NEW REPORT FROM TREASURY, EDUCATION DEPARTMENTS: THE ECONOMIC CASE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION As the President Calls on Congress to Keep Interest Rates on Student Loans from Doubling, Report Shows Higher Education Critical to Economic Opportunity and Mobility
NEW REPORT FROM TREASURY, EDUCATION DEPARTMENTS: THE ECONOMIC CASE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION
As the President Calls on Congress to Keep Interest Rates on Student Loans from Doubling, Report Shows Higher Education Critical to Economic Opportunity and Mobility
WASHINGTON – A new report released today by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, with the U.S. Department of Education, examines the economic case for higher education. As the President calls on Congress to keep interest rates low for the 7.4 million borrowers who are expected to take out subsidized Federal student loans next year, this report demonstrates the economic case for higher education as a source of both economic opportunity and mobility. Without Congressional action, interest rates on new subsidized loans will double, increasing from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2012.
The data and analysis confirm that higher education is critical for socioeconomic advancement and an important driver of economic mobility. As state budgets have repeatedly come under stress, state support for higher education has declined as a share of funding for public higher education, increasingly pushing students and their families to count on education grants and affordable loans through Federal financial aid. Because the Federal government cannot address this issue alone, the President has also called on states and colleges to come together around our shared responsibility for college affordability.
With middle-class families facing greater financial stress and more students than ever trying to achieve their educational goals, access to higher education should be a national priority, not a luxury. Where we make our investments demonstrates our priorities. In order to ensure access to higher education, we must all do our part toward our shared responsibility to make these critical investments in today’s students and tomorrow’s workers.
View the full report here.
Obama Administration Releases Report on America’s Agricultural Economy and Announces Commitment to Invest over $2 Billion in Rural Small Businesses
Obama Administration Releases Report on America’s Agricultural Economy and
Announces Commitment to Invest over $2 Billion in Rural Small Businesses
WASHINGTON—Today, President Obama will announce investments to help rural small businesses expand and hire. Home to some of the most diligent and self-reliant Americans, rural communities and our nation’s agriculture industry are vital contributors to employment and exports from the United States. Strong and secure rural communities are essential to creating an economy built to last that rewards hard work and responsibility—not outsourcing, loopholes, and risky financial deals. While the security of the middle class has been threatened by the irresponsible financial collapse and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, rural Americans continue to come together to buckle down and make ends meet. The values that have helped hard-working, responsible families weather the storm continue to move our economy forward. As a result, while there is still work to do, a new report released today details the progress that has been made in the agricultural economy.
“As we continue to fight our way back from the deepest economic crisis in generations and build an economy that lasts, rural America is helping to lead the charge,” said President Obama. “On farms and ranches; in towns and communities across this country, rural Americans know that we are stronger as a people when everybody gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. Those are the values we need to return to, and as long as I’m President, my Administration will continue to give our rural communities the support and investment they need to show us the way.”
Last August at the White House Rural Economic Forum, President Obama announced a new commitment to invest in rural businesses through the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program, at no cost to tax payers. Today, President Obama is announcing that more than $400 million has already been invested this fiscal year in these businesses through the Small Business Administration’s SBIC program, and that nearly $2 billion in additional funding will be invested by the end of fiscal year 2016. These investments will continue to help finance, grow, expand, and modernize rural small business operations across the country. The details of the locations, amounts and industries in which these dollars have been invested to date can be found HERE.
Additionally, the Council of Economic Advisers, the White House Rural Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are releasing a joint report today, which notes progress that has been made in the agricultural economy and details steps the Obama Administration has taken to help strengthen the farm economy and support jobs and growth in rural America. To read the full report, click HERE.
Highlights from the report include:
- · Innovation: Innovation in U.S. agriculture has kept America’s farms among the most productive in the world. U.S. farm sector income reached a nominal record of $98.1 billion in 2011. Adjusting for general inflation, real farm income in 2011 recorded its 3rd highest level in the last 50 years.
- · Exports: While many sectors of our economy are running trade deficits, American agriculture has enjoyed a trade surplus, with record levels of farm exports at $137.4 billion for fiscal year 2011. Yet, it is clear that still more can and should be done to boost agriculture exports. The President’s National Export Initiative has opened new markets for U.S. agricultural products and services and contributed to a historic level of agricultural exports. Once fully implemented, free trade agreements passed under this Administration with Korea, Panama, and Colombia are projected to boost U.S. agricultural exports by $2.3 billion per year.
- · Clean Energy: The Administration has pursued polices that promote domestic energy alternatives like biofuels, bioenergy, and wind power to provide new opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and forest managers. Pursuit of an all-of-the-above clean energy and energy efficiency strategy saved Americans a projected 6.5 billion kWh – enough energy to power over 590,000 homes for a year – and nearly doubled the amount of installed wind energy generation in the U.S. over the past three years from about 25,000 MW in 2008 to 47,000 MW in 2011.
- · New Industries: The Administration has supported new industry diversification within the agricultural economy. The retail value of the organic industry grew to $31.4 billion in 2011, up from $21.1 billion in 2008. The number of operations certified organic grew by 1,109 – or more than 6% – between 2009 and 2011.
- · Community Investment: The rural economy has been strengthened by investments in over 6,250 new community facilities. Additionally, over the last three years, 12,000 USDA grants and loans have been issued to assist over 50,000 rural small businesses.
11:13 A.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everyone. Good morning. Oh my goodness. I am so thrilled to be with all of you today, and I want to start by thanking Bob for that very kind introduction and for his tremendous leadership at Disney.
I’d also like to thank Leslie for all of her hard work in this effort. Also, everyone from the Newseum for hosting us today, and also to all of the parents and advocates who are here today who have been working so hard for so many years on these issues. And finally, I want to thank everyone at Disney for making this day possible.
This new initiative is truly a game changer for the health of our children. See, for years people told us that no matter what we did to get our kids to eat well and exercise, we would never solve our childhood obesity crisis until companies changed the way they sell food to our children. And we all know the conventional wisdom about that. We’ve heard all the cynics who say that we simply can’t change the market, or that concerned parents are no match for corporate bottom lines, or that companies will never change their business model for the good of our kids.
But truly, today, Disney has turned that conventional wisdom on its head. This is a major American company, a global brand that is literally changing the way it does business so that our kids can lead healthier lives. With this new initiative, Disney is doing what no major media company has ever done before in the United States. And what I hope every company will do going forward when it comes to the ads they show and the food they sell they’re asking themselves one simple question: Is this good for our kids?
And make no mistake about it — this is huge. That’s why I’m here. It’s huge. Just think about it. Just a few years ago if you had told me or any other mom or dad in America that our kids wouldn’t see a single ad for junk food while they watched their favorite cartoons on a major TV network, we wouldn’t have believed you because parents know better than anyone else just how effective and pervasive those advertisements have become — Bob mentioned it.
Our kids see an estimated $1.6 billion a year worth of food and beverage marketing, and many of those ads are for foods that are high in calories and sugar but low in nutrition. So our kids are constantly bombarded with sophisticated messages designed to sell them foods that simply aren’t good for them. And let me tell you, we know it works, right?
As parents, we know that whatever is on TV is what our kids are going to want. I remember, as Bob has discussed, going to the grocery store with the kids, and the minute you walk down the aisle the kids are singing some jingle, or they’re pulling on your leg begging you, pleading you for whatever they saw on TV. And as a mom, I know how that makes it even harder for us to keep our kids healthy.
So many parents are working so hard to serve their kids a balanced diet. We’re preparing those nutritious meals and snacks, and we’re doing our best to teach our kids healthy habits. But when the kids turn on the TV to watch their favorite shows and — all that hard work is undermined whenever there is a commercial break. I mean, it’s a constant battle, and it’s a tough one. And so many parents are left feeling like the deck is stacked against them.
And, truly, that’s really what today is all about. In fact, that’s what our entire Let’s Move initiative is about. It’s about empowering parents, because we know that government doesn’t have all the answers and there’s no one-size solution to this problem. This is about what all of us can do as moms and dads, as CEOs and school superintendents, as mayors and doctors, and, yes, even Mickey Mouse. It’s about all of us doing what we can with the tools we have to help parents make healthier choices for their kids.
And that’s why I am so thrilled about today’s announcements. I am thrilled that Disney is stepping forward in such a big way to stand alongside America’s parents. I am thrilled that they’re raising their nutrition standards and introducing the Mickey Check and making it easier for moms and dads to make those decisions.
And I’m thrilled that over the next couple of years, when our kids tune into their favorite shows on Disney channels or they log onto the Disney web site, they will no longer be bombarded with unhealthy messages during those commercial breaks. Instead, they will see ads for foods that we might actually want them to eat — ads that can reinforce healthy habits and teach kids very important lessons.
And as you heard from Bob and Leslie, Disney has been taking steps to help our kids lead healthier lives for many years. Their Magic of Healthy Living campaign is helping kids eat healthy, get active, and have fun while doing it. They’ve helped build playgrounds and community gardens in neighborhoods all across this country. And even earlier this year, they got me to do the platypus walk. (Laughter.) Yes, dancing with about 1,500 kids down in Disney World.
So we’re all willing to do our part. And leaders at Disney are doing all of this not just as parents and as grandparents who care about the health and well-being of their kids and the future of this nation, but, as Bob said, they’re also doing it as corporate leaders who care about the bottom line. And that’s a very important point to make.
They have listened to parents who are more and more concerned about what their kids are eating. They’ve seen the market shifting as folks are increasingly interested in buying healthier food, and they’ve seen the momentum building all across this country on behalf of our children’s health. And they’ve realized that what is good for our children can also be good business.
So I hope that businesses all across this country will understand this as well, and, even more importantly, I hope that parents will take notice when companies like Disney do the right thing for our kids. Because as parents, it isn’t enough to just ask for change. It’s not enough just to make the right choices for our kids. We also need to support those companies who are listening to us, because if we do that as parents and consumers, if we make a statement not just with our voices but also with our feet and with our wallets, then we will keep seeing the changes that we hope for. We will keep seeing more choices available for our kids.
We’re going to keep seeing more days like today, which is what we’re working for. And that is what is going to take us to the finish line and get us where we want to go on this issue. That’s what it’s going to take to ensure that our children can grow up healthy and reach their full potential.
And I say this all time — we know it won’t be easy, but everything that I have seen since we started Let’s Move gives me hope. Every day I am hearing from someone who wants to get involved — school districts revamping their menus; communities planting gardens; food companies reducing the sugar, salt and fat in their foods; nationwide chains building grocery stores in underserved communities; leaders from both parties in Congress coming together to fund healthy school lunches.
And more importantly, every day I am getting wonderful letters from kids who tell me about how they’re eating healthier — the same things that Bob is seeing in his research, I’m seeing it anecdotally. Kids telling me about how they’re getting more exercise and how they’re loving every minute of it. They want to be healthy. They’re excited about improving their lives. That is the change that all of us are making together. That’s why every day I am more hopeful. Every day I’m more confident than ever that we can get this done and we can give all of our kids the healthy futures they deserve.
So today, again, I want to once again thank Disney for taking this monumental step forward and setting the bar very high. And I look forward to standing with even more businesses and partners who support the health of America’s families in the months and years ahead. And I can’t wait to see the difference that it makes for our children and for our country.
So thank you all. Thank you, Bob. Congratulations and God bless. (Applause.)
Obama Administration Announces Clean Coal Research Awards for Universities Across the Country
Awards Latest Step by Administration to Leverage a Broad Range of Domestic Resources, Advancing Cheaper Technologies for Coal-Fired Energy Plants and Training the Next Generation of Clean Coal Scientists and Engineers
WASHINGTON, D.C.— As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above approach to American energy, the Energy Department announced that nine universities have won awards for research projects that will continue to support innovation and development of clean coal technologies. The awards, which will leverage student-led teams across the country as they continue research and development of new technologies and materials that will advance clean coal energy production, are part of the Administration’s focus on ensuring we can rely on a broad range of energy sources as we move towards a clean energy economy.
“Advancing the development of clean coal technologies is an important part of President Obama’s strategy to develop every source of American energy and ensure the United States leads the world in the global clean energy race and continues to take advantage of domestic resources here at home,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “These university research projects will help build on extensive progressive made by this Administration to promote innovative technologies that help make coal-fired energy cleaner and more cost-competitive, while training the next generation of scientists and engineers in cutting-edge clean coal technologies.”
The projects announced today at the nine universities will each receive approximately $300,000 to spur the next generation of trained scientists and engineers from universities across the nation to focus on the development of high-temperature, high-pressure corrosion-resistant alloys, protective coatings, and structural materials for advanced coal-fired power plants and gas turbines. Research projects will also develop new processes and computational design methods to develop these materials, improve efficiency and reduce the costs of cleaner power generation systems. The Energy Department’s $2.7 million investment will be leveraged with additional funds from the universities to support $3.1 million in total projects.
Today’s awards are part of a more than $5 billion investment strategy by the Obama Administration in clean coal technologies and R&D. This strategy, which has attracted over $10 billion in additional private capital investment, is designed to accelerate commercial deployment of clean coal technologies – particularly carbon capture and storage (CCS) – and to position the United States as a leader in the global clean energy race.
Thanks in part to this strategy, the United States is currently leading the world in CCS technologies. In fact, last week, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, in its semi-annual “Race to First” ranking of the world’s most advanced large‐scale carbon capture and storage demonstration projects, announced that the United States was in first place. Topping the list was a project led by Pennsylvania‐based Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. – an effort spurred by investments made by the Energy Department in 2010.
This announcement shows growing momentum for CCS in the U.S. For example, earlier this year, CPS Energy of San Antonio – the largest municipally owned utility in the United States – signed the first agreement in the country to purchase low-carbon power from a commercial-scale coal-based power plant with carbon capture. The Midland-Odessa- based project – the Texas Clean Energy Project – will be the cleanest coal power plant in the world when it becomes operational in 2015.
In addition, the Energy Department is leveraging investments in clean coal technologies to study and demonstrate ways to continue improving the economics of clean coal projects through enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects. With EOR, companies can use captured carbon to help develop marginal oil wells and further increase domestic oil production.
President Obama’s sustained all-out, all-of-the-above commitment to American energy also includes the safe and responsible production of our oil and natural gas alongside the development of clean, renewable American energy resources. Today, American oil production is at the highest level in eight years, and last year the U.S. relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years. And over the past few years, renewable energy use has nearly doubled, with the U.S. reclaiming the position as the world’s leading investor in clean energy in 2011.
The projects selected for awards include:
- · Brown University (Providence, R.I.)
- · Dartmouth College (Hanover, N.H.)
- · Indiana University, in partnership with Purdue University and Praxair Surface Technologies (Indianapolis, Ind.)
- · Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
- · Southern Illinois University (Carbondale, Ill.)
- · Texas Engineering Experiment Station (College Station, Texas)
- · University of North Texas (Denton, Texas), in partnership with University of Idaho (Moscow, Idaho)
- · University of Tennessee (Knoxville, Tenn.)
- · University of Toledo (Toledo, Ohio)
Complete project descriptions can be found HERE.
FACT SHEET: Helping Americans Manage Student Loan Debt with Improvements to Repayment Options
WASHINGTON, DC – In today’s economy, higher education is not a luxury – it’s an imperative that leads to better jobs and a strong middle class. The President believes in creating an economy built to last that gives every hard working student a fair shot at developing the skills they need to find a good job by attending college, university, community college, or job training programs. To help put the cost of higher education within reach for more Americans, the President has taken action to cap monthly payments on student loans for responsible graduates who make their payments on time. Tomorrow, the President will act again by issuing a Presidential Memorandum to the Secretaries of Education and the Treasury to streamline the process and improve information available to responsible borrowers about student loan repayment options.
The President has helped make higher education more affordable by extending Pell Grants to 3 million more students and signing a tax credit worth up to $10,000 to help middle class families cover the cost of tuition. However, prospects of high debt may discourage some potential students from enrolling at all and gaining the skills they need to compete in the global economy. Additionally, some graduates may choose to put off starting a new job-creating business or entering a teaching or another public service career because they feel held back by debt.
Over the past several years, the Administration has worked to improve repayment options available to responsible student loan borrowers. Since 2007, former students have been able to enroll in an “Income Based Repayment” (IBR) plan to cap their student loan payments at 15 percent of their current discretionary income if they make their payments on time. Legislation signed by President Obama in 2009 lowered this cap to 10% for borrowers beginning in 2014. In October, the President announced a “We Can’t Wait” executive action to make that lower cap available to more borrowers by the end of 2012, which will reduce monthly student loan payments for more than 1.6 million responsible student borrowers.
Despite these opportunities and policy improvements to help graduates make their monthly payments, too few responsible borrowers are aware of their repayment options. Even among borrowers who are aware of their options, too many have had difficulties navigating and completing the application process. For many, the most significant challenge in completing the application has been the income-verification process, which, until recently, required borrowers to provide a signed copy of their income tax return. Although the Department of Education has recently removed some of the hurdles to completing the process, too many borrowers are still struggling to access this important repayment option due to difficulty in applying. That is why tomorrow’s Presidential Memorandum:
- · Streamlines the IBR Application Process: The Department of Education, in collaboration with the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service, will create a streamlined online application process for IBR that allows student loan borrowers with federally held loans to import their IRS tax return income data directly into the IBR application. This process will allow income information to be seamlessly transmitted so that borrowers can complete the application at one sitting. Federal direct student loan borrowers will no longer be required to contact their loan servicer as the first step to apply.
- · Enhances Online and Mobile Resources for Loan Repayment Options and Debt Management: The Department of Education will create integrated online and mobile resources for students and former students to use in learning about Federal student aid, including an explanation of the various options to cap monthly payments based on income. The Department will also develop and make available to borrowers an online tool to help students make better financial decisions, including understanding their loan debt and its impact on their everyday lives. This tool would incorporate key elements of best practices in financial literacy and link to students’ actual Federal loan data to help them understand their individual circumstances and options for repayment.
- · Increases Awareness of IBR: The Department of Education will instruct Federal direct student loan servicers to make borrowers aware of the option to participate in IBR before a student leaves school and upon entering repayment. The Department of Education will make available for institutions of higher education a model exit counseling module that will enable students to understand their repayment options before leaving school and to choose a repayment plan for their student loans that best meets their needs.
The President will direct Secretary Duncan, and Commissioner Shulman to implement the first two improvements in the coming months (enhancing online and mobile content by mid-July, and streamlining the application with IRS data by the end of September). The model exit loan counseling tool will be available by this time next year.
We Can’t Wait: The White House Announces Federal and Private Sector Commitments to Provide Employment Opportunities for Nearly 180,000 Youth
We Can’t Wait: The White House Announces Federal and Private Sector Commitments to Provide Employment Opportunities for Nearly 180,000 Youth
Today, the White House announced Summer Jobs+, a new call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012. The President proposed $1.5 billion for high-impact summer jobs and year-round employment for low-income youth ages 16-24 in the American Jobs Act as part of the Pathways Back to Work fund. When Congress failed to act, the Federal government and private sector came together to commit to creating nearly 180,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth in the summer of 2012, with a goal of reaching 250,000 employment opportunities by the start of summer, at least 100,000 of which will be placements in paid jobs and internships. Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of executive actions the Obama Administration is taking to strengthen the economy and move the country forward because we can’t wait for Congress to act.
“America’s young people face record unemployment, and we need to do everything we can to make sure they’ve got the opportunity to earn the skills and a work ethic that come with a job. It’s important for their future, and for America’s. That’s why I proposed a summer jobs program for youth in the American Jobs Act – a plan that Congress failed to pass. America’s youth can’t wait for Congress to act. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment. That’s why today, we’re launching Summer Jobs+, a joint initiative that challenges business leaders and communities to join my Administration in providing hundreds of thousands of summer jobs for America’s youth,” said President Obama.
“While young people who are currently disconnected from school or work are not contributing to our economy, we see these young people as ‘Opportunity Youth’ – because of the untapped potential they bring to the Nation. Today, the White House challenged all sectors to go all-in and work together in creating pathways to youth employment. Summer jobs are an important step – and to stay on the path to success, Opportunity Youth need social supports and access to relevant education, mentoring and training. This spring, the White House Council for Community Solutions will participate in community discussions nationwide to learn from best efforts by youth, families, government, business, educators, and nonprofits to connect young people to meaningful career opportunities,” said Patty Stonesifer, Chair of the White House Council for Community Solutions (WHCCS).
The Administration also announced its intention to launch, within 60 days, the Summer Jobs+ Bank, a one-stop search tool for youth to access postings for any participating employers seeking to reach them where they are online. The search tool builds upon an open standard, theJobPosting schema endorsed by schema.org in November, 2011 in support of the Veterans Jobs Bank, and will include technical and promotional support by Google, Internships.com, AfterCollege, LinkedIn and Facebook. Today the Corporation for National and Community Service released a new toolkit created in collaboration with the WHCCS and employers to support businesses and communities in their efforts to help young people become productive citizens and connect to greater opportunities, both of which are critical for the long-term strength and competiveness of the Nation.
Today’s announcements build on previous commitments from the Obama Administration to support summer youth employment. In 2009 and 2010, communities across the country used Recovery Act funds to directly support summer work opportunities for over 367,000 young people. In the summer of 2011, the Department of Labor brought together private sector commitments to employ over 80,000 youth.
A new analysis released today by the WHCCS showed that in 2011 alone, taxpayers shouldered more than $93 billion in direct costs and lost tax revenue to support young adults disconnected from school and work. Over the lifetime of these young people, taxpayers will assume a $1.6 trillion burden to meet the increased needs and lost revenue from this group. Read the full analysis here.
Businesses, non-profits and government can accept the President’s call-to-action by directly hiring youth as well as providing corporate mentorship experiences, internship, and other opportunities that connect young people to jobs. The three key ways organizations can engage are:
- · Learn and Earn: Provide youth jobs for the summer of 2012 in the form of paid internships and/or permanent positions that provide on-the-job training. Of the roughly 180,000 job commitments announced today more than 70,000 are Learn and Earn commitments.
- · Life Skills: Provide youth work-related soft skills, such as communication, time management and teamwork, through coursework and/or experience. This includes resume writing or interview workshops and mentorship programs.
- · Work Skills: Provide youth insight into the world of work to prepare for employment. This includes job shadow days and internships. More information about this initiative can be found at dol.gov/summerjobs
As the nation continues to recover from the deepest recession since the Great Depression, American youth are struggling to get the work experience they need for jobs of the future. According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (Current Population Survey):
- · 48.8 percent of youth between the ages of 16-24 were employed in July, the month when youth employment usually peaks. This is significantly lower than the 59.2 percent of youth who were employed five years ago and 63.3 percent of youth who were employed 10 years ago.
- · Minority youth had an especially difficult time finding employment this past summer. Only 34.6 percent of African American youth and 42.9 percent of Hispanic youth had a job this past July.
In addition to the organizations making commitments for the summer of 2012, the Department of Labor will honor UPS, We Are Golf, Wells Fargo, and Jamba Juice for their strong participation in their 2011 summer jobs effort and the Corporation for National and Community Service will honor Bank of America, State Street, Viacom, Deloitte, and JP Morgan for their leadership in corporate mentoring over the past year.
Commitments Announced Include:
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is committed to improving employment outcomes for the many people with disabilities who are ready, willing, and able to work. The AAPD Summer Internship Program will provide 30 young people with disabilities the opportunity to engage in ten weeks of public service through paid internships on Capitol Hill, in federal agencies, nonprofits, and for-profit businesses.
AT&T is committed to providing nearly 350 summer jobs in 2012 through a variety of summer job initiatives. These opportunities help students, from high school to recent college graduates, develop skills and gain insight while preparing them to more successfully enter the job market. Examples of AT&T summer opportunities for college students include leadership development internships on the fields on finance, retail, IT and engineering, as well as participation in college internship initiatives with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Leadership Program. In addition to these unique opportunities, AT&T will also provide high school students the opportunity to experience the world of work through the Mayor’s Interns Fellows Program in Newark, NJ. Also in 2012, AT&T will reach their initial goal of providing 100,000 high school students the opportunity to learn more about career options and what it takes to be successful in today’s workforce through the AT&T/JA Worldwide Job Shadow Initiative.
Bank of America, as part of its broader three-year $50 million goal to support education and workforce development opportunities for underserved populations, will continue to invest significantly in youth and young adults in 2012, including 1,500 paid internships at the company and local nonprofits as well as job placement programs, in conjunction with more than 80,000 hours from employee volunteers. Recognizing the value of mentoring to help make opportunities possible for young people, Bank of America served as the primary sponsor of the National Mentoring Partnership’s 2011 National Mentoring Summit, at which the Corporate Mentoring Challenge was launched. In 2011, Bank of America invested more than $15 million, and its employees volunteered more than 75,000 hours to help youth and young adults attain life and work skills to propel them towards long-term success.
Baxter International Inc. pledges to support Summer Jobs+ by expanding their education initiative, Science@Work. As an extension of Science@Work – a multiyear commitment to support teacher training and student development in healthcare and biotechnology through a partnership with Chicago Public Schools – Baxter will reach 300-500 students. These students will participate in a variety of programs: the Career Training Program, in which Baxter professionals will assist students with career planning, soft skill development and interviewing skills; the 2012 Summer Job Shadowing program, in which students will participate in a unique shadowing experience with young Baxter professionals; and through Science @Work Community of Support, in which students will participate in an on-going relationship management program that provides counsel and professional support during college careers.
Bender Consulting Services, Inc. is committed to investing in youth who are living with disabilities, to support the development of life and work skills required by private and public sector employers. Partnering with local high-schools in Pittsburgh, PA and Newark, DE, Bender Consulting, through the year-long Bender Leadership Academy Program will train 60 high-school students with disabilities, many who are low-income, about how to be successful in the world of work. Four students who complete this program will work on a short-term paid summer internship in Bender Consulting’s offices in Pittsburgh, PA. Bender Consulting will also provide two to four, 12 week summer HR internships to low income youth, including youth with disabilities.
The Camber Corporation provides young people with real-life work experience, opportunities to enhance their professional skillsets, and mentorship from their qualified employees during paid internships. In 2011, 25% of their graduated interns were hired as full-time Camber employees to serve in the areas of accounting, engineering, and human resources. In 2012, Camber plans to offer 8 internship opportunities.
CenturyLink has had summer internship programs for more than 25 years and looks forward to participating in Summer Jobs+ in 2012. CenturyLink believe that one of its strengths is the diversity of its people, and they are committed to fostering diversity among the 50 summer jobs they will hire this year.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has made a commitment to provide approximately 4,000 disadvantaged youth with national service opportunities through AmeriCorps programs operating in the summer of 2012. The AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate Program, funded in part through private sector commitments, will place youth in communities across the country to address poverty and hunger. In addition, AmeriCorps State and National programs will engage youth in education and conservation projects, and the AmeriCorps NCCC Summer of Service program is designed to introduce teenagers, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to national service and to foster in them such values as teamwork, responsibility, and the ethic of serving one’s community. These stipended service opportunities train youth in the life and work skills, such as teamwork, problem solving, and leadership, that are critical for success in the labor market, while engaging in activities that tackle tough societal challenges.
CVS Caremark is committing to hire over 20,000 youth between the ages of 16 and 24 in 2012. Many of the new employees will occupy part-time and full-time positions such as pharmacy service associates, technicians, cashiers and interns in a variety of corporate functions.
Deloitte helps American high school students prepare for college and careers through its Their Future Is Our Future program. As part of this program, 500,000 students have experienced the Life Inc. career exploration curriculum and Deloitte is committed to serve tens of thousands of students in 2012. Through a series of lessons, self-discovery techniques, and virtual role models tailored for youth in middle and high school, Life, Inc. introduces students to various career possibilities and helps them determine what kind of educational experiences they will need in order to pursue them. The program includes a website, career guide, teacher’s guide and student journal, which features seven lessons that are delivered by teachers in schools and after school youth programs. Additionally, through deep relationships with national nonprofits that lead on education including MENTOR, United Way, College Summit and City Year, Deloitte contributes cash, pro bono service and the time of one-on-one mentors to help young people pursue the education and skills they need to succeed in the 21st century.
The Department of Agriculture has made a commitment to provide approximately 7,100 youth with the opportunity to gain valuable work experience during the summer of 2012 by working with various USDA Mission Areas and Agencies throughout the country. The USDA provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sounds public policy, the best available science, and efficient management. USDA is committed to forming a pipeline of talented youth who will be our future leaders by giving them the opportunity for hands-on work experience in a variety of science, technology, engineering, math, administrative, management, agribusiness and industry positions.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will commit to supporting 324 summer jobs for low-income youth in 2012. HHS offices will be supporting paid summer jobs as well as other employment enhancement opportunities. The Office of Human Resources’ Strategic Programs Division (SPD) will host at least two classes in the “Life Skills” pathway to support 120 youth. These classes will have up to 50 participants each and will focus on work-related soft skills, such as communication, time management, and teamwork. Additionally, SPD will allow for 20 students to participate in the “Work Skills” pathway. These 20 students will shadow SPD employees for the day to offer insight into the federal workplace and to prepare them for employment.
The Department of the Interior has committed to providing approximately 12,000 young Americans with work opportunities in the summer of 2012 on public lands, tribal lands, national parks, wildlife refuges, and environmental restoration projects nationwide. Interior has increased the number of summer job opportunities it offers for young people under the Obama administration by 30 percent – helping more people from all walks of life to enjoy the great outdoors, and to pursue work opportunities and careers in the stewardship of America’s natural, cultural, and historic resources as part of the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
The DirectEmployers Association is a nonprofit HR consortium of leading global employers formed to improve labor market efficiency through the sharing of best practices, research and the development of technology. They are committed to hiring 5 youths this summer in the Indianapolis area to provide opportunities to learn the skills needed to be successful in the workforce as well as to encourage and motivate them to continue with their education.
Discovery Communications provides multiple avenues for young people to discover a summer job and a lasting career. Through the Discover Your Skills campaign youth can learn about exciting career opportunities in skilled trades and critical growth areas like manufacturing, health care, energy, technology, construction and other industries. A partnership with Montgomery College provides community college students with the skills they need to take advantage of available job opportunities. In addition, Discovery’s robust internship program will provide nearly 300 college students career opportunities in a variety of fields in 2012.
Easter Seals will be working to create summer opportunities for three young people with disabilities and will be disseminating information about the Summer Jobs+ initiative throughout their nationwide network of affiliates. These positions will be in the “learn and earn” category of the initiative. While working for Easter Seals, young people will have the opportunity to learn various aspects of nonprofit management including marketing and corporate relations, public policy, program management, development and more.
Expeditors, through its Opportunity Knocks program, recruits and supports disconnected youth so they can get training in a professional environment that can be leveraged for future success. Since starting the program in 2008, Expeditors has helped 25 disconnected youth in six offices throughout the United States and is committed to adding 75 positions in another twenty offices in 2012 to bring the total participation to 100 youth.
Gap Inc. is supporting 80,000 youth in 2012 through a variety of programs, which include connecting youth to employment through the development of relevant life skills and work ready skills, as well as providing on-the-job training through learn and earn experiences.
General Dynamics C4 Systems is committed to hiring 40 young people during the summer of 2012 and is partnering with Sentinels of Freedom, Wounded Warriors, Diversity Careers, SWE, SHPE, NSBE and WOC to support hiring needs nationwide.
Goodwill Industries International is proud to be one of the first organizations to support the Summer Jobs+ program. Through Goodwill’s unique social enterprise business model, it creates employment and job training. This year, the organization will expand services for youth at the beginning their careers. Goodwill is committed to hiring 1,200 youth ages 16 to 24, provide more than 3,200 youth with life skills services and over 2,300 with work skills services. Almost 2,000 youth will be engaged in learn and earn services. Thousands more youth will be provided virtual career mentoring and exploration services.
H-E-B has committed to expand their summer jobs program by 19 percent. In the summer of 2012, 5,171 16-24 year olds will be hired to work at H-E-B.
J.B. Hunt Transport is focused on providing opportunities for young people to experience a professional working environment, particularly those in the Hispanic community in Arkansas. Through a partnership with ALPFA, the company reaches out to local high school students and helps raise awareness of opportunities in business, and provides mentors for college students. For 2012, J.B. Hunt is increasing the number of summer positions at headquarters to 20, and expanding college internships at our field locations throughout the United States.
Jamba Juice has made a significant commitment to training and hiring young people and will pledge to hire at least 2,500 youth in the summer of 2012. Jamba Juice has a successful summer in 2011 when the company hired nearly 2,700 youth for summer work — 200 more than their pledge made as part of the “Summer Jobs USA: Make a Commitment” initiative. Additionally, Jamba Juice also recently launched a new internship program for Job Corps students.
JPMorgan Chase has been a leader in supporting “Learn and Earn” and “career and skill development” programs in cities all across the country for decades. During the 2011 Corporate Mentoring Challenge, JPMorgan Chase was inspired to step up in a leadership role – by funding and launching the Illinois Mentoring Partnership, introducing other potential funders and connecting non-profit organizations, who deliver the programs. In Chicago, JPMorgan Chase also has supported, since its creation 20 years ago, After School Matters, a program that helps teens discover and nurture their talents and aspirations for future successes. The bank’s support in 2012 will provide 1,300 teens with hands-on, project-based programs to learn about rewarding careers and to help develop marketable job skills.
LinkedIn has committed to offer 200 internships in the summer of 2012. Additionally, LinkedIn is committed to adopting the JobPosting schema and letting any company post their summer internship jobs (or entry level jobs) on the LinkedIn website at no cost.
ManpowerGroup is proud to support summer jobs through a direct commitment of 20 jobs at our global headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and at Manpower branch offices across the nation. Through its work with local Workforce Investment Boards and One-Stop Career Centers, Manpower supports employment opportunities for thousands of people touched by the public workforce system.
Operation HOPE, as part of the Gallup-HOPE Index Cities Initiative, commits to secure 20 businesses and place 500 youth through youth business internships, mentorships, shadow days or actual small business or entrepreneurship start-ups. Through the Gallup-HOPE Index Cities initiative, Operation HOPE, in partnership with Gallup intend to create a new youth entrepreneurial and business class in America, along with a new culture of progressive business mentoring by Corporate America.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) maintains a strong focus on providing learning and work opportunities for youth in the United States. Through its host of early-identification programs and a robust internship program designed for undergraduate students, PwC seeks to provide students the learning, coaching, and training opportunities and professional relationships they need to develop professionally and personally, while also learning about unique opportunities in a career in professional services. For the summer of 2012, PwC is committed to hiring 1,500 youth across the country.
The SI Organization will hire more than 100 young people in 2012 for full-time entry-level and internship/co-op positions focused on engineering and integration services in the U.S. Intelligence Community, Department of Defense and other agencies.
Starbucks Coffee Company is supporting more than 25,000 youth this summer through a variety of programs. The company will work with local nonprofits and others to engage 20,000 young people in life skills and job readiness development. This commitment is in alignment with our Youth Action Grants programs, supporting young people to address critical issues in their communities. Starbucks supports nonprofit organizations to give young people the skills and resources to be catalysts for change through community service. One example of an organization Starbucks supports is Generation On in multiple cities across the US; this is a program of Hands On Network. Starbucks plans to work closely with its grant recipients to maximize the life skills training and service opportunities and to increase their outreach to underserved youth. The company will also provide hands-on and learn and earn experiences for 5,000 young people working at Starbucks.
State Street Corporation is committed to providing workforce development and education opportunities to approximately 1,000 youth each summer in cities including Boston, New York, Kansas City, and Sacramento among others. The company supports a continuum of meaningful job opportunities starting with funding subsidized wage placements in community-based organizations for first-time job experiences, as well as placements in professional positions at State Street for those who have developed basic employability skills and are ready for more responsibility.
Syracuse University will provide 200 jobs to college-aged students working in the Say Yes to Education Syracuse’s Summer Camp for academic enrichment and youth leadership. Syracuse University will also provide 50 positions to 16-21 year olds in a SU partnership with CNY Works on a Summer Youth Initiative.
The McGraw-Hill Companies is committed to growing its 12-week paid summer internship program which employs youth across all of their businesses to 260 summer internships for 2012. In 2011, McGraw-Hill employed over 250 Summer Interns and roughly 10% of last year’s interns were offered full-time positions after graduation.
UPS, the global leader in logistics, is continuing its commitment to summer jobs and will offer 1,500 employment opportunities to youth across the country in 2012. Most opportunities qualify for employment benefits and UPS’ educational assistance program which can pay up to $3,000 a year for educational benefits.
Viacom has committed to provide internship and mentorship programs to connect youth to employment opportunities. Through their Summer Associates Program, VIACOM will provide 10 recent college graduates young people a 10 week paid training program in the summer 2012 fostering professional and personal development and unlocking the doors to valuable real-world experience. Through their partnership with POSSE’s Career Program, Viacom will provide 30 college students high school students with a paid internship. In addition, mentoring initiatives such as Viacom’s national mentoring program Get Connected, created with the Get Schooled Foundation, will assist students through meaningful connections with adults with the ultimate goal of helping to keep them in school and realize their true potential.
WE ARE GOLF is a national not-for-profit organization formed to tell the story of the nearly 2 million hardworking men and women who make golf a great sport and whose livelihoods depend on it. Golf courses across the country are building on their 2011 commitment of 2,700 summer jobs and WE ARE GOLF is bringing far more golf courses to this initiative in 2012 to offer tens of thousands more jobs to young people.
Wells Fargo has made an ongoing and significant commitment to its communities, including opportunities for summertime work, networking and training for young people. In the summer of 2012, Wells Fargo will support 1,000 employment opportunities for youth.
Along with significant commitments from across the business sector, national organizations are answering the President’s challenge. United Way Worldwide will work with local chapters in approximately 30 cities and regions to host a series of Community Conversations, where local leaders will join with ordinary citizens to map out what they can do to pull together the support needed to create opportunity and pathways for young adults.
PRESIDENT OBAMA ON REFORMING HEAD START: “It Is Absolutely Imperative That We Make Sure The United States is the Place Where We’ve Got the Best-Trained, Best-Educated Young People”
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON HEAD START
Yeadon Regional Head Start Center
11:43 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody, please have a seat. It is great to be in Yeadon, great to be in the Philly area. I was told not to mention football at all. (Laughter.) So I’m not going to say anything about football while I’m here, because I know this is a sensitive subject. (Laughter.) This is why I have Secret Service along. (Laughter.)
Now, I want to start by acknowledging some of the folks who are with me here today. First of all, I want to thank one of our finest public servants in this country, and she’s just a great friend, but somebody who cares passionately about the health and the welfare of our kids and our families — Kathleen Sebelius, our Secretary of Health and Human Services. (Applause.) I want to acknowledge the Mayor of Yeadon — Dolores Jones-Butler is in the house. (Applause.) Two of my favorite members of Congress, Chaka Fattah and Bob Brady. (Applause.) And one of my favorite former members of Congress who I think is going to be doing big things here in Pennsylvania is here as well — I guess I can’t call you Congressman, huh? (Laughter.) That’s all right? The — Congressman Murphy. (Applause.)
I had a chance to say hello to Mayor Nutter when I landed in Philly. He couldn’t be with us this morning — I guess there are a few things going on here today. (Laughter.) But I wished him well. He’s a great partner of ours.
And I also want to say thank you to Ms. Pleasantte, Dr. O’Shea — (applause) — all the staff and the teachers who are here. They are just doing a great job. (Applause.)
I had a chance to visit one of the classrooms here. And I have to say, it got me a little choked up, because — Patrick, you need to remember this. Patrick has got small kids. And they are just so huggable at this age. (Laughter.) And now — they’re still huggable, but they’re a little — they’re 5’9” and five feet. (Laughter.) But obviously you got a lot to handle when you’re here.
And the teachers, the staff who are here, they wouldn’t be doing this for the money. They’re doing it out of love of children. All of you do it because you know that when it comes to learning and when it comes to growing, this is an absolutely critical period in a child’s life. We know that three- and four-year-olds who go to high-quality preschools — including our best Head Start programs — are less likely to repeat a grade; they’re less likely to need special education; they’re more likely to graduate from high school than the peers who did not get these services. And so this makes early education one of our best investments in America’s future. One of the best. (Applause.)
Right out of the gate, it helps prepare our kids for a competition that’s never been tougher — a competition for good middle-class, well-paying jobs. And we’re competing now with countries like China and South Korea and Europe, all of which are serious about educating their children. So at a time when a company is able to move anywhere they want in the world — and a lot of times will make the decision based on where they can find the most highly skilled workforce — it is absolutely imperative that we make sure the United States is the place where we’ve got the best-trained, best-educated young people. That is a priority. (Applause.)
And this is not, and should not be, a Democratic priority or a Republican priority. This is an American priority. (Applause.) It’s an economic imperative. Our future depends on it. And people understand this outside of Washington, which is why we’ve been able to work with Democratic and Republican governors on our efforts to strengthen education from cradle to career. Not only with more money — money is important — but also with reforms that challenge schools to develop higher standards and the best practices for teaching and for learning.
Now, unfortunately, in Congress right now, it’s a different story. The Republicans in Washington have been trying to gut our investments in education. Earlier this year, nearly every Republican in the House voted for a budget that would have cut hundreds of thousands of children from Head Start. They’ve tried to cut Pell Grants for college students. They just voted against a jobs bill that would have put 400,000 teachers back in the classroom.
Their argument is that we don’t have the money. And what I’ve said is we can make these investments in our children without adding to the deficit simply by asking people who make more than a million dollars a year to pay a little more in taxes — not right now, but starting in 2013. It’s the right thing to do for our kids. It’s the right thing to do for our country. But so far they’ve said no.
It’s not just on issues, by the way, that cost money. So far, Congress has failed to move on fixing No Child Left Behind, despite the fact that we’ve shown them bipartisan reforms that are working in states right now — reforms that are praised not only by Democrats but also by Republicans. So after trying for months to work with Congress on education, we decided to take matters into our own hands, because our future is at stake. Our children deserve action. And we can’t wait for Congress any longer.
We can’t wait to make sure that our schools give every child the chance to compete with young people from around the world. So in September, I announced that if states exceed the high standards set by No Child Left Behind, then they’ve got the flexibility to build on the reforms that they’ve already made. We can’t wait to help more young people get to college. So two weeks ago, I announced changes that will lower student loan payments by hundreds of dollars a month for around 1.6 million Americans. (Applause.)
We can’t wait to give more of our youngest children the same basic opportunities we want all children to have, that we want for our children. And that’s why today, I’m announcing a new rule that will improve the quality of Head Start programs around the country. (Applause.)
Now, I firmly believe that Head Start is an outstanding program and a critical investment. The children who have the chance to go to the best Head Start programs have an experience that can literally change their lives for years to come. We’re making today’s announcement because we believe that every child in Head Start deserves that same chance.
Now, under the old rules governing Head Start, there just wasn’t enough accountability. If a program wasn’t providing kids with quality services, there was no incentive to improve. Under the new rule, programs are going to be regularly evaluated against a set of clear, high standards. If a program meets these standards — and we believe the majority of Head Start programs will — then their grants will be renewed. But if a program isn’t giving children the support they need to be ready for school, if classrooms are unsafe, if finances aren’t in order, if kids aren’t learning what they need to learn, then other organizations will be able compete for that grant. We’re not just going to put money into programs that don’t work. We will take money and put them into programs that do. (Applause.)
If a group is going to do a better job for the community, then they need that support. If a group would do a better job serving the kids in our communities, then they’re going to have that chance.
Now, this is the first time in history that Head Start programs will be truly held accountable for performance in the classroom, and we know that raising the bar isn’t always an easy thing to do. But it’s the right thing to do. Children in Head Start deserve the best services we have to offer, and we know that Head Start programs can meet this challenge.
So because of this rule, and the other executive actions that we’ve taken to improve our education system, more children will have the chance to study hard, do well in school, graduate on time, go to college without crushing debt. More Americans will grow up to be scientists and innovators and engineers and entrepreneurs. More businesses will be able to find skilled workers.
Of course, there’s no substitute for Congress doing its job. And I have to say these two congressmen are doing their job. (Applause.) But they need some help. Congress still needs to fix No Child Left Behind. Congress still needs to put teachers back in the classroom where they belong. (Applause.)
So Congress still needs to act. But if Congress continues to stand only for dysfunction and delay, then I’m going to move ahead without them. (Applause.) I told my administration, I want you to keep on looking for actions that we can take without Congress –- steps that can save consumers money, make government more efficient and responsive, help heal the economy, improve our education system, improve our health care system. We want to work with Congress, but we’re not going to wait.
I think this is the right thing to do, not just as a President, but I think this is the right thing to do as a parent. Because I know there are some things I cannot guarantee my kids. But I can make sure — I can do my best to make certain that they get a chance to succeed or fail on their own merits, just like I did. I can do everything in my power to ensure that their children grow up in a country where anything is possible, as long as you’re willing to work for it.
That’s what my mom and my grandparents wanted for me. It’s what I want for my children. It’s the promise that every generation has made to those who came after.
We can’t be the first generation of Americans to break that promise. So we’ve got to prove that we are tougher than the times that we live in and that we’re bigger than the politics of the moment. We’ve got to meet the challenges today by preparing our children for the challenges tomorrow.
That’s what’s being done at this wonderful facility. We want to replicate these all across the country. We are proud of what you are doing. You’ve got a President who’s got your back
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless the United States of America.
We Can’t Wait: President Obama Takes Action to Improve Quality and Promote Accountability in Head Start Programs
We Can’t Wait: President Obama Takes Action to Improve Quality and Promote Accountability in Head Start Programs
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the President will announce important steps to improve the quality of services and accountability at Head Start centers across the country. The Department of Health and Human Services will implement new rules that will – for the first time – require all low-performing Head Start grantees that fail to meet a new set of rigorous benchmarks to re-compete for continued federal funding.
This reform will help direct taxpayer dollars to programs that provide high-quality Head Start services and ensure Head Start programs provide the best available early education services to children in every community. Today’s announcement is part of a series of actions President Obama has taken because America’s children only get one chance and can’t wait for help getting a world-class education.
“We can’t wait to give more of our youngest children the same basic opportunities we all want for our kids. That’s why today, I’m announcing a new rule that will increase the quality of Head Start programs around the country,” President Obama said. “After trying for months to work with Congress on education, we’ve decided to take matters into our own hands. Our future is at stake. Our children deserve action. And we can’t wait for Congress any longer.”
“With this new rule we are introducing unprecedented accountability in the Head Start program,” said U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. “Head Start has a critical mission – to help children from low-income families achieve their full potential and, in turn, help our country build tomorrow’s workforce. It is a top priority for the Obama Administration to ensure that the program fulfills that mission by holding programs to high standards for classroom quality and program integrity. We owe Head Start children the highest quality services available to prepare them for school and for life.”
Head Start provides grants to local organizations to provide comprehensive child development services to low-income children and families. Today, there are nearly1,600 Head Start and Early Head Start grantees across the country providing early learning services to nearly one million of our nation’s most vulnerable infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
This reform in Head Start builds on bipartisan policies enacted in the most recent revision of the Head Start legislation in 2007. The rules were crafted by the Obama Administration with extensive input from a national advisory committee, parents, educators, child development experts and the public. The new quality benchmarks are transparent, research-based, and include standards for health and safety, and fiscal integrity. They will measure Head Start classroom quality based on a rigorous, validated evaluation tool to determine which programs are – and are not – providing high-quality services.
Over the next three years, the Department of Health and Human Services will review the performance and program quality of all Head Start grantees. Those that don’t meet the quality benchmarks will be required to compete for continued funding.
The new benchmarks mandate that any low-performing Head Start grantee will have to compete for funding if they have deficiencies discovered in their onsite review, fail to establish and use school-readiness goals for children, or demonstrate low performance in the classroom quality evaluation. In addition, grantees will also be required to compete for federal funding if their state and local licensing has been revoked, a Head Start grant has been suspended or if fiscal or management issues prevent them from properly manage federal funds.
Based on analysis of current program performance data, it is estimated that one-third of all grantees will be required to re-compete for continued funding under this new rule. HHS will notify the first group of Head Start grantees that will be required to compete for continued funding in December 2011.
Going forward, all Head Start grants will be converted to five-year grants and each program’s performance and quality will be evaluated every five years to determine whether the grantee meets the benchmarks or must compete to receive another grant.
Head Start is administered by the Office of Head Start in the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Strengthening Head Start
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Obama invested $2.1 billion in Head Start and Early Head Start, expanding these programs to reach an additional 61,000 children and families. The President has also made reform of the Head Start program a high priority, and has committed to ensuring that every Head Start center provides a high-quality environment. While the majority of Head Start programs provide quality services to children and families, we need to ensure that children receive the full support needed to begin school ready for success.
Head Start is widely recognized for its comprehensive approach – programs promote early literacy and numeracy, while supporting good nutrition habits, physical activity, and positive social and emotional development. The rule announced today is an essential part of the Obama Administration’s strategy to strengthen Head Start and to raise the bar on quality, particularly for lower performing programs.
The Obama Administration has taken additional steps to improve quality in Head Start programs, including:
- Evaluating Teacher-Child Interactions in Head Start Classrooms. Head Start program serving preschoolers have been evaluated using the CLASS: Pre-K tool since 2009. This assessment is not only important for identifying programs for competition; it is designed to be used by programs to identify areas in need of improvement so they can target their efforts where they are most needed. Rigorous research has shown that the CLASS: Pre-K is linked to important child outcomes, such as academic achievement and behavior.
- Improved Training and Assistance in Head Start Programs. The Obama Administration’s new network of evidence-based training will prepare Head Start classrooms around the country to undertake continuous improvements in their program. Those who participate in these services can improve their programs so they are less likely to meet the criteria for competition.
- Head Start Centers of Excellence. Twenty centers have been selected by the Obama Administration for distinction as a Head Start Center of Excellence, based on the quality of their program. These Head Start Centers are producing positive, measurable outcomes related to school readiness for children; supporting families; and increasing staff competence. Information about their approaches and models of service will be disseminated to other Head Start and early childhood programs across the country to guide other grantees on a path to excellence.
- Mentorship Across Head Start Programs. More than 125 grantees were selected for a 17 month pilot that pairs Head Start programs with mentors who have the expertise to help them improve the quality of their programs. Selected grantees have proposed a variety of models that include on-site mentoring and distance mentoring through the use of technology.
Promoting School Readiness for America’s Children
The years prior to kindergarten are among the most significant in shaping a child’s foundation for learning and school success. Today’s announcement builds on a comprehensive early learning agenda to help provide the support needed for children to succeed in school and in life:
- · President Obama’s Race to the Top: Early Learning Challenge is a first-of-its-kind competition that will provide $500 million to winning states to bring innovation and quality improvement to all early learning programs, including Head Start, public pre-K, child care, and private preschools to close the achievement gap between low-income children and their peers. The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge focuses on outcomes and results in early learning, challenging governors to develop new approaches to raising the bar across state early learning settings to adopt rigorous standards across programs; undertake efforts to improve the early education workforce; and ensure that more children enter kindergarten ready for success.
- · President Obama’s call to strengthen our nation’s child care providers was presented in the FY 2012 budget, including principles for reauthorization of the child care subsidy system which serves 1.6 million low-income children and families each month. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act invested $2 billion in the Child Care and Development Fund, to support child care assistance and quality improvements. The Administration is working with State partners to raise the level of quality in child care programs by developing systems that set standards for quality, provide parents with information about the quality of child care programs, and provide pathways for providers to meet higher standards.
- · The Affordable Care Act provided $1.5 billion over 5 years in funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, which relies on evidence-based home visiting strategies that help families create a nurturing environment for young children. President Obama recognizes the importance of promoting healthy development and improving maternal and child health outcomes in the early years. This program connects families to a range of services – including health, early education, early intervention and more – in order to better ensure that children are healthy and prepared for school and life. Effective home visiting programs can have powerful positive impacts on maternal and child health, child maltreatment, parenting skills, children’s cognitive, language, and social-emotional development, and school readiness.
Readout of the President’s Cabinet Meeting
The President’s meeting with his Cabinet this morning began with an update on several national security issues including the ongoing events in Egypt as well as Afghanistan and Iraq. With regard to Egypt, Secretary Clinton discussed our focus on opposing violence and calling for restraint; supporting universal rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, association, and speech; and supporting an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people. With regard to homeland security, Secretary Napolitano provided an update on the federal government’s efforts to prepare for serious winter storms affecting a large portion of the country.
The President discussed his plan for tapping into the creativity and imagination of the American people to win the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the rest of the world. In stressing the need for greater investments in initiatives that foster innovation and competitiveness, the President also discussed the tough choices that will be reflected in 2012 Budget, which will provide a responsible 10-year path for reining in the deficit. Beyond simply reducing government spending, the President emphasized the need to reform and reorganize the government so it operates smarter and more efficiently.
Statement from White House Drug Policy Director on Synthetic Stimulants, a.k.a “Bath Salts”
Washington, D.C. – Today, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, released the following statement following recent reports indicating the emerging threat of synthetic stimulants, including MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) and mephedrone. These stimulants are often sold and marketed in stores as “bath salts” under names such as “Ivory Wave” or “Purple Wave.”
“I am deeply concerned about the distribution, sale, and use of synthetic stimulants – especially those that are marketed as legal substances. Although we lack sufficient data to understand exactly how prevalent the use of these stimulants are, we know they pose a serious threat to the health and well-being of young people and anyone who may use them. At a time when drug use in America is increasing, the marketing and sale of these poisons as “bath salts” is both unacceptable and dangerous. As public health officials work to address this emerging threat, I ask that parents and other adult influencers act immediately to discuss with young people the severe harm that can be caused by the use of both legal and illegal drugs and to prevent drug use before it starts.”
Recent information from poison control centers indicates that abuse of these unlicensed and unregulated drugs is growing across the country. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were 251 calls related to “bath salts” to poison control centers so far this year. This number already exceeds the 236 calls received by poison control centers for all of 2010. Doctors and clinicians at U.S. poison centers have indicated that ingesting “bath salts,” containing synthetic stimulants, can cause chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, and delusions. Already, several states have introduced legislation to ban these products, including Hawaii, Michigan, Louisiana, Kentucky, and North Dakota. Several counties, cities, and local municipalities have also taken action to ban these products.
Director Kerlikowske also cited three steps parents can take today to protect young people:
1. Talk to your kids about drugs. Research shows parents are the best messengers to deliver critical information on drug use. Make sure they know of the harms that can result from drug use and that you don’t approve of them. For tips and parenting advice visit www.TheAntiDrug.com.
2. Learn to spot risk factors that can lead to drug use. Association with drug-abusing peers is often the most immediate risk factor that can lead young people to drug use and delinquent behavior. Other risk factors include poor classroom behavior or social skills and academic failure. Parents can protect their kids from these influences by building strong bonds with their children, staying involved in their lives, and setting clear limits and consistent enforcement of discipline.
For more information on National efforts to reduce drug use and its consequences visit: www.WhiteHouseDrugPolicy.gov
The Office of National Drug Control Policy seeks to foster healthy individuals and safe communities by effectively leading the Nation’s effort to reduce drug use and its consequences.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON THE SITUATION IN EGYPT
State Dining Room
6:33 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, everybody. My administration has been closely monitoring the situation in Egypt, and I know that we will be learning more tomorrow when day breaks. As the situation continues to unfold, our first concern is preventing injury or loss of life. So I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protestors.
The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.
I also call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions that they’ve taken to interfere with access to the Internet, to cell phone service and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century.
At the same time, those protesting in the streets have a responsibility to express themselves peacefully. Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms that they seek.
Now, going forward, this moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise. The United States has a close partnership with Egypt and we’ve cooperated on many issues, including working together to advance a more peaceful region. But we’ve also been clear that there must be reform — political, social, and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people.
In the absence of these reforms, grievances have built up over time. When President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise.
Violence will not address the grievances of the Egyptian people. And suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. What’s needed right now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people: a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens, and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people.
Now, ultimately the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. And I believe that the Egyptian people want the same things that we all want — a better life for ourselves and our children, and a government that is fair and just and responsive. Put simply, the Egyptian people want a future that befits the heirs to a great and ancient civilization.
The United States always will be a partner in pursuit of that future. And we are committed to working with the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people — all quarters — to achieve it.
Around the world governments have an obligation to respond to their citizens. That’s true here in the United States; that’s true in Asia; it is true in Europe; it is true in Africa; and it’s certainly true in the Arab world, where a new generation of citizens has the right to be heard.
When I was in Cairo, shortly after I was elected President, I said that all governments must maintain power through consent, not coercion. That is the single standard by which the people of Egypt will achieve the future they deserve.
Surely there will be difficult days to come. But the United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work with their government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free, and more hopeful.
Thank you very much.
WEEKLY ADDRESS: “America Will Win the Future by Out-Innovating, Out-Educating, and Out-Building Our Competitors”
WEEKLY ADDRESS: “America Will Win the Future by Out-Innovating, Out-Educating, and Out-Building Our Competitors”
WASHINGTON – In this week’s address, President Obama called Orion Energy Systems in Manitowoc, Wisconsin an example of how America can win the future by being the best place on Earth to do business. Orion was able to open with the help of small business loans and incentives that are creating demand for clean energy technologies. By sparking innovation and spurring new products and technologies, America will unleash the talent and ingenuity of American workers and businesses, which will lead to new, good jobs.
The audio and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. EDT, Saturday, January 29, 2011.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
January 29, 2011
I’m speaking to you today from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where I’m at an innovative company called Orion Energy Systems.
Just a few years ago, this was an empty warehouse. A major employer had shut down this factory, moved its operations abroad, and took a lot of jobs away from this town.
But today, as you can see behind me, this is a thriving enterprise once more. You are looking at a factory where 250 workers are building advanced clean energy systems – state-of-the-art technologies that use solar power and energy efficiency to save farms and businesses thousands of dollars on their utility bills.
I’m here because this business and others like it are showing us the way forward. And in the coming days, I’ll be shining a spotlight on innovators across America who are relying on new technologies to create new jobs and opportunities in new industries.
That’s what companies like Orion are doing. And that’s how America will win the future – by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building our competitors. We’ll win the future by being the best place on Earth to do business. That is what we are called to do at this moment. And in my state of the union, I talked about how we get there.
It starts by making sure that every single child can get a good education and every American can afford college or career training. Because that’s what will help light the spark in the minds of innovators – and ensure that our people have the skills to work for innovative companies.
We also need to make sure that America can move goods and information as fast as any of our competitors, whether on the road or online. Because good infrastructure helps our businesses sell their products and services faster and cheaper.
We have to reform our government and cut wasteful spending, so that we eliminate what we don’t need to pay for the investments we need to grow, like education and medical research.
And as we can see here in Manitowoc, we need to ensure that we are promoting innovation – especially in promising areas like clean energy. This is going to be key to growing our economy and helping businesses create jobs. Orion, for example, was able to open with the help of small business loans and incentives that are creating demand for clean energy technologies like wind power and solar panels.
That’s why I’ve proposed a bigger tax credit for the research that companies do. And to give these companies the certainty of knowing there will be a market for what they sell, I’ve set this goal for America: by 2035, 80 percent of electricity should come from clean energy.
This is going to help spark innovation at businesses across America. This is going to spur new products and technologies. This is going to lead to good, new jobs. And that’s how we win the future – by unleashing the talent and ingenuity of American businesses and American workers in every corner of this country.
So to those who say that America’s best days are behind us, let them come here, to Manitowoc. Let them come to this once-shuttered factory that is now bustling with workers building new technologies for the world. Let them come here to see the incredible promise of our country.
This is the future. And it’s bright.
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
State of the Union Address
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
As Prepared for Delivery—
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:
Tonight I want to begin by congratulating the men and women of the 112th Congress, as well as your new Speaker, John Boehner. And as we mark this occasion, we are also mindful of the empty chair in this Chamber, and pray for the health of our colleague – and our friend – Gabby Giffords.
It’s no secret that those of us here tonight have had our differences over the last two years. The debates have been contentious; we have fought fiercely for our beliefs. And that’s a good thing. That’s what a robust democracy demands. That’s what helps set us apart as a nation.
But there’s a reason the tragedy in Tucson gave us pause. Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater – something more consequential than party or political preference.
We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled.
That, too, is what sets us apart as a nation.
Now, by itself, this simple recognition won’t usher in a new era of cooperation. What comes of this moment is up to us. What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow.
I believe we can. I believe we must. That’s what the people who sent us here expect of us. With their votes, they’ve determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.
At stake right now is not who wins the next election – after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world.
We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.
But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children.
That’s the project the American people want us to work on. Together.
We did that in December. Thanks to the tax cuts we passed, Americans’ paychecks are a little bigger today. Every business can write off the full cost of the new investments they make this year. These steps, taken by Democrats and Republicans, will grow the economy and add to the more than one million private sector jobs created last year.
But we have more work to do. The steps we’ve taken over the last two years may have broken the back of this recession – but to win the future, we’ll need to take on challenges that have been decades in the making.
Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn’t always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors. If you worked hard, chances are you’d have a job for life, with a decent paycheck, good benefits, and the occasional promotion. Maybe you’d even have the pride of seeing your kids work at the same company.
That world has changed. And for many, the change has been painful. I’ve seen it in the shuttered windows of once booming factories, and the vacant storefronts of once busy Main Streets. I’ve heard it in the frustrations of Americans who’ve seen their paychecks dwindle or their jobs disappear – proud men and women who feel like the rules have been changed in the middle of the game.
They’re right. The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business. Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there’s an internet connection.
Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science. They’re investing in research and new technologies. Just recently, China became home to the world’s largest private solar research facility, and the world’s fastest computer.
So yes, the world has changed. The competition for jobs is real. But this shouldn’t discourage us. It should challenge us. Remember – for all the hits we’ve taken these last few years, for all the naysayers predicting our decline, America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world. No workers are more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs. We are home to the world’s best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any other place on Earth.
What’s more, we are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea – the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That is why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here. It’s why our students don’t just memorize equations, but answer questions like “What do you think of that idea? What would you change about the world? What do you want to be when you grow up?”
The future is ours to win. But to get there, we can’t just stand still. As Robert Kennedy told us, “The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.” Sustaining the American Dream has never been about standing pat. It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age.
Now it’s our turn. We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time. We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business. We need to take responsibility for our deficit, and reform our government. That’s how our people will prosper. That’s how we’ll win the future. And tonight, I’d like to talk about how we get there.
The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.
None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be, or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do – what America does better than anyone – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living.
Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it’s not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout history our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. That’s what planted the seeds for the Internet. That’s what helped make possible things like computer chips and GPS.
Just think of all the good jobs – from manufacturing to retail – that have come from those breakthroughs.
Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we’d beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t there yet. NASA didn’t even exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.
This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology – an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.
Already, we are seeing the promise of renewable energy. Robert and Gary Allen are brothers who run a small Michigan roofing company. After September 11th, they volunteered their best roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their factory went unused, and the recession hit them hard.
Today, with the help of a government loan, that empty space is being used to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold all across the country. In Robert’s words, “We reinvented ourselves.”
That’s what Americans have done for over two hundred years: reinvented ourselves. And to spur on more success stories like the Allen Brothers, we’ve begun to reinvent our energy policy. We’re not just handing out money. We’re issuing a challenge. We’re telling America’s scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we’ll fund the Apollo Projects of our time.
At the California Institute of Technology, they’re developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they’re using supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities. With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.
We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.
Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they’re selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all – and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.
Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success. But if we want to win the future – if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas – then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.
Think about it. Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us – as citizens, and as parents – are willing to do what’s necessary to give every child a chance to succeed.
That responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities. It’s family that first instills the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done. We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.
Our schools share this responsibility. When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance. But too many schools don’t meet this test. That’s why instead of just pouring money into a system that’s not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. To all fifty states, we said, “If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we’ll show you the money.”
Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. These standards were developed, not by Washington, but by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country. And Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that is more flexible and focused on what’s best for our kids.
You see, we know what’s possible for our children when reform isn’t just a top-down mandate, but the work of local teachers and principals; school boards and communities.
Take a school like Bruce Randolph in Denver. Three years ago, it was rated one of the worst schools in Colorado; located on turf between two rival gangs. But last May, 97% of the seniors received their diploma. Most will be the first in their family to go to college. And after the first year of the school’s transformation, the principal who made it possible wiped away tears when a student said “Thank you, Mrs. Waters, for showing… that we are smart and we can make it.”
Let’s also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child’s success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as “nation builders.” Here in America, it’s time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones. And over the next ten years, with so many Baby Boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
In fact, to every young person listening tonight who’s contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child – become a teacher. Your country needs you.
Of course, the education race doesn’t end with a high school diploma. To compete, higher education must be within reach of every American. That’s why we’ve ended the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and used the savings to make college affordable for millions of students. And this year, I ask Congress to go further, and make permanent our tuition tax credit – worth $10,000 for four years of college.
Because people need to be able to train for new jobs and careers in today’s fast-changing economy, we are also revitalizing America’s community colleges. Last month, I saw the promise of these schools at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina. Many of the students there used to work in the surrounding factories that have since left town. One mother of two, a woman named Kathy Proctor, had worked in the furniture industry since she was 18 years old. And she told me she’s earning her degree in biotechnology now, at 55 years old, not just because the furniture jobs are gone, but because she wants to inspire her children to pursue their dreams too. As Kathy said, “I hope it tells them to never give up.”
If we take these steps – if we raise expectations for every child, and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they’re born until the last job they take – we will reach the goal I set two years ago: by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.
Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let’s agree to make that effort. And let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.
The third step in winning the future is rebuilding America. To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information – from high-speed rail to high-speed internet.
Our infrastructure used to be the best – but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now have greater internet access than we do. Countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their roads and railways than we do. China is building faster trains and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation’s infrastructure, they gave us a “D.”
We have to do better. America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities, and constructed the interstate highway system. The jobs created by these projects didn’t just come from laying down tracks or pavement. They came from businesses that opened near a town’s new train station or the new off-ramp.
Over the last two years, we have begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. Tonight, I’m proposing that we redouble these efforts.
We will put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. We will make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based on what’s best for the economy, not politicians.
Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.
Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn’t just about a faster internet and fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.
All these investments – in innovation, education, and infrastructure – will make America a better place to do business and create jobs. But to help our companies compete, we also have to knock down barriers that stand in the way of their success.
Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change.
So tonight, I’m asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years – without adding to our deficit.
To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014 – because the more we export, the more jobs we create at home. Already, our exports are up. Recently, we signed agreements with India and China that will support more than 250,000 jobs in the United States. And last month, we finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs. This agreement has unprecedented support from business and labor; Democrats and Republicans, and I ask this Congress to pass it as soon as possible.
Before I took office, I made it clear that we would enforce our trade agreements, and that I would only sign deals that keep faith with American workers, and promote American jobs. That’s what we did with Korea, and that’s what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia, and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks.
To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I’ve ordered a review of government regulations. When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. But I will not hesitate to create or enforce commonsense safeguards to protect the American people. That’s what we’ve done in this country for more than a century. It’s why our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe. It’s why we have speed limits and child labor laws. It’s why last year, we put in place consumer protections against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies, and new rules to prevent another financial crisis. And it’s why we passed reform that finally prevents the health insurance industry from exploiting patients.
Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law. So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.
What I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition. I’m not willing to tell James Howard, a brain cancer patient from Texas, that his treatment might not be covered. I’m not willing to tell Jim Houser, a small business owner from Oregon, that he has to go back to paying $5,000 more to cover his employees. As we speak, this law is making prescription drugs cheaper for seniors and giving uninsured students a chance to stay on their parents’ coverage. So instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let’s fix what needs fixing and move forward.
Now, the final step – a critical step – in winning the future is to make sure we aren’t buried under a mountain of debt.
We are living with a legacy of deficit-spending that began almost a decade ago. And in the wake of the financial crisis, some of that was necessary to keep credit flowing, save jobs, and put money in people’s pockets.
But now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable. Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same.
So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.
This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we have frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years. I’ve proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs. The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.
I recognize that some in this Chamber have already proposed deeper cuts, and I’m willing to eliminate whatever we can honestly afford to do without. But let’s make sure that we’re not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens. And let’s make sure what we’re cutting is really excess weight. Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you’ll feel the impact.
Now, most of the cuts and savings I’ve proposed only address annual domestic spending, which represents a little more than 12% of our budget. To make further progress, we have to stop pretending that cutting this kind of spending alone will be enough. It won’t.
The bipartisan Fiscal Commission I created last year made this crystal clear. I don’t agree with all their proposals, but they made important progress. And their conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it – in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes.
This means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit. Still, I’m willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.
To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.
And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.
It’s not a matter of punishing their success. It’s about promoting America’s success.
In fact, the best thing we could do on taxes for all Americans is to simplify the individual tax code. This will be a tough job, but members of both parties have expressed interest in doing this, and I am prepared to join them.
So now is the time to act. Now is the time for both sides and both houses of Congress – Democrats and Republicans – to forge a principled compromise that gets the job done. If we make the hard choices now to rein in our deficits, we can make the investments we need to win the future.
Let me take this one step further. We shouldn’t just give our people a government that’s more affordable. We should give them a government that’s more competent and efficient. We cannot win the future with a government of the past.
We live and do business in the information age, but the last major reorganization of the government happened in the age of black and white TV. There are twelve different agencies that deal with exports. There are at least five different entities that deal with housing policy. Then there’s my favorite example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.
Now, we have made great strides over the last two years in using technology and getting rid of waste. Veterans can now download their electronic medical records with a click of the mouse. We’re selling acres of federal office space that hasn’t been used in years, and we will cut through red tape to get rid of more. But we need to think bigger. In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America. I will submit that proposal to Congress for a vote – and we will push to get it passed.
In the coming year, we will also work to rebuild people’s faith in the institution of government. Because you deserve to know exactly how and where your tax dollars are being spent, you will be able to go to a website and get that information for the very first time in history. Because you deserve to know when your elected officials are meeting with lobbyists, I ask Congress to do what the White House has already done: put that information online. And because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.
A 21st century government that’s open and competent. A government that lives within its means. An economy that’s driven by new skills and ideas. Our success in this new and changing world will require reform, responsibility, and innovation. It will also require us to approach that world with a new level of engagement in our foreign affairs.
Just as jobs and businesses can now race across borders, so can new threats and new challenges. No single wall separates East and West; no one rival superpower is aligned against us.
And so we must defeat determined enemies wherever they are, and build coalitions that cut across lines of region and race and religion. America’s moral example must always shine for all who yearn for freedom, justice, and dignity. And because we have begun this work, tonight we can say that American leadership has been renewed and America’s standing has been restored.
Look to Iraq, where nearly 100,000 of our brave men and women have left with their heads held high; where American combat patrols have ended; violence has come down; and a new government has been formed. This year, our civilians will forge a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people, while we finish the job of bringing our troops out of Iraq. America’s commitment has been kept; the Iraq War is coming to an end.
Of course, as we speak, al Qaeda and their affiliates continue to plan attacks against us. Thanks to our intelligence and law enforcement professionals, we are disrupting plots and securing our cities and skies. And as extremists try to inspire acts of violence within our borders, we are responding with the strength of our communities, with respect for the rule of law, and with the conviction that American Muslims are a part of our American family.
We have also taken the fight to al Qaeda and their allies abroad. In Afghanistan, our troops have taken Taliban strongholds and trained Afghan Security Forces. Our purpose is clear – by preventing the Taliban from reestablishing a stranglehold over the Afghan people, we will deny al Qaeda the safe-haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11.
Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home.
In Pakistan, al Qaeda’s leadership is under more pressure than at any point since 2001. Their leaders and operatives are being removed from the battlefield. Their safe-havens are shrinking. And we have sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: we will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you.
American leadership can also be seen in the effort to secure the worst weapons of war. Because Republicans and Democrats approved the New START Treaty, far fewer nuclear weapons and launchers will be deployed. Because we rallied the world, nuclear materials are being locked down on every continent so they never fall into the hands of terrorists.
Because of a diplomatic effort to insist that Iran meet its obligations, the Iranian government now faces tougher and tighter sanctions than ever before. And on the Korean peninsula, we stand with our ally South Korea, and insist that North Korea keeps its commitment to abandon nuclear weapons.
This is just a part of how we are shaping a world that favors peace and prosperity. With our European allies, we revitalized NATO, and increased our cooperation on everything from counter-terrorism to missile defense. We have reset our relationship with Russia, strengthened Asian alliances, and built new partnerships with nations like India. This March, I will travel to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador to forge new alliances for progress in the Americas. Around the globe, we are standing with those who take responsibility – helping farmers grow more food; supporting doctors who care for the sick; and combating the corruption that can rot a society and rob people of opportunity.
Recent events have shown us that what sets us apart must not just be our power – it must be the purpose behind it. In South Sudan – with our assistance – the people were finally able to vote for independence after years of war. Thousands lined up before dawn. People danced in the streets. One man who lost four of his brothers at war summed up the scene around him: “This was a battlefield for most of my life. Now we want to be free.”
We saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.
We must never forget that the things we’ve struggled for, and fought for, live in the hearts of people everywhere. And we must always remember that the Americans who have borne the greatest burden in this struggle are the men and women who serve our country.
Tonight, let us speak with one voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of our troops and their families. Let us serve them as well as they have served us – by giving them the equipment they need; by providing them with the care and benefits they have earned; and by enlisting our veterans in the great task of building our own nation.
Our troops come from every corner of this country – they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.
We should have no illusions about the work ahead of us. Reforming our schools; changing the way we use energy; reducing our deficit – none of this is easy. All of it will take time. And it will be harder because we will argue about everything. The cost. The details. The letter of every law.
Of course, some countries don’t have this problem. If the central government wants a railroad, they get a railroad – no matter how many homes are bulldozed. If they don’t want a bad story in the newspaper, it doesn’t get written.
And yet, as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn’t a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth.
We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution. We may have different opinions, but we believe in the same promise that says this is a place where you can make it if you try. We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything’s possible. No matter who you are. No matter where you come from.
That dream is why I can stand here before you tonight. That dream is why a working class kid from Scranton can stand behind me. That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father’s Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House in the greatest nation on Earth.
That dream – that American Dream – is what drove the Allen Brothers to reinvent their roofing company for a new era. It’s what drove those students at Forsyth Tech to learn a new skill and work towards the future. And that dream is the story of a small business owner named Brandon Fisher.
Brandon started a company in Berlin, Pennsylvania that specializes in a new kind of drilling technology. One day last summer, he saw the news that halfway across the world, 33 men were trapped in a Chilean mine, and no one knew how to save them.
But Brandon thought his company could help. And so he designed a rescue that would come to be known as Plan B. His employees worked around the clock to manufacture the necessary drilling equipment. And Brandon left for Chile.
Along with others, he began drilling a 2,000 foot hole into the ground, working three or four days at a time with no sleep. Thirty-seven days later, Plan B succeeded, and the miners were rescued. But because he didn’t want all of the attention, Brandon wasn’t there when the miners emerged. He had already gone home, back to work on his next project.
Later, one of his employees said of the rescue, “We proved that Center Rock is a little company, but we do big things.”
We do big things.
From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That’s how we win the future.
We are a nation that says, “I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new company. I might not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the first to get my degree. I might not know those people in trouble, but I think I can help them, and I need to try. I’m not sure how we’ll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but I know we’ll get there. I know we will.”
We do big things.
The idea of America endures. Our destiny remains our choice. And tonight, more than two centuries later, it is because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.
Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America.
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.
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND PRESIDENT HU OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA AT AN EXCHANGE OF TOASTS AT STATE DINNER
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA
AND PRESIDENT HU OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
AT AN EXCHANGE OF TOASTS AT STATE DINNER
State Dining Room
7:51 P.M. EST
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good evening, everybody. Please have a seat. On behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House. And thank you for joining us as we host President Hu and the Chinese delegation, and as we pay tribute to the bonds between two great nations and two proud peoples.
There are too many distinguished guests to mention all of you tonight. But I do want to acknowledge a few who have championed relations between our nations: First of all, President Jimmy Carter and his wonderful wife Rosalynn Carter are here. (Applause.) As well as President Bill Clinton and my outstanding Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. (Applause.)
President Hu, we have met today in a spirit of mutual respect: the United States — the oldest democracy in the world, and China — one of the oldest civilizations in the world. And while it’s easy to focus on our differences of culture and perspective, let us never forget the values that our people share: A reverence for family; the belief that, with education and hard work and with sacrifice, the future is what we make it; and most of all, the desire to give our children a better life.
Let’s also never forget that throughout our history our people have worked together for mutual progress. We’ve traded together for more than 200 years. We stood together in the Second World War. Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans have helped to build America, including many who join us here tonight.
The Chinese and American people work together and create new opportunities together every single day. Mr. President, today we’ve shown that our governments can work together as well, for our mutual benefit. And that includes this bit of news -— under a new agreement, our National Zoo will continue to dazzle children and visitors with the beloved giant pandas. (Applause.)
I’m told that there is a Chinese proverb that says: If you want one year of prosperity, then grow grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, then grow trees. But if you want 100 years of prosperity, then you grow people.
And so I propose a toast — to our people, the citizens of the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America. May they grow together in friendship. May they prosper together in peace. And may they realize their dream of the future for themselves, for their children, and for their grandchildren.
PRESIDENT HU: (As translated.) President Obama and Mrs. Obama, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, good evening. I am delighted to once again come to the United States and pay a state visit at the invitation of President Obama.
Since setting foot on this beautiful land, we have received the gracious hospitality of the U.S. government and people. This evening President Obama is hosting this welcoming dinner for us, and has just made warm remarks. On behalf of my colleagues and in my own name, I want to express heartfelt thanks to President and Mrs. Obama and other American friends present today.
I also wish to convey through you the best wishes of the Chinese people to the friendly American people and extend cordial greetings to people from various sectors of the United States who have given care and support to the growth of U.S.-China relations.
The purpose of my visit is to increase mutual trust, enhance friendship, deepen cooperation and advance the positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-U.S. relationship for the 21st century.
In recent years, particularly over the past two years since President Obama took office, China-U.S. relations have made strong headway, thanks to the joint efforts of both sides.
We have increased exchanges in cooperation in a wide range of areas, maintained close communication and coordination on major international and regional issues, and played a positive role in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region and the whole world.
Under the current circumstances, our two countries share broader common interests, show their bigger common responsibilities, and face more severe common challenges than at any time in history. As a result, it is more important than ever for us to maintain the long-term, sound and steady growth of our bilateral relations. This is the reality we face, and it should be recognized by both sides.
This morning President Obama and I had an in-depth exchange of views on China-U.S. relations and international and regional issues of common interest. And we reached important agreement. We agreed that our two countries should increase contacts at the top and other levels, strengthen strategic mutual trust through dialogue and communication, intensify exchanges and cooperation in all fields, and step up communication and coordination on international and regional issues.
We agreed that the two countries should respect each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and the development interests, properly handle differences and frictions, and work together to build a China-U.S. cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.
China-U.S. relations have traveled a extraordinary journey in the past 32 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties. A review of the history of our relations shows that we have far more common interests than differences, and cooperation for mutual benefit as always being the mainstream of our relations. This has reinforced our confidence in further pushing forward our relationship.
Today both China and the United States are confronted with the arduous task of sustaining steady economic growth and achieving economic transformation. And we both need to tackle the various challenges brought by economic globalization. This has added to our need and desire to enhance cooperation.
We should pursue our relations with a stronger conviction, a broader vision and more proactive approach. We need to take solid steps and make pioneering efforts to fully tap the potential of cooperation and strive for new progress in China-U.S. relations.
I am confident that with joint efforts, a China-U.S. cooperative partnership will yield bountiful fruits for the greater benefit of our people, and make new and bigger contribution to the noble cause of world peace and development.
Now I’d like to propose a toast — to the health of President and Mrs. Obama; to the health of all friends present here; to the stronger friendship between the people of China and the United States; and to the steady growth of China-U.S. relations.
Readout of White House Drug Policy Deputy Director David K. Mineta’s Participation in a Veterans Substance Abuse Treatment Roundtable in Brooklyn, NY
Readout of White House Drug Policy Deputy Director David K. Mineta’s Participation in a Veterans Substance Abuse Treatment Roundtable in Brooklyn, NY
Washington, D.C. – Today, David K. Mineta, Deputy Director of Demand Reduction for National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), held a roundtable discussion at Phoenix House Career Academy in Brooklyn, New York with 30 – 40 veterans participating in various therapeutic communities. The participating veterans are past or current clients at approximately 12 different New York City-based substance abuse treatment programs.
Topics covered in today’s roundtable included the challenges and barriers veterans uniquely confront as they recover from addiction to alcohol and drugs, and deal with myriad of other issues, including housing, employment, and mental health disorders. Particular attention was given to the experiences of women veterans and their children and the need for specialty services.
“Supporting military personnel and their families is a top priority of the Obama Administration. The treatment providers who participated in the roundtable today provide examples of how evidence-based treatment programs tailored to the specific needs of all veterans, including their families, can help restore the lives of those who have made great sacrifices for our country,” said Deputy Director Mineta. “Recent data show about one in eight active-duty military personnel reported past-month illicit drug use, a trend largely driven by prescription drug abuse. An active-duty service member who doesn’t get the appropriate treatment will one day be a veteran with a substance abuse problem – which highlights the need for treatment options specifically targeted to the unique needs of veterans and their families.”
ONDCP is coordinating an unprecedented government-wide public health approach to reduce drug use and its consequences. This effort includes requesting an increase in funding for drug prevention by $203 million and treatment programs by $137 million dollars for Fiscal Year 2011, to train and engage primary health care to intervene in emerging cases of drug abuse, expand and improve specialty care for addiction—including veterans care and family-based treatment, and to better manage drug-related offenders in community corrections.
For more information on National efforts to reduce drug use and its consequences visit: www.WhiteHouseDrugPolicy.gov
The Office of National Drug Control Policy seeks to foster healthy individuals and safe communities by effectively leading the Nation’s effort to reduce drug use and its consequences.
State Legislators: What They’re Saying About the Affordable Care Act
As Congress considers legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, it’s important to take a look at who is opposing repeal. Here’s what state legislators are saying:
Iowa State Senator Jack Hatch:
“Before they vote, they need to think about the Iowa mother who can now get coverage for her 3-year old son who has severe asthma, a pre-existing condition; the Iowa cancer survivor who now no longer has to worry his insurance company will cut off his coverage due to an arbitrary lifetime limit; and, the tens of thousands of young Iowa men and women who now can get coverage on their parents’ health care plan.”
Connecticut House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan and Rep. Betsy Ritter:
“We would like to thank Connecticut’s Congressional Delegation for standing up for quality, affordable health care for Connecticut’s working families. Under federal health reform, our constituents are already seeing better access to affordable care, an end to arbitrary lifetime limits on benefits and denials without a chance of appeal. In addition, our state is taking advantage of millions of new health care dollars for Medicaid and retiree health insurance. We stand behind our delegation as they stand up to the special interests and put Connecticut’s people before insurance industry profits.”
Arizona State Senator Kyrsten Sinema:
“I strongly urge every member of Arizona’s congressional delegation to stop the political games, stand up for Arizona families and vote against the Repealing Patients’ Rights Act.”
Nebraska State Senator Jeremy Nordquist:
“Any attempts to weaken or repeal the Affordable Care Act will eliminate the ability of Nebraskans to get the coverage and care they need. We must work to ensure that Nebraska families can keep their coverage if they like it, increase access for those who are unable to get the care they need, and to ensure that all Nebraska families can see a family doctor.”
Texas Representative Garnet F. Coleman:
“It’s telling that just weeks after taking office, Republicans in Congress have made it a priority to change current law to take away Americans’ healthcare rights and allow insurance companies to drop someone from coverage if they develop a catastrophic illness like cancer. The Republican repeal would add billions to our national deficit and would have very real and drastic consequences on Texas families.”
Texas Representative Rafael Anchia:
“Repeal of the Affordable Care Act would be a disaster for the people I represent in North Texas, and would be a very bad turn of events for all Texans. One in four families with children in my district lives in poverty, so my constituents need more access to affordable health insurance – not less.”
Minnesota Representative Tom Huntley:
“Every day, Minnesotans are coming to appreciate the Affordable Care Act more and more. Adult children are being offered coverage on their parents’ policy, seniors are getting help with the costly donut hole, and small businesses are adding jobs because the tax credit is helping them provide health coverage.”
Minnesota Representative Erin Murphy:
“Repealing the Affordable Care Act means repealing affordable coverage for Minnesotans with preexisting conditions like asthma or diabetes. It means repealing consumer protections that protects an insured family from unfair premium increases. It means bringing back the prescription drug donut hole that prices seniors citizens out of the prescription drugs they need to stay healthy… Repealing the Affordable Care Act represents a fatal step backwards and the consequence is a less stable, more costly health care system for Minnesotans.”
New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz:
“Simply said, revoking the National Health Care Reform Act will make preventative health care non affordable at a time when it is most needed and when it makes the most sense for our country economically. We must provide the means to allow people to seek preventive health care in order to stop the explosive cost of caring for people in emergency settings.”
Washington State Senator Karen Keiser:
“For Washington State, going backward is not an option. For small businesses, seniors, families and our most vulnerable communities, we simply cannot afford repeal.”
New York Assemblyman Roberto Rodriguez:
“In the past few years we have taken great steps forward and overcome many barriers to finally enact Health Care Reform, it would be disgraceful to revoke this legislation which stands to benefit our citizens.”
North Dakota State Senator Tim Mathern:
“I use my time in the Legislature to make health care reform work for North Dakotans. All of us need to tell Congress to move on and give families freedom from the anxiety of medical cost bankruptcy and family stress from health care problems. Don’t repeal what we have – build on it to make it better.”
Maryland Delegate James W. Hubbard:
“I strongly urge every member of Maryland’s congressional delegation to stop the political games, stand up for Maryland families and vote against the Repealing Patients’ Rights Act. A repeal of the Patient Bill of Rights would mean:…41,465 Marylanders on Medicare would see significantly higher prescription drug costs… small businesses will once again have to pay higher rates for health insurance than big corporations… (and) adding hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit without creating a single job.”
Maryland Delegate Joseline A. Peña-Melnyk:
“If the bill is repealed, the State of Maryland would lose funding for several initiatives, including resources proposed to help limit health insurance premium increases, consumer assistance programs designed to protect our citizens from unscrupulous industry practices, planning for a health insurance exchange to provide low cost insurance, and assistance to 101 employers through the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program.”
I was deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Sargent Shriver, one of the brightest lights of the greatest generation. Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Sarge came to embody the idea of public service. Of his many enduring contributions, he will perhaps best be remembered as the founding director of the Peace Corps, helping make it possible for generations of Americans to serve as ambassadors of goodwill abroad. His loss will be felt in all of the communities around the world that have been touched by Peace Corps volunteers over the past half century and all of the lives that have been made better by his efforts to address inequality and injustice here at home. My thoughts and prayers are with Robert, Maria, Tim, Mark, and Anthony, and the entire Shriver family during this sad time.
White House Blog Posted By First Lady Michelle Obama: “An Open Letter to Parents Following the Tragedy in Tucson”
An Open Letter to Parents Following the Tragedy in Tucson
Posted by First Lady Michelle Obama on January 13, 2011 at 06:07 PM EST
Like so many Americans all across the country, Barack and I were shocked and heartbroken by the horrific act of violence committed in Arizona this past weekend. Yesterday, we had the chance to attend a memorial service and meet with some of the families of those who lost their lives, and both of us were deeply moved by their strength and resilience in the face of such unspeakable tragedy.
As parents, an event like this hits home especially hard. It makes our hearts ache for those who lost loved ones. It makes us want to hug our own families a little tighter. And it makes us think about what an event like this says about the world we live in – and the world in which our children will grow up.
In the days and weeks ahead, as we struggle with these issues ourselves, many of us will find that our children are struggling with them as well. The questions my daughters have asked are the same ones that many of your children will have – and they don’t lend themselves to easy answers. But they will provide an opportunity for us as parents to teach some valuable lessons – about the character of our country, about the values we hold dear, and about finding hope at a time when it seems far away.
We can teach our children that here in America, we embrace each other, and support each other, in times of crisis. And we can help them do that in their own small way – whether it’s by sending a letter, or saying a prayer, or just keeping the victims and their families in their thoughts.
We can teach them the value of tolerance – the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us. We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree.
We can also teach our children about the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve our country and by their families. We can explain to them that although we might not always agree with those who represent us, anyone who enters public life does so because they love their country and want to serve it.
Christina Green felt that call. She was just nine years old when she lost her life. But she was at that store that day because she was passionate about serving others. She had just been elected to her school’s student council, and she wanted to meet her Congresswoman and learn more about politics and public life.
And that’s something else we can do for our children – we can tell them about Christina and about how much she wanted to give back. We can tell them about John Roll, a judge with a reputation for fairness; about Dorothy Morris, a devoted wife to her husband, her high school sweetheart, to whom she’d been married for 55 years; about Phyllis Schneck, a great-grandmother who sewed aprons for church fundraisers; about Dorwan Stoddard, a retired construction worker who helped neighbors down on their luck; and about Gabe Zimmerman, who did community outreach for Congresswoman Giffords, working tirelessly to help folks who were struggling, and was engaged to be married next year. We can tell them about the brave men and women who risked their lives that day to save others. And we can work together to honor their legacy by following their example – by embracing our fellow citizens; by standing up for what we believe is right; and by doing our part, however we can, to serve our communities and our country.
Michelle Obama is the First Lady of the United States