November 6, 2009
Remarks by the President in the Rose Garden
11:33 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I want to begin by offering an update on the tragedy that took place yesterday at Fort Hood.
This morning I met with FBI Director Mueller and the relevant agencies to discuss their ongoing investigation into what caused one individual to turn his gun on fellow servicemen and women. We don’t know all the answers yet and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts.
What we do know is that there are families, friends and an entire nation grieving right now for the valiant men and women who came under attack yesterday in one of the worst mass shootings ever to take place on an American military base. So from now until Veterans Day I’ve ordered the flags at the White House and other federal buildings to be flown at half-staff. This is a modest tribute to those who lost their lives even as many were preparing to risk their lives for their country. And it’s also recognition of the men and women who put their lives on the line everyday to protect our safety and uphold our values. We honor their service, we stand in awe of their sacrifice, and we pray for the safety of those who fight and for the families of those who have fallen. And as we continue to learn more about what happened at Fort Hood, this administration will continue to provide you updates in the coming days and weeks.
Now, I would also like to announce that I just signed into law a bill that will help grow our economy, save and create new jobs and provide relief to struggling families and businesses. The need for such a measure was made clear by the jobs report that we received this morning. Although we lost fewer jobs than we did last month, our unemployment rate climbed to over 10 percent — a sobering number that underscores the economic challenges that lie ahead.
When we first came into office our immediate goal was to stop the freefall that caused our economy to shrink at an alarming rate. We have succeeded in achieving that goal, as our economy grew last quarter for the first time in a year. But history tells us that job growth always lags behind economic growth, which is why we have to continue to pursue measures that will create new jobs. And I can promise you that I won’t let up until the Americans who want to find work can find work and until all Americans can earn enough to raise their families and keep their businesses open.
The bill I signed today will help folks do that while continuing to grow our economy. It’s a bill that extends unemployment benefits for up to 20 additional weeks, with the longest extension for the hardest-hit states. Already these benefits have helped 16 million unemployed Americans, and now that I’ve signed this bill, an additional 700,000 Americans who are still searching for work will be able to sign up for an extension of those benefits immediately.
Although the extension will help over 1 million Americans, it won’t just put money into the people’s pockets who are receiving the benefits. Economists tell us that when these benefits are spent on food or clothing or rent, it actually strengthens our economy and creates new jobs.
Now, this bill will also cut taxes for struggling businesses, with even larger cuts for small businesses, which means that thousands of entrepreneurs will get the cash they need to avoid laying off workers or closing their doors, and will extend the tax credit for all home buyers through April of next year while strengthening it with stronger anti-fraud measures.
The rebound in the housing market was one of the big factors that contributed to the growth of the economy last quarter, and brought hundreds of thousands of families into the housing market. We want to give even more families the chance to own their own home.
Now, it’s important to note that the bill I signed will not add to our deficit. It is fully paid for, and so it is fiscally responsible. It builds on a Recovery Act that’s already saved or created over 100 — over 1 million jobs, and it will lead to even more in the weeks and months ahead.
We will also build on the measure I signed today with further steps to grow our economy in the future. To that end my economic team is looking at ideas such as additional investments in our aging roads and bridges, incentives to encourage families and businesses to make buildings more energy-efficient, additional tax cuts for businesses to create jobs, additional steps to increase the flow of credit to small businesses, and an aggressive agenda to promote exports and help American manufacturers sell their products around the world.
So although it will take time and it will take patience, I am confident that our economy will recover. I’m confident that we’re moving in the right direction. And I promise that I won’t rest until America prospers once again.
Thank you, everybody.
Fact Sheet: The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009
Creating Jobs, Strengthening the Recovery, and Helping Workers Who Cannot Find Jobs
Today, President Obama signed legislation to help create jobs by providing tax cuts for homebuyers and businesses, while providing much-needed support for workers who are still struggling to find jobs. These three steps are part the President’s strategy to help the economy grow.
Last year, our economy was in a freefall. Some economists were predicting that we were headed into a second Great Depression. The Obama Administration took aggressive steps to stem the spread of foreclosure, get credit flowing for families and businesses, and enact the most sweeping recovery package in history. Those steps have succeeded in pulling our economy back from the brink and putting us on a path to recovery. Our economy has returned to growth, which is a critical first step to getting job growth going again.
Today’s legislation builds on the successes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help spur job creation and help struggling workers. It is fiscally responsible, paid for by postponing tax provisions benefiting U.S. multinational corporations and other measures. The Administration will continue working to create jobs, boost the economy, and lay a new foundation for growth.
TODAY’S STEPS TO CREATE JOBS AND HELP WORKERS
While we have pulled the economy back from the brink and there are signs of a recovery underway, there is an enormous amount of work that remains to be done. There are still too many Americans without jobs and too many families in pain. This bill:
- Strengthens the Safety Net for Workers Who Cannot Find Jobs – Immediately Helping 700,000 People and Eventually Helping Over a Million. There are millions of workers who want and need a job but cannot find one. There are 5.6 million workers who have been unemployed for at least 27 weeks. These long-term unemployed workers make up 36 percent of unemployed workers, the highest share in history. Today’s legislation will allow up to 20 additional weeks of unemployment insurance, with the most weeks going to workers in states with the highest unemployed rates. It will give immediate help to 700,000 people who have already exhausted their benefits but still cannot find work. In total, over a million workers will benefit and receive an average of $300 per week. In addition to helping struggling families, economists say unemployment benefits are one of the best ways to strengthen the economy and create jobs because they are often spent quickly on needs like rent and groceries.
- Creates Jobs by Cutting Taxes for Struggling Businesses. The bill provides an expanded tax cut to tens of thousands of struggling businesses, providing them with the immediate cash they need to pursue an expansion or avoid contracting or furloughing their workers. The Economic Recovery Act included a provision that allowed small businesses to count their losses this year against the taxes they paid in previous years. Today, the President extended that benefit for an additional year and expanded it to medium and large businesses as well. Business losses incurred in 2008 or 2009 can now be used to recoup taxes paid in the prior five years. This provision is a fiscally responsible economic kick-start, putting $33 billion of tax cuts in the hands of businesses this year when they need it most, while enabling Treasury to recoup the majority of that funding in the coming years as these businesses regain their strength and resume paying taxes.
- Extends and Expands the Homebuyer Credit with Strong Anti-Fraud Measures. The Homebuyers Tax Credit is a temporary but important measure to continue economic recovery. Today, the President is signing a one-time extension of the credit for homes purchased or under contract by April 30, 2010. A credit of up to $8,000 will apply to qualifying first-time buyers, and a smaller credit of up $6,500 will now apply to families that have lived in their homes for at least five years and wish to step up to a new home. The new law extends a similar credit until May, 2011 for members of the uniformed services whose duty takes them overseas. The new law also contains important measures to combat tax fraud and protect responsible homebuyers, including setting a minimum age for home purchase and requiring documentary proof of the purchase in order to receive the credit.
- Other Steps to Close the Deficit and Strengthen the Economy. The legislation pays for these new steps, principally by postponing tax provisions benefiting U.S. multinational corporations. It also helps military families by clarifying that military base realignment and closure payments – added as part of the recovery act – are tax exempt.
BUILDING ON THE SUCCESSES OF THE RECOVERY ACT
Today’s steps build on the successes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed by President Obama last February. The ARRA:
- Modernized and Expanded Unemployment Insurance: The recovery act included an unprecedented investment in unemployment benefits, including up to 79 weeks of benefits in the hardest-hit areas, a $25-a-week supplement to benefits, and incentives for states to expand coverage to part-time workers and take other steps to modernize their unemployment systems. The law also cut taxes on up to $2,400 in unemployment benefits and created a tax credit that pays 65 percent of health insurance premiums for unemployed workers. These provisions helped keep 800,000 people out of poverty, according to estimates developed by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
- Created Jobs by Cutting Taxes on Businesses: The ARRA allowed small businesses to use the 2008 operating losses to get a refund of taxes paid in prior years. Like today’s provision, much of the revenue would be recouped in future years. The ARRA provision was projected to provide $5 billion in tax relief for small businesses in 2009 at a ten-year cost of only $1 billion.
- Expanded the First-Time Homebuyer Credit: The $8,000 first-time homebuyers tax credit enacted in ARRA has brought many new families into the housing market. Those buyers, in turn, have reduced the inventory of unsold homes and contributed to three months in a row of increases in home prices nationwide. Residential housing investment grew 23 percent in the third quarter, one of the contributors to positive economic growth.
Chair Of The President’s Council Of Economic Advisors, Christina Romer, Releases Statement Regarding Unemployment Data For October
Statement by Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors Christina Romer on the Employment Situation in October
“Today’s employment report contained both signs of hope for recovery and painful evidence of continued labor market weakness.
Payroll employment declined 190,000 in October, continuing the steady trend of moderating job loss that began last spring. Furthermore, the employment loss in both August and September was revised down substantially. Importantly, employment in temporary help services, typically one of the first industries to see job gains, increased by 33,700. The motor vehicle industry also posted employment gains. These are hopeful signs that the unprecedented policy actions are working to stabilize the economy and put us on a path toward recovery.
The unemployment rate, however, rose four-tenths of a percentage point, to 10.2 percent. That this occurred despite the rise in real GDP last quarter reflects both the typical lag between GDP growth and unemployment decline, and the recent exceptional increases in productivity. Having the unemployment rate reach double-digits is a stark reminder of how much work remains to be done before American families see the job gains and reduced unemployment that they need and deserve.”
This statement and a chart can be found online at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2009/11/06/employment-situation-october
Statement Of Adminstration Policy Regarding H.R.3082 – Military Construction And Veterans Affairs Appropriation Act, 2010
STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
H.R. 3082 — Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2010
(Sen. Inouye, D-Hawaii)
The Administration strongly supports Senate passage of H.R. 3082, with the Committee-reported text of S. 1407, making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010.
For the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), this legislation answers the President’s call to expand the care and benefits that the Nation provides to our veterans. The President has put forward a plan to increase funding for the VA by $25 billion over the next five years, honoring veterans’ service by providing more generous funding for their health care. The President also would create Centers of Excellence for VA medical care, with specialty services in areas like prosthetics, vision, spinal cord injury, aging, and women’s health. Importantly, the President believes that the VA must be better prepared to care for the veterans of current conflicts with special focus on mental health screening and treatment for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. The VA will provide better outreach in rural areas with new Vet Centers and mobile health clinics.
The legislation, as considered by the Committee, rises to the President’s challenge. It invests critical new dollars in programs that will significantly improve the quality of care and services for our Nation’s veterans. Millions of patients, including more than 419,000 veterans of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, will receive medical treatment as a result of these investments. The legislation takes important steps forward to support the Administration’s efforts to transform the VA into an agile, adaptive organization that is responsive to the changing needs of the veterans community.
The Administration would like to take this opportunity to share additional views regarding the Committee’s version of the bill.
The Administration appreciates the overall level of funding provided for military construction projects. However, the Administration is concerned that the bill funds several of these projects incrementally, including a critical National Security Agency facility. Consistent with the President’s Budget, the Administration encourages full funding of these programs to make the most efficient use of taxpayer resources.
The Administration is concerned with the $211 million reduction in military construction funding related to the Marines realignment from Japan to Guam. This level of reduction will adversely impact the agreement reached between the United States and Japan in February 2009.
Department of Veterans Affairs
The Administration appreciates the Committee’s support to VA and for providing advance appropriations for VA’s Medical Care accounts so that veterans will always be provided, without interruption, the timely, accessible, and high-quality medical care they deserve.
Section 113 is phrased in a manner that could be construed to require the Executive Branch, without discretion, to notify the Congress 30 days in advance of certain military exercises, in which case it would intrude on the President’s discharge of his constitutional authorities and duties to protect national security. As a means of avoiding any constitutional difficulty, the Administration recommends revising section 113 to make explicit that 30 days advance notice to the Congress is required where feasible and consistent with the President’s constitutional responsibilities to protect national security.
“Now, I have to say, though, that beyond that, I plan to make some broader remarks about the challenges that lay ahead for Native Americans, as well as collaboration with our administration, but as some of you might have heard, there has been a tragic shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas. We don’t yet know all the details at this moment; we will share them as we get them. What we do know is that a number of American soldiers have been killed, and even more have been wounded in a horrific outburst of violence.
My immediate thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and with the families of the fallen, and with those who live and serve at Fort Hood. These are men and women who have made the selfless and courageous decision to risk and at times give their lives to protect the rest of us on a daily basis. It’s difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas. It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil.
I’ve spoken to Secretary Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and I will continue to receive a constant stream of updates as new information comes in. We are working with the Pentagon, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security, all to ensure that Fort Hood is secure, and we will continue to support the community with the full resources of the federal government.
In the meantime, I would ask all Americans to keep the men and women of Fort Hood in your thoughts and prayers. We will make sure that we get answers to every single question about this horrible incident. And I want all of you to know that as Commander-in-Chief, there’s no greater honor but also no greater responsibility for me than to make sure that the extraordinary men and women in uniform are properly cared for and that their safety and security when they are at home is provided for.
So we are going to stay on this. But I hope in the meantime that all of you recognize the scope of this tragedy, and keep everybody in their thoughts and prayers.”
Military Medical Officer Goes On A Deadly Shooting Spree, Killing 13, Wounding 31! Alleged Gunman Wounded And In Custody!
President Obama called the shootings at Fort Hood Thursday “horrifying.” As more information is released, a picture of the psychological profile of the alleged gunman, Major Nidal Malik Hasan is slowly coming together.
Major Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, went on a terrifying rampage early Thursday afternoon killing thirteen and wounding at least thirty-one. It is suspected that Maj. Hasan was deeply disturbed over news regarding his upcoming deployment to Iraq. Maj. Hasan provided psychiatric counseling to returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. A devout Muslim since 1997, Hasan found a conflict between his religious beliefs and that of his duty to the uniform he wore.
Nadar Hasan, 40, told the New York Times that his cousin “was mortified by the idea of having to deploy. He had people telling him on a daily basis the horrors they saw over there.”
“He (Maj. Hasan) was doing everything he could to avoid (deployment). He wanted to do whatever he could within the rules to make sure he wouldn’t go over (to Iraq).”
It has also been reported that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan suffered severe harassment regarding his religious affiliation with Islam. Military officials, according to some majort news outlets, were well aware of Maj. Hasan’s concerns about being deployed to Iraq where the possiblity of fighting and killing another Muslim was more than likely and for Hasan, this was unacceptable.
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is currently being treated for multiple gunshot wounds and is in the custody of military authorities.
President Barack Obama will sign the unemployment extension bill Friday. The states with the highest numbers of unemployment will receive a twenty week extension.