

150. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, committed more federal funding, about $18 billion, to support non-defense science and research labs.  http://nyti.ms/fTs9t7

151. Signed Democratic-sponsored Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first comprehensive attempt to improve the lives of Americans living with paralysis.  http://bit.ly/fOi2rb

152. Expanded the Nurse-Family Partnership program, which provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families, to cover more first-time mothers.http://bit.ly/jRRRJc

153. Obama EPA reversed research ethics standards which allowed humans to be used as “guinea pigs” in tests of the effects of chemicals, to comply with numerous codes of medical ethics.  http://bit.ly/bKgqdS

154. Conducted a cyberspace policy review.   http://1.usa.gov/gmbdvC

155. Provided financial support for private sector space programs. http://bit.ly/fn8ucr

156. Oversaw enhanced earth mapping, to provide valuable data for agricultural, educational, scientific, and government use.   http://bit.ly/dNTRyP

157. Along with Democrats in Congress, ushered through and signed a bill authorizing FDA to regulate tobacco.  http://on.msnbc.com/fiKViB  As a result,  the FDA has Ordered Tobacco Companies to Disclose Cigarette Ingredients and banned sale of cigarettes falsely labeled as “light.”

158. Through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, provided $500 million for Health Professions Training Programs.  http://bit.ly/ecQSgA

159. Increased funding for community-based prevention programs.  http://bit.ly/frMPG3

160. Oversaw a 50% decrease in cost of prescription drugs for seniors. http://bit.ly/e5b1iq   http://1.usa.gov/fVNkt9

161. Eliminated the Bush-era practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug companies on price. http://bit.ly/fOkG5b

162. Two weeks after taking office, signed Democratic-sponsored Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act, which increased the number of children covered by health insurance by 4 million.  http://bit.ly/fDEzGv

163. Urged Congress to investigate Anthem Blue Cross for raising premiums 39% without explanation. Democratic Rep. Waxman responded by launching a probe, and Anthem Blue Cross put increase on hold for two months.    http://yhoo.it/e8Tj9C

164. Ushered through and signed Affordable Care Act, which expanded health insurance coverage to at least 30 million more people, ended many common insurance company practices that are often detrimental  to those with coverage.  He also established healthcare.gov, so that taxpayers could keep up with developments.  http://www.healthcare.gov/

165. Through ACA, allowed children to be covered under their parents’ policy until they turned 26.  http://nyti.ms/fNB26V

166. Through the ACA, provided tax breaks to allow 3.5 million small business to provide health insurance to their employees, and 29 million people will receive tax breaks to help them afford health insurance. http://nyti.ms/fNB26V

167. Through the ACA, expanded Medicaid to those making up to 133% of the federal poverty level. http://nyti.ms/ekMWpo

168. Through the ACA, health insurance companies now have to disclose how much of your premium actually goes to pay for patient care.  http://nyti.ms/fNB26V

169. Provisions in the ACA have already resulted in Medicare costs actually declining slightly this fiscal year, for the first time in many years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The increase in 2011 was 4%, which is very low compared to the average 12% annual inflation rate during previous 40 years.http://1.usa.gov/oMxpTh

170. Created the HIV Care Continuum Initiative, to strengthen the government’s ability to respond to the continuing domestic HIV epidemic, after years of Republicans weakening the government’s ability to deal with the crisis.  http://1.usa.gov/1iLED0t

171. Expanded space exploration and discovery options to include more players.  http://1.usa.gov/13qmZpm

172.  Through the Connect America Fund, pushed through and received FCC approval for a move of $8 billion in subsidies away from telephone landlines to assist lower-income rural families in accessing broadband.   http://lat.ms/vhRUEs  http://bit.ly/129V3SY

173. In the wake of the West Fertilizer tragedy, in which an entire small town was devastated by an explosion at a fertilizer plant, in part because Republican negligence let the company do whatever it wanted, formed the Chemical Safety and Security Working Group, to work on measures to prevent another such event.  http://1.usa.gov/18kHSlA

Strengthened the Middle Class and Families, and Fought Poverty

174. Worked to provide affordable, high-quality child care to working families.  http://bit.ly/fNfidS

175. Cracked down on companies that were previously denying sick pay, vacation and health insurance, and Social Security and Medicare tax payments through abuse of the employee classification of independent contractor.   http://nyti.ms/fOGLcj

176. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , cut taxes for 95% of America’s working families.  http://bit.ly/eSEI4F

177. Tax rates for average working families are the lowest since 1950.  http://bit.ly/f74pD8

178. Extended and fully funded the patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax for 10 years. http://bit.ly/eFeSdP

179. Extended discounted  health coverage under the COBRA health insurance law for the unemployed from 9 months to 15 months, and he’s also extended unemployment benefits more than a few times.  http://aol.it/evtVxD   http://nyti.ms/emrqKJ   http://bit.ly/hOtIpg    http://bit.ly/fTT7kz

180. Provided  a $20 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps). http://nyti.ms/gfLqyM

181. Signed an Executive Order that established the White House Office of Urban Affairs. http://wapo.st/eWECA8

182. Included the Buffet Rule in his 2014 budget proposal, thus trying to fulfill a campaign promise, to make sure tax rates are fair between the rich and the middle class. http://1.usa.gov/19PkdQo

183. Used the fiscal cliff negotiations to extend for five additional years the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides tax credits to families for college-related expenses, thus saving those families up to $10,000.  http://onforb.es/17zYg3u

Concrete Steps to Improve The Environment and Address Our Energy Needs

184. Fast-tracked regulations to allow states to enact fuel efficiency standards that exceeded federal standards.    http://nyti.ms/e8e94x

185. Fast-tracked increased fuel economy standards for vehicles beginning with the 2011 model year. It was the first time such standards had been increased in a decade.   http://politi.co/hiaPKM

186. Oversaw establishment of an Energy Partnership for the Americas, to create more markets for American-made biofuels and green energy technologies. http://bit.ly/lZp73y

187. Obama EPA reversed a Bush-era decision to allow the largest mountaintop removal project in US history.  http://bit.ly/lP3yEL

188. Ordered the Department of Energy to implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common household appliances.    http://1.usa.gov/g3MTbu

189. Ordered energy plants to prepare to produce at least 15% of all energy through renewable resources like wind and solar, by 2021. http://reut.rs/fV155p  (Republicans are trying hard to kill it.)

190. Oversaw the creation of an initiative that converts old factories and manufacturing centers into new clean technology centers. http://bit.ly/mjnq2R

191. Bypassed Republican opposition in Congress and ordered EPA to begin regulating and measuring carbon emissions.   http://bit.ly/froaP5

192. Obama EPA ruled that CO2 is a pollutant. http://bit.ly/iQTSNN

193. Doubling federal spending on clean energy research. http://bit.ly/iN0sCE

194. Pushed through a tax credit to help people buy plug-in hybrid cars.   http://bit.ly/j8UP5Y

195. Created a program to develop renewable energy projects on the waters of our Outer Continental Shelf that will produce electricity from wind, wave, and ocean currents.   http://1.usa.gov/fgfRWq

196. Reengaged in the climate change and greenhouse gas emissions agreements talks, and proposed one himself. He also addressed the U.N. Climate Change Conference, officially reversing the Bush era stance that climate change was a “hoax.”  http://bit.ly/dX6Vj3  http://bit.ly/fE2PxK  http://nyti.ms/hfeqvv

197. Fully supported the initial phase of the creation of a legally-binding treaty to reduce mercury emissions worldwide.  http://bit.ly/eJ6QOO

198. Required states to provide incentives to utilities to reduce their energy consumption.http://bit.ly/lBhk7P

199. Following the neglect of Bush’s eight year reign, he reengaged in a number of treaties and agreements designed to protect the Antarctic.  http://bit.ly/fzQUFO

200. Created tax write-offs for purchases of hybrid automobiles, and later he and Democrats morphed that program into one that includes electric cars.   http://bit.ly/glCukV

201. Mandated that federal government fleet purchases be for fuel-efficient American vehicles, and encouraged that federal agencies support experimental, fuel-efficient vehicles.   http://bit.ly/h5KZqy  http://1.usa.gov/fLWq5c    http://1.usa.gov/hmUSbk

202. Got BP to cough up $20 billion to establish Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, to reduce the need for taxpayer funds to be used for compensation and clean up.   http://wapo.st/ds2BxT  (Note: it took 20 years to get $1.3 billion for the Exxon Valdez spill. )

203. Oversaw and pushed through an amendment to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 authorizing advances from Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  http://1.usa.gov/yTRYVo

204. Actively tried to amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to eliminate the liability limits for those companies responsible for large oil spills. http://nyti.ms/bxjDi3

205. Became the first President to simply say “Climate Change is a fact,” and set up the first federal government protocols for dealing with the impacts of climate change.  http://1.usa.gov/1b7V67B

206. Initiated Criminal and Civil inquiries into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  http://nyti.ms/bVuB7a

207. Asserted federal legal supremacy to bar Texas from authorizing new refinery permits on its own. http://bit.ly/ww8eMd

208. Strengthened the Endangered Species Act.  http://bit.ly/hscjsH

209. Strengthened protection for wildlife, and expanded enforcement of laws against wildlife trafficking.  http://1.usa.gov/1fce1Ai

210. Obama EPA improved boiler safety standards to improve air quality, and save 6500 lives per year. http://bit.ly/jYH7nt

211. Through the EPA, attemped to take steps to severely limit the use of antibiotics in livestock feed, to increase their efficacy in humans. http://bit.ly/fBuWd2

212. Through new EPA regulations, he created a pretext for closing the dirtiest power plants in the country, by limiting emissions of mercury and other toxic gasses.  http://bit.ly/rQCIgA

213. Increased funding for National Parks and Forests by 10%  http://bit.ly/fbJPjY

214. Announced greatly improved commercial fuel efficiency standards.  http://1.usa.gov/oQiC1K

215. Announced a huge increase in average fuel economy standards from 27.5mpg in 2010 to 35.5mpg starting in 2016 and 54.5 starting in 2025   http://1.usa.gov/qtghsW

216. Issued an Executive Order to facilitate investments in industrial energy efficiency that will help create jobs, while strengthening US manufacturing. Increased efficiency could save businesses $100 billion over the next decade.  http://1.usa.gov/WsIgbx

217. Through an executive order, set up the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, which will to oversee Gulf Coast restoration efforts in the wake of the 2010 BP oil splll. The money to fund the restoration efforts comes from fines against BP.  http://1.usa.gov/Rxjb29

218. Through executive actions and bypassing the ineffectual Rublican Congress, announced the most comprehensive plan to combat climate change in a generation. http://bit.ly/13lXhET

But That’s Not All…

219. Expanded trade agreements to include stricter labor and environmental agreements such as NAFTA.  http://bit.ly/etznpY

220. Oversaw funding of  the design of a new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History, which is scheduled to open on the National Mall in 2015.  He protected the funding during the recent budget negotiations.   http://on.fb.me/fD0EVO    http://bit.ly/ff5Luv

221. Oversaw and passed increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. http://bit.ly/dFb8qF

222. Nominated Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Sotomayor is the first Hispanic Justice in the court’s history, and the women represent only the third and fourth women to serve on the court, out of a total of 112 justices.  http://huff.to/eOChg6  http://bit.ly/i02wgP

223. Appointed the most diverse Cabinet in history, including more women than any other incoming president.   http://bit.ly/dX6vNB

224. Eliminated federal funding for abstinence-only education, and rescinded the global gag rule. http://bit.ly/eCFAI1  http://bit.ly/f92drF

225. Loosened the rules and allowed the 14 states that legalized medical marijuana to regulate themselves without federal interference.   http://huff.to/eQfa7j

226. Signed national service legislation, increasing funding for national service groups, including triple the size of the Americorps program.   http://bit.ly/idgQH5

227. Signed an Executive Order that will speed up deployment of a more comprehensive broadband infrastructure.  http://1.usa.gov/M7rVpe

228. Signed an Executive Order creating jobs immediately by instructing them to reduce the time needed for review and permitting of infrastructure projects.  http://1.usa.gov/GHxaYt

229. Signed a bill that provided $4.3 billion in additional assistance to 9/11 first responders.  http://bit.ly/o7cWYS

230. Signed an Executive Order pledging support for efforts to end the global problem of violence against women and girls.  http://1.usa.gov/MHTRVU

231. Signed the Claims Resolution Act, which provided $4.6 billion in funding for a legal settlement with black and Native American farmers who had been cheated out of government loans and natural resource royalties in the past.  http://1.usa.gov/dGppUa

232. To help those communities devastated by Hurricane Samdy, issued an executive order setting up the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, and asked Congress to approve $60 billion in supplemental assistance to aid in storm recovery. http://1.usa.gov/134L7hl

233. Produced 23 Executive actions designed to make it easier for law enforcement to identify those who shouldn’t have guns, thus helping them enforce the law.   http://on.wsj.com/SX9xaZ

And Did You Know?

 234. Despite the characterizations of some, Obama’s success rate in winning congressional votes on issues was an unprecedented 96.7% for his first year in office.  Though he is often cited as superior to Obama, President Lyndon Johnson’s success rate in 1965 was only 93%.   http://n.pr/i3d7cY

 And of course…

 235. Despite the odds, became the first black president and was reelected by a wide margin.

———————–

 


 

9/8/11 7:42 PM EDT

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
September 8, 2011

Remarks of President Barack Obama in an

Address to a Joint Session of Congress

 

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, and fellow Americans:

Tonight we meet at an urgent time for our country. We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that has made things worse.

This past week, reporters have been asking “What will this speech mean for the President? What will it mean for Congress? How will it affect their polls, and the next election?”

But the millions of Americans who are watching right now: they don’t care about politics. They have real life concerns. Many have spent months looking for work. Others are doing their best just to scrape by – giving up nights out with the family to save on gas or make the mortgage; postponing retirement to send a kid to college.

These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work and responsibility paid off. They believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share – where if you stepped up, did your job, and were loyal to your company, that loyalty would be rewarded with a decent salary and good benefits; maybe a raise once in awhile. If you did the right thing, you could make it in America.

But for decades now, Americans have watched that compact erode. They have seen the deck too often stacked against them. And they know that Washington hasn’t always put their interests first.

The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours. The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy; whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.

Those of us here tonight can’t solve all of our nation’s woes. Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses and our workers. But we can help. We can make a difference. There are steps we can take right now to improve people’s lives.

I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It’s called the American Jobs Act. There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans – including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything.

The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working. It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for the long-term unemployed. It will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business. It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and hire, there will be customers for their products and services. You should pass this jobs plan right away.

Everyone here knows that small businesses are where most new jobs begin. And you know that while corporate profits have come roaring back, smaller companies haven’t. So for everyone who speaks so passionately about making life easier for “job creators,” this plan is for you.

Pass this jobs bill, and starting tomorrow, small businesses will get a tax cut if they hire new workers or raise workers’ wages. Pass this jobs bill, and all small business owners will also see their payroll taxes cut in half next year. If you have 50 employees making an average salary, that’s an $80,000 tax cut. And all businesses will be able to continue writing off the investments they make in 2012.

It’s not just Democrats who have supported this kind of proposal. Fifty House Republicans have proposed the same payroll tax cut that’s in this plan. You should pass it right away.

Pass this jobs bill, and we can put people to work rebuilding America. Everyone here knows that we have badly decaying roads and bridges all over this country. Our highways are clogged with traffic. Our skies are the most congested in the world.

This is inexcusable. Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower. And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads? At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America?


There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work. There’s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America. A public transit project in Houston that will help clear up one of the worst areas of traffic in the country. And there are schools throughout this country that desperately need renovating. How can we expect our kids to do their best in places that are literally falling apart? This is America. Every child deserves a great school – and we can give it to them, if we act now.

The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools. It will put people to work right now fixing roofs and windows; installing science labs and high-speed internet in classrooms all across this country. It will rehabilitate homes and businesses in communities hit hardest by foreclosures. It will jumpstart thousands of transportation projects across the country. And to make sure the money is properly spent and for good purposes, we’re building on reforms we’ve already put in place. No more earmarks. No more boondoggles. No more bridges to nowhere. We’re cutting the red tape that prevents some of these projects from getting started as quickly as possible. And we’ll set up an independent fund to attract private dollars and issue loans based on two criteria: how badly a construction project is needed and how much good it would do for the economy.

This idea came from a bill written by a Texas Republican and a Massachusetts Democrat. The idea for a big boost in construction is supported by America’s largest business organization and America’s largest labor organization. It’s the kind of proposal that’s been supported in the past by Democrats and Republicans alike. You should pass it right away.

Pass this jobs bill, and thousands of teachers in every state will go back to work. These are the men and women charged with preparing our children for a world where the competition has never been tougher. But while they’re adding teachers in places like South Korea, we’re laying them off in droves. It’s unfair to our kids. It undermines their future and ours. And it has to stop. Pass this jobs bill, and put our teachers back in the classroom where they belong.

Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get extra tax credits if they hire America’s veterans. We ask these men and women to leave their careers, leave their families, and risk their lives to fight for our country. The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home.

Pass this bill, and hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged young people will have the hope and dignity of a summer job next year. And their parents, low-income Americans who desperately want to work, will have more ladders out of poverty.

Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get a $4,000 tax credit if they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job. We have to do more to help the long-term unemployed in their search for work. This jobs plan builds on a program in Georgia that several Republican leaders have highlighted, where people who collect unemployment insurance participate in temporary work as a way to build their skills while they look for a permanent job. The plan also extends unemployment insurance for another year. If the millions of unemployed Americans stopped getting this insurance, and stopped using that money for basic necessities, it would be a devastating blow to this economy. Democrats and Republicans in this Chamber have supported unemployment insurance plenty of times in the past. At this time of prolonged hardship, you should pass it again – right away.

Pass this jobs bill, and the typical working family will get a fifteen hundred dollar tax cut next year. Fifteen hundred dollars that would have been taken out of your paycheck will go right into your pocket. This expands on the tax cut that Democrats and Republicans already passed for this year. If we allow that tax cut to expire – if we refuse to act – middle-class families will get hit with a tax increase at the worst possible time. We cannot let that happen. I know some of you have sworn oaths to never raise any taxes on anyone for as long as you live. Now is not the time to carve out an exception and raise middle-class taxes, which is why you should pass this bill right away.

This is the American Jobs Act. It will lead to new jobs for construction workers, teachers, veterans, first responders, young people and the long-term unemployed. It will provide tax credits to companies that hire new workers, tax relief for small business owners, and tax cuts for the middle-class. And here’s the other thing I want the American people to know: the American Jobs Act will not add to the deficit. It will be paid for. And here’s how:

The agreement we passed in July will cut government spending by about $1 trillion over the next ten years. It also charges this Congress to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas. Tonight, I’m asking you to increase that amount so that it covers the full cost of the American Jobs Act. And a week from Monday, I’ll be releasing a more ambitious deficit plan – a plan that will not only cover the cost of this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run.

This approach is basically the one I’ve been advocating for months. In addition to the trillion dollars of spending cuts I’ve already signed into law, it’s a balanced plan that would reduce the deficit by making additional spending cuts; by making modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid; and by reforming our tax code in a way that asks the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share. What’s more, the spending cuts wouldn’t happen so abruptly that they’d be a drag on our economy, or prevent us from helping small business and middle-class families get back on their feet right away.

Now, I realize there are some in my party who don’t think we should make any changes at all to Medicare and Medicaid, and I understand their concerns. But here’s the truth. Millions of Americans rely on Medicare in their retirement. And millions more will do so in the future. They pay for this benefit during their working years. They earn it. But with an aging population and rising health care costs, we are spending too fast to sustain the program. And if we don’t gradually reform the system while protecting current beneficiaries, it won’t be there when future retirees need it. We have to reform Medicare to strengthen it.

I’m also well aware that there are many Republicans who don’t believe we should raise taxes on those who are most fortunate and can best afford it. But here is what every American knows. While most people in this country struggle to make ends meet, a few of the most affluent citizens and corporations enjoy tax breaks and loopholes that nobody else gets. Right now, Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary – an outrage he has asked us to fix. We need a tax code where everyone gets a fair shake, and everybody pays their fair share. And I believe the vast majority of wealthy Americans and CEOs are willing to do just that, if it helps the economy grow and gets our fiscal house in order.

I’ll also offer ideas to reform a corporate tax code that stands as a monument to special interest influence in Washington. By eliminating pages of loopholes and deductions, we can lower one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. Our tax code shouldn’t give an advantage to companies that can afford the best-connected lobbyists. It should give an advantage to companies that invest and create jobs here in America.

So we can reduce this deficit, pay down our debt, and pay for this jobs plan in the process. But in order to do this, we have to decide what our priorities are. We have to ask ourselves, “What’s the best way to grow the economy and create jobs?”

Should we keep tax loopholes for oil companies? Or should we use that money to give small business owners a tax credit when they hire new workers? Because we can’t afford to do both. Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs? Right now, we can’t afford to do both.

This isn’t political grandstanding. This isn’t class warfare. This is simple math. These are real choices that we have to make. And I’m pretty sure I know what most Americans would choose. It’s not even close. And it’s time for us to do what’s right for our future.

The American Jobs Act answers the urgent need to create jobs right away. But we can’t stop there. As I’ve argued since I ran for this office, we have to look beyond the immediate crisis and start building an economy that lasts into the future – an economy that creates good, middle-class jobs that pay well and offer security. We now live in a world where technology has made it possible for companies to take their business anywhere. If we want them to start here and stay here and hire here, we have to be able to out-build, out-educate, and out-innovate every other country on Earth.

This task, of making America more competitive for the long haul, is a job for all of us. For government and for private companies. For states and for local communities – and for every American citizen. All of us will have to up our game. All of us will have to change the way we do business.

My administration can and will take some steps to improve our competitiveness on our own. For example, if you’re a small business owner who has a contract with the federal government, we’re going to make sure you get paid a lot faster than you do now. We’re also planning to cut away the red tape that prevents too many rapidly-growing start-up companies from raising capital and going public. And to help responsible homeowners, we’re going to work with Federal housing agencies to help more people refinance their mortgages at interest rates that are now near 4% — a step that can put more than $2,000 a year in a family’s pocket, and give a lift to an economy still burdened by the drop in housing prices.

Other steps will require Congressional action. Today you passed reform that will speed up the outdated patent process, so that entrepreneurs can turn a new idea into a new business as quickly as possible. That’s the kind of action we need. Now it’s time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea – while also helping the workers whose jobs have been affected by global competition. If Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais, I want to see folks in South Korea driving Fords and Chevys and Chryslers. I want to see more products sold around the world stamped with three proud words: “Made in America.”

And on all of our efforts to strengthen competitiveness, we need to look for ways to work side-by-side with America’s businesses. That’s why I’ve brought together a Jobs Council of leaders from different industries who are developing a wide range of new ideas to help companies grow and create jobs.

Already, we’ve mobilized business leaders to train 10,000 American engineers a year, by providing company internships and training. Other businesses are covering tuition for workers who learn new skills at community colleges. And we’re going to make sure the next generation of manufacturing takes root not in China or Europe, but right here, in the United States of America. If we provide the right incentives and support – and if we make sure our trading partners play by the rules – we can be the ones to build everything from fuel-efficient cars to advanced biofuels to semiconductors that are sold all over the world. That’s how America can be number one again. That’s how America will be number one again.

Now, I realize that some of you have a different theory on how to grow the economy. Some of you sincerely believe that the only solution to our economic challenges is to simply cut most government spending and eliminate most government regulations.

Well, I agree that we can’t afford wasteful spending, and I will continue to work with Congress to get rid of it. And I agree that there are some rules and regulations that put an unnecessary burden on businesses at a time when they can least afford it. That’s why I ordered a review of all government regulations. So far, we’ve identified over 500 reforms, which will save billions of dollars over the next few years. We should have no more regulation than the health, safety, and security of the American people require. Every rule should meet that common sense test.

But what we can’t do – what I won’t do – is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades. I reject the idea that we need to ask people to choose between their jobs and their safety. I reject the argument that says for the economy to grow, we have to roll back protections that ban hidden fees by credit card companies, or rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury, or laws that prevent the health insurance industry from shortchanging patients. I reject the idea that we have to strip away collective bargaining rights to compete in a global economy. We shouldn’t be in a race to the bottom, where we try to offer the cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards. America should be in a race to the top. And I believe that’s a race we can win.

In fact, this larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everyone’s money, let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own – that’s not who we are. That’s not the story of America.

Yes, we are rugged individualists. Yes, we are strong and self-reliant. And it has been the drive and initiative of our workers and entrepreneurs that has made this economy the engine and envy of the world.

But there has always been another thread running throughout our history – a belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.

We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. But in the middle of a Civil War, he was also a leader who looked to the future – a Republican president who mobilized government to build the transcontinental railroad; launch the National Academy of Sciences; and set up the first land grant colleges. And leaders of both parties have followed the example he set.

Ask yourselves – where would we be right now if the people who sat here before us decided not to build our highways and our bridges; our dams and our airports? What would this country be like if we had chosen not to spend money on public high schools, or research universities, or community colleges? Millions of returning heroes, including my grandfather, had the opportunity to go to school because of the GI Bill. Where would we be if they hadn’t had that chance?

How many jobs would it have cost us if past Congresses decided not to support the basic research that led to the Internet and the computer chip? What kind of country would this be if this Chamber had voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do? How many Americans would have suffered as a result?

No single individual built America on their own. We built it together. We have been, and always will be, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all; a nation with responsibilities to ourselves and with responsibilities to one another. Members of Congress, it is time for us to meet our responsibilities.

Every proposal I’ve laid out tonight is the kind that’s been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past. Every proposal I’ve laid out tonight will be paid for. And every proposal is designed to meet the urgent needs of our people and our communities.

I know there’s been a lot of skepticism about whether the politics of the moment will allow us to pass this jobs plan – or any jobs plan. Already, we’re seeing the same old press releases and tweets flying back and forth. Already, the media has proclaimed that it’s impossible to bridge our differences. And maybe some of you have decided that those differences are so great that we can only resolve them at the ballot box.

But know this: the next election is fourteen months away. And the people who sent us here – the people who hired us to work for them – they don’t have the luxury of waiting fourteen months. Some of them are living week to week; paycheck to paycheck; even day to day. They need help, and they need it now.

I don’t pretend that this plan will solve all our problems. It shouldn’t be, nor will it be, the last plan of action we propose. What’s guided us from the start of this crisis hasn’t been the search for a silver bullet. It’s been a commitment to stay at it – to be persistent – to keep trying every new idea that works, and listen to every good proposal, no matter which party comes up with it.

Regardless of the arguments we’ve had in the past, regardless of the arguments we’ll have in the future, this plan is the right thing to do right now. You should pass it. And I intend to take that message to every corner of this country. I also ask every American who agrees to lift your voice and tell the people who are gathered here tonight that you want action now. Tell Washington that doing nothing is not an option. Remind us that if we act as one nation, and one people, we have it within our power to meet this challenge.

President Kennedy once said, “Our problems are man-made – therefore they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants.”

These are difficult years for our country. But we are Americans. We are tougher than the times that we live in, and we are bigger than our politics have been. So let’s meet the moment. Let’s get to work, and show the world once again why the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.


Obama Jobs Plan: $447 Billion, More Than Half In Tax Cuts, To Be Paid For By Super Committee

Excerpt from an article by Sam Stein on huffingtonpost.com on September 8, 2011

WASHINGTON -- Hoping to stem the tide of poor economic news, President Barack Obama proposed a $447 billion jobs plan to Congress on Thursday evening.

Titled the American Jobs Act, the proposal includes more than $250 billion in tax incentives for small businesses and employers, according to administration estimates. The rest of the money would be devoted to infrastructure spending, state aid, unemployment insurance, and neighborhood rehabilitation. The president will pay for the proposal by asking the congressional super committee tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction to offset the cost of the package in their proposal.

Senior administration officials said that the White House plans to introduce the president's proposal next week as a single piece of legislation. The same administration officials did not rule out the idea that the White House would petition the congressional super committee to simply include the jobs bill in the set of recommendations that they reveal later this fall. In his speech to a joint session of Congress, however, the President repeatedly made the case that quicker action is needed.

"I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away," he said. "There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that's been supported by both Democrats and Republicans -- including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything."

A White House official said Obama phoned House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier in the day to discuss the need for rapid passage of his jobs plan. During his speech, which was peppered with a defiant sometimes combative tone, he pledged to sell his plan outside of the D.C. Beltway as well.

"I intend to take that message to every corner of this country," Obama said. "I also ask every American who agrees to lift your voice and tell the people who are gathered here tonight that you want action now. Tell Washington that doing nothing is not an option." In all, the phrase "pass this jobs bill" was uttered eight times in the president's speech, with several variations of the phrase appearing elsewhere.

There was no mention as to how many jobs the president believed his proposal would create. At a briefing before the speech, senior administration officials declined to make such an estimate as well. But underlying the whole proposal was the promise that, down the road, it would be paid for. And in the latter portion of his speech, Obama called for Congress to close special interest tax loopholes as one way to cover that cost.

"This isn’t political grandstanding," he said. "This isn’t class warfare. This is simple math. These are real choices that we have to make."

At the heart of the president's plan is an extension of the payroll tax cut passed last year, through 2012. The proposal, which would affect an estimated 160 million workers by providing a $1,500 tax cut for the average family, comes in at a cost of $175 billion.

The tax components of the president's plan don't end there. The White House also wants a payroll tax holiday for businesses that add new workers or increase the wages of current employees; a fifty percent reduction of the tax rates businesses pay on the first $5 million in payroll; and a $4,000 tax credit for employers who hire long-term unemployed workers.

On the spending side, the president is calling for $50 billion in infrastructure repairs; $10 billion for an infrastructure bank to help leverage private capital; $30 billion for school modernization and repairs; and $35 billion in aid to states and municipalities for the purposes of rehiring and retaining teachers and first responders. The proposal would also re-authorize federal unemployment benefits for another year, with additional incentives for employers to retain their workers and train new ones without any cost. A national wireless internet initiative and changes to federal refinancing programs are also part of the American Jobs Act.

The most innovative addition may be the $15 billion that the president is proposing for "Project Rebuild" a program that would leverage private capital to finance the refurbishing of vacant or foreclosed homes. According to a senior administration official, the program would focus on "emerging residential and commercial foreclosure problems" in an effort to raise plummeting property values in those areas and avoid "community blight."

The president's suggested spending totals are a drop in the bucket in terms of the economy's actual needs. Obama's top advisers have, in the past, estimated that the country faces a $2 trillion infrastructure deficit. There is an estimated $270 billion to $500 billion in backlogged school maintenance costs. More than 200,000 government jobs have been slashed in the past year, many of them teachers and emergency first responders.

But the outlines were cheered by Democrats as an important start, as well as a much-needed shift in a political conversation that has been dominated by budget cuts.

Even in the face of obvious need, however, it's unclear if Congress as a whole possesses the political will to back the president's requests. Republican lawmakers have made cutting taxes a top priority over the past few years, but even before the president's address, GOP senators were balking at the idea of temporarily extending the payroll tax cut. Even progressives aren't entirely enamored with the idea, with serious concern among Social Security advocates that an extension would drain money from the entitlement program's trust fund -– even though the administration's proposal instructs the Treasury to replenish that fund's coffers.

More problematic could be the amount of spending Obama is proposing and the vague outlines for how it will be paid for. Despite petitioning for infrastructure money for their home districts, Republicans have castigated all proposals for federal stimulus. The idea that the super committee will pick up the tab seems unlikely to quiet GOP criticism that the plan will increase the national debt.

But that may be the trick up the administration's sleeve. The administration officials in the pre-speech briefing left open the door to having the super committee write the president's bill into their final set of recommendations, rather than just offset the cost of a separate proposal. Doing so would mean that the jobs plan wouldn't come up for a vote until late December. But it would also give it a much more likely chance of passage, as components of same triggers that apply to the committee's debt reduction suggestions -- mostly major cuts to defense spending and Medicare -- would suddenly apply to the president's jobs bill.

"Obviously it could be passed as a part of a larger grand bargain, but we don't want to limit our options to that," said a senior administration official. "It would be very positive for this economy for this to pass quickly and for it to pass in a way that people could see we're willing to work together to do something bold on creating demand in the short term, and a context in which we're also creating a confidence in our long term fiscal situation."


Bridge To Work: Obama's Plan For Long-Term Unemployed

Excerpt from an article on huffingtonpost.com Posted: 9/8/11 by Arthur Delaney arthur@huffingtonpost.com

WASHINGTON -- President Obama announced Thursday evening a plan to put the long-term jobless back to work by encouraging states to adopt "Bridge to Work" programs that would let businesses try out workers without having to pay them.

The scheme, which would only be open to workers receiving federal unemployment benefits, would be modeled mainly on a Georgia program designed to reduce hiring costs and make it easier for the jobless to get back to work. The program, called Georgia Works, is voluntary for workers and employers and allows businesses to train workers for eight weeks with no obligation to pay or hire.

"We have to do more to help the long-term unemployed in their search for work," President Obama said while addressing a joint session of Congress. "This jobs plan builds on a program in Georgia that several Republican leaders have highlighted, where people who collect unemployment insurance participate in temporary work as a way to build their skills while they look for a permanent job."

Labor advocates have warned the White House to stay away from Georgia Works, complaining that it is exploitive and possibly illegal. A senior administration official said the White House is sensitive to those concerns. "We have made it very clear that states must ensure compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Bridge to Work programs would be different from Georgia Works in several ways. Under the Obama proposal, states would be required to ensure participants earn no less than the minimum wage. So if a jobless worker's unemployment insurance benefit amounted to less than the minimum wage, states would have to boost the benefit.

Bridge to Work programs would only be open to jobless workers who've exhausted the standard 26 weeks of state-funded benefits and become eligible for the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides up to 53 additional weeks of aid. The EUC program is set to expire in January; the administration is pushing for Congress to reauthorize it through 2012 as part of the "American Jobs Act," which would include funding for Bridge to Work and dozens of other initiatives.

Republicans controlling the House of Representatives have signaled support for a program modeled on Georgia Works, but they've also said they'd oppose another reauthorization of federal unemployment benefits if the cost added to the federal budget deficit.

"If the millions of unemployed Americans stopped getting this insurance, and stopped using that money for basic necessities, it would be a devastating blow to this economy," Obama said. "Democrats and Republicans in this Chamber have supported unemployment insurance plenty of times in the past. At this time of prolonged hardship, you should pass it again -– right away."

Money for states to administer Bridge to Work programs would come from a $4 billion "Reemployment NOW Fund" that would also support a range of reforms, including wage insurance, startup assistance, improved reemployment services, and work-sharing.

There isn't a ton of data on Georgia Works or similar programs in other states. But there's plenty of data testifying to the magnitude of the long-term unemployment crisis: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6 million people have been out of work for six months or longer as of August, and 2 million have been out of work for longer than 99 weeks -- the cutoff point for federal jobless benefits in the hardest-hit states.

States that decided to adopt Bridge to Work initiatives would have some flexibility. Training periods could last as long as eight weeks or be as short as two weeks. Businesses could train participants for up to 38 hours a week (Georgia Works limits training to 24 hours a week). States could also require participating employers to pay a portion of workers' earnings.

"We're going to deem these [Emergency Unemployment Compensation] benefits wages and provide support for states to top up benefits if necessary to comply with the minimum wage," the official said. "If states want to structure programs so employers have skin in the game, we’re not going to stop them."

Participants in the program will be covered by workers' compensation laws. As the FLSA requires, states will be required to prevent businesses from using trainees instead of hiring new workers, and businesses will not be able to use Bridge to Work participants if a strike is in effect or if doing so would violate a collective bargaining agreement.

This story includes remarks from President Obama.

Arthur Delaney is the author of "A People's History of the Great Recession," HuffPost's first e-book.

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