EXCERPTS OF THE PRESIDENT’S OPENING REMARKS AT TONIGHT’S NEWS CONFERENCE
As Prepared for Delivery
We are continuing to closely monitor the emerging cases of the H1N1 flu virus throughout the United States. As I said this morning, this is obviously a very serious situation, and every American should know that their entire government is taking the utmost precautions and preparations.
This budget builds on the steps we’ve taken over the last one hundred days to move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity. We began by passing a Recovery Act that has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs and provided a tax cut to 95% of all working families. We passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for eleven million American children whose parents work full-time. And we launched a housing plan that has already contributed to a spike in the number of homeowners who are refinancing their mortgages, which is the equivalent of another tax cut.
But even as we clear away the wreckage of this recession, I have also said that we cannot go back to an economy that is built on a pile of sand – on inflated home prices and maxed-out credit cards; on overleveraged banks and outdated regulations that allowed the recklessness of a few to threaten the prosperity of us all.
We must lay a New Foundation for growth – a foundation that will strengthen our economy and help us compete in the 21st century. And that’s exactly what this budget begins to do. It contains new investments in education that will equip our workers with the right skills and training; new investments in renewable energy that will create millions of jobs and new industries; new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses; and new savings that will bring down our deficit.
So we are off to a good start. But it is just a start. I am proud of what we have achieved, but I am not content. I am pleased with our progress, but I am not satisfied. Millions of Americans are still without jobs and homes, and more will be lost before this recession is over. Credit is still not flowing nearly as freely as it should. Countless families and communities touched by our auto industry still face tough times ahead. Our projected long-term deficits are still too high. Government is still not as efficient as it should be. We still confront threats ranging from terrorism to nuclear proliferation to pandemic flu. And all of this means you can expect an unrelenting, unyielding effort from this administration to strengthen our prosperity and our security – in the second hundred days, and the third hundred days, and all the days after.
So we have plenty of work left to do. It is work that will take time. It will take effort. But the United States of America will see a better day. We will rebuild a stronger nation. And we will endure as a beacon for all those weary travelers beyond our shores who still dream that this is a place where all is possible.
The orthomyxovirus, H1N1, globally known as the swine flu, has caused immediate concerns here in the U.S. and abroad. The swine flu has claimed the lives of 150 persons and infected more than 2,000 in Mexico. Five states have reported swine flu cases, with New York leading with 28 incidents. The CDC stated late Monday that there are 48 total cases of swine flu in the U.S. Worldwide, 70 incidents of swine flu have been reported with 6 in Canada, 1 in Spain, and 2 in Scotland.
The CDC raised the alert level to six for full blown pandemic. Yet the World Health Organization, WHO, issued a phase 4 which signifies that the swine flu is ”increasingly adept at spreading among humans.” The swine flu, which originates among pigs, is a virus that can be sustained in humans and animals, with various mutations. Transmission is thought to occur from humans who work with infected pigs.
Symptoms of swine flu can be similar to the common flu. But the CDC warns that the following symptoms could be linked to a case of the deadly virus and should be taken seriously: a temperature of 100.2 and above, lethargy, lack of appetite, runny nose, coughing (non productive), sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Those who fall ill to the swine flu are most contagious during the first five days. Children remain contagious up to 10 days.
WHO and the CDC both agree that avoidance of sick persons, a strict hygienic regimen with use of antibacterial soaps and sanitizers, coughing into tissue or the crook of the elbow, along with canceling any travel plans to Mexico, is the surest way to keep from being infected with the virus.
Surgical or medical face masks are useless health officials say. The virus enters the body through the mouth. Frequent hand washing is suggested before hands touch the face, mouth or eyes.
President Barack Obama said Monday that the CDC is keeping him regularly updated as the crisis continues to unfold.
Official White House Statement From The Office Of The Press Secretary:
The United States is deeply concerned about the plight of innocent civilians
caught up in the conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil
Tigers, and the mounting death toll. We call on both sides to stop fighting
immediately and allow civilians to safely leave the combat zone.
We call upon the Government of Sri Lanka to stop shelling the safe zone and
blocking international aid groups and media from accessing those civilians who
have managed to escape. International aid workers should have access to all
sites where internally displaced persons are being registered and sheltered.
The United States is working with international partners to attempt to care for
those civilians who can be reached.
We call on both sides to strictly adhere to their obligations under
international humanitarian law. We are very concerned about reports of
violations, and take these allegations very seriously.
It would compound the current tragedy if the military end of the conflict only
breeds further enmity and ends hopes for reconciliation and a unified Sri Lanka
in the future.
Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
April 25, 2009
Good morning. Over the last three months, my Administration has taken aggressive action to confront an historic economic crisis. As we do everything that we can to create jobs and get our economy moving, we’re also building a new foundation for lasting prosperity – a foundation that invests in quality education, lowers health care costs, and develops new sources of energy powered by new jobs and industries.
One of the pillars of that foundation must be fiscal discipline. We came into office facing a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion for this year alone, and the cost of confronting our economic crisis is high. But we cannot settle for a future of rising deficits and debts that our children cannot pay.
All across America, families are tightening their belts and making hard choices. Now, Washington must show that same sense of responsibility. That is why we have identified two trillion dollars in deficit-reductions over the next decade, while taking on the special interest spending that doesn’t advance the peoples’ interests.
But we must also recognize that we cannot meet the challenges of today with old habits and stale thinking. So much of our government was built to deal with different challenges from a different era. Too often, the result is wasteful spending, bloated programs, and inefficient results.
It’s time to fundamentally change the way that we do business in Washington. To help build a new foundation for the 21st century, we need to reform our government so that it is more efficient, more transparent, and more creative. That will demand new thinking and a new sense of responsibility for every dollar that is spent.
Earlier this week, I held my first Cabinet meeting and sent a clear message: cut what doesn’t work. Already, we’ve identified substantial savings. And in the days and weeks ahead, we will continue going through the budget line by line, and we’ll identify more than 100 programs that will be cut or eliminated.
But we can’t stop there. We need to go further, and we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to reforming government. That’s why I’m announcing several steps that my Administration will take in the weeks ahead to restore fiscal discipline while making our government work better.
First, we need to adhere to the basic principle that new tax or entitlement policies should be paid for. This principle – known as PAYGO – helped transform large deficits into surpluses in the 1990s. Now, we must restore that sense of fiscal discipline. That’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass PAYGO legislation like a bill that will be introduced by Congressman Baron Hill, so that government acts the same way any responsible family does in setting its budget.
Second, we’ll create new incentives to reduce wasteful spending and to invest in what works. We don’t want agencies to protect bloated budgets – we want them to promote effective programs. So the idea is simple: agencies that identify savings will get to keep a portion of those savings to invest in programs that work. The result will be a smaller budget, and a more effective government.
Third, we’ll look for ideas from the bottom up. After all, Americans across the country know that the best ideas often come from workers – not just management. That’s why we’ll establish a process through which every government worker can submit their ideas for how their agency can save money and perform better. We’ll put the suggestions that work into practice. And later this year, I will meet with those who come up with the best ideas to hear firsthand about how they would make your government more efficient and effective.
And finally, we will reach beyond the halls of government. Many businesses have innovative ways of using technology to save money, and many experts have new ideas to make government work more efficiently. Government can – and must – learn from them. So later this year, we will host a forum on reforming government for the 21st century, so that we’re also guided by voices that come from outside of Washington.
We cannot sustain deficits that mortgage our children’s future, nor tolerate wasteful inefficiency. Government has a responsibility to spend the peoples’ money wisely, and to serve the people effectively. I will work every single day that I am President to live up to that responsibility, and to transform our government so that is held to a higher standard of performance on behalf of the American people.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON HIGHER EDUCATION
Diplomatic Reception Room
1:46 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. That was excellent — we might have to run her for something some day. (Laughter.) That was terrific. Thank you, Stephanie. I want to also introduce Yvonne Thomas, who is Stephanie’s proud mother. And we appreciate everything that you’ve done. And Stephanie’s father, Albert, is around here as well.
There are few things as fundamental to the American Dream or as essential for America’s success as a good education. This has never been more true than it is today. At a time when our children are competing with kids in China and India, the best job qualification you can have is a college degree or advanced training. If you do have that kind of education, then you’re well prepared for the future — because half of the fastest growing jobs in America require a Bachelor’s degree or more. And if you don’t have a college degree, you’re more than twice as likely to be unemployed as somebody who does. So the stakes could not be higher for young people like Stephanie.
And yet, in a paradox of American life, at the very moment it’s never been more important to have a quality higher education, the cost of that kind of that kind of education has never been higher. Over the past few decades, the cost of tuition at private colleges has more than doubled, while costs at public institutions have nearly tripled. Compounding the problem, tuition has grown ten times faster than a typical family’s income, putting new pressure on families that are already strained and pricing far too many students out of college altogether. Yet, we have a student loan system where we’re giving lenders billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies that could be used to make college more affordable for all Americans.
This trend — a trend where a quality higher education slips out of reach for ordinary Americans — threatens the dream of opportunity that is America’s promise to all its citizens. It threatens to widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots. And it threatens to undercut America’s competitiveness — because America cannot lead in the 21st century unless we have the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world. And that’s the kind of workforce — and the kind of citizenry — to which we should be committed.
And that’s why we have taken and proposed a number of sweeping steps over our first few months in office — steps that amount to the most significant efforts to open the doors of college to middle-class Americans since the GI Bill. Millions of working families are now eligible for a $2,500 annual tax credit that will help them pay the cost of tuition; a tax credit that will cover the full cost of tuition at most of the two-year community colleges that are some of the great and undervalued assets of our education system.
We’re also bringing much needed reform to the Pell Grants that roughly 30 percent of students rely on to put themselves through college. Today’s Pell Grants cover less than half as much tuition at a four-year public institution as they did a few decades ago. And that’s why we are adding $500 to the grants for this academic year, and raising the maximum Pell Grant to $5,550 next year, easing the financial burden on students and families.
And we are also changing the way the value of a Pell Grant is determined. Today, that value is set by Congress on an annual basis, making it vulnerable to Washington politics. What we are doing is pegging Pell Grants to a fixed rate above inflation so that these grants don’t cover less and less as families’ costs go up and up. And this will help prevent a projected shortfall in Pell Grant funding in a few years that could rob many of our poorest students of their dream of attending college. It will help ensure that Pell Grants are a source of funding that students can count on each and every year.
Now, while our nation has a responsibility to make college more affordable, colleges and universities have a responsibility to control spiraling costs. And that will require hard choices about where to save and where to spend. So I challenge state, college and university leaders to put affordability front and center as they chart a path forward. I challenge them to follow the example of the University of Maryland, where they’re streamlining administrative costs, cutting energy costs, using faculty more effectively, making it possible for them to freeze tuition for students and for families.
At the same time, we’re also working to modernize and expand the Perkins Loan Program by changing a system where colleges are rewarded for raising tuition, and instead, rewarding them for making college more affordable.
Now just as we’ve opened the doors of college to every American, we also have to ensure that more students can walk through them. And that’s why I’ve challenged every American to commit to at least one year of higher education or advanced training — because by the end of the next decade, I want to see America have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. We used to have that; we no longer do. We are going to get that lead back.
And to help us achieve that goal, we are investing $2.5 billion to identify and support innovative initiatives that have a record of success in boosting enrollment and graduation rates — initiatives like the IBEST program in Washington state that combines basic and career skills classes to ensure that students not only complete college, but are competitive in the workforce from the moment they graduate.
And to help cover the cost of all this, we’re going to eliminate waste, reduce inefficiency, and cut what we don’t need to pay for what we do. And that includes reforming our student loan system so that it better serves the people it’s supposed to serve — our students.
Right now, there are two main kinds of federal loans. First, there are Direct Loans. These are loans where tax dollars go directly to help students pay for tuition, not to pad the profits of private lenders. The other kinds of loans are Federal Family Education Loans. These loans, known as FFEL loans, make up the majority of all college loans. Under the FFEL program, lenders get a big government subsidy with every loan they make. And these loans are then guaranteed with taxpayer money, which means that if a student defaults, a lender can get back almost all of its money from our government.
And there’s only one real difference between Direct Loans and private FFEL loans. It’s that under the FFEL program, taxpayers are paying banks a premium to act as middlemen — a premium that costs the American people billions of dollars each year. Well, that’s a premium we cannot afford — not when we could be reinvesting that same money in our students, in our economy, and in our country.
And that’s why I’ve called for ending the FFEL program and shifting entirely over to Direct Loans. It’s a step that even a conservative estimate predicts will save tens of billions of tax dollars over the next ten years. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the money we could save by cutting out the middleman would pay for 95 percent of our plan to guarantee growing Pell Grants. This would help ensure that every American, everywhere in this country, can out-compete any worker, anywhere in the world.
In the end, this is not about growing the size of government or relying on the free market — because it’s not a free market when we have a student loan system that’s rigged to reward private lenders without any risk. It’s about whether we want to give tens of billions of tax dollars to special interests or whether we want to make college more affordable for eight and a half million more students. I think most of us would agree on what the right answer is.
Now, some of you have probably seen how this proposal was greeted by the special interests. The banks and the lenders who have reaped a windfall from these subsidies have mobilized an army of lobbyists to try to keep things the way they are. They are gearing up for battle. So am I. They will fight for their special interests. I will fight for Stephanie, and other American students and their families. And for those who care about America’s future, this is a battle we can’t afford to lose.
So I am looking forward to having this debate in the days and weeks ahead. And I am confident that if all of us here in Washington do what’s in the best interests of the people we represent, and reinvest not only in opening the doors of college but making sure students can walk through them, then we will help deliver the change that the American people sent us here to make. We will help Americans fulfill their promise as individuals. And we will help America fulfill its promise as a nation.
So thank you very much. And thank you, Stephanie. And thank you, Stephanie’s mom.
All right. Thanks, guys.
Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice might soon discover the steep price she’ll have to pay for playing with the wrong politcal team. If certain politcal forces have their way, Rice and other members of the Bush administartion who signed off on questionable interrogation techniques more than likely will face prosecution.
With the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee documents on the Bush administrations supposedly legally sanctioned interrogation procedures, questions have surfaced as to how “legal” these interogation techniques really were. President Obama put an end to the U.S. policy last week. Some of the prescribed tools of the U.S. torture machine were water boarding, which simulated drowning, sleep deprivation and enclosure in a container with insects.
The Bush administration, or more accurately, former vice president Dick Cheney, has vehemently defended the interrogation techiniques as a means of keeping America safe. However, the U.S. has always held a zero tolerance position on the use of torture since WWII. Yet, as with many things during the Bush administration, the law was circumvented to accomplish a misrepresented goal.
That is where Condoleeza Rice and Dick Cheney come into the picture. When the Bush administration’s interpretation of interrogation techniques were legally questioned by the Justice department during a meeting with the Director of Central Intelligence, in the spring of 2003, Cheney and then National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice signed off on the controversial methods.
As usual, then Secretary of State General Colin Powell was left out of the loop.
The Obama administration, while being open about its’ views on the newly reinstated U.S. policy against torture, officials remain noncommittal as to if and when charges will be brought against key members in the Bush camp. That would also include Rice. Attorney General Eric Holder says that he will “follow the evidence wherever it takes us.”
In the wake of a major shake-up at Johnson Publ!ishing Company, home of Ebony and Jet Magazine, the privately held corporation has announced that for the first time in its’ history, Ebony and Jet will be overseen by an editor-in-chief. Both magazines will create the position of editor-in-chief and maintain separate entities.
Tuesday Johnson Publishing Co. revealed that Mira Lowe has been named as editor-in-chief of Jet Magazine. The former Newsday associate editor was hired nearly two years ago by Johnson Publishing Co. editorial director Bryan Monroe. Monroe has since left the company with a hefty buyout option.
With the restructuring that has taken place at Johnson Publishing, of which insiders say will be on going until vast improvements begin to net profits, perhaps readers will see a more up-to-date Jet with a personality all its’ own and not a carbon copy of Ebony in miniature form. Keeping Jet magazine in step with the times will not be an easy task. But revamping Black America’s only newsweekly can, with the right person at the helm, solidify Jet’s relevance in a world that has rapidly changed since the magazine’s debut in the 1940′s.
And Ms. Lowe? Lose the “Beauty of The Week.”
CONGRATULATIONS JILL SCOTT!! Jill gave birth to a 7lb. 8oz. baby boy named Jett Hamilton Roberts!
FACT SHEET: President Obama Highlights Vision For Clean Energy Economy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama traveled to Newton, Iowa today to visit Trinity Structural Towers, the former Maytag appliance factory that now houses a green manufacturing facility, which produces towers for wind energy production and employs dozens of former Maytag employees. Marking Earth Day, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to a comprehensive energy plan that lessens our dependence on foreign oil, creates jobs and helps win the race toward clean energy technology. With the depletion of the world’s oil reserves and the growing disruption of our climate, the development of clean, renewable sources of energy is the growth industry of the 21st century.
“The choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy – it’s a choice between prosperity and decline,” President Obama said. “The nation that leads the world in creating new sources of clean energy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy.”
The President’s energy policy will jump-start the creation of an American Clean Energy sector that will create millions of clean energy jobs. The President underscored how jobs at Trinity are examples of the opportunities this sector will create for workers not just in the factories that manufacture wind turbines, but also across the economy, for workers who weatherize our homes and research new technologies.
Today, President Obama unveiled a program to develop the renewable energy projects on the waters of our Outer Continental Shelf that produce electricity from wind, wave, and ocean currents. These regulations will enable, for the first time ever, the nation to tap into our ocean’s vast sustainable resources to generate clean energy in an environmentally sound and safe manner.
President Obama will pursue comprehensive legislation to move toward energy independence and prevent the worst consequences of climate change – while creating the incentives to make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.
To take this country in the right direction, Congress must pass comprehensive legislation to protect our nation from the serious economic and strategic risks associated with our reliance on foreign oil and the destabilizing effects of a changing climate. Policies to advance energy and climate security should promote economic recovery efforts, accelerate job creation, and drive clean energy manufacturing by:
- Creating new Jobs in the Clean Energy Economy. Drive the development of new, green manufacturing opportunities in the rebuilding, retrofitting and modernizing of our nation’s factories.
- Promoting U.S. Competitiveness. Ensure a level playing field for domestic manufacturing and secure significant actions to combat climate change by our trading partners.
- Investing in the Next Generation of Energy Technologies. Invest $150 billion over ten years in energy research and development to transition to a clean energy economy.
- Breaking Dependence on Oil. Promote the development of the next generation of cars and trucks and the fuels they run on.
- Producing More Energy at Home. Enhance U.S. energy supplies through responsible development of domestic renewable energy, fossil fuels, advanced biofuels and nuclear energy.
- Promoting Energy Efficiency. Promote investments that secure the biggest bang for the buck in reducing energy bills in the transportation, electricity, industrial, building and agricultural sectors.
- Closing the Carbon Pollution Loophole. Develop an economy-wide emissions reduction program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and secure the greatest benefits at the lowest cost for families and businesses.
- Protecting American Consumers. Revenues generated by closing the carbon loophole will be returned to the people, especially vulnerable families, communities, and businesses.
Overview of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act
The Administration has released the names of three Mexican organizations against which the President has decided to impose sanctions pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (the “Kingpin Act”) (21 U.S.C. 1901-1908, 8 U.S.C. 1182). Kingpin Act targets, on a worldwide basis, significant foreign narcotics traffickers, their organizations, and operatives.
The Kingpin Act became law on December 3, 1999. Its purpose is to deny significant foreign narcotics traffickers, their related businesses, and their operatives access to the U.S. financial system and to prohibit all trade and transactions between the traffickers and U.S. companies and individuals. The Kingpin Act authorizes the President to take these actions when he determines that a foreign person plays a significant role in international narcotics trafficking. Congress modeled the Kingpin Act on the effective sanctions program that the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) administers against the Colombian drug cartels pursuant to Executive Order 12978 issued in October 1995 (“Executive Order 12978”) under authority of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”).
The Kingpin Act requires that the Secretary of the Treasury, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency coordinate to identify drug kingpins and propose them to the President for sanctions. The Department of Homeland Security and the Directorate of National Intelligence are also included in the process. The Act calls for the President to report to specified congressional committees by June 1 of each year on those “foreign persons [he] determines are appropriate for sanctions” and stating his intent to impose sanctions upon those Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers pursuant to the Act. While previous Presidential determinations have been tied to the statutory June 1 timetable, the President may also identify Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers at any other time pursuant to the Act.
Under the Kingpin Act, the President may identify foreign entities as well as foreign individuals as Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers, or “kingpins”: a foreign person is defined in the Act as “any citizen or national of a foreign state or any entity not organized under the laws of the United States, but does not include a foreign state.” Likewise, the President is not required to designate Colombian persons exclusively under Executive Order 12978, and may impose sanctions on a Colombian individual or entity under the Kingpin Act, which is intended to be global in scope.
The long-term effectiveness of the Kingpin Act is enhanced by the Department of the Treasury’s authority (in consultation with appropriate government agencies and departments) under the Act to make derivative designations of foreign individuals and entities that provide specified types of support or assistance to designated traffickers, or that are owned or controlled by such traffickers, or that act on their behalf. This authority broadens the scope of application of the economic sanctions against kingpins to include their businesses and operatives. Including this year’s action, the President has named a total of 78 Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers since the first set of kingpins was announced on June 1, 2000. The Department of the Treasury’s OFAC has issued a total of 496 derivative designations pursuant to its authorities under the Kingpin Act; these entities and individuals are subject to the same sanctions that apply to kingpins.
Individuals who violate the Kingpin Act are subject to criminal penalties of up to 10 years in prison and/or fines pursuant to Title 18 of the U.S. Code. Entities that violate the Act face criminal penalties in the form of fines up to $10 million; officers, directors, or agents of an entity who knowingly participate in a violation of the Kingpin Act are subject to criminal penalties of up to 30 years in imprison and/or a $5 million fine. The Kingpin Act also provides for civil penalties of up to $1.075 million against individuals or entities that violate its provisions.
Foreign Narcotics Traffickers Identified for Sanctions
The foreign persons that the President has identified today as appropriate for sanctions pursuant to the Kingpin Act are:
La Familia Michoacana
These names are being added to the list of kingpins first announced in June 2000 and updated every year since then. A complete list of individuals and entities sanctioned under the Kingpin Act can be found at www.treasury.gov/ofac.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building
12:02 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I decided not to bring Bo today — because he stepped on my economic speech yesterday. (Laughter.)
Good morning. I know that April 15th isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite date on the calendar. But it is an important opportunity for those of us in Washington to consider our responsibilities to the people who sent us here and who pay the bills. And I’ve brought some friends of mine who sent me here and pay the bills.
Across America, families like the people who join me have had tough choices forced upon them because of this economic downturn. Many have lost a job; many are fighting to keep their business open. Many more are struggling to make payments, to stay in their home, or to pursue a college education. And these Americans are the backbone of our economy, the backbone of our middle class. They’re the workers, the innovators, the students who are going to be powering our recovery. So their dreams have to be our own. They need a government that is working to create jobs and opportunity for them, rather than simply giving more and more to those at the very top in the false hope that wealth automatically trickles down.
And that’s why my administration has taken far-reaching action to give tax cuts to the Americans who need them, while jump-starting growth and job creation in the process. We start from the simple premise that we should reduce the tax burden on working people, while helping Americans go to college, own a home, raise a family, start a business and save for retirement.
Those goals are the foundation of the American Dream, and they are the focus of my tax policy.
First, we’ve passed a broad and sweeping tax cut for 95 percent of American workers. This tax cut was a core focus of my campaign, it was a core component of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and it is the most progressive tax cut in American history. And starting April 1st, Americans saw this tax cut in the extra money that they took home with each paycheck.
Make no mistake: This tax cut will reach 120 million families and put $120 billion directly into their pockets, and it includes the most American workers ever to get a tax cut. This is going to boost demand, and it will save or create over half a million jobs. And the Congressional Budget Office has found that tax cuts like these for American workers are more than three times more effective in stimulating recovery than tax breaks for the very wealthiest Americans.
This tax cut also keeps a fundamental promise: that Americans who work hard should be able to make a decent living. It lifts more than 2 million Americans out of poverty. And together with the child tax credit, it ensures that a working parent will be able to support their family.
Second, we are helping small businesses keep their doors open so they can weather this economic storm and create good jobs. Instead of the normal two years, small businesses are now allowed to offset their losses during this downturn against the income they’ve earned over the last five years. And this could provide a record number of refunds for small businesses, which will provide them with the lifeline they need to maintain inventory and pay their workers.
Third, we are helping Americans get the education they need to succeed in a global economy. For years we’ve seen the price of tuition skyrocket at the same time that it became more and more important to earn a college degree. And that’s why we are making college more affordable for every American that needs a hand. That is why we are committed to simplifying the student loan process so more families can get the help they need. And that’s also why our $2,500 tax credit for all four years of college will help us reach a goal that will help our country lead in the 21st century: By 2020, Americans once again will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
Fourth, we are helping more Americans purchase homes that they can afford. Just as we must put an end to the irresponsible lending and borrowing that created the housing bubble, we must restore the home as a source of stability and an anchor of the American Dream. That’s why we’re providing a tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time home buyers, which will put a home within reach for hardworking Americans who are playing by the rules and making responsible choices. And by the way, there are at least a couple of folks here who have already used that $8,000 credit, and I think it’s wonderful to see that this is already prompting some willingness for people to go ahead and make that first-time purchase where they thought maybe it was out of reach before.
Fifth, we know that tax relief must be joined with fiscal discipline. Americans are making hard choices in their budgets, and we’ve got to tighten our belts in Washington, as well. And that’s why we’ve already identified $2 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade. And that’s why we’re cutting programs that don’t work, contracts that aren’t fair, and spending that we don’t need.
We’re also doing away with the unnecessary giveaways that have thrown our tax code out of balance. I said this during the campaign, I’m now saying it as President: We need to stop giving tax breaks to companies that stash profits or ship jobs overseas so we can invest in job creation here at home. And we need to end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, so that people like me, who are extraordinarily lucky, are paying the same rates that the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans paid when Bill Clinton was President.
Finally, we need to simplify a monstrous tax code that is far too complicated for most Americans to understand, but just complicated enough for the insiders who know how to game the system. So I’ve already started by asking Paul Volcker and my Economic Recovery Board to do a thorough review of how to simplify our tax code, and to report back to me by the end of this year. It’s going to take time to undo the damage of years of carve-outs and loopholes. But I want every American to know that we will rewrite the tax code so that it puts your interests over any special interests. And we’ll make it easier, quicker and less expensive for you to file a return, so that April 15th is not a date that is approached with dread every year.
Now, I just had a conversation with these wonderful Americans, and like people I talked to all across the country, they’re not looking for a free ride. Every single person here is working hard and deserves a chance to get ahead. And they’re a family like — families like the Kirkwoods, who just want to own their own business and put away some money away for their kids’ college tuition. And they’re workers like Clark Harrison, behind me, who has worked hard and wants to be able to purchase that first home. They’re business owners like Alan Givens, who wants his company to sustain itself through bad times as well as the good. And I was encouraged to hear that Alan’s business is going strong on a whole bunch of clean energy measures that he’s helping to promote in his area.
For too long, we’ve seen taxes used as a wedge to scare people into supporting policies that actually increased the burden on working people instead of helping them live their dreams. That has to change, and that’s the work that we’ve begun. We’ve passed tax cuts that will help our economy grow. We’ve made a clear promise that families that earn less than $250,000 a year will not see their taxes increase by a single dime. And we have kept to those promises that were made during the campaign. We’ve given tax relief to the Americans who need it and the workers who have earned it. And we’re helping more Americans move towards their American Dream by going to school, owning a home, keeping their business and raising their family.
So on this April 15th, we’re reminded of the enormous responsibility that comes with handling peoples’ tax dollars. And we’re renewing our commitment to a simpler tax code that rewards work and the pursuit of the American Dream. And I just again want to personally thank all of the families, folks who join me here today, because they inspire me to do what I do every single day.
All right, thank you, everybody.
We at The Kaleidoscope Factor balk at gossip and celebrity news unless there is some type of hypocrisy that we can pounce on. But recently, we have come across information that may not be news to those close to the story, but sort of relevant to others.
80′s heart-throb and music sensation Al B. Sure! has been accused by his son, Quincy Brown, of being a dead-beat father. It is remarkable how African American male celebrities can basically get away with murder and not be held accountable to their fan base for their actions. Al B. Sure! was every sistas dream man and potential father of their fantasy children.
Apparently, those unfortunate ladies who did end up with Al B. Sure and had subsequent children with him, got the short end of the stick.
But the one thing that I have to admire about this whole situation is the galant effort that Sean Puffy Combs has displayed in stepping into the role of Dad to Quincy Brown. I am not a Puffy fan, but I do admire him for steppingup to the plate that Al B. Sure! deserted. Check out the well-crafted letter of Quincy Brown to his father, Al B. Sure!:
A Letter To My Father
I’ve been inspired throughout my life by special circumstances and unique experiences. Foremost, I grew up with a family that injected me with unconditional love and enduring confidence. This is my foundation … the family holidays and celebrations with my maternal lineage … supportive smiles in audiences at school programs … guiding hands to complete homework and special projects in the wee hours of the morning.
However, I grew up without my father, an irreplaceable force and influence that was absent in my life. I watched other kids enjoy the embrace of theirs, and I searched for a way to reconcile the meaning of my circumstance.
Despite my pain, I’ve imagined a life as a good son with my father. Baseball … Playing in School Band … Church … All of the things that he would expect his son to do, I’ve done. I’ve stood in front of audiences to receive awards. I heard their applause and praise. But, the accolades have been absent the sound of his clapping hands and encouraging words … his voice that I could distinguish in my sleep. Where has he been?
Now, I reflect on the journey, the pain, the challenges, and the triumphs through this song. I’m reconciled as a man, no longer a boy, in verse. Now, I know that I’m not alone.
Albert Brown, also known as “Al B Sure!” is my biological father, but Sean Combs, also known as “Diddy” has been a father figure in my life for as long as I can remember. Sean Combs is the person whom I look up to and appreciate as a father. He is the one who help mold me into the person I am today and will always try to live up to his expectations. He has always been supportive of me and I will forever love and respect him. As far as my biological father goes, the “spitting image” is all I have taken from him. Throughout my life, I’ve always wondered about him; Where he was? What was he doing? and most importantly, Was he even thinking about me? The absence of my father has given me a better understanding of what type of man I am going to be. I am grateful for my mom’s love, support, guidance, and for her strength.
To those who share my plight, know that you have a great future … a DESTINY. Take the lemons that you are handed and make lemonade. Your journey is in “A Letter To My Father.”
- Quincy “iQ” Brown
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I speak to you today during a time that is holy and filled with meaning for believers around the world. Earlier this week, Jewish people gathered with family and friends to recite the stories of their ancestors’ struggle and ultimate liberation. Tomorrow, Christians of all denominations will come together to rejoice and remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
These are two very different holidays with their own very different traditions. But it seems fitting that we mark them both during the same week. For in a larger sense, they are both moments of reflection and renewal. They are both occasions to think more deeply about the obligations we have to ourselves and the obligations we have to one another, no matter who we are, where we come from, or what faith we practice.
This idea – that we are all bound up, as Martin Luther King once said, in “a single garment of destiny”– is a lesson of all the world’s great religions. And never has it been more important for us to reaffirm that lesson than it is today – at a time when we face tests and trials unlike any we have seen in our time. An economic crisis that recognizes no borders. Violent extremism that’s claimed the lives of innocent men, women, and children from Manhattan to Mumbai. An unsustainable dependence on foreign oil and other sources of energy that pollute our air and water and threaten our planet. The proliferation of the world’s most dangerous weapons, the persistence of deadly disease, and the recurrence of age-old conflicts.
These are challenges that no single nation, no matter how powerful, can confront alone. The United States must lead the way. But our best chance to solve these unprecedented problems comes from acting in concert with other nations. That is why I met with leaders of the G-20 nations to ensure that the world’s largest economies take strong and unified action in the face of the global economic crisis. Together, we’ve taken steps to stimulate growth, restore the flow of credit, open markets, and dramatically reform our financial regulatory system to prevent such crises from occurring again – steps that will lead to job creation at home.
It is only by working together that we will finally defeat 21st century security threats like al Qaeda. So it was heartening that our NATO allies united in Strasbourg behind our strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and contributed important resources to support our effort there.
It is only by coordinating with countries around the world that we will stop the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons. That is why I laid out a strategy in Prague for us to work with Russia and other nations to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons; to secure nuclear materials from terrorists; and, ultimately, to free the world from the menace of a nuclear nightmare.
And it is only by building a new foundation of mutual trust that we will tackle some of our most entrenched problems. That is why, in Turkey, I spoke to members of Parliament and university students about rising above the barriers of race, region, and religion that too often divide us.
With all that is at stake today, we cannot afford to talk past one another. We can’t afford to allow old differences to prevent us from making progress in areas of common concern. We can’t afford to let walls of mistrust stand. Instead, we have to find – and build on – our mutual interests. For it is only when people come together, and seek common ground, that some of that mistrust can begin to fade. And that is where progress begins.
Make no mistake: we live in a dangerous world, and we must be strong and vigilant in the face of these threats. But let us not allow whatever differences we have with other nations to stop us from coming together around those solutions that are essential to our survival and success.
As we celebrate Passover, Easter, and this time of renewal, let’s find strength in our shared resolve and purpose in our common aspirations. And if we can do that, then not only will we fulfill the sacred meaning of these holy days, but we will fulfill the promise of our country as a leader around the world.
Gotta love her! First Lady Michelle Obama actually started her White House garden last week along with 25 school children to help. Before leaving on her European trip, the First Lady broke ground on what would become the White Houses’ first garden since the mid 1900′s. But really, who thought that Michelle Obama was really gonna get down in the dirt and start planting seedlings?
Kudos to the First Lady!
The White House garden will include annual and perennial herbs such as mint, garlic, chives, thyme, oregano, anise, basil, cilantro, dill and fennel.
Assorted vegetable also will grace the White House table. Different varieties of lettuce, spinach, onions, black kale, shard, snap peas, shell peas, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, tomatillos and cucumbers were planted. The White House garden functions as a duel purpose. To feed and inform. The White House garden will feed, not only the First Family, but neighboring soup kitchens. Most importantly, the White House garden will promote national awareness of eating good, natural healthy foods that families can grow for pennies. It is economical and heart-smart.
But where are the collard and mustard greens? Where’s the cabbage and corn? Something tells me that there is another more secret garden close by!
Somali pirates have restarted negotiations for the release of U.S. ship captain Richard Phillips Saturday. A Somali pirate has said that the captain will be released in exchange for an undisclosed amount of ransom money and safe passage.
Two U.S. warships are currently monitoring the Somali pirate situation off the coast of East Africa. Somali pirates say that one of their sources has revealed a plot by the U.S. to stage a raid. If this happens, Somali pirates claim that they will execute Phillips. Previously, Somali pirates stated that they would not harm the U.S. captain.
Somali pirate Da’ud said that “negotiations failed yesterday, but still there is another hope to begin again.”
Doctor That Treated Widow Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Arrested For Practicing Medicine Without A License!
The doctor who treated the late Coretta Scott King for ovarian cancer was arrested in California this week in the middle of his radio broadcast.
Kurt Donsbach, 73, was formally charged on 11 felony counts that included practicing medicine with out a state license. Bail was set at $1.5 million dollars. Donsbach is known for his naturopathic approach for treating various diseases with unorthodox or holistic approaches.
Donsbach’s website, Letstalkhealth.com, disseminates naturopathic information and dispenses natural supplements that carry the claims that theses can cure arthritis and cancer.
The late widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King, was treated by Kurt Donsbach in 2006 at his clinic, Santa Monica Health Institute, located in Rosarito, Mexico. In 1997, Donsbach was sentenced to one year in prison for smuggling $250,000 in unapproved drugs into the U.S from Mexico.
California District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis stated the following after an extensive FBI investigation:
“The defendant preyed on vulnerable patients who were looking for medical help. Under the guise of providing natural and safe supplements, he sold victims potentially dangerous drugs.”
TMZ made a huge blunder last week by reporting that Snoop Dogg’s wife, Shante Broadus was killed in an accident. The story proved to be false and birthed questions on the mechanisms that churn gossip media outlets.
Snoop Dogg’s camp released the following statement to Internet site Bossip:
In regards to the story you ran earlier on the false death of Shante Broadus, can you please run this official statement from Snoop Dogg’s management and please attribute the quote as “an official statement released by Snoop Dogg’s management.” Thanks and please let me know if you have any questions.
“Of course, the CHP rumors are absolutely not true, totally ridiculous, and most of all hurtful to Snoop Dogg and his family. Snoop, Shante and their family are all alive and well – we appreciate the fans concerns for their safety. Anything said or reported on regarding the death of Shante Broadus is totally false.”
DETROIT – Detroit Public Schools would close 23 schools and lay off 600 teachers in a proposal released Thursday that would consolidate facilities in a shrinking district facing a projected $303 million deficit.
The proposal was made by the state’s financial overseer, Robert Bobb, who also has asked the state for $200 million in federal stimulus funds to improve the remaining schools and strengthen safety and security.
A financial emergency has been declared for the district, which has been struggling for years with declining enrollment as the city’s population shrinks and charter schools draw students. The superintendent was fired in December and Gov. Jennifer Granholm named Bobb the district’s emergency financial manager the following month.
The 192-school system has about 5,700 teachers and an enrollment of more than 95,000; it had nearly twice as many students in the late 1990s. About 7,500 students would have to change schools under the new proposal.
Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson said Bobb’s plan appears to be a move in the right direction for the district’s long-term health.
“He’s going to make sure teachers are equipped with the materials that they need,” Johnson said.
Michigan Department of Education spokesman Martin Ackley said the state was reviewing Bobb’s request for $200 million to see what might be available. He said there was no timeline for a decision.
Without the federal stimulus funds, Bobb said he would use $26 million from a previous bond issue to get some of the needed work done.
The first of a series of town hall meetings for the public on the restructuring plan is scheduled for April 28, and the district is expected to make a final decision May 8. Bobb said some of the laid-off teachers could return, but another round of potential school closings will be announced this summer.
***Thank You Associated Press!***
TEXT OF LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
April 9, 2009
Dear Madam Speaker:
We face a security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan that demands urgent attention. The Taliban is resurgent and al Qaeda threatens America from its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
With that reality as my focus, today I send to the Congress a supplemental appropriations request totaling $83.4 billion that will fund our ongoing military, diplomatic, and intelligence operations. Nearly 95 percent of these funds will be used to support our men and women in uniform as they help the people of Iraq to take responsibility for their own future — and work to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The rest of the money will fund a variety of defense and international efforts that will help to use all the elements of our power to confront the threats to our security — from securing loose nuclear weapons to combating fear and want under repressive regimes.
In the past, the Congress has moved expeditiously to approve funding for our Armed Forces. I urge the Congress to do so once more. I also urge the Congress to focus on the needs of our troops and our national security, and not to use the supplemental to pursue unnecessary spending. I want the Congress to send me a focused bill, and to do so quickly. When this request returns to me as legislation ready to be signed, it should remain focused on our security. It is important that we follow the same approach we applied to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and keep extraneous and unnecessary projects out of this legislation.
As I noted when first I introduced my budget in February, this is the last planned war supplemental. Since September 2001, the Congress has passed 17 separate emergency funding bills totaling $822.1 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After 7 years of war, the American people deserve an honest accounting of the cost of our involvement in our ongoing military operations.
We must break that recent tradition and include future military costs in the regular budget so that we have an honest, more accurate, and fiscally responsible estimate of Federal spending. And we should not label military costs as emergency funds so as to avoid our responsibility to abide by the spending limitations set forth by the Congress. After years of budget gimmicks and wasteful spending, it is time to end the era of irresponsibility in Washington. In this request, we are honest about the costs we will bear as a Nation, and we will use our resources wisely and responsibly to meet the threats of our time and keep our Nation safe and secure.
There is no question of the resolve of our military women and men. Yet, in Afghanistan, that resolve has not been matched by a comprehensive strategy and sufficient resources. This funding request will ensure that the full force of the United States — our military, intelligence, diplomatic, and economic power — are engaged in an overall effort to defeat al Qaeda and uproot the safe haven from which it plans and trains for attacks on the homeland and on our allies. At the same time that we are increasing our troop commitment, we will employ the necessary civilian resources to build Afghan governance capacity and self-sufficiency.
As the United States moves forward with our mission, we are asking our friends and allies to join us with a renewed commitment. As I made clear on my recent trip to Europe, the threat posed by al Qaeda is international in scope; the response to the threat also should be international. Going forward with this strategy, we will establish and regularly assess military and civilian capacity, checking progress through clear measurements to ensure an ongoing informed assessment and accountability. I have asked my National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones, to oversee this effort and to work with the Congress on the development of these standards for progress.
In Iraq, violence has been reduced substantially because of the skilled efforts of our troops and the Iraqi people’s commitment to peace. The threat of terrorism in Iraq has been dealt a serious blow. Iraqis are prepared to take responsibility for their own future through a peaceful political process. Because of this, we are positioned to move forward with a responsible drawdown of our combat forces, transferring security to Iraq’s forces. Under the Strategic Framework Agreement and Security Agreement, Iraqi personnel have taken the lead in security operations and will continue to handle greater responsibility.
Stability and security depend on responsive, capable, and accountable governments. This request includes funds to help create political and economic stability in post-conflict areas, assist Afghans and Iraqis to protect and sustain their infrastructure, and build their capacity for more responsive and transparent governance. This request also will enable military commanders to respond to urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction needs in their areas of responsibility. We provide funds for the extraordinary security and costs associated with supporting U.S. diplomatic activity in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
The request also increases funding to provide wounded servicemembers with the highest quality support and care, and provides additional compensation to our troops for their service in hazardous, life-threatening areas.
This request reflects the reality of our day and age: We need to use all the elements of our power — economic and diplomatic as well as military — to confront threats to our security.
Thank you for your consideration of this funding request and for your steadfast support for our servicemembers and their families.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) – David “Pop” Winans, patriarch of The Winans family gospel group that earned six Grammy awards, has died, a spokesman for a Nashville hospice said on Thursday.
Winans, 74, died of a heart attack on Wednesday with his wife, Delores, at his side, a spokesman said. He had suffered a heart attack and stroke last year.
Under Winans’ guiding hand as manager of the children, The Winans became the biggest male gospel quartet of the 1980s with such songs as “It’s Time” and “Ain’t No Need to Worry.”
The Winans, nicknamed “Mom” and “Pop,” had 10 children in all.
The four performing as The Winans were Michael, Marvin, Carvin and Ronald, though other family members occasionally joined the group. Two children, BeBe and CeCe Winans, formed a duo and turned out R&B/gospel hits such as “Addictive Love” and “I’ll Take You There.”
The parents recorded a Grammy-nominated debut, “Mom & Pop Winans,” in 1989 followed by “The Rest of My Life,” which featured a rocking rendition of “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”
Another solo album, “Uncensored,” was nominated for a Grammy and was described by Billboard magazine as “some of the most compelling music this century has spawned.”
A statement from the Winans family said that memorial services are planned for next week at Perfection Church in Detroit where Marvin Winans is senior pastor.
***Thank You Reuters!***