White House to Celebrate Black History Month with Tribute to Motown’s Legacy Evening: Performances and Daytime Student Workshop to Highlight Motown Legends
Upcoming Guidance on “In Performance at the White House”
White House to Celebrate Black History Month with Tribute to Motown’s Legacy
Evening Performances and Daytime Student Workshop to Highlight Motown Legends
The President and First Lady will invite music legends and contemporary major artists to the White House on Thursday, February 24, 2011, for “The Motown Sound: In Performance at the White House,” a concert celebrating Black History Month and the legacy of Motown Records.
The program will include tributes to Motown’s distinctive soul-infused pop music sound that solidified its popularity in American culture, and showcase Motown’s impact on all music. The event will include legends from Motown’s golden age and performances by artists from today, all in tribute to Motown’s 50-year legacy. Performers include Smokey Robinson, Natasha Bedingfield, Sheryl Crow, Jamie Foxx, Gloriana, Nick Jonas, Ledisi, John Legend, Amber Riley, Mark Salling, Seal and Jordin Sparks with Greg Phillinganes as the night’s music director. This concert will be held in the East Room at 6:30 p.m. and is a POOLED press event.
“The Motown Sound: In Performance at the White House,” which is produced by public broadcaster WETA Washington, D.C., in association with Bounce, a division of AEG, and the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), will be broadcast on PBS stations nationwide on Tuesday, March 1 at 8 p.m. (ET). The program will also be broadcast via the American Forces Network on March 11 to American service men and women and civilians at U.S. Department of Defense locations around the world.
As she has done with previous White House music events, the First Lady will host a special daytime event for students. The First Lady will welcome more than 100 students from California, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and Washington, D.C. to take part in an interactive student workshop event: “The Sound of Young America: The History of Motown.” Beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the State Dining Room, The GRAMMY Museum’s Executive Director Bob Santelli will lead the students in a discussion about the history of Motown’s long-lasting legacy, ranging from its beginnings in the city of Detroit to its effect on the music industry. Featured performers from the evening event will share their experiences as well as answer student questions about the music and entertainment world. “The Sound of Young America” will stream live on www.whitehouse.gov, www.pbs.org/whitehouse, www.grammymuseum.org andwww.blackpublicmedia.org.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA’S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
Written By Tracey Ricks Foster, Editorial Director of Washington Review & Commentary
In his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama will endeavor to build upon the favorable momentum that his administration created late last year. With the repeal of ”Don’t ask, don’t tell,” the Obama administration gained a positive resurgence in the polls. For President Obama, the State of the Union speech is the blueprint from which the second half of his first term will be constructed and judged.
With the economy on the rebound according to the CBO, and an upward outlook on the unemployment situation in America, President Obama’s State of the Union Address will primarily focus on job creation and help for small businesses with tax incentives and health care insurance. November 2010 saw the unemployment rate drop to 9.4. The CBO forecasts the jobless rate will fall under nine percent by the end of 2011 and that by 2014, the rate will have fallen an additional four points and steady itself at five percent.
It is imperitive for President Obama to express within the State of the Union a willingness to work across political party lines to accomplish his main objectives, which are stabilizing the economy and reducing America’s debt ceiling. In his State of the Union, President Obama will stress the importance of cutting back in order to reduce the deficit, that by some estimates, is in the area of $70 trillion. Education and becoming globally competitve will be another focus of the President’s speech to America on Tuesday. With a national public school system surviving on a failing infrastructure, America’s educational system, which at one point decades ago was a benchmark for excellence around the world, is sinking and in dire need of an overhaul. President Obama will stress the need to bring education back to the forefront of America so that generations of children can fairly compete in a global world market.
President Obama’s speech will touch emphatically on the violent rhetoric that Washington politicians have engaged in for the past two years. Not pointing fingers at which political party is to blame for the violence in Tucson, Arizona earlier this month, the President will strongly make it clear that America was built on passionate discussion, freedom of speech, and healthy debate. However, President Obama will discourage inciteful and provocative language that could perpetuate violence. A bipartisanship commitment unilaterally between the White House and the legislative bodies, primarily the Republican majority of the House of Representatives, is the direction that President Obama will allude to in order for Washington to work for the American people.
The State of the Union Address will predictably feature many high notes. But if President Barack Obama seeks to remain in the White House beyond 2012, the tone of this speech will be the GPS to get him reelected.
NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH, 2010
- – - – - – -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
In the centuries since African Americans first arrived
on our shores, they have known the bitterness of slavery and
oppression, the hope of progress, and the triumph of the
American Dream. African American history is an essential thread
of the American narrative that traces our Nation’s enduring
struggle to perfect itself. Each February, we recognize African
American History Month as a moment to reflect upon how far we
have come as a Nation, and what challenges remain. This year’s
theme, “The History of Black Economic Empowerment,” calls upon
us to honor the African Americans who overcame injustice and
inequality to achieve financial independence and the security
of self empowerment that comes with it.
Nearly 100 years after the Civil War, African Americans
still faced daunting challenges and indignities. Widespread
racial prejudice inhibited their opportunities, and
institutional discrimination such as black codes and Jim Crow
laws denied them full citizenship rights. Despite these
seemingly impossible barriers, pioneering African Americans
blazed trails for themselves and their children. They became
skilled workers and professionals. They purchased land, and a
new generation of black entrepreneurs founded banks, educational
institutions, newspapers, hospitals, and businesses of all
This month, we recognize the courage and tenacity of so
many hard-working Americans whose legacies are woven into the
fabric of our Nation. We are heirs to their extraordinary
progress. Racial prejudice is no longer the steepest barrier
to opportunity for most African Americans, yet substantial
obstacles remain in the remnants of past discrimination.
Structural inequalities — from disparities in education and
health care to the vicious cycle of poverty — still pose
enormous hurdles for black communities across America.
Overcoming today’s challenges will require the same
dedication and sense of urgency that enabled past generations
of African Americans to rise above the injustices of their time.
That is why my Administration is laying a new foundation for
long-term economic growth that helps more than just a privileged
few. We are working hard to give small businesses much-needed
credit, to slash tax breaks for companies that ship jobs
overseas, and to give those same breaks to companies that create
jobs here at home. We are also reinvesting in our schools and
making college more affordable, because a world class education
is our country’s best roadmap to prosperity.
These initiatives will expand opportunities for African
Americans, and for all Americans, but parents and community
leaders must also be partners in this effort. We must push our
children to reach for the full measure of their potential, just
as the innovators who succeeded in previous generations pushed
their children to achieve something greater. In the volumes of
black history, much remains unwritten. Let us add our own
chapter, full of progress and ambition, so that our children’s
children will know that we, too, did our part to erase an unjust
past and build a brighter future.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the
United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested
in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States,
do hereby proclaim February 2010 as National African American
History Month. I call upon public officials, educators,
librarians, and all the people of the United States to observe
this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
first day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten,
and of the Independence of the United States of America the
two hundred and thirty-fourth.
Administration’s FY 2011 Budget Proposal Demonstrates Balanced Approach To Drug Control Control Officials Note
FROM THE OFFICE OF THE NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY:
Administration’s FY 2011 Budget Proposal Demonstrates
Balanced Approach to Drug Control
WASHINGTON, DC – The Fiscal Year 2011 National Drug Control Budget proposed by the Obama Administration would devote significant new resources to the prevention and treatment of drug abuse, National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said today. These resources are complemented by an aggressive effort to enhance domestic law enforcement, interdiction, and supply control programs.
Funding for prevention measures under the President’s proposal would increase 13.4 percent over the level of funding for the current fiscal year, and expenditures for treatment programs would be increased by 3.7 percent, Kerlikowske said.
Those expenditures are included in the FY 2011 request, for a total of $15.5 billion to reduce drug use and its consequences. The funds would go to the 13 Federal agencies and departments responsible for the broad continuum of drug control – from prevention and treatment to enforcement, interdiction, and international efforts. The total proposed spending in the FY 2011 National Drug Control Budget represents a 3.5 percent increase over the current fiscal year.
“The new budget proposal demonstrates the Obama Administration’s commitment to a balanced and comprehensive drug strategy,” said Director Kerlikowske. “In a time of tight budgets and fiscal restraint, these new investments are targeted at reducing Americans’ drug use and the substantial costs associated with the health and social consequences of drug abuse.”
In developing the 2010 National Drug Control Strategy, which will be released soon, Director Kerlikowske led an unprecedented consultation process, engaging hundreds of community leaders, State and local officials, and Members of Congress over the last eight months, soliciting evidence-based solutions to reduce drug abuse and its consequences, and integrating their input, expertise, and on-the-ground-experience into the Strategy.
The new budget proposal would devote more than $150 million in new funding for creating a national, community-based prevention system to protect adolescents; training and engaging primary health care to intervene in emerging cases of drug abuse; expanding and improving specialty addiction care; developing safe and efficient ways to manage drug-related offenders; and creating a permanent drug monitoring system. Additionally, the Obama Administration’s National Drug Control Budget proposal devotes significant resources for law enforcement actions against drug traffickers, for protecting public lands from illicit drug cultivation, and for drug interdiction. Internationally, the budget supports a balanced and strategic approach that would strengthen partner nations and reduce the drug supply to the United States. At the same time, the budget would strengthen the drug enforcement capabilities of partner nations in order to reduce the drug supply to the United States through programs such as continuing the Merida Initiative with Mexico, a newly-developed Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, and augmented support for Western Hemisphere programs.
For more information about the Office of National Drug Control Policy visit:
President Obama Directs Administration to Crack Down on Tax Cheats Seeking Government Contracts
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama will direct the Office of Management and Budget, together with the Treasury Department and other federal agencies, to take steps to block contractors who are delinquent on their taxes from receiving new government contracts. He will also direct the IRS to conduct a review of the overall accuracy of companies’ claims about tax delinquency to be sure that when a company says it’s paying taxes, it is telling the truth. The President will be joined today by Vice President Biden, Senator Claire McCaskill, Congressman Ed Towns, Congressman Brad Ellsworth, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, and Chief Performance Officer of the United States Jeffrey Zients.
In addition, the President is calling on Congress to give the government the tools necessary to ensure that the public’s tax dollars are not used to boost the profits of companies who refuse to pay their taxes.
“By issuing this directive, all of us in Washington will be required to be more responsible stewards of your tax dollars. All across this country, there are people who meet their obligations each and every day. You do your jobs. You support your families. You pay the taxes you owe – because it’s a fundamental responsibility of citizenship,” said President Barack Obama. “The steps I’m directing today and the steps I’m calling on Congress to take are just basic common-sense. They’re not going to eliminate all of the waste or abuse in government contracting in one fell swoop. Going forward, we’ll also have to do more to hold contractors more accountable not just for paying taxes, but for following other laws as well.”
When President Obama was in the Senate he sponsored legislation to give federal contracting officials the tools that they need to recoup these funds or stop tax scofflaws from getting federal contracts. The Administration urges Congress to approve legislation to allow the IRS to crack down on corporate tax cheats. Congress also is urged to allow data sharing between the IRS and contracting officials at agencies to ensure that scofflaws do not exploit some loophole to continue to win federal contracts.
Today’s directive builds on steps the President has taken to crack down on government waste – strengthening what works and eliminating what doesn’t:
· In December, the Administration released an update on the President’s efforts to cut high-risk, no-bid contracts, showing federal agencies on track to save $19 billion in contracting reforms this year and $40 billion by the end of 2011.
· In November, the President outlined steps to crack down on wasteful, improper payments which, in 2009, were expected to reach about $100 billion.
· In May, the Administration released the results of the line-by-line review of the Budget and identified more than 120 programs that were wasteful, duplicative, or outdated. Congress approved more than 60 percent of the President’s proposed cuts – significantly higher than recent administrations’ results.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON STRENGTHENING INTELLIGENCE AND AVIATION SECURITY
State Dining Room
4:34 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. The immediate reviews that I ordered after the failed Christmas terrorist attack are now complete. I was just briefed on the findings and recommendations for reform, and I believe it’s important that the American people understand the new steps that we’re taking to prevent attacks and keep our country safe.
This afternoon, my Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Advisor, John Brennan, will discuss his review into our terrorist watchlist system — how our government failed to connect the dots in a way that would have prevented a known terrorist from boarding a plane for America, and the steps we’re going to take to prevent that from happening again.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will discuss her review of aviation screening, technology and procedures —- how that terrorist boarded a plane with explosives that could have killed nearly 300 innocent people, and how we’ll strengthen aviation security going forward.
So today I want to just briefly summarize their conclusions and the steps that I’ve ordered to address them.
In our ever-changing world, America’s first line of defense is timely, accurate intelligence that is shared, integrated, analyzed, and acted upon quickly and effectively. That’s what the intelligence reforms after the 9/11 attacks largely achieved. That’s what our intelligence community does every day. But, unfortunately, that’s not what happened in the lead-up to Christmas Day. It’s now clear that shortcomings occurred in three broad and compounding ways.
First, although our intelligence community had learned a great deal about the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen — called al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — that we knew that they sought to strike the United States and that they were recruiting operatives to do so — the intelligence community did not aggressively follow up on and prioritize particular streams of intelligence related to a possible attack against the homeland.
Second, this contributed to a larger failure of analysis —- a failure to connect the dots of intelligence that existed across our intelligence community and which, together, could have revealed that Abdulmutallab was planning an attack.
Third, this, in turn, fed into shortcomings in the watch-listing system which resulted in this person not being placed on the “no fly” list, thereby allowing him to board that plane in Amsterdam for Detroit.
In sum, the U.S. government had the information — scattered throughout the system — to potentially uncover this plot and disrupt the attack. Rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had.
That’s why we took swift action in the immediate days following Christmas, including reviewing and updating the terrorist watchlist system and adding more individuals to the “no fly” list, and directing our embassies and consulates to include current visa information in their warnings of individuals with terrorist or suspected terrorist ties.
Today, I’m directing a series of additional corrective steps across multiple agencies. Broadly speaking, they fall into four areas.
First, I’m directing that our intelligence community immediately begin assigning specific responsibility for investigating all leads on high-priority threats so that these leads are pursued and acted upon aggressively — not just most of the time, but all of the time. We must follow the leads that we get. And we must pursue them until plots are disrupted. And that mean assigning clear lines of responsibility.
Second, I’m directing that intelligence reports, especially those involving potential threats to the United States, be distributed more rapidly and more widely. We can’t sit on information that could protect the American people.
Third, I’m directing that we strengthen the analytical process, how our analysis — how our analysts process and integrate the intelligence that they receive. My Director of National Intelligence, Denny Blair, will take the lead in improving our day-to-day efforts. My Intelligence Advisory Board will examine the longer-term challenge of sifting through vast universes of intelligence and data in our Information Age.
And finally, I’m ordering an immediate effort to strengthen the criteria used to add individuals to our terrorist watchlists, especially the “no fly” list. We must do better in keeping dangerous people off airplanes, while still facilitating air travel.
So taken together, these reforms will improve the intelligence community’s ability to collect, share, integrate, analyze, and act on intelligence swiftly and effectively. In short, they will help our intelligence community do its job even better and protect American lives.
But even the best intelligence can’t identify in advance every individual who would do us harm. So we need the security — at our airports, ports, and borders, and through our partnerships with other nations — to prevent terrorists from entering America.
At the Amsterdam airport, Abdulmutallab was subjected to the same screening as other passengers. He was required to show his documents — including a valid U.S. visa. His carry-on bag was X-rayed. He passed through a metal detector. But a metal detector can’t detect the kind of explosives that were sewn into his clothes.
As Secretary Napolitano will explain, the screening technologies that might have detected these explosives are in use at the Amsterdam airport, but not at the specific checkpoints that he passed through. Indeed, most airports in the world — and in the United States — do not yet have these technologies. Now, there’s no silver bullet to securing the thousands of flights into America each day, domestic and international. It will require significant investments in many areas. And that’s why, even before the Christmas attack, we increased investments in homeland security and aviation security. This includes an additional $1 billion in new systems and technologies that we need to protect our airports — more baggage screening, more passenger screening and more advanced explosive detection capabilities, including those that can improve our ability to detect the kind of explosive used on Christmas. These are major investments and they’ll make our skies safer and more secure.
As I announced this week, we’ve taken a whole range of steps to improve aviation screening and security since Christmas, including new rules for how we handle visas within the government and enhanced screening for passengers flying from, or through, certain countries.
And today, I’m directing that the Department of Homeland Security take additional steps, including: strengthening our international partnerships to improve aviation screening and security around the world; greater use of the advanced explosive detection technologies that we already have, including imaging technology; and working aggressively, in cooperation with the Department of Energy and our National Labs, to develop and deploy the next generation of screening technologies.
Now, there is, of course, no foolproof solution. As we develop new screening technologies and procedures, our adversaries will seek new ways to evade them, as was shown by the Christmas attack. In the never-ending race to protect our country, we have to stay one step ahead of a nimble adversary. That’s what these steps are designed to do. And we will continue to work with Congress to ensure that our intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement communities have the resources they need to keep the American people safe.
I ordered these two immediate reviews so that we could take immediate action to secure our country. But in the weeks and months ahead, we will continue a sustained and intensive effort of analysis and assessment, so that we leave no stone unturned in seeking better ways to protect the American people.
I have repeatedly made it clear — in public with the American people, and in private with my national security team — that I will hold my staff, our agencies and the people in them accountable when they fail to perform their responsibilities at the highest levels.
Now, at this stage in the review process it appears that this incident was not the fault of a single individual or organization, but rather a systemic failure across organizations and agencies. That’s why, in addition to the corrective efforts that I’ve ordered, I’ve directed agency heads to establish internal accountability reviews, and directed my national security staff to monitor their efforts. We will measure progress. And John Brennan will report back to me within 30 days and on a regular basis after that. All of these agencies — and their leaders — are responsible for implementing these reforms. And all will be held accountable if they don’t.
Moreover, I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer. For ultimately, the buck stops with me. As President, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people. And when the system fails, it is my responsibility.
Over the past two weeks, we’ve been reminded again of the challenge we face in protecting our country against a foe that is bent on our destruction. And while passions and politics can often obscure the hard work before us, let’s be clear about what this moment demands. We are at war. We are at war against al Qaeda, a far-reaching network of violence and hatred that attacked us on 9/11, that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, and that is plotting to strike us again. And we will do whatever it takes to defeat them.
And we’ve made progress. Al Qaeda’s leadership is hunkered down. We have worked closely with partners, including Yemen, to inflict major blows against al Qaeda leaders. And we have disrupted plots at home and abroad, and saved American lives.
And we know that the vast majority of Muslims reject al Qaeda. But it is clear that al Qaeda increasingly seeks to recruit individuals without known terrorist affiliations not just in the Middle East, but in Africa and other places, to do their bidding. That’s why I’ve directed my national security team to develop a strategy that addresses the unique challenges posed by lone recruits. And that’s why we must communicate clearly to Muslims around the world that al Qaeda offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death –- including the murder of fellow Muslims –- while the United States stands with those who seek justice and progress.
To advance that progress, we’ve sought new beginnings with Muslim communities around the world, one in which we engage on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect, and work together to fulfill the aspirations that all people share — to get an education, to work with dignity, to live in peace and security. That’s what America believes in. That’s the vision that is far more powerful than the hatred of these violent extremists.
Here at home, we will strengthen our defenses, but we will not succumb to a siege mentality that sacrifices the open society and liberties and values that we cherish as Americans, because great and proud nations don’t hunker down and hide behind walls of suspicion and mistrust. That is exactly what our adversaries want, and so long as I am President, we will never hand them that victory. We will define the character of our country, not some band of small men intent on killing innocent men, women and children.
And in this cause, every one of us — every American, every elected official — can do our part. Instead of giving into cynicism and division, let’s move forward with the confidence and optimism and unity that defines us as a people. For now is not a time for partisanship, it’s a time for citizenship — a time to come together and work together with the seriousness of purpose that our national security demands.
That’s what it means to be strong in the face of violent extremism. That’s how we will prevail in this fight. And that’s how we will protect our country and pass it — safer and stronger — to the next generation.
Thanks very much.
Statement from the President on Preliminary Assessments From Reviews Ordered on the Christmas Day Incident
Statement from the President on preliminary assessments from reviews ordered on the Christmas Day incident
This morning, I spoke with John Brennan about preliminary assessments from the ongoing consultations I have ordered into the human and systemic failures that occurred leading up to the attempted act of terrorism on Christmas Day and about our government-wide efforts at continued vigilance on homeland security and counterterrorism efforts. In a separate call, I spoke with Sec. Napolitano to receive an update on both the Department of Homeland Security review of detection capabilities and the enhanced security measures in place since the Christmas Day incident.
I anticipate receiving assessments from several agencies this evening and will review those tonight and over the course of the weekend. On Tuesday, in Washington, I will meet personally with relevant agency heads to discuss our ongoing reviews as well as security enhancements and intelligence-sharing improvements in our homeland security and counterterrorism operations.
NOTE: John Brennan is Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.
Earlier this morning, the President sent this message to the CIA workforce in relation to yesterday’s attack in Khost Province, Afghanistan:
To the men and women of the CIA:
I write to mark a sad occasion in the history of the CIA and our country. Yesterday, seven Americans in Afghanistan gave their lives in service to their country. Michelle and I have their families, friends and colleagues in our thoughts and prayers.
These brave Americans were part of a long line of patriots who have made great sacrifices for their fellow citizens, and for our way of life. The United States would not be able to maintain the freedom and security that we cherish without decades of service from the dedicated men and women of the CIA. You have helped us understand the world as it is, and taken great risks to protect our country. You have served in the shadows, and your sacrifices have sometimes been unknown to your fellow citizens, your friends, and even your families.
In recent years, the CIA has been tested as never before. Since our country was attacked on September 11, 2001, you have served on the frontlines in directly confronting the dangers of the 21st century. Because of your service, plots have been disrupted, American lives have been saved, and our Allies and partners have been more secure. Your triumphs and even your names may be unknown to your fellow Americans, but your service is deeply appreciated. Indeed, I know firsthand the excellent quality of your work because I rely on it every day.
The men and women who gave their lives in Afghanistan did their duty with courage, honor and excellence, and we must draw strength from the example of their sacrifice. They will take their place on the Memorial Wall at Langley alongside so many other heroes who gave their lives on behalf of their country. And they will live on in the hearts of those who loved them, and in the freedom that they gave their lives to defend.
May God bless the memory of those we lost, and may God bless the United States of America.
President Barack Obama
Statement By President Obama On Preliminary Information From His Ongoing Consultations About The Would Be Terrorist Attack At Metro Airport In Detroit
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
ON PRELIMINAY INFORMATION FROM HIS
ONGOING CONSULTATIONS ABOUT THE DETROIT INCIDENT
Kaneohe Bay Marine Base
11:26 A.M. HAST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Yesterday I updated the American people on the immediate steps we took — the increased screening and security of air travel — to keep our country safe in the wake of the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day. And I announced two reviews — a review of our terrorist watch list system and a review of our air travel screening, so we can find out what went wrong, fix it and prevent future attacks.
Those reviews began on Sunday and are now underway. Earlier today I issued the former [sic] guidelines for those reviews and directed that preliminary findings be provided to the White House by this Thursday. It’s essential that we diagnose the problems quickly and deal with them immediately.
Now, the more comprehensive, formal reviews and recommendations for improvement will be completed in the coming weeks, and I’m committed to working with Congress and our intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security communities to take all necessary steps to protect the country.
I wanted to speak to the American people again today because some of this preliminary information that has surfaced in the last 24 hours raises some serious concerns. It’s been widely reported that the father of the suspect in the Christmas incident warned U.S. officials in Africa about his son’s extremist views. It now appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community, but was not effectively distributed so as to get the suspect’s name on a no-fly list.
There appears to be other deficiencies as well. Even without this one report there were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together. We’ve achieved much since 9/11 in terms of collecting information that relates to terrorists and potential terrorist attacks. But it’s becoming clear that the system that has been in place for years now is not sufficiently up to date to take full advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have.
Had this critical information been shared it could have been compiled with other intelligence and a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged. The warning signs would have triggered red flags and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America.
The professionalism of the men and women in our intelligence, counterterrorism and law enforcement and homeland security communities is extraordinary. They are some of the most hardworking, most dedicated Americans that I’ve ever met. In pursuit of our security here at home they risk their lives, day in and day out, in this country and around the world.
Few Americans see their work, but all Americans are safer because of their successes. They have targeted and taken out violent extremists, they have disrupted plots and saved countless American lives; they are making real and daily progress in our mission to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda and other extremist networks around the world. And for this every American owes them a profound and lasting debt of gratitude.
Moreover, as Secretary Napolitano has said, once the suspect attempted to take down Flight 253 — after his attempt it’s clear that passengers and crew, our homeland security systems and our aviation security took all appropriate actions. But what’s also clear is this: When our government has information on a known extremist and that information is not shared and acted upon as it should have been, so that this extremist boards a plane with dangerous explosives that could cost nearly 300 lives, a systemic failure has occurred. And I consider that totally unacceptable.
The reviews I’ve ordered will surely tell us more. But what already is apparent is that there was a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security. We need to learn from this episode and act quickly to fix the flaws in our system, because our security is at stake and lives are at stake.
I fully understand that even when every person charged with ensuring our security does what they are trained to do, even when every system works exactly as intended there is still no one hundred percent guarantee of success. Yet, this should only compel us to work even harder, to be even more innovative and relentless in our efforts.
As President I will do everything in my power to support the men and women in intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security to make sure they’ve got the tools and resources they need to keep America safe. But it’s also my job to ensure that our intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security systems and the people in them are working effectively and held accountable. I intend to fulfill that responsibility and insist on accountability at every level.
That’s the spirit guiding our reviews into the attempted attack on Christmas Day. That’s the spirit that will guide all our efforts in the days and years ahead.
Thank you very much.
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
A Just and Lasting Peace
Acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize
Thursday, December 10th, 2009
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:
I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations – that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.
And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize – Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela – my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened of cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women – some known, some obscure to all but those they help – to be far more deserving of this honor than I.
But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of a nation in the midst of two wars. One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by forty three other countries – including Norway – in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.
Still, we are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict – filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.
These questions are not new. War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease – the manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled their differences.
Over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers, clerics, and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive power of war. The concept of a “just war” emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when it meets certain preconditions: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the forced used is proportional, and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.
For most of history, this concept of just war was rarely observed. The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different God. Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations – total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred. In the span of thirty years, such carnage would twice engulf this continent. And while it is hard to conceive of a cause more just than the defeat of the Third Reich and the Axis powers, World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.
In the wake of such destruction, and with the advent of the nuclear age, it became clear to victor and vanquished alike that the world needed institutions to prevent another World War. And so, a quarter century after the United States Senate rejected the League of Nations – an idea for which Woodrow Wilson received this Prize – America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, and restrict the most dangerous weapons.
In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War. The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Commerce has stitched much of the world together. Billions have been lifted from poverty. The ideals of liberty, self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.
A decade into a new century, this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.
Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts; the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies, and failed states; have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today’s wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sewn, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, and children scarred.
I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.
We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.
I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago – “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life’s work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak –nothing passive – nothing naïve – in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.
But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.
I raise this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter the cause. At times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.
Yet the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions – not just treaties and declarations – that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest – because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.
So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another – that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier’s courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause and to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.
So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly irreconcilable truths – that war is sometimes necessary, and war is at some level an expression of human feelings. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. “Let us focus,” he said, “on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions.”
What might this evolution look like? What might these practical steps be?
To begin with, I believe that all nations – strong and weak alike – must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I – like any head of state – reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards strengthens those who do, and isolates – and weakens – those who don’t.
The world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense. Likewise, the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait – a consensus that sent a clear message to all about the cost of aggression.
Furthermore, America cannot insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we don’t, our action can appear arbitrary, and undercut the legitimacy of future intervention – no matter how justified.
This becomes particularly important when the purpose of military action extends beyond self defense or the defense of one nation against an aggressor. More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region.
I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That is why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.
America’s commitment to global security will never waiver. But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. This is true in Afghanistan. This is true in failed states like Somalia, where terrorism and piracy is joined by famine and human suffering. And sadly, it will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come.
The leaders and soldiers of NATO countries – and other friends and allies – demonstrate this truth through the capacity and courage they have shown in Afghanistan. But in many countries, there is a disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public. I understand why war is not popular. But I also know this: the belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice. That is why NATO continues to be indispensable. That is why we must strengthen UN and regional peacekeeping, and not leave the task to a few countries. That is why we honor those who return home from peacekeeping and training abroad to Oslo and Rome; to Ottawa and Sydney; to Dhaka and Kigali – we honor them not as makers of war, but as wagers of peace.
Let me make one final point about the use of force. Even as we make difficult decisions about going to war, we must also think clearly about how we fight it. The Nobel Committee recognized this truth in awarding its first prize for peace to Henry Dunant – the founder of the Red Cross, and a driving force behind the Geneva Conventions.
Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe that the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America’s commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not just when it is easy, but when it is hard.
I have spoken to the questions that must weigh on our minds and our hearts as we choose to wage war. But let me turn now to our effort to avoid such tragic choices, and speak of three ways that we can build a just and lasting peace.
First, in dealing with those nations that break rules and laws, I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to change behavior – for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure – and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one.
One urgent example is the effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and to seek a world without them. In the middle of the last century, nations agreed to be bound by a treaty whose bargain is clear: all will have access to peaceful nuclear power; those without nuclear weapons will forsake them; and those with nuclear weapons will work toward disarmament. I am committed to upholding this treaty. It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy. And I am working with President Medvedev to reduce America and Russia’s nuclear stockpiles.
But it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system. Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted. Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia. Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.
The same principle applies to those who violate international law by brutalizing their own people. When there is genocide in Darfur; systematic rape in Congo; or repression in Burma – there must be consequences. And the closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression.
This brings me to a second point – the nature of the peace that we seek. For peace is not merely the absence of visible conflict. Only a just peace based upon the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting.
It was this insight that drove drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the Second World War. In the wake of devastation, they recognized that if human rights are not protected, peace is a hollow promise.
And yet all too often, these words are ignored. In some countries, the failure to uphold human rights is excused by the false suggestion that these are Western principles, foreign to local cultures or stages of a nation’s development. And within America, there has long been a tension between those who describe themselves as realists or idealists – a tension that suggests a stark choice between the narrow pursuit of interests or an endless campaign to impose our values.
I reject this choice. I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear. Pent up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence. We also know that the opposite is true. Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace. America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens. No matter how callously defined, neither America’s interests – nor the world’s –are served by the denial of human aspirations.
So even as we respect the unique culture and traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal. We will bear witness to the quiet dignity of reformers like Aung Sang Suu Kyi; to the bravery of Zimbabweans who cast their ballots in the face of beatings; to the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran. It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation. And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear to these movements that hope and history are on their side
Let me also say this: the promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach – and condemnation without discussion – can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.
In light of the Cultural Revolution’s horrors, Nixon’s meeting with Mao appeared inexcusable – and yet it surely helped set China on a path where millions of its citizens have been lifted from poverty, and connected to open societies. Pope John Paul’s engagement with Poland created space not just for the Catholic Church, but for labor leaders like Lech Walesa. Ronald Reagan’s efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroika not only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe. There is no simple formula here. But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement; pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.
Third, a just peace includes not only civil and political rights – it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.
It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine they need to survive. It does not exist where children cannot aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.
And that is why helping farmers feed their own people – or nations educate their children and care for the sick – is not mere charity. It is also why the world must come together to confront climate change. There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, famine and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and activists who call for swift and forceful action – it is military leaders in my country and others who understand that our common security hangs in the balance.
Agreements among nations. Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All of these are vital ingredients in bringing about the evolution that President Kennedy spoke about. And yet, I do not believe that we will have the will, or the staying power, to complete this work without something more – and that is the continued expansion of our moral imagination; an insistence that there is something irreducible that we all share.
As the world grows smaller, you might think it would be easier for human beings to recognize how similar we are; to understand that we all basically want the same things; that we all hope for the chance to live out our lives with some measure of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves and our families.
And yet, given the dizzying pace of globalization, and the cultural leveling of modernity, it should come as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish about their particular identities – their race, their tribe, and perhaps most powerfully their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we are moving backwards. We see it in Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden. We see it in nations that are torn asunder by tribal lines.
Most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan. These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded. But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war. For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint – no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or even a person of one’s own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but the purpose of faith – for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature. We are fallible. We make mistakes, and fall victim to the temptations of pride, and power, and sometimes evil. Even those of us with the best intentions will at times fail to right the wrongs before us.
But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached – their faith in human progress – must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.
For if we lose that faith – if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace – then we lose what is best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.
Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, “I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘isness’ of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness’ that forever confronts him.”
So let us reach for the world that ought to be – that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. Somewhere today, in the here and now, a soldier sees he’s outgunned but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, who believes that a cruel world still has a place for his dreams.
Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity. We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that – for that is the story of human progress; that is the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.
Remarks By First Lady Michelle Obama On Health Insurance Reform And Older Women: “Over Half Of All Women In America Don’t Have The Option Of Getting Insurance Through The Workplace”
REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY
ON HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM AND OLDER WOMEN
3:12 P.M. EST
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you, everybody. Thank you so much. First of all, forgive me — I’ve got children, and now I have a cold. (Laughter.) It goes along with the territory.
Let me begin by first thanking Tina Tchen, who’s doing an outstanding job as Director of the Office of Public Engagement by opening up this White House to the American people and organizing events like this one today. She’s just been a terrific asset and a dear friend — and let’s give her a round of applause. (Applause.)
And I also want to commend Nancy-Ann for her extraordinary leadership on health care — health insurance reform. I know my husband, who is traveling abroad right now, would agree with me when I say that without her, we wouldn’t have come this far, and because of her, we’re going to get the job done. So we are grateful to you, Nancy-Ann. (Applause.)
And of course, I want to thank all the women who are here today. This is a wonderful, lively group — I heard you all giggling earlier today. (Laughter.)
But I also want to thank the women who spoke today — to Kelly and Fran and Judy — for sharing their stories. What they’ve been through isn’t easy, and I’m grateful that they have been brave enough and open enough to share their stories with all of us. It takes a lot of courage.
These stories touch our hearts. They spark in us just a fundamental sense of unfairness. But the sad truth is none of these stories are unique. These kinds of stories are being told in city after city, town after town, all across America. They’re being told by women who lost their coverage when their husband lost a job, or their husband passed away. They’re being told by women who aren’t getting regular checkups because it’s simply too expensive. They’re being told my women living on fixed incomes who can’t afford the prescription drugs that they need.
All of these stories reflect the fundamental reality — and that is, women are among those struggling most under the status quo, the way things are. And women are among those who will benefit most from health insurance reform because the truth is that women, we have a special relationship with our health care system. In a lot of families that’s true because we are the health care system in so many ways. (Laughter.)
Eight in 10 mothers say they’re the ones responsible for choosing their children’s doctors, taking them to appointments, and managing the follow-up care. And over 10 percent of all women are now caring for a sick or elderly relative.
Our entire lives as women, we are asked to bear much of the responsibility for our family’s health and well-being. And yet, we often face special challenges when it comes to our own health insurance. Part of it has to do with the fact that women are more likely than men to do part-time work or to work in a small business — in jobs that are less likely to offer the kind of insurance that you really need. In fact, over half of all women in this country don’t have the option of getting insurance through the workplace at all.
But even women who do have insurance face inequities under the status quo. Because women make less than 80 cents for every dollar their male coworkers make, it’s more difficult for them to pay their premiums — especially when studies show that they’re paying far more than men for the same coverage.
And I don’t think anyone here will be surprised to learn that a recent study found that one-third of all women have either used up savings, taken on debt, or given up basic necessities just to pay their medical bills. And as many of you know firsthand, these kinds of problems — the problems of coverage and cost — only grow worse when you get older, making quality, affordable coverage harder to come by just — as we’ve seen today and heard today — just when you need it the most.
In the individual market, people in their early 60s are more than twice as likely to be denied coverage than people in their late 30s. Older women are more likely than men to face a chronic illness, but they’re less likely to be able to afford the cost of treating that illness. And in recent years, studies have shown that women over the age of 65 spend about 17 percent of their income on health care. And that’s just not right.
Our mothers and grandmothers, they have taken care of us all their lives; they’ve made the sacrifices that it takes to get us where we need to be. And we have an obligation to make sure that we’re taking care of them. It’s as simple as that. America has a responsibility to give all seniors the golden years they deserve and the secure, dignified retirement that they worked so hard to achieve. (Applause.)
And that’s exactly what health insurance reform is going to help us do in this country.
Now, I can tell you — I can’t tell, actually, what the bill that will ultimately land across my husband’s desk will look like — none of us can. But I can tell you just a few important ways that the insurance system will be impacted.
For starters — and this is very important — your insurance will not change unless you want it to change. So if things are great for you, you’re fine. (Laughter.) It will, however, become more stable and more secure, no matter what your situation is. There will be a cap on how much you can be charged in out-of-pocket expenses in a year or in a lifetime. So there will be a cap. It will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage for preexisting conditions. (Applause.) And that change alone will help us end the discrimination women face in our health care system. And also, insurance companies will be required to cover, at no extra cost, routine checkups and preventive care.
And I’d like to speak just a moment about what reform will mean for seniors, in particular.
There’s been a lot of misinformation on this topic so I want to be clear — Nancy-Ann mentioned this: Not a dime of the Medicare Trust Fund will be used to pay for reform. Health insurance reform will not endanger Medicare; it will make Medicare more stable and secure. (Applause.) By eliminating wasteful subsidies to private insurance and cracking down on fraud and abuse throughout the system, this administration believes that we can bring down premiums for all our seniors and extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund.
My husband believes that Medicare is a sacred part of America’s social safety net, and it’s a safety net that he will protect — he will protect with health insurance reform. And I know that many seniors on Medicare are also concerned about the cost of prescription drugs; we’ve heard about it here.
Right now, millions of seniors face huge out-of-pocket costs when their spending on drugs falls within a coverage gap. My husband is committed to closing that gap, which will save some seniors, as you’ve heard, thousands of dollars on medications and make prescription drugs more affordable for millions of older Americans. (Applause.)
So what we’re talking about — affordable prescription drugs for Americans who need them; Medicare that’s protected today and tomorrow; stability and security for Americans who have insurance; quality, affordable coverage for Americans who don’t. That’s what reform will mean for older women, for seniors, and for all Americans.
So that’s why I believe in this so strongly. That’s why I believe in this so strongly.
But in the end, I’m not here just as a First Lady. That’s not why I’m doing this. I am here because I’m a daughter. I’m here because I have an extraordinary mother who is 72 years old — young. (Laughter and applause.) And I know there are countless women in this country who have loved ones who feel the same way about them as I do about my mother.
And when all is said and done, part of why I believe so strongly in reforming our health care system is because of the difference it will make for these women who gave us life — so simple — these women who raised us, these women who supported us through the years. They deserve better than the status quo. They deserve a health care system that heals them and lifts them up.
And that’s what my husband is committed to doing, to building that kind of system in the weeks and months to come.
So thank you all. Thank you for sharing your stories. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication, for listening, for being a part — and let’s get to work. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
DAILY GUIDANCE AND PRESS SCHEDULE FOR
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2009
In the morning, the President will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing.
As the economy moves beyond crisis and into recovery, the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) will hold a meeting with the President to discuss long-term, innovation based ideas to sustain growth and continue to create jobs of the future. The meeting will be the second full board meeting of the PERAB and it will be live streamed at http://www.whitehouse.gov/live from start to finish. There will be a pool spray at the top of the meeting.
In the afternoon, the President will meet with Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt of Sweden.
Later, the President will meet with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
There will also be a principals-level meeting of the National Economic Council in the Roosevelt Room at 2:00PM. The meeting will focus on the state of the economy as well as Administration efforts to create new jobs and put the country on the path to sustainable, long-term growth. The meeting will be led by Lawrence Summers, Director of the National Economic Council, and will include DPC Director Melody Barnes, Office of Energy and Climate Change Director Carol Browner, Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Export-Important Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, NSC Director James Jones, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Chief of Staff to the Vice President Ron Klain, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, SBA Administrator Karen Mills, OMB Director Peter Orszag, Interior Secretary Ken Salazer, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
In a continuing effort to provide communities with the latest information on health care reform, at 3:30PM, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett will participate in a live online chat session to discuss the importance of needed changes in our health care system for traditionally underserved communities throughout the country. The chat will be streamed live at http://www.whitehouse.gov/live as well as through the White House’s Facebook page where questions will be taken live from the chat: http://www.facebook.com/whitehouse
Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Each week, I’ve spoken with you about the challenges we face as a nation and the path we must take to meet them. And the truth is, over the past ten months, I’ve often had to report distressing news during what has been a difficult time for our country. But today, I am pleased to offer some better news that – while not cause for celebration – is certainly reason to believe that we are moving in the right direction.
On Thursday, we received a report on our Gross Domestic Product, or GDP. This is an important measure of our economy as a whole, one that tells us how much we are producing and how much businesses and families are earning. We learned that the economy grew for the first time in more than a year and faster than at any point in the previous two years. So while we have a long way to go before we return to prosperity, and there will undoubtedly be ups and downs along the road, it’s also true that we’ve come a long way. It is easy to forget that it was only several months ago that the economy was shrinking rapidly and many economists feared another Great Depression.
Now, economic growth is no substitute for job growth. And we will likely see further job losses in the coming days, a fact that is both troubling for our economy and heartbreaking for the men and women who suddenly find themselves out of work. But we will not create the jobs we need unless the economy is growing; that’s why this GDP report is a good sign. And we can see clearly now that the steps my administration is taking are making a difference, blunting the worst of this recession and helping to bring about its conclusion.
We’ve acted aggressively to jumpstart credit for families and businesses, including small businesses, which have seen an increase in lending of 73 percent. We’ve taken steps to stem the tide of foreclosures, modifying mortgages to help hundreds of thousands of responsible homeowners keep their homes and help millions more sustain the value in their homes. And the Recovery Act is spurring demand through a tax cut for 95 percent of working families, and through assistance for seniors and those who have lost jobs – which not only helps folks hardest hit by the downturn, but also encourages the consumer spending that will help turn the economy around.
Finally, the Recovery Act is saving and creating jobs all across the country. Just this week, we reached an important milestone. Based on reports coming in from across America – as shovels break ground, as needed public servants are rehired, and as factories whir to life – it is clear that the Recovery Act has now created and saved more than one million jobs. That’s more than a million people who might otherwise be out of work today – folks who can wake up each day knowing that they’ll be able to provide for themselves and their families.
We’ve saved jobs by closing state budget shortfalls to prevent the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of police officers, firefighters, and teachers who are today on the beat, on call, and in the classroom because of the Recovery Act. And we’ve also created hundreds of thousands of jobs through the largest investment in our roads since the building of the interstate highways, and through the largest investments in education, medical research, and clean energy in history.
These investments aren’t just helping us recover in the short term, they’re helping to lay a new foundation for lasting prosperity in the long term – and they’re giving hardworking, middle-class Americans the chance to succeed and raise a family. Because of the investments we’ve made and the steps we’ve taken, it’s easier for middle-class families to send their kids to college and get the training and skills they need to compete in a global economy. We’re making it easier for these families to save for retirement. And in areas like clean energy, we’re creating the jobs of the future – jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.
In fact, just this week, I traveled to Arcadia, Florida to announce the largest set of clean energy projects through the Recovery Act so far: one hundred grants for businesses, utilities, manufacturers, cities and other partners across the country to put thousands of people to work modernizing our electric grid – the system that provides power to our homes and businesses – so that it wastes less energy, helps integrate renewables like wind and solar, and saves consumers money. And that’s just one example.
So, we have made progress. At the same time, I want to emphasize that there’s still plenty of progress to be made. For we know that positive news for the economy as a whole means little if you’ve lost your job and can’t find another, if you can’t afford health care or the mortgage, if you do not see in your own life the improvement we are seeing in these economic statistics. And positive news today does not mean there won’t be difficult days ahead. As I’ve said many times, it took years to dig our way into the crisis we’ve faced. It will take more than a few months to dig our way out. But make no mistake: that’s exactly what we will do.
For the economy we seek is one where folks who need a job can find one and incomes are rising again. The economy we seek is one where small businesses can flourish and entrepreneurs can get the capital they need to plant new seeds of growth. The economy we seek is one that’s no longer based on maxed out credits cards, wild speculation, and the old cycles of boom or bust – but rather one that’s built on a solid foundation, supporting growth that is strong, sustained, and broadly shared by middle class families across America. That is what we are working toward every single day. And we will not stop until we get there.
Thank you. And Happy Halloween.
General Motors intends to file for bankruptcy early Monday morning in order to put into operation a restructuring plan that will ultimately save the auto maker from going completely under and out of business. The Obama administration released late Sunday night a clear cut strategy to help GM recover financially.
FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Restructuring Initiative for General Motors
On March 30, 2009, President Obama laid out a framework for General Motors to achieve viability that required the Company to rework its business plan, accelerate its operational restructuring and make far greater reductions in its outstanding liabilities. After two months of significant management engagement, General Motors has developed such a plan and has already begun to make progress toward its achievement. The Company has also secured commitments of meaningful sacrifice from all of its major stakeholder groups, sacrifices sufficient for this plan to proceed forward. As a result, the President has deemed GM’s plan viable and will be making available about $30bn of additional federal assistance to support GM’s restructuring plan. To effectuate their plan, General Motors will use Section 363 of the bankruptcy code to clear away the remaining impediments to its successful re-launch.
For the better part of a century, The General Motors Corporation has been one of the most recognizable and largest businesses in the world. Today will rank as another historic day for the company—the end of an old General Motors, and the beginning of a new one.
General Motors Restructuring – Shared Sacrifice
The President made clear throughout this process that every one of the Company’s stakeholder would be expected to sacrifice, and that none would receive special treatment because of the involvement of the government. The resulting agreement is tough but fair, and has garnered broad support from GM’s major stakeholders:
- Operational restructuring: GM is undertaking a significant operational restructuring that will address past failures, dramatically improve its overall cost structure, and allow the company to move toward profitability even if the auto market recovers slowly. As a result of this restructuring, GM will lower its breakeven point to a 10 million annual car sales environment. Before the restructuring, GM’s breakeven point was about 16 million annual car sales.
- The UAW has made important concessions on compensation and retiree health care that, while difficult, will help save jobs for active employees, pensions and health care for retirees, and make GM more competitive. In virtually every respect, the concessions that the UAW agreed to are more aggressive than what the Bush Administration originally demanded in its loan agreement with GM. Among other things, the UAW’s existing VEBA – to which GM has a $20bn obligation – will be replaced by a new VEBA as described below.
- The Steering Committee to a portion of GM bondholders has confirmed that bondholders representing at least 54% of GM’s unsecured bonds have agreed to exchange their portion of the Company’s $27.1 billion unsecured debt for their pro-rata share of 10% of the equity of new GM, plus warrants for an additional 15% of the new Company. The Steering Committee confirms that the number of individual and institutional bondholders that support this deal is now over 1,000. The bankruptcy court process will be used to confirm this treatment for those bondholders and other unsecured creditors that failed to accept or did not participate in the offer that was accepted by the aforementioned majority.
- Painful but necessary restructuring steps will also be implemented. In order to size GM’s footprint to its current share but also allow for volume growth when the economy and the automotive market rebound, GM has planned to reduce its plant operations. Today GM is announcing its intention to close 11 facilities and idle another 3 facilities.
Details on the Creation of New GM:
The newly organized GM will purchase substantially all of the assets of the old GM needed to implement its business plan out of a chapter 11 in exchange for the U.S. Government relinquishing the majority of its loans to GM.
- This new GM will establish an independent trust (VEBA) that will provide health care benefits for GM’s retirees. The VEBA will be funded by a note of $2.5 billion payable in three installments ending in 2017 and $6.5 billion in 9% perpetual preferred stock. The VEBA will also receive 17.5% of the equity of New GM and warrants to purchase an additional 2.5% of the company. The VEBA will have the right to select one independent director and will have no right to vote its shares or other governance rights.
- The GM qualified pension plans for both hourly and salaried employees will be transferred to the New GM as part of the purchase process.
- The U.S. Treasury is prepared to provide approximately $30.1 billion of debtor in possession financing to support GM through an expedited chapter 11 proceeding and transition the new GM through its restructuring plan. The U.S. Treasury does not anticipate providing any additional assistance to GM beyond this commitment. In exchange for funds already committed by the U.S. Treasury and the new injection of $30.1 billion, the U.S. government will receive approximately $8.8 billion in debt and preferred stock in the new GM and approximately 60% of the equity of the new GM. The U.S. Treasury will also have the right to appoint the initial directors other than those that will be selected by the VEBA and the Canadian government.
- The Governments of Canada and Ontario will participate alongside the U.S. Treasury by lending $9.5 billion to GM and New GM. The Canadian and Ontario governments will receive approximately $1.7 billion in debt and preferred stock, and approximately 12% of the equity of the new GM. Based on its substantial financial contribution, the Canadian government will also have the right to select one initial director.
- The new GM will pursue a commitment to build a new small car in an idled UAW factory, which when in place will increase the share of U.S. production for U.S. sale from its current level of about 66% to over 70%.
Principles for Managing Ownership Stake
Consistent with the goal of clearly limiting the government’s role as a reluctant equity owner but careful steward of taxpayer resources, the Obama Administration has established four core principles that will guide the government’s management of ownership interests in private firms. These principles will apply to the U.S. government’s equity stake in GM:
- The government has no desire to own equity stakes in companies any longer than necessary, and will seek to dispose of its ownership interests as soon as practicable. Our goal is to promote strong and viable companies that can quickly be profitable and contribute to economic growth and jobs without government involvement.
- In exceptional cases where the U.S. government feels it is necessary to respond to a company’s request for substantial assistance, the government will reserve the right to set upfront conditions to protect taxpayers, promote financial stability and encourage growth. When necessary, these conditions may include restructurings similar to that now underway at GM as well as changes to ensure a strong board of directors that selects management with a sound long-term vision to restore their companies to profitability and to end the need for government support as quickly as is practically feasible.
- After any up-front conditions are in place, the government will protect the taxpayers’ investment by managing its ownership stake in a hands-off, commercial manner. The government will not interfere with or exert control over day-to-day company operations. No government employees will serve on the boards or be employed by these companies.
- As a common shareholder, the government will only vote on core governance issues, including the selection of a company’s board of directors and major corporate events or transactions. While protecting taxpayer resources, the government intends to be extremely disciplined as to how it intends to use even these limited rights.
- GM will continue to honor consumer warranties. This past week, the U.S. Treasury made available the Warranty Support Program to GM and $361 million was funded to a special vehicle available to provide a backstop on the orderly payment of warranties for cars sold during this restructuring period.
The Bankruptcy Process
During this process, GM will continue operating in the ordinary course. From an operating perspective, the day after the filing will not be materially different from the day before the filing. The following parties will be treated as described below:
- Employees: Employees will get paid in the ordinary course, including salary, wages and ordinary benefits. Assuming the sale moves forward as expected, Pension Plan and VEBA funding will be transferred to New GM.
- Suppliers: GM will seek authority at its “first day” hearing to continue to pay suppliers in the ordinary course. In addition, the U.S. Treasury’s Supplier Support Program will continue to operate, and GM suppliers benefiting from the program will continue to receive that support.
- Dealers: GM will seek authority at its “first day” hearing to honor its customer warranties in the ordinary course. Moreover, GM will seek to continue to honor its dealer incentives for those dealers who are expected to continue to be part of GM’s distribution network going forward. There are some dealers that GM has identified that will not continue with GM. It is expected that the terminated dealers will be offered an agreement to orderly wind down their operations over the next 18 months
- UAW: The modified labor agreement reached between the UAW and GM will be operative and will be assumed by the New GM.
The Tampa Bay area has seen two horrific acts of inhumane violence perpetrated on young children. The following story is one that has been nationally reported.
21 year old Richard Anthony McTear obviously didn’t get the memo. Unfortunately, African American young men on a large scale have in fact ignored the memo. What memo? The one that announced that President Barack Obama is the first African American to hold the highest office in the land and that is something to be proud of. Not only that, it is something to aspire to. If becoming president is not in the cards, how about being a productive citizen?
Richard Anthony McTear is accused of violently beating Jasmine Bedwell, then throwing his ex-girlfriend’s four month old son out of a moving Impala while speeding down I-275. McTear broke into his former girlfriend’s apartment, beat her, took the baby, slammed him into the concrete flooring of the home, and then ran off with the child.
Jasmine Bedwell, 17, started dating McTear ten months ago. Bedwell was at the time pregnant but McTear was not the father. The relationship was a domestic violence nightmare. Neighbors reported that it was not unusual to see see the teen with bruises and black eyes. Bedwell had pressed charges against McTear and in fact was scheduled to appear in court on Monday, but failed to show up. Tuesday Richard Anthony McTear killed her child as he had threatened to do on numerous occasions.
You have to wonder when you hear cases like this why the mother, Miss Bedwell, didn’t appear in court to put her abuser behind bars? Why is it almost impossible for women, young women, to realize that their abuser/attacker will kill them or their loved ones somewhere down the road?
It is maddening to comprehend what that young mother is going through at this time. Yet, the real question lies in the fact that obviously Bedwell and other young women like her, are making tragic decisions in the areas of love and relationships. McTear is a career criminal and started his life of crime at the age of 14. What is appealing about that? McTear was unemployed. Doesn’t take a degree from MIT to guess why that is.
From the looks of it, this was a young man that should have been avoided on all counts. But what the true heart of this tragedy is crying out to all women, especially young women, is that lack of good judgement skills can do more harm than good. Young women need to learn why it is important to love themselves first and foremost. When this love is nurtured, a man like Richard Anthony McTear doesn’t even enter on the radar screen.
It is sad that Jasmine Bedwell had to learn a hard lesson. Be cautious as to whom is allowed around children. Women need to be discriminative and proactive in the people within ones orbit, tragedies such as this one can be avoided.
Showing up to court dates and hearings to cage animals that pose as human beings are more than necessary to protect the world at large from predators and insane criminals like McTear.
And…when asked why he killed his ex’s four month old baby, he said two things: “Its a cruel world” and “It’s a dirty game.”
President Obama to Request $50 Million to Identify and Expand Effective, Innovative Non-Profits
White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation to Coordinate Efforts
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama, in his FY2010 budget, will ask Congress to provide $50 million in seed capital for the Social Innovation Fund to identify the most promising, results-oriented non-profit programs and expand their reach throughout the country.
Many solutions to our nation’s most challenging social problems are being generated outside of Washington; the Social Innovation Fund will identify what is working in communities across the country, provide growth capital for these programs, and improve the use of data and evaluation to raise the bar on what programs the government funds.
“The idea is simple: to find the most effective programs out there and then provide the capital needed to replicate their success in communities around the country that are facing similar challenges,” First Lady Michelle Obama will say Tuesday at the Time 100 Most Influential People Awards in New York City, according to her prepared remarks. “By focusing on high-impact, result-oriented non-profits, we will ensure that government dollars are spent in a way that is effective, accountable and worthy of the public trust.”
Melody Barnes, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council, also highlighted the Fund Tuesday in a keynote speech to the Council on Foundations. “The Social Innovation Fund reflects the President’s new governing philosophy: finding and investing in what works; and partnering with and supporting others who are leading change in their communities,” Barnes said. “We are also working with Federal agencies across the government to identify new solutions to problems that have resisted traditional approaches.”
The Social Innovation Fund was authorized in the recent Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. The Fund will focus on priority policy areas, including education, health care, and economic opportunity. It will partner with foundations, philanthropists, and corporations which will commit matching resources, funding, and technical assistance.
The White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation will coordinate efforts to enlist all Americans –individuals, non-profits, social entrepreneurs, corporations and foundations – as partners in solving our great challenges. Located within the Domestic Policy Council, it will:
- Catalyze partnerships between the government and nonprofits, businesses and philanthropists in order to make progress on the President’s policy agenda
- Identify and support the rigorous evaluation and scaling of innovative, promising ideas that are transforming communities like, for example, Harlem Children’s Zone, YouthVillages, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Citizen Schools.
- Support greater civic participation through new media tools
- Promote national service.
Well. Looks like Detroiters have finally gotten it right! Maybe they read my commentary and found some inspiration. Who knows?
Mayor-Elect Dave Bing won the Detroit special election with 52% of the vote. In an interview Wednesday, Bing said that “the question here is how much work I can get done…in a very short period of time.” True. The backwards requirement of the ‘special election’ is that the new mayor will complete the last few months of Kwame Kilpatrick’s term. Come August, Detroit will hold another primary that will pick two more candidates to run for mayor in November.
So, what mayor-elect Dave Bing begins now, could very well be jeopardized by a new mayor-elect in November. The City Council in Detroit really needs to consider drafting a law into the city charter that abolishes that ridiculous nonsense of a ‘special election.’
Bing held out an olive branch to mayoral candidate Ken Cockrel, Jr. Wednesday morning after revealing to reporters that he had yet to hear from the City Council President that held the office of mayor after Kwame Kilpatrick resigned last fall. But the mayor-elect said that he would reach out to Cockrel because “we need to work together to get the city from where it is to where everybody wants it to go.”
LOL! If I know anything about Detroit politics, or politics in general, it will be a cold day in you know where before career politicians work together for the better good of their constituents.
The much anticipated Detroit mayoral special election is upon Detroiters. Tuesday, Detroiters will turn out in low record numbers to cast a vote for the candidate that will fill the remainder of ousted former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s time in office. The special election, which hardly makes sense to the intelligent by-stander, is tauted as a prelude to the “real” mayoral election to be held in November. It is supposed that the winner of this event will be a shoe-in for the permanent office of mayor.
Former Detroit City Council President Ken Cockrel, Jr. currently is Detroit’s “temporary” mayor, with hopes of making the seat even more “temporary” as the winner of this contest. I know, none of this makes any sense, does it?
Businessman and NBA great Dave Bing is the second candidate that is on the Detroit ballot for mayor. Hometown hero and Detroit Piston legend, Dave Bing reinvented himself into an entrepreneur and businessman by founding the Bing Group, a steel manufacturing operation and auto supplier. The Bing Group is widely seen as a success story and Bing has employed hundreds of Detroiters and contributed to numerous community organizations. Bing is very active in the city and much beloved.
A native Detroiter like fellow candidate Ken Cockrel, Jr., Dave Bing has a rich history rooted in Detroit. However, critics including Cockrel point to the fact that Bing has little if any political experience.
However, if one ws to take a close look at the city of Detroit, the disaster is not only in political arena but in the finances. The city of Detroit is $300 million in debt. The Detroit Public School system is in the crapper, too. DPS is $300 million in the red, too! It is rumored that a full blown criminal investigation is currently underway.
Unemployment in Detroit is 22.2%, the highest rate in America. Even though crime stats show that violent deaths have dropped, more than 300 Detroiters die a year due to violence. So, which of the two mayoral candidates is more qualified to fill the role of mayor? Detroit is bleeding money. Lots of it. In order to fix the majority of what is wrong in the city, a financial strategy needs to be considered. A financial plan that will generate much need funds to expand the policing services of the Detroit Police Department, get the city out of debt and save Detroit Public Schools.
In the business world, a sinking company looks for leadership that will propel a business out of certain financial ruin and turn it into a viable, sustainable business. This is what the city of Detroit needs. Instead of amateur and career politicians who are really bottom feeders on the hunt for a paycheck and expensive travel agendas to so-called “conferences,” perhaps the city of Detroit need a leader with a portfolio that show and prove.
Detroit has had a hard rode to travel for years now. Kwame Kilpatrick promised “change” and brought political unrest and embarrassment to the city. Maybe its time for something drastically different. When Dennis Archer became mayor, he brought a sense of balance and financial feasibility to Detroit. Dave Bing brings that same approach.
Unfortunately, apathy runs deep in Detroit. City Clerk Janice Winfrey said that out of the 621,000 registered voters in Detroit, come Tuesday, only 15% – 20% will come to the polls. With this type of turnout, Detroiters can be rest assured that the city of Detroit will continue to be ran into the ground by career politicians with agendas that do not include helping the disenfranchised, the elderly or the children of Detroit.
Gotta love her! First Lady Michelle Obama actually started her White House garden last week along with 25 school children to help. Before leaving on her European trip, the First Lady broke ground on what would become the White Houses’ first garden since the mid 1900′s. But really, who thought that Michelle Obama was really gonna get down in the dirt and start planting seedlings?
Kudos to the First Lady!
The White House garden will include annual and perennial herbs such as mint, garlic, chives, thyme, oregano, anise, basil, cilantro, dill and fennel.
Assorted vegetable also will grace the White House table. Different varieties of lettuce, spinach, onions, black kale, shard, snap peas, shell peas, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, tomatillos and cucumbers were planted. The White House garden functions as a duel purpose. To feed and inform. The White House garden will feed, not only the First Family, but neighboring soup kitchens. Most importantly, the White House garden will promote national awareness of eating good, natural healthy foods that families can grow for pennies. It is economical and heart-smart.
But where are the collard and mustard greens? Where’s the cabbage and corn? Something tells me that there is another more secret garden close by!