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.)