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.
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.
GUEST LIST FOR THE FIRST LADY’S BOX
STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
JANUARY 25, 2011
First Lady Michelle Obama
Dr. Jill Biden
Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President and Director, Office of Legislative Affairs
Gary and Robert Allen (Rochester Hills, MI)
Gary and his brother Robert have been partners in the family business, Allen Brothers Inc., a roofing products manufacturing company, for 25 years. With the help of $500,000 from the Recovery Act, the Allen brothers were able to retool half of their manufacturing facility in order to manufacture solar shingles and launch a whole new business, Luma Resources. A graduate of Saginaw Valley State University, Gary, his wife Diane, and their six children are residents of Rochester Hills, Michigan. Robert lives in Oakland Township, Michigan with his wife Nicole, and their three children.
Ursula M. Burns (Norwalk, CT)
Ursula M. Burns is the chief executive officer of Xerox Corporation. She joined Xerox in 1980 as a mechanical engineer summer intern and later assumed roles in product development and planning. From 1992 through 2000, Ms. Burns led several business teams including the office color and fax business and office network printing business. In 2000, she was named senior vice president, Corporate Strategic Services, heading up manufacturing and supply chain operations. She then took on the broader role of leading Xerox’s global research as well as product development, marketing and delivery. In April 2007, Ms. Burns was named president of Xerox, expanding her leadership to also include the company’s IT organization, corporate strategy, human resources, corporate marketing and global accounts. At that time, she was also elected a member of the company’s Board of Directors. Ms. Burns was named chief executive officer in July 2009. Ms. Burns earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic Institute of NYU and a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University. Ms. Burns was named by the President to help lead the White House national campaign on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in November 2009, and is on the board of Change the Equation, a coalition of over 100 CEOs focused on STEM education that the President announced in September 2010. She was appointed vice chair of the President’s Export Council in March 2010.
Amy Chyao (Richardson, TX)
Amy, a sixteen-year-old high school junior from Richardson, Texas, has developed a photosensitizer for photodynamic therapy (PDT), an emerging cancer treatment which uses light energy to activate a drug that kills cancer cells. After her freshman year biology class, Amy became interested in cancer research and came up with an idea for improving the way medicine is designed. So over her summer vacation she taught herself some basic chemistry and began her research. With her work, Amy won the first place Gordon E. Moore Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a program of Society for Science & the Public, in May 2010. Since taking home the top prize at the Intel science fair, she and her teacher have received inquiries from researchers who are actually implementing the therapy and are interested in her work. Amy, whose parents came here from China, is also a cellist and tutors younger children in her spare time. Amy met the President at the October 2010 White House Science Fair.
Kendra Baker and Zachary Davis (Santa Cruz, CA)
Business partners Kendra Baker and Zachary Davis had a dream of opening an organic, homemade ice cream shop in Santa Cruz, California, but had trouble finding a lender that would help finance their dream. With the help of a Recovery Act SBA loan of $250,000, Kendra and Zack were able open the doors to The Penny Ice Creamery in August 2010. The SBA Recovery Act funding allowed them to not only open the shop, but also to employ eleven people, purchase American-made equipment, and to hire nearly twenty local businesses to design and renovate the space. Kendra and Zack were so thankful for the financing help, that they posted a video on YouTube thanking the Administration and Members of Congress for their Recovery Act SBA loan. As a result of the video, the Vice President called them in November 2010 to thank them for the video and wish them good luck.
Brandon and Julie Fisher (Berlin, PA)
Brandon Fisher is the owner of a small business, Center Rock, in Berlin, Pennsylvania that specializes in a new kind of drilling technology. Last summer, Center Rock manufactured the drill bits and other equipment used to find and rescue the 33 trapped Chilean miners. The technology enabled a considerable shortening of the rescue timeline. Brandon and his wife, sales director Julie, spent 37 days in Chile working to drill the rescue shaft. Brandon, along with some of the Americans involved in the Chilean mine rescue efforts, met the President in October 2010.
Brandon Ford (Philadelphia, PA)
Brandon, a junior at West Philadelphia High School, is a leader of the West Philly Hybrid X Team which includes students from an after school program at the West Philadelphia High School Academy of Automotive and Mechanical Engineering. West Philadelphia is a public high school serving one of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in Philadelphia. Brandon and the Hybrid X team recently entered two cars in the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE competition, a global challenge that sought to deliver production-ready highly fuel efficient vehicles. As high school students, they successfully went head to head with corporations, universities and other well-funded organizations from around the world, even advancing to an elimination round with their Ford Focus that got an official 65.1 MPGe. Brandon is also one of a group of students who entered the Conrad Foundation’s Spirit of Innovation Awards with their proposal for an Electric Very Light Car. He and 4 other students spent many hours writing the proposal and graphic for the contest. Brandon is a dedicated and hard working team member; for example, last week he worked with the team Tuesday, Thursday, all day Saturday, and then on Sunday participated with the team in a MLK Day of Service activity. He also plays varsity football for West Philadelphia High School. Brandon and the West Philly Hybrid X team attended the President’s September 2010 “Change the Equation” event.
The Green Family (Tucson, AZ)
John and Roxanna are the parents of eleven-year-old Dallas and the late Christina Taylor, the nine-year-old girl killed when a gunman opened fire on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson earlier this month. At just nine-years-old, Christina Taylor already had big plans to one day serve her country. Christina Taylor was born on 9/11 and had used her birthdate as a source of inspiration during her short life. Christina Taylor attended Mesa Verde Elementary, where she was a member of the student council.
Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta (Hiawatha, IA)
Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, a native of Hiawatha, Iowa, enlisted in the United States Army in November 2003. He attended Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Staff Sergeant Giunta is currently assigned to 2-503rd Infantry Battalion, Rear Detachment, Camp Ederle, Italy. Staff Sergeant Giunta has completed two combat tours to Afghanistan totaling 27 months of deployment. His military decorations include: the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal w/oak leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, two Army Good Conduct Medals, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, to name a few. He is married to Jennifer Lynn Mueller. In November 2010, the President awarded Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. He received the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan in October 2007.
Daniel Hernandez (Tucson, AZ)
Daniel Hernandez is a student advocate and political activist from Tucson, Arizona. He currently serves as a Congressional Intern for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and a Director with the Arizona Students’ Association. Born in 1990, Daniel attended public schools in the Sunnyside Unified School District and is earning a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science as a junior at the University of Arizona.
Jim Houser (Portland, OR)
Jim Houser and his wife have owned an auto repair shop in Portland, Oregon for over 25 years, and it’s important to them to retain their employees and keep them healthy. They invest time, energy and money to train their workers and they don’t want to lose valuable employees. That’s why Jim has always provided health insurance to his employees. But in the last ten years, Jim has been forced to contend with skyrocketing premium increases, with premiums making up over 20 percent of his payroll. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Jim and small business owners like him are getting immediate relief. The health reform law provides tax credits for small businesses that offer employees health insurance. And small business owners like Jim are benefiting from the tax credit today. Jim estimates that the tax credits will save him over $10,000.
James Howard (Katy, TX)
James Howard was diagnosed with brain cancer in March and later thought his lack of health insurance was a death sentence. Fortunately, he was able to join the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan and is now getting the treatment he needs.
Staff Sergeant Brian Mast and Brianna Mast (Washington, DC)
Staff Sergeant Brian Mast is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and joined the United States Army Reserves after graduating from high school in 1999. Four years ago he joined the Special Forces and was trained in bomb disposal. Staff Sergeant Mast deployed to Afghanistan in July 2010. He was seriously injured by a roadside bomb on September 19, 2010. He lost both legs just below the knee and an index finger. Staff Sergeant Mast suffered a broken arm, shrapnel wounds, and a damaged ear drum in the blast and is currently recovering at Walter Reed. Staff Sergeant Mast, his wife, Brianna, and their son, Magnum, met the Vice President and Dr. Biden at a Thanksgiving dinner for military families that the Bidens hosted at the Vice President’s Residence in November 2010.
Gunnery Sergeant Nicole Mohabir (Fort Lee, VA)
Gunnery Sergeant Mohabir enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in December 1991. After completing recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, she attended the Marine Corps Basic Food Service School at Camp Johnson, North Carolina, and was assigned as a Food Service Specialist. Gunnery Sergeant Mohabir made her first deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) from December 2002 to June 2003 with Combat Service Support Group-12. In 2004, she made her second deployment in support of OIF and was assigned to Headquarters and Service Battalion, 1st Force Service Support Group at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq. Gunnery Sergeant Mohabir deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in March 2010 and is currently back at her duty station in Fort Lee, Virginia.
Mikayla Nelson (Billings, MT)
Mikayla Nelson is currently a freshman at Central Catholic High School in Billings, Montana. As a middle schooler at Will James Middle School, she led her Science Bowl team to a 1st place finish at the National Science Bowl for the design document of their solar car. They also won 5th place in the U.S. Dept of Energy’s Junior Solar Sprint. In addition to excelling academically, Mikayla is taking flying lessons in hopes of attaining her pilot’s license, is building a 1932 Pietenpol Sky Scout airplane, runs her own birdhouse business, and is restoring a 1967 VW Beetle . She also works at a local hobby store to help cover the cost of her school tuition. Mikayla is working towards acceptance at the United State Air Force Academy where she hopes to major in mechanical engineering. Mikayla met the President at the October 2010 White House Science Fair where she represented her Science Bowl team and exhibited their solar car.
Kathy Proctor (Winston-Salem, NC)
Kathy Proctor grew up in Trinity, North Carolina where, after graduating, she went to work in the furniture industry like many others in the area. About six years ago, Kathy realized that furniture jobs were dwindling and started taking Math and English classes at night and on weekends to brush up on her skills after being out of school for so long. When she was laid off in 2009, Kathy began taking classes in biotechnology at Forsyth Technical Community College. Kathy will graduate in July 2011, with an Associate Degree in Science, and hopes to attain a job working as a bio-fuels analyst. Kathy met the President when he visited Forsyth Tech in early December 2010.
Dr. Peter Rhee (Tucson, AZ)
Dr. Peter Rhee is an United States Navy veteran and military surgeon, currently serving as the Chief of Trauma at the University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. Dr. Rhee oversaw the medical care associated with Arizona’s recent shooting tragedy, including the care of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Rhee has handled hundreds of battlefield injuries in two war deployments beginning in 2001. He was one of the first battlefield surgeons to be deployed to Camp Rhino, the first U.S. land base in Afghanistan, located in the remote desert about 100 miles southwest of Kandahar. In 2005, he served in Iraq. Rhee earned his medical degree at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine in 1987. He has a master’s degree in public health from the University of Washington in Seattle and a diploma in the medical care of catastrophes.
Diego Vasquez (Phoenix, AZ)
Diego Vasquez, currently a freshman at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona, was a member of the 12 person team from Cesar Chavez High School in Laveen, Arizona that won a grant through the Lemelson-MIT Program’s InvenTeams initiative for their design of a fully adjustable motorized chair for medically fragile individuals. The team decided to design the chair, which is to be used primarily for physical therapy, after seeing a disabled friend and fellow student struggle at school. The students and their families held a tamale “bake sale” so that the entire team could travel to MIT to attend EurekaFest, the Lemelson-MIT Program’s annual celebration of invention. For many members of the team, flying to Eurekafest was their first time on a plane. Diego hopes to become an aerospace engineer. Diego met the President at the October 2010 White House Science Fair where he represented his team and demonstrated their chair.
Wendell P. Weeks (Corning, NY)
Wendell P. Weeks is chairman and chief executive officer of Corning Incorporated. He was named chief executive officer in April 2005 and chairman of the board in April 2007. He has been a member of the company’s board of directors since December 2000. Mr. Weeks began his career with Corning in 1983 in the corporate control group and moved through a variety of financial and business development roles. He then progressed through commercial and general management leadership positions in the company’s television and specialty glass businesses. In 1993, Mr. Weeks was named general manager of external development in Corning’s telecommunications business. He was named vice president and general manager of the company’s optical fiber business in 1996. In early 2001, Mr. Weeks was named president of Corning’s optical communications businesses, leading them through both dynamic market growth and the subsequent challenges of market declines. Mr. Weeks was named president and chief operating officer of Corning in April 2002. Mr. Weeks is a graduate of Lehigh University and earned a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University as a Baker Scholar.
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.
Statement by the President on Senator Lieberman’s Retirement
“I want to congratulate Senator Joe Lieberman on an extraordinary career in public service. Joe has spent four decades fighting for what he believes in on behalf of the people of Connecticut. From cracking down on polluters and deadbeat dads as Connecticut’s Attorney General to his years of work defending our nation’s security on the Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees to his relentless efforts in recent months to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, his work has touched countless lives in his home state and across the country. Even if we don’t always see eye to eye, I always know Joe is coming from a place of principle. I know he will carry with him that integrity and dedication to his remaining work in the Senate and to whatever he chooses to do next.”
U.S. – China Joint Statement
January 19, 2011
1. At the invitation of President Barack Obama of the United States of America, President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China is paying a state visit to the United States of America from January 18-21, 2011. During his visit, President Hu met with Vice President Joseph Biden, will meet with U.S. Congressional leadership, and will visit Chicago.
2. The two Presidents reviewed the progress made in the relationship since President Obama’s November 2009 State Visit to China and reaffirmed their commitment to building a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive U.S. – China relationship for the 21st century, which serves the interests of the American and Chinese peoples and of the global community. The two sides reaffirmed that the three Joint Communiqués issued by the United States and China laid the political foundation for the relationship and will continue to guide the development of U.S. – China relations. The two sides reaffirmed respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Presidents further reaffirmed their commitment to the November 2009 U.S. – China Joint Statement.
3. The United States and China committed to work together to build a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit in order to promote the common interests of both countries and to address the 21st century’s opportunities and challenges. The United States and China are actively cooperating on a wide range of security, economic, social, energy, and environmental issues which require deeper bilateral engagement and coordination. The two leaders agreed that broader and deeper collaboration with international partners and institutions is required to develop and implement sustainable solutions and to promote peace, stability, prosperity, and the well-being of peoples throughout the world.
Strengthening U.S. – China Relations
4. Recognizing the importance of the common challenges that they face together, the United States and China decided to continue working toward a partnership that advances common interests, addresses shared concerns, and highlights international responsibilities. The two leaders recognize that the relationship between the United States and China is both vital and complex. The United States and China have set an example of positive and cooperative relations between countries, despite different political systems, historical and cultural backgrounds, and levels of economic development. The two sides agreed to work further to nurture and deepen bilateral strategic trust to enhance their relations. They reiterated the importance of deepening dialogue aimed at expanding practical cooperation and affirmed the need to work together to address areas of disagreement, expand common ground, and strengthen coordination on a range of issues.
5. The United States reiterated that it welcomes a strong, prosperous, and successful China that plays a greater role in world affairs. China welcomes the United States as an Asia-Pacific nation that contributes to peace, stability and prosperity in the region. Working together, both leaders support efforts to build a more stable, peaceful, and prosperous Asia-Pacific region for the 21st century.
6. Both sides underscored the importance of the Taiwan issue in U.S. – China relations. The Chinese side emphasized that the Taiwan issue concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and expressed the hope that the U.S. side will honor its relevant commitments and appreciate and support the Chinese side’s position on this issue. The U.S. side stated that the United States follows its one China policy and abides by the principles of the three U.S.-China Joint Communiqués. The United States applauded the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and welcomed the new lines of communications developing between them. The United States supports the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait and looks forward to efforts by both sides to increase dialogues and interactions in economic, political, and other fields, and to develop more positive and stable cross-Strait relations.
7. The United States and China reiterated their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, even as they continue to have significant differences on these issues. The United States stressed that the promotion of human rights and democracy is an important part of its foreign policy. China stressed that there should be no interference in any country’s internal affairs. The United States and China underscored that each country and its people have the right to choose their own path, and all countries should respect each other’s choice of a development model. Addressing differences on human rights in a spirit of equality and mutual respect, as well as promoting and protecting human rights consistent with international instruments, the two sides agreed to hold the next round of the U.S.- C hina Human Rights Dialogue before the third round of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED).
8. The United States and China agreed to hold the next round of the resumed Legal Experts Dialogue before the next Human Rights Dialogue convenes. The United States and China further agreed to strengthen cooperation in the field of law and exchanges on the rule of law. The United States and China are actively exploring exchanges and discussions on the increasing role of women in society.
9. The United States and China affirmed that a healthy, stable, and reliable military-to-military relationship is an essential part of President Obama’s and President Hu’s shared vision for a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive U.S.-China relationship. Both sides agreed on the need for enhanced and substantive dialogue and communication at all levels: to reduce misunderstanding, misperception, and miscalculation; to foster greater understanding and expand mutual interest; and to promote the healthy, stable, and reliable development of the military-to-military relationship. Both sides noted the successful visit of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to China earlier this month, and that the United States welcomes Chief of the PLA General Staff General Chen Bingde to the United States in the first half of 2011. Both sides reaffirmed that the Defense Consultative Talks, the Defense Policy Coordination Talks, and the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement will remain important channels of communication in the future. Both sides will work to execute the seven priority areas for developing military-to-military relations as agreed to by Secretary Gates and General Xu Caihou, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission in October 2009.
10. The United States and China agreed to take specific actions to deepen dialogue and exchanges in the field of space. The United States invited a Chinese delegation to visit NASA headquarters and other appropriate NASA facilities in 2011 to reciprocate for the productive visit of the U.S. NASA Administrator to China in 2010. The two sides agreed to continue discussions on opportunities for practical future cooperation in the space arena, based on principles of transparency, reciprocity, and mutual benefit.
11. The United States and China acknowledged the accomplishments under the bilateral Agreement on Cooperation in Science and Technology, one of the longest-standing bilateral agreements between the two countries, and welcomed the signing of its extension. The United States and China will continue to cooperate in such diverse areas as agriculture, health, energy, environment, fisheries, student exchanges, and technological innovation in order to advance mutual well-being.
12. The United States and China welcomed progress by the U.S.-China Joint Liaison Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation (JLG) to strengthen law enforcement cooperation across a range of issues, including counterterrorism. The United States and China also agreed to enhance joint efforts to combat corruption through bilateral and other means.
Promoting High-Level Exchanges
13. The two sides agreed that high-level exchanges are indispensable to strong U.S.-China relations, and that close, frequent, and in-depth dialogue is important to advance bilateral relations and international peace and development. In this spirit, both Presidents look forward to meeting again in the coming year, including in the state of Hawaii for the U.S.-hosted 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ meeting. China welcomed Vice President Biden for a visit in 2011. The United States welcomed a subsequent visit by Vice President Xi Jinping.
14. The two sides praised the S&ED as a key mechanism for coordination between the two governments, and agreed to hold the third round of the S&ED in Washington, D.C., in May 2011. The S&ED has played an important role in helping build trust and confidence between the two countries. The two sides also agreed to hold the second meeting of the High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange in the United States in the spring of 2011, and the 22nd meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in China in the second half of 2011. The two sides agreed to maintain close communication between the foreign ministers of the two countries through mutual visits, meetings, and other means.
15. The two sides emphasized the importance of continued interaction between their legislatures, including institutionalized exchanges between the National People’s Congress of China and the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Addressing Regional and Global Challenges
16. The two sides believe that the United States and China have a common interest in promoting peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, and agreed to enhance communication and coordination to address pressing regional and global challenges. The two sides undertake to act to protect the global environment and to work in concert on global issues to help safeguard and promote the sustainable development of all countries and peoples. Specifically, the United States and China agreed to advance cooperation to: counter violent extremism; prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, and their means of delivery; strengthen nuclear security; eliminate infectious disease and hunger; end extreme poverty; respond effectively to the challenge of climate change; counter piracy; prevent and mitigate disasters; address cyber-security; fight transnational crime; and combat trafficking in persons. In coordination with other parties, the United States and China will endeavor to increase cooperation to address common concerns and promote shared interests.
17. The United States and China underlined their commitment to the eventual realization of a world without nuclear weapons and the need to strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation regime to address the threats of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. In this regard, both sides support early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), reaffirmed their support for the early commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament, and agreed to work together to reach these goals. The two sides also noted their deepening cooperation on nuclear security following the Washington Nuclear Security Summit and signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will help establish a Center of Excellence on Nuclear Security in China.
18. The United States and China agreed on the critical importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula as underscored by the Joint Statement of September 19, 2005 and relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. Both sides expressed concern over heightened tensions on the Peninsula triggered by recent developments. The two sides noted their continuing efforts to cooperate closely on matters concerning the Peninsula. The United States and China emphasized the importance of an improvement in North-South relations and agreed that sincere and constructive inter-Korean dialogue is an essential step. Agreeing on the crucial importance of denuclearization of the Peninsula in order to preserve peace and stability in Northeast Asia, the United States and China reiterated the need for concrete and effective steps to achieve the goal of denuclearization and for full implementation of the other commitments made in the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. In this context, the United States and China expressed concern regarding the DPRK’s claimed uranium enrichment program. Both sides oppose all activities inconsistent with the 2005 Joint Statement and relevant international obligations and commitments. The two sides called for the necessary steps that would allow for early resumption of the Six-Party Talks process to address this and other relevant issues.
19. On the Iranian nuclear issue, the United States and China reiterated their commitment to seeking a comprehensive and long-term solution that would restore international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. Both sides agreed that Iran has the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and that Iran should fulfill its due international obligations under that treaty. Both sides called for full implementation of all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. The United States and China welcomed and will actively participate in the P5+1 process with Iran, and stressed the importance of all parties – including Iran – committing to a constructive dialogue process.
20. Regarding Sudan, the United States and China agreed to fully support the North-South peace process, including full and effective implementation of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The two sides stressed the need for all sides to respect the result of a free, fair, and transparent referendum. Both the United States and China expressed concern on the Darfur issue and believed that further, substantive progress should be made in the political process in Darfur to promote the early, comprehensive, and appropriate solution to this issue. Both the United States and China have a continuing interest in the maintenance of peace and stability in the wider region.
21. The two sides agreed to enhance communication and coordination in the Asia-Pacific region in a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, and to work together with other Asia-Pacific countries, including through multilateral institutions, to promote peace, stability, and prosperity.
Building a Comprehensive and Mutually Beneficial Economic Partnership
22. President Obama and President Hu recognized the vital importance of working together to build a cooperative economic partnership of mutual respect and mutual benefit to both countries and to the global economy. The two leaders agreed to promote comprehensive economic cooperation, and will develop further a framework of comprehensive economic cooperation, relying on existing mechanisms, by the third round of the S&ED in May, based on the main elements outlined below:
23. The two sides agreed to strengthen macroeconomic communication and cooperation, in support of strong, sustainable and balanced growth in the United States, China and the global economy:
- The United States will focus on reducing its medium-term federal deficit and ensuring long-term fiscal sustainability, and will maintain vigilance against excess volatility in exchange rates. The Federal Reserve has taken important steps in recent years to increase the clarity of its communications regarding its outlook and longer run objectives.
- China will intensify efforts to expand domestic demand, to promote private investment in the service sector, and to give greater play to the fundamental role of the market in resource allocation. China will continue to promote RMB exchange rate reform and enhance RMB exchange rate flexibility, and promote the transformation of its economic development model.
- Both sides agree to continue to pursue forward-looking monetary policies with due regards to the ramifications of those policies for the international economy.
- The two sides affirmed support for efforts by European leaders to reinforce market stability and promote sustainable, long-term growth.
24. The two countries, recognizing the importance of open trade and investment in fostering economic growth, job creation, innovation, and prosperity, affirmed their commitment to take further steps to liberalize global trade and investment, and to oppose trade and investment protectionism. The two sides also agreed to work proactively to resolve bilateral trade and investment disputes in a constructive, cooperative, and mutually beneficial manner.
25. The two leaders emphasized their strong commitment to direct their negotiators to engage in across-the-board negotiations to promptly bring the WTO Doha Development Round to a successful, ambitious, comprehensive, and balanced conclusion, consistent with the mandate of the Doha Development Round and built on the progress already achieved. The two sides agreed that engagement between our representatives must intensify and expand in order to complete the end game.
26. The two leaders agreed on the importance of achieving a more balanced trade relationship, and spoke highly of the progress made on this front, including at the recent 21st Meeting of the JCCT in Washington, D.C.
27. China will continue to strengthen its efforts to protect IPR, including by conducting audits to ensure that government agencies at all levels use legitimate software and by publishing the auditing results as required by China’s law. China will not link its innovation policies to the provision of government procurement preferences. The United States welcomed China’s agreement to submit a robust, second revised offer to the WTO Government Procurement Committee before the Committee’s final meeting in 2011, which will include sub-central entities.
28. The two leaders acknowledged the importance of fostering open, fair, and transparent investment environments to their domestic economies and to the global economy and reaffirmed their commitment to the ongoing bilateral investment treaty (BIT) negotiations, recognizing that a successful BIT negotiation would support an open global economy by facilitating and protecting investment, and enhancing transparency and predictability for investors of both countries. China welcomed the United States’ commitment to consult through the JCCT in a cooperative manner to work towards China’s Market Economy Status in an expeditious manner. China welcomed discussion between the two sides on the ongoing reform of the U.S. export control system, and its potential implications for U.S. exports to its major trading partners, including China, consistent with U.S. national security interests.
29. The two sides further acknowledged the deep and robust nature of the commercial relationship, including the contracts concluded at this visit, and welcomed the mutual economic benefits resulting from the relationship.
30. The two sides agreed to continue working to make concrete progress on the bilateral economic relationship through the upcoming S&ED and the JCCT process.
31. The United States and China recognized the potential for their firms to play a positive role in the infrastructure development in each country and agreed to strengthen cooperation in this area.
32. The two countries committed to deepen bilateral and multilateral cooperation on financial sector investment and regulation, and support open environments for investment in financial services and cross-border portfolio investment, consistent with prudential and national security requirements. The United States is committed to ensuring that the GSEs have sufficient capital and the ability to meet their financial obligations.
33. The United States and China agree that currencies in the SDR basket should only be those that are heavily used in international trade and financial transactions. In that regard, the United States supports China’s efforts over time to promote inclusion of the RMB in the SDR basket.
34. The two countries pledged to work together to strengthen the global financial system and reform the international financial architecture. The two sides will continue their strong cooperation to strengthen the legitimacy and improve the effectiveness of the International Monetary Fund and Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs). The two sides will jointly promote efforts of the international community to assist developing countries, in particular the Least Developed Countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The two sides will also, in partnership with the Multilateral Development Banks, explore cooperation that supports global poverty reduction and development, and regional integration including in Africa, to contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
35. The two countries reiterated their support for the G-20 Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth and reaffirmed their commitments made in the Seoul Summit Declaration, including using the full range of policies to strengthen the global recovery and to reduce excessive imbalances and maintain current account imbalances at sustainable levels. The two sides support a bigger role for the G-20 in international economic and financial affairs, and pledged to strengthen communication and coordination to follow through on the commitments of the G-20 summits and push for positive outcomes at the Cannes Summit.
Cooperating on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment
36. The two sides view climate change and energy security as two of the greatest challenges of our time. The United States and China agreed to continue their close consultations on action to address climate change, coordinate to achieve energy security for our peoples and the world, build on existing clean energy cooperation, ensure open markets, promote mutually beneficial investment in climate friendly energy, encourage clean energy, and facilitate advanced clean energy technology development.
37. Both sides applauded the progress made in clean energy and energy security since the launch of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, Renewable Energy Partnership, U.S.-China Joint Statement on Energy Security Cooperation, and Energy Cooperation Program (ECP). Both sides reaffirmed their ongoing exchanges on energy policy and cooperation on oil, natural gas (including shale gas), civilian nuclear energy, wind and solar energy, smart grid, advanced bio-fuels, clean coal, energy efficiency, electric vehicles and clean energy technology standards.
38. The two sides commended the progress made since the launch of the U.S.-China Ten Year Framework on Energy and Environment Cooperation (TYF) in 2008. They agreed to further strengthen practical cooperation under the TYF, carry out action plans in the priority areas of water, air, transportation, electricity, protected areas, wetlands, and energy efficiency, engage in policy dialogues, and implement the EcoPartnerships program. The United States and China were also pleased to announce two new EcoPartnerships. The two sides welcomed local governments, enterprises, and research institutes of the two countries to participate in the TYF, and jointly explore innovative models for U.S.-China energy and environment cooperation. The two sides welcomed the cooperation projects and activities which will be carried out in 2011 under the TYF.
39. The two sides welcomed the Cancun agreements and believed that it is important that efforts to address climate change also advance economic and social development. Working together and with other countries, the two sides agreed to actively promote the comprehensive, effective, and sustained implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, including the implementation of the Cancun agreements and support efforts to achieve positive outcomes at this year’s conference in South Africa.
Expanding People-to-People Exchanges
40. The United States and China have long supported deeper and broader people-to-people ties as part of a larger effort to build a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit. Both sides agreed to take concrete steps to enhance these people-to-people exchanges. Both sides noted with satisfaction the successful Expo 2010 Shanghai, and the Chinese side complimented the United States on its USA Pavilion. The two sides announced the launch of a U.S.-China Governors Forum and decided to further support exchanges and cooperation at local levels in a variety of fields, including support for the expansion of the sister province and city relationships. The United States and China also agreed to take concrete steps to strengthen dialogue and exchanges between their young people, particularly through the 100,000 Strong Initiative. The United States warmly welcomes more Chinese students in American educational institutions, and will continue to facilitate visa issuance for them. The two sides agreed to discuss ways of expanding cultural interaction, including exploring a U.S.-China cultural year event and other activities. The two sides underscored their commitment to further promoting and facilitating increased tourism. The United States and China agreed that all these activities help deepen understanding, trust, and cooperation.
41. President Hu Jintao expressed his thanks to President Obama and the American people for their warm reception and hospitality during his visit. The two Presidents agreed that the visit has furthered U.S.-China relations, and both sides resolved to work together to build a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit. The two Presidents shared a deep belief that a stronger U.S.-China relationship not only serves the fundamental interests of their respective peoples, but also benefits the entire Asia-Pacific region and the world.
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND PRESIDENT HU OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA IN ROUNDTABLE WITH AMERICAN AND CHINESE BUSINESS LEADERS
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA
AND PRESIDENT HU OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
IN ROUNDTABLE WITH AMERICAN AND CHINESE BUSINESS LEADERS
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
12:36 P.M. EST
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, thanks to all of you for joining, both American and Chinese business leaders.
President Hu and I have had some excellent discussions, both last night in a smaller dinner and then this morning with our respective teams. But we very much believe that in order for the U.S.-China relationship to deepen and to grow, that it can’t just be a matter of government-to-government contacts.
And there has been no sector of our societies that have been stronger proponents of U.S.-China relations than the business sector. And so I’m very pleased that we have some of America’s top businesses here. Many of them have a longstanding relationship with China; have been selling American goods, promoting American services in China. And they, I think, can testify to the benefits that the United States obtains from strong relations with China.
We’ve got some Chinese business leaders here, who I know are already doing business in the United States, making investments in the United States, engaging in joint ventures in the United States, and helping grow the economy here in the United States. I know they’re interested in finding ways that they can expand their activities in the United States.
And so I think our goal here today was to make sure that we break out of the old stereotypes that somehow China is simply taking manufacturing jobs and taking advantage of low wages; the U.S. is importing cheap goods and thereby having cheaper products, but also putting strains on our employment base — the relationship is much more complex than that, and it has much more potential than that.
China is one of the top markets for American exports. We’re now exporting more than $100 billion a year in goods and services to China, and that supports about half a million American jobs, from manufacturing to agriculture. And in fact, our exports to China are growing nearly twice as fast as our exports to the rest of the world.
Of course, here in the United States, we’ve got one of the most open economies in the world, and that makes us a top destination for Chinese exports, but also Chinese investment.
It is important, I think, to note that even with China’s enormous population, the United States still does more trade with Europe than it does with China. That, I think, gives an indication of the amount of progress that can be made if we are consulting with each other, if we are hearing specifically from businesses in terms of how we can ease some of the frictions that exist in our trading relationship.
And so my hope is that today, in the brief time that we have, we’ll be able to hear some concrete ideas about how we make sure that trade is fair, that there’s a level playing field; how can we protect intellectual property; how can we promote innovation; how can both of our governments remove barriers to trade and barriers to job creation.
And with China’s growing middle class, I believe that over the coming years, we can more than double our exports to China and create more jobs here in the United States. And I’m sure that Chinese business leaders see enormous opportunities here as well.
So with that, I’d like to just turn it over briefly to President Hu, and then maybe we can hear from some of the leaders around the table.
PRESIDENT HU: (As translated.) Business leaders, today it gives me a great pleasure to be here with President Obama and meet with you, business leaders.
All of you around this table and your companies are leading performers of the two countries. You have not only made positive contribution to the economic growth of your respective countries, but also to China-U.S. relations.
So I wish to offer you my sincere appreciation. All business leaders around this table have seized the opportunities presented by the deepening economic globalization. You have been working vigorously to expand market in each other’s countries. You have grown your business, but also promoted mutual beneficial cooperation between the two countries.
I will cite a set of statistics to show how far we have come.
In 1979, when we firmly established diplomatic ties, our two-way trade was less than $2.5 billion U.S. But the figure for last year was $380 billion U.S., which is more than 150-fold increase. Our mutual investment also started from virtually nothing to an accumulation of $70 billion U.S.
The trade and investment cooperation between our two countries have indeed brought real benefits to the people of our countries and important business communities — opportunities for our business communities.
According to figures, our total trade has brought about $60 billion U.S. of benefits to U.S. consumers.
If we look ahead to the future, our trade cooperation enjoys a promising future. Here I have a message to all of you — that is, China is speeding up this transformation of economic growth pattern and economic restructuring. We are focusing our efforts to boosting domestic demand, especially consumer spending.
In recent years, China’s domestic spending has been growing at a double-digit rate every year. In 2010, our domestic market has surpassed a scale of $2 trillion U.S. And here in the United States, you are also working all-out to stimulate your economy.
President Obama has launched a program to double your exports. Both in the dinner last night and in my meeting with President Obama just now, we discussed how to advance economic cooperation between our two countries across the board.
We agreed to strengthen our cooperation in the financial, economic, trade and the environment, science and technology, agriculture, infrastructure and many other fields.
So, indeed, there is a promising future for trade and investment cooperation between our two countries. I do hope that companies from both countries can seize the opportunities, take active options and achieve great things.
I also have a message to American entrepreneurs. That is, we welcome you as companies to China. China follows reform and opening up. We will, as always, try to provide a transparent, just, fair, highly efficient investment climate to U.S. companies and other foreign companies.
I also wish to tell you that all companies registered in China are given national treatment. In terms of innovation products, accreditation, government procurement, IPR protection, the Chinese government will give them equal treatment.
Here, I also have a message to Chinese entrepreneurs. That is, the Chinese government will, as it has always done, support you in making investments and doing business here in the United States. I hope that you can continue to be enterprising and creative, and at the same time, don’t forget to give back to the local communities.
I do believe that President Obama and the U.S. administration will provide a level playing field for Chinese companies to make investments here in the United States.
To conclude, I wish the companies you represent even greater growth in the new year. And I also expect that you can make even greater contribution to promoting trade and investment cooperation between our two countries.
And now I’m ready to listen to your views. Thank you.
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.
Health Care Providers: 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 organizations representing doctors, nurses and health care providers are saying:
American Nurses Association
“…[W]e believe that a vote for repeal would be a devastating step backward.”
American Medical Association
“The AMA does not support initiatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Expanding health coverage, insurance market reforms, administrative simplifications and initiatives to promote wellness and prevention are key parts of the new law that reflect AMA priorities.”
American Academy of Family Physicians
“A repeal of all provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will return our health care system to its previous trends of unsustainable, increasing costs and ever-growing numbers of under- and uninsured Americans. It will have negative consequences on Americans’ access to needed health care for years to come.”
American College of Physicians
“ACP believes that Congress should preserve and – as necessary – improve on these and other important reforms created by the Affordable Care Act, not repeal them.”
Association of American Medical Colleges
“The nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals stand behind the Affordable Care Act. Ensuring that all Americans have health care coverage is a moral imperative for our nation, and enactment of the Affordable Care Act was an important step toward that goal.”
National Association of Community Health Centers
“From the perspective of community health, however, the new law moves our nation to the goal of more affordable and accessible health care for all people and we stand strongly in support of it.”
American Osteopathic Association
“The Affordable Care Act made fundamental and important changes in our health care system that will improve the health of our patients individually and our nation as a whole.”
Catholic Health Association
“On behalf of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), the national leadership organization of more than 2,000 Catholic health care systems, hospitals, long-term care facilities, sponsors, and related organizations, I strongly urge you to maintain support for efforts to improve and strengthen our nation’s health care system by opposing the legislation before the House to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”
American Public Health Association
“Implementation of the Affordable Care Act is critical to addressing a number of the biggest challenges facing our health system including the escalating costs associated with our health care system, uneven quality and more than 100,000 deaths due to medical errors, discriminatory practices by health insurance providers and the shrinking ranks of the nation’s primary care providers. The enactment of the Affordable Care Act begins to shift our health system from one that focuses on treating the sick to one that focuses on keeping people healthy and addresses these challenges.”
Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum
“Almost 60 percent of Asian Americans receive health care coverage through their employers and the last thing we should be doing is weakening the ability of small business owners to provide quality health care to their employees. We must not place the interests of insurance companies ahead of small businesses, our communities, and our families. When insurance companies are free to pursue profit without accountability, people have fewer choices, fewer options, and little recourse. We can’t let that happen.”
Doctors for America
“As doctors, we see how our broken health care system is failing patients and health care providers. Passing and implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is an important first step to fixing a broken system, and we must continue to move forward. Repealing the health care reform law will only move our health care system backward – and millions of patients simply can’t afford that. We urge the new Congress to work with patients and providers to improve the health reform law so we can build a health care system that works for everyone.”
National Hispanic Medical Association
“NHMA supports the Affordable Care Act as it is a step forward in caring for the health of the underserved communities and all Americans. Investing in the health of Americans, our most valuable resource, is sound policy and a wise course of action when so many diseases are preventable and treatable. For this reason we ask you to cast a vote against H.R.2.”
FACT SHEET: U.S.-China Economic Issues
The United States and China share one of the most important trade and economic relationships in the world. The U.S. exports $100 billion of goods and services to China, making China our largest trading partner after Canada and Mexico. Those exports support more than half a million U.S. jobs. China’s GDP growth is expected to have reached 10 percent in 2010, and U.S. goods and services exports to China are growing almost two times as fast as overall U.S. goods and services exports. We seek to base our relationship on mutual prosperity, respect for the rules-based trading system, and a deep commitment to resolve outstanding economic issues. President Obama and President Hu took note of the following commitments to strengthen the U.S.-China trade and economic relationship.
Strengthening Intellectual Property Rights Protection
China committed to strengthen intellectual property rights enforcement to protect innovative industries and the jobs they create.
- Private sector experts suggest decreasing China’s software piracy rate by 50 percent could increase legitimate software sales by $4 billion. The United States supports China’s commitment to assess and ensure its government’s use of legal software, by, among other measures, 1) allocating government budget funding for legal software purchases, 2) auditing the use of legal software and publishing the results of those audits, and 3) promoting the use of licensed software in private companies and in state owned enterprises through software asset management programs.
- The United States welcomed China’s agreement to hold accountable violators of intellectual property on the internet, including those who facilitate the counterfeiting and piracy of others, and to strengthen IPR protections in China’s libraries. China has also agreed to clarify the IPR liabilities of relevant third parties, like landlords, managers, and operators of markets that sell counterfeit products.
Eliminating Discriminatory Innovation Policies
- The United States and China committed that 1) government procurement decisions will not be made based on where the goods’ or services’ intellectual property is developed or maintained, 2) that there will be no discrimination against innovative products made by foreign suppliers operating in China, and 3) China will delink its innovation policies from its government procurement preferences.
- China agreed to eliminate discriminatory “indigenous innovation” criteria used to select industrial equipment for an important government catalogue prepared by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, to ensure that it will not be used for import substitution, the provision of export subsidies, or to discriminate against American equipment manufacturers in Chinese government programs targeting these products.
- The United States welcomed China’s commitment to let its “3G” third generation and future technologies develop free of discriminatory technology or standards preferences. China’s 3G infrastructure investment is expected to reach $10 to $12 billion in 2011.
- The United States supports China’s commitment to allow foreign companies equal opportunities to participate in the development of the country’s “smart” electric power grid. China committed that purchases of smart grid products and technologies will be made solely on commercial considerations with no discrimination against foreign companies. China also will ensure that foreign stakeholders have full opportunities to participate in an open, transparent process for establishing smart grid standards. China also committed to make purchases solely on commercial considerations. China plans to spend $10 billion annually on smart grid investments.
Expanding Market Access for U.S. Manufactured Goods, Agricultural Products and Services
China committed to submit this year a robust revised offer to join the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA).
- China committed that its revised GPA offer would include not just commitments for central government purchases, but also purchases by sub-central entities. The Chinese central government has indicated that it alone procures more than $88 billion in goods and services annually; sub-central entities’ procurement is even more significant.
The United States and China are building on their successful and growing agricultural trade relationship. U.S. agricultural exports to China last year exceeded $12 billion, including soybeans, cotton, and wheat.
- The United States welcomed China’s December 2010 lifting of Avian influenza-related bans on U.S. poultry products from Idaho and Kentucky, and urged prompt action to lift the four remaining U.S. state-level bans.
FACT SHEET: U.S.–China Commercial Relations
China is a key market for U.S. exports. Those exports are generating jobs in every corner of the United States and across every major sector. These involve some of our country’s largest companies, but also an increasing number of small and medium-sized enterprises.
In preparation for this visit, several large purchases have been approved including for 200 Boeing airplanes valued at $19 billion. In addition, the Chinese government has indicated that its companies signed 70 contracts for $25 billion in U.S. exports from 12 states. These included sectors ranging from auto parts to agriculture, machinery to chemicals. In addition, 11 investment contracts were signed worth $3.24 billion. Additional, transactions were announced or showcased, exceeding $13.1 billion in total value with approximately $987.8 million in U.S. export content. These deals worth over $45 billion in increased exports will help support an estimated 235,000 jobs in the United States. These cross-border collaborations, both public and private, underpin the expanding U.S.-China commercial partnership, contributing to economic growth and development in both countries. A number of these transactions highlight the increased collaboration in such areas as clean energy and green technologies. Examples of some of the deals associated with this visit include:
- Boeing Airplane Sales: China’s agreement to approve airline contracts for 200 orders covers aircraft to be delivered over a three-year period, 2011-2013. The approval, the final step in a $19B package of aircraft, will help Boeing maintain and expand its market share in the world’s fastest growing commercial aircraft market. Including 737s and 777s, the agreement help supports more than 100,000 American jobs, including those in Boeing and its suppliers throughout the U.S.
- General Electric –China Ministry of Railways (MOR) Letter of Intent on High Speed Rail Technology Transfer and Purchasing Rolling Stock and Signaling Equipment: The Chinese Ministry of Rail (MOR) and General Electric (GE) have signed a letter of intent expanding upon an existing strategic partnership to bring Chinese high-speed rail technology to the United States. GE and China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corporation Limited (CSR) plan to form a joint venture in the United States to manufacture high- and medium-speed electric multiple unit trains. GE estimates that new business generated by the HSR JV could support up to 3,500 jobs in the United States. GE also will agree to manufacture locomotives for China and will provide components for 500 or more locomotives. The LOI will support efforts to capture new business opportunities valued at up to $1.4 billion with an estimated $360 million in U.S. export content, supporting up to 200 GE Transportation jobs.
- Navistar Inc.– JAC Truck and Engine Joint Ventures: Navistar has announced central Chinese government approval for a $400 million, 50-50 joint venture with the state-owned Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Company (JAC). Navistar will export services and parts to be used in the manufacture of diesel engines and commercial trucks. The JV will develop, manufacture, market, and sell heavy duty trucks and light to medium/heavy duty engines, primarily in China. The joint venture will be based in Hefei City, Anhui Province. Once production begins, Navistar anticipates that many components will be sourced from the United States. Direct U.S. exports during the first year of the joint venture are estimated at $15 million, but are forecast to grow significantly over the next five years as production increases. Navistar estimates the net employment benefit of the joint ventures to the United States economy at 200 jobs in the United States, mainly in the field of engineering and other services.
- General Electric-Shenhua Gasification Joint Venture: GE and China Shenhua Energy Company Limited (Beijing, China) have formed a joint venture company in order to combine GE’s expertise in gasification and cleaner power generation technologies with Shenhua’s expertise in building and operating gasification and power generation facilities. The joint venture will seek to advance cleaner coal technology solutions for industrial chemicals, fuels, and power generation. GE estimates approximately $150 million in U.S. exports over the first five years of the joint venture, mainly related to technology licensing, engineering, and R&D support. Additionally, the joint venture has potential to generate $1.5 to 2.5 billion in U.S. exports over the long term.
- General Electric-Huadian Joint Collaboration Agreement on Decentralized Energy Combined Heat and Power Projects: General Electric is signing a Joint Collaboration Agreement with China Huadian Engineering Co., Ltd for cooperation on Decentralized Energy Combined Heat and Power (DECHP). This agreement will be a binding agreement to develop, market, and sell DECHP generators, an efficient alternative to coal-fired power plants. GE estimates that at least 50 DECHP gas turbine generator sets will be sold in China in the next ten years, resulting in $500 million in sales and $350 million in U.S. export content, supporting over 200 jobs in the United States.
- Cummins Hybrid Bus Development and Commercialization: Cummins, Inc (Cummins; Columbus, Indiana) and Zhengzhou Yutong Bus Compay, (Yutong; Zhengzhou, China) have negotiated an agreement to jointly develop and commercialize hybrid power systems for the Chinese bus market. Cummins is presently a supplier to Yutong, and hopes to increase its penetration of the Chinese market by jointly developing and producing a hybrid bus primarily for the Chinese market. Cummins estimates a potential for over $500 million in annual sales. This will be the first partnership of its kind involving Cummins hybrid power systems and a major vehicle manufacturer. Cummins claims that up to 500 jobs could be created in the U.S. related to production, sales, and service of hybrid systems for commercial vehicles for the U.S. and Chinese markets. Cummins also expects an annual savings of 21,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.
- General Electric-AVIC Avionics Joint Venture Agreement: GE and AVIC will sign an agreement to form a new joint venture company to market globally advanced avionics systems for future commercial aircraft. The GE-AVIC joint venture is expected to support 300 high-tech jobs in Michigan and Florida.
- UPC Management Wind Power Agreements: UPC Management, LLC (UPC) is a Miami, Florida based wind power developer, having interests in 24 sites in 12 Chinese provinces. The company has negotiated a Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) with the China Guo Dian Corporation (CGD), which develops, builds, operates, and distributes electricity and heat. Under the SFA, CGD and UPC will form ventures leading to the establishment of wind power generation joint ventures. The total value of the SFA investments could reach $1.5 billion, of which UPC will invest up to $735 million.
- Honeywell—Haier Group Memorandum of Understanding for Global Strategic Cooperation:Honeywell International Inc., headquartered in Morris Township, New Jersey (Honeywell), entered into an agreement with Haier Group (Haier) to collaborate on the development and promotion of low-emission, high energy-efficiency products and solutions. Honeywell estimates the total value of the five-year MOU at $53 million per annum, or $265 million and U.S. export content at $42 million per annum, or $210 million.
- LP Amina MOU with Beijing Energy: LP Amina, environmental engineering company headquartered in Novi, Michigan, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Beijing Energy to sell de-nitrification engineering, equipment and other potential environmental and boiler efficiency improvement solutions. This MOU creates a framework for potential long-term cooperation to reduce emissions and improve efficiency across Beijing Energy’s power plant facilities in China.
- LanzaTech–Bao Steel Joint Venture to Build an Ethanol Plant: LanzaTech Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of LanzaTech New Zealand, headquartered in Roselle, Illinois (LanzaTech), and Bao Steel Group Corporation (Bao Steel), will conclude a Contractual Joint Venture Contract for the construction and operation of a demonstration ethanol production facility in China. The facility will utilize waste flue gas from Bao Steel’s Shanghai steel mill as feed stock and LanzaTech proprietary gas fermentation technology to produce ethanol.
- LanzaTech– Wuhan Kaidi General Research Institute of Engineering and Technology Company Limited Ethanol Production Letter of Intent: LanzaTech Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of LanzaTech New Zealand, headquartered in Roselle, Illinois (LanzaTech), and Wuhan Kaidi General Research Institute of Engineering and Technology Company Limited (Wuhan), will conclude a Letter of Intent for the construction and operation of a demonstration ethanol production facility in China. The facility will utilize Wuhan supplied waste biomass synthesis gas as feed stock and LanzaTech proprietary gas fermentation technology to produce ethanol.
- MVP RV — Winston Battery Limited Recreational Vehicle MOU: MVP RV (MVP; Riverside, California) is a privately-held U.S. company that produces self-powered and trailer Recreational Vehicles. The company has an existing distributor relationship with privately-held Winston Battery Limited (Winston; Shenzhen, China). Winston, through the proposed MOU, plans a major capital injection into MVP RV in the amount of $310 million to promote motor home exports to China. Additionally, Winston Battery Limited will provide capital for the development of all-electric recreation vehicles and charging systems. The goal is to export over 10,000 Class A (self-powered, bus-sized) motor homes and 20,000 Class C (self-powered, van-sized) motor homes to China in the next 3-4 years. MPV estimates the value of these exports to be over $5 billion. The MOU specifies the intention to export vehicles to China through Winston and the eventual incorporation of an all-electric powertrain to future vehicles.
- Caterpillar Inc. – Caterpillar China Investment Co. Ltd. Business Agreement: Caterpillar (Peoria, Illinois) and Caterpillar China Investment Co. Ltd. – a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar – will sign an agreement under which $1.4 billion in U.S.-manufactured mining and construction equipment, and diesel and gas turbine engines will be shipped to China. The intra-company sale will support approximately 7,567 jobs in the United States.
- LP Amina MOU with Yixing Union Congregation Co. Ltd: LP Amina, a multinational environmental engineering company headquartered in Novi, Michigan, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Yi Xing Union Congregation Co., Ltd, a Chinese energy and chemical company. The MOU will formalize plans in advance of an expected contract signing, which will establish a collaborative pilot project to demonstrate LP Amina’s patent-pending Coal to Chemicals System. This innovative technology will couple chemical production with power generation and enable the use of thermal energy generated from the chemical production for additional efficiency power generation. This process would also reduce emissions by nearly 90% compared to the conventional production process in use today. Once commercialized, LP Amina estimates that this technology could be deployed in the United States creating up to 500 jobs.
- Optimax Systems, Inc — Shanghai Micro-Electronics Equipment Co., Ltd. Precision Optics Sale: Optimax Systems, Inc. (Ontario, New York), a manufacturer of high-precision optical components, has signed a new agreement for supplying precision optics to Shanghai-based Shanghai Micro-Electronics Equipment Co., Ltd. (SMEE) for incorporation into SMEE’s advanced lithography equipment. SMEE is rapidly expanding its presence in the semi-conductor, MEMS and flat panel display manufacturing industries in China and throughout Asia. By combining their innovative technologies, SMEE and Optimax can further expand potential for next-generation lithography in the Chinese market. Optimax plans a $4 million expansion of its ultra-precision manufacturing capacity to support this new agreement with SMEE, which will include adding 50 new manufacturing jobs for high-precision optical technicians at its Ontario, New York facilities. This follows on a $2 million facility expansion already completed to support business done with SMEE to date.
- Erickson Air-Crane Heavy Lift Helicopter Sale: Erickson Air-Crane (Portland, Oregon) announces the pending sale of five S-64 (commercial) helicopter aircraft to China Taicang Aircrane Company Ltd. The transaction has nearly 100% U.S. export content. While the detailed commercial terms of this agreement are presently under negotiation, the companies have recently executed an Acceptance of Proposal that provides for the five aircraft to be delivered over a two year period beginning with the delivery of the first aircraft by February 28, 2011.
- Celanese — Wison Group Memorandum of Understanding for Ethanol Production: Celanese Far East Co., a subsidiary of Celanese Corporation headquartered in Dallas, Texas (Celanese), and Wison Group Holding Limited (Wison), will conclude a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction and operation of an industrial ethanol production facility in China. Wison plans to invest in a coal gasification unit based on clean coal technology to produce synthesis gas per Celanese specs, and Celanese plans to invest approximately $650 million in an Ethanol Complex using the output from Wison as feed stock, and Celanese proprietary technology, to produce ethanol for industrial use, and potentially for fuel ethanol. This transaction is valued at approximately $815 million, with $50-80 million in U.S. export content. Celanese estimates project implementation will support an estimated 200-250 U.S. jobs.
- Westinghouse Electric Company — China Baotou Nuclear Fuel (CBNF) Fuel Fabrication Agreement: Westinghouse Electric Company concluded a contract to design, manufacture and install fuel fabrication equipment for use by CBNF to manufacture fuel for the Westinghouse AP-1000 nuclear power plants currently under construction at sites across China.
- Westinghouse Electric Company– China State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) Nuclear Cooperation Agreement: Westinghouse and SNPTC announced a two-year extension of a nuclear cooperation agreement that focuses on continued deployment of the Westinghouse AP-1000 nuclear power plant in China as well as service and maintenance, technology development and strategic investment. The agreement extends the commitment of both Westinghouse and SNPTC to explore future cooperation in areas of strategic interest including large passive plant development; follow-on AP-1000 cooperation; services and research and development.
- Boeing, Honeywell, and Pratt & Whitney -Air China Aviation Biofuels MOU: During President Hu’s visit, the Boeing Company and Air China announced an agreement to initiate planning of an inaugural international flight using sustainable aviation biofuels. Furthermore, Boeing, Honeywell, and Pratt & Whitney announced an agreement on the details of the technical support they will offer to Air China in the planning, execution, and analysis of the inaugural biofuel flight. This demonstrates the strong link between the U.S. and China Sustainable Aviation Biofuels industries and aviation’s significant contribution to trade between the U.S. and China.
Boeing, Honeywell, and Pratt & Whitney will also announce an agreement on the details of the technical support they will offer to Air China in the planning, execution, and analysis of the airline’s inaugural biofuel flight. This demonstrates the strong link between the U.S. and China Sustainable Aviation Biofuels industries and aviation’s significant contribution to trade between the U.S. and China. This agreement will highlight the future of the aviation industry, which contributes an estimated $4 trillion to the global economy annually.
- AES– Chongqing Energy Investment Group Memorandum of Comprehensive Cooperation: AES China, a subsidiary of AES Corporation headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, entered into an agreement with Chongqing Energy Investment Group Ltd (Chongqing) to jointly develop, construct and operate a series of renewable energy projects, including hydroelectric, wind, ventilation air methane, clean coal and low carbon technology projects. This transaction is valued at approximately $300 million.
- Alcoa and the China Power Investment Corporation MOU: Alcoa (New York, New York) and the China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) announced a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on a broad range of aluminum and energy projects representing an estimated $7.5 billion in investment. The two companies will intensify their collaboration in China on developing clean energy projects and outside China on a broad range of initiatives. The total employment impact to the U.S. economy of this transaction is not known at this time; however, Alcoa estimates that this undertaking will improve the global competitiveness of the company and support jobs in the United States.
- Ener1 – Wanxiang Battery Joint Venture: Ener1, Inc. (New York, New York), a manufacturer of Lithium Ion battery systems for electric vehicles and Wanxiang Group, a leading Chinese auto components manufacturer, seek to enter into an MOU to jointly produce advanced battery systems for electric cars and power utilities in Asian markets. This MOU builds upon a binding May 2010 letter of intent and seeks to establish a China-based joint venture to produce lithium-ion cells, modules and battery packs for use in electric vehicles and power grid energy storage applications for the Chinese market and also export to the markets of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan. Ener1 executives credit U.S. DOE match-making and financial assistance with the company’s success in gaining access to the Chinese market. The company expects that participation in this joint venture would be part of a larger strategy to develop manufacturing and design capacity in the United States, supporting up to 1,500 jobs in Indiana.
- Emberclear and CERI Licensing Agreement: EmberClear (Calgary, Alberta Canada), with offices in Houston, TX, signed an exclusive license with Clean Energy Research Institute (CERI), a clean energy technology subsidiary of Huaneng Power Group of China, to become a global licensing and development partner. EmberClear will provide engineering and project development services for economic and efficient clean fossil energy solutions and scientific consulting services in international projects. EmberClear and CERI highlighted the first project of this partnership, a 270 Megawatt IGCC power plant in Pennsylvania that recently received all relevant permits.
- Peabody Energy MOU with China Huaneng Group: Peabody Energy, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, and Calera Corporation, headquartered in Los Gatos, California, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China Huaneng Group to develop a supercritical clean coal electricity generation project with carbon capture in the Xilinguole League Prefecture of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The project would include a large surface coal mine using best practices for safety and environmental excellence, produce clean power, and convert flue gas carbon dioxide into cement-like building materials.
- Peabody Energy and Yankuang Xinjiang Nenghua Company Limited MOU: Peabody Energy, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri and Yankuang Xinjiang Nenghua Company Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Yankuang Group Company Limited, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly develop an integrated clean energy center in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region. The center will include construction of an ultra supercritical clean coal electricity generation project and coal-to-natural gas conversion facility fueled by a new open-cut coal mine.
- AEP – China Huaneng: American Electric Power Company, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, signed cooperation agreements with three Chinese entities, China Huaneng, State Grid Corporation of China and China National Offshore Oil Corporation. The cooperation agreement with China Huaneng, China’s largest power company, relates to evaluating a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology developed by China Huaneng and improving the efficiency of coal-fired power plants. The overall goal is to advance commercialization of CCS in both the U.S. and China.
- AEP – State Grid Corporation of China: American Electric Power Company, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, signed cooperation agreements with three Chinese entities, China Huaneng, State Grid Corporation of China and China National Offshore Oil Corporation. The cooperation agreement with China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), the largest offshore oil exploration and production company in China, contains CNOOC investment in the AEP’s Mountaineer Plant commercial-scale carbon capture and underground storage project, and plans to explore opportunities for the utilization of captured carbon dioxide for enhanced oil and natural gas recovery in the United States. This is expected to benefit the development of CCS technology in the United States and China.
- Duke Energy Corporation–ENN Group Co. Ltd. Eco-City MOU: ENN Group Co. Ltd. and Duke Energy Corporation have concluded a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining the terms and scope of cooperation in the development and utilization of clean energy solutions for the Eco-City, a demonstration project intended to showcase clean coal, electric vehicles and energy efficient building technologies in Langfang, China.
- EPIC Clean Technologies–Tengzhou Huawen Paper Co. Paper Joint Venture Agreement: EPIC Clean Technologies Corporation, headquartered in Houston, Texas, and Tengzhou Huawen Paper Co. (THP), will conclude a Contractual Joint Venture Agreement for the redevelopment of the THP paper mill. The newly formed Joint Venture will assume ownership of the existing power plant and install a new clean coal gasification power plant to increase power and steam production, lower CO2 emissions by 35 percent, eliminate most other pollutants, and reduce coal consumption. The project includes a license agreement for use of EPIC gasification technology.
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.
REMARKS BY VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN
TO THE U.S. FORCES-IRAQ TROOPS
5:50 p.m. Arabian Standard Time
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Task Force Troy, Task Force 807 Med, Task Force Phantom, USDC, I just want to say I am amazed you’re still here. (Laughter.) And I don’t mean in Iraq. I mean, this is my seventh trip since Vice President, my 17th or 18th here, and I can tell you four of those seven trips since I was Vice President my son was here, and I assure you he would not have waited for me. (Laughter.) And so thank you very, very much.
I truly, truly apologize for keeping you waiting so long. It’s all the general’s fault. (Laughter.) Actually, it’s all my fault, but I think we made some good progress today with all of the Iraqi leadership.
We met, and folks, the point I want to make to you is very simple. I’m here to say thank you. I’m here to say thank you from the bottom of my heart and for — and to thank all of your families.
You know, there’s an old expression that is attributable to John Milton. He said, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” And your families, your families have made incredible sacrifices for you to be able to be here to promote the interests of the United States of America.
You know, Iraq has made, in large part because of some of you — this is more than your first tour, I know — but for literally the hundreds of thousands of troops, over a million of troops have rolled through here. Because of the incredible sacrifices that have been made since we arrived here, the Iraqi people for the first time, I suspect, I would argue, in their history, on the verge of literally creating a country that will be democratic, sustainable and, God willing, prosperous — that it could have a dramatic impact on this entire region. And God knows the Iraqi people deserve it.
But do you know, when we came to office, the President said that we were going to end this war and we’re going to end it responsibly. By that we meant we were going to end it by bringing you all home within a time certain, but leaving behind a country that was worthy of the sacrifices that so many of your brothers and sisters have made.
Nearly 32,000 of your colleagues have been wounded here in this country; 4,422 fallen angels. The good news is every time I ride home now I’m not riding home with a coffin strapped to the floor of the aircraft as we take off here.
And I want you to know, though, everybody talks about essentially the war is over. You’re still risking your lives for your country. You lost some of your comrades, some of our brave American soldiers, just a couple of days ago. And so I want you to know, the President wants you to know that this is not the normal day in the office for most Americans.
And look, the things that you are doing now in this transition period are the things that are going to put the Iraqi people, the Iraqi government in a position to maybe able to sustain the incredibly hard-fought gains that you initially were responsible for.
You have trained, you have trained the Iraqi forces to the point now where they can be in the lead, and they’re getting better and better every day. They’re going to continue to need our assistance and your assistance for some time.
But the fact of the matter is that there’s a lot that is changing during this transition. Our mission has now fundamentally shifted since September. But it’s going to shift again at the end of 2011. We will probably be in the position of still maintaining and giving support. We will probably be in the position of still — in certain specific areas, having to train and equip.
But you know, what you’re doing now is — what most Americans don’t realize is that each of you and your task forces are doing different things. The 807 Med, you’re not only taking care of over the 100 bases and facilities we have around this country and America, but you’re literally providing the beginning of an infrastructure for a country to be able to deliver health care, to be able to deliver quality health care. And so you’re leaving a legacy, a legacy of not just having helped freed a country, but helped getting the country on its feet and put in motion something that you will be proud, when you’re grandparents, to look at and see that this country is taking care of the basic needs of their country, and know you played a part in that.
You know, when you talk about your families, there is a — I’ve been quoted in the last couple of years because I say it so often — we really have one, one, only one sacred obligation as a nation. We have many obligations, but only one truly sacred obligation, and that’s to prepare and equip those who we send into harm’s way, and care for them when they come home.
There are thousands, close to 17,000, of your comrades that have come home who are going to need extended care the rest of their lives. I visit veterans’ hospitals, I visit Army hospitals, I visit hospitals every single place I go. You all know some of your friends are in Brooke Army Medical Center at their burn center. The price that some of these kids, these people, have paid is beyond, beyond anything anyone should have to ever contemplate.
I spend — and I don’t say this like I — my wife and I, though, spend every Christmas in Walter Reed visiting every non-ambulatory patient in that hospital and their families. And the thing that amazes me — the thing that amazes me about you all is no matter where I go in these hospitals, I always ask the family that’s there or the soldier, sailor, Marine, Airman that’s there who is the one injured, “What can I do for you?” And almost without exception, the only request I ever get is, “Mr. Vice President, can you help me get back to my unit?
I just think — you know, we talk about you all being, and you are, the greatest warrior class that the world has ever created. This is not only the best run, but this is the most powerful, significant military force in the history of mankind.
And the world knows that and our citizens know that, but I wish they knew, I wish they knew and could see what I see every single day. I wish they could see all these young women and men, and not-so-young sometimes, who don’t ask a thing for all that they’ve done, and you wonder how in God’s name can they do this.
Whether I was in Bosnia where we didn’t have as many casualties, or in Iraq where — or Afghanistan where I just came from, or here, it’s the same story. You are part of an incredibly, incredibly proud tradition.
And I hope that not only your military expertise wears off on our Iraqi friends, but I hope that they understand and see — and I think they do — the incredible patriotism, the incredible dedication to the country, the incredible diversity that we represent, men and women, black and white, Asian, Caucasian, every single mix that exists on the Earth, working this one incredible unit to protect the interests of the United States.
So I apologize — I didn’t plan on getting emotional — but I apologize for having kept you waiting, but I do not apologize for the intensity of the feeling that I and so many more Americans have for the sacrifices you and your comrades have made for your country.
I’ll end where I began. We owe you. We owe you more than we could ever repay you. But the amazing thing to me is how after all that you’ve done, so few of you expect anything, even thanks.
But the big difference between my generation and the general’s — and I’m older than he is — who leave their home, who leave their home, as you’ve noticed, and some of you leave home and come back, people have a sense and they know what you’ve done. I hope you know how much they appreciate it.
And I just was recently up in 10th Mountain up in Fort Drum, New York up in Watertown. Any of you who are from that way, you’re not missing a thing. They just had 44 inches of snow. (Laughter.) But I look at the expressions and the faces of the families as you all come back, and I hope, when you re-deploy home, I hope you get as much — appreciate as much the sense of joy and overwhelming thanks that your families and your country feels, as my wife and I felt when our son came home.
So folks, you’re led by one of the truly great generals in the United States military, and that’s not hyperbole, and I mean that literally. And it’s obvious that his enthusiasm for his country and his troops has worn off on all of you guys. Otherwise there’s no possibility you’d wait an hour on a marble floor to hear a Vice President of the United States of America.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you. I look forward, if you’re willing, to coming out there and shaking as many of your hands as I can to personally tell you thanks. God bless you all. (Applause.)
BREAKING NEWS: Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery At a Memorial Service for the Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona University of Arizona, McKale Memorial Center Tucson, Arizona
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
At a Memorial Service for the Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona
University of Arizona, McKale Memorial Center
January 12, 2011
As Prepared for Delivery—
To the families of those we’ve lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants gathered tonight, and the people of Tucson and Arizona: I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today, and will stand by you tomorrow.
There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts. But know this: the hopes of a nation are here tonight. We mourn with you for the fallen. We join you in your grief. And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy pull through.
As Scripture tells us:
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
On Saturday morning, Gabby, her staff, and many of her constituents gathered outside a supermarket to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and free speech. They were fulfilling a central tenet of the democracy envisioned by our founders – representatives of the people answering to their constituents, so as to carry their concerns to our nation’s capital. Gabby called it “Congress on Your Corner” – just an updated version of government of and by and for the people.
That is the quintessentially American scene that was shattered by a gunman’s bullets. And the six people who lost their lives on Saturday – they too represented what is best in America.
Judge John Roll served our legal system for nearly 40 years. A graduate of this university and its law school, Judge Roll was recommended for the federal bench by John McCain twenty years ago, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, and rose to become Arizona’s chief federal judge. His colleagues described him as the hardest-working judge within the Ninth Circuit. He was on his way back from attending Mass, as he did every day, when he decided to stop by and say hi to his Representative. John is survived by his loving wife, Maureen, his three sons, and his five grandchildren.
George and Dorothy Morris – “Dot” to her friends – were high school sweethearts who got married and had two daughters. They did everything together, traveling the open road in their RV, enjoying what their friends called a 50-year honeymoon. Saturday morning, they went by the Safeway to hear what their Congresswoman had to say. When gunfire rang out, George, a former Marine, instinctively tried to shield his wife. Both were shot. Dot passed away.
A New Jersey native, Phyllis Schneck retired to Tucson to beat the snow. But in the summer, she would return East, where her world revolved around her 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and 2 year-old great-granddaughter. A gifted quilter, she’d often work under her favorite tree, or sometimes sew aprons with the logos of the Jets and the Giants to give out at the church where she volunteered. A Republican, she took a liking to Gabby, and wanted to get to know her better.
Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard grew up in Tucson together – about seventy years ago. They moved apart and started their own respective families, but after both were widowed they found their way back here, to, as one of Mavy’s daughters put it, “be boyfriend and girlfriend again.” When they weren’t out on the road in their motor home, you could find them just up the road, helping folks in need at the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ. A retired construction worker, Dorwan spent his spare time fixing up the church along with their dog, Tux. His final act of selflessness was to dive on top of his wife, sacrificing his life for hers.
Everything Gabe Zimmerman did, he did with passion – but his true passion was people. As Gabby’s outreach director, he made the cares of thousands of her constituents his own, seeing to it that seniors got the Medicare benefits they had earned, that veterans got the medals and care they deserved, that government was working for ordinary folks. He died doing what he loved – talking with people and seeing how he could help. Gabe is survived by his parents, Ross and Emily, his brother, Ben, and his fiancée, Kelly, who he planned to marry next year.
And then there is nine year-old Christina Taylor Green. Christina was an A student, a dancer, a gymnast, and a swimmer. She often proclaimed that she wanted to be the first woman to play in the major leagues, and as the only girl on her Little League team, no one put it past her. She showed an appreciation for life uncommon for a girl her age, and would remind her mother, “We are so blessed. We have the best life.” And she’d pay those blessings back by participating in a charity that helped children who were less fortunate.
Our hearts are broken by their sudden passing. Our hearts are broken – and yet, our hearts also have reason for fullness.
Our hearts are full of hope and thanks for the 13 Americans who survived the shooting, including the congresswoman many of them went to see on Saturday. I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak. And I can tell you this – she knows we’re here and she knows we love her and she knows that we will be rooting for her throughout what will be a difficult journey.
And our hearts are full of gratitude for those who saved others. We are grateful for Daniel Hernandez, a volunteer in Gabby’s office who ran through the chaos to minister to his boss, tending to her wounds to keep her alive. We are grateful for the men who tackled the gunman as he stopped to reload. We are grateful for a petite 61 year-old, Patricia Maisch, who wrestled away the killer’s ammunition, undoubtedly saving some lives. And we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and emergency medics who worked wonders to heal those who’d been hurt.
These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle. They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength. Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned – as it was on Saturday morning.
Their actions, their selflessness, also pose a challenge to each of us. It raises the question of what, beyond the prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward. How can we honor the fallen? How can we be true to their memory?
You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations – to try to impose some order on the chaos, and make sense out of that which seems senseless. Already we’ve seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems. Much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.
But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.
Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “when I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.
For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.
So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.
But what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.
After all, that’s what most of us do when we lose someone in our family – especially if the loss is unexpected. We’re shaken from our routines, and forced to look inward. We reflect on the past. Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder. Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices they made for us? Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in awhile but every single day?
So sudden loss causes us to look backward – but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us. We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order. We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame – but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.
That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions – that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires. For those who were harmed, those who were killed – they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them. In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners. Phyllis – she’s our mom or grandma; Gabe our brother or son. In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America’s fidelity to the law. In Gabby, we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.
And in Christina…in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic.
So deserving of our love.
And so deserving of our good example. If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.
The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives – to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.
I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here – they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.
That’s what I believe, in part because that’s what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation’s future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.
I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.
Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called “Faces of Hope.” On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child’s life. “I hope you help those in need,” read one. “I hope you know all of the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart. I hope you jump in rain puddles.”
If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. And here on Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.
May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in restful and eternal peace. May He love and watch over the survivors. And may He bless the United States of America.
BREAKING NEWS: STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE SHOOTING OF ARIZONA CONGRESSWOMAN GABRIELLE GIFFORDS
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
This morning, in an unspeakable tragedy, a number of Americans were shot in Tuscon, Arizona, at a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And while we are continuing to receive information, we know that some have passed away, and that Representative Giffords is gravely wounded.
We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society. I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act will Hurt the Economy
By Stephanie Cutter
The House Republican Health Care Plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and take away all the new freedom and control it gives the American people over their health care and gives it back to insurance companies will not only raise costs for individuals and businesses, but it will hurt our economy.
Since the President signed the Affordable Care Act into law last March, the economy has created over 1 million private sector jobs, including the 113,000 private sector jobs created in December announced today. So, at a time when our economy is getting stronger, repealing the law would hamper that important economic progress by increasing costs on individuals and businesses, weakening the benefits and protections that Americans with private insurance are already enjoying, and adding more than a trillion dollars to our deficits.
Opponents’ claim that the law is “job-killing” is in direct contradiction to what has actually been happening in the economy since enactment. In fact, repealing the law would likely slow down the growth of our economy. Here are the facts:
- Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, the economy has created over 1 million private sector jobs. The unemployment rate is 9.4%, lower than it was in March 2010—9.7%.
- In the period during and right after the enactment of the law, the economy grew by 2.7%.
- Consumer confidence in a range of areas have improved, including retail and food sales by 4%, and auto sales by 7% since the enactment of the law.
- Slowing the growth of health care costs—as the Affordable Care Act does—will have the likely impact of creating more jobs since businesses will have to spend less on health care for their employees. This reduction could create more than 300,000 additional jobs.
- The law widely expands coverage to Americans, thereby reducing the hidden tax of about $1,000 that families with insurance pay each year in additional premium costs to cover the uncompensated costs of the uninsured.
- The law reduces small businesses’ health care expenses by giving them $40 billion worth of tax credits and through the creation of new, competitive state-based insurance Exchanges. Exchanges will enable individuals and small businesses to pool together and use their market strength to buy coverage at a lower cost, the same way large employers do today, giving them the freedom to launch their own companies without worrying whether health care will be available when they need it.
- The law will lower the deficit by over $100 billion this decade and by over $1 trillion in the following decade.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act would have a devastating impact on our economy. In addition to hurting some of the economic progress that has been made over the past ten months the Congressional Budget Office found that repealing the law would add over a quarter of a trillion dollars–$230 billion—to the deficit in the first decade, and more than a trillion dollars in the second decade; increase the number of uninsured by 32 million Americans; increase premiums for large employers; and will force consumers who buy coverage on the individual market to pay more out of pocket for fewer benefits.
In addition, Harvard Economist David Cutler found in a report released today by the Center for American Progress that repealing the law would significantly increase costs and reduce job growth. It will “…revert us back to the old system for financing and delivering health care and lead to substantial increases in total medical spending” by:
- Adding up to $2,000 annually to family premiums and increasing overall medical spending $125 billion by the end of this decade.
- Preventing 250,000 to 400,000 jobs from being created annually over the next decade.
- Suppressing entrepreneurship among workers who may have started new businesses, or sought new opportunities in the economy since they will no longer be free from worrying whether affordable coverage would be available to them in the new Exchanges, when they need it the most.
Again, these facts speak for themselves. Repealing the Affordable Care Act would hurt families, businesses, and our economy.
Read more about how many jobs our economy has created here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/01/07/employment-situation-december
Read the full Center for American Progress report on the economic consequences of repealing the law here: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/01/jobs_health_repeal.html
White House Drug Policy Director Highlights Growing Public Health Toll of the “Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic”
New Data Reveal Doubling of Emergency Department Visits Involving Pharmaceutical Abuse
White House Drug Policy Director Highlights Growing Public Health Toll of the “Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic”
WASHINGTON – According to new data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), visits by individuals to hospital emergency rooms involving the misuse or abuse of pharmaceutical drugs have doubled over the past five years and, for the third year in a row, exceed the number of visits involving illicit drugs.
According to DAWN, which provides national estimates on individuals who experience drug-related medical emergencies that are severe enough to require treatment in an emergency department, there were approximately 1.2 million visits by individuals to hospital emergency rooms involving pharmaceutical drugs in 2009. This compares to about 974,000 visits involving illicit drugs in 2009.
Additionally, while visits to emergency rooms involving illicit drugs have remained relatively stable at just under 1 million visits per year from 2004 to 2009, visits involving pharmaceutical drugs have almost doubled – increasing by 98 percent over the past five years. In 2009, there were approximately 1.2 million visits to emergency rooms involving pharmaceutical drugs, compared to 627,000 in 2004. These visits do not include adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals taken as prescribed.
“Prescription drug abuse is our Nation’s fastest-growing drug problem, with shocking consequences measured by overdose deaths, emergency room visits, treatment admissions, and increases in youth drug use, said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “The Obama Administration is mounting an unprecedented effort to address this public health epidemic, and as we coordinate a national response to reduce drug use and its consequences, we need communities to be our partners in this effort. Parents should act today to protect young people by talking to their kids about the consequences of drug use, even legal drugs such as prescription drugs, and by properly disposing of unused, expired, or unneeded medications found at home.”
The Obama Administration is mounting an unprecedented government-wide effort to combat prescription drug abuse. These efforts include:
· Increasing prescription drug return, take-back, and disposal programs across the Nation. Prescription drugs that are commonly abused are often found in the family medicine cabinet. In October 2010, President Obama signed into law the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act, which will support local efforts to curb prescription drug abuse by providing Americans with safe, environmentally sound ways to dispose of unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs found at home.
· Expanding state-based prescription drug monitoring programs. Currently, monitoring programs are operating in 34 states. The Administration supports expanding these programs in every state, and is seeking to ensure new and existing monitoring programs effectively use the data they acquire and share information across state lines.
· Educating prescribers about opiate painkiller prescribing. The Administration’s FY 2011 Budget request asks Congress for funding to train prescribers on how to instruct patients in the use and proper disposal of painkillers, to observe signs of dependence, and to use state-based prescription drug monitoring programs to detect when an individual is going from doctor to doctor in search of prescriptions (also called “doctor shopping”).
· Assisting states in cracking down on doctor shopping and so-called “pill mills.” Criminal organizations have established thriving businesses of transporting people to states with little regulation to obtain prescription drugs from multiple doctors or from “pill mills,” which distribute drugs indiscriminately. ONDCP is working closely with Federal, state, local, and tribal authorities to address this problem.
DAWN data are based on a national sample of general, non-Federal hospitals operating 24-hour emergency departments. In each participating hospital, emergency department medical records are reviewed retrospectively to determine visits that involved recent drug use. All types of drugs—illegal drugs, prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, and non-pharmaceutical inhalants—are included.
Click here to see the full DAWN report.
For more information on how to properly dispose of prescription drugs click here.
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.
WH Press Secretary Robert Gibbs On Departure: “I Will Continue To Provide Advice And Counsel To This Building And To This President”
BY PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:51 P.M. EST
Q Where’s the cake?
Q It’s a standing-room crowd here.
MR. GIBBS: I noticed such a thing, and many cameras, and I see a number of Christmas ties as well.
Q Can you tell us a bit more — in a bit more detail about what you’re going to be doing next? You’re not going to be lobbying or consulting. How would you define your next job?
MR. GIBBS: Well, let me start by saying a few things, Ben. It is — and you all know this because you do this as well, and that is it is an honor and a privilege to stand here, to work inside this building, to serve your country, to work for a President that I admire as much as President Barack Obama.
I’ve been a member of his staff for almost seven years, and it’s — again, it’s a remarkable privilege. It is in many ways the opportunity of a lifetime, one that I will be forever thankful and grateful for.
What I’m going to do next is step back a little bit, recharge some. We’ve been going at this pace for at least four years. I will have an opportunity I hope to give some speeches. I will continue to provide advice and counsel to this building and to this President. And I look forward to continuing to do that.
Q In terms of advocacy for the President, are you looking forward to the potential freedom that will come with speaking for him and not being behind that podium?
MR. GIBBS: No, look, we — we’re in a very different political environment than we’ve been in a number of years in this country and I think whoever stands here or whoever goes on television to make the case for this administration should be an advocate of the decisions and the policies that are coming from this building. You certainly have to play that role.
I’m not going in order to be freed up to say a series of things that I might not otherwise say. I’ve enjoyed every time I’ve come out here and even on days when you — even every day, even when you wake up at 4:00 a.m. and pick up the paper and groan that you have a sense of what the first several questions might be. But I think it’s important for this country and for an administration to come out here and advocate on behalf of and — on behalf of its policies and answer your questions.
Q And you’ve talked about how long you’ve been next to now President Obama. Can you talk about the impact that you think your leaving will have in concert with David Axelrod and already Rahm Emanuel?
MR. GIBBS: I will say this. One of the things you learn very quickly as you walk into this building each day, you’re struck by the sense that — of the history of this place, and you realize that whatever your length of service here, it is temporary in the long and wonderful history of our country. And I think it does an administration good — and I think it will do this administration good — to have people like David Plouffe and others come into an administration who haven’t been here, who have been able to watch a little bit from the outside.
We all admit there’s — you have to admit there’s a bubble in here, to some degree. So I think having new voices and having fresh voices, some of those voices that are coming back from having taken a couple of years off, are an important part of this process. I think they will serve the President well, even as people like David Axelrod and I go outside of the building and have a chance to talk to the President and people here with a slightly different perspective of not driving in here each morning.
So I think it’s unique. I think it’s — but the truth is you walk around here and you see the history and such, and I’d just reiterate again, you realize that for however long you’re here, it’s temporary. But what endures is our government. What endures is the great experiment of democracy that’s proved to be such a wonderful thing for the world.
Q Just a follow-up, Robert.
MR. GIBBS: Let me go around. I have a feeling we’ll be here for a little bit today.
Q I’ve got a couple questions, one domestic and one international. The incoming Republican budget chief of the House, Paul Ryan, is saying that he will demand spending concessions from the administration in exchange for an agreement — a willingness to lift the national debt ceiling. Would the administration be willing to consider such –
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, Matt, I think we’re going to have to have a discussion — we are going to have a discussion about steps that are going to be taken to get our fiscal house in order. We made some extraordinary decisions over the past several years, some in this administration, some in the previous administration, to deal with the financial calamity, to deal with the tremendous downturn in our economy and the job loss that it’s wrought.
But we are not here — I think it’s important to understand we’re not here because of a series of decisions that just got made in the last six months. We’re dealing with a series of decisions that date back quite a long time, that the bills have continually come due for and we’re going to have to address them.
What the exact specifics of those look like, obviously that’s part of the process that we’re going to go through.
But I hope that everybody approaches not just the exercise of fiscal responsibility and fiscal restraint seriously, but I think it’s important, as you heard Chairman Goolsbee say this weekend, it’s important to approach the upcoming vote, as you mentioned, on the debt limit, in a way that’s responsible and in a way that doesn’t threaten the full faith and credit of our government.
Q The President obviously has President Hu’s upcoming visit on his mind. He stopped in at a meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister at the White House yesterday. How hard is the President willing to push President Hu on China’s currency issue and on human rights when they meet?
MR. GIBBS: I think those two issues that you mentioned will be on the agenda and will be tremendously important. Those are issues that came up yesterday in the meeting, as you said, that the President stopped by. China plays an enormously important role in our global economy and China has to take steps to rebalance its currency, and the President will continue to make that point when President Hu is here, as he did with the Foreign Minister.
And I would say this. I would say that — understand that human rights, the global economy, and currency are certainly on the list. I won’t go through all the topics, but of course the situation in North Korea I anticipate will also take up some amount of that time.
Q But the President has been accused of soft-pedaling human rights when it comes to China. Is he going to be maintaining that –
MR. GIBBS: I have — he has — I think if you speak directly to the President of China about your concerns about their record on human rights, I don’t think that’s soft-pedaling.
Q You referenced Austan Goolsbee’s comments about the debt ceiling and I wanted to read you this quote from a senator. “The fact that we’re here today to debate raising America’s debt is a sign of leadership failure. Leadership means the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”
I suspect you know who I’m quoting.
MR. GIBBS: Joe Biden? (Laughter.) I know, Barack Obama in 2006.
Q That is Senator Barack Obama in 2006 voting against raising the debt ceiling.
MR. GIBBS: And I think what is important is — understand that raising the debt limit was not in question in the outcome –
Q It passed 52 to 48. It was close.
MR. GIBBS: — in the outcome of that vote.
Q It was a close vote — 52 to 48.
MR. GIBBS: Well, we’ve had closer. I think it’s important that the outcome — based on the outcome of that vote, as I mentioned, the full faith and credit was not in doubt — the full faith and credit of our government and our economy was not in doubt. And the President used it to make a point about needing to get serious about fiscal discipline.
And we, as I said earlier, are dealing with the legacy of decisions that have been made over the past many years — not paying for a prescription drug benefit, not paying for wars, not paying for tax cuts — that changed our fiscal situation much more markedly than anything ever had.
So I think it is up to — and it’s important for Congress, because we know not to play politics with this, not to play games, to find a way to raise that debt limit, understanding that we have to — as I mentioned to Matt, we’re going to have to take some serious steps to get our fiscal house in order. But we understand, we know what happens, we know the catastrophic actions with things like Social Security and Medicare if you threaten the solvency of the government.
Q But isn’t that what he was doing?
Q So he only voted that way because he knew that it was going to pass?
MR. GIBBS: And I think, clearly, he was sending a message.
Q But he knew it was going to pass — that’s why he voted against it?
MR. GIBBS: Again, his vote was not necessarily needed on that.
Q So I guess, then, just extending that, it would be okay for other senators to do the same thing this year, as long as they know that ultimately –
MR. GIBBS: There may be some that send a message. But I think what is important is that the ultimate bottom line is we shouldn’t upset the notion of that full faith and credit. We shouldn’t, as some have rhetorically done leading up to this, suggest that that’s a good way to deal with this, is simply to let — to not pass that extension.
We understand, as Austan said — and, look, Austan is a very bright economist. The effects of something like that, as he said last weekend, would exceed anything that we saw in the financial collapse in 2008.
Q And just a quick question about the assassination of the governor of Punjab in Pakistan. I was wondering if you could put the assassination on the context of the President’s AfPak review, whether you think it indicates anything about how successful efforts are to root out extremism. The governor was regarded as the best spokesman against extremism since Benazir Bhutto — if you could just comment on that.
MR. GIBBS: Look, I think — first of all, I think it’s important that we — that our government express our condolences. As you mentioned, this is an individual who had worked hard to promote tolerance, and his loss is a great one for Pakistan. Secretary Clinton met with the Pakistani ambassador yesterday to personally pass along the President’s condolences.
I would simply say, Jake, that we remain committed to the efforts that the Pakistani government is and must undertake to root out violent extremism and to bring greater peace and stability to that country and to that region of the world.
Q Robert, are you going to be endorsing a successor in your job? I mean, are you going to give the President any advice and counsel on who you think would be –
MR. GIBBS: I generally don’t speak publicly about the advice and the counsel that I give and I shouldn’t change that today.
Q Where do you think he is on the chief of staff situation? Is he leading in any direction in terms of — it’s been made clear by various Democrats that if Pete Rouse wants to stay, he can. Do you know where the President is, where Pete Rouse is?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t have a lot new for you than what I think was quoted as saying a couple of days ago. I expect that a lot of personnel decisions will get wrapped up in the next few days because the President and team understand how much work there is to be done this year, that our plate is full, and that we have many important issues that we have to address.
And I will say, I expect that the President is likely to make some economic team personnel announcements on Friday. I will not get into who that might be, but I think on Friday we will travel in the area, visit a window manufacturer that is — that will take advantage of some of the expensing provisions that the President proposed in the fall and were contained in the ultimate tax agreement — 100 percent expensing for the next year of investments that are made — that they’ll take advantage of that. And he’ll draw some attention to that, as well as react to whatever the jobs numbers are.
Q Is he doing the NEC announcement at the window manufacturer?
MR. GIBBS: Yes.
Q — Friday.
MR. GIBBS: Friday.
Q Is Gene Sperling shopping for new windows right now? (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: I’m not going to get into that.
Q A real quick question on the Medicare regulation that administration officials this morning are saying the New York Times report is true that you’re going to take out the references to end-of-life planning that would have been covered in the health care reform law. My question is, it seems like you’re dropping it in part because, dating back to August of 2009, there have been these false allegations that they were going to be death panels. And so why — it seems like you’re giving those allegations credibility –
MR. GIBBS: No, no –
Q — by backpedaling now. Why not fight for this?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think what the administration believed was important was — and, look, end-of-life counseling is something that I don’t think is a partisan issue. I think people understand — and we have had great national debates about these topics in the past few years — it’s an important part of your relationship with your doctor.
The proposed rule did not have these provisions in there originally. We did not think it made sense, based on that, to necessarily include them in the final rule without having some discussion about that. And so those come out of this rule, but that doesn’t change I think bipartisan support for having an intelligent conversation with a medical professional about your choices for end of life.
Q But isn’t this one of the things that upsets liberals in the President’s own party that he doesn’t fight for these things sometimes, you give in on it and –
MR. GIBBS: No, again, Ed, we just — we did not think that the process in the rulemaking was what we wanted it to be in terms of having and giving the public an adequate space in a public comment period to debate these kind of things. That does not change, again, our support and others’ support for these types of confidential discussions.
Q Robert, could you talk a little bit about your personal things that went into your making this decision? I mean, obviously you can make a ton of money giving speeches and you’ve been on a government salary for a long time. There’s also the issue of personal freedom; maybe you’re exhausted by this job and maybe you’re just sick and tired of us. (Laughter.) Could you tell us a little bit of what went into this decision?
MR. GIBBS: And I will say this. Look, guys, I am not good at talking about myself. Maybe that’s not a great trait to have if you live in Washington. (Laughter.) But, look, obviously this was not an easy decision. But again, I think there’s a very natural time period to make the decision to recharge a little bit. I think a bunch of you guys in here covered the campaign that went for a couple years, and then we’ve had a couple of probably the busiest years that Washington and a White House have seen in many decades.
So, yes, it’s — look, you guys know this because — again, because you guys cover this place, that this doesn’t stop. Only rarely does it observe holidays like Christmas, and sometimes not even that. And so there’s no doubt there is a — this is a tough place to work.
Now, again, it is an amazing privilege. I would not trade — as I told my staff this morning — I would not trade the worst day I’ve had here for many of the best days that you might have in another job. I think the last two years have been extraordinary to watch, extraordinary to be a part of.
I work with a President that I love and respect. I work with a group of people who comprise my staff and comprise the White House staff that I’ve worked with almost nonstop, many of them, for four years. Some — Tommy Vietor came here — came to the Obama campaign for Senate a couple months after I did, well before anybody had given any DNC speeches and we were just running for the Senate in Illinois. So those are — I don’t consider the people that I work for just colleagues; I consider them among the best friends that I have.
But it’s time to take a little break. It’s time to — there’s a little boy who probably needs a ride to school every now and then.
Q Vietor? (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: Actually, I was talking about Nick — because the surfboard doesn’t fit in my car, so — (laughter.)
Q Is that a tan or –
MR. GIBBS: Yes, I was going to say, that is — that, my friends, is not a tan. He’s tan, but that is — those are the results of something a little bit more embarrassing.
Did I just mention — are we on TV? Is this — (laughter.)
Q I’m sure people will follow up on your situation. But if I could shift to health care for a moment. Obviously –
MR. GIBBS: Sure. I would much rather talk about health care than myself.
Q I know you do. Health care reform is going to be under assault, obviously, in the coming weeks and months. How active is the President going to be in — is he going to let this happen on Capitol Hill? Or is he going to get out there — are there any plans in the works for a major speech from the President defending health care reform? And are you reluctant to turn it into a political football like it was a year ago?
MR. GIBBS: No, because I think what’s important, Chip, is to understand that — and you’ve seen this acknowledged, I think, by many proponents of repeal — that this is symbolic. They understand that this is not going to land on the President’s desk. It’s not likely to pass the Senate, that this is a bit of huff and puff. This town does that great –
Q But they can cut off funding and have a significant effect on it.
MR. GIBBS: And those are important, but I think it’s important, though, to take just a step back and understand beyond the symbolism what this means. What this means is going back to a health care system where insurance companies are in charge and call the shots; where a child that is sick with a preexisting condition doesn’t have to get coverage in the greatest, strongest, most powerful country on the planet; where seniors don’t get help with their prescription drug costs.
Q Will the President make a major speech making these arguments?
MR. GIBBS: I think the President’s position on it is fairly well known. I don’t anticipate that — I think as the debate continues and as the implementation continues — which I think is the most important part of all this — as the implementation continues, you’ll hear the President discuss this.
It’s not — obviously the President is focused very much on the economy and on the job situation right now. He’s remarkably proud of the accomplishment of health care. We have now the tougher task of implementing and to ensure that what I talked about a second ago — a family not having to worry about losing their insurance or having their insurance coverage capped by the decisions made by an insurance company; fear of skyrocketing premiums with no accountability; as I said, fear of discrimination on preexisting conditions. I don’t think that the American people want to go back to a health care system where those safety nets are in doubt, and that’s what the law is.
Q Robert, just to follow up on two subjects already covered and one new one. On your end of your tenure as White House press secretary, President Obama has already said some kind things about what an effective advocate you were for his policies and administration. How would you grade your own performance?
MR. GIBBS: Since I still have many more briefings to do before the end of the month, I’ll defer that question until the end of the class.
Q You think you can pull it out still? (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: I don’t do well talking about myself and –
Q Would there be anything you would wish that you had done differently?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think if you have any job and you say you don’t wish you would have done something a little differently you’ve probably not taken a good — necessarily good look — of course. I mean, I don’t — there may be — look, there may be something — probably something every day. Look, again, I had — I have the opportunity to work for and serve — work for this President, serve this country, work with so many wonderful friends and be in the middle of what’s going on. It’s a tremendous — it has been a tremendous honor.
Q But you would count yourself a success in what you did here?
MR. GIBBS: Yes. I think that we have been able to — and, look, I play a very small role in a big — a very big operation. So I think that’s important to understand. I think if you just look at what the President was able, and the Vice President were able to get accomplished at the end of last year — a START treaty that will make real, discernible reductions in our deployed nuclear weapons; repealing a law that he believed and had believed for many years was unjust in repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell”; ensuring our economic recovery by making sure that tax rates for middle-class families didn’t go up — all of those are important things and might in a slow year count for — or a slow two years, count for the entirety of what you were able to do. That was just two weeks here.
Q Two other things real quick. On the Medicare rule, your explanation that the rule was revoked because it didn’t meet your preferred standards for the rulemaking process leaves open the possibility that you would seek to reintroduce it in a way that does comport with your preferences for the rulemaking process. Is it dead for good?
MR. GIBBS: I would on the specifics for that point you over to HHS.
Q And lastly, getting to the question of how you expect to work with the House GOP majority, Congressman Cummings appeared on one of the Sunday morning talk shows saying that he would be vigilant to look out for the GOP majority, particularly of his committee, conducting witch hunts with subpoenas and that sort of thing. Congressman Issa appeared on three Sunday morning shows. He sent out a bunch of letters and made pretty plain his agenda as the chairman of that committee. I wonder, in everything you’ve heard from Darrell Issa so far, whether you think he is engaged in witch hunts or whether you think he is going to conduct that committee in a way that you think you can productively work with him.
MR. GIBBS: He and the Vice President I think had a productive meeting at the end of last year. I think what is important is to understand that everybody in government should — and certainly everybody here does — want oversight that ensures that the intent of the law or the intent of the policy is being effectively carried out without waste or fraud.
I think if you look at something the size and the scope of the Economic Recovery Act, you get a sense of how — the degree to which — the degree of importance that we put on that here. At the same time, I don’t think — people want good oversight, but, as you said, we don’t — I didn’t mean to say, “you said” — as your question said, people are not interested in relitigating everything in the past. We’ve got problems in the future that we need to focus on. So I think that we are happy to be a part of responsible oversight.
Q Then what do you think about what you’ve heard from him so far?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think that Congress is not even an hour and a half old. So, again, I think we — maybe he’ll want to wait for me to grade him like I did myself. But, again, I think the question is there’s a standard for responsible oversight that doesn’t exceed the type of partisan, ideological, political witch hunts that people like Congressman Issa have spoken out against in the past.
Q When is your last day?
MR. GIBBS: Sometime toward the — probably the beginning of February. I don’t have a final last day yet.
Q Do you anticipate that your successor would be named before you go?
MR. GIBBS: Yes, I do.
Q Do you think the President is going to call John Boehner today?
MR. GIBBS: I neglected to say I believe the — there’s a tradition of hearing from the new Congress. He will speak to Eric Cantor and Nancy Pelosi I think on a call that they’re going to place to here about 3:30 p.m. this afternoon. I can check on whether he intends to speak with the new Speaker. Obviously he has had an opportunity to speak with him many times since the election.
And, again, I think what this administration hopes for is for the type of bipartisanship and the type of collegiality that was had during the lame duck. There were — we dealt with some tough issues. We dealt with some stuff that had been on the books or on our plates for quite some time, but we were able to do that in a way that served the interests of the American people. I think that’s a good — I think that’s a pretty good path toward what this President would like to see — our ability to work in a bipartisan manner to make progress and move this country forward.
Q In the interest of collegiality, would the President invite him to play golf?
MR. GIBBS: I could see that happening, yes. I think the President — that might require the President to practice a bit before that. I think the new Speaker is –
Q You’re leaving, so you can say that the President isn’t as good at golf. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: I think — I would say that if I had just signed up for eight more years, and that is I think the President would be probably the first to tell you that whenever — I don’t know what Speaker Boehner’s handicap is, but whenever you tell people what your handicap is, it sort of — it indicates that you are — you’re good enough to know what that number is. Having played on occasion with the President, neither of us have discussed our many handicaps in playing golf.
Q And then real quickly, has the President spoken to Bill Daley this week?
MR. GIBBS: Not that I’m aware of.
Q Do you anticipate he’ll speak to him today or meet with him this week?
MR. GIBBS: It’s certainly possible, yes.
Q Robert, is a Camp David retreat with the Republican leaders still being considered?
MR. GIBBS: I think that’s something that we continue to have interest in. I don’t know where that lies and I can check on that.
Laura, do you have –
Q Yes. In terms of the departures and replacements at the top of the West Wing, yours and others, a lot of the candidates who are being mentioned or who are certain to take those roles are sort of coming from within the White House or within the general Obama sphere. Is that — what are the advantages of that, and do you see disadvantages to that in terms of not having –
MR. GIBBS: Look, obviously some people will take on new roles that have been in here. And look, there’s — and I think you guys understand that some sense of continuity is always important. Look, I look at somebody like a David Plouffe who, sure, he’s obviously quite well-known to the President, played a very important role in the President getting to the White House, but I think David will bring a perspective that is fresh because he hasn’t been inside of here for two years. And I think that’s important.
So I don’t — look, I don’t think it’s a matter of necessarily just seeing totally different people. I think there’s a perspective that you gain when you’re not in here every day.
Q Does Plouffe have a start date?
MR. GIBBS: I believe Plouffe will start next Monday.
Q And in terms of your future, do you plan on — are you open to working for people other than advising Barack Obama, advising other Democrats or other candidates?
MR. GIBBS: Political candidates?
MR. GIBBS: I have probably worked for my — my current boss is probably my last political candidate.
Q And what about in terms of corporate clients? Do you imagine taking anything on other than paid speeches to earn money?
MR. GIBBS: I haven’t gotten that far. Obviously I wouldn’t want to get into that while I had not made any intentions known about what my future held.
Q And lastly, do — as an advisor to the President from the outside, would that be a paid position or would it be compensated in any way, or just –
MR. GIBBS: I don’t know that we’ve gotten all through that. Sometimes the advice that several of us give the President here he might consider worth what he paid for. So that might not –
Q Worth the investment? (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: Yes, I was going to say that might — we might not want to do that on necessarily a sliding scale. But I’ll work through some of those issues.
Q Why is he your last political candidate?
MR. GIBBS: Seems like a pretty good one to stop on.
Q Robert, when you’ve come out here, has it been a — to the podium, has it been a help or a hindrance to be both a main advisor and the spokesman?
MR. GIBBS: To me, it’s been a help. And I think to you it’s been a help, because I think you want whoever is in this role, whether they’re somebody — look, I have a pretty unique relationship with him based on just how long I’ve been here and the types of — you spend two years on the road with somebody — or almost two years on the road with somebody, you get to know them pretty well and you get to know how they think. And I think that’s helpful.
Look, I have always — the way I’ve operated has been — and when we first started here, there were people — well, do you want to know this? Do you want to see these memos? Do you want — look, I would rather know and have to be cautious than to go out here and say something that turned out to be false.
I haven’t done that. And I don’t think you — it ultimately — I think once — I think if something like that happens, it’s hard to do this job. So and, look, other people may be different. I’m answering from my perspective, and that is I would always rather know and understand what — and, look, there have been times when I can’t get into stuff, I’m not going to get into that. But I’d rather know than to land on the wrong side of what the truth is.
Q Through the years there have been certain press secretaries who have been strictly mouthpieces, and others who have had the dual roles that you have. Would you advise President Obama to make sure that your successor has the same access that you’ve had?
MR. GIBBS: I will say — again, I want to separate just slightly because I do think it is — I do think I have, because I’ve been here so long with him — or have been with him so long, that there is a uniqueness to that.
I think any press secretary has to have the ability — and I don’t think any press secretary would be hired in this building that didn’t have the ability to go see the chief of staff, go the senior advisors, or go see the President or the Vice President when they needed to. I have had that ability. I think obviously most of the counterparts that have stood up here, I think most of them would tell you that unless you had that ability it doesn’t make any sense for you to do that job. And I don’t think anybody in this building would put any potential successor of mine in the position of not granting them the ability to know what those answers are.
Again, there’s always the times in which you know stuff that the President is going to make news on or you — look, I read a certain amount and I’m involved in meetings in the Situation Room that you just can’t talk about. You will have those opportunities. But it’s important to be able to walk into his office and say, sir, I need to get your opinion on this.
Q Finally, might you write a book?
MR. GIBBS: Not in the near future, no.
Q You mentioned that on Friday there will be economic personnel team announcements. In addition to the NEC, what else could we expect that day?
MR. GIBBS: See, this is one of those occasions that I was just speaking of, Peter, where one might know and one might decide whether one wants to make — let me do this. Because I don’t think all of those final decisions have been made, let me address that possibly tomorrow.
Q Okay. So the Recovery Board, could there be a new person for that or –
MR. GIBBS: I will say this. I do not believe that that is envisioned for Friday, no.
Q But it will be economic team, plural?
MR. GIBBS: Plural.
Q Okay. And is the President, as he finalizes these decisions and reshapes his economic team, is he looking for any changes in the direction of his economic policies?
MR. GIBBS: Well, look, again, we talked earlier about at each different phase of the recovery there are different aspects that have to be focused on. Obviously fiscal discipline and fiscal responsibility — after some of the extraordinary steps that the White House has had to take on the road to that recovery — after those, obviously getting our fiscal house in order is an important one.
But, look, I think that ensuring our competitiveness and making sure that we are, as an administration, investing in the investments that will create a workforce that is more educated, more competitive, and able to better compete in a global marketplace, those are the types of things that are tremendously important to this President.
Q Could you talk if someone like Bill Daley were to join the administration, how they could be an effective advocate with the business community?
MR. GIBBS: Let me, without using that hypothetical name — look, I think that this President is — I think that we’ve taken steps that were important to ensure financial stability and to ensure that business was on the best footing possible in this country.
I think the President would be the first to advocate for what he believes are some strong pro-business policies. I think if you look — to take a second and look at the auto sales numbers from yesterday. For the first time — they were checking for me — in I don’t know how long, the Big Three increased their market share. And you saw an investment in the auto companies that was made by this administration that restructured Chrysler and GM — put them into bankruptcy, restructured them, took them out — has led to I think what anybody would term as an unqualified success at this point.
A stronger economy has lifted auto sales. As I said, the Big Three have added market share for the first time together in a long time. And I think those are the type of pro-business policies that the President is proud of. And I think the President will have an opportunity to continue to and enhance his outreach to CEOs and to business leaders throughout the country.
Q Would it be helpful, though, to have someone of his stature be able to go out and –
MR. GIBBS: I think it’s always helpful to have more and more people who can do that for you.
Q Robert, why was the decision made to announce your departure before a replacement was found? It’s kind of unusual. I mean –
MR. GIBBS: I don’t know. I don’t know that it was that unusual.
Q That makes the search more public and more kind of fishbowl-like than if you did it all at once.
MR. GIBBS: As opposed to all of our un-fishbowl-like –
Q Well, there are degrees of fishbowlism.
MR. GIBBS: I don’t see that. I don’t know the answer to that.
Q Okay, my other question is a follow-up to Laura. If you’re going to have some kind of a major role, outside role as a paid consultant to the campaign, why wouldn’t you rule out taking corporate clients for the duration?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t think I did. I just — you got to understand I’ve been — this is an announcement that’s only a few hours old, and I haven’t totally figured out all of what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.
Q Right. No, I’m not talking about the rest of your life. I’m talking about for the duration that you’re a paid consultant to the reelection campaign. Are you saying that you feel it would be okay to have corporate clients at the same time?
MR. GIBBS: If that’s something I decided to do, and I was comfortable with who those clients were, I don’t think that necessarily — again, I would not get into the hypothetical of that at this point because it’s just not something that is at this point relevant.
Q One last question on health care. To the extent that the debate is going to be relitigated, I’m wondering if you feel that the White House has kind of a chance to make a more effective argument and maybe persuade more people than ended up being persuaded of the merits of this last year. And you talk about the insurance reforms that are popular like children with preexisting conditions or the doughnut hole or caps and rescissions. What I’m wondering is, is the White House ready to defend robustly the things that are most controversial about the plan — the expense of universal coverage and the individual mandate? You rarely talk about those two things.
MR. GIBBS: Well, I don’t think that’s necessarily the case since the individual mandate is something that we’ve discussed in here recently because there are a myriad of court cases that have been brought around that. Understand what — we talked about fiscal responsibility a few minutes ago. One thing that’s unique about what we passed was we paid for what we passed. So let’s understand what that means for repeal.
There’s — it is interesting and unique to see when one pays attention to and when one ignores the Congressional Budget Office. The Congressional Budget Office, which — how much is this, what’s the price tag on this, how’s it being paid for were questions that we answered a lot of during the debate, and were asked a lot of us during the debate by those who opposed what we were trying to do.
Repealing health care reform adds $140 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years. So they’ve got to cut not just the $100 billion they’re talking about, but now I assume they’re going to pay for that, too. That doesn’t count the trillion dollars over the 10 years after that.
So we’re happy to talk about the expense of this. Let’s also be clear in talking about the expense of what happens if you repeal it — not just for families with children that are sick, not just for families that worry that their coverage might have been capped, or, God forbid, an insurance company is making your medical decisions, but also what it means for our deficit and our debt.
Q So just again about what you’re going to be doing in the future –
MR. GIBBS: Have the Cowboys found a coach yet?
Q Yes, exactly. Can we say that you’re going to be a paid consultant to the campaign? Is that definitely what you’re going to be doing?
MR. GIBBS: At some point, yes.
Q And how, if at all, when in the future can we expect you to be on television or acting as a surrogate for –
MR. GIBBS: Hopefully, as we speak. (Laughter.)
Q — in that new capacity?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t know the answer to that yet. Look, I assume that I will have an opportunity to continue being an advocate for the decisions that are being made or have been made in this White House. And I am certainly happy to do that.
Q Robert, once the decisions — all the decisions on personnel are known, what –
MR. GIBBS: There will be a test. (Laughter.)
Q What will it say about the difference between now and the beginning of the administration — what the next two years will be like versus the first two years?
MR. GIBBS: I mean, look, I think we have always talked about the fact that the next two years were going to be different than the first two years. We were able to pass health care reform and financial reform, things like the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” all of which now have to be implemented. And I think the President has always looked at the first two years as a period of legislation, and at least the next year is a period of implementation and a period of continued economic — taking steps to continue that economic recovery.
So, I think you — there’s a little bit — there’s going to be a different group of people occupying the same desks that we have now that will play in a probably slightly different environment based on what I think the focus of this building is likely to be.
Q So how does that translate into the skill sets he is looking for? Is he just looking for individual people that fit in a particular round hole or square peg –
MR. GIBBS: Look, this is probably a better discussion to have when we have sort of a larger tableau of what all of those announcements will be.
But, look, there’s — obviously within each different position there’s a skill set that, given the agenda and the environment, that may be slightly different than what you’ve had, again, in the past two years. Let’s — we can do a little bit more of that as we get into this a little bit more.
Q There will be multiple announcements?
MR. GIBBS: On?
MR. GIBBS: There will be multiple on Friday, and I assume that there may be some more after Friday?
Q Multiple economic announcements?
MR. GIBBS: Multiple economic announcements, yes.
Q Any others?
MR. GIBBS: None that I’m aware.
Q Chief of staff won’t be before Friday?
MR. GIBBS: I have nothing new on chief of staff.
Q Sticking with the big picture, Robert, given the number of and importance of the jobs at stake, is this a major overhaul, a minor tweaking? Is it a big change of direction? Is it just some retooling of attitude? Is it just shifting from legislating — is it bigger than a breadbox or smaller than Yugoslavia? (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: That’s a good question. No, look, I think there are — I think in many ways this is a pretty major retooling. But, again, this is — part of this is based on the fact that there are a lot of us who just feel like we need a little bit of a break. So some of that happens because — just as a natural cycle of this. I think that’s — I should have layered that into my answer on Jackie’s question — I think that’s certainly important.
Again, there will also — again, there are new environments and there’s a new Congress. There’s a whole host of things that one has to and should take into account when you’re making a lot of these decisions. And certainly the President and the team here are doing that.
Q But it’s more than just new faces doing the same thing?
MR. GIBBS: Oh, I think so. I think there’s — the truth is, I mean, I think — I wouldn’t necessarily think of the fact that — there may be functions in one area or domain or in the box of one personnel position that may get moved or shifted. So I don’t — I think anytime you have the natural change of a White House, it’s not simply just, okay, what you did — somebody else sits where you did and does everything that you did. I think there will be some retooling of that as well.
Q But a major retooling for what purpose, or to correct what deficiencies? I mean, what’s — major retooling for what?
MR. GIBBS: Well, again, the reason I would consider it a major retooling is obviously a lot of people that have been here for a while and certainly since the inception of the administration that are leaving. Again, as I’ve said to you guys countless times, some people — a lot of people leave because it’s time to take a break, it’s time to do something different, or it’s time to — look, some people here — Dr. Summers is a good example, somebody who was going to serve for and told the President he would serve for two years. There’s a lot of people that have been like that.
Q Those people can leave without a major retooling. You just called it a major retooling.
MR. GIBBS: Let me be careful then in what I said. I said it was a major retooling because there’s going to be a lot of new faces.
Q Well, just to follow on there, to what degree is it because he’s dissatisfied with the performance of people?
MR. GIBBS: Again, I would suggest that almost all of what you’ve seen is — not all of what you’ve seen, but a decent amount of what you’ve seen is the natural attrition of an administration.
Q When you talk about natural attrition and the exhaustion of people who have been doing this for essentially four years when you count the campaign, that goes for the President, as well. How do you address his energy level?
MR. GIBBS: Have we not told you about the replacement of — (laughter.)
Q Finally, a lead. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: That’s good. No, look — I mean, look, there’s one — I mean, look, you sign up for and understand that you — as a President you can’t take a year off to recharge. So I think it’s important to put people around him that have the fresh perspective, that have come into a different job or have come into the administration, after having not been here for a couple of years, and give this place the vitality that it will always have largely because it’s the White House.
But I think it’s important that — and I think the President believes that’s important, that there are a — having additional voices, having different and fresh perspectives, having those come from, again, folks that haven’t necessarily been inside this bubble for two years or four years or seven years, that that’s really important to the process of running an administration, of running a White House, and of governing a country.
Q Robert –
MR. GIBBS: Yes.
Q Thank you. Having been at this for two years, can you talk to us a bit about the value of the daily briefing? Do you think it’s helpful to the general public? Is it helpful to reporters? Is it helpful to the White House? Would you make any changes? Would you take it off camera? Do you like it being on camera?
MR. GIBBS: Look, we’ve experimented with a couple different things like — I do think there’s a great utility in doing some off-camera gaggles. We probably, truth be told, haven’t done enough of those. I think there’s an ability to talk about things slightly differently without all these fancy lights.
I think it’s important, though, as I said — I alluded to earlier, it’s important to, as a government, to come out here and talk about and answer the — talk about the policies and decisions that are being made and to answer the questions surrounding those.
Like I said, there are days in which — my guess is it will happen again this week — where you pick up that newspaper or you turn on your computer at 4:30 a.m. in the morning while your coffee is still brewing and you groan and, oh, God, what — you know, great, this is going — and then you get on your BlackBerry.
But I think there’s a usefulness to that. I think there’s a reason that this has been an enduring quality. I do think there is — look, I think there has to be — I think there should continue to be experimentation, again, with gaggles. We’ve tried more stuff on social networking that I think will continue long past my existence inside this building because that, too, is important.
You now have the ability to — look, I got on something like Twitter largely from watching you guys tweet while the President was standing right here. And it’s a fascinating concept. All this stuff moves much faster. I think that will endure. And I think the briefing will endure. And I think what gets added to and what complements the briefing in terms of breaking down any walls that exist between the people and their government will only accelerate.
Q Robert, back on the end-of-life counseling, could you say some more on the end-of-life counseling?
MR. GIBBS: Let me just go to Glenn and I’ll come back.
Q I was going to ask exactly the same question. (Laughter.) To follow up on a couple of the other questions regarding the retooling, there was a lot of criticism, some that came from within the administration, sort of self-criticism about messaging in the last year, on communications. You’re leaving. David Axelrod is leaving. You two are the principal architects of the communications and messaging strategy. Should we read anything into that?
MR. GIBBS: No, I don’t — look, we’d be the first ones to tell you that we haven’t been perfect. It’s a difficult environment, given where we are economically. That’s not to make any excuses.
You people in here hear me joke I haven’t been to a policy problem meeting yet. Every meeting I go to is the policy is fine, it’s just we’re not communicating well. I get that that’s sort of some of the way that you go through problems here. But I think that there — I think you’ll see continuity, obviously, in the message operation here. That is important. And again, you’ll see people like David Plouffe, who will come in and be a fresh perspective.
But I don’t think it would be fair to read into the fact that the reason we’re leaving is we haven’t felt like we’ve accomplished anything.
Q Do you think you’d likely be staying even if the midterms hadn’t turned out to be so difficult –
MR. GIBBS: I didn’t make a decision to step away and recharge because of the midterms. It’s just — it’s a very natural time in the administration. It’s a good time to get, as I’ve said, some fresh voices, including somebody up here.
Q Thanks. You talked about how it doesn’t necessarily need to be a new voice; that it’s important to be a fresh voice. And even if Bill Daley and Gene Sperling aren’t the ones named to these new positions, they’ve obviously been given very serious consideration, are the frontrunners, or expected to be named. These are Clinton people — originally. Is that a coincidence? Or is their service and what they represented and their experience back in the Clinton years something that you –
MR. GIBBS: Let me say this because I don’t want –
Q I know you’re trying –
MR. GIBBS: Well, as Jackie pointed out, I’ve been pretty good at not making the news today. I will — I don’t want to get into — again, I don’t want my answer to be based on the names that you brought up.
Look, I think there are — I guess part of the problem with this is there’s not like one type of person, right? You want people that — there are people that are important to have in here that haven’t served in government, and then there are other positions where previous service in government, be it for Clinton, be it for others, is important.
We have people here, obviously — I go down to John Brennan’s office; there’s a picture of he and George H.W. Bush. So there are people that have been here through a bunch of different administrations.
Again, I think some of it — I hate to talk about it writ large because sometimes it’s — I don’t think the example necessarily carries as easily.
Q The economy was good during the Clinton years, though. I mean, is there — does this administration believe that bringing — that having some of those advisors who were responsible for bits of the economic –
MR. GIBBS: I think — look, whether it’s Jack Lew at OMB, whether it — look, Dr. Summers who had been obviously here before, obviously Secretary Geithner served also in the Clinton administration and others who –
Q Gene Sperling.
MR. GIBBS: And Gene, Jason Furman — there’s other folks that have important experience, and I think that’s good to have. They understand and have — as I said, they have important experiences. They have — they understand what the job entails.
Q There was some discussion about you staying on in the administration but not as press secretary, and I’m wondering why you decided not to go that route. Was it a matter of just being too tired? Was it a matter of not finding exactly the right portfolio or –
MR. GIBBS: Look, I had some — I think the best service that I can provide this President is for the next couple of years outside of this building. And that coincides nicely with my wanting to get a little bit of a break. And it all worked out that way.
Q Could you see coming back to the White House if he wins a second term, or are you declaring your White House service done?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I’m not going to — I wouldn’t close the door. I told the President I’m happy to serve as ambassador to Italy in the second administration. (Laughter.) Begrudgingly I’ll do it, but — okay, all right, you got me, I’ll do it. (Laughter.)
Q But seriously, could you see coming back here in a second term?
MR. GIBBS: One of my next tasks is going to be to make sure that he has the ability to make some of those decisions.
Q Robert –
MR. GIBBS: I’ll come back, I’ll come back, hold on.
Q — can we come back to that?
Q What did the administration make of the unusually public way that the Israelis asked for the release of Jonathan Pollard yesterday? And is this decision in any way likely to be taken in the context of wider peace moves in the region?
MR. GIBBS: Look, I think the — obviously the State Department answered this a little bit yesterday in saying that they received the request; they’ll take a look at it. I think it is important to underscore that Mr. Pollard was convicted of some of the most serious crimes that anybody can be charged with.
Q Your use of social media platforms like you used to call the Twitter and YouTube –
MR. GIBBS: That was a joke, but, yes.
Q Yes, I know. The use of these kind of platforms, to what degree can you gauge its effectiveness in terms of sort of bypassing us, who are filters –
MR. GIBBS: Well, here’s I think a great misnomer, because I think it’s important — social networking and the use of those type of tools I think — I don’t look at it as, boy, I can now talk to people and you guys — I’m going to go around you. I’ve never said that. Because, quite frankly, I subscribe to what you write; you guys subscribe to what I write. And I think what’s unique is we’ve done recently — and I’ve greatly enjoyed them, though I realize that — and I know you all agree — that very few of my answers conform to 140 characters. But I think it’s interesting that you can have a dialogue with people who are going about their daily lives, who have questions for the administration about what it’s doing, and you guys have written off of that.
And I think that’s — I just don’t think people should look at the increased transparency in their government, a greater explanation of the decisions that we’re making, as an effort to move around and go around you guys.
Q When was your last vacation?
MR. GIBBS: Serious vacation? That’s an excellent question.
When was the last time I took a vacation and didn’t take my BlackBerry? It’s been — it has certainly exceeded — it’s probably been almost seven years. I will — that will be nice.
Q Are you still going to be a two BlackBerry man when you leave here?
MR. GIBBS: I hope not. I hope not.
You had an end-of-life question, I’m sorry.
Q Yes, end-of-life counseling, and if you could say a little more on that. Was the President concerned that by issuing this 1233 in executive order that he might be portrayed as something of a — like President Kevorkian or something, given the tremendous opposition to that particular aspect of the health care bill from the U.S. population?
MR. GIBBS: No. Look, that obviously — your characterization did not play a role in the administration’s determination of that. There is a — I think if you look at polling, public polling, while there is concern from some about that provision, there is not — at least, I have not seen something that would have people believe that a great majority of people believe in the concept of — and I think it’s widely been debunked — this notion of a so-called “death panel.”
Q But awarding doctors, giving them bonuses for having this kind of counseling, of course, would lead to more of it going on, pressuring a lot of people to –
MR. GIBBS: I think that’s a mischaracterization. I think that’s a pretty broad mischaracterization of what the rule would do. This is — that’s not an accurate characterization of what’s going on.
Q Robert, will you miss us?