Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
State of the Union Address
“An America Built to Last”
Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
As Prepared for Delivery –
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:
Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought – and several thousand gave their lives.
We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.
These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together.
Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.
We can do this. I know we can, because we’ve done it before. At the end of World War II, when another generation of heroes returned home from combat, they built the strongest economy and middle class the world has ever known. My grandfather, a veteran of Patton’s Army, got the chance to go to college on the GI Bill. My grandmother, who worked on a bomber assembly line, was part of a workforce that turned out the best products on Earth.
The two of them shared the optimism of a Nation that had triumphed over a depression and fascism. They understood they were part of something larger; that they were contributing to a story of success that every American had a chance to share – the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.
The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them.
Let’s remember how we got here. Long before the recession, jobs and manufacturing began leaving our shores. Technology made businesses more efficient, but also made some jobs obsolete. Folks at the top saw their incomes rise like never before, but most hardworking Americans struggled with costs that were growing, paychecks that weren’t, and personal debt that kept piling up.
In 2008, the house of cards collapsed. We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them. Banks had made huge bets and bonuses with other people’s money. Regulators had looked the other way, or didn’t have the authority to stop the bad behavior.
It was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work, saddled us with more debt, and left innocent, hard-working Americans holding the bag. In the six months before I took office, we lost nearly four million jobs. And we lost another four million before our policies were in full effect.
Those are the facts. But so are these. In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than three million jobs. Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005. American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. Together, we’ve agreed to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion. And we’ve put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like that never happens again.
The state of our Union is getting stronger. And we’ve come too far to turn back now. As long as I’m President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.
No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.
This blueprint begins with American manufacturing.
On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world’s number one automaker. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.
We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back.
What’s happening in Detroit can happen in other industries. It can happen in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh. We can’t bring back every job that’s left our shores. But right now, it’s getting more expensive to do business in places like China. Meanwhile, America is more productive. A few weeks ago, the CEO of Master Lock told me that it now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home. Today, for the first time in fifteen years, Master Lock’s unionized plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity.
So we have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back. But we have to seize it. Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.
We should start with our tax code. Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and everyone knows it.
So let’s change it. First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it. That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home.
Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here.
Third, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here. And if you want to relocate in a community that was hit hard when a factory left town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers.
My message is simple. It’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. Send me these tax reforms, and I’ll sign them right away.
We’re also making it easier for American businesses to sell products all over the world. Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years. With the bipartisan trade agreements I signed into law, we are on track to meet that goal – ahead of schedule. Soon, there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. Soon, there will be new cars on the streets of Seoul imported from Detroit, and Toledo, and Chicago.
I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products. And I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules. We’ve brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration – and it’s made a difference. Over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires. But we need to do more. It’s not right when another country lets our movies, music, and software be pirated. It’s not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours only because they’re heavily subsidized.
Tonight, I’m announcing the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China. There will be more inspections to prevent counterfeit or unsafe goods from crossing our borders. And this Congress should make sure that no foreign company has an advantage over American manufacturing when it comes to accessing finance or new markets like Russia. Our workers are the most productive on Earth, and if the playing field is level, I promise you – America will always win.
I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can’t find workers with the right skills. Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job. Think about that – openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work.
That’s inexcusable. And we know how to fix it.
Jackie Bray is a single mom from North Carolina who was laid off from her job as a mechanic. Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College. The company helped the college design courses in laser and robotics training. It paid Jackie’s tuition, then hired her to help operate their plant.
I want every American looking for work to have the same opportunity as Jackie did. Join me in a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job. My Administration has already lined up more companies that want to help. Model partnerships between businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte, Orlando, and Louisville are up and running. Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers – places that teach people skills that local businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.
And I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people like Jackie have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help they need. It’s time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work.
These reforms will help people get jobs that are open today. But to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, our commitment to skills and education has to start earlier.
For less than one percent of what our Nation spends on education each year, we’ve convinced nearly every State in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning – the first time that’s happened in a generation.
But challenges remain. And we know how to solve them.
At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced States to lay off thousands of teachers. We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives. Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies – just to make a difference.
Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let’s offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.
We also know that when students aren’t allowed to walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. So tonight, I call on every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen.
When kids do graduate, the most daunting challenge can be the cost of college. At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. Extend the tuition tax credit we started that saves middle-class families thousands of dollars. And give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years.
Of course, it’s not enough for us to increase student aid. We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money. States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down. Recently, I spoke with a group of college presidents who’ve done just that. Some schools re-design courses to help students finish more quickly. Some use better technology. The point is, it’s possible. So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can’t be a luxury – it’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.
Let’s also remember that hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge: The fact that they aren’t yet American citizens. Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation. Others came more recently, to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else.
That doesn’t make sense.
I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. That’s why my Administration has put more boots on the border than ever before. That’s why there are fewer illegal crossings than when I took office.
The opponents of action are out of excuses. We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stopexpelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.
You see, an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country. That means women should earn equal pay for equal work. It means we should support everyone who’s willing to work; and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.
After all, innovation is what America has always been about. Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses. So let’s pass an agenda that helps them succeed. Tear down regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow. Expand tax relief to small businesses that are raising wages and creating good jobs. Both parties agree on these ideas. So put them in a bill, and get it on my desk this year.
Innovation also demands basic research. Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally-financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched. New lightweight vests for cops and soldiers that can stop any bullet. Don’t gut these investments in our budget. Don’t let other countries win the race for the future. Support the same kind of research and innovation that led to the computer chip and the Internet; to new American jobs and new American industries.
Nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my Administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right – eight years. Not only that – last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past sixteen years.
But with only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, oil isn’t enough. This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy – a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.
We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.
The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy. And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of thirty years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock – reminding us that Government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.
What’s true for natural gas is true for clean energy. In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled. And thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.
When Bryan Ritterby was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried that at 55, no one would give him a second chance. But he found work at Energetx, a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan. Before the recession, the factory only made luxury yachts. Today, it’s hiring workers like Bryan, who said, “I’m proud to be working in the industry of the future.”
Our experience with shale gas shows us that the payoffs on these public investments don’t always come right away. Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I will not walk away from workers like Bryan. I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits and create these jobs.
We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there’s no reason why Congress shouldn’t at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. So far, you haven’t acted. Well tonight, I will. I’m directing my Administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power three million homes. And I’m proud to announce that the Department of Defense, the world’s largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history – with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year.
Of course, the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy. So here’s another proposal: Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, and more jobs for construction workers who need them. Send me a bill that creates these jobs.
Building this new energy future should be just one part of a broader agenda to repair America’s infrastructure. So much of America needs to be rebuilt. We’ve got crumbling roads and bridges. A power grid that wastes too much energy. An incomplete high-speed broadband network that prevents a small business owner in rural America from selling her products all over the world.
During the Great Depression, America built the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. After World War II, we connected our States with a system of highways. Democratic and Republican administrations invested in great projects that benefited everybody, from the workers who built them to the businesses that still use them today.
In the next few weeks, I will sign an Executive Order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects. But you need to fund these projects. Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home.
There’s never been a better time to build, especially since the construction industry was one of the hardest-hit when the housing bubble burst. Of course, construction workers weren’t the only ones hurt. So were millions of innocent Americans who’ve seen their home values decline. And while Government can’t fix the problem on its own, responsible homeowners shouldn’t have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief.
That’s why I’m sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low interest rates. No more red tape. No more runaround from the banks. A small fee on the largest financial institutions will ensure that it won’t add to the deficit, and will give banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust.
Let’s never forget: Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a Government and a financial system that do the same. It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.
We’ve all paid the price for lenders who sold mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them, and buyers who knew they couldn’t afford them. That’s why we need smart regulations to prevent irresponsible behavior. Rules to prevent financial fraud, or toxic dumping, or faulty medical devices, don’t destroy the free market. They make the free market work better.
There is no question that some regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly. In fact, I’ve approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his. I’ve ordered every federal agency to eliminate rules that don’t make sense. We’ve already announced over 500 reforms, and just a fraction of them will save business and citizens more than $10 billion over the next five years. We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill – because milk was somehow classified as an oil. With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk.
I’m confident a farmer can contain a milk spill without a federal agency looking over his shoulder. But I will not back down from making sure an oil company can contain the kind of oil spill we saw in the Gulf two years ago. I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury pollution, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean. I will not go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women differently from men.
And I will not go back to the days when Wall Street was allowed to play by its own set of rules. The new rules we passed restore what should be any financial system’s core purpose: Getting funding to entrepreneurs with the best ideas, and getting loans to responsible families who want to buy a home, start a business, or send a kid to college.
So if you’re a big bank or financial institution, you are no longer allowed to make risky bets with your customers’ deposits. You’re required to write out a “living will” that details exactly how you’ll pay the bills if you fail – because the rest of us aren’t bailing you out ever again. And if you’re a mortgage lender or a payday lender or a credit card company, the days of signing people up for products they can’t afford with confusing forms and deceptive practices are over. Today, American consumers finally have a watchdog in Richard Cordray with one job: To look out for them.
We will also establish a Financial Crimes Unit of highly trained investigators to crack down on large-scale fraud and protect people’s investments. Some financial firms violate major anti-fraud laws because there’s no real penalty for being a repeat offender. That’s bad for consumers, and it’s bad for the vast majority of bankers and financial service professionals who do the right thing. So pass legislation that makes the penalties for fraud count.
And tonight, I am asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.
A return to the American values of fair play and shared responsibility will help us protect our people and our economy. But it should also guide us as we look to pay down our debt and invest in our future.
Right now, our most immediate priority is stopping a tax hike on 160 million working Americans while the recovery is still fragile. People cannot afford losing $40 out of each paycheck this year. There are plenty of ways to get this done. So let’s agree right here, right now: No side issues. No drama. Pass the payroll tax cut without delay.
When it comes to the deficit, we’ve already agreed to more than $2 trillion in cuts and savings. But we need to do more, and that means making choices. Right now, we’re poised to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was supposed to be a temporary tax break for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.
Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Or do we want to keep our investments in everything else – like education and medical research; a strong military and care for our veterans? Because if we’re serious about paying down our debt, we can’t do both.
The American people know what the right choice is. So do I. As I told the Speaker this summer, I’m prepared to make more reforms that rein in the long term costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and strengthen Social Security, so long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors.
But in return, we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of Members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes. Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. And my Republican friend Tom Coburn is right: Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. In fact, if you’re earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn’t get special tax subsidies or deductions. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn’t go up. You’re the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You’re the ones who need relief.
Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.
We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get tax breaks I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference – like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet. That’s not right. Americans know it’s not right. They know that this generation’s success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to their country’s future, and they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility. That’s how we’ll reduce our deficit. That’s an America built to last.
I recognize that people watching tonight have differing views about taxes and debt; energy and health care. But no matter what party they belong to, I bet most Americans are thinking the same thing right now: Nothing will get done this year, or next year, or maybe even the year after that, because Washington is broken.
Can you blame them for feeling a little cynical?
The greatest blow to confidence in our economy last year didn’t come from events beyond our control. It came from a debate in Washington over whether the United States would pay its bills or not. Who benefited from that fiasco?
I’ve talked tonight about the deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. But the divide between this city and the rest of the country is at least as bad – and it seems to get worse every year.
Some of this has to do with the corrosive influence of money in politics. So together, let’s take some steps to fix that. Send me a bill that bans insider trading by Members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow. Let’s limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact. Let’s make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can’t lobby Congress, and vice versa – an idea that has bipartisan support, at least outside of Washington.
Some of what’s broken has to do with the way Congress does its business these days. A simple majority is no longer enough to get anything – even routine business – passed through the Senate. Neither party has been blameless in these tactics. Now both parties should put an end to it. For starters, I ask the Senate to pass a rule that all judicial and public service nominations receive a simple up or down vote within 90 days.
The executive branch also needs to change. Too often, it’s inefficient, outdated and remote. That’s why I’ve asked this Congress to grant me the authority to consolidate the federal bureaucracy so that our Government is leaner, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people.
Finally, none of these reforms can happen unless we also lower the temperature in this town. We need to end the notion that the two parties must be locked in a perpetual campaign of mutual destruction; that politics is about clinging to rigid ideologies instead of building consensus around common sense ideas.
I’m a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more. That’s why my education reform offers more competition, and more control for schools and States. That’s why we’re getting rid of regulations that don’t work. That’s why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a Government program.
On the other hand, even my Republican friends who complain the most about Government spending have supported federally-financed roads, and clean energy projects, and federal offices for the folks back home.
The point is, we should all want a smarter, more effective Government. And while we may not be able to bridge our biggest philosophical differences this year, we can make real progress. With or without this Congress, I will keep taking actions that help the economy grow. But I can do a whole lot more with your help. Because when we act together, there is nothing the United States of America can’t achieve.
That is the lesson we’ve learned from our actions abroad over the last few years.
Ending the Iraq war has allowed us to strike decisive blows against our enemies. From Pakistan to Yemen, the al Qaeda operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they can’t escape the reach of the United States of America.
From this position of strength, we’ve begun to wind down the war in Afghanistan. Ten thousand of our troops have come home. Twenty-three thousand more will leave by the end of this summer. This transition to Afghan lead will continue, and we will build an enduring partnership with Afghanistan, so that it is never again a source of attacks against America.
As the tide of war recedes, a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo; from Sana’a to Tripoli. A year ago, Qadhafi was one of the world’s longest-serving dictators – a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today, he is gone. And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change can’t be reversed, and that human dignity can’t be denied.
How this incredible transformation will end remains uncertain. But we have a huge stake in the outcome. And while it is ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well. We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings – men and women; Christians, Muslims, and Jews. We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty.
And we will safeguard America’s own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests. Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program now stands as one. The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent. Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.
The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever. Our ties to the Americas are deeper. Our iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history. We’ve made it clear that America is a Pacific power, and a new beginning in Burma has lit a new hope. From the coalitions we’ve built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we’ve led against hunger and disease; from the blows we’ve dealt to our enemies; to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back.
Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about. That’s not the message we get from leaders around the world, all of whom are eager to work with us. That’s not how people feel from Tokyo to Berlin; from Cape Town to Rio; where opinions of America are higher than they’ve been in years. Yes, the world is changing; no, we can’t control every event. But America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs – and as long as I’m President, I intend to keep it that way.
That’s why, working with our military leaders, I have proposed a new defense strategy that ensures we maintain the finest military in the world, while saving nearly half a trillion dollars in our budget. To stay one step ahead of our adversaries, I have already sent this Congress legislation that will secure our country from the growing danger of cyber-threats.
Above all, our freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it. As they come home, we must serve them as well as they served us. That includes giving them the care and benefits they have earned – which is why we’ve increased annual VA spending every year I’ve been President. And it means enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our Nation.
With the bipartisan support of this Congress, we are providing new tax credits to companies that hire vets. Michelle and Jill Biden have worked with American businesses to secure a pledge of 135,000 jobs for veterans and their families. And tonight, I’m proposing a Veterans Job Corps that will help our communities hire veterans as cops and firefighters, so that America is as strong as those who defend her.
Which brings me back to where I began. Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn from the service of our troops. When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight. When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one Nation, leaving no one behind.
One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden. On it are each of their names. Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesn’t matter. Just like it didn’t matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates – a man who was George Bush’s defense secretary; and Hillary Clinton, a woman who ran against me for president.
All that mattered that day was the mission. No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn’t deserve credit for the mission. It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job – the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the compound; the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs. More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other – because you can’t charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there’s someone behind you, watching your back.
So it is with America. Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those fifty stars and those thirteen stripes. No one built this country on their own. This Nation is great because we built it together. This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we’re joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
Excerpts of the President’s State of the Union Address
“Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded. “
“….The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them.”
“As long as I’m President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.
No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.”
“Let’s never forget: Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that do the same. It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.”
I’m heading to Capitol Hill soon to deliver my third State of the Union address.
Before I go, I want to say thanks for everything you’re doing.
Tonight, we set the tone for the year ahead. I’m going to lay out in concrete terms the path we need to take as a country if we want an economy that works for everyone and rewards hard work and responsibility.
Those are values that brought millions of people into this movement, and they remain the core values that unite us and shape our agenda for 2012 and beyond.
But I wouldn’t be able to speak to them without your continued support. I’m glad to know you’ll be standing with me up there.
Thanks, and I hope you can tune in tonight.
GUEST LIST FOR THE FIRST LADY’S BOX
STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
JANUARY 24, 2012
First Lady Michelle Obama
Dr. Jill Biden
Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President
The following individuals will be seated in the box with the First Lady and Dr. Biden at the State of the Union Address:
SGT Ashleigh Berg, USA
SGT Ashleigh Berg is from Malibu, California, and joined the United States Army in July of 2004. SGT Berg has been stationed in South Korea and Germany, and has served two tours of duty in Iraq. Her husband, SGT Matthew Berg, USA is currently deployed to Afghanistan on his 3rd combat tour. SGT Berg is currently assigned to the 94th Army Missile Defense Command in Fort Shafter Hawaii, and is serving a three year tour as the Commanding General’s Executive Administrative assistant.
Plant Manager, General Motors Orion Assembly
Alicia Boler-Davis lives in Detroit with her husband, Fitzgerald, and their two young sons. She is the plant manager at General Motors Orion Assembly and Pontiac Stamping, and is responsible for overseeing the production of the first new small car program from General Motors to be manufactured in the United States. Last October, Ms. Boler-Davis led President Obama and President Lee of South Korea on a tour of the General Motors Orion Assembly and Pontiac Stamping. President Obama and President Lee traveled to the GM plant to highlight the free trade agreements and the resurgence of the American auto industry.
Assistant, Berkshire Hathaway
A Nebraska native, Debbie Bosanek has worked for Berkshire Hathaway for 37 years and has been Warren Buffett’s secretary for almost two decades. Last September, the President proposed the “Buffett Rule” as part of comprehensive tax reform, and is working to build an economy that works for everyone, including Americans like Ms. Bosanek, not just a wealthy few. Ms. Bosanek lives in Bellevue, Nebraska with her husband of 23 years and their son, and spends most of her time and energy trying to keep up with her boss.
Process Operator at the Siemens Charlotte Energy Hub
King’s Mountain, North Carolina
Jackie Bray is a single mother from King’s Mountain, North Carolina. Last January she was laid off from her job as a high speed packaging mechanic. That is when she enrolled in Central Piedmont Community College to prepare for Siemens pre-hiring test. After finishing the course and passing the test, Ms. Bray was hired by Siemens in August of 2011. This type of partnership between businesses and community colleges is exactly what President Obama hopes to strengthen to maximize workforce development strategies, job training programs, and job placements. Ms. Bray now works as a process operator, combining her machinist background with new skills she has been trained on since working at Siemens: laser training, robotics training, penetrant inspection training, and product orientation.
Mayor Julián Castro
San Antonio, Texas
Mayor Castro was first elected mayor of San Antonio in 2009 and at 37 years old is the youngest mayor of a top 50 American city. He is a former city councilman and founder of a law firm. He graduated from Stanford University and earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2000. During his Administration, the Milken Institute ranked San Antonio as the best-performing city in the nation in 2011. In January 2012, Mayor Castro announced that CPS Energy, a municipally-owned utility, has entered negotiations to bring at least 800 jobs and $100 million in capital investment to San Antonio. This is expected to be one of the nation’s largest solar projects resulting in 400 megawatts of zero-emissions solar energy.
President and CEO of Lincolnton Furniture
Lincolnton, North Carolina
Bruce Cochrane comes from a family that has manufactured furniture in North Carolina for decades, but when Cochrane Furniture was sold in 1997, the new owners moved manufacturing to China. Two years ago, Mr. Cochrane decided the time had come to start his own furniture company back in his home state. In January 2012, production began at Lincolnton Furniture in the same plant his family once ran. Lincolnton Furniture is expected to add 130 new jobs to the area. Mr. Cochrane attended President Obama’s Insourcing American Jobs Forum earlier this month.
Teacher, Columbus Elementary
Sara Ferguson teaches literacy and math at Columbus Elementary, and has worked for the Chester Upland School District for 20 years. She is a third generation educator in Chester Upland, and a proud product of that district. When the Chester Upland School District faced bankruptcy earlier this year in light of severe state budget cuts, Ms. Ferguson vowed to continue teaching even without being paid, saying “we are adults; we will make a way. The students don’t have any contingency plan. They need to be educated, so we intend to be on the job.”
Dr. Hiroyuki Fujita
Founder, President and CEO Quality Electrodynamics
Dr. Hiroyuki Fujita is founder, president and chief executive officer of Quality Electrodynamics (QED), in Cleveland, Ohio. Coming to America from Japan in 1988 and after receiving his Ph.D. in physics from Case Western Reserve University in 1998, Dr. Fujita chose to continue his professional training in America. In 2006 he started his own company, QED, which is a developer and manufacturer of highly proprietary state-of-the-art MRI radiofrequency antennas. QED is now one of the world’s largest suppliers of these products and ships throughout the globe. In 2010, Dr. Fujita founded his second company, eQED, a solar energy-related electronics development and manufacturing company. With the founding of both QED and eQED, today Dr. Fujita is creating high tech, advanced manufacturing jobs in the healthcare and energy sectors in the United States.
Mahala Greer grew up in Paonia, a small town in rural Colorado. She is currently a student at the University of Colorado Denver majoring in Spanish, and has just been accepted into Teach for America as a Bilingual Education Corps Member. In May she will graduate with more than $35,000 in student loans. Last October, Ms. Greer introduced President Obama when he spoke to students at CU Denver about how his Administration is working to make college more affordable and reduce student loan debt.
San Diego, California
Adrienne Howard is a military spouse from Lynchburg, Virginia, and currently lives in San Diego, California with her three children. Her husband, Commander Colby Howard, USN, is currently on a seven month deployment. Mrs. Howard has moved 14 times during her husband’s career, and their oldest child has attended 9 different schools along the way. For nearly 20 years, she has been heavily involved as a volunteer in family readiness groups and Navy spouse organizations. This past September, Mrs. Howard was inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative to reach out to her community, and the response was overwhelming. Mrs. Howard shared her story of rallying her community to ‘adopt’ a Sailor on the Joining Forces Blog.
San Francisco, California
Mike Krieger is the co-founder of Instagram, the fastest growing social mobile startup in the U.S. today, with over 15 million registered users. Mike was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and moved to California in 2004 to attend Stanford University, where he studied computer science and cognitive science. In 2010, he joined up with Kevin Systrom to co-found Instagram, and now employs a talented, growing team of designers and engineers. After graduation, Mr. Krieger worked for a year on his student F-1 visa, later applying for and receiving an H-1B visa as a high-skill worker. Mr. Krieger wants to permanently stay in the U.S. and has applied for a green card.
Captain Mark Kelly, USN, Ret.
Mark Kelly is an American astronaut, retired US Navy Captain, best-selling author, and an experienced naval aviator who flew combat missions during the Gulf War. The winner of many awards, including the Legion of Merit, two Defense Superior Service Medals and two Distinguished Flying Crosses, Kelly was selected as an astronaut in 1996. He flew his first of four missions in 2001 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour, the same space shuttle that he commanded on its final flight in May 2011. He has also commanded Space Shuttle Discoveryand is one of only two individuals who have visited the International Space Station on four different occasions.
Already a celebrated American, Kelly became the center of international attention after the January 2011 assassination attempt on his wife, US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In their best-selling memoir, Gabby, the couple shares their story of hope and resilience with the world.
Lorelei Kilker is an analytical chemist for an environmental laboratory, and lives in Brighton, Colorado with her domestic partner and their two children. In October of 2011, Ms. Kilker was one of a class of women who benefitted from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) investigation of alleged systematic sex discrimination at her former employer that resulted in the award of back wages and significant remedial relief, arrangements that were achieved through a cooperative process between the employer and EEOC. Since the creation of the President’s Equal Pay Task Force in January 2010, EEOC obtained almost $50 million in monetary relief through administrative enforcement for victims of sex-based wage discrimination, obtained changes to workplace practices that benefit over one quarter of a million workers, and filed five cases including sex-based wage discrimination claims.
Admiral William McRaven, USN
Admiral McRaven assumed command of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) on June 13, 2008. Prior to assuming command, he served from June 2006 to March 2008 as commander, Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR). In addition to his duties as COMSOCEUR, he was designated as the first director of the NATO Special Operations Forces Coordination Centre (NSCC), where he was charged with enhancing the capabilities and inter-operability of all NATO Special Operations Forces.
Adm. McRaven has commanded at every level within the special operations community, including assignments as deputy commanding general for operations at JSOC, commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group 1, commander of SEAL Team 3, task group commander in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, task unit commander during Desert Storm and Desert Shield, squadron commander at Naval Special Warfare Development Group, and SEAL platoon commander at Underwater Demolition Team 21/SEAL Team 4.
Adm. McRaven’s diverse staff and interagency experience includes assignments as the director for Strategic Planning in the Office of Combating Terrorism on the National Security Council Staff, assessment director at U.S. Special Operations Command, on the Staff of the Chief of Naval Operations and the chief of staff at Naval Special Warfare Group 1.
Adm. McRaven’s professional education includes assignment to the Naval Postgraduate School, where he helped establish and was the first graduate from the Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict curriculum.
As deep rooted Orlando, Florida, residents, Joan Milligan and her husband Bill share a strong commitment to their community and volunteering. Faced with losing their home, President Obama’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) allowed Joan and her husband to refinance their existing loan when other means of refinancing were not open to them. As Mrs. Milligan has said, “I can’t believe how easy the process was. The bank bent over backwards to accommodate us”. The Milligans will celebrate 50 years of marriage in October 2012.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Amber Morris, a Virginia Beach resident, responded to the White House’s call in December asking Americans “What does 40 mean to you?” saying, “Forty dollars a pay check means that I’ll be able to pay my bills, but most months it’ll be a tight squeeze. It means that I’ll have no spending money which means I can’t do my part in encouraging my local economy. Forty dollars a paycheck may not seem a lot, but it could mean a steady job for me and my coworkers or unemployment.” Ms. Morris graduated from Northeastern Law School in 2008 and found herself unable to find a job in her field. She was working for a non-profit in Boston, but after they lost funding she found herself unemployed in 2009 and forced to move back home with her parents. She’s since found work as a waitress in a local restaurant and although it’s less than ideal, she feels “lucky to have paycheck” to help pay student loans and help save up for the Virginia bar exam.
Laurene Powell Jobs
Founder and Chair of Emerson Collective
Palo Alto, California
Ms. Laurene Powell Jobs is founder and chair of Emerson Collective, an organization focused on harnessing the potential of individuals from underserved communities to help them build a better life.
Ms. Powell Jobs also serves as president of the board of College Track, an after-school program she founded in 1997 to prepare underserved high school students for success in college. Started in East Palo Alto, College Track has expanded to serve students in Oakland, San Francisco, New Orleans and Aurora, Colorado. The program’s intensive academic and extracurricular program is designed to ensure admittance to and graduation from college. All of the program’s graduates have completed their secondary education and gone on to college.
In addition to her work with the Emerson Collective and College Track, she serves on the boards of directors of NewSchools Venture Fund, New America Foundation and Conservation International. She also serves as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Ms. Powell Jobs holds a BA and a BSE from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Earlier in her career, she spent several years working in investment banking and later co-founded a natural foods company in California.
Fall Creek Township, Illinois
Adam Rapp lives in Fall Creek Township, Illinois, and is the only child of Stephen and Lisa Rapp. On his 23rd birthday, he was diagnosed with cancer, and without the Affordable Care Act he would have lost health insurance coverage the same day. Adam’s mother wrote President Obama a letter last May thanking him for passing the health reform law so that her son could remain on their health insurance policy. After undergoing treatment, Mr. Rapp is now cancer-free and engaged to be married to Adrienne Mast of Quincy, Illinois.
Juan Jose Redín
North Hollywood, California
Juan Jose Redín was born in Ixtapan de la Sal, Mexico before coming with his mother and younger sister to the United States at the age of 10. After enduring many challenges throughout his journey to achieve his dream of higher education. Juan benefited from California’s Assembly Bill 540 and was able to enroll, and excel, in his studies at UCLA. He received both his undergraduate (with honors) and law degrees from UCLA. Now a US citizen and a practicing attorney, Juan is as passionate as ever about ensuring educational access to all.
Bryan Ritterby had been in the furniture manufacturing industry for more than 25 years working on the manufacturing floor, in the quality department and as a field service representative, but was laid off in February of 2009. Mr. Ritterby then went through the Grand Rapids Community College Composite Technician Training Program in conjunction with a new start-up company, Energetx Composites. Upon completion of the program, Mr. Ritterby was hired by Energetx Composites as a composite technician in April of 2010. Today, Mr. Ritterby is a Lab Technician for Energetx Composites conducting material tests in the company’s laboratory verifying materials to be used in wind turbine blades, as well as working on blade validation tests for all of the community scale wind blades Energetx is manufacturing.
Colonel Ginger Wallace, USAF
Colonel Ginger Wallace is an Air Force intelligence officer who has led airlift and intelligence operations during Operations SOUTHERN WATCH, PROVIDE RELIEF, UPHOLD DEMOCRACY, ALLIED FORCE, ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM. She currently lives in McLean, Virginia with her partner of over a decade, Kathy Knopf. In December, Ms. Knopf attended Col. Wallace’s promotion ceremony and participated in the “pinning on” of Col. Wallace’s rank, marking the first such event reported following the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Col. Wallace is currently training to deploy to Afghanistan in the Spring 2012 through the Afghanistan-Pakistan Hands program.
Statement by the President on Today’s Iran-related Sanctions
I applaud today’s actions by our partners in the European Union to impose additional sanctions on Iran in response to the regime’s continuing failure to fulfill its international obligations regarding its nuclear program. These sanctions demonstrate once more the unity of the international community in addressing the serious threat presented by Iran’s nuclear program. The United States will continue to impose new sanctions to increase the pressure on Iran. On December 31, I signed into law a new set of sanctions targeting Iran’s Central Bank and its oil revenues. Today, the Treasury Department announced new sanctions on Bank Tejerat for its facilitation of proliferation, and we will continue to increase the pressure unless Iran acts to change course and comply with its international obligations.
Statement by the President on Roe v. Wade Anniversary
As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right. While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue- no matter what our views, we must stay united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant woman and mothers, reduce the need for abortion, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption. And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.
President Obama, Cabinet Secretaries, and Senior Administration Officials Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service by Participating in Community Service Projects and Events Throughout the Country
President Obama, Cabinet Secretaries, and Senior Administration Officials Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service by Participating in Community Service Projects and Events Throughout the Country
WASHINGTON, DC – To honor the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service and Dr. King’s life and legacy, the President and Mrs. Obama, the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden, Cabinet Secretaries, and other senior administration officials participated in community service projects and events throughout the country. Led by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the King Center, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is an opportunity for all Americans to come together to help meet the needs of their communities and make an ongoing commitment to service throughout the year.
“Today, we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And we should honor that legacy by acting as drum majors for service and lifting up those less fortunate – not just today, but every day,” President Obama said. “All of us can find a way to give back to our communities, to gain new skills, and to pull together, even when times are hard. That’s what Dr. King believed in, and that’s what will make our country stronger.”
Today, the First Family participated in a community service project sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service in conjunction with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Greater DC Cares at the Browne Education Campus in Washington, DC. In the evening, the President and First Lady will attend the Let Freedom Ring concert in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Kennedy Center.
Also today, the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden traveled to Philadelphia, PA, to participate in the 17th annual Greater Philadelphia Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. The Vice President delivered remarks at Girard College in North Philadelphia. Following his remarks, the Vice President and Dr. Biden participated in a service project at Girard College.
For more on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service, please visit the Corporation for National and Community Service at www.serve.gov/mlkday.asp.
Cabinet Secretaries and Senior Administration Officials
- Agriculture: Secretary Vilsack addressed Rainbow PUSH in Chicago to highlight USDA advancements on Civil Rights and the Obama administration’s settlement of the Pigford lawsuit.
- Commerce: Secretary Bryson participated in a community service event with Mayor Villaraigosa at Los Feliz Elementary School in Los Angeles, CA.
- CNCS: The Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Robert Velasco volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of D.C. Senior staff also served at We Feed Our People, a signature event that serves hundreds of homeless District residents with a hot meals and warm clothing, and at Montgomery County Volunteer Center in Bethesda.
- Defense: On Thursday, January 26, Secretary Panetta will participate in the annual commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the Pentagon.
- Education: Secretary Duncan and his family joined the City Year service day at Dunbar High School.
- Energy: Secretary Chu hosted an event at the Department of Energy to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King. Secretary Chu was joined by C.T. Vivian, Vice President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Lynn Cothern, former aide to Coretta Scott King.
- EPA: Administrator Jackson delivered remarks at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Prayer Breakfast hosted by the National Action Network in Washington, D.C.
- Justice: Attorney General Holder spoke at the NAACP’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event in Columbia, S.C. On Sunday, January 15, he spoke at the Annual Utah Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Commission Luncheon. And on Monday, January 30, he will attend the Department of Justice’s 2012 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemorative Program.
- Labor: Secretary Solis delivered remarks and accepted an award at the “At the River I Stand,” the AFL-CIO’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day observance dinner in Detroit, Mich.
- NASA: Administrator Bolden addressed the 44th Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga.
- OPM: Director of the Office of Personnel Management John Berry delivered remarks and participated in a service project at “Hope and a Home” in Washington, D.C.
- Transportation: Deputy Secretary Porcari commemorated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day at Tyler Elementary School in Washington, D.C. Volunteers contributed to the beautification of the school by painting slogans, murals, and math equations to help lead the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day reflection activity.
- USAID: USAID Administrator Shah participated in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library’s 25th annual “We Feed Our People” event in Washington, D.C.
- USUN: Ambassador Rice participated in a service event to benefit Kenilworth Elementary in Washington, D.C.
- VA: Secretary Shinseki volunteered at So Others Might Eat serving food to the homeless in Washington, D.C.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT A MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY SERVICE EVENT
Browne Education Campus
9:57 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, good morning, everybody!
AUDIENCE: Good morning!
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, this looks like an outstanding group, I can already tell. I’m not going to make a long speech, because we’re here to do some work. But mainly what I want to do is just to say thank you to all of you for participating. I know there are a lot of organizations that are represented here today. We are so glad to be at this outstanding school where we’re going to be doing a whole bunch of stuff to make it — make the facilities even better than they already are.
But this is the third year now that Michelle and Malia and usually Sasha is here — she couldn’t make it today — that we provide or engage in some sort of service on Dr. King’s birthday. And there’s no better way to celebrate Dr. King than to do something on behalf of others.
I know there’s been a lot of controversy lately about the quote on the memorial and they’re changing it and making some modifications, but if you look at that speech talking about Dr. King as a drum major, what he really said was that all of us can be a drum major for service, all of us can be a drum major for justice. There’s nobody who can’t serve. Nobody who can’t help somebody else. And whether you’re seven or six or whether you’re 76, then you can find opportunities to make an enormous difference in your community. And at a time when the country has been going through some difficult economic times, for us to be able to come together as a community, people from all different walks of life, and make sure that we’re giving back, that’s ultimately what makes us the strongest, most extraordinary country on Earth, is because we pull together when times are good, but also when times are hard. And you guys all represent that.
So on behalf of our family, we want to say thank you. I’m sure Dr. King, were he here, he’d want to say thank you. And I look forward to spending some time next to you guys. Hopefully I have some good instructors here so that I don’t mess anything up. So if you’re putting a paintbrush in my hands, make sure that I’ve got some very clear lines, and I’ll try to stay within them.
All right? Thank you, everybody. God bless you. Thank you. (Applause.)
President Obama Announces Proposal To Reform, Reorganize and Consolidate Government Plan Will Make Government Leaner, Smarter And More Consumer-Friendly
President Obama Announces Proposal To Reform, Reorganize and Consolidate Government
Plan will make Government leaner, smarter and more consumer-friendly
WASHINGTON, DC – As a follow up to last year’s State of the Union, today, President Obama called on Congress to reinstate Presidential authority to reorganize and consolidate the federal government, which will ensure swift action on his proposals to streamline government to make it work better for the American people while eliminating duplication, waste and inefficiencies.
“We live in a 21st century economy, but we’ve still got a government organized for the 20thcentury. Our economy has fundamentally changed – as has the world – but the government has not. The needs of our citizens have fundamentally changed but their government has not. Instead, it has often grown more complex. Today, I am calling on Congress to reinstate the authority that past presidents have had to streamline and reform the Executive Branch. This is the same sort of authority that every business owner has to make sure that his or her company keeps pace with the times. And let me be clear: I will only use this authority for reforms that result in more efficiency, better service, and a leaner government,” said President Obama.
Almost every President from Herbert Hoover to Ronald Reagan had reorganization authority. Too often past attempts to streamline government got caught up in beltway politics and power struggles that prevented meaningful consolidation. And more often than not, new agencies were added without taking any away.
Unlike the authority granted in the past, the President’s proposal would initiate new accountability by mandating that any plan must reduce the number of government agencies or save taxpayer dollars. It would also ensure expedient review by Congress.
The President laid out his first proposed use of that authority consolidating six agencies into one more efficient agency to promote competitiveness, exports and American business. Currently, there are six major departments and agencies that focus primarily on business and trade in the federal government. The six are: U.S. Department of Commerce’s core business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
Consolidating these agencies along with other related programs will help entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes grow, compete, and hire, leveraging one cohesive Department with one mission: to spur job creation and expand the U.S. economy.
In his last State of the Union Address, President Obama noted there was more that we must do to give American businesses all they need to succeed. The Federal Government is a maze of Federal agencies with overlapping services and missions, making it difficult for businesses – and especially small ones – to find the assistance they need to export, expand, and hire.
He established the Government Reform for Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative to examine how we can update the Federal government to better support America’s competitiveness in a 21st century global economy. The team reached out to hundreds of businesses, experts, current and former cabinet officials and agency heads, union leaders, Members of Congress and their staff, and thousands of Federal employees to find out what is working and what is not. Across the range of conversations held by the Administration as part of the government reorganization initiative, one theme underscored repeatedly by business owners was that they are confused about where to go for assistance and often are unaware of services that would help them, particularly those trying to break into the export market for the first time.
For additional information, please click here.
White House Outlines Approach to Protect the Internet while CombattingOnline Piracy; Responds to the American People through “We the People” Online Initiative
White House Outlines Approach to Protect the Internet while CombattingOnline Piracy
Responds to the American People through “We the People” Online Initiative
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the White House responded to two petitions submitted through its “We the People” online petition initiative to discuss our approach to protect the internet while combatting online piracy. The response can be found on www.whitehouse.gov and below.
Obama Administration responds to We the People petitions on SOPA and online piracy – White House Blog
January 14, 2012
08:09 AM EST
The White House has responded to two petitions about legislative approaches to combat online piracy. In their response, Victoria Espinel, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator at Office of Management and Budget, Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, and Howard Schmidt, Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator for National Security Staff stress that the important task of protecting intellectual property online must not threaten an open and innovative internet.
The response can be read below and HERE.
By Victoria Espinel, Aneesh Chopra, and Howard Schmidt
Thanks for taking the time to sign this petition. Both your words and actions illustrate the importance of maintaining an open and democratic Internet.
Right now, Congress is debating a few pieces of legislation concerning the very real issue of online piracy, including the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and the Online Protection and Digital ENforcement Act (OPEN). We want to take this opportunity to tell you what the Administration will support—and what we will not support. Any effective legislation should reflect a wide range of stakeholders, including everyone from content creators to the engineers that build and maintain the infrastructure of the Internet.
While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.
Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small. Across the globe, the openness of the Internet is increasingly central to innovation in business, government, and society and it must be protected. To minimize this risk, new legislation must be narrowly targeted only at sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law, cover activity clearly prohibited under existing U.S. laws, and be effectively tailored, with strong due process and focused on criminal activity. Any provision covering Internet intermediaries such as online advertising networks, payment processors, or search engines must be transparent and designed to prevent overly broad private rights of action that could encourage unjustified litigation that could discourage startup businesses and innovative firms from growing.
We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet. Proposed laws must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security. Our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online. We must avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the deployment of DNSSEC, at risk.
Let us be clear—online piracy is a real problem that harms the American economy, threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle class workers and hurts some of our nation’s most creative and innovative companies and entrepreneurs. It harms everyone from struggling artists to production crews, and from startup social media companies to large movie studios. While we are strongly committed to the vigorous enforcement of intellectual property rights, existing tools are not strong enough to root out the worst online pirates beyond our borders. That is why the Administration calls on all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.S. borders while staying true to the principles outlined above in this response. We should never let criminals hide behind a hollow embrace of legitimate American values.
This is not just a matter for legislation. We expect and encourage all private parties, including both content creators and Internet platform providers working together, to adopt voluntary measures and best practices to reduce online piracy.
So, rather than just look at how legislation can be stopped, ask yourself: Where do we go from here? Don’t limit your opinion to what’s the wrong thing to do, ask yourself what’s right. Already, many members of Congress are asking for public input around the issue. We are paying close attention to those opportunities, as well as to public input to the Administration. The organizer of this petition and a random sample of the signers will be invited to a conference call to discuss this issue further with Administration officials and soon after that, we will host an online event to get more input and answer your questions. Details on that will follow in the coming days.
Washington needs to hear your best ideas about how to clamp down on rogue websites and other criminals who make money off the creative efforts of American artists and rights holders. We should all be committed to working with all interested constituencies to develop new legal tools to protect global intellectual property rights without jeopardizing the openness of the Internet. Our hope is that you will bring enthusiasm and know-how to this important challenge.
Moving forward, we will continue to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis on legislation that provides new tools needed in the global fight against piracy and counterfeiting, while vigorously defending an open Internet based on the values of free expression, privacy, security and innovation. Again, thank you for taking the time to participate in this important process. We hope you’ll continue to be part of it.
Victoria Espinel is Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator at Office of Management and Budget
Aneesh Chopra is the U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to the President and Associate Director for Technology at the Office of Science and Technology Policy
Howard Schmidt is Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator for National Security Staff
Readout of the President’s call to Representative Gabrielle Giffords
President Obama called Representative Gabrielle Giffords to offer his support in advance of the candlelight vigil commemorating the anniversary of the tragic shooting in Tucson. The President told Rep. Giffords that he and the First Lady keep her, the families of the fallen, and the whole Tucson community in their daily thoughts and prayers and, along with the entire nation, continue to join her in mourning those lost. The President expressed amazement at the courage and determination Rep. Giffords has shown along her incredible road to recovery, calling her an inspiration to his family and Americans across the country.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON THE RESIGNATION OF CHIEF OF STAFF BILL DALEY
State Dining Room
3:02 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Hope you all had a good weekend.
Last week, my Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, informed me that after spending time reflecting with his family over the holidays, he decided it was time to leave Washington and return to our beloved hometown of Chicago.
Obviously this was not easy news to hear. And I didn’t accept Bill’s decision right away. In fact, I asked him to take a couple of days to make sure that he was sure about this. But in the end, the pull of the hometown we both love — a city that’s been synonymous with the Daley family for generations — was too great. Bill told me that he wanted to spend more time with his family, especially his grandchildren, and he felt it was the right decision.
One of the things that made it easier was the extraordinary work that he has done for me during what has been an extraordinary year. Bill has been an outstanding Chief of Staff during one of the busiest and most consequential years of my administration.
We were thinking back, just a year ago this weekend, before he was even named for the job, Bill was in the Situation Room getting updates on the shooting in Tucson. On his very first day, Bill took part in a meeting where we discussed Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad. This was all before he even had time to unpack his office.
Over the last year, he’s been intimately involved in every decision surrounding the end of the war in Iraq and our support of the people of Libya as they fought for their freedom. He was instrumental in developing the American Jobs Act and making sure taxes didn’t go up on middle-class families. He helped us reach an agreement to reduce the deficit by over $2 trillion. And he played a central role in passing historic trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. Given his past record of service as Secretary of Commerce, he was invaluable in all these negotiations.
So no one in my administration has had to make more important decisions more quickly than Bill. And that’s why I think this decision was difficult for me. Naturally, when Bill told me his plans to go back to Chicago, I asked him who I thought could fill his shoes. He told me that there was one clear choice, and I believe he’s right. So today I’m pleased to announce that Jack Lew has agreed to serve as my next Chief of Staff.
Let me begin, first of all, by thanking Ruth for allowing Jack to serve in what I know is one of the most difficult jobs in Washington. But Jack has had one of the other most difficult jobs in Washington. For more than a year, Jack has served as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. As anyone who’s been following the news lately can tell you, this is not an easy job.
During his first tour at OMB under President Clinton, Jack was the only budget director in history to preside over budget surpluses for three consecutive years. And over the last year, he has helped strengthen our economy and streamline the government at a time when we need to do everything we can to keep our recovery going.
Jack’s economic advice has been invaluable and he has my complete trust, both because of his mastery of the numbers, but because of the values behind those numbers. Ever since he began his career in public as a top aide to Speaker Tip O’Neill, Jack has fought for an America where hard work and responsibility pay off, a place where everybody gets a fair shot, everybody does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same rules. And that belief is reflected in every decision that Jack makes.
Jack also has my confidence on matters outside the borders. Before he served at OMB for me, Jack spent two years running the extremely complex and challenging budget and operations process for Secretary Clinton at the State Department, where his portfolio also included managing the civilian operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. And over the last year, he has weighed in on many of the major foreign policy decisions that we’ve made.
So there is no question that I’m going to deeply miss having Bill by my side here at the White House. But as he will soon find out, Chicago is only a phone call away and I’m going to be using that phone number quite a bit. I plan to continue to seek Bill’s advice and counsel on a whole range of issues in the months and years to come. And here in Washington, I have every confidence that Jack will make sure that we don’t miss a beat and continue to do everything we can to strengthen our economy and the middle class and keep the American people safe.
So I want to thank, once again, Bill for his extraordinary service, but also his extraordinary friendship and loyalty to me. It’s meant a lot. And I want to congratulate Jack on his new role. I know he is going to do an outstanding job, so thank you.
Thank you, everybody.
We Can’t Wait: The White House Announces Federal and Private Sector Commitments to Provide Employment Opportunities for Nearly 180,000 Youth
We Can’t Wait: The White House Announces Federal and Private Sector Commitments to Provide Employment Opportunities for Nearly 180,000 Youth
Today, the White House announced Summer Jobs+, a new call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012. The President proposed $1.5 billion for high-impact summer jobs and year-round employment for low-income youth ages 16-24 in the American Jobs Act as part of the Pathways Back to Work fund. When Congress failed to act, the Federal government and private sector came together to commit to creating nearly 180,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth in the summer of 2012, with a goal of reaching 250,000 employment opportunities by the start of summer, at least 100,000 of which will be placements in paid jobs and internships. Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of executive actions the Obama Administration is taking to strengthen the economy and move the country forward because we can’t wait for Congress to act.
“America’s young people face record unemployment, and we need to do everything we can to make sure they’ve got the opportunity to earn the skills and a work ethic that come with a job. It’s important for their future, and for America’s. That’s why I proposed a summer jobs program for youth in the American Jobs Act – a plan that Congress failed to pass. America’s youth can’t wait for Congress to act. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment. That’s why today, we’re launching Summer Jobs+, a joint initiative that challenges business leaders and communities to join my Administration in providing hundreds of thousands of summer jobs for America’s youth,” said President Obama.
“While young people who are currently disconnected from school or work are not contributing to our economy, we see these young people as ‘Opportunity Youth’ – because of the untapped potential they bring to the Nation. Today, the White House challenged all sectors to go all-in and work together in creating pathways to youth employment. Summer jobs are an important step – and to stay on the path to success, Opportunity Youth need social supports and access to relevant education, mentoring and training. This spring, the White House Council for Community Solutions will participate in community discussions nationwide to learn from best efforts by youth, families, government, business, educators, and nonprofits to connect young people to meaningful career opportunities,” said Patty Stonesifer, Chair of the White House Council for Community Solutions (WHCCS).
The Administration also announced its intention to launch, within 60 days, the Summer Jobs+ Bank, a one-stop search tool for youth to access postings for any participating employers seeking to reach them where they are online. The search tool builds upon an open standard, theJobPosting schema endorsed by schema.org in November, 2011 in support of the Veterans Jobs Bank, and will include technical and promotional support by Google, Internships.com, AfterCollege, LinkedIn and Facebook. Today the Corporation for National and Community Service released a new toolkit created in collaboration with the WHCCS and employers to support businesses and communities in their efforts to help young people become productive citizens and connect to greater opportunities, both of which are critical for the long-term strength and competiveness of the Nation.
Today’s announcements build on previous commitments from the Obama Administration to support summer youth employment. In 2009 and 2010, communities across the country used Recovery Act funds to directly support summer work opportunities for over 367,000 young people. In the summer of 2011, the Department of Labor brought together private sector commitments to employ over 80,000 youth.
A new analysis released today by the WHCCS showed that in 2011 alone, taxpayers shouldered more than $93 billion in direct costs and lost tax revenue to support young adults disconnected from school and work. Over the lifetime of these young people, taxpayers will assume a $1.6 trillion burden to meet the increased needs and lost revenue from this group. Read the full analysis here.
Businesses, non-profits and government can accept the President’s call-to-action by directly hiring youth as well as providing corporate mentorship experiences, internship, and other opportunities that connect young people to jobs. The three key ways organizations can engage are:
- · Learn and Earn: Provide youth jobs for the summer of 2012 in the form of paid internships and/or permanent positions that provide on-the-job training. Of the roughly 180,000 job commitments announced today more than 70,000 are Learn and Earn commitments.
- · Life Skills: Provide youth work-related soft skills, such as communication, time management and teamwork, through coursework and/or experience. This includes resume writing or interview workshops and mentorship programs.
- · Work Skills: Provide youth insight into the world of work to prepare for employment. This includes job shadow days and internships. More information about this initiative can be found at dol.gov/summerjobs
As the nation continues to recover from the deepest recession since the Great Depression, American youth are struggling to get the work experience they need for jobs of the future. According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (Current Population Survey):
- · 48.8 percent of youth between the ages of 16-24 were employed in July, the month when youth employment usually peaks. This is significantly lower than the 59.2 percent of youth who were employed five years ago and 63.3 percent of youth who were employed 10 years ago.
- · Minority youth had an especially difficult time finding employment this past summer. Only 34.6 percent of African American youth and 42.9 percent of Hispanic youth had a job this past July.
In addition to the organizations making commitments for the summer of 2012, the Department of Labor will honor UPS, We Are Golf, Wells Fargo, and Jamba Juice for their strong participation in their 2011 summer jobs effort and the Corporation for National and Community Service will honor Bank of America, State Street, Viacom, Deloitte, and JP Morgan for their leadership in corporate mentoring over the past year.
Commitments Announced Include:
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is committed to improving employment outcomes for the many people with disabilities who are ready, willing, and able to work. The AAPD Summer Internship Program will provide 30 young people with disabilities the opportunity to engage in ten weeks of public service through paid internships on Capitol Hill, in federal agencies, nonprofits, and for-profit businesses.
AT&T is committed to providing nearly 350 summer jobs in 2012 through a variety of summer job initiatives. These opportunities help students, from high school to recent college graduates, develop skills and gain insight while preparing them to more successfully enter the job market. Examples of AT&T summer opportunities for college students include leadership development internships on the fields on finance, retail, IT and engineering, as well as participation in college internship initiatives with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Leadership Program. In addition to these unique opportunities, AT&T will also provide high school students the opportunity to experience the world of work through the Mayor’s Interns Fellows Program in Newark, NJ. Also in 2012, AT&T will reach their initial goal of providing 100,000 high school students the opportunity to learn more about career options and what it takes to be successful in today’s workforce through the AT&T/JA Worldwide Job Shadow Initiative.
Bank of America, as part of its broader three-year $50 million goal to support education and workforce development opportunities for underserved populations, will continue to invest significantly in youth and young adults in 2012, including 1,500 paid internships at the company and local nonprofits as well as job placement programs, in conjunction with more than 80,000 hours from employee volunteers. Recognizing the value of mentoring to help make opportunities possible for young people, Bank of America served as the primary sponsor of the National Mentoring Partnership’s 2011 National Mentoring Summit, at which the Corporate Mentoring Challenge was launched. In 2011, Bank of America invested more than $15 million, and its employees volunteered more than 75,000 hours to help youth and young adults attain life and work skills to propel them towards long-term success.
Baxter International Inc. pledges to support Summer Jobs+ by expanding their education initiative, Science@Work. As an extension of Science@Work – a multiyear commitment to support teacher training and student development in healthcare and biotechnology through a partnership with Chicago Public Schools – Baxter will reach 300-500 students. These students will participate in a variety of programs: the Career Training Program, in which Baxter professionals will assist students with career planning, soft skill development and interviewing skills; the 2012 Summer Job Shadowing program, in which students will participate in a unique shadowing experience with young Baxter professionals; and through Science @Work Community of Support, in which students will participate in an on-going relationship management program that provides counsel and professional support during college careers.
Bender Consulting Services, Inc. is committed to investing in youth who are living with disabilities, to support the development of life and work skills required by private and public sector employers. Partnering with local high-schools in Pittsburgh, PA and Newark, DE, Bender Consulting, through the year-long Bender Leadership Academy Program will train 60 high-school students with disabilities, many who are low-income, about how to be successful in the world of work. Four students who complete this program will work on a short-term paid summer internship in Bender Consulting’s offices in Pittsburgh, PA. Bender Consulting will also provide two to four, 12 week summer HR internships to low income youth, including youth with disabilities.
The Camber Corporation provides young people with real-life work experience, opportunities to enhance their professional skillsets, and mentorship from their qualified employees during paid internships. In 2011, 25% of their graduated interns were hired as full-time Camber employees to serve in the areas of accounting, engineering, and human resources. In 2012, Camber plans to offer 8 internship opportunities.
CenturyLink has had summer internship programs for more than 25 years and looks forward to participating in Summer Jobs+ in 2012. CenturyLink believe that one of its strengths is the diversity of its people, and they are committed to fostering diversity among the 50 summer jobs they will hire this year.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has made a commitment to provide approximately 4,000 disadvantaged youth with national service opportunities through AmeriCorps programs operating in the summer of 2012. The AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate Program, funded in part through private sector commitments, will place youth in communities across the country to address poverty and hunger. In addition, AmeriCorps State and National programs will engage youth in education and conservation projects, and the AmeriCorps NCCC Summer of Service program is designed to introduce teenagers, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to national service and to foster in them such values as teamwork, responsibility, and the ethic of serving one’s community. These stipended service opportunities train youth in the life and work skills, such as teamwork, problem solving, and leadership, that are critical for success in the labor market, while engaging in activities that tackle tough societal challenges.
CVS Caremark is committing to hire over 20,000 youth between the ages of 16 and 24 in 2012. Many of the new employees will occupy part-time and full-time positions such as pharmacy service associates, technicians, cashiers and interns in a variety of corporate functions.
Deloitte helps American high school students prepare for college and careers through its Their Future Is Our Future program. As part of this program, 500,000 students have experienced the Life Inc. career exploration curriculum and Deloitte is committed to serve tens of thousands of students in 2012. Through a series of lessons, self-discovery techniques, and virtual role models tailored for youth in middle and high school, Life, Inc. introduces students to various career possibilities and helps them determine what kind of educational experiences they will need in order to pursue them. The program includes a website, career guide, teacher’s guide and student journal, which features seven lessons that are delivered by teachers in schools and after school youth programs. Additionally, through deep relationships with national nonprofits that lead on education including MENTOR, United Way, College Summit and City Year, Deloitte contributes cash, pro bono service and the time of one-on-one mentors to help young people pursue the education and skills they need to succeed in the 21st century.
The Department of Agriculture has made a commitment to provide approximately 7,100 youth with the opportunity to gain valuable work experience during the summer of 2012 by working with various USDA Mission Areas and Agencies throughout the country. The USDA provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sounds public policy, the best available science, and efficient management. USDA is committed to forming a pipeline of talented youth who will be our future leaders by giving them the opportunity for hands-on work experience in a variety of science, technology, engineering, math, administrative, management, agribusiness and industry positions.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will commit to supporting 324 summer jobs for low-income youth in 2012. HHS offices will be supporting paid summer jobs as well as other employment enhancement opportunities. The Office of Human Resources’ Strategic Programs Division (SPD) will host at least two classes in the “Life Skills” pathway to support 120 youth. These classes will have up to 50 participants each and will focus on work-related soft skills, such as communication, time management, and teamwork. Additionally, SPD will allow for 20 students to participate in the “Work Skills” pathway. These 20 students will shadow SPD employees for the day to offer insight into the federal workplace and to prepare them for employment.
The Department of the Interior has committed to providing approximately 12,000 young Americans with work opportunities in the summer of 2012 on public lands, tribal lands, national parks, wildlife refuges, and environmental restoration projects nationwide. Interior has increased the number of summer job opportunities it offers for young people under the Obama administration by 30 percent – helping more people from all walks of life to enjoy the great outdoors, and to pursue work opportunities and careers in the stewardship of America’s natural, cultural, and historic resources as part of the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
The DirectEmployers Association is a nonprofit HR consortium of leading global employers formed to improve labor market efficiency through the sharing of best practices, research and the development of technology. They are committed to hiring 5 youths this summer in the Indianapolis area to provide opportunities to learn the skills needed to be successful in the workforce as well as to encourage and motivate them to continue with their education.
Discovery Communications provides multiple avenues for young people to discover a summer job and a lasting career. Through the Discover Your Skills campaign youth can learn about exciting career opportunities in skilled trades and critical growth areas like manufacturing, health care, energy, technology, construction and other industries. A partnership with Montgomery College provides community college students with the skills they need to take advantage of available job opportunities. In addition, Discovery’s robust internship program will provide nearly 300 college students career opportunities in a variety of fields in 2012.
Easter Seals will be working to create summer opportunities for three young people with disabilities and will be disseminating information about the Summer Jobs+ initiative throughout their nationwide network of affiliates. These positions will be in the “learn and earn” category of the initiative. While working for Easter Seals, young people will have the opportunity to learn various aspects of nonprofit management including marketing and corporate relations, public policy, program management, development and more.
Expeditors, through its Opportunity Knocks program, recruits and supports disconnected youth so they can get training in a professional environment that can be leveraged for future success. Since starting the program in 2008, Expeditors has helped 25 disconnected youth in six offices throughout the United States and is committed to adding 75 positions in another twenty offices in 2012 to bring the total participation to 100 youth.
Gap Inc. is supporting 80,000 youth in 2012 through a variety of programs, which include connecting youth to employment through the development of relevant life skills and work ready skills, as well as providing on-the-job training through learn and earn experiences.
General Dynamics C4 Systems is committed to hiring 40 young people during the summer of 2012 and is partnering with Sentinels of Freedom, Wounded Warriors, Diversity Careers, SWE, SHPE, NSBE and WOC to support hiring needs nationwide.
Goodwill Industries International is proud to be one of the first organizations to support the Summer Jobs+ program. Through Goodwill’s unique social enterprise business model, it creates employment and job training. This year, the organization will expand services for youth at the beginning their careers. Goodwill is committed to hiring 1,200 youth ages 16 to 24, provide more than 3,200 youth with life skills services and over 2,300 with work skills services. Almost 2,000 youth will be engaged in learn and earn services. Thousands more youth will be provided virtual career mentoring and exploration services.
H-E-B has committed to expand their summer jobs program by 19 percent. In the summer of 2012, 5,171 16-24 year olds will be hired to work at H-E-B.
J.B. Hunt Transport is focused on providing opportunities for young people to experience a professional working environment, particularly those in the Hispanic community in Arkansas. Through a partnership with ALPFA, the company reaches out to local high school students and helps raise awareness of opportunities in business, and provides mentors for college students. For 2012, J.B. Hunt is increasing the number of summer positions at headquarters to 20, and expanding college internships at our field locations throughout the United States.
Jamba Juice has made a significant commitment to training and hiring young people and will pledge to hire at least 2,500 youth in the summer of 2012. Jamba Juice has a successful summer in 2011 when the company hired nearly 2,700 youth for summer work — 200 more than their pledge made as part of the “Summer Jobs USA: Make a Commitment” initiative. Additionally, Jamba Juice also recently launched a new internship program for Job Corps students.
JPMorgan Chase has been a leader in supporting “Learn and Earn” and “career and skill development” programs in cities all across the country for decades. During the 2011 Corporate Mentoring Challenge, JPMorgan Chase was inspired to step up in a leadership role – by funding and launching the Illinois Mentoring Partnership, introducing other potential funders and connecting non-profit organizations, who deliver the programs. In Chicago, JPMorgan Chase also has supported, since its creation 20 years ago, After School Matters, a program that helps teens discover and nurture their talents and aspirations for future successes. The bank’s support in 2012 will provide 1,300 teens with hands-on, project-based programs to learn about rewarding careers and to help develop marketable job skills.
LinkedIn has committed to offer 200 internships in the summer of 2012. Additionally, LinkedIn is committed to adopting the JobPosting schema and letting any company post their summer internship jobs (or entry level jobs) on the LinkedIn website at no cost.
ManpowerGroup is proud to support summer jobs through a direct commitment of 20 jobs at our global headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and at Manpower branch offices across the nation. Through its work with local Workforce Investment Boards and One-Stop Career Centers, Manpower supports employment opportunities for thousands of people touched by the public workforce system.
Operation HOPE, as part of the Gallup-HOPE Index Cities Initiative, commits to secure 20 businesses and place 500 youth through youth business internships, mentorships, shadow days or actual small business or entrepreneurship start-ups. Through the Gallup-HOPE Index Cities initiative, Operation HOPE, in partnership with Gallup intend to create a new youth entrepreneurial and business class in America, along with a new culture of progressive business mentoring by Corporate America.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) maintains a strong focus on providing learning and work opportunities for youth in the United States. Through its host of early-identification programs and a robust internship program designed for undergraduate students, PwC seeks to provide students the learning, coaching, and training opportunities and professional relationships they need to develop professionally and personally, while also learning about unique opportunities in a career in professional services. For the summer of 2012, PwC is committed to hiring 1,500 youth across the country.
The SI Organization will hire more than 100 young people in 2012 for full-time entry-level and internship/co-op positions focused on engineering and integration services in the U.S. Intelligence Community, Department of Defense and other agencies.
Starbucks Coffee Company is supporting more than 25,000 youth this summer through a variety of programs. The company will work with local nonprofits and others to engage 20,000 young people in life skills and job readiness development. This commitment is in alignment with our Youth Action Grants programs, supporting young people to address critical issues in their communities. Starbucks supports nonprofit organizations to give young people the skills and resources to be catalysts for change through community service. One example of an organization Starbucks supports is Generation On in multiple cities across the US; this is a program of Hands On Network. Starbucks plans to work closely with its grant recipients to maximize the life skills training and service opportunities and to increase their outreach to underserved youth. The company will also provide hands-on and learn and earn experiences for 5,000 young people working at Starbucks.
State Street Corporation is committed to providing workforce development and education opportunities to approximately 1,000 youth each summer in cities including Boston, New York, Kansas City, and Sacramento among others. The company supports a continuum of meaningful job opportunities starting with funding subsidized wage placements in community-based organizations for first-time job experiences, as well as placements in professional positions at State Street for those who have developed basic employability skills and are ready for more responsibility.
Syracuse University will provide 200 jobs to college-aged students working in the Say Yes to Education Syracuse’s Summer Camp for academic enrichment and youth leadership. Syracuse University will also provide 50 positions to 16-21 year olds in a SU partnership with CNY Works on a Summer Youth Initiative.
The McGraw-Hill Companies is committed to growing its 12-week paid summer internship program which employs youth across all of their businesses to 260 summer internships for 2012. In 2011, McGraw-Hill employed over 250 Summer Interns and roughly 10% of last year’s interns were offered full-time positions after graduation.
UPS, the global leader in logistics, is continuing its commitment to summer jobs and will offer 1,500 employment opportunities to youth across the country in 2012. Most opportunities qualify for employment benefits and UPS’ educational assistance program which can pay up to $3,000 a year for educational benefits.
Viacom has committed to provide internship and mentorship programs to connect youth to employment opportunities. Through their Summer Associates Program, VIACOM will provide 10 recent college graduates young people a 10 week paid training program in the summer 2012 fostering professional and personal development and unlocking the doors to valuable real-world experience. Through their partnership with POSSE’s Career Program, Viacom will provide 30 college students high school students with a paid internship. In addition, mentoring initiatives such as Viacom’s national mentoring program Get Connected, created with the Get Schooled Foundation, will assist students through meaningful connections with adults with the ultimate goal of helping to keep them in school and realize their true potential.
WE ARE GOLF is a national not-for-profit organization formed to tell the story of the nearly 2 million hardworking men and women who make golf a great sport and whose livelihoods depend on it. Golf courses across the country are building on their 2011 commitment of 2,700 summer jobs and WE ARE GOLF is bringing far more golf courses to this initiative in 2012 to offer tens of thousands more jobs to young people.
Wells Fargo has made an ongoing and significant commitment to its communities, including opportunities for summertime work, networking and training for young people. In the summer of 2012, Wells Fargo will support 1,000 employment opportunities for youth.
Along with significant commitments from across the business sector, national organizations are answering the President’s challenge. United Way Worldwide will work with local chapters in approximately 30 cities and regions to host a series of Community Conversations, where local leaders will join with ordinary citizens to map out what they can do to pull together the support needed to create opportunity and pathways for young adults.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON THE ECONOMY
Shaker Heights High School
Shaker Heights, Ohio
1:26 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Ohio! (Applause.) Ah, it is good to be back in Ohio. (Applause.) It is good to be back in Shaker Heights — (applause) — home of the Red Raiders. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Mr. President, I love you!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. And I’m glad to be back. (Applause.) I’m glad to be here.
I want to thank your mayor, Earl Leiken, for hosting us today; — (applause) — your superintendent, Mark Freeman; — (applause) — the principal here, Mike Griffith. (Applause.) Well, and I know — I’m pretty sure we’ve got a couple of congresspeople here, but I don’t see them. Where are they? Okay, we’ve got Marcia Fudge. (Applause.) Marcy Kaptur is here. (Applause.) Dennis Kucinich. (Applause.) Betty Sutton in the house. (Applause.) Outstanding members of Congress, doing the right thing every day. So we thank them all for being here. (Applause.)
Now, I understand the folks here at this school have a pretty good basketball team. (Applause.) Boys and girls. (Applause.) Unfortunately, I have no eligibility left. (Laughter.) So I can’t play with you.
I want to wish everybody a happy New Year — 2012 is going to be a good year. (Applause.) It’s going to be a good year. And one of my New Year’s resolutions is to make sure that I get out of Washington and spend time with folks like you. (Applause.) Because folks here in Ohio and all across the country — I want you to know you’re the reason why I ran for this office in the first place. You remind me what we are still fighting for. You inspire me. (Laughter.) Okay, you do. You remind me that this country is all about folks who work hard and where responsibility pays off, an America where anybody who puts in the effort and plays by the rules can get ahead.
That’s the America you deserve. (Applause.) That’s the America we’re working to build. That’s why I told Congress before the New Year they couldn’t leave for vacation until we made sure 160 million working Americans wouldn’t get hit with a tax hike on January 1st. (Applause.)
Now, this wasn’t easy. It should have been easy, but it wasn’t. But in the end, we got members of both parties to come together and make sure that you could keep more money in your paychecks each month. And you’re keeping that extra $40 in every paycheck because we made sure that we didn’t stunt the recovery. We made sure that families got the break that they need. And that means more security for your families. It also means a boost for our economy at a time when we’ve got to do everything we can to keep it growing. Because more money spent by more Americans means more businesses hiring more workers.
And so when I — when Congress returns, I’m going to urge them to extend this tax cut all the way through 2012, with no drama, no delay. (Applause.) Do the right thing. It is a no-brainer. Let’s get it done. Let’s pass these tax cuts. (Applause.)
Now, we still have more to do. So today, we’re taking another important step — one that will bring us closer to the economy that we need, an economy where everybody plays by the same rules.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes!
THE PRESIDENT: And to help us do that, I’m joined by somebody you might recognize — Richard Cordray. (Applause.) Son of Ohio; a good, good man. (Applause.) Today I’m appointing Richard as America’s consumer watchdog. (Applause.) And that means he is going to be in charge of one thing: looking out for the best interests of American consumers. Looking out for you. (Applause.)
His job will be to protect families like yours from the abuses of the financial industry. His job will be to make sure that you’ve got all the information you need to make important financial decisions. Right away, he’ll start working to make sure millions of Americans are treated fairly by mortgage brokers and payday lenders and debt collectors. In fact, just this week, his agency is opening up a simple 1-800 number that you can call to make sure you’re getting a fair deal on your mortgage, and hold banks and brokers accountable if you’re not. (Applause.)
Now, I nominated Richard for this job last summer, so you may be wondering why am I appointing him today. It would be a good question. (Laughter.) For almost half a year, Republicans in the Senate have blocked Richard’s confirmation.
AUDIENCE: Booo –
THE PRESIDENT: They refused to even give Richard and up or down vote. Now, this is not because Richard is not qualified. There’s no question that Richard is the right person for the job. He’s got the support of Democrats and Republicans around the country. A majority of attorney generals — Richard is a former attorney general — a majority of attorney generals from both parties across the country have called for Richard to be confirmed. Your local members of Congress who are here today — they support him. He has the support of a majority in the Senate. Everyone agrees Richard is more than qualified.
So what’s the problem, you might ask. The only reason Republicans in the Senate have blocked Richard is because they don’t agree with the law that set up a consumer watchdog in the first place. They want to weaken the law. They want to water it down. And by the way, a lot of folks in the financial industry have poured millions of dollars to try to water it down.
That makes no sense. Does anybody think that the reason that we got in such a financial mess, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in a generation — that the reason was because of too much oversight of the financial industry?
THE PRESIDENT: Of course not. We shouldn’t be weakening oversight. We shouldn’t be weakening accountability. We should be strengthening it — especially when it comes to looking out for families like yours. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: The financial firms have armies of lobbyists in Washington looking out for their interest. You need somebody looking out for your interest and fighting for you, and that’s Richard Cordray. (Applause.)
Now, I have to say Richard is a really nice guy. (Laughter.) You know, you look at him and you think, this guy is not somebody who’s going around picking fights. And yet, this fight on behalf of consumers is something that Richard has been waging here in Ohio for the better part of two decades. (Applause.)
As your attorney general, he helped recover billions of dollars in things like pension funds on behalf of retirees. He protected consumers from dishonest lending practices. Before that, Richard was the state treasurer, where he earned a reputation for working with folks from across the spectrum — Democrats, Republicans, bankers, consumer advocates — had a great reputation across the board doing the right thing.
And, Cleveland, you’ve seen the difference that Richard can make for consumers, and I have, too. And that’s why I want Richard to keep standing up for you — not just here in Ohio, but for consumers all across the country.
Now, every day that Richard waited to be confirmed — and we were pretty patient. I mean, we kept on saying to Mitch McConnell and the other folks, let’s go ahead and confirm him. Why isn’t he being called up? Let’s go. Every day that we waited was another day when millions of Americans were left unprotected. Because without a director in place, the consumer watchdog agency that we’ve set up doesn’t have all the tools it needs to protect consumers against dishonest mortgage brokers or payday lenders and debt collectors who are taking advantage of consumers. And that’s inexcusable. It’s wrong. And I refuse to take no for an answer. (Applause.)
So I’ve said before that I want to look for every possible opportunity to work with Congress to move this country forward and create jobs. I’m going to look for every opportunity to try to bridge the partisan divide and get things done — because that’s what the American people need right now. And that means putting construction workers back on the jobs repairing our roads and our bridges. (Applause.) That means keeping our teachers in the classrooms. (Applause.) That means keeping our cops and firefighters doing what they do, protecting us every day. (Applause.) That means helping small businesses get ahead. (Applause.) That means serving our veterans as well as they’ve served us, like this young man right in the front. We are grateful for him, for his service. (Applause.)
These are ideas that have support from Democrats; they have support from Republicans around the country, independents around the country. I want to work with Congress to get them done.
But when Congress refuses to act, and as a result, hurts our economy and puts our people at risk, then I have an obligation as President to do what I can without them. (Applause.) I’ve got an obligation to act on behalf of the American people. And I’m not going to stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of the people that we were elected to serve. (Applause.) Not with so much at stake, not at this make-or-break moment for middle-class Americans. We’re not going to let that happen. (Applause.)
For way too long, we’ve had a financial system that was stacked against ordinary Americans. Banks on Wall Street played by different rules than businesses on Main Street. They played by different rules than a lot of community banks who were doing the right thing across the country — hidden fees, fine print that led consumers to make financial decisions that they didn’t always understand.
Richard and I, before we came here, had an opportunity to visit with a wonderful elderly couple — the Easons. And Mr. Eason is a former Marine, served in the Korean War. Ms. Eason makes a really good sweet potato pie. She gave me one. (Applause.) I’m going to eat it later, after. (Laughter.) I didn’t want to eat it before because I didn’t want to get sleepy having a big piece of pie right before. (Laughter.)
But their story was the story of a lot of folks in this region, where a mortgage broker came to them, said that they could do some home repair for a few thousand dollars, and they ended up getting scammed; the loans got flipped. They ended up owing $80,000, almost losing their home, and the repairs were never made.
Those kinds of practices, that’s not who we are. We cannot allow people to be taken advantage of. And it’s not just because it’s bad for those individuals. All that risky behavior led — helped to contribute to the economic crisis that we’re all still digging ourselves out of. All those subprime loans, all those foreclosures, all the problems in the housing market — that’s all contributing to an economy that’s not moving as fast as we want it.
And that’s why, last year, we put in place new rules — new rules of the road to make sure that a few bad apples in the financial sector can’t break the law, they can’t cheat consumers, they can’t put our entire economy in danger. And many of these provisions are already starting to make a difference. For the first time in history, we put in place a consumer watchdog — someone whose only job is to look out for the interests of everyday Americans.
And we are so fortunate to have somebody like Richard who’s willing to do it, despite great sacrifice to his family. He’s the right man for the job. (Applause.)
So if you’re a student — I see some young people out here — (applause) — his job will be to protect you from dishonest lending practices and to make sure that you’ve got the information you need on student loans. (Applause.) He has already started up an initiative called “Know Before You Owe.” (Laughter.) That’s a good slogan — “Know Before You Owe.” You don’t want to owe and then know. (Laughter.)
If you’re a veteran, he’ll help make sure that you aren’t taken advantage of when you’re coming home from serving your country. And it turns out that military families are some of the folks who are most vulnerable to some of these financial abuses.
If you’re a senior, Richard is going to help make sure you don’t lose your home or your retirement because somebody saw you as an easier target. And that’s what happened to the Easons. Endia, who I think is here — Ms. Eason, are you here? You’re somewhere here. There’s — Ms. Eason is down there. Ninety-one years old. (Applause.) And as I mentioned, Ms. Eason’s husband, William, is a former Marine — also a former boxer. So don’t mess with him. (Laughter.)
And I just want to repeat, 10 years ago they were approached by a broker who offered them a loan to make needed repairs on their home; made everything sound easy. The Easons agreed. Broker ended up disappearing. They get left with $80,000 in debt, almost lose their home. They didn’t lose it because of the intervention of some terrific non-for-profits that Richard, when he was treasurer here in Ohio, helped to support. (Applause.)
East Side — that’s right. (Applause.)
Now, the Easons are good people. They’re what America is all about. They worked hard. They served their country. They saved their money. They didn’t live high on the hog. It’s a modest house. They earned the right to retire with dignity and with respect, and they shouldn’t have to worry about being tricked by somebody who’s out to make a quick buck. And they need somebody who is going to stand up for them, and millions of Americans need somebody who is going to look out for their interests. And that person is Richard Cordray. (Applause.)
And we know what would happen if Republicans in Congress were allowed to keep holding Richard’s nomination hostage. More of our loved ones would be tricked into making bad financial decisions. More dishonest lenders could take advantage of some of the most vulnerable families. And the vast majority of financial firms who do the right thing would be undercut by those who don’t.
See, most people in the financial services industry do the right thing, but they’re at a disadvantage if nobody is enforcing the rules. We can’t let that happen. Now is not the time to play politics while people’s livelihoods are at stake. Now is the time to do everything we can to protect consumers, prevent financial crises like the one that we’ve been through from ever happening again. That starts with letting Richard do his job.
So I know — let me just close by saying this. I know that you’re hearing a lot of promises from a lot of politicians lately. Today you’re only going to hear one from me. As long as I have the privilege of serving as your President, I promise to do everything I can every day, every minute, every second, to make sure this is a country where hard work and responsibility mean something and everybody can get ahead. Not just those at the very top, not just those who know how to work the system, but everybody.
That’s what America has always been about. (Applause.) That’s what America is going to be about today and tomorrow and 10 years from now and 20 years from now. And with the help of people like Richard Cordray, that’s the country that we will always be.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO IOWA CAUCUS ATTENDEES
Via Video Teleconference
8:10 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Iowa! How are you guys? I miss you all. And I understand that it’s actually warmer tonight than it was four years ago, which means, I’m sure, great turnout at the caucuses.
You know, on the ride over here I was reminiscing with David Plouffe. He was showing me actually an old advertisement from Iowa — in fact, the last advertisement we did in the Iowa campaign. And other than pointing out how much more gray I am and how much older I look now than I did then, we actually were just remembering the incredible energy and excitement and the spirit of common purpose that those Iowa caucuses represent. It was an example of how the campaign was not about one person, but it was about all of us coming together to try to deliver the kind of change that had been talked about a long time in Washington, but all too often hadn’t been delivered on.
And it’s because of you that I had this extraordinary honor over the last three years of working to try to deliver on that change. And obviously we didn’t know at the time how severe the economic crisis was going to be. We didn’t fully appreciate at the time the worldwide magnitude of the financial crisis. But we knew even then that the middle class had been taking it for a long time — folks who had been trying to get into the middle class had found that the ladders that allowed for upward mobility had started to disintegrate for a lot of people.
And so we understood that what we were fighting for was an America where everybody had a fair shot, everybody did their fair share; that responsibility was rewarded and that the game wasn’t fixed, that it wasn’t rigged, and that if people did the right thing and worked hard, as so many families who in Iowa and throughout the country — that they were going to be able to live out a piece of the American Dream.
We’ve still got a lot of work to do. But think about the change that was accomplished because of those caucuses four years ago. Because of those caucuses four years ago, we ended the war in Iraq, as promised, and our troops are now coming home.
Because of the work that so many of you did even before the caucuses four years ago, health care is a reality for millions of Americans, and seniors have seen the price of prescription drugs lowered, and there are 2 million young Americans who are able to keep their insurance even if they’re not getting it through a job. And we’re going to be able to say to every American out there who’s got a preexisting condition or has gotten a raw deal from an insurance company that they’re going to have some meaningful security, they’re not going to be bankrupt if they get sick.
Because of you and the work that you did four years ago there are millions of young people all across the country who are able to get more affordable student loans and Pell Grants. They’re able to afford college and apply themselves so that they can achieve a meaningful career that pays a good wage and provides good benefits.
Because of you we’ve been able to end the policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” so that every American who wants to serve this country that they love have that opportunity regardless of who they love.
So across the board, whether it’s doubling fuel efficiency standards on cars, or making sure that we’ve got a more effective system to provide job training for people who’ve lost their jobs — across the board, you have made a difference. But we all know we’ve got a lot more work that we have to do.
Although we’ve passed health care reform, we’ve passed Wall Street reform, there are a lot of forces that want to push back against us and want to undo some of those changes. And we’re battling millions of dollars of negative advertising and lobbyists and special interests who don’t want to see the change that you worked so hard to fully take root. And that’s why this time out is going to be in some ways more important than the first time out. Mitch is right. Change is never easy. The problems that we’ve been dealing with over the last three years, they didn’t happen overnight and we’re not going to fix them overnight. But we’ve been making steady progress as long as we can sustain it. And that’s what this is going to be all about.
So the only way we’re going to be able to do that is if all of you maintain the same determination, the same energy, the same drive, the same hopefulness, the same optimism about this wonderful country of ours as was on display four years ago. And I want you to know that because of you, because of all the memories I have of being in your living rooms or meeting you in a diner or seeing you over at a campaign office, I have never lost that same source of inspiration that drove me to embark on this journey in the first place. You guys inspire me every single day.
And I want us to remind each other that as much work as there may be out there before us, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish when determined citizens come together to make a difference.
So thank you, everybody. I could not be prouder. And, Mitch, I think we’ve got a couple of — time for a couple questions.
MR. STEWART: Yes, we do, sir. And the first question comes out of Coralville. Coralville, can you hear us?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Good evening, Mr. President. I’m Roseann, and I’m here as you can see, at a full house in the beautiful Performing Arts Center in Coralville, Iowa. How are you tonight?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m doing well. How are you?
Q Well, Mr. President, I think we’re having a little difficulty with audio, but I’m going to go ahead with my question.
Thinking about the caucuses four years ago, and as you reflected, you delivered your message of hope and change, but we didn’t know in 2008 the extent of the problems we were facing, and certainly progress has been a challenge. So I’m wondering, now, in 2012, if you still believe in hope and change for America. And I’m also wondering how your reelection campaign is going to help us better understand what we need to do, both as individual citizens and as a country, to achieve the fair society that you spoke about recently in Osawatomie, Kansas.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I want to make sure you can hear my answer. How’s the sound coming through now? In some ways, I’m actually more optimistic now than I was when I first ran, because we’ve already seen change take place. And part of what 2012 is about is both reminding the American people of how far we’ve traveled and the concrete effects that some of our work has had in terms of making sure that people have health insurance, or making sure that our troops are coming home, or making sure that young people are able to go to college. But part of it is also framing this larger debate about what kind of country are we going to leave for our children and our grandchildren.
There is no problem that we face that we cannot solve. But in order to solve it, we’ve got to make sure that everybody gets a fair shot, and that means that we’re investing in things like education, that we’re investing in basic science and technology so we’re making things again here in America and we’re revitalizing manufacturing and we’re not just buying from other countries but we’re selling to other countries, and we’re inventing things and encouraging entrepreneurship. It means that we’re rebuilding our infrastructure, our roads and our bridges, but also our high-speed rail lines and high-speed Internet access in places like rural Iowa, making sure that everybody who wants to reach a worldwide market is able to do so because they’ve got the connection to do it.
It also means that those things are going to have to be paid for in a fair way. And obviously a lot of the debate in Washington over the last several months and over the last year has revolved around how do we create a government that is lean and efficient and effective. And I’m proud of some of the tough decisions that we’ve been willing to make in terms of pruning back programs that don’t work. But if we’re going to make the investments that we need for our kids at the same time as we’re controlling our deficit, then there’s nothing wrong with saying to millionaires and billionaires that we’re going to let your tax cuts expire. You can afford it. You’ve done very well in this society. And I know they want (inaudible) in America, but they have to be asked. And the other party has a fundamentally different philosophy.
The same is true when it comes to the issue of fair play. We, through Wall Street reform, have rolled back policies that allowed credit card companies to jack up your interest rates without alerting you to it, or other financial practices that disadvantage consumers.
And so we’ve said, you know what, we’re going to have a consumer watchdog in place to look after you, to make sure that you’re not being cheated on credit cards or mortgages. Because if you want to compete in a free market, then you should compete on the basis of price and service and quality, not on the basis of somebody not being able to understand what they’re buying.
These basic principles are what’s going to be at stake in order for us to succeed. And I think that they’re principles that most Americans believe in, that everybody should act responsibly, everybody should do their part, and everybody should be able to travel as far as their work ethic and their dreams will carry them.
And right now all we’re getting from the other side — you guys have been hearing it a lot more than I have. I know it’s — you’ve been bombarded — I don’t know how you watch TV in Iowa these days — with a different theory that says, we’re going to cut taxes for the wealthiest among us, and roll back regulations on things like clean air and health care reform and Wall Street reform, and that somehow, automatically, that assures that everybody is able to succeed. I don’t believe that. And I don’t think any of the people in that auditorium do either.
So it’s going to be a big battle, though. I hope you guys are geared up. I’m excited.
MR. STEWART: Great. Thank you very much, Coralville. Next, we have Cedar Rapids. Cedar Rapids, are you with us? Can you hear us, Cedar Rapids? Hello, Cedar Rapids, can you hear us?
THE PRESIDENT: Hold on one second.
MR. STEWART: Yes, hold on one second.
THE PRESIDENT: I can’t hear you yet.
MR. STEWART: We’ll give it five more seconds. Folks in Cedar Rapids, can you hear us? (Applause.)
Q Good evening, Mr. President. This is Carol from Cedar Rapids, and I’m honored to be among your volunteers. On the cable talk shows there is talk about your administration not accomplishing anything. However, I am a breast cancer survivor and was a social worker for 33 years before retiring, and know firsthand what a great accomplishment the Affordable Care Act is among your other achievements. How do you respond to people who say you have not done enough?
THE PRESIDENT: I think the main message that we’re going to have in 2012 is that we’ve done a lot but we’ve got a lot more to do, and that’s why we need another four years to get it all done. But you just mentioned the Affordable Care Act. We know that somebody who’s had an illness like cancer, who’s a survivor, has trouble getting insurance. Because of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are not going to be able to ban people with preexisting conditions. That makes a direct impact on your life and your family’s life.
We know that there are 2 million young people who have insurance because of the Affordable Care Act who didn’t have it before. We know that seniors have seen discounts in their prescription drugs; they’re saving billions of dollars all across the country. We know that preventive care, like mammograms, are now available through your insurance and they can’t arbitrarily deny you coverage right when you need care.
So that’s just on health care. And it’s making an impact on people’s lives day to day. But here’s the thing. Frankly, not that many people watch cable TV. What they do is they listen to their friends, their neighbors, their co-workers. And that’s why what you guys are doing today at the caucus and what you will be doing every day from now until November makes such a difference. Because nobody is a better messenger for the kind of change we’re talking about than you. You can tell a story about the difference these policies make in your life in a way that any politician in Washington — including me — can’t do.
And one of the things that we learned four years ago was that when people at grassroots level are getting involved and they’re getting engaged, and they’re feeling empowered and they’re joining hands with each other — that’s a powerful force. It can’t be stopped. But, unfortunately, over the (inaudible) it’s not as focused and concentrated as an election campaign. And so the forces of big money and special interests and lobbyists, they all come to the fore and the pundits and the cable TV dominates the political conversation.
Well, you know what, fortunately in 2012 we’ve got a chance to respond. And I will put my money on you. I find you a lot more persuasive than anybody on cable TV, and that’s why I know we’re going to win.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
DURING VISIT WITH EASON FAMILY
12:25 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I just want to thank the Easons and Ms. Kirkpatrick for welcoming us. As some of you may be aware, just in terms of background, the Easons, who have been married for 42 years now — Mr. Eason is a former Marine and so served our country in the Korean War — were living in their home, were taken advantage by a mortgage broker, and as a consequence, ended up being $80,000 in debt. The repairs that had originally been promised to be made for a few thousands dollars were never completed, and they almost lost their home.
And thanks to Ms. Kirkpatrick’s organization and some timely intervention, they were able to stay in their home and prevent foreclosure. But it’s a good example of the kinds of trickery and abuse in the non-bank financial sector that we’re going to have to do something about. And we’re so glad that we’ve got somebody like Rich Cordray who’s willing to take this on and make sure that families like the Easons, who’ve done the right thing, who’ve been responsible, who’ve served their country, that they’re not taken advantage of and they’re able to live in security and dignity in their golden years.
So thank you so much for letting us be in your home, Mr. Eason and Mrs. Eason. Thank you.
MR. EASON: It’s an honor you being here.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we appreciate your service all the way around.
Now, he’s not mentioning he also used to be a boxer, so if you guys break anything in here you could be in trouble. (Laughter.)
President Obama Announces Recess Appointments to Key Administration Posts
WASHINGTON, DC – President Obama announced today his intent to recess appoint four individuals to fill key administration posts that have been left vacant.
- · Richard Cordray, Director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- · Sharon Block, Member, National Labor Relations Board
- · Terence F. Flynn, Member, National Labor Relations Board
- · Richard Griffin, Member, National Labor Relations Board
President Obama said, “The American people deserve to have qualified public servants fighting for them every day – whether it is to enforce new consumer protections or uphold the rights of working Americans. We can’t wait to act to strengthen the economy and restore security for our middle class and those trying to get in it, and that’s why I am proud to appoint these fine individuals to get to work for the American people.”
The President announced his intent to recess appoint the following individuals:
Richard Cordray, Director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Richard Cordray is Chief of Enforcement at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Immediately prior, Cordray served as Attorney General of Ohio from January 2009 to January 2011. As Attorney General, Cordray recovered more than $2 billion for Ohio’s retirees, investors and business owners and took major steps to help protect its consumers from fraudulent foreclosures and financial predators. Prior to his tenure as Ohio’s Attorney General, Cordray spent two years as Ohio’s State Treasurer and four as the Treasurer of Franklin County, Ohio. In 2008, he received a Financial Services Cham pion award from the U.S. Small Business Administration and a Government Service Award from NeighborWorks America. In 2005, he was named “County Leader of the Year” by American City & County Magazine. Earlier in his career, Cordray was an adjunct professor at the Ohio State University College of Law (1989-2002), served as a State Representative for the 33rd Ohio House District (1991-1993), was the first Solicitor General in Ohio’s history (1993-1994), and was a sole practitioner and Of Counsel to Kirkland & Ellis (1995-2007). Cordray has argued seven cases before the United States Supreme Court, including by special appointment of both the Clinton and Bush Justice Departments. Cordray is a graduate of Michigan State University, Oxford University, and the University of Chicago Law School. He was Editor-in-Chief of the University of Chicago Law Review and later clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy.
Sharon Block, Member, National Labor Relations Board
Sharon Block is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor. Between 2006 and 2009, Ms. Block was Senior Labor and Employment Counsel for the Senate HELP Committee, where she worked for Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Ms. Block previously served at the National Labor Relations Board as senior attorney to Chairman Robert Battista from 2003 to 2006 and as an attorney in the appellate court branch from 1996 to 2003. From 1994 to 1996, she was Assistant General Counsel at the National Endowment for the Humanities, and from 1991 to 1993, she was an associate at Steptoe & Johnson. She received a B.A. in History from Columbia University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center where she received the John F. Kennedy Labor Law Award.
Terence F. Flynn, Member, National Labor Relations Board
Terence F. Flynn is currently detailed to serve as Chief Counsel to NLRB Board Member Brian Hayes. Mr. Flynn was previously Chief Counsel to former NLRB Board Member Peter Schaumber, where he oversaw a variety of legal and policy issues in cases arising under the National Labor Relations Act. From 1996 to 2003, Mr. Flynn was Counsel in the Labor and Employment Group of Crowell & Moring, LLP, where he handled a wide range of labor and employment issues, including collective bargaining negotiations, litigation of unfair labor practices, defense of ERISA claims, and wage and hour disputes, among other matters. From 1992 to 1995, he was a litigation associate at the law firm David, Hager, Kuney & Krupin, where he counseled clients on federal, state, and local employment and wage hour laws, NLRB arbitrations, and other labor relations disputes. Mr. Flynn started his law career at the firm Reid & Priest, handling labor and immigration matters from 1990 to 1992. He holds a B.A. degree from University of Maryland, College Park and a J.D. from Washington & Lee University School of Law.
Richard Griffin, Member, National Labor Relations Board
Richard Griffin is the General Counsel for International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). He also serves on the board of directors for the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee, a position he has held since 1994. Since 1983, he has held a number of leadership positions with IUOE from Assistant House Counsel to Associate General Counsel. From 1985 to 1994, Mr. Griffin served as a member of the board of trustees of the IUOE’s central pension fund. From 1981 to 1983, he served as a Counsel to NLRB Board Members. Mr. Griffin holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law.
President Obama Signs Several New Bills Into Law Including The Belarus Democracy And Human Rights Act of 2011
On Tuesday, January 3, 2012, the President signed into law:
H.R. 515, the “Belarus Democracy and Human Rights Act of 2011,” which reauthorizes and amends the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004;
H.R. 789, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located in Little Ferry, New Jersey, as the Sergeant Matthew J. Fenton Post Office;
H.R. 1059, which extends for six years, through December 31, 2017, the authority of the Judiciary to redact personal and sensitive information in the financial disclosure reports of judicial officers and employees where release of the information could endanger them or their family members;
H.R. 1264, which designates the property between the United States Federal Courthouse and the Ed Jones Building in Jackson, Tennessee, as the M.D. Anderson Plaza and authorizes the placement of a historical/identification marker on the grounds recognizing the achievements and philanthropy of M.D. Anderson;
H.R. 1801, the “Risk-Based Security Screening for Members of the Armed Forces Act,” which requires the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration to develop and implement a plan to provide expedited security screening services for members of the Armed Forces;
H.R. 1892, the “Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012,” which authorizes FY 2012 appropriations for U.S. intelligence-related activities and establishes and amends various intelligence-related authorities;
H.R. 2056, which requires the Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to conduct a comprehensive study on the impact of the failure of insured depository institutions and the Government Accountability Office to carry out a study on the causes of high levels of bank failures;
H.R. 2422, which designates the facility of the United States Postal Service located in Staten Island, New York, as the Sergeant Angel Mendez Post Office; and
H.R. 2845, the “Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011,” which doubles the maximum civil penalties for violations of Federal pipeline safety laws; authorizes the Transportation Department to issue various regulations related to leak prevention and detection; and reauthorizes various programs of the Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.