Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Each week, I’ve spoken with you about the challenges we face as a nation and the path we must take to meet them. And the truth is, over the past ten months, I’ve often had to report distressing news during what has been a difficult time for our country. But today, I am pleased to offer some better news that – while not cause for celebration – is certainly reason to believe that we are moving in the right direction.
On Thursday, we received a report on our Gross Domestic Product, or GDP. This is an important measure of our economy as a whole, one that tells us how much we are producing and how much businesses and families are earning. We learned that the economy grew for the first time in more than a year and faster than at any point in the previous two years. So while we have a long way to go before we return to prosperity, and there will undoubtedly be ups and downs along the road, it’s also true that we’ve come a long way. It is easy to forget that it was only several months ago that the economy was shrinking rapidly and many economists feared another Great Depression.
Now, economic growth is no substitute for job growth. And we will likely see further job losses in the coming days, a fact that is both troubling for our economy and heartbreaking for the men and women who suddenly find themselves out of work. But we will not create the jobs we need unless the economy is growing; that’s why this GDP report is a good sign. And we can see clearly now that the steps my administration is taking are making a difference, blunting the worst of this recession and helping to bring about its conclusion.
We’ve acted aggressively to jumpstart credit for families and businesses, including small businesses, which have seen an increase in lending of 73 percent. We’ve taken steps to stem the tide of foreclosures, modifying mortgages to help hundreds of thousands of responsible homeowners keep their homes and help millions more sustain the value in their homes. And the Recovery Act is spurring demand through a tax cut for 95 percent of working families, and through assistance for seniors and those who have lost jobs – which not only helps folks hardest hit by the downturn, but also encourages the consumer spending that will help turn the economy around.
Finally, the Recovery Act is saving and creating jobs all across the country. Just this week, we reached an important milestone. Based on reports coming in from across America – as shovels break ground, as needed public servants are rehired, and as factories whir to life – it is clear that the Recovery Act has now created and saved more than one million jobs. That’s more than a million people who might otherwise be out of work today – folks who can wake up each day knowing that they’ll be able to provide for themselves and their families.
We’ve saved jobs by closing state budget shortfalls to prevent the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of police officers, firefighters, and teachers who are today on the beat, on call, and in the classroom because of the Recovery Act. And we’ve also created hundreds of thousands of jobs through the largest investment in our roads since the building of the interstate highways, and through the largest investments in education, medical research, and clean energy in history.
These investments aren’t just helping us recover in the short term, they’re helping to lay a new foundation for lasting prosperity in the long term – and they’re giving hardworking, middle-class Americans the chance to succeed and raise a family. Because of the investments we’ve made and the steps we’ve taken, it’s easier for middle-class families to send their kids to college and get the training and skills they need to compete in a global economy. We’re making it easier for these families to save for retirement. And in areas like clean energy, we’re creating the jobs of the future – jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.
In fact, just this week, I traveled to Arcadia, Florida to announce the largest set of clean energy projects through the Recovery Act so far: one hundred grants for businesses, utilities, manufacturers, cities and other partners across the country to put thousands of people to work modernizing our electric grid – the system that provides power to our homes and businesses – so that it wastes less energy, helps integrate renewables like wind and solar, and saves consumers money. And that’s just one example.
So, we have made progress. At the same time, I want to emphasize that there’s still plenty of progress to be made. For we know that positive news for the economy as a whole means little if you’ve lost your job and can’t find another, if you can’t afford health care or the mortgage, if you do not see in your own life the improvement we are seeing in these economic statistics. And positive news today does not mean there won’t be difficult days ahead. As I’ve said many times, it took years to dig our way into the crisis we’ve faced. It will take more than a few months to dig our way out. But make no mistake: that’s exactly what we will do.
For the economy we seek is one where folks who need a job can find one and incomes are rising again. The economy we seek is one where small businesses can flourish and entrepreneurs can get the capital they need to plant new seeds of growth. The economy we seek is one that’s no longer based on maxed out credits cards, wild speculation, and the old cycles of boom or bust – but rather one that’s built on a solid foundation, supporting growth that is strong, sustained, and broadly shared by middle class families across America. That is what we are working toward every single day. And we will not stop until we get there.
Thank you. And Happy Halloween.
Friday President Barack Obama signed a proclamation declaring November 11, 2009 as Veterans Day. In a statement released by the White House, President Obama said that “American veterans deserve our deepest appreciation and respect.”
“Caring for our veterans is more than a way of thanking them for their service,” the President remarked, “it is an obligation to our fellow citizens who have risked their lives to defend our freedom.”
The Veterans Day Proclamation suggests that on November 11, 2009, Americans should participate in programs and activities that honor all veterans.
WEEKEND GUIDANCE AND PRESS SCHEDULE FOR
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 31, AND SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2009
On Saturday, the President and the First Lady will welcome more than 2,000 local area children from DC, Maryland and Virginia schools and their families for trick or treating at the North Portico for Halloween. In addition, the President and the First Lady will host a Halloween reception for military families and children of White House and Residence staff.
On Sunday, the President will travel to Camden and Newark, New Jersey to deliver remarks at events for Governor Jon Corzine.
New Recipient Reports Confirm Recovery Act Has Created, Saved Over One Million Jobs Nationwide
640,329 Direct Jobs Reported on Approximately Half of Spending To-Date
WASHINGTON – The Obama Administration today reported that recipients of Recovery Act funds have informed the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board that they have created or saved 640,329 direct jobs in reports covering approximately $160 billion, which represents a little less than half of the funds put to work through September 30, 2009. These reports, covering only directly created jobs and less than half the funds spent thus far, support government and private forecaster’s estimates that overall the Recovery Act has created or saved over one million jobs to-date. The majority of the jobs reported were in the construction and education sectors, indicating the Recovery Act is not only bolstering private sector companies during the economic downturn, but also making critical investments in keeping America competitive in the 21st century. Of the 640,329 jobs, about 325,000 are in education, and over 80,000 are in construction. To learn more about the jobs created and saved, click HERE.
“These reports are strong confirmation that the Recovery Act is responsible for over one million jobs so far and we are on-track to create and save 3.5 million jobs through the Recovery Act by the end of next year,” said Vice President Biden. “This is another encouraging sign of progress following yesterday’s news that the economy has begun to grow again for the first time in more than a year, but the President and I will not be satisfied until monthly reports show net job growth. We are working every day to create more jobs and we will continue to report on our progress doing so with the Recovery Act in the same transparent way we did today.”
The reports were filed in early October by state and local governments, private companies, colleges and universities and community organizations who received Recovery Act funds and will be posted publicly on Recovery.gov later today following a three-week review process. As mandated by Congress, the reports specifically focused on the approximately $160 billion in spending of the $339 billion in spending and tax relief through September 30, 2010 that includes projects and activities. The reports do not cover the Act’s significant tax cuts and direct payments to individuals such as Pell Grants and unemployment compensation. Approximately seventy percent of the funds were reported by state governments, with both Republican and Democratic governors participating in the process.
A report released today by Jared Bernstein, Chief Economist and Senior Advisor to the Vice President, notes that the new data confirms the Administration is on-track to meet its goal of creating and saving at least 3.5 million jobs through the Recovery Act. The report also found that the states with the highest unemployment rates nationwide reported 25 percent more jobs created and saved per capita than the nation as a whole. To view the report, click HERE.
The recipient reports that will be posted today are part of an historic effort to provide the American people with more information about the Recovery Act at work than with any previous government program. With the collection and posting of this new recipient data – a first for a government program – visitors to the site will be able to access over 100,000 recipient and sub-recipient filings that show who received the funds, when they received them, how they began to spend them and the related direct job impact to-date. Recently upgraded mapping features on the site will allow visitors to sort this data by state, zip code or Congressional District, enabling the public to monitor Recovery Act activity taking place in their own backyard. Approximately 90 percent of Recovery funding recipients filed these detailed reports on the use of their funds.
Recipients were asked to only report jobs directly funded by the Act and were instructed not to estimate indirect job impact. For estimates of the total job impact of the Recovery Act, including the impact of the tax cuts, aid to individuals directly hurt by the recession, and much of the state fiscal relief, experts rely on macroeconomic modeling. Using these models, the Council of Economic Advisers and private forecasters estimated that the Recovery Act has helped to create or retain more than a million jobs so far.
Today’s news follows the release yesterday of new third quarter GDP figures that show the economy grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of the year in stark contrast to the decline of 6.4 percent annual rate just two quarters ago. Analysis by both the Council of Economic Advisers and a wide range of private and public-sector forecasters indicates the Recovery Act contributed between 3 and 4 percentage points to real GDP growth in the third quarter, suggesting that in the absence of the Recovery Act, real GDP would have risen little, if at all, this past quarter.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT SIGNING OF THE RYAN WHITE HIV/AIDS
TREATMENT EXTENSION ACT OF 2009
Diplomatic Reception Room
11:58 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
THE PRESIDENT: We often speak about AIDS as if it’s going on somewhere else. And for good reason — this is a virus that has touched lives and decimated communities around the world, particularly in Africa. But often overlooked is the fact that we face a serious HIV/AIDS epidemic of our own — right here in Washington, D.C., and right here in the United States of America. And today, we are taking two important steps forward in the fight that we face here at home.
It has been nearly three decades since this virus first became known. But for years, we refused to recognize it for what it was. It was coined a “gay disease.” Those who had it were viewed with suspicion. There was a sense among some that people afflicted by AIDS somehow deserved their fate and that it was acceptable for our nation to look the other way.
A number of events and advances over the years have broadened our understanding of this cruel illness. One of them came in 1984, when a 13-year-old boy from central Indiana contracted HIV/AIDS from a transfusion. Doctors assured people that Ryan White posed no risk to his classmates or his community. But ignorance was still widespread. People didn’t yet understand or believe that the virus couldn’t be spread by casual contact. Parents protested Ryan’s attendance in class. Some even pulled their kids out of school. Things got so bad that the White family had to ultimately move to another town.
It would have been easy for Ryan and his family to stay quiet and to fight the illness in private. But what Ryan showed was the same courage and strength that so many HIV-positive activists have shown over the years and shown around — show around the world today. And because he did, we didn’t just become more informed about HIV/AIDS, we began to take action to fight it.
In 1990, the year Ryan passed away, two great friends and unlikely political allies, Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch, came together and introduced the Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act — the CARE Act — which was later named after Ryan.
In a few minutes, I’m going to sign the fourth reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act. Now, in the past, policy differences have made reauthorizations of this program divisive and controversial. But that didn’t happen this year. And for that, the members of Congress that are here today deserve extraordinary credit for passing this bill in the bipartisan manner that it deserves: Tom Harkin and Mike Enzi in the Senate, we are grateful to you for your extraordinary work; Speaker Pelosi, who’s always leading the charge on so many issues; Frank Pallone, Jr., Joe Barton, Barbara Lee and Donna Christensen in the House, thank you for your extraordinary work — oh don’t worry, I’m getting to Henry. (Laughter.) Nancy is always looking out for members, but we’ve got a special section for Henry.
And Chairman Henry Waxman, who began holding hearings on AIDS in 1982, before there was even a name for AIDS, was leading here in Washington to make sure that this got the informed attention that it deserved and who led the House in passing the original Ryan White legislation in 1990.
I also want to acknowledge the HIV community for crafting a consensus document that did so much to help move this process forward. Some of the advocates so important to this legislation are with us here today: Ernest Hopkins from Cities Advocating for Emergency AIDS Relief; Frank Oldham, Jr., President and CEO of the National Association of People with AIDS; and Julie Scofield, Executive Director of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors.
And I’m especially honored that Ryan’s mother, Jeanne White-Ginder, is here today. For 25 years, Jeanne had an immeasurable impact in helping ramp up America’s response to this epidemic. While we lost Ryan at too young an age, Jeanne’s efforts have extended the lives and saved the lives of so many others. We are so appreciative to you. Thank you. (Applause.)
You know, over the past 19 years this legislation has evolved from an emergency response into a comprehensive national program for the care and support of Americans living with HIV/AIDS. It helps communities that are most severely affected by this epidemic and often least served by our health care system, including minority communities, the LGBT community, rural communities, and the homeless. It’s often the only option for the uninsured and the underinsured. And it provides life-saving medical services to more than half a million Americans every year, in every corner of the country.
It’s helped us to open a critical front on the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS. But let me be clear: This is a battle that’s far from over, and it’s a battle that all of us need to do our part to join. AIDS may no longer be the leading killer of Americans ages 25 to 44, as it once was. But there are still 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States, and more than 56,000 new infections occur every single year.
Some communities still experience unacceptably high rates of infection. Gay men make up 2 or 3 percent of the population, but more than half of all new cases. African Americans make up roughly half of all new cases. Nearly half of all new cases now occur in the South. And a staggering 7 percent of Washington, D.C.’s residents between the ages of 40 and 49 live with HIV/AIDS — and the epidemic here isn’t as severe as it is in several other U.S. cities.
So tackling this epidemic will take far more aggressive approaches than we’ve seen in the past — not only from our federal government, but also state and local governments, from local community organizations, and from places of worship.
But it will also take an effort to end the stigma that has stopped people from getting tested; that has stopped people from facing their own illness; and that has sped the spread of this disease for far too long. A couple of years ago Michelle and I were in Africa and we tried to combat the stigma when we were in Kenya by taking a public HIV/AIDS test. And I’m proud to announce today we’re about to take another step towards ending that stigma.
Twenty-two years ago, in a decision rooted in fear rather than fact, the United States instituted a travel ban on entry into the country for people living with HIV/AIDS. Now, we talk about reducing the stigma of this disease — yet we’ve treated a visitor living with it as a threat. We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic — yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people from HIV from entering our own country.
If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it. And that’s why, on Monday my administration will publish a final rule that eliminates the travel ban effective just after the New Year. Congress and President Bush began this process last year, and they ought to be commended for it. We are finishing the job. It’s a step that will encourage people to get tested and get treatment, it’s a step that will keep families together, and it’s a step that will save lives. (Applause.)
We are continuing the work of crafting a coordinated, measurable national HIV/AIDS strategy to stem and suppress this epidemic. I’m pleased to report that the Office of National AIDS Policy, led by Jeffrey Crowley, has already held eight in a series of 14 community discussions in cities across the country. They’ve brought together faith-based organizations and businesses, schools and research institutions, people living with HIV and concerned citizens, gathering ideas on how to target a national response that effectively reduces HIV infections, improves access to treatment, and eliminates health disparities. And we are encouraged by the energy, the enthusiasm, and great ideas that we’ve collected so far.
We can’t give Ryan White back to Jeanne, back to his mom. But what we can do — what the legislation that I’m about to sign has done for nearly 20 years — is honor the courage that he and his family showed. What we can do is to take more action and educate more people. What we can do is keep fighting each and every day until we eliminate this disease from the face of the Earth.
So with that, let me sign this bill. (Applause.)
(The Act is signed.) (Applause.)
The Obama Administration Responds To Associated Press’ Accusations Of White House’s Fuzzy Numbers And Padded Data
Response to AP Story on Recovery Act
- AP looked only at the earliest data posted, representing just 2% of Recovery Act spending.
- The data errors cited by AP – on about 5,000 jobs — are not significant to the total job count (of hundreds of thousands of jobs) that will be posted on Friday.
- It is not surprising that there were errors in these very first postings ever on Recovery.gov – made just three business days after data was submitted. The data upload coming on Friday has benefited from three weeks of review, and will not have similar problems.
- Of the five specific problems cited by AP, four had already been found and fixed.
Statement from Ed DeSeve, Senior Advisor to the President for Recovery Act Implementation:
“This story draws misleading conclusions from a handful of examples. It looks at only a small portion of the data – an initial upload of data representing just two percent of Recovery Act spending – that was made publicly available before a full review of its accuracy could be done. Virtually all of the errors found by the AP had already been found by our review, and were already corrected in an update to be loaded onto Recovery.gov this week.
Tomorrow, more than 100,000 recipient reports will be posted on Recovery.gov. Unlike the small number of reports reviewed by AP, these reports have been reviewed for weeks, errors have been spotted and corrected, and additional layers of review by state and local governments have further improved the data quality. As a result, whatever problems the early and partial data had, the full data to be posted on Friday will provide the American people with an accurate, detailed look at the early success of the Recovery Act.”
Here are the real facts on the misleading AP story on the Recovery Act recipient reporting process:
“The errors could be magnified Friday when a much larger round of reports is released.”
- FACT: The federal contract data AP reviewed was a test run posting of a small sub-set of the data that was made available to the public after less than three business days of review time. The full data that will be posted on Friday will have undergone an extensive review process for twenty days involving the Recovery Board, federal agencies and direct communication with the recipients themselves. So the data posted this Friday will be more accurate – not less – than what was posted on October 15th.
- FACT: The federal contract data AP surveyed represents just 2 percent of overall Recovery Act spending and just a fraction of what will be posted on Recovery.gov on Friday. It does not provide a statistically significant indication of the quality of the full reporting that will come on Friday.
“A Colorado company said it created 4,231 jobs with the help of President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan. The real number: fewer than 1,000.”
- FACT: The very first example AP cites was already corrected more than a week ago as part of the twenty-day review process and the change is in the final data posting being prepared for Friday. This item represents over 3,000 – or 60 percent – of the “nearly 5,000 jobs” AP uses to try to make its argument.
- FACT: All recipients were given through October 30th to clarify and confirm their data – including those linked to federal contracts. Any conclusions drawn about the quality of that small portion of data as it was posted two weeks ago are simply premature.
Officials at East Central Technical College in Douglas, Ga., said they now know they shouldn’t have claimed 280 stimulus jobs linked to more than $200,000 to buy three semi-trucks and trailers for commercial driving instruction, and a modular classroom and bathroom for a health education program.
- FACT: This item – which represents less than .06 percent of the total jobs reported was also already corrected more than a week ago as part of the twenty-day review process and the change is in the final data posting being prepared for Friday.
- FACT: All recipients were given through October 30th to clarify and confirm their data – including those linked to federal contracts. Any conclusions drawn about the quality of that small portion of data as it was posted two weeks ago are simply premature.
The San Joaquin, Calif., Regional Rail Commission reported creating or saving 125 jobs as part of a stimulus project to lay railroad track. Because the project drew from two pools of money, the commission reported that figure twice, bringing the total to 250.
- FACT: This item – which represents less than .04 percent of the total jobs reported – was also already corrected as part of the twenty-day review process and the change is in the final data posting being prepared for Friday.
- FACT: All recipients were given through October 30th to clarify and confirm their data – including those linked to federal contracts. Any conclusions drawn about the quality of that small portion of data as it was posted two weeks ago are simply premature.
The Toledo, Ohio-based Koring Group also received two FCC contracts to help people make the switch to digital television. The company reported hiring 26 people for each of the two contracts, bringing its total jobs to 54 on the government’s official count. But the company cited the same 26 workers for both contracts, meaning the same jobs were counted twice. The job count was further inflated because each job lasted only about two months, so each worker should have counted as one-sixth of a full-time job.
- FACT: This item – which represents less than .01 percent of the total jobs reported – was also already corrected as part of the twenty-day review process and the change is in the final data posting being prepared for Friday.
While the thousands of overstated jobs represent a tiny sliver of the overall economy, they represent a significant percentage of the initial employment count credited to the stimulus program.
- FACT: The overestimate of “thousands” of jobs AP cites is out of hundreds of thousands of jobs that will be reported overall on Friday – the vast majority of which underwent the more extensive twenty-day vetting process.
- · FACT: Even if you remove the “nearly 5,000 jobs” from the total federal contracts job number, it is still in-line with government and private forecaster’s estimates of about one million Recovery Act jobs overall to-date.
DAILY GUIDANCE AND PRESS SCHEDULE FOR
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2009
In the morning, the President will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing, the Economic Daily Briefing, and meet with senior advisors in the Oval Office. These meetings are closed press.
Later, the President will deliver remarks and sign the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 in the Diplomatic Reception Room.
In the afternoon, the President will meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Situation Room. Expected attendees include:
Vice President Biden
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
General James Jones, National Security Advisor
Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General James E. Cartwright, USMC, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
General George W. Casey, Chief of Staff of the Army
General James T. Conway, Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps
Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations
General Norton A. Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force
Tom Donilon, Deputy National Security Advisor
John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security
Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, Special Assistant to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan
REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY
AT GARDEN HARVESTING EVENT
White House Kitchen Garden
2:14 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: So how’s everybody doing?
MRS. OBAMA: So we’ve got some Bancroft students — and what other school do we have here?
MRS. OBAMA: Yes, Kimball. You guys are a new school. So we’re happy to have you guys. So you know why we’re here?
CHILD: For the garden.
MRS. OBAMA: To garden. Well, more importantly we’re going to harvest, right, because we’ve got all this food that is ready to be picked and eaten. So just — especially for the Kimball students, because Bancroft students — you guys are new, even though the school isn’t new. Many of you haven’t been here before, right?
MRS. OBAMA: Yes, yes. So you remember how this all started. If you remember that it was — in March, right — we decided we were going to plant this garden. So this garden wasn’t here before. Nothing was here. This was grass like everything else. So we thought, well, wouldn’t it be great if we could use this garden to talk about the importance of healthy eating and what good, fresh foods taste like?
So we had Bancroft students, who were fifth graders then — many of them have gone on to sixth grade, a new school — but they helped us till the soil, get the soil ready. So we had to pull up all the grass and make sure that the soil was ready and healthy. And then they came back and we actually planted.
We planted — remember planting these — all these herbs and some of the lettuces. So some of them were seeds, but some of them were little plants. And then they grew, and then in the spring and the summer we harvested. So there was food just like this, ready to be picked. And then we ate together.
So then the summer went by, and now it’s fall, and there’s a whole new crop of food here that’s ready to be harvested. And actually we’ve done a little bit of that. My girls and I, we got a couple of the sweet potatoes, and we’re going to do some of those — these sweet potatoes are huge! They’re huge. So hopefully you guys will be able to pull up some of these huge sweet potatoes.
So that’s why we’ve invited you all here. So you’re going to help us do our fall/winter harvest.
Yes, young man, you have a question? Oh, you’re just fanning your hair? (Laughter.) That’s good, that’s good.
But we also have some other guests in addition to our students. We’ve got somebody very special — the first time he’s been down with us to help harvest, Jim Adams. And Jim is the chief horticulturalist here at the White House. Do you know what a horticulturalist does, or what he did for this garden? He really was responsible for how productive this garden was, because, you know, we sort of know a little bit of something about gardening, but how do you know what to plant where, and what’s going to grow well here in this soil?
Well, Jim helped us figure out where to put things, how to make it beautiful and to make sure that the food was going to grow, and we were going to get the right types of fruits at the right period of the season. So Jim, really, we have to give him a big round of applause because — (applause) — thanks to Jim we have a very productive garden.
Do you know how much food has come out of this garden so far? Over 740 pounds of food have come out of this little piece of land.
And do you know how much it costs to plant all this? How much do you all think it would cost to plant this? Give me a figure.
CHILD: Three hundred dollars.
MRS. OBAMA: What?
CHILD: Three hundred dollars.
MRS. OBAMA: Three hundred dollars? I have three hundred here! (Laughter.)
CHILD: Eight hundred.
MRS. OBAMA: Eight hundred. I’ve got eight hundred. One thousand. Six thousand dollars. One more guess.
CHILD: Five hundred.
MRS. OBAMA: Five hundred. All right, it costs less than two hundred dollars. It was about a hundred and eighty dollars. It cost a hundred dollars to get the — a hundred-and-twenty-something dollars to get the soil ready, and about fifty-five dollars for all of these seeds.
So for less than two hundred dollars we have planted enough food to feed not just the folks at the White House, but we’ve also given a lot of food to some of our neighbors, and we’re going to do that today.
We’ve got some of the staff and our friends from Miriam’s Kitchen, who are here. Miriam’s — you guys raise your hands. The Miriam’s Kitchen team. You guys know about Miriam’s Kitchen? It’s a place where folks can go and get help if they need it. You know, if moms and kids and families are hitting on hard times and they don’t have a place to get food, they can go to Miriam’s Kitchen. And Miriam’s Kitchen specializes in making sure that everyone who comes there has access to really healthy food.
So everything that you guys pick here today, we’re donating it to the Miriam’s Kitchen. So it makes it even extra special, okay?
So I want to thank you guys for coming and for sharing this with us. And I also want to introduce all our chefs at the White House. Everybody, raise your hands, all of our chefs at the White House who are — who have helped to make sure that this garden grows and that we get good food, and they make it, and it’s good, and it’s healthy. You know, it’s all that good stuff.
So are you guys ready to do some work?
MRS. OBAMA: Are you ready to work really hard?
MRS. OBAMA: Are you ready to get dirty?
MRS. OBAMA: All right, let’s go! Let’s go, let’s do it, let’s do it!
Statement on GDP from CEA Chair Christina Romer
“Data released today by the Commerce Department show that real GDP grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of the year. This is in stark contrast to the decline of 6.4 percent annual rate just two quarters ago. Indeed, the two-quarter swing in the rate of growth of 9.9 percentage points was the largest since 1980. Analysis by both the Council of Economic Advisers and a wide range of private and public-sector forecasters indicates that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 contributed between 3 and 4 percentage points to real GDP growth in the third quarter. This suggests that in the absence of the Recovery Act, real GDP would have risen little, if at all, this past quarter. ”
“After four consecutive quarters of decline, positive GDP growth is an encouraging sign that the U.S. economy is moving in the right direction. However, this welcome milestone is just another step, and we still have a long road to travel until the economy is fully recovered. The turnaround in crucial labor market indicators, such as employment and the unemployment rate, typically occurs after the turnaround in GDP. And it will take sustained, robust GDP growth to bring the unemployment rate down substantially. Such a decline in unemployment is, of course, what we are all working to achieve.”
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts
WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key administration posts:
- Suresh Kumar, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service, Department of Commerce
- James P. Lynch, Director, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Department of Justice
President Obama said, “I am grateful that these individuals will bring their energy and expertise to my administration and look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”
President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals today:
Suresh Kumar, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service, Department of Commerce
Suresh Kumar is President & Managing Partner of KaiZen Innovation. He served as Special Advisor to the Clinton Foundation where he worked with governments in Sub-Saharan Africa and corporate CEOs to establish private-public partnerships to stimulate economic development in the region. Mr. Kumar previously served on the Group Operating Committee at Johnson & Johnson and as Vice President of Consumer Products for Latin America at Warner Lambert/Pfizer. Mr. Kumar has published on global management and served as adjunct faculty member at the Schulich School of Business at Toronto’s York University, Bombay University, India and has been appointed Professor of International Business at Rutgers University EMBA program. Between 1970 and 1985 Mr. Kumar was a news anchor on national television in India. Mr. Kumar has an Economics degree from Delhi University, an MBA from Bombay University, and is alum of the Thunderbird International Consortium Program. In 2004, Mr. Kumar was named Distinguished Executive-in-Residence by Thunderbird School of Global Management for his contributions to global trade.
James P. Lynch, Nominee for Director, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Department of Justice
James Lynch is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at John Jay College, City University of New York. He was previously a professor in the Department of Justice, Law, and Society at American University from 1986 to 2005 and chair of the Department from 2003 to 2005. Dr. Lynch is currently serving as the Vice President-elect of the American Society of Criminology (ASC). He previously served on the Committee on Law and Justice Statistics of the American Statistical Association and as a member of the National Academy of Science panel evaluating the programs of the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Dr. Lynch has published three books and numerous articles on crime statistics, victimization surveys, victimization risk, and the role of sanctions in social control and is also co-editor of the Journal of Quantitative Criminology. He received his B.A. degree from Wesleyan University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago.
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA
AND MINISTER MENTOR LEE KUAN YEW OF SINGAPORE
1:47 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hello, everybody. I just want to welcome the Minister Mentor of Singapore. This is one of the legendary figure of Asia in the 20th and 21st centuries. He is somebody who helped to trigger the Asian economic miracle. Singapore has been an outstanding friend and ally of the United States for many, many years, and so I am very much looking forward to the opportunity to hearing from the Minister Mentor his views on the evolving situation in Asia, as I prepare for my upcoming trip both to Singapore and to other key nations in the region.
And so I’m very grateful that he took the time. Welcome. And on behalf of the American people, we want to say thank you to the people of Singapore for being such outstanding friends.
MINISTER MENTOR LEE: Thank you, Mr. President, for those very warm words. I’m especially privileged to see you at a time of renewal and change in America, and during a period of transition where the world order is changing. And I look forward to hear your views on how you see the world evolving in a manner — (inaudible) — which is crucial to the stability and prosperity of East Asia.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much.
All right, everybody.
Q Sir, can we ask about your visit to Dover Air Force Base last night? Will it influence your decision on Afghanistan?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, obviously it was a sobering reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our young men and women in uniform are engaging in every single day — not only our troops, but their families as well. And so Michelle and I are constantly mindful of those sacrifices.
And obviously the burden that both our troops and our families bear in any wartime situation is going to bear on how I see these conflicts. And it is something that I think about each and every day.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON SMALL BUSINESSES AND HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
11:51 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Please, have a seat. Before I begin, I want to just acknowledge two people who are working extraordinarily hard on behalf of small businesses. First of all, the administrator of our Small Business Administration, Karen Mills, is here. (Applause.)
The other individual who is on his way and will be here in a hot second but we didn’t want to keep everybody waiting is a dear friend of mine, a great former governor of Virginia, is now the senator from the great state of Virginia, and a huge supporter of small business and trying to figure out how to help all of you control your costs, and that’s Senator Mark Warner. So when he comes in, please give him a smile. (Applause.)
I asked you here today to talk about health insurance reform and why it’s so critical to the success of small businesses across our country. But before I do, let me talk a minute just briefly about the new economic numbers that were released this morning.
I am gratified that our economy grew in the third quarter of this year. We’ve come a long way since the first three months of 2009, when our economy shrunk by an alarming 6.4 percent. In fact, the 3.5 percent growth in the third quarter is the largest three-month gain we have seen in two years. This is obviously welcome news and an affirmation that this recession is abating and the steps we’ve taken have made a difference.
But I also know that we got a long way to go to fully restore our economy and recover from what’s been the longest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression. And while this report today represents real progress, the benchmark I use to measure the strength of our economy is not just whether our GDP is growing, but whether we’re creating jobs, whether families are having an easier time paying their bills, whether our businesses are hiring and doing well. And that’s what I’m here to talk with you about today.
I know many of you have come from different corners of our country to be here, and looking out at all of you I’m reminded of the extraordinary diversity of America’s small businesses. You’re owners of coffee shops, and diners, and hotels. You’re florists, exterminators, builders. Each of your shops and firms reflects different passions, and different ideas, and different skills.
But what you share is a willingness to pursue those passions, take a chance on those ideas, and make the most of those skills. What you share is an entrepreneurial spirit, a tireless work ethic, and a simple hope for something better that lies at the heart of the American ideal. Businesses like yours are the engines of job growth in America. Over the past decade and a half, America’s small businesses have created 65 percent of all new jobs in this country. And more than half of all Americans working in the private sector are either employed by a small business or own one.
Now, even in good times, starting a business, as all of you know, is not easy. It takes moxie, it takes gumption, it takes ingenuity, and failure is often more likely than success. But I don’t have to tell you that it’s been particularly difficult over the past few years. From the middle of 2007 through the end of 2008, small businesses lost 2.4 million jobs. Thousands have shut their doors altogether. And because of the credit crunch, banks have shrunk back from lending, making it harder to get loans to branch out, or finance your inventories, or maybe even to make payroll. Maybe you’ve had to forgo raises. Maybe you’ve had to do the unthinkable and lay off friends or family.
So we know how tough times have been for small businesses. That’s why I made sure the Recovery Act included a number of measures to help small businesses weather this economic storm. We’ve put a tax cut — a tax cut, not a tax hike — a tax cut into the pockets of the vast majority of small business owners and employees. We’ve supported nearly 65,000 [sic] loans to small businesses — more than $13 billion in new lending. More than 1,200 banks and credit unions that had stopped issuing SBA loans when the financial crisis hit are lending again today. And just last week, we proposed increasing the cap on what are called 7(a) and 504 loans — some of the loans most frequently handed out by the SBA.
But given the enormous problems small businesses and all Americans are facing today, we’re aware that these steps are by no means enough. If we’re serious about strengthening small businesses, if we’re serious about creating a climate where our entrepreneurs can succeed, if we’re serious about giving you the chance to prosper and grow, I believe, this administration firmly believes, that we need to pass health insurance reform in the United States of America.
Now, few have a bigger stake in what happens than all of you. Few have a bigger stake than the men and women who own a small business, work at a small business, or rely on someone who does. Few have a bigger stake in what happens because few are struggling more under the status quo. You all know the story.
We all know that family premiums have skyrocketed more than 130 percent over the past decade. They have more than doubled. But small businesses have been hit harder than most. A story in the paper just the other day said that many small businesses may see their premiums rise about 15 percent over the coming year — twice the rate they rose last year. And in part because small businesses pay higher administrative costs than larger ones, your employees pay up to 18 percent more in premiums for the very same health insurance.
In one national survey, nearly three-quarters of small businesses that don’t offer benefits cited high premiums as the reason — and that’s not surprising.
The bottom line is that too many Americans like you can’t afford to build the kinds of businesses you’d been hoping to build. Too many budding entrepreneurs can’t afford to take a gamble on a smart idea because they can’t give up the health insurance they get in their current job. Too many of you not only can’t afford to provide health insurance to your employees, too many of you are having a tough time just affording health insurance for yourselves. That’s bad for our economy, it’s bad for our country, and that’s what we’ll change when health insurance reform becomes law.
Just this morning, the House of Representatives released its version of health reform legislation, and I want to commend Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Caucus for their leadership in achieving this critical milestone. They forged a strong consensus that represents a historic step forward. This bill includes reforms that will finally help make quality insurance affordable. Importantly, this bill is also fully paid for and will reduce the deficit in the long term.
Now, there is no doubt that this legislation, and the legislation that’s being drafted in the Senate, would benefit millions of small businesses. It’s being written with the interests of Americans like you and your employees in mind.
And yet, there are those who have a vested interest in the status quo who are claiming otherwise, and they’re using misleading figures and disingenuous arguments. So I want to try to explain as clearly as I can exactly what health reform would mean for small business owners like you and the workers you employ.
The first thing I want to make clear is that if you are happy with the insurance plan that you have right now, if the costs you’re paying and the benefits you’re getting are what you want them to be, then you can keep offering that same plan. Nobody will make you change it.
What we will do is make the coverage that you’re currently providing more affordable by offering a tax credit to small businesses that are trying to do the right thing and provide coverage for their employees. Under the House and Senate bills, millions of small businesses would be eligible for a tax credit of up to 50 percent of their premiums. That’s in the legislation that’s already been proposed.
We’ll also make your coverage more stable and more secure. Right now, if just one of your workers falls seriously ill, it could spell disaster for your entire business. You could see your premiums shoot up and you face a painful choice: Do you eat the costs and ask your workers to contribute more? Do you seek another insurance plan, without any guarantee that you’ll be able to find one that’s affordable? Or do you just scale back benefits or drop coverage altogether?
I don’t think that you should have to make that choice in the United States of America. Under health insurance reform, we put an end to the days when an insurance company could use one worker’s illness to justify jacking up premiums for everybody. We’ll crack down on excessive overhead charges by setting strong standards on how much of your premium can go towards administrative costs and requiring insurers to give you a refund if they violate those standards. It’ll be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition. And it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it the most.
They’ll no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime. If you get your insurance through your employer, we’ll change the cutoff on how old your kids can be to remain on your plan — we’ll raise that to 26 years old. We’ll place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses. And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies — because there’s no reason we shouldn’t be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse and cost more money. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives.
So that’s what we’ll do for all the small businesses that have insurance, that are currently providing insurance. And for all the small businesses that can’t afford to provide insurance right now, and small business owners who can’t even afford to get coverage themselves, we’ll finally make quality coverage affordable. And here’s how we’ll do it.
One of the biggest problems in our health care system right now is if you’re a small business owner or if you’re self-employed, you often have such a small number of workers that insurance companies aren’t all that interested in your business. It’s basic economics. You don’t have a lot of leverage as a small customer. And as a result, you end up paying higher costs than big businesses that can get better deals because they’ve got more workers — they got more purchasing power.
So what we’ll do is to set up what we’re calling an exchange that will pool small businesses together. And that will mean it’s not just you bargaining with insurance companies, it’s you and many other small business owners and self-employed individuals all across the country. And with all that additional leverage, you’ll be able to get better deals than you could have ever received on your own. In fact, small businesses that choose one of the plans in this exchange could save 25 percent on their premiums by 2016 — only two years after the exchange has been set up.
And we’ll also offer tax credits to make insurance even more affordable for millions of small businesses. So meanwhile, by expanding coverage for more Americans, we’re going to help eliminate the “hidden tax” of more than a thousand dollars that the average worker is paying to cover the medical expenses of the uninsured.
Now, nothing is free, and it’s true that when reform becomes law, businesses of a certain size who do not offer their workers health care coverage may be required to contribute to the costs — and that makes a lot of small business owners nervous. Opponents of reform have tried to say that you’d be subject to this penalty and it could potentially drive up your costs.
But here are the facts, because this has been analyzed repeatedly. About 90 percent — 90 percent of all small businesses, regardless of what version of this plan you’re talking about that’s currently going through Congress — 90 percent of all businesses would be exempt from this requirement. So if your business is anything like the vast majority of small businesses out there, this requirement simply won’t apply to you — because I don’t think it’s fair to impose a penalty on small businesses that are already operating at very narrow margins.
So that’s what health insurance reform would mean for you and for all our small businesses. It would reduce your costs. It would prevent small business owners from facing exorbitant rate hikes. It will make coverage affordable for all small businesses that can’t afford it right now. And if you’re providing health insurance to your employees, it gives you more predictability, more security, more stability.
It will help remove the worry that if you have the courage to strike out on your own and open a business, you’ll be doomed from the start. It will help give entrepreneurs and all Americans the assurance of knowing they won’t go broke when they get sick. It will help ensure that no small business owner in America has to choose between being a successful employer and an employer who cares deeply about the well-being of his employees, or her employees. It will help us be the kind of country we know ourselves to be.
So what’s at stake isn’t just the success of our businesses or the strength of our economy or even the health of our people. What’s at stake is that most American of ideas — that this is a place where you can make it if you try; where you can be your own boss; where the only limits to what you can achieve are your smarts, your savvy, your dreams, your willingness to work hard; where you can pass on to your children a better life than you inherited.
That’s what’s at stake. That’s what we’re fighting for. And I’m absolutely confident that if we do what has to be done, if we can build an economy that works for all Americans, if we can promote innovation, and foster growth, and build a better health care system that is not a drag on each and every one of you, then not only will we ease the burdens on entrepreneurs, not only will we give our small businesses a huge boost, not only will we produce the kind of growth we so desperately need in this country, but we’ll secure the blessings of America for our children and our grandchildren.
That’s what we’re fighting for. I need your help to make it happen. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. God bless America. (Applause.)
STATEMENT FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA ON THE AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICA ACT
“I congratulate the House of Representatives on the introduction of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, another critical milestone in the effort to reform our health care system.
This legislation is the product of unprecedented cooperation and countless hours of hard work by Speaker Pelosi, Chairmen Waxman, Rangel, and Miller, Congressman Dingell, and scores of House members who share my conviction that we can’t wait another year for health insurance reform. They have forged a strong consensus that represents a historic step forward.
The House legislation includes critical reforms to the insurance industry, so that Americans will no longer have to worry that they will be denied coverage, or that their coverage will be dropped or watered down when they need it most. I’m also pleased that the bill includes a public option offered in an exchange. As I’ve said throughout this process, a public option that competes with private insurers is the best way to ensure choice and competition that are so badly needed in today’s market. And the House bill clearly meets two of the fundamental criteria I have set out: it is fully paid for and will reduce the deficit in the long term.
While we know there will may more steps and much spirited debate before a bill reaches my desk, I congratulate the House on their work so far, and I’m confident that members will continue to work together to deliver meaningful reform for America’s families and businesses.”
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT RECEPTION COMMEMORATING THE ENACTMENT OF THE MATTHEW SHEPARD AND JAMES BYRD, JR. HATE CRIMES PREVENTION ACT
5:45 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much, everybody. Thank you so much, and welcome to the White House.
There are several people here that I want to just make mention of because they helped to make today possible. We’ve got Attorney General Eric Holder. (Applause.) A champion of this legislation, and a great Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. (Applause.) My dear friend, senior Senator from the great state of Illinois, Dick Durbin. (Applause.) The outstanding Chairman of Armed Services, Carl Levin. (Applause.) Senator Arlen Specter. (Applause.) Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the House, Representative John Conyers. (Applause.) Representative Barney Frank. (Applause.) Representative Tammy Baldwin. (Applause.) Representative Jerry Nadler. (Applause.) Representative Jared Polis. (Applause.) All the members of Congress who are here today, we thank you.
Mr. David Bohnett and Mr. Tom Gregory and the David Bohnett Foundation — they are partners for this reception. Thank you so much, guys, for helping to host this. (Applause.)
And finally, and most importantly, because these were really the spearheads of this effort – Denis, Judy, and Logan Shepard. (Applause.) As well as Betty Byrd Boatner and Louvon Harris – sisters of James Byrd, Jr. (Applause.)
To all the activists, all the organizers, all the people who helped make this day happen, thank you for your years of advocacy and activism, pushing and protesting that made this victory possible.
You know, as a nation we’ve come far on the journey towards a more perfect union. And today, we’ve taken another step forward. This afternoon, I signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. (Applause.)
This is the culmination of a struggle that has lasted more than a decade. Time and again, we faced opposition. Time and again, the measure was defeated or delayed. Time and again we’ve been reminded of the difficulty of building a nation in which we’re all free to live and love as we see fit. But the cause endured and the struggle continued, waged by the family of Matthew Shepard, by the family of James Byrd, by folks who held vigils and led marches, by those who rallied and organized and refused to give up, by the late Senator Ted Kennedy who fought so hard for this legislation — (applause) — and all who toiled for years to reach this day.
You understood that we must stand against crimes that are meant not only to break bones, but to break spirits — not only to inflict harm, but to instill fear. You understand that the rights afforded every citizen under our Constitution mean nothing if we do not protect those rights — both from unjust laws and violent acts. And you understand how necessary this law continues to be.
In the most recent year for which we have data, the FBI reported roughly 7,600 hate crimes in this country. Over the past 10 years, there were more than 12,000 reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation alone. And we will never know how many incidents were never reported at all.
And that’s why, through this law, we will strengthen the protections against crimes based on the color of your skin, the faith in your heart, or the place of your birth. We will finally add federal protections against crimes based on gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. (Applause.) And prosecutors will have new tools to work with states in order to prosecute to the fullest those who would perpetrate such crimes. Because no one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love. No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are or because they live with a disability.
At root, this isn’t just about our laws; this is about who we are as a people. This is about whether we value one another
– whether we embrace our differences, rather than allowing them to become a source of animus. It’s hard for any of us to imagine the mind-set of someone who would kidnap a young man and beat him to within an inch of his life, tie him to a fence, and leave him for dead. It’s hard for any of us to imagine the twisted mentality of those who’d offer a neighbor a ride home, attack him, chain him to the back of a truck, and drag him for miles until he finally died.
But we sense where such cruelty begins: the moment we fail to see in another our common humanity — the very moment when we fail to recognize in a person the same fears and hopes, the same passions and imperfections, the same dreams that we all share.
We have for centuries strived to live up to our founding ideal, of a nation where all are free and equal and able to pursue their own version of happiness. Through conflict and tumult, through the morass of hatred and prejudice, through periods of division and discord we have endured and grown stronger and fairer and freer. And at every turn, we’ve made progress not only by changing laws but by changing hearts, by our willingness to walk in another’s shoes, by our capacity to love and accept even in the face of rage and bigotry.
In April of 1968, just one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, as our nation mourned in grief and shuddered in anger, President Lyndon Johnson signed landmark civil rights legislation. This was the first time we enshrined into law federal protections against crimes motivated by religious or racial hatred — the law on which we build today.
As he signed his name, at a difficult moment for our country, President Johnson said that through this law “the bells of freedom ring out a little louder.” That is the promise of America. Over the sounds of hatred and chaos, over the din of grief and anger, we can still hear those ideals — even when they are faint, even when some would try to drown them out. At our best we seek to make sure those ideals can be heard and felt by Americans everywhere. And that work did not end in 1968. It certainly does not end today. But because of the efforts of the folks in this room — particularly those family members who are standing behind me — we can be proud that that bell rings even louder now and each day grows louder still.
So thank you very much. God bless you and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
President Obama’s Remarks At Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony For Former Senator Edward William Brooke
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL CEREMONY
IN HONOR OF FORMER SENATOR EDWARD WILLIAM BROOKE
11:20 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: It is an extraordinary privilege to be here today. And let me begin by acknowledging this distinguished group gathered on the platform: our extraordinary Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi; Majority Leader Harry Reid; Republican leader Mitch McConnell; majority leader Steny Hoyer; Republican leader John Boehner; Senator John Kerry; Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton; Representative Patrick Kennedy; my dear friend, Vicki Kennedy; to our honoree, Senator Edward Brooke, his wife, Anne, and family.
It is a great privilege to be here today as we confer the Congressional Gold Medal on a man who’s spent his life breaking barriers and bridging divides across this country — Senator Edward Brooke.
Now, with his lifetime of achievement, Ed is no stranger to a good awards ceremony. He’s been through a few of these. (Laughter.) He’s won the Bronze Star, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, honorary degrees from 34 colleges and universities, and more. So he’s a pro when it comes to getting awards. But I think today’s honor bears a unique significance: bestowed by this body of which he was an esteemed member; presented in this place where he moved the arc of history; surrounded by so many — myself included — who have followed the trail that he blazed.
Ed’s journey to this day was, by any measure, an unlikely one. Raised nearby in a neighborhood so fiercely segregated that black residents needed a note from a white person to pass through — at a time when so many doors of opportunity were closed to African Americans, others might have become angry or disillusioned. They might have concluded that no matter how hard they worked, their horizons would always be limited, so why bother? But not Ed Brooke.
Serving in a segregated army, barred from facilities at the base where he trained, he fought heroically in Europe, leading a daring daylight attack against a heavily armed enemy. Rejected from Boston’s old-line firms despite his success in law school, he established his own practice, handling everything from wills and divorces to real estate and criminal cases.
And when he ran for statewide office in Massachusetts, and one reporter pointed out that he was black, Republican, and Protestant, seeking office in a white, Democratic, and Catholic state — and also, quote, “…a carpetbagger from the South and…poor” — Ed was unfazed. It was, to say the least, an improbable profile for the man who would become the first African American state attorney general, and the first popularly elected African American senator.
But that was Ed Brooke’s way — to ignore the naysayers, reject the conventional wisdom, and trust that ultimately, people would judge him on his character, his commitment, his record and his ideas. He ran for office, as he put it, “…to bring people together who had never been together before.” And that he did.
I don’t know anyone else whose fan base includes Gloria Steinem, Barney Frank, and Ted Kennedy — as well as Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, and George W. Bush. (Laughter.) That’s a coalition-builder. (Laughter and applause.) And few have matched his reach across the aisle — from working with Birch Bayh to protect Title IX so girls can compete on a level playing field, to sponsoring the Fair Housing Act with Walter Mondale and small business legislation with Ted Kennedy — one of the many bills he would sponsor with the senior senator from Massachusetts.
He didn’t care whether a bill was popular or politically expedient, Democratic or Republican — he cared about whether it helped people, whether it made a difference in their daily lives. That’s why he fought so hard for Medicare, for mass transit and the minimum wage, for civil rights and women’s rights. It’s why he became a lifelong advocate for affordable housing, establishing protections that are the standard to this day.
So it’s a record that defies the labels and categories for which he had little use and even less patience. When pressed to define himself, he’d offer phrases like “creative moderate,” or “a liberal with a conservative bent.” But in truth, Ed Brooke’s career was animated not by a faith in any particular party or ideology, but rather, by a faith in the people he served.
Ed always got to see the best in people — because that was the effect he had. Maybe it was his old-fashioned manners — his unfailing courtesy and warmth. Maybe it was his charm and charisma — known to melt even the staunchest adversary. Or maybe it was his genuine interest in people’s stories — the way he listened to their concerns and worked to ease their struggles. Whatever it was, even if people didn’t fully agree with him, they saw how hard he fought for them and how much he respected them, and they respected him back. They rose to meet his esteem for them. Around Ed, people wanted to be their better selves.
Over the years, he made an impression on just about everyone he encountered, including a young Congressman named John F. Kennedy, whom he met back in 1952. The two men had a lively conversation, and as they parted ways, the future President said, “You know, you ought to be a Democrat.” (Laughter.) And Ed smiled and replied, “You know, you ought to be a Republican.” (Laughter.)
It was a sentiment that many in my party would share, including the President’s brother, our dear friend, Ted Kennedy. While Ted campaigned vigorously for Ed’s Democratic opponent, the two later became lifelong friends. And four decades later, Ted would campaign even more vigorously to secure Ed’s nomination for this medal.
So while we grace Senator Brooke with this honor today, perhaps a better tribute to him would be to embrace that spirit: to compete aggressively at the polls, but then work selflessly together to serve the nation we love. (Applause.) To look for the best in each other, to give each other the benefit of the doubt, and to remember that we’re here for a purpose far greater than the sum of our own hopes, needs and ambitions. That’s the legacy of our friend, Senator Edward Brooke. And may we each do our part to carry it forward.
Thank you. God bless you. Congratulations, Senator Brooke. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts
WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key administration posts:
- Philip E. Coyle III , Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs, Office of Science and Technology Policy
- Lawrence G. Romo, Director, Selective Service System
President Obama said, “These talented public servants will make valuable additions to my administration as we work to bring real change to the American people. I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”
President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals today:
Philip E. Coyle III, Nominee for Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs, Office of Science and Technology Policy
Philip E. Coyle III currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the President of the World Security Institute, and to its Center for Defense Information, a Washington D.C.-based national security study center. In 2005 and 2006, Coyle served on the nine-member Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), appointed by President George W. Bush and nominated by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Coyle served on Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Base Support and Retention Council. From September 1994, through January 2001, Mr. Coyle was Assistant Secretary of Defense and Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, in the Department of Defense, and is the longest serving Director in the 25 year history of the Office. In this capacity, he was the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense on test and evaluation in the DOD. Mr. Coyle has 40 years experience in national security research, development, and testing matters. From 1959 to 1979, and again from 1981 to 1993, Mr. Coyle worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, California. Over those 33 years Mr. Coyle worked on a variety of nuclear weapons programs and other high technology programs. Mr. Coyle also served as Deputy Associate Director of the Laser Program at LLNL. Mr. Coyle retired from the Laboratory in 1993 as Laboratory Associate Director and deputy to the Director. In recognition of his years of service to the Laboratory and to the University of California, the University named Mr. Coyle Laboratory Associate Director Emeritus. During the Carter Administration, Mr. Coyle served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense Programs in the Department of Energy (DOE). In this capacity he had oversight responsibility for the nuclear weapons research, development, production and testing programs of the Department, as well as the DOE programs in arms control, non-proliferation, and nuclear safeguards and security.
Lawrence G. Romo, Nominee for Director, Selective Service System
Lawrence G. Romo, Lieutenant Colonel USAFR (Ret.), is the Soldier and Family Assistance Program Manager for the U.S. Army 5th Recruiting Brigade. He is also an Admissions Liaison Officer for the United States Air Force Academy. Prior to these positions, from 1992 – 1999, he was the Transition Assistance Program Specialist at Kelly Air Force Base and aided military personnel as they transitioned into the civilian job market. Mr. Romo was also the Chairman of Bexar County Veterans Committee and a member of the American Legion, American GI Forum, and the Military Officers Association of America. He currently serves as Chairman of the San Antonio Commission for Children and Families for the City of San Antonio, Texas. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Air Force Academy and a Master of Education degree from Montana State University – Northern (formerly Northern Montana College).
STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
H.R. 3548 — Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009
(Rep. McDermott, D-Washington, and 49 cosponsors)
The Administration supports providing additional weeks of unemployment benefits to Americans who are suffering from long-term joblessness due to the economic downturn. Millions of Americans want employment but cannot find it, and the Administration is committed to supporting these Americans as they look for work and struggle to raise their families and pay their bills. In addition to assisting struggling families, helping unemployed workers is an effective way to boost the economy and an important part of the Administration’s broader efforts to move swiftly and aggressively to jump start job creation and grow our economy. At the same time, fiscal responsibility is central to the medium-term recovery of the economy and the creation of jobs. The Administration therefore supports the fiscally responsible approach to expanding unemployment benefits embodied in the bill.
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
Rally for Creigh Deeds
Old Dominion University
October 27, 2009
Hello, Virginia! It is good to be back in Norfolk and it is good to be back in Virginia, a place that has been so good to me. And I’m proud to stand up here with two Virginia leaders; two men who wake up every day thinking about your future; your family’s future; and the future of this commonwealth – your Governor, Tim Kaine, and your next Governor, Creigh Deeds.
Now, one of the things I like so much about Virginia is that you’ve got a good pattern emerging here. And it began with Mark Warner, who is doing an extraordinary job as your senator. Eight years ago, he recognized that the old tired politics of division weren’t serving the American people or the people of Virginia very well. He saw an awful lot of arguing going on, but not a whole lot of doing. So he thought, you know what, let’s try something different. Let’s run a campaign that proves that we’re all in this together – that there is not a northern Virginia, or a southern Virginia, or a coastal Virginia; there is one commonwealth of Virginia.
And he governed in a way that wasn’t ideological, but pragmatic. He focused on what works, and he made it work not by pushing people apart, but by bringing them together. He shaped a better kind of politics here in the commonwealth, and made the long-term investments necessary to make Virginia competitive in the global economy and to chart a course to growth and success.
Then Tim Kaine came in and built on that legacy. He invested in education so that every child in Virginia could have the tools they need to succeed. He refused to be distracted by petty politics, and even through tough times, he remained focused on his vision for Virginia’s future. And because of the tradition they established, Virginia became one of the best-managed states in the country; a state that was able to make critical investments even as it was dealing with a fiscal crisis; and a state that became better-positioned to navigate some of the toughest economic times we’ve seen in the history of this nation. All because of leadership based on smart decisions, sound investments, and a renewed civility to our politics.
But here’s the thing, Virginia. It wasn’t just a stroke of good luck. These guys didn’t just come out of nowhere. It’s because you stood up and chose that kind of politics. And in one week, you’ll have the opportunity to continue that tradition. You’ll have the opportunity to elect someone who is cut from that very same cloth; someone who listens to folks even when we don’t always agree; someone who focuses not on the short-term politics of an issue, but on a practical and pragmatic vision for the future of this commonwealth – and that man is Creigh Deeds.
This is a man who, for more than two decades – as a county prosecutor, as a delegate, as a state senator – has asked for nothing more than to serve you. When Virginia families needed to make sure their children were safe, he wrote Megan’s Law and advocated for the Amber Alert program. When Mark Warner needed help reforming the budget and controlling spending amidst a financial crisis, it was Creigh Deeds who he turned to; and even in the face of that crisis, they had the foresight to make record investments in education and lay a foundation for Virginia’s long-term growth. And when Tim Kaine needed support for a new pre-kindergarten program that will give Virginia’s kids a better start in life, Creigh Deeds was there.
Again and again, Creigh Deeds has been there for the people of Virginia. Now he needs you to be there for him.
There’s no doubt this is a tough race. It was always going to be. Even though Virginia’s been moving in the right direction, it’s still a pretty evenly-split state with some pretty independent-minded folks. And that’s good. That’s healthy. We are at our best when engaged in great debate where ideas are tested and assumptions are challenged. That’s how we strengthen our proposals. That’s how our democracy works.
But I’ll tell you what we don’t need right now. What we don’t need are politicians who are more interested in scoring points than solving problems. What we don’t need are politicians who say we should go back to the policies of yesteryear when it was those very same policies that got us into this mess in the first place. We’ve had enough of those kinds of politicians. We don’t need any more. What we need now are leaders who are committed to moving us forward. What we need are leaders who will fight on behalf of hardworking men and women, on behalf of middle class families, on behalf of the people of Virginia. What we need are more leaders like Creigh Deeds.
Creigh Deeds realizes that Virginia faces tough challenges, and solving them will require more than just lip service in political ads – it will require a realistic vision. When you’re governing, as Tim would tell you, nothing comes for free. Governing means you have to prioritize. You have to make tough choices. And you also have to recognize that change doesn’t happen overnight.
But if we make the right decisions now; then five, ten, fifteen years down the road, we’ll look back and realize that we’re in a much better place than we otherwise would have been. That’s what’s happened with the sound decisions Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have made. Virginia is in a better place today than it otherwise would have been. And that’s what you can expect with Creigh Deeds. As a consequence of the choices he’ll make in office – choices that improve transportation, that give our children every chance in life, that continue the thoughtful pro-business policies in the Warner-Kaine tradition – Virginia will keep moving down the right path.
Virginia will keep moving toward giving every child the world-class education they need to compete for any job in the world. Virginia will keep moving toward a secure energy future that frees our nation from the grip of foreign oil and creates millions of new jobs that pay well right here in America. Virginia will keep moving toward a stronger economy that works for all Americans and allows folks to retire with some dignity and some respect. And yes, Virginia will keep moving toward a health care system that finally makes quality insurance affordable for Americans who don’t have coverage; that finally offers stability and security to Americans who do; and that finally slows the skyrocketing costs that are crushing our families, our businesses, and our state and federal budgets.
Opportunity in every corner of Virginia. That’s what matters to Creigh Deeds. And that’s what he will keep fighting for if the people of Virginia give him that chance.
Now, I know there are folks here who may still be cynical about politics. I know that there are folks watching or listening who are skeptical about whether their elected leaders can or will do anything about the problems they face. And you’ve got a right to be. Year after year, decade after decade, you’ve seen progress stymied by special interests and partisan gridlock, whether it’s in Richmond or Washington.
But I’ve come here today because you have the opportunity to elect a man who represents a better kind of politics. He’s not perfect – none of us are. He may not be slick or polished. His hair might get frizzy sometimes; his suits might get rumpled. But I hope that’s not what will determine your vote. I hope you’ll vote based on how good a governor he’ll be for the people of Virginia. And I have every confidence Creigh Deeds will be a terrific governor. He’s smart. He’s honest. He’s devoted to the people of this commonwealth and to the American Dream that he discovered and lived here. He’ll always be straight with you about the challenges you face, and he’ll be out there every single day working as hard as he can to meet them.
So I’m urging you to cast aside the cynics and the skeptics and anyone who says this race is as good as over. Because the final word doesn’t belong to them – it belongs to you. And nobody knows that better than I do.
Last year, before we won the primary here, and before we won here in November, few gave us a chance. Remember that? The pundits and the pollsters and everyone who spends all their time focused on who’s up and who’s down thought we were cooked. But you proved differently, Virginia. You helped lead a movement of Americans who believed that their voices could make a difference – a movement of young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay and straight, disabled and not who stepped into that voting booth and demanded something better.
We have just begun to deliver on the change you voted for, and we need a partner like Creigh Deeds to help us finish what we started. So if you were fired up last year, then we need you out there working just as hard right now, knocking on doors, making phone calls, talking to your friends and neighbors and telling them what’s at stake. And if you’re willing to do that; if you’re willing to not only cast your vote for Creigh Deeds but get out the vote for Creigh Deeds; then he won’t just win an election; but we will do what previous generations have done and build something better to leave our children and secure our future. Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.
President Obama Announces $3.4 Billion Investment to Spur Transition to Smart Energy Grid
Applicants say investments will create tens of thousands of jobs, save energy and empower consumers to cut their electric bills
ARCADIA, FLORIDA – Speaking at Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, President Barack Obama today announced the largest single energy grid modernization investment in U.S. history, funding a broad range of technologies that will spur the nation’s transition to a smarter, stronger, more efficient and reliable electric system. The end result will promote energy-saving choices for consumers, increase efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
The $3.4 billion in Smart Grid Investment Grant awards are part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, and will be matched by industry funding for a total public-private investment worth over $8 billion. Applicants state that the projects will create tens of thousands of jobs, and consumers in 49 states will benefit from these investments in a stronger, more reliable grid. Full listings of the grant awards by category and state are available HERE and HERE. A map of the awards is available HERE.
An analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute estimates that the implementation of smart grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4 percent by 2030. That would mean a savings of $20.4 billion for businesses and consumers around the country, and $1.6 billion for Florida alone — or $56 in utility savings for every man, woman and child in Florida.
One-hundred private companies, utilities, manufacturers, cities and other partners received awards today, including FPL which will use its $200 million in funding to install 2.6 million smart meters and other technology that will cut energy costs for its customers. In the coming days, Cabinet Members and other Administration officials will fan out to awardee sites across the country to discuss how this investment will create jobs, improve the reliability and efficiency of the electrical grid, and help bring clean energy sources from high-production states to those with less renewable generating capacity. The awards announced today represent the largest group of Recovery Act awards ever made in a single day and the largest batch of Recovery Act clean energy grant awards to-date.
Today’s announcement includes:
- Empowering Consumers to Save Energy and Cut Utility Bills — $1 billion. These investments will create the infrastructure and expand access to smart meters and customer systems so that consumers will be able to access dynamic pricing information and have the ability to save money by programming smart appliances and equipment to run when rates are lowest. This will help reduce energy bills for everyone by helping drive down “peak demand” and limiting the need for “stand-by” power plants – the most expensive power generation there is.
- Making Electricity Distribution and Transmission More Efficient — $400 million. The Administration is funding several grid modernization projects across the country that will significantly reduce the amount of power that is wasted from the time it is produced at a power plant to the time it gets to your house. By deploying digital monitoring devices and increasing grid automation, these awards will increase the efficiency, reliability and security of the system, and will help link up renewable energy resources with the electric grid. This will make it easier for a wind farm in Montana to instantaneously pick up the slack when the wind stops blowing in Missouri or a cloud rolls over a solar array in Arizona.
- Integrating and Crosscutting Across Different “Smart” Components of a Smart Grid — $2 billion. Much like electronic banking, the Smart Grid is not the sum total of its components but how those components work together. The Administration is funding a range of projects that will incorporate these various components into one system or cut across various project areas – including smart meters, smart thermostats and appliances, syncrophasors, automated substations, plug in hybrid electric vehicles, renewable energy sources, etc.
- Building a Smart Grid Manufacturing Industry — $25 million. These investments will help expand our manufacturing base of companies that can produce the smart meters, smart appliances, synchrophasors, smart transformers, and other components for smart grid systems in the United States and around the world – representing a significant and growing export opportunity for our country and new jobs for American workers.
The combined effect of the investments announced today, when the projects are fully implemented, will:
- Create tens of thousands of jobs across the country. These jobs include high paying career opportunities for smart meter manufacturing workers; engineering technicians, electricians and equipment installers; IT system designers and cyber security specialists; data entry clerks and database administrators; business and power system analysts; and others.
- Leverage more than $4.7 billion in private investment to match the federal investment.
- Make the grid more reliable, reducing power outages that cost American consumers $150 billion a year — about $500 for every man, woman and child in the United States.
- Install more than 850 sensors – called ‘Phasor Measurement Units’ – that will cover 100 percent of the U.S. electric grid and make it possible for grid operators to better monitor grid conditions and prevent minor disturbances in the electrical system from cascading into local or regional power outages or blackouts. This monitoring ability will also help the grid to incorporate large blocks of intermittent renewable energy, like wind and solar power, to take advantage of clean energy resources when they are available and make adjustments when they’re not.
- Install more than 200,000 smart transformers that will make it possible for power companies to replace units before they fail thus saving money and reducing power outages.
- Install almost 700 automated substations, representing about 5 percent of the nation’s total that will make it possible for power companies to respond faster and more effectively to restore service when bad weather knocks down power lines or causes electricity disruptions.
- Power companies today typically do not know there has been a power outage until a customer calls to report it. With these smart grid devices, power companies will have the tools they need for better outage prevention and faster response to make repairs when outages do occur.
- Empower consumers to cut their electricity bills. The Recovery Act combined with private investment will put us on pace to deploy more than 40 million smart meters in American homes and businesses over the next few years that will help consumers cut their utility bills.
- Install more than 1 million in-home displays, 170,000 smart thermostats, and 175,000 other load control devices to enable consumers to reduce their energy use. Funding will also help expand the market for smart washers, dryers, and dishwashers, so that American consumers can further control their energy use and lower their electricity bills.
- Put us on a path to get 20 percent or more of our energy from renewable sources by 2020.
- Reduce peak electricity demand by more than 1400 MW, which is the equivalent of several larger power plants and can save ratepayers more than $1.5 billion in capital costs and help lower utility bills. Since peak electricity is the most expensive energy – and requires the use of standby power generation plants – the economic and environmental savings for even a small reduction are significant. In fact, some of the power plants for meeting peak demand operate for only a few hundred hours a year, which means the power they generate can be 5-10 times more expensive than the average price per kilowatt hour paid by most consumers.
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